Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
The word for be strong in the Greek is to be strengthened, to be empowered, and to receive strength. And Paul adds in the Lord. Be strong in the Lord then is to be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of His might. The word for strength means great vigor, power, and might. And the word for might means forcefulness, power, ability and strength. So if we read the verse again in that light it tells us to be strengthened in the Lord and in the great power of His ability. To be strong in the Lord is to trust His strength since He will use it for us, since He is with us and nothing can stand against us (Romans 8:31). Because He is I Am.
I have seen some of the greatest miracles, provisions, healings, and encouragement come because Believers stepped up to the plate and dropped a gift card into a purse in an act of anonymous generosity. I have experienced it personally and have had the joy of being part of it many times. God loves to work His miracles and provision through the body of Christ. He uses the hands, feet, hearts, and prayers of the body. And when He does that, the blessings and the miracles are multiplied! I think the Lord for His grace, kindness, and provision.
Leaning on the Lord means that we understand He is Lord and submit to His will, live by His Word, and trust that He keeps His covenants with us. In Joshua 1:5-9 God is telling Joshua that he will be able to lead Israel as Moses had if he continues to trust He is God and does what God wants him to do.
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua could be strong, be empowered and courageous because God was with Him. We can be strong and courageous because we know God is with us. We can choose to depend on God. We can choose to worry and complain. Or we can choose to be strong in our own strength and keep secret all our needs, refusing to let people pray for us, refusing to let the body of Christ be the Spirit-filled body of Christ. Being strong is more like standing firm in your faith that God is LORD. Philippians 4:4-7 offers a great picture of being strong in the Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Strength is leaning on God. In Nehemiah to celebrate Israel’s return from exile and the completion of the wall in Jerusalem, Ezra read from the Book of the Law, the same one referred to in Joshua. The people grieved in repentance, they cried in sorrow for how short they fell from who they were meant to be. Nehemiah 8:9-12
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and 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 or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
It is God’s joy that is our strength. What is His joy? In these verses His joy is the return of His people, the repentance of His people, and their understanding of His Word. God and all of heaven rejoices over each person who repents (Luke 15:7, Luke 15:10). To know how much God loves us, how He celebrates and sings over us should strengthen us. I know it strengthens me. I want you to be strengthened as you read this passage from Zephaniah 3:14-20
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the Lord.
I had not intended to spend so much time on verse 10, but this is where the Lord led me. His joy is our strength, His strength is our joy. We can be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Just as Paul encouraged us in Ephesians. It is a choice to depend on God and be strengthened or to depend on ourselves and our efforts and try and be strong. But we’re not just fighting the utility company or a corrupt government. We’re not fighting people. We’re standing up to evil, to dark powers, and malevolent spirits. I prefer to depend on God and His might, thank you very much. Verses 11-13 read,
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil 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 firm.
We put on the whole armor of God, it is a choice and that choice empowers us to be able stand against the schemes of the devil. He has plans but he is nothing to us. We are not told to fight, we are told to get dressed and stand, withstand, and stand firm. Even the term wrestle here does not mean fight; it means wrestle to endeavor to throw the opponent and hold him down with your hand on his neck. To wrestle is to be the victor over the enemy by holding him down. When we stand firm against the enemy, we don’t have to fight. The enemy is terrified of the believer who knows who she is in Christ, the enemy is afraid of the believer who is trusting God because she knows who God is. When we stand, we don’t have to do a single thing more because God fights for us and the enemy flees, he runs as fast as he can to get away from us (James 4:7, Exodus 14:14). The deceiver and accuser is afraid of you, you have no need to be afraid of him or his plans, no weapon brought against you can succeed (Isaiah 54:17). Deuteronomy 3:22 reminds us,
You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.
Verses 14-17 describe the armor of God.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
I have said and continue to say that the armor of God is God, it is Jesus Christ, and it is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth - The belt of truth is the first piece of armor. The belt held up the soldiers’ tunic allowing him to run and move freely. The truth does that for us. John 8:31-32 reads,
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
And Jesus is the truth! John 14:6-7 reads,
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him
The truth is an integral part of armor, it takes truth to come against lies. In John 8:42-44 Jesus describes Satan as a liar and murderer.
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
The accuser cannot tell the truth, there is no reason to engage him in conversation, he speaks, you stand firm in the truth, he is out of ammunition and flees.
The next part of verse 14 reads, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate protected the soldier’s vital organs and kept him alive and able to use his weapons for fighting instead of trying to constantly protect his life. The breastplate covered his heart and his lungs the figurative soul and spiritual life. Our heart’s and lives belong to Jesus. We gave those to Him and He gave us His righteousness. Romans 3:21-26 read,
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
And 2 Corinthians 5:21 says,
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Verse 15 talks about the next part of the armor. It reads, “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Shoes protect your feet improve your posture and make walking and even running easier. The right running shoe enables you to run longer and farther. The right walking show keeps your back aligned and takes pressure from your feet. If you walk far without shoes, your feet become bruised, your back hurts and you limp rather than walk.
