The Armor of God–A Morning Prayer with commentary.

Good morning, Father! Good morning, Jesus! Good morning Holy Spirit!

Romans 12:1-2 Heavenly Father, according to your Word, I present my body as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable in your sight. Let my behavior conform to your model, Jesus, and not to the world around me.

Isaiah 61:3 As I prepare to face the world Father, anoint my hair with the oil of your joy. Let me wear praise for my garment and, as a garland of beauty, a smile.

Ephesians 6:14-18 For strength to resist the devil’s tactics – to help me stand firm – I buckle the belt of truth around my waist and wear righteousness as my breastplate. My shoes are the readiness to spread the gospel of peace. My faith is my shield: with it I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Salvation is my helmet; and for my defense I take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I am ready to pray in the Spirit for all occasions.

Isaiah 58:8 And according to your Word, the glory of the Lord is my rear guard. Father, I thank you for the armor you have provided for me to dress in this day. I am completely covered now, in the name of Jesus, according to your Word.

Galatians 5:22-25 Let me walk through this day keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, producing the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Matthew 7:24 Upon Jesus I have built my life, my home, and my marriage and nothing shall prevail against these things.

Psalm 23:1 & You are my shepherd, I shall never be in spiritual want. For you have supplied all my

Philippians 4:13-19 needs according to your riches in glory and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 I cast down all imaginations and bring into captivity every evil thought.

1 Peter 5:7 I humble myself before you and cast all my cares upon you, for you care for me.

Psalm 103:3 & I praise you for walking in divine health, for you are my God who heals all my

Isaiah 53: 5 diseases and by your wounds I am healed.

3 John 1:2 I praise you and thank you for my prosperity and good health; even as my soul prospers.

Nehemiah 8:10 This day is holy to the Lord. I will not worry or weep but enjoy what I have and share it with others, for the joy of the Lord is my strength.

Jeremiah 1:12 Father, I have prayed according to your Word and you have said you would watch over your Word to fulfill it.

Father, please live big within me today, for I am yours in the name of Jesus. Amen.

First, some historical and technical notes:

My wife and I were first introduced to this prayer at a Walk to Emmaus Weekend. After pondering and prayer I modified the original, specifically for our personal use. It never occurred to me to share it, as I am a layperson and have no real theological training. It was when our church did a Bible Study on the Armor of God that I realized it might be good to share this prayer with them. However, I was reluctant because I had changed some things. I finally realized that the Lord wanted me to share this prayer, with my comments about each section. So here are my comments.

The major change to the original prayer was the addition of Galatians 5:22-25, the “fruit of the Spirit” passage. I also made changes in the order, to make it flow properly. For example, I moved the Isaiah 61:3 passage because I thought it made more sense to put those items on before donning the armor. And I changed some of the wording to make it sound better to me. When I started writing these comments, I looked at the way a number of translations phrased the verse in question; I also looked at notes and other commentaries.

Greek and Hebrew words often have more than one meaning, as do English words. Phrases can be translated into English in a variety of ways. I have chosen a number of different translations in order to make the concept fit. For example, I chose the King James Version for Isaiah 61:1-3. Even so, we miss the word “garland” which some versions translate as “crown”. (The Jerusalem Bible uses “garland.”) I read in a note or comment that the word could be translated as “garland of beauty” or “crown of beauty” and so the idea of a smile came to me.

These comments are just comments. I do not claim any divine inspiration. If you find something that does not seem to fit the Bible, I apologize. I have tried very hard to make sure that every concept is grounded in solid Biblical truth.

A comment on the format:

The first page is the prayer, with the Bible verse it references on the left. For the commentary, each part of the prayer is in large bold non-serif type. The Bible verse is just below it in a smaller non-serif type. My comments are in serif type. Other Biblical quotes are marked.

Good morning, Father! Good morning, Jesus! Good morning Holy Spirit!

We begin by saying, “Good Morning” to the three persons of God. Our God is one deity of three persons, that is, God is Triune. We could think of these persons as aspects, or dimensions or forms, but our God is a living sentient being. We do best to think about Him by referring to His person. The book of Genesis (Chapter 1, verse 1 & also verse 26) informs us that God is plural: the first name we find for God is Elohim, a plural form of the word for God, El. Chapter One of Genesis also informs us that God is both creator and spirit; and implies that the two are somehow different. David, in Psalm 110 calls the Messiah, “My Lord” and Jesus, in Matthew 22:41-46 asks the Pharisees how this could be. Chapter 1, verse 1 of The Gospel of John describes The Word to us in terms of the deity of Jesus. The Bible contains many more references to the three distinct persons that we know as God.

