Forward, March!

The Art Of War

Pastor Jerry Gillis - March 22, 2020

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
  2. Read Ephesians 6:17. What does it mean to have the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, based on what we heard in Sunday’s message?
  3. These pieces of armor allow us to move forward in the chaos of the battle. In what ways are you applying this truth to the situation you are facing?
  4. How can our community group help encourage you to have a mind that’s guided and shielded by the gospel – and how can we encourage you have a life ordered by the Word? How can we lean on one another while still moving forward by faith?
  5. Take time to pray for one another in your group.


Sermon Transcript

Amen. Thank you so much everybody for leading us in worship and for this time together. I'm so grateful for it. Some of you may have been in a place in your life where you have been in the military. Maybe you have a military family member, maybe you yourself have been in the military. I would encourage you to think about maybe the very first things that you learn... if you were enlisted, maybe the very first things that you learned. Some of us know about the things that you learned. You learn immediately some marches when you are there in basic training or whatever it is you may be doing there. You're going to learn some of these things and there's some basic commands around some of these marches that maybe you remember.

Some of us maybe have an idea of those as well. For instance, Mark Time, March. Well, that had to do with actually marching in place, right? I mean, that was what that was. You're marking time, kind of a cadence, but you're marching in place. Or maybe you remember this command, halt. You don't need any interpretation for that. That simply means stop marching, right? And there's a way that you go about doing that after a step and then you stop. Or maybe the most famous, I think, at least for those civilians, the most famous command would be forward march. All of us know what that means, right? Forward march. It means that we were in one place and we are now heading and continuing on the path or the mission or whatever it is that we're supposed to be doing.

Now, why would drill instructors and sergeants and... why would they be giving these kinds of instructions for soldiers that are just enlisted? Well, there's a reason. It's not just to learn how to March well. It has to do with discipline. It has to do with order. It has to do with hearing a command and knowing how to obey it. Because here's what happens. What these kind of weathered leaders and officers and sergeants and drill instructors know is they're not preparing soldiers just to learn how to march, they're preparing soldiers for the heat of battle. And you and I both know that when the battle comes and when the battle ensues, that there's a lot of chaos. Some have called it the fog of war. And that when this goes on, we have to be able to recognize commands and be able to act on them and know what we're supposed to do when the battle rages.

Now, we've been studying over the last number of weeks in Ephesians 6 and we've been talking about this idea of the art of war. It's a series where we've been looking at kind of the resources, or as Paul calls it, the armor that God has given to us to be able to face the spiritual battle that we find ourselves in because we need to understand that when we find ourselves in the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the fog of a spiritual battle, that we need to understand the resources we have and the commands that we've been given.

I want you, if you can with me, to turn your attention to Ephesians chapter six and we're going to begin in verse number 13. Here's what the passage says. Paul writes, "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." Then he goes on to say, "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 and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God."

Now, in all of these we have been studying them over recent history and we've been looking at every piece kind of the armor in terms of what we understand Paul has instructed us to be able to outfit ourselves with and here we have two new elements of the armor that are introduced to us from our study and that is a helmet and a sword. Now, when Paul talks about this helmet of salvation, he's actually pulling from the Old Testament here. This is actually a term that's used in Isaiah. When Isaiah is prophesying about this mighty warrior who is going to rescue the people of Zion, he's actually giving us a picture of who Jesus would ultimately be and he uses this terminology there.

It's in Isaiah chapter 59 verses 16 and 17 and it says this. It's God speaking. He saw that there was no one. He was appalled that there was no one to intervene, so his own arm achieved salvation for him and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate and the helmet of salvation on his head. Now, this is why I want us to pay attention to this because when we see this idea of a helmet of salvation, we know that Paul is using this term from the Old Testament itself, and when Paul uses this term from the Old Testament, he's giving us a picture of Jesus.

Now think of it this way. This word salvation in the Hebrew text is actually this word, Yeshu'a. If you think about it, maybe that sounds a little bit familiar to you, Yeshu'a. This is the foundation actually for Jesus actual name, Yeshua, which means salvation or Jehovah saves or Yeshua saves. When we begin to understand that we know that this is actually pointing us to Jesus, that this idea of a helmet of salvation is actually pointing us to Jesus.

