[Thought Questions for Arming for Victory November 14, 2012]
1. Arming ourselves. Before loading yourself down with shields and helmets, wouldn’t you like to be sure you’re really going to battle? I mean, what’s the use of building up your defenses if nobody is going to attack? Even more important, what kind of a battle would it be if you didn’t have weapons to return the attack? Wouldn’t it be as useful to lie down and roll over with your face down? When did you choose to belong to this war anyway? God is the biggest power in the universe, so why doesn’t He solve everything and destroy wickedness right now? Why is Satan still fighting God? Or is it God fighting Satan?
2. One-on-one. Paul says in Ephesians 6 that our battle isn’t against flesh and blood. Is that reassuring to you as a mere human being? Or would it be easier to fight against other human beings than against “principalities and powers”? What is the perfect defense that God offers us? How is it possible that people could know all of these things and still refuse to obtain the protection God offers them to win in the battle with the evil one? Will any of the fellow believers who have fallen asleep or lapsed into a state of indifference be awakened and rescued by us? If so, how?
3. Truth and righteousness. Aren’t you glad you know the truth? The truth about God and the Bible? If not, what? Are you an exclusive owner of that truth? Can you share it without making enemies? How does the breastplate protect the soldier in battle? What about the spiritual breastplate Paul talks about in Ephesians? Does it protect us against evil? If so, how? Paul calls righteousness a breastplate. Whose righteousness? Ours? or God’s? or both? Do you wish you could live a pure and righteous life? Or do you already do so? Think about a time when you were definitely not righteous. Were you tempted to walk away from the gospel promises and requirements? What kept you from making the step across the rift in the sand to your eternal loss?
4. Fighting shoes and the shield of Faith. Have you ever read stories or seen movie clips of World War II soldiers stomping through mud, water, and weeds to reach their destination? Are studded shoes the best answer to such walking conditions? How are God’s tools for protecting our spiritual feet superior to metal studs or nails? Imagine fighting in one-on-one combat. Confronting your enemy face to face, would you automatically place a shield between you? Or would you rely wholly on the breastplate? Why? Why do we need righteousness as well as faith? Why do we need faith as well as righteousness?
5. Helmet and sword. Do you think helmets worn in Paul’s day resembled the ones our soldiers wear today? If so, in what ways? Would you feel safe walking into an area of close-by gunfire with a leather covering over your head? What is different about the helmets we wear today in combat and even in some sports? Can you think of a helmet as salvation? In what ways? Ah, finally. Are you relieved that we finally give the brave warrior a weapon? And delighted that it’s a sword. If that sword is the Word of God, as Paul tells us, how is that book a threat to the devil? Isn’t it just a binding of a few hundred pages? Does the book itself have any power at all?
6. Prayer. When Paul advises us to be “praying always,” does he mean every breath should be a breath of prayer? If so, how will we get any work done? Or even get a good night’s sleep? Will your boss be pleased when you run a piece of heavy equipment off the bank because you were deep in prayer? Is it possible to adopt an “attitude” of prayer? Is it easier to immerse ourselves in prayer when we think of Jesus as our Best Friend? Have you ever prayed for an hour? Longer? At the bedside of a loved one? Should we spend more time in conversation with God? What would the results be if we spent a full hour a day in prayer?
7. The conflict. Do people generally disagree with the Adventist belief that there is a battle raging between good and evil? Have you ever been able to use the battle image as a way to bring comfort to a mother whose infant son is dying of a rare disease? Or to a family caught up in grief by the misdeeds of family members that have brought pain and suffering of others? Or to your own heart when life seems cruel and unfair? Do you pray for the opportunity of reaching out to others suffering the consequences of sin? Do you long to show a dash of friendship to people who seem hardened and lonely? What will you pray for this week?