The main point is that God is one, singular god, but God has revealed Himself to us as three persons. When I pray, sometimes I say something like, “Hello, Father God, Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit; Lord God I come to you in prayer…” I say this because I am using the name ‘Lord God’ to refer to all three persons. In some translations ‘Lord God’ refers to the combined use of Elohim and Yahweh. So the term refers to all of God. It is okay to pray to just the Holy Spirit, or to Jesus or to the Father (Jesus said to pray to the Father, we are told to ask the Holy Spirit and to pray in Jesus’ name). However, it seems proper to say “Good Morning” to all three persons of the Trinity.

Romans 12:1-2 Heavenly Father, according to your Word, I present my body as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable in your sight. Let my behavior conform to your model, Jesus, and not to the world around me.

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

Imagine that God appeared to you as He appeared to Abraham, Isaiah and others in the Old Testament. What would you be likely to do? We are not told what Abraham did when God revealed Himself to Abraham the first time (see Genesis 12). In chapter 18 Abraham treats the manifestation of God as a very special guest; Isaiah (see Isaiah 6) cries in fear that he is ‘a man of unclean lips’ and thus ‘undone’ or ‘lost’.

When we first wake up and say “Hello” to God, does He not appear before us? Or—more precisely—do we not appear before Him, in His court? This is much more than a casual, “Hi, how you doing?” that we might say to a friend. We are truly standing (or kneeling or sitting respectfully – or possibly still laying in bed – ) before the King and Creator of the Universe. Wouldn’t you want to offer Him a gift? And what do you have that you could give to God?

St. Paul’s request that we worship God properly, offering ourselves as a holy sacrifice, is thus very appropriate here.

Now as we read the Bible, especially the description of the sort of animal that God allows to be a sacrifice, we become aware of our inability to fulfill the requirement. We know that we are not without blemish; therefore we are not pleasing to God. It is only through the sacrifice made in our behalf by Jesus the Messiah (who was without blemish) that we become acceptable to God. It does please the Lord God that we have accepted Jesus as our Messiah and repented of Sin. Your acceptance of the free gift of salvation makes you “without blemish” and thus acceptable to God.

Since we have already accepted God’s gift of salvation, this morning we need only to ask God for protection from temptation. We take this opportunity to ask Jesus to help us conform to the model He provided, and to ask that we be given assistance to resist the model of the world. How we can do that is described in the rest of our prayer.

Isaiah 61:3 As I prepare to face the world Father, anoint my hair with the oil of your joy. Let me wear praise for my garment and, as a garland of beauty, a smile.

1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound,

2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn,

3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJV)

This morning we are going to need to dress properly. First we need to smell sweet. A bath helps, but we received a ‘bath’ when we were ‘washed in the blood’ of Jesus sacrifice. In addition we also were ‘bathed’ when we were baptized. No, what we need this morning is to remove the odor of mourning, fretting and whining.

We mourn for that which we imagine we have lost. This is not mourning for lost loved ones. We do mourn them. But that mourning is a necessary part of living. It is unbecoming not to mourn them.

No, this is the mourning for that which we imagine we have lost. It is an imaginary loss, focused on the ‘self’ and not on others. We mourn lost ball games. We mourn lost business opportunities. We mourn missing our favorite TV show. We mourn lost treasures. We mourn lost things. We also mourn the missed opportunity to witness Jesus to someone. And we mourn the missed moment with our children. We can begin our day with all these regrets, just as the Jews in Isaiah’s day mourned the loss of Jerusalem. Now the Jews that had been transported to Babylon did think they would never go back. But they had not read the scripture properly. If they had, they would have known God’s intentions. We, likewise, have not read the scriptures properly. So, we mourn for that which we perceive we have lost. And this mourning for material treasures produces a spiritual stench.

