Friday, March 2, 2007

The Helmet of Salvation

"And take the helmet of salvation..." - Ephesians 6:17

There's just something about a hat. I'm not really sure exactly why, but it makes whatever you're doing feel more authentic. It's why I insisted on wearing a cowboy hat when I went to a Keith Urban concert. It's why I insisted on wearing my Cardinals cap when I toured Busch Stadium. No explanation for it - but this drawing to hats is undoubtedly there.

Today, I'm going to remind you of another hat that we all have. It's a pointed hat that looks like the one at the top...our princess crown to remind us of our precious King that we belong to - and the price He paid. Romans 6:23 reminds us, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." We deserve to die for our sins, but salvation offers us Jesus' death as a gift from God and a payment for our sins so that we may live!

I guess by this point, you can probably guess that I competed in pageants. That's me on the right (with my hair 13 inches longer than it is now!) I competed in the Miss America system to help earn scholarship money for my college education. Like most activities, there were good and bad parts of it, but I learned so much during my time competing for Miss Tennessee, and I wouldn't change anything. More on that to come later...

One of the many lessons I learned was the power and influence that came with the crown. A room full of elementary school students who wouldn't listen to any adult for more than 5 seconds would begin hushing each other when I walked in the long as I had the crown on. A state trooper who would normally give his mother a ticket would let me park in the fire long as I had the crown on. People didn't particularly care too much what Michelle thought, but people constantly asked "Miss Knoxville" (aka my title) her opinion. That crown represented more than winning a pageant...

I'll admit, being Miss Knoxville definitely had its perks. I met so many wonderful people, encountered amazing opportunities, and made life-changing memories. However, it was more than the waving and smiling that most people see - it was a responsibility. As Miss Knoxville, I dedicated hours to giving back to the community and investing in my chosen platform. It was ultimately a job without a paycheck. Our helmet of salvation is a crown of the same reminders - it's a privilege, but it's also a responsibility.

Salvation is a responsibility. We'll get the hard part out of the way. :) Galatians 6:3-5 says, "For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load." Bottom line - before you believe in Christ, what are you truly living for? To die. BUT with Him, you are living to spend eternal life with the God of creation. So this verse reminds us that without Him saving us, we are nothing. We are to live our lives on this earth for HIS purpose for our lives - without being overly impressed with ourselves or comparing ourselves to others. No one will be standing with you in the end at judgment - you and you alone are responsible for doing the work He has specifically created you to do.

Salvation is a privilege. When you accept God's free gift of salvation, you are adopted by the King of Kings! Do you realize what that means? You become His child - a princess in the most royal of courts! Romans 8:15 speaks of this truth: "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (Abba is a Greek word for "Father" and is associated as a name one would use with affection. It has no direct translation in the English language, but translates closest as "Daddy.") When hard times come, we can crawl in our Daddy's lap and He will listen to us! That's just one of the privileges of being His child - His princess.

Later, in that same passage, Paul expands on the victory we experience in Christ. Check out Romans 8:31-39:

"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let me break that down even further into Cliff's Notes version.

If God's on your side, you can't lose. If He would send His only Son to die for you, do you think there's anything He wouldn't gladly and freely do for you? And seriously - with God on your side and Jesus to intercede for you, who is gonna mess with you? They best back up - because there is NOTHING that can separate you from God because of the grip Jesus has on you.

So congratulations! Your ensemble is ALMOST complete - just one more finishing touch on God's favorite outfit. The sword of the Spirit is next...

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Esther 4:14b

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"