Now that term can actually be used in a different way as well. That term can be used to describe the idea of victory. When we see God having on a helmet of salvation, or Jesus prophesied to have this helmet of salvation on his head, we know that Jesus doesn't need saving, that he's the one doing the saving. It is we who need to experience salvation in him. But we also know that this term means victory so that we could see that Jesus is wearing this helmet of victory, that he is securing for us through his death for our sins and for his resurrection from the dead, conquering death and sin and the grave on our behalf. This is a helmet of victory.

Now, Paul actually uses this term in another place. Not just that he's borrowing it from the Old Testament and using it in Ephesians chapter six, Paul actually uses this term when he's writing to the church at Thessalonica as well. Listen to what he says in 1st Thessalonians chapter five beginning in verse number eight. It says, "But since we belong to the day, let us be sober. Putting on faith and love as a breastplate," still using that armor language right there, "And the hope of salvation as a helmet." Here Paul is instructing the church at Thessalonica to put on this helmet of salvation because it is the hope that we have.

Now, you and I may start to understand this a little bit differently when we start thinking about what this means for us. There's a reason that we wear helmets. Now, I'm not talking about just the helmet that we wear in football, it kind of protects our head. But generally speaking, the idea of a helmet for a soldier. When Paul's talking about Roman soldiers, it's to protect the head because of what's in the head. It's not just protecting this beautiful dome and this beautiful face that you all have. I'm not talking about myself, you have of course, but it's talking about what is inside our heads.

You see, this is about our minds. This is about the thing that is actually kind of the governing factor of our very lives, right? This is kind of command central inside of our head, the idea of the way that we think in our minds. So when Paul is using this phrase that we need to wear a helmet of salvation, he's actually talking about this. That we need to be able to saturate our minds with the reality of the totality of Jesus' salvation, what God has done for the world in Jesus.

That though everyone has sinned and come short of the glory of God, God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever would believe in him would not perish, but would have everlasting or eternal life. This idea is imperative for us because when we recognize that by faith in what Jesus has done in dying in our place for sin to satisfy the justice of God and rising from the dead, when we begin to let that pour over our minds, it changes the way that we think about everything.

By the way, this isn't just some kind of spiritual idea that floats out in the ether, that just lives in the nether regions that you kind of go, I don't know what to do with that. That's just a good idea for me spiritually. Well, it is a good idea for you spiritually, but what we understand spiritually is so that we can act in the world that we live in because we are in a world right now where these things are real to us. We feel like we are in a battle. So this is not just something that's spiritual and invisible though it is, it's also something that matters in the context of the real world, that our minds are saturated with the reality of the truth of the Gospel and it changes the way we think about everything.

I'll give you an example. After World War II, a number of people wrote a number of different things about how the world had changed. One of those, as you could imagine, was C.S. Lewis who lived through that time of World War II and in 1948 he wrote this little piece called On Living in an Atomic Age. You see, the concern was, is that what we saw at the end of World War II was we saw bombs that were going off that were weightier and more devastating than anything that anybody had ever dreamed. These were the things, for many of them, of nightmares, right? This was Syfy kind of stuff for people.

And now the whole world was living under the reality that multiple nations were trying to make these huge bombs that could detonate and destroy cities at a time. And so, Lewis writes in 1948 about what that is actually like. I want you to understand what he's saying because he's actually talking about our minds. Here's what he said. He said, "In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply, “Why, as you would have lived in the 16th century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was ever even built." I think we lost it. "Was ever even invented; and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors, anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made, and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things: praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint," don't get to carried away. "And a game of darts, not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies, a microbe can do that, but they need not dominate our minds."

You see, this is imperative for us to be able to think about because what Lewis is trying to say to us is this. Louis is trying to help us understand that our minds don't need to be given over to realities that we already know in fact exist to every single one of us, right? Death has been promised. We already know that. And I'm not trying to be morbid here, we already know that. Kind of the statistical chances, look at the models. One out of every one, right? That's just the world that we live in. But what we need to understand is if we live in fear of every single opportunity that may come our way, that we're never going to be able to fulfill what it is that God desires of us, and what he desires of us is to have minds that are shaped by the reality of the Gospel. The hope that we have in the resurrected Christ. The hope that we have in this life and in the life to come.