In addition, we cover ourselves with ashes, just as the ancient world did, when we are unhappy. Throughout the Old Testament we read of people, upon hearing bad news, who tore their clothes and covered themselves with ashes. We still do this. We force a wimpy smile; we greet people halfheartedly; we let others see the spiritual ashes we have poured over our heads by letting them see us fret and worry. Or, we are greeted with, “How’s it going?” and we reply with a fake smile and the lie, “Fabulous!” This adds to the spiritual stench; those around us feel our unhappiness.

Finally, we indulge in a spirit of heaviness or despair. While we don’t actually say, “Oh! Woe is me!” We do act as if, for example, the lost ball game is the end of the world. We can’t forgive the person who (we think) carelessly broke our treasure and we make sure they know it. We use the opportunity of disappointment as an excuse to give up. Pointing out the horrible thing that happened, “Why try?” we ask. Or, we place blame. We announce our displeasure with certain coaches or ball players concerning the loss of the game. Or we talk about the boss or a co-worker blaming our plight on them. Our whining actually becomes a spiritual stench that works like a bad odor on those around us.

In all of this our focus is on self. We mourn, we worry, we indulge in despair because we are thinking about “ME” and that is our problem.

When Jesus went to Nazareth, his hometown, he read Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue and told his brethren that the scripture was being fulfilled right in front of their eyes. It is interesting that Jesus stopped with verse 2, especially since he did not have verse numbers. The sentence continues through verse 3. The whole passage is chapters 60 through 62 of Isaiah. See Luke 4:16-30 for the account of Jesus in Nazareth.

So, this morning, we are going to ask Jesus to fulfill the two verses he read to the Jews in Nazareth and to complete the good news by fulfilling the third verse of chapter 61. We shall ask Him to replace the mourning, the ashes and the spirit of despair.

The first gift, to replace mourning, is Joy. One image of Joy is that of oil. Psalm 45 and Psalm 23 are two of many places to find the Oil of the Lord. So, this morning, we ask our Lord to anoint us with His Oil, the Oil of Joy. And what is the Oil of His Joy? It is the empty tomb. Have you ever meditated on the empty tomb? Consider John and Peter when they first saw the empty tomb. John tells us that when he saw the folded cloth he believed. (John 20:1-10) It does not say he laughed, but he must have felt an elation that went beyond smiling. Victory beyond any victory the disciples, or you or I could ever expect. Victory over Death. And Resurrection bringing Victory over Sin. Stunned incredulity. Mind boggling. A dead man got up and walked! How can you mourn all those perceived losses? A person can’t help but smile.

And that is our second gift. To replace the ashes we are given a garland of beauty, a smile. You can’t fret and worry when there is a smile on your face.

The third gift is underwear. Jesus will replace your spirit of heaviness, those feelings of despair, with an undergarment: Praise. We will need something soft and comfortable under the armor He is going to provide. Praise is that soft, comfortable garment. (In addition, some call Colossians 3:12 “God’s Underwear” and so I bring it to your attention. Most of the qualities listed are included in the Fruit of the Spirit, but you can add ‘compassion’ and ‘humility’ to the list of undergarments you are wearing under your armor. And you might add a garment of ‘encouragement’…we do praise God, but others we should encourage.)

Put on the garment of Praise. Praise God for anything and everything. “Rejoice in the Lord, always: and again I say Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) St. Paul is not being trite when he says this. He is thinking about the empty tomb and our resurrection in Heaven. When we remember the empty tomb and get anointed with the Oil of Joy we can’t help but smile. And, when we praise God, we can’t help but forget about “Me” and, instead, we will be thinking about Him and about the people we meet.

Put on the garment of Praise. Praise your brothers and sisters in Christ. Tell them that something they have done is a good thing. Sometimes our Christian brothers and sisters really irritate us. Siblings are good for that. Remember, Jesus has already forgiven them. You do likewise. Put on the garment of praise and see what happens to that spirit of heaviness. `

Put on the garment of praise. Praise your heathen acquaintances and pagan colleagues for the things they do that are good. Quit finding Fault! Ever feel like this: Yes, I’m guilty of not doing it right; but I know that: twenty people have already told me. Is there anything I’ve done that is even slightly adequate? It would be nice to have just one person tell you that you did something right. Well, could you be that one person for someone else? Imagine how everyone you know will feel when you treat them like they are actually human!

We are now ready for Jesus to dress us in His armor.

