Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Helmet of Salvation

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:17)

Today we’ll talk about(/I’ll write about) the helmet of salvation, tomorrow we’ll talk about the sword of the Spirit:

The helmet of salvation

A helmet, pretty obviously, protects the mind. Another one of those parts of the body which if so much as gently poked, when cause serious damage. Here’s a hint though: the enemy won’t want to gently poke. Thus the helmet, bone, and skin protecting it.

A helmet was pretty much standard back in the day for any army who wanted to get anything done. But there’s more to a helmet than simply protecting the head. The Roman galea, which was their helmet, was also meant to mark the one wearing it as a fellow Roman. Have you ever seen some movie where someone was wearing a helmet with a red or blue “horse-ploom”? That’s a sort of helmet that a Roman centurion would wear. Yes, it was meant to protect. But it also told fellow Roman’s not to attack that guy; he’s a partner.

For the Christian, a helmet does give protection, yes; but it also distinguished us. It’s like a modern-day circumcision. But instead of being the “circumcision group” which gave Paul so many problems, we’re the salvation group. Distinguished from everyone else by… The fact that we, um, where our salvation on top of our head? What, should we all go buy toy Roman helmets and where them to church? It’s called the armor of God for a reason; that reason being that it is in fact, His armor. Which means its Spiritual and not physical. The difference between the two I believe is self-evident.

Our Salvation is Christ. He is our savior; the one without whom we would all be Spiritually dead in our sins and trespasses now. He is our helmet of salvation, because He is our salvation. Therefore it could be said Christ Himself is, in fact, our distinguishing mark. He is the one who protects our mind from harm as well as distinguishes us all others. But now a question comes, “How does Christ distinguish us?”

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

He makes us a new creation. That’s how He “distinguishes” (or, “sanctifies” us, if you want to get technical) us. You see, the helmet of salvation serves one more purpose that no regular, human-made helmet could do: it changes us our mind. It changes us from longing for the Devil to longing for God. Thus the, “salvation” bit. — Christ, who is our helmet of salvation, does this by shedding His blood. By that sacrifice, the gap between us and God is closed and we become new creations; part of the salvation group.

Like ever other piece of armor we’ve talked about, we don’t put this helmet on. Rather, when Christ died for us and we accepted Him as savior, He Himself put it on our head.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


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The Shield of Faith

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; (Ephesians 6:16)

The shield of faith

What was the job of the shield? Obviously, to protect the wearer. In the case of the Romans – who, by the way, may be who Paul is basing this armor on. Seeing as he was most likely in Rome while writing this letter. Albeit under house arrest. But still… –, as well as blocking swords, it was also used to block arrows and spears. All the Romans in the army would lock their shields together, hold them up, and hardly anything could get past to harm them. Just like that, they had an old fashioned force-field, able to blunt all attacks…. At least, so long as they were all standing together, with their shields locked into place.

Likewise, so longer as believers stand together and have the shield of faith, we’ll be able to blunt all the Devil’s arrows… But, faith in what? What is it that we have faith in that gives us this shield of faith? Some all-powerful genie? A mighty warlock? None of the above, rather, a man on a tree. That’s where our faith originates from.

Jesus protects us:

A mighty man and son of God? Yes. A man whose given up His spirit on a cross to save all humanity? Yes again. He, Jesus Christ, is who we believe in; is who we have faith in. Thus when we hold up our shields to defend against the Devil, we are holding Jesus, our faith, up to defend us. When the devil throws His arrows, we hold Jesus up on the cross to defend ourselves. But more than that:

Jesus unifies us:

In order for all to be safe, all must lift their shields up together, and lock them into place together. The only way to have a unified shield without any gaps is for everyone to take part. The only way a church or any other gathering of believers can be safe from the Devil is by exalting Christ Jesus on the cross and their faith in Him. Everyone becomes at risk when one person lets their shield down, because a single person letting down their guard can cause a domino effect: the enemy will target the weak one, and when his/her shield is down, they can attack those next to the fallen one from the side, which creates a bigger gap, which leads to everyone’s death, if someone does step in remind the weak soldier to keep His shield high.

Our Spiritual lives rest wholly upon Christ. He must be our very life, or our shield lowers. And the moment that happens… Picture one of those practice dummies with a couple dozen arrows sticking out of it.

The Roman army is actually a surprisingly good example of what Christians should look like:

  • Organized.
  • Always on alert.
  • Armored against attack.

You are Loved

Joshua Cleveland


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The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)

Still moving down the list; today I’ll write about the shoes of the gospel of peace. As may be indicated by the above verse… And the title too, for that matter.

The shoes of the Gospel of peace

What good could shoes (or sandals for back then) be good for? Sure without them it would be hard to travel, but frankly speaking, do we really need them in our spiritual armory? I can just imagine that conversation, “Ah, here we are. I’ve got my deadly mace, my incredibly sharpened sword, oh, and my shoes of fury…” Shoes aren’t exactly the most of intimating things. So why does Paul bother mentioning them?

