Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Equipped for New Life" Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending May 31, 2009

Purpose: To claim God's power to stand firm against the spiritual forces of evil.

Scripture Text: Ephesians 6:10-18 (NRSV)

Ephesians 6:10-18 (10) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. (11)Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12)For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (13)Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (14)Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.(15)As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. (16)With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (17)Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

(18) Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

As in last weeks lesson, the very first line, tells us what should happen if we want to be successful Christians. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power”.

The second point I would make is that it is God's armor we are to put on, not our own. God has provided us with all we need to defeat the enemy, but unless we are willing to put it on, it has little value or protection against those powers that would defeat us. The “cosmic powers” require special armor. There may be some powers that we can defeat with just the “sword of the spirit”. There may be other powers we can defeat with the “breastplate of righteousness”. We must always be ready “to proclaim the gospel of peace”. Verse 14 says “Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist”. But we must revert back to verse 11, “put on the whole armor of God”. We must be willing to put on all of the combat gear that God has made available to us, as his followers.

It may be hard for us as American Christians to comprehend the struggles that others face. Since the beginning of the Iraq war the number of Chaldean Christians has decreased by a million believers. The Syrian Orthodox has lost forty percent of their followers since the 2003 invasion. There is disturbing information now out about the population growth of Europe and Russia. The Russian army may be made up of forty percent Muslims. Islam will soon be the majority religion in France, Spain and England and within a short period of time it will replace Christianity as the most popular religion in the world.

This should be a sobering thought to all believers, we know that Christians are persecuted in the Islamic world; we have read and heard many stories of families being torn apart.

Certainly these “cosmic powers” will require all of Christendom to put on the “whole armor of God”. One of the area's that has changed in America is we are no longer just social Christians, we no longer attend church just because the doors are open, it is no longer socially necessary to attend church, in fact the opposite now seems more socially acceptable. Those that choose to attend are doing it for the right reasons, the church may now just play a small role in our current culture, but our resolve should be stronger than ever and our mission more defined, we are at war with the world. Those that make up the community of believers are in a definite minority. In verse 13, we are called to do all we can do; and then, when there is nothing you can do, stand – knowing you do not stand alone, and we stand with all of the armor God has made available to us.

The final call is for us to be alert and to pray always, and always pray in the spirit, and always persevere in supplication for the saints. Why should we be heartened by what is going on in our churches? Is our strength in numbers, or is it in the armor? How can we come out of today's woes stronger?

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