Ephesians 6:14-18 For strength to resist the devil’s tactics – to help me stand firm – I buckle the belt of truth around my waist and wear righteousness as my breastplate. My shoes are the readiness to spread the gospel of peace. My faith is my shield: with it I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Salvation is my helmet; and for my defense I take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I am ready to pray in the Spirit for all occasions.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— Ephesians 6:14-18 (NKJV)

Soldiers are warriors. They wage war to expand their king’s territory. They fight to defend their king. Their goal is to defeat their enemy. In the performance of their duties they may be wounded, they may be killed. If you have accepted Jesus as your savior and king then you are a soldier in his army. This is the army of the rightful king (Jesus) working to overthrow the usurper (Satan). The battlefield is a spiritual battlefield. But it is a field of battle that we enter every day. The armor God provides will protect us and enable us to fight the enemy (Satan).

Ephesians 6:10-13

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

As a soldier, you need armor for protection in battle. St. Paul used the idea of a Roman soldier’s armor to illustrate how we could think about preparing for spiritual battle.

Most Christians have read Ephesians 6:14-17. There are all sorts of books on the “Armor of God” and most churches either recently finished a Bible study on the subject or they are having one now or they plan to in the near future. It’s a good idea to attend one of these Bible studies and/or read a book about the Armor of God. If you have never read about the Armor of God, or if you need a reminder, here is a quick summary:

This armor is composed of 1. The Belt of Truth. 2. The Breastplate of Righteousness. 3. Shoes to spread the Gospel of Peace. 4. The Shield of Faith. 5. The Helmet of Salvation. 6. The Sword of the Spirit. 7. Prayer.

Truth: This includes refraining from lying, but it is much more than that. You should refrain from lying because you want to obey God. Here we are referring to the foundation of the armor, the Belt that holds the armor in place. This is the Truth that Jesus and Pilate discussed at Jesus’ trial just before he was crucified, the Truth that forms the foundation of the world. When you buckle the Belt of Truth around your waist, you have for your support the eternal truth of God’s Word.

Integrity or Righteousness: Just as the Breastplate attaches to the Belt so righteousness attaches to truth. The word means both integrity and righteousness: integrity is integrated, consistent thought; righteousness is correct attitude based on the righteousness of God. The Greek word means to be as you are supposed to be; to be acceptable to God. Caution: righteousness is not the righteousness of good works. Righteousness is your humble obedience to God’s word. You are saved by Jesus because of your faith, not by your righteousness.

Spreading the Gospel of Peace: in verses 11, 13, & 14, Saint Paul tells us to “stand” and the proper footwear can help us to do that. The shoes a Roman soldier wore were similar to sandals. However, they had hobnails to help the soldier stand firm. In spreading the Gospel we need to stand firm and uphold The Truth. This verse incorporates a Greek word that the King James & other versions translate as “preparation”. The word also means “readiness”. It appears that St. Paul wants us to be prepared, to be ready. When temptation comes we need to be ready to stand firm. Also, when we meet others, we need to be prepared and ready to share the Gospel with them; remembering that it is the Gospel of Peace and so should produce Peace in those we meet.

Faith: The picture of Faith as a Shield is very instructive. The picture is of the demons shooting flaming arrows at us. The shield is designed to catch those arrows and let them burn out with no damage to ourselves. These darts of fire are such things as stray thoughts of doubt, despair and defeat. They are also the invitation to participate in gossip or engage in other activities that would compromise your witness. Faith is the shield that brings courage. It is built out of the same Truth that the Belt represents.

Salvation: The helmet protects the soldier’s head. In the same way, salvation protects the thought processes. The demons will always try to bring doubt and confusion. Knowing that you are saved protects you. When you know that you have confessed your sin, repented and then accepted the gift of forgiveness from Jesus, then you know you are saved, you know the Truth and there is no doubt.

The Word of God: This sword cuts to the bone. It can be painful to hear the word of God. The Old Testament prophets spoke the Word and were persecuted for doing it. No one wants to hear that God is not pleased with his or her actions. It is my understanding that the word for ‘sword’ in this passage is the Greek word for a short sword used for defense. As I read Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees, etc. it seems to me that he quoted scripture in defense, not to attack them. When he was tempted by Satan, he used scripture in defense; he did not attack Satan with scripture. The Pharisees and Satan were the ones attacking him with scripture.

