Standing On The Promises!

Ephesians 6:15

The apostle Paul tells us that there is an invisible army of evil beings which does the bidding of Satan
and tries to thwart the will of God in the lives of Christians.
Paul describes this as a spiritual battle, and he says there are six pieces of armour that we need
if we are to be victorious.
In this sermon, we are going to look at the shoes of the gospel.

"Stand firm… having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace." (Ephesians 6:14-15)

Roman soldiers needed good footwear.
A soldier who couldn't keep his footing was a vulnerable soldier.
Josephus, in the sixth volume of his major work on the Jewish Wars, described the soldiers' footwear
as "shoes thickly studded with sharp nails".

With those shoes they could keep their footing in the worst conditions.
The military successes of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar were due in large measure
to their armies ability to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain.
They could not have done that unless their feet were well shod.

The same is true in the spiritual battle.
We must keep our footing, no matter how treacherous the ground.
Now let us look at what that means.

In the NIV, Ephesians 6:15 is translated, "and with your feet fitted with the readiness
that comes from the gospel of peace".

The New Century Version reads, "On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong."

So the next question is, what is the gospel of peace?

The context here refers to things we do on a daily basis in our spiritual battle.
I believe that it refers to the peace of God; and the peace that is ours when we believe the promises of God,
and act accordingly.
This is the peace suggested by Ephesians 2:14, which describes Jesus Himself as being "our peace".
This is reinforced in John 14:27, were we read the words of Jesus: "Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful
."

This peace is central to doing battle effectively in the spiritual war in which we find ourselves.
So the truth here would be paraphrased – the peace of God in your heart helps you stand firm in spiritual battle.

When we believe God… when we believe what He says and trust Him… believing that whatever comes
God will hold us… then we have the personal, inner peace that enables us to keep our footing
in the daily spiritual battle.
If we do not believe the promises of God, we will become agitated, weakened and confused;
when that happens, we are likely to lose our footing, and we will be defeated in our daily spiritual battle.

So here are some of God's most important promises.
Let us see how they give us the inner peace we need to stand firm.

The first promise is – "I will give you eternal life."

John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life
."

Everyone at one time or another in his life will think about death.
And at one time or another everyone is afraid to die.

The philosophical possum, named Pogo, lives in the Okefenokee Swamp, says:
"I hate death, in fact, I could live forever without it."
One famous actor once said,
"It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens."

Probably, most of the time it is the very young and the very old who tend to think about dying.
Everyone in between thinks about it only when someone else dies or when he or she is very sick
or when someone is in a bad accident.
For most people, death is just a big, yawning black hole at the end of the conveyor belt of life.
People ride along on the conveyor belt, and when they get to the end, the belt drops off into the black hole.
They call it the great unknown.

What happens then?
Of course this is the greatest question everyone asks.
It is the question around which much of our literature and art are created and framed.

Is there life after death?
Is there a God?
Is there a heaven?
Is there a hell?
If there might be, where am I going to go?
Is it safe to die?
Is there the possibility of eternal punishment and torment?
How can I escape it?
How can I know for sure?

Someone has described death this way:
"Like a hen before a cobra, we find ourselves incapable of doing anything at all in the presence
of the very thing that seems to call for the most drastic and decisive action.
The disquieting thought, that stares at us like a face with a freezing grin, is that there is, in fact, nothing we can do.
Say what we will, do what we will, we will soon enough be a heap of ruined feathers and bones."
– Source Unknown

Undertaker or comedian, lawyer or plumber, general in the army or housewife, mechanic or movie star,
cowboy or congressman… get them in a quiet moment when they will talk honestly and openly with you,
and the one thing everyone fears most is death.
It is the great enemy.
It is the great unknown.

In the face of this reality, the great promise from Jesus to us, is life.
Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life."
Jesus said, "He who believes in Me shall live even if he dies,
and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die
." (John 11:25-26)

That is a promise that we can count on.
If we believe in Jesus, it is safe to die.
We don't have to fear the great unknown any longer.
We can have peace in the face of life's greatest enemy – death.

The second promise is: "I will guide you in your daily life."

This great promises found in Proverbs 3:5-6:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight
."

We don't have to know which way we must go through life.
So we must hold onto the One who does.

There is an old saying: "In order to be free to sail the seven seas,
we must make ourselves a slave to the compass
."

When we make ourselves a slave to Christ, we are free to sail the seven seas of life.
We don't have to be in bondage to ignorance or desires or lies.
We can be free.
There is no bondage and commitment to Christ – there is only freedom.