And that when our minds are saturated with the reality of what God has done in Jesus Christ through his beautiful salvation for all who believe, it can change the way that we operate even in a time of pandemic. Because if you were wise enough, then you could have read Louis' words like they were hitting us today and just changed out atomic bomb and put in the word pandemic. You see, we don't need our minds reshifted. That's what it means when we talk about the helmet of salvation.

But he also offers to us, Paul does in Ephesians 6, he also offers to us another one of these pieces of armor. Not only this helmet, but he talks about a sword. He refers to it as the sword of the spirit or the word of God. I think you'll notice that in all of the particular pieces of armor that we have described here in Ephesians 6, beginning in verse 13 all the way down that we've already read, what we find is this, is that this sword is the only weapon of attack.

You see, we have defensive armor that's on, that strapped to us, right? We've got this belt of truth to kind of hold things together and gives us a preparation. We've got a breastplate of righteousness and we got feet that are shod with the Gospel of peace. We have a shield of faith to be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one and we have a helmet of salvation. But now we have this sword of the spirit that operates both defensively in warding things off but also is used as an offensive weapon. It's a weapon of attack.

I don't have to take you any farther than when we look at Jesus when he was just coming out of the waters of baptism, beginning his ministry, and the spirit takes him into the wilderness. And as the spirit takes him into the wilderness, he goes there to be tempted by the evil one. And in that temptation, every single one that we're allowed to be able to see, and I'm imagining since Jesus was there for 40 days and 40 nights, I'm imagining that there were multiple temptations that went on with the enemy, but the three that we have recorded in the scripture, do you know how Jesus responded to every single one of them? With the sword of the spirit, every single time.

I mean, Leroy, think about that. If Jesus needed and Jesus chose, with all the weapons that were available to him, if Jesus chose to use the sword of the spirit, then what in the world are we doing? Right? When we get faced with these things, what in the world are we doing? We need to use the word of God offensively as well because Jesus did. This shouldn't surprise us. This was prophesied about Jesus, that the word of God would be the sword that would come out of his mouth. Listen to what Isaiah said in Isaiah chapter 11 when he was prophesying about the Messiah. It says, "With righteousness, he will judge the needy and with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips, he will slay the wicked."

This was actually prophesied about the son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, notice what it says in Revelation chapter 19 because we see the consummation of this at the end of all things. "Coming out of his mouth..." this is describing Jesus, "Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron sceptre. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God almighty."

You see, the sword was an offensive weapon for Jesus and it should be an offensive weapon for us. You see, this idea, the sword of the spirit, it's fundamental to the elements of the armor that we all have on. Think about it for just a moment. When we see the belt of truth, we can't understand truth without understanding Jesus and how Jesus is revealed in the word, right? The scripture itself says, Jesus says when he prays for his disciples and prays for us, "Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth." So we see the belt of truth as contingent upon this sword that we have.

Righteousness and peace that we have described in these elements. How do we know about the righteousness of Christ? How do we know about the peace that only he brings? We know it because of the revelation of the truth of the word of God. How about the shield of faith? Well, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ, the scripture says. So every single one of these pieces has an attachment to this sword that we use and it is not just defensive but it's actually offensive.

Now, I find it interesting that one of the most famous, maybe the most famous book in all of Christian history outside of the Bible itself is a book that was written over from 1677 to 1678 by a man named John Bunyan. You may have heard of it. It's called the Pilgrim's progress. In kind of Christian literature, it's probably the most famous that exists outside of the Bible itself.

Now, the main character is Christian and this whole story is an allegory about the Christian life. He uses the word Christian to describe his main character. Christian in this setting, in the fourth movement or the fourth section of the Pilgrim's progress is about to come face to face with Apollyon. It was a picture of the enemy, of the devil. I want you to notice what is said in that passage from 1678. The language is a little bit kind of early English, so stay with me here.