The Word of God is also a sword that brings peace. The sword of a “knight in shining armor” would vanquish foes and bring peace to damsels in distress. We are comforted by God’s Word. Hearing the 23rd. Psalm, for example, brings comfort and joy. We must be reminded that it is easy to pick up a sword and start swinging it. To use it properly we must know our sword, practice with it every day. When we consider the Word of God to be a sword we better understand how to employ it: we would not want to ram it down the throat of someone we wish to convert.

The supreme piece of your armor is prayer. The Roman soldier had no weapon or piece of armor equivalent to prayer, so St. Paul does not even make a comparison. He just tells us to pray in the Spirit. He also asks us to pray for all the saints. Prayer is our most important offensive and defensive weapon.

Isaiah 58:8 And according to your Word, the glory of the Lord is my rear guard. Father, I thank you for the armor you have provided for me to dress in this day. I am completely covered now, in the name of Jesus, according to your Word.

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:8 (NIV)

The whole passage is Isaiah 58: 1-12

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself ? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. 

As you read Isaiah 58 consider the armor you have just donned. If your belt is Truth and your breastplate is Righteousness would you be involved in the activities expressed in verses 6 and 7? Jesus, according to Matthew 6:16, surely thought so. The promise in verse 8 is that if we do as God wants then He will be our rear guard. Now, since we have been commanded to “Love our neighbor as ourselves” then this is just a reminder of the promise. It sure is nice to know that God has said, “I got your back!” Now that we are properly dressed in our battle gear we can go out into the world.

Galatians 5:22-25 Let me walk through this day keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, producing the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

And we discover that the world is full of the ‘works of the flesh’ as St. Paul listed in Galatians 5:19-21. St. Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the Flesh. It seems obvious that they are mutually exclusive. Since we are wearing our armor we should be able to ignore the temptations of the world. But we are made of flesh and it is not that easy. So St. Paul offers us a goal. Instead of trying to ignore the world, we just concentrate on the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ and move toward that goal.

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22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with its passions and its desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 (Common English Bible

The following is mostly from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: (http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/strongs-exhaustive-concordance/)

Love is ‘Agapao’, the highest of the Greek words for love. In English, we use the word ‘Agape’ for the various Greek forms of this word. This is not brotherly love, but forgiving, charitable, merciful affection and good will. Ultimately, it is Jesus on the Cross.

Love’ is also a command: Matthew 22:37-39: 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The word for ‘love’ in this passage is ‘agapao’. The Lord Jesus has commanded us to the highest form of love in our dealings with other human beings.

Joy is ‘Chara’, which is Greek for joy. Joy is more than happiness. Happiness is a short-lived emotion. Joy is the elation of the empty tomb; the jubilation of knowing your sin is forgiven; the gladness of knowing that the Creator of the Universe cares about you. Joy can produce laughter in a person, but it most frequently produces a state of wonder and sense of harmony with God.

Peace is ‘Eirene’, Greek for peace. It can mean that a country is not at war, but it can also mean a state of personal amity or serenity. St. Paul is talking about the harmony and tranquility that result from knowing you are saved.

Patience is ‘Makrothumia’ or patience, endurance, perseverance, long-suffering. (Long-suffering should be understood in the sense of “suffer the little children to come unto me.” That is, “back off and let”.) Patience can be understood in personal terms, as in a person having the patience to endure the actions of other people. This sort of patience involves forgiveness. But it is also the ability to accept God’s timing, to persevere in doing right, to wait for God to answer a prayer.

Kindness is ‘Chrestotes’ or moral goodness, integrity, benignity, kindness. The King James Version translates this word as ‘gentleness’ which would be the ‘gentle’ that described a gentleman in those days. A true gentleman would be noble and kind. The word invokes the ideal of the ‘knight in shining armor’ ready to fight but tempered by the virtues.

Goodness is ‘Agathosune’ or uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness. More than integrity, this is the inner core of a person who has centered his/her life on God. Jesus told us that only God was ‘good’ when he was called, “good teacher” (Mark 10:17-18). Goodness is imitating Christ.

Faithfulness is ‘Pistis’ or the character of one who can be relied upon. Fidelity, faithfulness. Also, the conviction of the truth of anything, belief: especially in Jesus. If we are faithful, we can be relied upon. We are faithful because we rely upon Jesus. We are wearing the Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness that Jesus gave us. Jesus can rely on us to obey his commands. Jesus can depend on us to fight the good fight for him. In addition, other people can rely on us. As Christians, we should be known as ‘those who keep their word.’

Gentleness is ‘Praotes’ or mildness of disposition, meekness, gentleness of spirit. The King James translates this word as “meekness”. This is the idea Jesus proposes when he asks us to “turn the other cheek”. We trust God and depend on His strength rather than our own; understanding that God uses the evil done against us to remove sin and that He is the Good Shepherd who will rescue us. One model is Job, who did not understand why evil came his way, nevertheless, he did not sin against God. Another model is David, who did not harm King Saul when he had the chance (1 Samuel 24:1-12). In addition, we see this in the admonition to get angry and not sin. Sinful anger is the emotion that occurs when we have been wronged. Holy anger is the emotion that occurs when innocents have been wronged. When we are wronged we should be gentle instead of sinning in anger. In this there is the notion that we should be very strong in order to be that ‘knight in shining armor’ who comes to the aid of the innocent. When others see our strength and then see us display gentleness or meekness they should be able to see Christ. Gentleness/Meekness requires a strong form of self-restraint. I do not believe it is possible to exhibit this virtue without depending on the strength of The Lord.

Self-control is ‘Egkrateia’ or the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites. Because of ‘The Fall’ our desires and sensual appetites are perverted. It may seem that “I was born this way” and so my desire for pleasure is natural and right. However, in order to protect us from the problems that result from such activity, the Lord has set boundaries for us. He has said, for example, that it is foolish to get drunk. Wine is a good thing. It preserves the goodness of the grape and provides pleasure. But we need to practice self-control and not get drunk—or addicted. I know people who are allergic to chocolate, others who are allergic to tomatoes. These people must have self-control and not eat those delicious foods. They can’t even have a taste. They were ‘born that way’ and so they have to practice self-control if they are going to avoid the problems that result from eating foods they should not eat.

What St. Paul was asking the Galatians (and us) to do is to meditate on these virtues instead of pondering the list of sins he mentions first. This list may be a picture of the “perfect Christian” and it may seem beyond your ability to achieve the virtues listed above. But you do not need to rely on your fleshly abilities. Instead you should rely on the Lord your God. I am nowhere near ‘perfect’ as my wife can tell you. But as the saying goes, “God is not finished with me yet!”

To put it another way, St. Paul understands that if he asks you, “Don’t think about red roses” you can’t help but think about them. So he is asking you to think about the virtues “against which there is no law.” By meditating on the fruit of the Spirit you will begin to display the fruit in your daily activities.

The remainder of our morning prayer is a short list of some of the promises God has made. These promises add strength to our armor.

Matthew 7:24 Upon Jesus I have built my life, my home, and my marriage and nothing shall prevail against these things.

24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24 (New American Standard)

Jesus told parable of the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built on sand. We now claim the promise that the things we hold most dear will survive any devastating storm.

Psalm 23:1 & You are my shepherd, I shall never be in spiritual

Philippians 4:13-19 want. For you have supplied all my

needs according to your riches in glory and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1. (KJV)

The promise is for those sheep that do not stray, and for those the shepherd has rescued. We can walk through a valley of deathly dangers without fear because He is our shepherd. But if we wander off, run away, we are no longer under His protection. He can rescue us, but we may be severely injured by the deadly dangers that are in the world.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

St. Paul has been describing the gifts the Philippians have sent to him. Now he rephrases the promise of Malachi 3:10. God will supply all our needs, but He expects us to have a giving heart. It is, in essence, the same promise as Psalm 23. If we are, as Jesus said in St. John’s gospel, ‘abiding in Him’ then He is ‘abiding in us.’ (See John 15.)

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 I cast down all imaginations and bring into captivity every evil thought.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV)

This is the promise that our armor is effective; especially the Helmet of Salvation. Every false argument, every evil thought, and the demons that are the source of these rebellious attitudes, will be brought into the obedience of Christ. This is where prayer is so very effective. When we talk to God, when we tell Him about our negative thoughts and fears, the doubts and false arguments that wander through our minds, He will protect us (Psalm 23) and supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19).