Armies back then had a completely different sort of mine (the bomb sort). It didn’t blow off legs like ours sadly do today, but it was almost as effective at preventing soldiers from continuing to move. – When a one group knew that an enemy army was approaching, they would almost completely bury a sharp stake into the ground with only the tip remaining barely in sight. This may not seem to you and me like the best way to stop a foe, but it worked surprisingly well. Barbarian tribes who didn’t have any shoes, or armies who only had ‘weak’ sandals would step on the stake and suddenly, lo and below, they were no longer in any sort of condition to be fighting. That’s why shoes (or sandals back then) which were strong and reliable were required. You can’t focus on fighting some enemy in front of you, when the enemy below you (who happens to be an inanimate wooden stake) stabs you.

Strong sandals are what allowed the armies back in the day to keep moving despite the enemies attempts to the contrary. Spiritual shoes are what let us keep moving despite the Devil’s schemes… And what, might I ask, are these shoes made of? The Gospel of peace. Or, in other words, the Gospel of Jesus. Which is that he died and, three days later, rose again to save all humanity. Something which begs the question, “How does that protects our tootsies again?

The fact that Jesus died and rose again to save us, means a couple of things. First, it means that man no longer must go the Hell. It also means we can have a personal relationship with God. But what we’re getting at now, is that in addition to the rest, is that it also means we can break free of habitual (continual) sin. It allows us to, after we’ve fallen, to get back up again and keep going. Or even to simply avoid falling all together. It let’s us stand firm when the Devil turns His fury onto us. Or in other words, Christ’s death for us let’s us put on the shoes of the Gospel of peace.

But, sure we may be able now to put on these shoes, but how do we? After all, we know that simply staring at armor won’t protect us. So how do we put it on? When we accept Christ as our savior, the shoes are automatically added to our inventory. So to speak. What is the only good news of peace? The good news of Jesus. Thus, because of that, when we believe in Him he gives us His peace; His, erm, shoes. So to speak.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


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The Sermon Today

Hello again!

Today the pastor decided to change it up a bit and preach on Luke two today, rather than Galatians. Here where his four points:

I. Christ is worth pursuing first.

II. Christ is worth pursuing fast.

III. Christ is worth pursuing faithfully.

IV. Christ is worth pursuing foolishly.

For all of these points he used the shepherds (in the Christmas Story which is found in Luke two) as examples:

I. Christ is worth pursuing first. — The shepherds didn’t care about their sheep, instead, they went straight to Jesus.

II. Christ is worth pursuing fast. — The first point overlaps with this one.

III. Christ is worth pursuing faithfully. — Somewhere in Luke two is says something like, “and all who heard were amazed” in reference to the shepherds proceeding to tell everyone about the Messiah. We should be like the shepherds in that we should, in our day-to-day lives, be faithful to ChristI’m going to get to how exactly that’s possible in a minute.

IV. Christ is worth pursuing foolishly. — “Imagine for a moment that some shepherd with a scraggly beard and who smells like sheep runs up to you and gives you a hug. He says, ‘Christ is born!’ and then goes running off. Suddenly, another shepherd does the same, and so forth twenty-eight more times.” — Pastor Chris. We shouldn’t be worried about who it is that sees us, instead, we should be willing to spread the Gospel everywhere and anywhere we go. Whether by simply handing out tracks, or in the case of revival, hugging people.

Here are my (and my dad’s) four sub-points:

I. Christ pursued us first. — He didn’t hold an angelic board meeting. He didn’t wander around Heaven for a bit, instead, he went after us first. Therefore we can now go after Him and pursue Him; and indeed, should.

II. Christ pursued us fast. — As soon as it was ‘the right time’ Jesus came down to Earth. He didn’t dally, he rushed. Therefore we should now rush to Him!

III. Christ pursues us faithfully. — We can run but we can’t hide (why we would want to do either though is beyond me). Christ pursues us faithfully; he doesn’t slack off for a night. Therefore now we can pursue Him faithfully as well.

IV. Christ pursues us foolishly. — Do you think that Christ coming down from on high to lowly man, and then dying for said lowly man, is a smart idea? Many would regard it as foolish; Christ pursued us ‘foolishly’, thus we can now, and should, do the same to Him.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Todays Sermon


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The Breastplate of Righteousness

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (Ephesians 6:14)

As previously mentioned, we’re going to talk on (or, more accurately, I’m going to write about) the breastplate of righteousness.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

So what is a breastplate useful for? What does it do? Well we know that the breastplate is one of the most useful pieces of armor, because it protects the vital organs; the heart, the lungs, and the stomach. As probably most mid-evil soldiers could tell you, it can be the difference between life and death. It’s the thing that protects your heart from being ruptured and allows you to keep breathing after a battle. And it’s the thing that after the same battle, allows you to eat (because your stomach’s intact). Needless to say, it’s important.

