Aligned with the Right Side

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28

In the section of Romans where we find verse 28, Paul is reminding the church in Rome that while we long for the day we are free from death, sin and suffering, we are not without hope. For the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and God causes everything to work together for those who trust in him.

Every once in a while, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night full of peace and indescribable joy. It’s like on those nights the presence of God is made tangible to me, and there is nothing like it. I long for those nights. For while my life is still full of death, sin and suffering, I have this confidence that it is temporary, and even in the worst of it I am not alone. For God is with me even in my weakness.

What I’ve come to realize is that without Christ I could never hope to be at peace. The temptation and subsequent guilt of sin is too much for me to handle, and Satan is constantly trying to drown me in guilt even while Jesus is calling me to repentance and forgiveness. The pain I see others going through is more than I can bear, and Satan keeps convincing me that I am their savior even while Jesus tells me that he is both theirs and mine.

When my focus is on my shame and failures, that is all I see.

I need to put my focus on God, who is actively involved in my life. If I’m not seeing his activity, it’s because I’m deciding that the pain is more important than his sovereignty.

I’ve started trying to remind myself in the morning that I never know what might happen in a day. I even made it into a little jingle that gets stuck in my head. It keeps me looking up. On those days my first thought when there is a change in plans or something unexpected happens is what is God up to? For while there is indeed an enemy at work, God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.

This is also where it’s been helpful to root myself in God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Without it, how would I know that God is working on my behalf? How would I know that faith makes the enemy flee?1 How would I know that my fight isn’t against people, but against the rulers, the authorities, and the powers of this dark world? Against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms?2

In a war between good and evil, God and Satan, don’t give Satan more attention than he deserves. Look for the ways God is winning, triumphing, and fouling the schemes of evil. We never know what might happen in day, so let’s make sure we’re aligning ourselves with the right side.

If you’re having a hard time seeing him at work, pray that he will show you ways that he’s working that perhaps you’ve missed. The more we practice looking for him, the more we’ll see his mighty hand at work. Today, remember that he is for you. He is working everything together for your good.

1 James 4:7
2 Ephesians 6:12

Get ready

The book of Ephesians closes out in chapter 6 with something very interesting. Paul tells us to, “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God‘s armor so that you’ll 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.

This makes me wonder, how many times during the day do we think about what’s going on around us spiritually? I’m guessing that for some of us it’s close to zero. Since it’s not something we can see or physically touch, it’s easy to forget that our enemies are not made of flesh and blood, but that there are evil rulers, authorities, and mighty powers at work in this dark world (as Paul puts it). I ended up putting this passage on my list of verses to memorize because it’s powerful to be reminded that there is more going on than my eyes can see.

But it’s not helpful just to be aware that more is going on, but to also know that the Lord has provided a way for us to stand firm and fight.

Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord and to put on all of God’s armor. The first thing to realize is that God’s armor isn’t like earthly armor. Physical fighting requires a person to acquire certain skills, build strength, and learn to think quick on their feet. But muscles and a cunning mind aren’t going to help us here. In order to be equipped in the spiritual battle, we need to be armed with spiritual things.

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.

Notice how every piece of this armor is from the Lord. This armor, this ability to stand firm and fight, has everything to do with God and his provision. Our belt is God’s truths. Our body armor is his righteousness. Our shoes are his peace. Our shield is having faith in his ways (not our ways). Our helmet is the salvation he offers us, and our sword is his Spirit.

One of the biggest parts we have to play in all this is where we’re putting our trust and how we’re prioritizing our time. How can we use the shield of faith if we’re looking to our own logic instead of God? How can we use the belt of truth if we don’t know what the truth is? How can we use the helmet of salvation if we aren’t trusting Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins?

If you need a practical step today, I would encourage you to take time each day for prayer and reading the bible. If you need a book to start in, try Romans. The best way we can start learning to fight is by going to his Word for that first piece of armor, the belt of truth. Only by going to his Word can we learn about God’s character, promises, love and sovereignty.

Place your trust in him today, and let him begin teaching you how to battle.

Scriptures referenced: Ephesians 6:10-17 NLT
Mountain Landscape Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash


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