Several years ago I volunteered in a hospital that had a floor just for the elderly. Some of them lived there for full-time care and some only stayed during the day and went home to their families at night. I had the opportunity to make some wonderful friends there! We played cards and Bingo, we sang songs and made crafts; I wrote cards and letters to their families as they dictated because shakiness or arthritis kept them from being able to write. I listened to their stories and asked lots of questions to keep their minds sharp! So many of them were such a blessing to me, but one lady in particular really made an impact on my life – her name was Miss Ruby.
Miss Ruby was in her 90’s, bed-ridden and blind, but she was a firecracker! Every time I went in her room she would say “Now go in that drawer beside my bed and get out that can of snuff and put a little under my lip, but don’t you tell the nurses.” Haha! As soon as she got her snuff Miss Ruby would say “Did you bring your Bible with you? I want you to read to me.” Then she would proceed to tell me exactly what scriptures she wanted me to read. While I read to her, tears would stream down her cheeks as she was so moved by the Word of God. And once I was finished she would pray – prayers for me, prayers for her family, prayers for this nation and prayers for the world – some of the most powerful, heartfelt prayers I have ever heard!
Miss Ruby never told me about her life or her family. Our time together was short and she kept our focus on the Word and prayer every time I sat with her. But one day I asked her for one word of advice, as a Christian, walking with the Lord in the world today. And she said simply “Keep your armor on.”
Fast forward to today when the world seems so crazy and so much is happening. There is war and ISIS and people desperately fleeing in hopes of finding peace. Christian campuses are being attacked and social media is an all out war person vs. person picking fights, striking offenses and trying to win our vote or “Like” for one side or the other. There are so many voices coming at us in rapid fire and it’s easy to lose sight of the truth in the midst of all the distractions!
This week I have been praying through two verses in the Bible: Matthew 24:12 and 1 Corinthians 13:13.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
As I meditated on these scriptures I started to wonder – How could love remain – even outlasting faith and hope if the love of most grows cold? And how can I keep my love from growing cold?
When I prayed over these questions I heard the answer in Miss Ruby’s words – “Keep your armor on.” And went straight to Ephesians 6:10-18 – The Armor of God:
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.“
We are engaged in a battle that is unseen and often goes unnoticed. We think that our armor is to protect us from harm and help us fight the enemy, and that is true, but the armor given to us by God is also to protect what He has put inside us – His love. Our armor can keep our love from growing cold even when the world around us is utter disaster.
May we keep our armor on. Even when life is calm and you are at peace. Even when you’re at rest and there is no danger in sight. Let’s never be without the helmet of salvation to protect your mind from doubt and distraction. Or the breastplate of righteousness to protect your identity in Christ. Everyday, tie on the belt of truth so the lines between truth and lies/ right and wrong are never blurred, but clear as night and day. Tie on your boots and retie them often; be ready to serve and share God’s peace with confidence and courage. Hold strong to the shield of faith, never allowing your circumstances or what you see going on in the world cause you to question God’s power, ability, sovereignty or willingness to help. And finally, never tuck away your sword – the Word of God – study it, meditate on it, let it be written on your heart and use it to speak life to others.
“God is strong and He wants you strong. Put to use every weapon the Master has set out for you. This is no afternoon athletic competition that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life or death fight to the finish. Be prepared, you’re up against far more than you could handle on your own. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation are more than words. Learn to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your everyday life. God’s word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray long and hard. Keep your eyes open. Pray for each other and keep each other’s spirits up.” ~Eph 6 MSG
The reason that we can stand firm in full confidence and without fear is because the battle for eternity has already been won. We are fighting from victory instead of to victory because Jesus has paved the way for us to overcome. You do not fight alone – the Creator of the universe, His army of angels and believers around the world stand together. So stand firm, stay ready. Let the joy of the Lord strengthen you. Keep your eyes on Jesus and stay close to Him. Be full of hope. Rest in the assurance that God is in control. Keep His word close to your heart. Be sensitive to His spirit, leading you in peace. God is love and love never fails! Guard your heart and fight to keep your love from growing cold. And no matter how you feel, KEEP YOUR ARMOR ON! “Stand firm and you will win life.” Luke 21:19
“By surrendering ourselves to quiet communion with God, by resting for a while from all our thinking, acting and serving, by leaving all things for once in our Heavenly Father’s hands, secret wounds are healed, gathering unbelief is dispelled, and displaced armor refixed.” ~Oswald Chambers ( Run Today’s Race)