Day 10 - The Gospel of Peace

"Stand firm then with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." @ Ephesians 6:15

"Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” " @ John 20:21

Bill Johnson once said, "In the world your environment determines your peace, in the kingdom your peace determines your environment." The Gospel of Peace is expansive wholeness and goodness. Kingdom Peace is relentless and overwhelming. More overwhelming than life itself.

Peace does not only rest upon us, it is released through us. Those who are at peace with God bring the peace of God to others. Jesus once said that our peace is to be transferred to our neighbourhoods and cities. (Matthew 10:11-13) That means the peace we carry has the capacity to shape entire regions. Peace is more than tranquility…peace is transformation. 

One time we were returning home with a team from a ministry trip in Slovakia. We were a little late arriving for the flight and ended up being scattered throughout the plane. Exhausted from the days of ministry and the early start we'd had that morning, I quickly fell asleep. I awoke a little later with the sound of a shriek filling the plane. I noticed the incident was taking place near my friend Mark and was eager to hear the story of what had happened when we landed.

Mark is well-built and when we entered the plane he looked for a seat where he would be able to maximise his room. Seeing a slight girl with her boyfriend he decided to sit next to them. As he took the seat the lady said "You might want to get another seat. I get very nervous flying and make everyone around me nervous." Mark thought to himself, "I’m not leaving, if anything’s leaving it's your fear." Turning to the girl he said, "Don’t worry, my peace will balance out your fear." (Statements like this are why I refer to Mark as the Jedi Master :)

After talking a little more to the girl and her perplexed boyfriend, Mark offered to pray for her. When she agreed, he turned to the passenger sitting across the aisle and said, “You look like a christian, are you?" When the man answered yes, Mark said, "I am just going to drive a demon out of this girl, would you mind praying for a few moments.  As the man prayed, Mark commanded the fear to leave and the shriek of it leaving woke me up.

Peace is more than tranquility. It is transformation.

We are to be ready for such moments, we are to have our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from peace.

There is nothing passive about this peace. It is expansive. Peace is for your assignment and your territory. It is not merely protective. Commenting on this reality, the late John Paul Jackson said, 

“Peace is not a passive word. Contrary to modern Western thought, peace is a fairly violent word. In Greek, peace means to obtain quietness by removing what seeks to distract and destroy you. It is not a compliant serenity but an aggressive taking out, a forceful extraction. The peace of God has the strength to root up and demolish every single work of darkness that is meant to keep God’s Kingdom from advancing. When peace comes, it literally destroys the work of the evil one (1 John 3:8). It tears apart the anarchy around us. It dissolves the tumult.” 

We could say that God’s peace is a weapon, not just our refuge. The purpose of peace is not so we can be at ease, but so that we can bring release. We don’t simply pray for peace. We release peace. We bring order where there has been disorder. We walk into turbulent moments and environments with the expectation of change, utterly convinced that the God of peace will soon crush satan underneath our feet... @ Romans 16:2

Day 9 - Shoes of Peace

“Stand firm then with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” @ Ephesians 6:15

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” @ 2 Thessalonians 3:16

We can read texts like this, it is good to do so, but they were designed to be experienced. We are to live immersed in peace - plunged into peace. Peace is a reality. Peace is a spiritual reality. Jesus once said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" – I want to give you my peace. It’s peace that lasts. It’s peace that brings life in the midst of the struggle. It’s peace that breaks through everything the enemy intended for your life. 

It is supernatural peace. The presence and person of the Holy Spirit leads us into a new dimension of peace in our souls and in our relationships. The same Spirit of peace that rested upon Jesus now resides in you.

The Lord of peace… give you peace at ALL times and in EVERY way.

Peace in every moment. Peace for every environment. It is hard to imagine. Peace that comes, not through ignorance of our circumstance, but through awareness of His presence. It's not emotional. It's not circumstantial. It’s not because your problems are solved or your past has been good. It's not because your painful experiences have ceased. It is because He plunges our hearts in His peace - He gives us His peace.

Indeed that is the exchange… we bring our anxiety and He says, "That doesn’t belong to you anymore. I paid for it at the cross. It’s mine." We bring our fears and He says, "Those don’t belong to you anymore, you have no right to them and they have no right to you. I paid for them with my blood. They belong to me."

And as we pray opening our hearts and hands… 

"The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" @ Phillipians 4:6. Notice that the very peace that keeps God is the same peace that keeps us. The peace of God guards us! The word 'guard' means to guard against the aggression of an enemy. We are enabled to stand firm in the seasons of intense spiritual warfare as we are overwhelmed with peace. 

Today, before you step out the door, step into peace.