So then, in order to put on this oh so vital piece of armor, we must be righteous. That’s a natural assumption, isn’t it? After all, it is called the breastplate of righteousness. And how are we righteous, one may ask? To answer that, let’s look quickly at what per se righteousness is: it’s being right in the sight of God. And how are we right in the sight of God? By helping old ladies across the street? By cleaning up the church and giving 10% of our check? … Here’s a tip, when we do that in an effort to be right in the sight of God, it’s the Spiritual equivalent of trying to shower off mud by rubbing dirty rags across ourselves. So no, that isn’t now we’re righteous. Rather, it’s by Jesus’ blood. He is our righteousness.

So, if Jesus (the) Christ is our righteousness, it could even be said that He himself is our breastplate. Which, of course, means he is the one who protects our heart, lungs, and stomach. Which also means we’re saved by Jesus’ righteousness, which covers (and changes) our heart. He’s what keeps us alive.

Christ is our righteousness. We can try, but we’ll always fail in any attempt to make ourselves righteous. Likewise we can try to keep our hearts pure and safe, but it will always be corrupted and ruptured. We can try to keep our Spiritual selves breathing, but our lungs will always get stabbed when Satan attacks and we don’t have our breastplate on. We can try to keep Spiritually living without being able to eat, but we’ll always start to die of lack of Jesus who is our food and protector. — All that to say this: Jesus is our breastplate of righteousness. 

How though, the question comes, can anyone put on Jesus? We don’t! That’s the very thing; Jesus gives us His righteousness. All we need do is ask. Unlike the regular soldier, we can’t “fasten Jesus on to ourselves,” rather, he fastens himself on to us. And believe me, that’s better, as after He fastens Himself on He won’t let go.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


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The Belt of Truth, aka, Jesus Christ

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

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 firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
(Ephesians 6:13-14)

Today we’ll talk about the belt of truth, tomorrow we’ll get to the breastplate (and on down the list):

The Belt of Truth

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,

What is it a belt is useful for? Keeping your pants up… What do you think, is it better to have your armor around you ankles when Satan attacks? Or is it better to be able to stand firm, armor-pants and all? — The belt of truth doesn’t need much explanation. To have the belt of truth, we must simply tell the truth. And no, this isn’t why no Christian has ever been a spy. Let’s ask a question, “what is truth.” Or, more accurately, what is “the truth?” What is it that lets us keep our wits (and our pants) about us? The Gospel of Christ. So really what Paul is saying is that we should keep the Gospel around us at all times.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6)

What was the first thought that popped into your mind when I wrote, “belt of truth?”.

Probably, your mind automatically compared it to its direct opposite, namely, lying. “Tell the truth rather than tell a lie.” ‘To tell the truth,’ is an action. A verb. Something in which one person does something which requires physical action. — In this case, it could even be said that, “the belt of truth” is in fact a verb. Or, if nothing else, I’m going to perform a verification and make it one. Because it really ought be a verb. ‘Having the belt of truth’ means not only simply having it, but also opening up a leather shop and start mass production. It means giving a belt of the Gospel to everyone you come across (please don’t actually give anyone your physical belt though. And yes, I do feel it necessary to say that).

Because Jesus died for us, we have “the truth.” We can have salvation and eternal life. We can have Jesus, because of Jesus’ death for us. He is the way, the truth, and the life. And we get all of Him. Paul, in referring to Christ as a belt isn’t being derogatory. He’s telling us what we must do with Jesus; i.e. Keep Him close to us! Keep the knowledge of what he did for us close to us. If we do that, he’ll hold us (and our Spiritual pants) up. But what we are required to do, is share this knowledge. We are required, as already mentioned, to set up shop and start mass production.

So there you have it; the belt of truth, aka, Jesus Christ.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland 


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Our Good and God’s Glory

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Fathers are to bring their children up in discipline. That’s a pretty clear, blatant statement. Nothing confusing about it. Just Paul stating another fact. The thing is that this also applies Spiritually. Fathers are to bring their children up Spiritually, yes, but the job of Spiritual discipline belongs entirely to our Heavenly Father, God. In fact, because the job of Spiritual discipline belongs to God, we don’t have to worry when any hardship comes our way. Let me explain:

Everything, good and bad, is sent by God… At least, by extension. He uses Satan as a tool. Take Job as an example. But that’s not the point. The point is that because every hardship comes from God, we don’t have to worry about any hardship. Everything, good or bad, is meant by God to build us up in some way; everything is meant to train us in righteousness and grow us in Christ. God disciplines, as compared to punishing. Here’s an example of the two; choose for yourself how they’re different:

Punishment: a father beating his kid angrily for something the kid did. This is neither constructive, helpful, or necessary, as I believe everyone would agree.

Discipline: something like a spanking. Done in love, and not injuring the person it’s directed towards. The goal is to make sure they know they did something wrong, not to hurt them. It’s to help them grow.

because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, 
   and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:6)

Christ took our punishment for us. He took the barrier that prevented us from becoming sons of God away; he tore the curtain from top to bottom. This is why we no longer have to be afraid of God except with a fear of His power. Not with a fear that He’ll use said power to vaporize us! Now any hardship we meet, we can be sure is a sign of God’s love for us rather than his hate. Jesus Himself makes this point in John 9:2-3 (i.e. That everything that happens to us is for our good and God’s glory):

2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:2-3)

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


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