Sword of the Spirit

Have you ever heard the cliché of “saving the best for last”?  Well, the next, but generally considered the most important of the weapons in our arsenal, is the Sword of the Spirit.  It doesn’t take any interpretation to know what this means as the Scripture clearly tells us that the Sword of the Spirit is God’s Word.  We have seen that each of the other pieces of armor are all defensive weapons.  The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the group. We can take it and charge forward against our enemy and there is absolutely nothing he can do to defend himself against it.  His arsenal is completely useless against God’s Word.  This is clearly demonstrated to us when Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days before beginning His earthly ministry.  Satan’s attempts to entice Jesus to sin proved futile.  Each time Jesus ambushed Satan with the one thing he has no defense against – God’s Word!  Satan’s strategy was smart – hit your opponent at his weakest.  Jesus had just spent 40 days without food and would most certainly be vulnerable and frail by this point.  But even in your weakest moments, when the Word of God is in your mouth, it pierces through the bleakest situation and creates the victory that will put you over!  It is the creative force that sets God in motion on your behalf!  The Word of God is the most powerful weapon you have.  Use it!

17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 (NLT)

3 …..  that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3 (NKJV)

16 You must not test the LORD your God as you did when you complained at Massah. Deuteronomy 6:16 (NLT)

13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Deuteronomy 6:13 (NIV)

Helmet of Salvation

The helmet of salvation is the next piece of armor we are equipped with.  And of course, a helmet provides protection for the head, which of course, houses our minds.  And our minds are the center for our thought-life.  The devil is a master at getting people to entertain thoughts that do not fall in line with God’s Word.  As Joyce Meyer so aptly puts it, our minds are battlefields.  And we are at war in our thought-life with Satan to keep our minds renewed to God’s Word.  But it is the helmet of “salvation”.  So what is the significance there?  The very word salvation lets us know that we have been saved from something, and that something is that we’ve been delivered from Satan’s kingdom into the Kingdom of God.  We are no longer under the devil’s rule but we rule and reign with Jesus Christ.  This is a realm that the devil once enjoyed until he gave it all up.  Our minds are vulnerable to Satan’s mental attacks against us, many times getting believers to even question whether God loves them or if they really are saved.  So we must stand secure in our knowledge, both heart knowledge and head knowledge, that we are now children of the most high God, heirs together with Jesus Christ, and forever in the family of God.  The helmet of salvation protects our minds from unrenewed thinking.  Keep your helmets on at all times.  Stand firm in your salvation and keep your minds renewed to who you are through Jesus Christ!

5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.  II Corinthians 10:5 (NLT)

2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT)

17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 (NLT)

Shield of Faith

I like the New International Version of Hebrews 11:1 which says “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Surety and certainty are complete opposites of doubt.  And when we serve the one true living God, there is absolutely no room for doubt.  A soldier will never be successful if he/she harbors any doubt.  Our faith can be solid, unshakeable and immovable because it is established on The Rock.  There is never a reason to doubt when your faith is in a God who cannot lie.  This immovable, unshakable faith is one of the greatest weapons we have against an enemy, who, no matter how hard he tries, will never penetrate our shield of faith.  Our faith is a complete barrier all around us, a shield that protects us from anything the enemy slings at us.  It is not just in front of us, but it encompasses us.  This impenetrable shield will not only stop the darts of the enemy, but it extinguishes them.  If we keep our shield of faith up, no matter what direction the enemy approaches from, we are protected. The devil is sly.  He doesn’t just come from one direction or try one strategy.  If one strategy fails, he comes at you from a different direction.  But if you keep your shield of faith up, he has no chance of victory.

4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. 1 John 5:4 (ESV)

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)

Don’t Ignore Your Footwear!

Any soldier would probably tell you that his/her footwear is one of the most important pieces of equipment that they have.  Most enemies set traps along their foe’s path in hopes of forcing them to lose their footing.  An army cannot advance if they are tripped up and fall.  In our spiritual warfare, we must have spiritual footing. It’s so much easier to overtake your enemy when he is down.  Therefore, we must be prepared to both stand our ground and also to advance.  And for that we need to be steady and sure on our feet.  Nothing brings more steadiness in our life than the gospel of peace.  Peace is what brings us that assurance that we are serving the King of Kings who was, is and will forever bring us the victory over our foe, the devil.  There are no traps he can set that can cause us to slip or fall because we have been made ready for battle with our feet shod with the peace that surpasses all understanding.  In the midst of the most fierce battle, we can be so full of peace that our natural mind just can’t grasp it.  But we aren’t  led by our natural minds.  We are lead by the peace in our lives that only comes from a relationship with Jesus.  Trust in your commander-in-chief, Jesus Christ!  He’ll lead you through and you will come out standing strong and victorious!

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  Ephesians 6:14-15 (NIV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV)

7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

Stay Connected to the Vine

We will take a second look at the second of the spiritual warfare weapons that God has provided us with, and that is the breastplate of righteousness to emphasis the important of this weapon.  God is a Spirit and we communicate with Him through our spirits. Satan’s darts and arrows are aimed with a vengeance at our spirits or in other words, our hearts, in his ruthless attempt to forever separate us from God as he has been.  Jesus taught us that He is the vine and we are His branches.  And when we are cut off from the vine, we will wither and die.  Satan knows this and that is his goal – to separate us from the vine.  Satan also knows that apart from God, we can do nothing.  And he would love nothing better than to see believers become do-nothing, powerless people.  So you can see why it is so important to Satan that we become cut off or separated from God.  A person who is not connected to God is powerless and therefore is no threat to him.  It’s like a hair dryer that is not plugged in to the outlet.  It is absolutely useless and cannot perform its intended function unless it gets plugged in.  So separating you from God is his ultimate plan.  You can see why God has given us the breastplate of righteousness to protect our most vital of areas against this plan.  Don’t take our enemy the devil for granted.  He knows the Word and what it takes for us to either become cut off from God or to do everything to stand!

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.  John 15:5-8 NLT

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, Ephesians 6:14 NIV

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.  Ephesians 6:13 NIV

Protect Your Heart

The second of the spiritual warfare weapons we are given is the breastplate of righteousness.  Now we know from ancient times, warriors wore breastplates to protect the areas housing the vital organs, any of which if injured, could be fatal.  Even today, law enforcement officers and soldiers wear bullet proof vests to provide the same protection.  So breastplates have long been used for protection.  The breastplate of righteousness provided to us is not of any righteousness that we have acquired due to anything we have done, but righteousness bestowed to us by God through the righteous works of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Jesus’ righteousness is ours to wear, whether as robes or breastplates.  The target that Satan aims for is our heart, our innermost part of our being, where we commune with God.  His strategy is to disrupt this communion between us and God because the destruction of this relationship means separation from God.  When Satan, then Lucifer,  was banished from heaven that’s exactly what happened to him.  And Satan has made it his life’s work, to separate everyone from God.  Oh, but Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us!  Remember, we are not in a physical battle, but a spiritual one.  And in order to come out victorious, we must take advantage of each piece of armor that God provides.  Wear your breastplate daily and Satan’s accusations against you can never penetrate your heart! 

14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. Ephesians 6:14 (NLT)

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, Ephesians 6:14 (NIV)

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30 (NIV)

Know the Truth

Over the next several Food for Thought’s we will be looking into the armor that God has provided for the believer.  Why do we need armor anyway? People only need armor when they are in a battle.  Well, we may not be in a physical battle, but we are daily in a battle.  And this battle is a spiritual one – against our only enemy, the devil.  Each piece  of the armor that we have been provided with protects us from the various methods the devil uses against us. Today we start with the belt of truth.  The devil’s main mode of operation against believers is lies.  And it is impossible to be able to tell if something is a lie unless you know what the truth is.  If we are not knowledgeable about the truth, or what God says about something, then we can easily be deceived into believing the devil’s lies.  After all, he is not only a proficient liar, he is the father of lies. He is good at it. His specialty is mixing just enough truth in with his lies that he can get you to give a second thought to what he says.  It is a strategy that has worked for him for thousands of years.  The more truth (Word) you have in you, the better equipped you are against this strategy of the devil.  A belt surrounds your core. Your core is the base of strength for your entire body.  So we must gird it.  We gird it physically so we can stand strong.  Spiritually we gird ourselves with the belt of truth -God’s Word – which allows us to stand unshakable forever!