Day 8 - Belt of Truth

"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist." @ Ephesians 6:14

"I am the way, the truth and the life." @ John 14:6

A few years ago Kathryn & I visited Donegal Castle. While there we noticed the uneven nature of the steps inside. We assumed shoddy workmanship but our guide informed us it was deliberate. Whenever attacking soldiers entered the castle they often would quickly climb the steps and trip on their garments... A simple belt would have solved the problem for those advancing. 

Truth gives clarity to your assignment and energy to your movements.

In today's text, Paul reminds us that we are to stand firm in truth. 

Often we think of truth as a set of facts, however truth is a person. While facts can be discovered, truth must be revealed. Facts are presented as information; truth enters through relationship. Facts can describe your past but only truth can create your future. Jesus is truth. Only in His presence can truth be known. When we separate ourselves from Him, we sever ourselves from truth. 

Truth is a person not a principle. 

Jesus said, "I am the truth." Therefore, whenever we lean into Jesus, we move increasingly into truth. Truth is more than dogma, it's more than doctrine, it is the declaration of the nature and goodness of God in all things. Truth can never be imposed, it can only be introduced. Jesus immerses us in His reality. He is truth. 

Little wonder the weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of this world. They are not military strategies they are kingdom reality. We are to be plunged into the person of Jesus who awakens us to truth. So we stand firm, fully immersed in Jesus who tells us the truth about our lives.

Sometimes people fear being told the truth about their lives. We have used ‘truth’ as a weapon to manipulate people, to control people, to beat people. That is not truth, that is accusation. It points out failure without pointing to favour. It speaks of your history without addressing your destiny. It reminds you of who you were instead of who you are. It sets you up to fail instead of leading you into favour.

Because of Jesus we no longer fear truth. He is the gateway to our freedom. His truth doesn't rub it in, it rubs it out. It cancels our past and creates our future. In the midst of enemy accusation and intimidation, we fasten our hearts to the One who is truth. We clothe ourselves in truth. We hold onto the nature and character of God, and are held by the nature and character of God.

All of the facts of your past may be accurate but none of them define who you are. God looks at you through Christ, through covenant love. He sees your design and your destiny - who you are in Him and who He is in you. By His Spirit He guides us into kingdom realities so that we don't falter on the steps of life. 

Today, put on the belt of truth.

Day 7 - The Breastplate of Righteousness

"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves... in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left." @ 2 Corinthians 6:4 & 7

"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place." @ Ephesians 6:14

Our weapons are weapons of righteousness.

When we walk in righteousness we begin to recognise and discern those things that God is doing. We mast ourselves to His movements. Righteousness is life as God intended. Therefore the breastplate of righteousness doesn't only protect our heart; it releases His heart. So Paul instructs us, "Put on the breastplate of righteousness." 

Keep righteousness close to your heart. Stay conscious of the righteousness of Christ... in every moment, in every environment. Clearly he is not saying, "try to be good all the time." We tried that old life and it didn't work. We couldn't do it. It is saying - stay in God's expansive goodness, allow His perfection, His wholeness, His righteousness to govern your heart, to guard your heart.

Allow the atmosphere of His heart to set the climate of your heart. Let the beauty of His righteousness overcome you. 

The righteousness of God is the divine welcome into a story that we could never create or generate by ourselves. It is not invented righteousness through our own efforts, it is imputed righteousness through His grace. We stand firm in His righteousness and we move forward in His righteousness. 

His righteousness is not introspective - constantly measuring morality, it is expansive, overflowing with glorious generosity. It is surrounded by justice and joy. 

When we put on the breastplate of righteousness, we declare that God has set things right for us, and we announce that all things are being made new. Injustice is being overturned, immorality is being overthrown and beauty is reclaiming all things. The atmosphere of the Father's heart has come to town and is redeeming and reordering culture - starting in us.

As you put on the breastplate of righteousness today, why not make the following declarations… 

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God. I am the righteousness of God in Christ.”

"I am vulnerable to righteousness and my life is becoming a place of divine hope - a centre of transformation."

Day 6 - Put on the Armour of God

"Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." @ Ephesians 6:11

The emphasis is that this is the Divine armour. Often we emphasise the type or amount of armour. Our focus seems to be on the word 'full', instead of the word 'God'. Yet Paul is making it clear that our strength in seasons of intense spiritual warfare, doesn’t come from reaching deep inside ourselves - but from reaching beyond ourselves, into all that God has made available. 

The phrase and imagery is derived and borrowed from Isaiah 59:16-17

"The Lord looked and was displeased
    that there was no justice.

He saw that there was no one,
    he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
    and his own righteousness sustained him.

He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
    and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak."

Notice the armour is worn by God and it is worn to bring about a preferable future for those suffering injustice. It is offensive armour used to release the divine dream over hurting humanity. It is designed to release power on behalf of another until they experience justice. 

