This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Neighboring Well”.
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This new series is called Neighboring Well and in it we are talking about hospitality. I said last week that there are some spiritual applications and some practical applications that I want us to look at. We are going to start talking about the importance of taking a stand for our neighbors by taking some time to look at the armor of God in Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Let’s begin our look at the armor of God by talking about
1. The belt of truth
Ephesians 6:14a (NIV)
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist …
2. Being people of integrity
When I think about integrity, I think about what I say I believe matching up with how I live my life. The old saying for this is “practice what you preach”. Every area of my life that doesn’t yet match up with what I say I believe, is an area where I am still lacking integrity. It would be great to say that I don’t have any of those areas left in my life, but that would be a lie and a lack of integrity.
2 Kings 12:2 (NIV)
2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.
It is interesting to me because usually the kings are introduced as doing good or evil all the days of their own lives. To dig a little deeper into the introduction you have to go and read 2 Chronicles 24:17:
2 Chronicles 24:17-18a (NIV)
17 After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. 18 They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols.
Joash did the right thing as long as Jehoiada was alive, but after he died, Joash quickly started to do the wrong thing. Integrity is about doing the right thing, regardless of who is watching. Since we talk about living by dong the next right thing all the time, I thought this was very interesting and that it was worth all of us thinking about. Integrity is a heart issue. While at some level I want to do what is right because of my family and friends and church, is that enough if my heart really isn’t in it? If I thought that a wrong decision could be done so no one would know, would I still choose to do what is right? And that is what I think integrity is about. I think most of us have experienced justifying and rationalizing our wrong choices. No one will know. I deserve it. Life isn’t fair. Who will it hurt? I am tired of waiting. And of course, the biggest rational lie of them all, “God wants me to be happy doesn’t He?” He does, but not at the expense of your integrity.
How can we live in integrity?
3. Live like someone is watching
Proverbs 15:3 (NIV)
3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
It is not a bad thing to live like someone is watching, it is actually very freeing. God is watching and it is OK to be who we are in front of Him. We don’t have to pretend to be something we aren’t, and life is better when we are trying to live by doing the next right thing.
4. Live a life that pleases God
1 Thessalonians 4:1 (NIV)
1 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.
To be people of integrity, we need to live lives that are pleasing to God. This type of living is not possible without God’s help. We need to know that He is with us and for us. That He loves and forgives us. That when we mess up He will forgive us and empower us by His spirit to do the next right thing.
“Henri Nouwen once asked Mother Teresa for spiritual direction. Spend one hour each day in adoration of your Lord, she said, and never do anything you know is wrong. Follow this and you’ll be fine.”
John Eldredge, Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers
Standing against the schemes of the enemy on behalf of our neighbors starts with being people of integrity.