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, Ephesians 6:13-148 (NKJV)

44
For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 (NLT)

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (strategies NLT) of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 (NKJV)

Arriving at Your Destination

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I got distracted.”  Distractions – they are a favorite excuse for not getting a job done.    And distractions are everywhere it would seem.  Their affect can range from just making a simple mistake to making a deadly one. Distracted driving is a leading cause of automobile accidents – people concentrating on other things when their focus should be on the road.  So it would seem that the answer to distractions would be focus.  And what we focus on, or in other words, what we make our priority for that moment, is completely within our control. What do we choose to focus on?  What is our priority for that moment?  Is it arriving safely to our destination or is it reading the text that just came in?  Focus is one thing, but focusing on the right thing is another.  This is where Martha missed it. She saw the priority as being Jesus’ visit to her home.  So what that meant to Martha was cleaning, preparing food, serving, etc.  On the other hand, Mary saw the priority as Jesus’ presence in her home.  What that meant to Mary was absorbing everything she could while He was with her and everything else can wait.  The things that Martha thought were her priority Jesus called distractions.  Placing our focus on the wrong thing is distraction and we need to be able to recognize that.  And, as we see, it can have adverse affects both in the natural and the spiritual.  If your spiritual life isn’t where you would like it, check to see if there are some distractions preventing you from getting to your destination.

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home.  39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.  40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)

35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. 1 Corinthians 7:35 (NLT)

We Honor Rev. Billy Graham

This week we pay homage to one of our lifetime’s greatest servants of God, Rev. Billy Graham. Rev. Graham entered his heavenly home on Wednesday, February 21st at age 99. It’s hard to even image the reception waiting for him at those pearly gates. He was most likely greeted by a multitude of saints who might never have been there if it weren’t for Billy Graham. And it’s certain that Jesus was there to thank him for his matchless contribution to His kingdom. To think, that after almost 70 years in the Lord’s service, what it must have been like for Billy Graham to finally meet his Lord and savior Jesus! And of course, what a joy to be reunited with his beloved Ruth, his wife of 63 years. The world truly lost a saint this week. But we celebrate because this saint received his hope of glory! Here are some excerpts from Billy Graham’s last message which he preached from his home on his 95th birthday. Even at that golden age, he understood the need for Christ today is greater than ever and his heart still yearned for souls!

“I look out across an audience when I stand up to preach and I think of all of the people with their different backgrounds and their various needs and I know that they are objects of God’s mighty love to the point that He gave his son, His only son, to die upon a cross.”

“The cross is offensive because it directly confronts the evils which dominate so much of this world. One reason that the cross is an offense to people is because it demands, it doesn’t suggest, it demands a new lifestyle in all of us. Sin is a disease in the human heart that affects the mind, and the will and the emotions, every part of our being is affected by this disease.”

“There is no other salvation except through the cross of Christ.”

“Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I’m a sinner and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins. I repent of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus name!

Ultimate Judge

“Don’t judge me!”  I’m sure you’ve all heard that before.  People often use this statement so that their behavior can be overlooked.  Indeed, the Bible does say “judge not, that you be not judged” Matthew 7:1 NKJV.  But what does this mean exactly?  From this statement, Jesus goes on to talk about pointing out the speck in our brother’s eye when we have a plank in our own, calling such a person a hypocrite. Often times, we like to point out the faults in others so that we can feel better about ourselves.  And it’s often true that the fault we identify in another is one we struggle with as well.  So hypocrisy is the key here. We are not to make judgments hypocritically or self-righteously.  Jesus then goes on to instruct us not to give what is holy to dogs or cast pearls to the swine.  It would seem this would require some judgment, determining who are dogs and swine and who are not. Then we find Jesus makes this statement in John 7:24 – “do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (NKJV).  In other words, Jesus is telling us to make sure we get all the facts before we make a judgment so we can judge righteously.  But what makes a judgment righteous?  When we gather the facts, they are to be weighed against one thing – God’s Word.  How do the facts line up with what God has said?  Ultimately, it is God’s Word that makes a judgment righteous! – not our opinion, nor our set of circumstances, nor our world view.  God’s Word is the only rule of law.  And, God’s reason for correcting His children is always LOVE!  And if that is not our reason as well, then maybe the one we should be judging is ourselves.

24 Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously. John 7:24 (AMP)

3 “Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Luke 17:3 (MSG)

11 My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. 12 For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)