The first mention of Divine armour is self giving rather than self preserving. It is the armour that restores hope, honour and healing to others. Likewise, when we put on the full armour of God, our thoughts are not merely towards protecting ourselves, but towards partnering with God as He protects the vulnerable and creates a climate where people experience expansive hope.

The armour of God is expansive not defensive.  God never wears the armour with the thought of potential defeat. He never wears it to protect Himself from the enemy. 

He wears the armour as one who already reigns in the midst of His enemies. 

So don’t worry today if you didn’t quite remember every piece of armour. Instead focus on the source of the armour - the one who arms you for the fight, your loving God and your battle strong, the God who gives victories to His people. Reach into the rescue of God... the intervention of God... the deliverance and abundance of God. And know above all else that you are never alone in the battle you face. Today put on the full armour of God!

Day 5 - Fight For Your Future

“Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines.  But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory.” @ 2 Samuel 23:11-12

Every time I think of standing firm in the season of intense spiritual warfare, I think of one man in the Old Testament… Shammah. He could have run from the fight, but he was intent on seeing God deliver him, his family, and his community from evil. He knew that running from the fight would mean running from his future. He chose to stand firm. 

One man. One sword. Holding on and refusing to stop. 

He contended for the future of his family and his community, even when everyone else ran. It’s as though he was saying to the invaders, “You may have taken territory before now, but today I stand. It may only be a field of lentils to you, but it is my field of lentils and this is a defining moment. I will not allow your reality to define my days. There will be no white flag above my door.” 

The reality is that we don’t have to live in the culture of fear and failure that have been handed to us by the enemy. We don’t have to live with accusation, confusion and deception that comes out of his heart. We get to live out of who we are in Christ. We are Royalty, and our identity comes through the death of Christ and our shared participation in His life. It’s His beauty and glory that overshadows our life, and it’s His testimony we are releasing in our city.

We have the honour of fulfilling what God wants to do through us, of yielding our yes to Him, of introducing and declaring His reality. Simply living out the beauty and authority of the life of Christ, we begin to reverse the trend of spiritual and moral decline, of increasing financial pressure. We turn the tide of deepened despair, marital failure, fatherless children, powerless churches, workaholism & alcoholism. And we declare that the kingdoms of this world are becoming the kingdom of our Lord and Christ. 

Sons and daughters of God, it’s time to move out of condemnation, out of confusion. It’s time to spend yourself on what you are called to. It’s time to stop watching from the sidelines and to get in the game. Help turn families around, help turn churches around, help turn young people around, help overcome hindrances and obstacles, help plant churches across the nation, help demonstrate the power of God in your community. Help teach people to responsibly handle their finances, help bind up the broken hearted, help see a generation built on hope. Help welcome those whom God brings to you. Help lead people to Jesus. 

Help release the testimony of Jesus all over your community.

Stand firm in your field today. 

Day 4 - Stand Against The Schemes Of The Devil

“We are not unaware of the devil’s schemes.”  @ 2 Corinthians 2:11

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.” @ Romans 5:1-2 (The Message)

The schemes of the enemy are utterly predictable. He can only give you who he is. He is the accuser, so he accuses you. He is the prince of this world who now stands condemned, so he condemns you. He lives in fear of his future, so he tries to intimidate you out of yours. His tactics are always the same, and as Paul reminds us in today’s passage, we are not unaware of his schemes. 

The enemy seeks to get your heart caught up in his reality, failure and fear. 

He wants your reality to be governed and guided by what comes out of his mouth – by his reality. The enemy always points to your failure never your favour. He always reminds you of your past, never your future. He points to your brokenness, never your greatness.

The word satan means ‘slanderer’ or ‘accuser.’ Sometimes he launches accusation directly in your thoughts, other times he does it through others, or through the culture at large. We know how this works. Sadly we have all been subject to his relentless lies…

“You’re a failure as a parent and you’re messing up your kids.”
“You really hurt everyone around you and it would be better if you stayed away from people.”
“The reason you’re lonely is because you’re a loser.”
“You’re not a real Christian, you rarely pray or read the bible.”
“You blew it at work. The reason you aren’t further along in your career is because of your own failures.”   
“You don’t really belong, your family would be better off without you.”

When we hear that voice enough we can either find ourselves agreeing, and admitting defeat, or we can feel like we have to prove everyone else in the world wrong.

But you never have to defend yourself. You never have to promote yourself.
We already have a defender. “We have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” @ 1 John 2:1-2

The blood of Jesus - His work on the cross, gives you purity before the Father, and authority over the powers. The blood of Jesus is your shield against the enemy and your favour before the powers. His blood does more than cover your failure, it opens up your favour. His blood doesn’t only guard you from accusation, it guarantees your promotion in the presence of your enemies.

