Soldier's Shoes

Spiritual Warfare  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Armor of God includes shoes for the Christian Warrior. These shoes speak of an excitement about the Gospel and a readiness to share the Gospel with others. It ought to be our passion!

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Shoes are Vitally Important

Our study in the book of Ephesians moves on to the next piece of armor – the shoes. Ephesians 6:13–15 (NIV) 13Therefore 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. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Shoes are important! I remember receiving the DCU’s (Desert Combat Uniform) before the war. There aren’t any fitting rooms and no mirrors to check out how good you look. You just go down a long line of tables, shout out a size, throw it into a duffel bag, and move on. A week later, after your name and rank have been sown on, you are expected to show up in the new uniform ready to go. When I put my uniform on for the first time, I realized that the boots were really snug – uncomfortably snug. But, there was no way to return the boots so I thought that maybe they would get more comfortable. They didn’t. By the time our flight reached 25,000 feet or so over the Atlantic, I had to loosen the laces. My feet were miserable and by July when I visited the States for a couple of days, Cindy could see the big blisters on the bottom of my feet. I remember in high school being told by the history teacher that one of the significant reasons for the success of the Roman army was the fact that they wore very good shoes. In Iraq I was convinced that they were vitally important.
Shoes on a Mission Bruce Barton’s description of the soldier’s shoes: A soldier wore special sandals or military shoes that protected his feet without slowing him down. Roman soldiers had special shoes made of soft leather with studded soles. This allowed them to march farther and faster as well as giving them facility of motion in battle—they could dig in and hold their ground when in hand-to-hand combat.[1] Let’s go back to the passage again but this time let’s look at a couple of other translations: Ephesians 6:15 (NIV) 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15 (ESV) 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15 (NRSV) 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. As you can see, there is quite a bit of difference between the translations. How does the gospel of peace create readiness (in the first 2)? Or, as the NRSV translates, the shoes represent being ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. Let me take you back to English class (it the best I can do). Let’s look for the subject and verb and go from there. Verse 14 contains the subject and verb. Verses 14 & 15 tell us how. Ephesians 6:14–15 (NIV) (You) 14Standfirm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Stand is the verb…the action. You is the actor or subject. Everything else in this long sentence describes how we stand. And, in the case of the soldier’s shoes we are to stand having put on readiness or ready to proclaimBUT I suggest that we do BOTH. The Gospel of Peace has made us ready, but it is also good for us to BE READY to share the Gospel.
Shoes That Make Us Ready! Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman teamed up in the 60’s. By 1971 they needed a factory, so they bought one in Mexico. They also needed a name for the shoes they were making. They chose Dimension Six but the employees rejected it, calling it “unspeakably bad”. The company’s first employee suggested another, Nike, and the name stuck. That was in 1978. By 1980 I was wanting a Nike sneaker because of the comfort and excitement that came with the shoe.[2] Of course, Nike wasn’t around during the Roman Empire, but they had some remarkable shoes for the time. The shoes were made of leather and strapped around the calf. In cold climates the soldier would wear woolen socks to keep warm. The soles were thick and studded for traction. Today Nike is the top manufacturer of sneakers. During the time of Paul, the Romans wore the best. Regardless of what they were made of, the greatest thing about the shoes according to Paul was that they represented the marvelous Gospel. They represented the marvelous truth about the Gospel that gave us peace (a firm footing) with God AND they represented the opportunity that we must share the Gospel. The Soldier’s Shoes Keep Our Footing Firm (Peace) Have you considered the benefits of being a Christian? Ravi Zacharias frequently taught that Christianity is the only religious teaching that answers all the big questions. Where did I come from? What is my purpose or meaning? How should I live? And, where am I going? (origin, meaning, morality, and destiny). Philippians 4:7 (NIV) 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Daniel Whittle wrote a hymn in 1883 – almost 150 years ago that speaks to the peace that we have.
I know not why God’s wondrous grace To me He hath made known, Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love Redeemed me for His own. Refrain: But “I know Whom I have believed, And am persuaded that He is able To keep that which I’ve committed Unto Him against that day.” I know not how this saving faith To me He did impart, Nor how believing in His Word Wrought peace within my heart. I know not how the Spirit moves, Convincing men of sin, Revealing Jesus through the Word, Creating faith in Him. I know not what of good or ill May be reserved for me, Of weary ways or golden days, Before His face I see. I know not when my Lord may come, At night or noonday fair, Nor if I walk the vale with Him, Or meet Him in the air.
Our footing is firm. We are persuaded that He is able! I was thinking about another verse the other day…
2 Timothy 1:6–7 KJV 1900
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I was enjoying the fact that Paul could have put in anything that attacks our mind.
- God has not given us a spirit of hopelessness
- God has not given us a spirit of anxiety
- God has not given us a …. But He has given us power, love, a sound mind through His peace.
(You) Stand then!

