Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool (February 20, 2023)

On June 6, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, issued the following statement to the soldiers about to invade Normandy: “Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force:  You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.  The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. . . . Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well-equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.” Ultimately, he expressed confidence in them and invoked the blessings of Almighty God.

Imagine if Gen. Eisenhower had instead said, “Hey guys! I hope you feel good about yourselves; you need to live your ‘best life now’! The enemy is really just misunderstood; we’re not even sure he really IS our enemy, if he exists at all.” Wouldn’t it have been foolish and fatal for the D-Day invaders to have gone to war unprepared and underestimating their enemies? Imagine the slaughter on D-Day if our troops had landed on Omaha Beach, not realizing that they were going to be shot at! What a slaughter would have ensued had they been unprepared for the battle!

Unfortunately, this is the very message often given in many churches today! But thanks be to God, the Bible does not give us this kind of “feel-good” message, but rather tells us the truth about the spiritual battles that we face. Friends, we are engaged in a spiritual warfare against an enemy that is even more insidious than the Nazi foes in WWII. And our great General, God Himself, does not intend for us to underestimate our enemy, nor does He send us into battle unprepared. We have already spent some time looking at the enemies of the Kingdom of God; today, I want to begin looking at the spiritual armor God has provided for us in the battle.

Before we get to the specific items of armor set out in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, let’s look at Jesus’ “D-Day speech”, found in John 16:32-33: “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave mealone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Notice that Jesus did not mince words: He made it crystal clear that we are in a battle, not a game! The “shall” of John 16:33 is as firm a “shall” as the one found in Mat. 1:21. There is NO DOUBT about it – tribulations WILL afflict us here in this life! Therefore, we should be prepared for the assaults and not surprised when they happen.

Peter writes to us about this. In 1 Pet. 4:12, he writes, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. . . .” In other words, don’t “lose your mind” when you experience the trials of life; rather, he goes on to write, “rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” 1 Pet. 4:13. The rest of the chapter is devoted to explaining that, even though we face troubles and trials here an now, there is a glory that awaits us in heaven that overshadows all of the earthly struggles.

Likewise, I say to you friends, don’t be surprised when the troubles arise! Tribulations are sure to come, because our enemies make it so! Instead of bemoaning our sad estate, we should gird ourselves with the armor of God and stand to face the enemy. Paul introduces the Ephesians to the spiritual armor with the following preface, which I leave you with today:

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Eph. 6:11-13.

Next time, we will begin looking at each item of spiritual armor. First up: the girdle of truth! I look forward to exploring these items with you.

May the Lord bless you is my prayer!

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor