All of us have felt the tug of an old habit or former way of life. And I’m sure you’ve known the frustration it creates as you long for the familiar, even though it may be destructive or may lead you outside God’s will. At times, the challenge may seem too hard. Your old life beckons, tempting you with familiar sources of comfort.
Did you know that many Jewish Christians of the first century thought about returning to the Jewish faith? Some of Jesus’ teachings didn’t seem to line up with the teachings of the Jewish rabbis. Was Jesus really the Messiah? Did following him mean they had to give up their old, familiar forms of worship? Would it be wrong to go back to their old beliefs and traditions? Did it make sense to follow this new way when it led to harsh persecution?
The writer of the book of Hebrews addressed these concerns of the Jewish Christians. In this book, they are encouraged to hold onto their faith, to encourage one another and to look forward to Jesus’ return.
What old habits are haunting you? Addiction? Lust? Anger? Spiritual renewal requires that you seek God, surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and follow his ways. From time to time, you will almost certainly feel a temptation to return to your former ways of life. But God is more than able to help you overcome and empower you to grow.
Are you facing a strong temptation? Interpersonal conflicts? Difficult circumstances? In the Bible the apostle Paul uses the analogy of armor and warfare to teach about the equipment that’s essential for standing against temptation and spiritual attack.
First, he encourages you to put on the belt of truth. Satan is the father of lies. He’s constantly trying to deceive and trap you. In contrast, all of your armor is held together by truth, which comes from the Father of Truth.
Next, you need to put on the body armor of God’s righteousness. Though there are many levels of meaning to this phrase, the primary one is that you’re forgiven and accepted through faith in Jesus Christ alone. You’re not protected by your own righteousness; you need the righteousness of God.
Next, you’re called to put on the shoes of peace and carry this Good News to people everywhere.
You’re also given a shield of faith to protect you against Satan’s accusations and persecutions. Prayer leads to faith. It keeps your vision clear when circumstances cloud your way.
The helmet of salvation is next on Paul’s list. In addition to protecting the wearer, the helmet identified a soldier’s allegiance. You belong to the company of Christ.
Finally, you’re armed with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. The sword is your only offensive weapon.
God never leaves his men behind in battle. Read Paul’s warfare prayer from the book of Ephesians 6:10-18 for help.
Praise is the outward expression of your deep joy! We praise God in worship on Sunday morning. We praise our team when they do well at sporting events. We praise our kids when they achieve a goal or do something special.
Isn’t cheering someone’s success and accomplishments an invigorating experience? You’ll find the same energy within your spiritual life when you consider how God has moved in history, as well as in your own life. We don’t think about that enough.
Few things will strengthen your faith more than when you cultivate a rich understanding of God through worship. Praise him by remembering his faithfulness to you throughout your years and by looking forward to his promises. When you worship him, your faith will be strengthened, your heart encouraged, and your vision of who God is and how he works will grow.