He says, "But now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way before he noticed a foul fiend coming over the field to meet with him; his name was Apollyon. Then Christian began to be afraid and to toss in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again that he had no armor for his back, and therefore thought that to turn his back to him might give him a greater advantage so that he could pierce him with ease with his darts. Therefore he resolved to be bold and stand his ground."

Now, when I think about that, I'm reminded of something incredibly important. First of all, that what Bunyan told us was this, is that there's no armor that's described here by Paul, there's no armor for our back. That we weren't intended to run, we were intended to be able in the resources and the power of God to be able to stand. This was what we had in mind, and this is what I believe Paul has in mind, but there's something in addition to it.

If I were to go on reading in that passage, and I'm not going to, but if I were, it described how Christian ended up fighting with Apollyon. Apollyon landed a lot of blows and caused a bit of destruction, but Christian realized that he had an offensive weapon, the sword of the spirit, and he began to use that offensive weapon and in fact what he was doing is he was quoting scripture to the enemy. And do you know what happened? Eventually the enemy had to flee and Christian was able to stand and he was able to advance as he made his way to the holy city of Zion.

You see, this is a picture for us. This is an allegory for us that comes right out of what we're talking about, that we have this helmet of salvation that changes the way that we look at the world because our minds are different and we have this sort of the spirit that helps us as an offensive weapon, that we can form the truth of what we believe in our minds to the reality of our lives, and it enables us to be able to move forward. Maybe we could say it this way.

If you're taking notes, you could write this down. A mind guided and shielded by the Gospel, that's what we're talking about when we talk about the helmet of salvation. A mind that's guided and shielded by the Gospel and a life that's ordered by the word, that's what we're talking about when we talk about the sword of the spirit. When those two things are in place, it allows us to move forward in the chaos of battle. Or maybe we could say it allows us to be able to keep going in the fog of war. The mind that's guided and shielded by the Gospel and a life ordered by the word allows us to move forward in the chaos of battle.

You see, ladies and gentleman, this armor is necessary for every single aspect of our lives. What we face daily, it is necessary for that and even more so in the day and age that we live in. We are living in a time right now where we are facing a pandemic. The whole world is up against this and of course in the United States we are feeling this significantly. It's one thing to be up against kind of a physical, even though it's invisible to us, but it's a physical reality that's happening in our country and certainly in the world. It's one thing to be up against that, but when you add to that how the enemy is using this and wants to shoot flaming arrows at us of fear and doubt and despair in the midst of all of this, it can be all we can do just to be able to stand.

Now, I want to remind you that in some cases in our lives, we have to just be able to stand. We're not maybe being able to go forward at some points in our lives, we just need to be able to stand. But here's what I would remind you. Don't turn around and run. We don't have any armor for our backs. We are meant and we are built for in the resources of God to be able to stand. But I think that we can do more than stand. Even though I get it. Sometimes maybe for some of us, that's where we are. I completely understand that.

But for others of us, we have to realize that we can advance. We can still move forward in this battle. Just like our brothers and sisters in Christ in the early church did and through church history have done. Because make no mistake about it. We're not the first ones to endure hardship. We're not the first ones to endure tribulation. We're not the first ones to even endure a pandemic. I mean, in my research for this message as I was studying, I came across an article that was in kind of an online magazine. It's called, and there was a writer there, his name is Lyman Stone. This article was from March 13th of this year. He was actually chronicling some of the plagues that have happened in history.

There was the Antonine Plague that happened in the 2nd century. The 2nd century would have been the 100s A D. This is just shortly after the birth of the church, kind of one generation removed. The Antonine Plague was probably in the neighborhood or in the family of what we would call today smallpox, that that was what was afflicting really kind of the Roman empire during that season. There was a mortality rate of about 25%. That's significant, one out of every four. And it ended up that millions perished during that timeframe.

But do you know what happened to Christianity during that time? It spread. Do you know why? Because the New Testament, which by the way the New Testament was actually new at that time. There was a time in the world where the New Testament was new. We look at it as same, and this is 2000 years old, well, this was new during that time. And do you know what those believers, you know what they did? They acted like what was in it was true. They believed the words of Jesus. When Jesus says, we have it recorded in Matthew 7 when he said, "Do to others what you would have them do to you," what we call the golden rule, they believed that. And they believed it in the midst of hardship.

Do you know what they were doing? They were caring for the sick and the dying sometimes at the expense of their own welfare. They were caring for them. And as a result, Christianity began to spread because they saw that they had a basis for doing this. If you fast forward another century into the 3rd century, the 200s AD, they had what they called the Plague of Cyprian. Cyprian was a Bishop of Carthage, which was in North Africa. He was a Roman African Bishop in the Christian Church. They didn't name him that way, they didn't name the plague that way because it started with him. They named it that way because he spoke to this plague so significantly.

It ravaged the Roman empire. And do you know what believers did? They cared for the sick and the dying. That's what they did. They believed it when Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself." Do you know that they believed that and they acted on that. And as a result, you know what happened? More people came to the faith and understanding who Jesus was.

Fast forward another century. I know these early centuries, they faced a whole lot. In the 4th century, the emperor of Rome was named Julian and he actually was complaining that all of the Christians were taking care of the pagans like him and others, they were taking care of the pagans more than the pagans took care of the pagans. Do you know why Christians did that? Because they had a belief and a baseline of believing what God had said in Jesus Christ and what he had done. They were wearing this helmet of salvation. They knew what their future held. Regardless of what it held in this life, they knew and were confident in what God had done in Christ and that because of Jesus' resurrection, that they too would be resurrected because of their belief in him.

This was extraordinary. Julian is complaining and he's saying, these people care for pagans better than pagans care for pagans. Do you know why pagans didn't care for pagans? Because they didn't have a baseline of belief that gave them that. It was every person for themselves among the pagans. But for believers, they realized, consider one another above yourselves. Love your neighbor. They believed all of these things and they acted on it.

In fact, Rodney Stark, when he wrote this really seminal book called The Rise of Christianity and in missiological circles, it's one of the great and classic books, he actually argued that in the cities where Christians were present and when they had a real robust presence in those cities, that the death rate in these plagues was half of what it was in other places because of believers acting like believers.

If I wanted to fast forward you up to the 16th century, the 1500s, I can do that as well. Like the time of Martin Luther, for instance, where the Bubonic plague is going around and killing so many people. Martin Luther was actually asked by a number of pastors who were facing this pandemic whether or not he felt they should be able to leave and flee from this plague. In 1527 Martin Luther actually pinned a written response. I read it this week just out of curiosity and in some ways I felt like I was reading something that was happening right this very moment.

The way that Luther actually framed his argument wasn't by saying, what would Jesus do? Luther actually framed his argument by saying this, what if Jesus was those people that are sick, that are hurting? How would you then respond as a pastor? What if it were Jesus? Now that is significant and what he's doing there is he's basing that out of the revelation of Matthew chapter 25, Jesus' own teaching. Whatever you've done for the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you have done also unto me.

Now, Luther also talked about a number of different things. I felt like I was reading... this was 1527. He said, "Obey quarantine orders, fumigate your house, practice really good personal hygiene." And he didn't say that just to say to do it. He said it because he based that in, this is what it means to love our neighbor. We love our neighbor by honoring them in such a way that we aren't doing things that potentially could harm them, even though we know that there may be situations that some of us may be called into to have to be able to help them.

You see, we need a clear-eyed view of the Gospel, ladies and gentlemen. We have to understand that when we see the Gospel so clearly, as we see in the revelation of the word of God, the sword of the spirit, and we have our minds transformed by that, we realize that the Gospel teaches us that what Jesus did is Jesus bore our infirmities. Jesus bore our afflictions, that Jesus took on himself what we had so that we could walk free. This is the heartbeat actually of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So we need to have minds that are guided and shielded by the reality of the Gospel and we need to have lives that are ordered by the revelation of the word of God.

So how do we do that? Well, personally we have to say, how does this work for us? Well, personally, if we're going to have our minds guided and shielded by the gospel and we're going to have our lives ordered by the word, we realize that we're going to have to make some personal sacrifices. We're having to make personal sacrifices of convenience. Some of us, we're not doing that by choice, we're doing that by mandate right now. But what we need to do as believers is choose to be able to sacrifice some of our convenience.