Shoes of readiness by the gospel of peace, means you understand the Gospel, you know what you proclaim to believe and are prepared, ready to speak the Gospel that brings peace between God and man. 1 Peter 3:15 reads,
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
It is our feet walking with Jesus that brings our lives as testimony and our words with the truth to those waiting to hear about our hope. Romans 10:14-15 says,
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Verse 16 offers the piece of armor which is both defensive and offensive, it is reads, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”
Your faith is counted as righteousness and makes you friends with God (James 2:23). Your faith is putting action to your beliefs. It is to confess Jesus as Lord, it is believe the Gospel and live it out. Abraham’s faith allowed Him to raise the knife to sacrifice his son. Your faith allows you to persevere because you know Jesus is coming back, you know the Holy Spirit indwells you and you know God loves you.
Your faith protects you from the darts, arrows, and weapons thrown at you from the enemy who doesn’t touch you without your permission (1 John 5:18) and it pushes back against the enemy, it extinguishes the flaming darts and hits the enemy before he is able to get his hands on you. Remember what Isaiah 54:17 tells us,
no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.
No weapon or word against you will succeed in its purpose. Nothing! And our faith in God is the shield that stops every word, every dart, every weapon formed or raised against us. Our vengeance, our vindication, and our victory is from God. He fights the battle, we just know He is God. Nothing can separate us from His love, nothing can snatch us form His hands (John 10:28), and nothing at all can hurt us when we are with God. Read this in Romans 8:31-37 says it so well.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Do you believe that? Do you have faith that God is able and nothing at all can separate you from His love in Christ Jesus our Lord? Then you can stand against the enemy’s attacks. No tribulation, persecution, hunger, or danger can take you away from God, take away your eternal life, or put you on the losing side. You are more than a conqueror, Bride of Christ.
The next part of the armor we are to put on is the helmet of salvation in verse 17. While the breastplate covers the vital organs, the helmet covers the brain, the organ that orchestrates the heart, lungs, muscles as well as stress, emotions, and every other aspect of life. It is where our thoughts live, we our decisions are made, and where our learning and maturity originate. Salvation is belief in Jesus as our Christ, our Savior. We are saved from the wrath of God and instead enjoy His love, blessings, and eternal life (Romans 5:9). When we are saved we are made free by the truth (John 8:32), given faith (Romans 12:3), we become the righteousness of Christ, (Romans 3:22), and we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Without the helmet of salvation the other parts of armor will mean nothing, a quick blow to the head and you’re a goner.
Verse 17 also talks about the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The sword is offensive, the truth put into action, it is faith carried out, it is an awesome weapon. Holding a weapon like that just makes us feel strong, it is power wielded and used. But we don’t need a weapon against the enemy, remember it is God fighting for us, and this weapon is His, it is the sword of the Spirit not used against us but for us. Hebrews describes word of God as a sword as well and shows us how the Holy Spirit uses it for us. Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Notice that the word of God is described as a person not an object, “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” We know that it is the sword of the Spirit and we know from John 1:1 that the Word of God is God and refers to Jesus. Remember God is God, One God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Word of God can be both the Holy Spirit and Jesus because God is One.
We also know that the word of God refers to the Scriptures and is profitable, that means it is beneficial, useful, and valuable. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
We choose to take up the sword of the Spirit, we choose to let Him search our hearts, expose us, and judge us. We choose to use the Scriptures in Christ as we teach and are taught, reproof and are reproofed, train and are trained so that we and our brothers and sisters will be equipped for every good work.
Once we have dressed in the armor, we are to actively live in the truth, faith, Gospel of peace, righteousness, and salvation, and take up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and pray, proclaim, and represent. Verses 18-20 read,
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Prayer comes first and is done at all times, in all circumstances. Prayer enables us to keep alert, persevere, boldly proclaim the Gospel and represent Jesus to the world. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16). Prayer heals, prayer allows us to lift the burdens off our shoulders, prayer brings us into the presence of God, helps us discern good and evil, understand God’s will and brings peace beyond understanding.
Perhaps I should have broken this devotional up into two parts, but I feel that it should be one, that we cannot separate the armor of God from being strengthened and depending on God’s power. I also couldn’t skimp anymore than I already did on each piece of the armor. But spending time getting to know the Lord is such a wonderful thing. I enjoy it so much, that I don’t mind a few extra minutes with Him and I hope you too don’t mind it either. Believer, be blessed and remember that God is with you, He will fight for you. Stand firm in Him. Nothing can come against you, Conqueror.