‘Have you got your coat?’
The Armour of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armour 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV)
‘Have you got your coat?’- A question asked by parents all over the UK and wider world to I suspect most of their children; and if you are really fortunate sometimes your children will actually answer!
I think I ask my daughter Abigail this question every day before school- and every day there seems to be a different reason as to why she doesn’t need to wear it- ‘I’m not cold’, ‘It isn’t raining’, ‘I don’t like the colour’…… and so on!
The truth is however that some days you just need your coat, or your hat, or your umbrella…. Especially this week when the ‘Beast from the East’ has arrived!
It was at the beginning of this week that Abigail declared to me when I picked her up from school after a netball match that she was ‘hot’ and that she didn’t need her coat on….. as we walked away from the school I think we got about 50 metres before she changed her mind and rapidly applied her coat!
There is a famous quote – “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” (Ranulph Fiennes).
Whilst I don’t all together agree with that quote it does highlight that we sometimes have to think about what we are wearing- for example this week my uniform has been augmented by a walking ‘base layer’ (Long Johns in old money) an extra t-shirt, slightly thicker fleece, my big boots and my ‘big traffic jacket’- (that only comes out in weather like this week!), woolly hat, scarf and gloves!
My uniform choices reflect the fact that it is currently -4 with snow falling as I look out of the window of my office! It would however be foolish of me to wear that amount of uniform in the middle of a heat wave in August as I might overheat a bit….. (you see I am hopeful of a hot summer!)
As a motorcyclist I also recognise the value of protective equipment- the law says I have to wear a motorcycle helmet, but as for the rest of the protective equipment- it is a choice for you how much you wear. We have all seen the person riding in a crash helmet, shorts, t-shirt and flip flops haven’t we?! I again make a choice when I ride my bike to wear motorcycle clothing with armour in various places, motorcycle boots that are designed to protect my feet and lower legs and sturdy motorcycle gloves to protect my hands- it seems to me as a motorcyclist and as a Roads Policing officer to make perfect sense. As Police officers we often are sent into situations where we may be at risk- how many of us have been given a ‘PPE’ (personal protective equipment) warning!?
When we think about our walk as a Christians God provides us with a list of ‘protective clothing’ to wear to help us through the struggles of life-
‘Therefore put on the full armour 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’
For us all we have to make a choice to put on the things that the father gives us to help and protect us- we can choose to be truthful or lie, to righteous or sinful, be ready to share the gospel or choose not to, we can be faithful and rely on the Lord to protect and shield us or turn to other things to try and get help and we can take the time to read and meditate on the word of God or we can never open our bible….
We have to be wise and make good and positive choices whilst relying on God’s word…. Just as in the quote above we can also put on inappropriate things and try to rely on them- these things will never wholly satisfy you I promise! They may make you feel good, safe or happy for a short time but ultimately they will let you down- the only things we can truly rely on are the promises of God because those promises give us a future and a certainty based upon the wonderful sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross on our behalf.
So this month as we hopefully move into Spring and you dig out the spring and summer clothes think about putting on the things of God, trust him and listening when God gives you a ‘PPE’ warning or asks ‘Have you got your coat?’.
We ask for your help in remembering to put on your full armour every day, for you give us all that we need to stand firm in this world. Forgive us God for the times we’ve been unprepared, too busy to care, or trying to fight and wrestle in our own strength.
Thank you that we never fight alone, for you are constantly at work on our behalf, shielding, protecting, strengthening, exposing deeds of darkness, bringing to light what needs to be known, covering us from the cruel attacks we face even when we’re unaware.
We love you Lord, we need you today. In the Powerful Name of Jesus.
So Valentine’s day has been and gone once again and some of you will have received gifts or cards from either partners of spouses- others will be wondering who the card was from and some of you may have not received any cards at all!
Every year there seem to be more and more elaborate ways of letting the one you love know how you feel about them on one day of the year- in the UK we spent over £950 million pounds on Valentines gifts in 2016……. That is a huge bunch of roses and amounts to the budget of our very own Constabulary for around five and a half years!
When we think about Valentine’s day this year it falls at the beginning of Lent- a time where we as Christians consider sacrificing something for the lent period whilst reflecting on our own lives in preparation for the celebration of Easter- some join in this tradition of abstinence or fasting whilst others choose not to- I for one will abstain from Chocolate till Easter.
When we think about Valentine’s celebration and the out pouring of Love on 14th February I want to ask you if the 14th February is the only day that you pour that Love out? Is Valentines the only day that your ‘significant other’ knows you love them? I hope and expect the answer to both those questions to be ‘No’!
Love in all its forms is not a one day a year event or feeling- showing love to those around us must be on-going, generous and genuine! I tell Mrs Evans and the girls that I love them every day- I don’t spend hundreds of pounds on flowers during the year and I am not always seen in the Chocolate aisle at the supermarket buying elaborate chocolate creations for them!
However I do show my love to them in other ways that may not seem so elaborate but equally show them that I love them- Tea in bed every day (when I am home) for Mrs Evans, checking on Abigail and Holly every night and tucking them in before I go to bed, taking time to take the time to be there for them – even if it does mean watching the ‘Tinkerbell’ movie for the tenth time this week…. (Other films are available). I know that these things mean more to my family than once a year grand gestures; and I do them because I want to show them Love not because I have to out of obligation!
If we think about Love we must remember that we as Christians are called to Love everyone…… Yes everyone!
Love for those around us isn’t reserved for our family and friends- we must be the ones who show love to those all around us! We can do that in many ways- but obviously too many to list! I recently spoke to a friend who has been having a really tough time- they have felt isolated, alone and totally unsure about how the future was going to play out for them- the simple and straight forward act of me listening to them, showing understanding and praying with and for them was enough for them to know they were not alone and were loved!
During Lent many people sign up to the ’40 acts of kindness’ programme where they try and do 40 random acts of love and kindness during lent to ‘spread the love around’. I often randomly buy the next person in the queue a coffee (mostly anonymously)- or give them my ‘loyalty card’ that entitles them to a free drink- not much I know but after the initial shock of doing something nice they usually smile and say thank you!
In scripture we read in John 13- ‘A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.’
Love is and must be selfless- we read in the scripture in the picture at the beginning of this reflection about the ultimate sacrifice made for us on the cross- for me on the cross even though I don’t deserve it- that is Love!
So this year don’t just think about love for 24 hours- take Love into the world for the rest of the year- Be generous, be selfless- don’t let anyone wonder if you will love them tomorrow!
Have a Blessed month and pray for me as I avoid Chocolate…..