Costume Yourself in God’s Armor
Halloween’s origins go back to the festival of Samhain, celebrated by the Celts in ancient Britain and Ireland on the evening before All Saints Day.
They believed the souls of the dead returned to visit their earthly homes on November 1. The Celts built bonfires to offer sacrifices, relight hearth fires, and scare away evil spirits. The people sometimes wore masks to keep from being recognized by ghosts.
The Romans conquered the Celts in A.D. 43 and combined Samhain with their two autumn festivals. Although the church later made November 1 a holy day, people retained some old pagan customs.
Early American colonists were mostly forbidden to celebrate Halloween, but large numbers of immigrants from Ireland and Scotland brought Halloween customs with them, and it became a popular holiday by the mid-nineteenth century.
When it comes to evil spirits, we can make one of two serious mistakes. Some people dismiss the existence of supernatural beings as legends left over from a time of ignorance and superstition.
Then there are people who go to the other extreme and see evidence of demons in things better attributed to nature, psychology, or consequences of their own actions.
The Bible shows many examples of evil spirits at work in the world and in people.
In Ephesians 2:2, Paul identifies Satan as:
“the commander of the powers in the unseen world.” (NLT)
The Gospels demonstrate that Jesus had control over Satan and his demons, or fallen angels. Luke 4:36 says,
[The people said,] “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey Him, and they flee at His command!” (NLT)
Paul explains that we need the armor provided by God because we are fighting against
“… evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world” and “evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).
Halloween may be considered a children’s holiday, but evil spirits are real and we need the armor of God every day.
Psalms 127:1-2 1Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. 2In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat– for he grants sleep to those he loves.
One of the most repeated messages in the Bible is our helplessness without God. I can build a dwelling. I can create a family. But if God is not in it, all my work is without meaning. It is utterly unproductive. Man has the idea that if he relies on himself, he will surely get things done. The Gospel message tells us that without the LORD we will accomplish nothing (John 15:5).
We can’t even protect ourselves. Unless God is watching over us, we are clear targets for the enemy of our soul. Consider the infant in the manger. If God were not watching over that helpless baby, what chance would he have had of surviving Herod’s extermination of every infant in the area? The Destroyer is held at bay by God. We forget to thank God for that daily protection.
The psalmist speaks of a house and a city. The New Testament uses both as an analogy to the church. Today we have many men building churches. There are formulas that work to gather large numbers of people. If God is not the builder, if the work is the work of man and not the Holy Spirit, we will see it end in vanity. Is the LORD building the church you attend? Is the leadership following the Holy Spirit? Encourage that by letting your household be built by God. Let God build your home by faithfully hearing from God and following through on His leading.
You can work eighteen hours every day. You can do your best as if all success depended on you, but success comes from the LORD. He doesn’t drive His sheep. He calls to them to follow Him. He promises them rest.
Consider: Are you cognoscente of the fact that success in God’s eyes is not dependent on how hard you labor, but on your obedience in the little things? As you obey in the little things, He works out the big issues, and the fruit of that cooperation is eternal.
Streams in the Desert – October 31
- 202131 Oct
Likewise also the Spirit helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
This is the deep mystery of prayer. This is the delicate divine mechanism which words cannot interpret, and which theology cannot explain, but which the humblest believer knows even when he does not understand.
Oh, the burdens that we love to bear and cannot understand! Oh, the inarticulate out-reachings of our hearts for things we cannot comprehend! And yet we know they are an echo from the throne and a whisper from the heart of God. It is often a groan rather than a song, a burden rather than a buoyant wing. But it is a blessed burden, and it is a groan whose undertone is praise and unutterable joy. It is “a groaning which cannot be uttered.” We could not ourselves express it always, and sometimes we do not understand any more than that God is praying in us, for something that needs His touch and that He understands.
And so we can just pour out the fullness of our heart, the burden of our spirit, the sorrow that crushes us, and know that He hears, He loves, He understands, He receives; and He separates from our prayer all that is imperfect, ignorant and wrong, and presents the rest, with the incense of the great High Priest, before the throne on high; and our prayer is heard, accepted and answered in His name.
–A. B. Simpson
It is not necessary to be always speaking to God or always hearing from God, to have communion with Him; there is an inarticulate fellowship more sweet than words. The little child can sit all day long beside its busy mother and, although few words are spoken on either side, and both are busy, the one at his absorbing play, the other at her engrossing work, yet both are in perfect fellowship. He knows that she is there, and she knows that he is all right.
So the saint and the Saviour can go on for hours in the silent fellowship of love, and he be busy about the most common things, and yet conscious that every little thing he does is touched with the complexion of His presence, and the sense of His approval and blessing.
And then, when pressed with burdens and troubles too complicated to put into words and too mysterious to tell or understand, how sweet it is to fall back into His blessed arms, and just sob out the sorrow that we cannot speak!
The Shulamite’s choice prayer
“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm; for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” Solomon’s Song 8:6-7
Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21
“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm. Love me, Lord. Help me, Lord. Let thy heart move towards me; let thine arm move for me too. Think of me, Lord; set me on thy heart. Work for me, Lord, set me on thine arm. Lord, I long to have thy love, for I hear it is as strong as death, and thou knowest I am chained by Satan, and am his bond-slave. Come and deliver me: thou art more than a match for my cruel tyrant. Come with thy strong love and set me free. I hear that thy love is as firm as hell itself. Lord, that is such a love as I want. Though I know I shall vex thee and wander from thee, come and love me with a love that is firm and everlasting. O Lord, I feel there is nothing in me that can make thee love me. Come and love me, then, with that love which finds its own fuel. Love me with those coals of fire which have a ‘vehement flame.’ And since many waters cannot quench thy love, prove that in me; for there are many waters of sin in me, but Lord, help me to believe that thy love is not quenched by them; there are many corruptions in me, but Lord, love me with that love which my corruptions cannot quench. Here, Lord, I give myself away; take me; make me what thou wouldst have me to be, and keep and preserve me even to the end.” May the Lord help you to pray that prayer, and then may he answer it for his mercy’s sake.
For meditation: Omnipotent God loves his people with an omnipotent, all-conquering love (Romans 8:35-39) which surpasses all knowledge and imagination. Can you say with assurance that he “so” loves you (John 3:16; 1 John 4:11)?