The Soldier’s Shoes Offer Us the Opportunity to Share the Gospel

The soldier’s shoes also open each of us up to the issue of sharing the Gospel with others. (Now here we are going to get some toes smashed). Some years ago, we had a sermon series that discussed sharing the Gospel. It focused on simple things that we could do to share our faith with others. One of the realities that we discussed was the difficulty Christians have sharing their faith with others.
“The longer a person attends church, the fewer evangelistic discussions they engage in with family members and friends. Fewer presentations of the life-changing plan of salvation are given, and fewer invitations to events that attractively present the message of Christ are offered, mostly because Christ-followers have fewer friends outside the faith to whom to offer them.”[3]
This made me think about the WHY behind witnessing to others:

1. Jesus told us to

Acts 1:7–8 (NIV) 7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

2. Eternity is at stake

Acts 4:12 (NIV) 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

3. Rather than being "not interested," the people of the world are truly hungry for the gospel.

Jesus said, "The fields are ripe unto harvest." Can we afford to be selfish with the gospel when such overwhelming evidence shows that so many people are hungry for God? By sharing our faith in Christ with others, we can help change our world for our Lord.

4. It would be irresponsible for us to keep God’s benefits to ourselves

- They become children of God.
- Their bodies become temples of God.
- All of their sins are forgiven.
- They begin to experience the peace and love of God.
- They receive God's direction and purpose for their lives.
- They experience the power of God to change their lives.
- They have assurance of eternal life.
- God also wants you to witness because of the benefits you will receive.

5. Witnessing will stimulate your spiritual growth, lead you to pray and study God's Word, and encourage you to depend on Christ.

You will experience the tremendous privilege and honor of representing Jesus to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20).
2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

6. The love of Jesus Christ for us, and our love for Him, compels us to share Him with others.

Matthew 5:14–16 NIV
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I believe that the soldier’s shoes can represent both the firm footing of peace through the Gospel and the need to be prepared to share the Gospel with others.

How Are Your Shoes Fitting You?

Perhaps this has been an uncomfortable message for you to hear. Honestly, it has been an uncomfortable one for me to hear as well. Many times we look down our noses at the street corner preacher, the outspoken social media personality, or the ‘weird’ cousin 2 times removed because we don’t like their style. What is your style? What is my style?
Listen to this story, set in a different time, but relevant today:
Sometimes we tend to be too careful, afraid of offending those who are lost. But the truth is striking: they have already been offended by the message of the cross of Christ. Christian love and compassion should compel us to share the gospel with the lost. How will they know unless we tell them?
Dwight L. Moody once saw a man freezing to death on the street in Chicago. Moody could not just talk this man into warmth. He pounded him with his fist and got him really angry. The man began to pound back and then got up and ran after Moody. That got his blood circulating and saved his life. Our loud and outspoken witnessing may make people angry, but at least it may awaken them from their spiritual stupor.
Who needs your boldness, your compassion today?[4]
Are you ready to put your combat boots on? What could be your 3 minute testimony? How would you describe what God has done for you?
Front Porch and church activities provide avenues to invite friends and family.
[1]Bruce B. Barton and Philip Wesley Comfort, Ephesians, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996), 133. [2] https://brand-minds.medium.com/nike-the-story-behind-the-brand-f3d8e5d9d725 [3] Bill Hybels, A Walk Across the Room. [4]Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Practical Illustrations: 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude(Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2003), 85.
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