| The Whole Armor of God for War“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”-Ephesians 6:11“A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon.” -A Mighty Fortress Is Our God LSB 656 stz. 1
By September, most, if not all, kids are back in school and “normal” schedules resume for parents, teachers, and for the kids themselves. Vacations and time off have been taken, and, theoretically, we are rested, refreshed, and ready to resume real life once more. I pray, that part of resuming the normal habits of life include resuming coming to church. This is my prayer for you, not for my sake, that I might boast in our attendance, but for yours.
Our Epistle reading for the first Sunday in September is from Ephesians chapter 6:10-20. I quoted just one verse above to try to summarize the reading and its focus which is this: everyday, in summer, fall, winter, and spring, you stand against the schemes of the devil, wrestling not just with flesh and blood, but with all sorts of forces and influences seen and unseen, known and unknown, and the only way we can withstand their constant assaults is to put on the whole armor of God.
Along with Ephesians six, the most famous Luther hymn, A Mighty Fortress, tells us what that armor is, it is God himself delivered to us in Word and Sacrament. For us to withstand the constant, daily, continual assaults of the devil, those we know and can recognize and those that we don’t even realize are effecting and influencing us, we ought to remain in God’s Word.
And God does not give us just one piece of armor. He does not send us into this battle with just a shield or a helmet or a breastplate, but with a whole suit of armor. He equips us and straps armor onto us with His word in many ways. Some of them you get in the Divine Service, the absolution, his Word read and preached, and the Lord’s Supper, but some of them are given outside of the Divine Service as well, through Bible class, daily devotions, and prayer, just to name a few. And to be as prepared as we can possibly be to stand against the devil and withstand evil, Bible class, devotions, and prayer are valuable pieces of armor and to be without them is to be vulnerable to attack like a soldier walking into battle without a helmet, a shield, or a breastplate.
Since Pentecost (May 20) and the beginning of the Season of the Church and the challenge I issued, we have had over 66% (over 2/3) of our member in worship (which is good), but we have only averaged 66 people in worship each Sunday (not as good). We have also had 15% of our members in Bible class and averaged 12 people (including both Sunday and Wednesday classes) per week, which is 18% of our average worship attendance (which is not great either). These numbers would suggest that we as Hope Lutheran Church may be vulnerable and under-equipped to stand in battle against the devil.
So I pray for you, I encourage and urge you, put on the whole armor of God. Do not face the devil alone or without the trusty armor, shield, and weapon that God gives to you in his Word or you will surely fail. Come and receive God’s gifts. Receive Jesus crucified for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Fasten on the belt of truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, put on as shoes the readiness given by the gospel of peace, take up the shield of faith that can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one, take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, praying at all times. These are God’s gifts readily given to you for your good to protect you and give to you eternal life.
In the armor of God,