We may need to stay home and we may need to honor what our officials are talking to us about. That we wash our hands, that we stay home, that maybe we order take out to help some of the local businesses, that maybe we sacrifice the convenience of our speech and in this time instead of being divisive with our, sometimes where we let ourselves get pulled into political rhetoric, that maybe we could exchange that for prayer. That maybe we could take these freshly washed hands and fold them and be able to pray. Maybe what Jesus is looking for is us to be able to sacrifice some of our conveniences, maybe sacrifice some of our idols that have been built in our hearts and maybe be able to leave those there and seek him with all of our hearts.

And yes, maybe we are going to have to sacrifice for some others. There's no doubt that some of us will be called upon to do that. I mean, as Luther said, he said political leaders can't leave their post and they can't do that now. He said, medical professionals, healthcare professionals, they can't leave their post and they can't do that now. First responders and law enforcement, they can't leave their post and they can't do that now. Pastors, they couldn't leave their post then and they can't leave their posts now. And so many others of you, if I started naming, right? There's many of us.

But listen, the sacrifices that we make are not for the purpose of putting that on social media so everyone praises us. The sacrifices that we make don't need to be for our own vain, glory and pride. The sacrifices we make as believers are for the sake of the glory of God and for the good of other people that were motivated by the glory of God and the good of other people. We may have to make some personal sacrifices, but on the corporate side, how do we put this into play? How do we get to a place where we have such a clear-eyed view of the Gospel that our minds are guided by and shielded by the reality of the Gospel and our lives are conformed to the word of God.

Well, I want you to know that as a church corporately, we've been in contact with both Erie and Niagara counties and we have said to them and shared with them that we stand ready to help them as needed. We told them we have facilities in both counties, that if you had a need and we had to use our parking lots or whatever for... if we ever had to be able to do drive through facilities for testing and those kinds of things. They're not necessarily planning that right now. But if they were, we wanted to let them know we're here for you. We're available for that. You let us know. We also told them, let us know what you need and we will see what we can do to be able to serve our community in any way that we can.

We've also as a church been helping other local churches. In fact, we've helped to coach them and allowed them to be able to do some of these same things that we're doing right now because maybe they didn't have an option to be able to do that. We pulled together a whole bunch of pastors and leaders in Western New York on a Zoom prayer call just a couple of days ago where we had them all on there by video conference, interceding for our region and being able to pray for you and pray for one another.

But there's something else that I want to mention to you that you can take action on. We're calling it the Armor Project. Let me explain what I'm talking about when we talk about the Armor Project. The Armor Project is a way that we want to be able to tangibly help some people who may be in need right now and we are clear on how we're going to do this. We have this organized already, and to do so in a way that doesn't violate anything that our leaders are asking of us here in our county or in our state.

But I'm imagining some of you have some things maybe around your house or when you go grocery shopping that you could utilize to be able to share. Predominantly our team was able to, kind of working through a number of different channels, find out some needs that would be present maybe among some of our church family or maybe amongst some people in our community or certainly amongst some of our partners in ministry. They nailed that down to just a handful of things: baby products, hygiene products. What was the other one, Leroy? Paper products. So paper products, hygiene products and baby products.

Some of you have some of that in addition, like you've got some stores of that in your house. Some of you got in line and you took advantage of that. Now, here's what I want to ask of you. We are going to have available donation points in both Erie and Niagara County at our campus locations. We're going to have donation points, which means this, if you're going to be out going to the grocery store or if some of you who are still working, I realize may be in a very different manner, and certainly we're not asking you to drive after certain hours. If they're asking us for non essential travel during those times, we're not asking for that. But we have times and designated places where you can just be in your car, you can have those things available, get out of your car, put them into a receptacle without having to touch anybody or do anything, get it back into your car and drive away.

We've got on our end the ability to take all of that stuff and have it completely sanitized with some technology that we have been connected to. We can have all of that sanitized and then we can get that out through our channels to be able to distribute that to people who are in need. So I want to ask you to participate. You can do that regardless of where you may be watching me right now if you go to, that's a way for you to be able to see where all of the locations are, the drop off points, and what times those are going to be. Those are going to be at our campuses anyway, right, Leroy?