1 Peter 5:7 I humble myself before you and cast all my cares upon you, for you care for me.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5: 6-7

In the next two verses, St. Peter warns us that our adversary is like a roaring lion and we must resist him. Then he prays that God will rescue us. Yes, again God restates Psalm 23, this time saying that we need to be humble, and not stray down a path of our own choosing. We have a hard time being humble. We want to exalt ourselves. But, we are warned throughout the Bible about pride. In this promise, God promises to repay our humble attitude with His exaltation when the time is right. He also restates His promise to take care of us.

Psalm 103:3 & I praise you for walking in divine health, for you are my God Isaiah 53: 5 who heals all my diseases and by your wounds I am healed.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:2-5 (NKJV)

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)

It seems to me that, while the Lord does heal physical diseases like the flu and cancer; the best healing He provides is spiritual healing. Isaiah seems to be very specific: it is by his stripes that our transgressions and iniquities are healed and we receive our peace from Him. In the next verse, he says that we are like sheep that have gone astray. In addition to this, in the Gospels Jesus tells everyone he heals that it is through their faith that they are healed. We tend to forget that healing is done for the glory of God. We want to be healed for our convenience. And the Lord is willing to heal us. Disease and Death are a result of Sin entering the world. God heals pagans and Christians all for His glory. All of us know that it is God who heals. And I believe that He heals us to remind us of who He is. However Sin is deadly; all have sinned; all will die. Yet we have the hope of resurrection through the empty tomb. He raised the dead, including Lazarus, and then He himself rose from death to prove who He was and to offer us resurrection through belief in Him.

3 John 1:2 I praise you and thank you for my prosperity and good health; even as my soul prospers.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth. 3 John 1: 2-4

John is writing to Gaius, an elder in the church. Because the Church was led by God to include this letter in Holy Scripture, we accept that it is to be interpreted as inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus is meant for us. And we are once again examining that Belt that God gave us as the foundation for our armor. He has no greater joy than to hear that we walk in Truth. Note also, that St. John qualifies his prayer for Gaius that he prosper and be in good health: “just as your soul prospers” is the condition. It is through spiritual prosperity that we receive physical prosperity and good health. (Yes, pagans get physical prosperity, but we do not know just what they would have if they had spiritual prosperity. All will learn on ‘The day of the Lord’.)

Nehemiah 8:10 This day is holy to the Lord. I will not worry or weep but enjoy what I have and share it with others, for the joy of the Lord is my strength.

So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them. Nehemiah 8:8-12

The wall had been built. The people gathered and Ezra read the Law from the Books Moses wrote. Then the people wept. Nehemiah and Ezra told them not to weep, for “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” So they rejoiced and had a huge party. When they heard the Law, they knew they were sinful. Yet all they needed to hear was that they should give to those who have nothing and to rejoice for strength can be found in the joy of the LORD. We understand much better than they, just what that joy really is. We rejoice in the strength we get from the cross and the empty tomb. We want to share that joy with others, just as the people in Nehemiah’s day wanted to share the joy of The Law with those who had not heard it. And, like them, we are filled with JOY and want to celebrate. (That’s one reason God’s people have lots of meals together.)

Jeremiah 1:12 Father, I have prayed according to your Word and you have said you would watch over your Word to fulfill it.

Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.” Jeremiah 1:11-12 (NKJV)

The NIV translates verse 12 as:

The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled”

Jeremiah has just been commissioned by God to be His prophet. The Amplified Bible tells us that the almond tree was a symbol of alertness and activity. And immediately, God extends the vision to show Jeremiah how His word is going to be fulfilled. This morning we ask God to ‘watch over’ or ‘perform’ His words that we have just prayed.

We are now dressed in the Armor of God. We are anointed with the oil of Joy, wearing a smile and speaking praise to God and to those we meet. We are protected from the Adversary with the armor and weapons God has provided. We produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit as we walk with Him. We are building our life, our home and our marriage on the Rock of Jesus; standing on the Promises of God as we walk humbly with Him. We thank God for our prosperity and good health, praising Him for this day and for the strength we get from His Joy.

We end our prayer asking God to live within us and confessing that we are His.

Father, please live big within me today, for I am yours in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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