Today, recognise them afresh for what they are, and stand firm against the all the devil’s schemes.

 

Day 3 - Strengthen Yourself

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” @ Ephesians 6:10

The release of the kingdom is increased in the presence of our foes. When God gives you your assignment, your enemy is awakened. However, in order to contend for the future God has for you, you have to learn to take your stand in the midst of broken circumstances, to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. 

You have to learn to stand firm in the season of intense spiritual warfare.

The word ‘finally’ means ‘from this moment on’. It implies relentless pursuit. It implies continuous choice. It represents a call to involvement and engagement. It is as though Paul were saying, “Let this be the leaning of your life - the focus of your days… seek to break through your breakthroughs and increase momentum. Seek to live in the strength of the Lord.”

Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  

These three words - strong, mighty, power - occur 3 times together in Ephesians. They refer to God’s incomparably great power at work in us who believe - the same power that raised Jesus from the dead AND seated Him at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:18-20). They are also included in Paul's prayer that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:16-17).

The good news is that strength and power are always available in difficult times. The bad news is that strength and power are not simply given to us…Strength is a choice… and so we are instructed to strengthen ourselves in the Lord. This is what David did on his most difficult day when his relationships were fractured, his finances were seemingly irretrievably lost, and his family was taken from him. 

David found strength in the Lord his God.” @ 1 Samuel 30:6

Although it is unlikely we will face the same situation as David, every follower of Christ needs to learn how to find strength in God.

Maybe, as you are reading this, you find yourself in the midst of a battle. It might be a battle for your marriage. It might be a battle for your kids. You might be battling with your emotions, or an addiction, or an eating disorder. You may find yourself overwhelmed with the pressure you’re facing… But today, you are being invited by the King of Glory to make a decision. To be strong in the Lord. To settle your trust deep in His character. To steady your heart in His faithfulness. To wait in confidence for His mighty power. Strengthen yourself in the Lord!

Day 2 - Standing Firm

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”  @ Exodus 14:13

Sometimes God lines up your enemies so you can live beyond them.

In today’s text, the community of God were surrounded by adversity and adversaries. What they assumed was the beginning of their demise was actually the entrance to their destiny. The Israelites didn’t know it. Pharaoh didn’t know it. But the season of attack they found themselves in was the opening of a season of advance. It was their moment of deliverance.

The nearness of an enemy is an indicator of your destiny. It is the sign God is doing something in you so expansive that you can never go back to the person you once were. Every other day, the Egyptians would have overwhelmed the community, but not today. God says, “Today the things that have been your lifelong struggle become the source of your new song.” 

I can almost hear Him say…

“I am about to bring you into a place that is spacious - a place of demonstrated grace. It will arouse opposition to your life, it will awaken enemies against your life and it will alter many things. Do not be surprised at the opposition you are experiencing for blessing must come. I have ordained blessing for you. Hidden blessing has been approved for your life. It clothes you with power and it crowns you with favour. It defeats your foes.” 

Courage friend, you are coming into a new season. You might be able to hear the adversary, you might even be able to see him, but you are coming into new territory and the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. God is bringing you out. It’s a new day!

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.”

Day 1 - Take Your Stand

“Stand your ground, and after you have done everything -  stand. 
Stand firm then.
” @ Ephesians 6:10-12

Unusual warfare around your life is the sign of unusual favour upon your life. 

There is something resting on you that resets the world around you. It has the capacity to change everything. You can't always see it, but principalities and powers can. It upsets the powers. And they seek to sabotage it. The devil’s schemes ALWAYS surround heaven’s dreams.

Every work of God in your life will be resisted and contested. The enemy comes every time you attempt something great for God, every time you seek to live life on a new level, every time you give yourself to something greater than yourself. He hopes that his tactic of intimidation will keep you from a lifestyle of expansion.

In today’s text, Paul instructs us to stand firm in the day or moment of evil. 

The warfare that surrounds your life is seasonal; the favour that is on your life is eternal. Don’t get those two confused. The enemy can hem you in for a while, but he can’t hold you down forever. You have the Spirit of the resurrected Christ in you and while Satan can knock you down, he can’t keep you out of everything that God has for you. He is pushing against you in the hope that you will lose heart and lose hope. His only chance of success is if you quit before your time - if you quit before you receive your inheritance.

In order for you to possess what heaven has for you - and not merely occasionally access it - you must learn to stand firm. 

Standing firm in the face of opposition turns occasional breakthrough into sustained inheritance. However, standing firm involves more than holding onto what you have, it’s about holding out for something more. Stand firm today, knowing that God has put something inside you that no circumstance, no event, no relationship can extinguish. It can’t be taken from you. You can only give up on it. Stand firm!