Leroy: All campuses, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 to 3:00.

Yeah, so all of our campuses, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 to 3:00, but you'll see all of that information on, so make sure that you check that out. In addition, another way that you can be engaged is that we need a whole bunch of prayer warriors. We need an army of people that are praying not only for requests that are pouring into us, like we're getting right now even on our social media channels, but also we want to be able to make sure that partners that are sharing with us, some of our kingdom cum partners that are sharing needs that they have globally and nationally and locally, we want to be able to intercede for them.

We need an army of prayer partners. Okay? Volunteers, because if you can't go anywhere, you can't do anything. And by the way, those of you who are a little older, this is a perfect opportunity for you to be an intercessor, to be a prayer partner. And by the way, there's tons of us that could be able to do this as well. And we need to know who you are so that we can get information to you to be praying.

We want you to be able to go to as well and on's landing page, you'll see an opportunity for you to be able to get signed up as a prayer partner, as a volunteer so that we have your information and that we can connect with you along that line. Because this Wednesday, Lord willing, I'm going to be doing a Facebook live and we're going to be praying, but we want to have an army of people that are praying alongside. All right? So that's another way that you can be engaged in the Armor Project.

But let me mention to you one other one. I realized that for many, life right now is a little bit iffy. I get it. But there's others of us, others of you who have a stable income based upon what you're doing. Maybe your particular business or your particular job has not been interrupted during this time. Could I tell you that we still need to be a people who live generously and who give because not only do we want to facilitate being able to do some of the things that we're talking about doing as a church, but we actually want to be able to share with other people and other parties and partners that maybe we can help meet needs of as well.

So could I encourage you to go to Maybe you're not signed up online to be able to give. This is the easiest way to be able to do it. And maybe you would be generous along that line. I'm certainly going to be, we're certainly going to be. But I would encourage us all, as we have ability, as God enables us to still be a people of generosity. In, you can do that. And also if you want to mail it, when you go there to, if you say, well, I'm more a snail mail, that still works as well and the address and mailing address and everything is right there for you as well.

I want to say a final word though to those of you who may be are watching that maybe have never before received Jesus and come to a place of putting your faith in him. I don't want to at all sound crass when I say this, nor do I even think this is tone deaf. I simply think it's true that there is a virus worse than the Coronavirus that has infected every human heart and it's called sin.

The Bible says it this way. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God and that the wages of our sin is death. That doesn't just mean physical death. It means a spiritual separation from God, that God who is holy and we who are sinful cannot be reconciled unless God has done that. And he has. This is the great news of the Gospel, that God saw that even while we were yet sinful, that he still loved us and he sent his son who came willingly. This isn't an angry God who's putting something upon this loving son, not at all.

This is actually Jesus willingly going to a cross to die in our place, the perfect sacrifice, the sinless substitute, to satisfy the justice of a God who is just, who is righteous, who is holy, and who will judge sin. And he judged our sin that was placed upon Jesus, and Jesus died for us and rose from the grave so that now by faith in him, and because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, we can now be reconciled to God, forgiven of our sin, and made new and have the hope not only in this life, but in the life to come.

So if you've never come to a place of receiving Jesus, you can do that by faith, by putting your trust in him with all of your heart, and we would love and we stand ready to be able to help you in that. If you go simply to, there's some information there as to how you can know Jesus, how you can receive Jesus. We would love to help you there. But I want to also give you another option if you want to talk to a human being. You can simply call our church. That number is (716) 631-2636 or 631-Amen, if that helps you remember it.

You can simply call that number and we actually have real human beings who would love to be able to speak to you and talk to you about what it means to receive Jesus Christ. Maybe you need to be able to speak to somebody about prayer as well. You take advantage of this. So or by calling (716), of course the area code, 631-2636. We would love to talk to you about what it means to know Christ.

Father, I pray that you would work deeply in the hearts of every single person that has been under the sound of our voices, that you would minister life to them and grace to them and that you would draw people to yourself that we might all be more conformed into the image of Christ. For the glory of God we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

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