We don't have to stumble around in life trying to find our way.
We don't have to stub our toe in the darkness or walk off a cliff in blindness.
The truth of the Scripture will give us light and sight, and keep us from walking off the safe path.

When we commit ourselves to following all that we understand of God in the Scriptures,
we have peace… peace in knowing that we're doing the right thing with life.
We have peace in knowing that God is pleased with us.
We have peace in knowing that we are being freed from slavery to things that hurt us.
God's will is good!

The third promise is: "I will give you peace in the midst of pain."

The great Scripture in Romans level 8:28 says,
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose
."

All things are good in a direct sense, but indirectly, God can use anything for our good.

Sooner or later, life will haul off and sock us in the jaw.
And when we're standing there with piercing pain stabbing to our whole body – our knees buckling
– our mouth agape, struggling for air – we all ask ourselves,
"Why?… Why did This happen to me?
Why did this happen to me?
What sense does it make?
What good can ever come out of this?
What purpose is there in it
?"

It is in these moments that God seems both the closeness and the farthest away.

Many different things cause pain, but much of it we bring on ourselves.
Why is this so?
It is because we do the things the Bible warns us against.
And so we reap what we have sown.
But God is able to bring good even out of that kind of pain.

Maybe you have been foolish in the past.
As a result, you have experienced more pain than you ever thought possible by suffering
the consequences of your sin.
Yet God can turn that into good in making you a strong, insightful, sensitive, wise person.
He can turn that to good by using the lives of other people as you share the wisdom
that you have learned and help them not to make the same mistake.

God can turn your life into a glorious tribute to His grace, no matter what you have done.
God can bring good out of any pain.

Sometimes, pain is the result of God's spanking us.
This kind of pain hurts just as much as other pain, but God is able to bring good out of the it also.
Hebrews 12:7, 11 says: "God deals with you as with sons;
for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
… All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;
yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness
."

Perhaps, you started drinking, and before you knew it you were addicted.
You were a Christian.
You knew that drinking was wrong.
But you were too proud to ask for help, and too proud to repent.

So you tried to find the help yourself, but you lost.
Pretty soon, you stopped trying to walk with God because you were convinced that He was sick of you.
You lost your friends, your job, and even your family.
You hit bottom.

There on the bottom, you "found" God again.
Really, God was there all the time.
You repented.
You followed His leadership and got the help you needed.

Now, years have gone by, and you are still sober.
God disciplined you.
It hurt.
But through it, God brought righteousness, strength, stability and peace back into your life.
And it was good.

Then, of course, there is the pain which no one can explain.
Such as the pain of a wayward child.
The pain of disease.
The pain of a physical disability.

Yet those who have passed through this can testify that often when the pain is greatest – Jesus is the closest.
They will tell you that when they reflect on the work God did in their lives as a result -- it was worth it.

Sometimes this perspective and gratitude is not gained until afterwards.
At other times, fellowship with God is closest and sweetest in the very midst of it.
But always, God can give peace for pain.

Standing Firm

God has given us many promises in His Word.
But these are some of the most important ones.

Often when life gets heavy for us, and when life feels as though it is going to crush us;
it is because we are trying to carry a burden that Jesus never intended us to carry.
It is too heavy for us.
Only Jesus can carry it.
We are trying to climb the mountain steep with our own strength, and hanging on for dear life.

The burden of trying to take care of ourselves after we die is too heavy for us.
If we believe His promise, we can have peace in the face of death.

The burden of trying to control all the people and possessions and circumstances
to make life go the way we want it is too heavy for us.
We cannot gain that much control.
If we trust God to guide us, and to take us up over the mountain in the darkness,
we can have peace in the midst of life's uncertainties.

The burden of trying to cope with pain is often greater than we can handle by ourselves.
It is too heavy for us.
If we would only trust Jesus to carry that burden and give us the grace to face what comes,
moment by moment, we can have peace in the midst of pain and beauty for ashes later.

Many of us must be brought to the end of our own spiritual and emotional resources and strength
before we place our trust in Jesus – believe His promises and rest completely in them.

When we do that, God gives us the peace that puts our feet on solid ground.
and enables us to stand firm in the midst of the spiritual battle.

When we put on the shoes of the gospel of peace, we are saying:
"I believe the promises of God, and I count on them to be true for me.
And when I do, I can have His peace in my life
."

"Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love's strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit's sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
List'ning every moment to the Spirit's call,
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

Chorus:
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I'm standing on the promises of God."
-- Russell K. Carter, 1886

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White