Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground ...
Ephesians 6: 11-13
Don't ever think that just because God is merciful, slow to anger, loving, and just; that He is not also a mighty warrior, Whose wrath should be feared. Since God Himself is a mighty warrior, I can't believe He wants weak, flabby, undisciplined Christians. Psalm 24 says: Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. In Isaiah 42 it says: The LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies. And again in Jeremiah 20: But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.
I joined the Marine Corps as the Vietnam War was winding down. All the Drill Instructor's I had in boot camp had just come back from service in Vietnam. To say that they took my training seriously would be an understatement. They let us know in no uncertain terms that the training we were receiving could well mean life or death when or if we were sent to Vietnam.
We trained day after day. We learned to wear and use our equipment so that it became a part of us. We drilled so much that we started doing things automatically without conscious thought.
I believe this is how God wants Christians to be. Well trained and ready for battle. In Ephesians 6 Paul tells us how to prepare for battle: Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Not only did my training in the Marine Corps prepare me for battle, but it also prepared me for the possibility that I might actually have to lay down my life. I remember being told while in boot camp that when we were promoted to Non-Commissioned Officer our names were written down somewhere in the KGB files. Our names were written down so that in case the Russians ever managed to take over America they could execute us, because we were warriors, leaders, Marines!
Whether that story about the KGB is believable now or not, my point is this; the day that I was promoted to NCO I wanted to send a letter to the KGB to make sure they did not miss listing my name. I was proud of being a member of an elite organization, and if the story was true, and if the Russians ever did take over America, I was ready to resist and in the end give my life if it came to that. I was proud to be called a Marine and would have been loyal even in the face of death.
Should we not be just as proud of being called "Christians" and be ready to give our lives if that is what is asked of us? Many Christians today around the world are being persecuted, some are being put to death because of their faith. But don't think that God is not keeping score and that He will not avenge those martyrs deaths. Our God, the Mighty Warrior, will not loose even one battle, no matter how it looks to us.
Each martyr's death brings glory to God and strength to those who remain faithful. Even Satan learned this. Look at the early Christian church. The early Christians were used as sport for the pleasure of the Romans, they were thrown to wild animals. Some where tied to posts and lit on fire in the evenings to light the gardens. Did this stop the early church, NO. If anything it made them stronger. Satan found that persecuting the church did not work well, but leave them alone and they will become soft, flabby, complacent. When no battle appears imminent the church soon forgets to put on their armor. Sure Satan still attacks Christians. He picks off those around the edges, in countries where they are not able to get support. Where the larger body of believers only hears about the persecution, shakes their heads and thinks for a moment how lucky they are to be in a country that offers protection and freedom. All the while Satan is slowly but methodically taking away that protection and freedom.
Don't forget to put on the full armor of God everyday. Once you are in the middle of a battle it is too late to go looking for your armor. Also please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their faith. I have heard that the main request of these Christians is for Bibles and our prayers. They want the 'sword of truth' which is God's word so that they can resist. They know how important God's word is.
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