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Clean your sword…

Clean Your Sword blog - Battle Ready text

Photo by Ricardo Cruz on Unsplash

Have you ever heard this phrase? It’s usually referenced in terms of battle field protocol. After the battle was over, the soldiers were required to clean their sword before putting it away. This is practical and necessary. Not only would it be super gross to put away a dirty sword, the soldier would not be able to use that sword in the next battle. They would not be able to draw their swords quickly because they’d be stuck in their holders. The swords would not be able to do the job the soldier needed them to do because the blades would be dull and corroded. All the debris from battle would have gotten crusty and probably would’ve smelled awful too. Sorry for the imagery here, but it’s true.

I mean, you have to clean all your knives after you cook so that the utensils will be put away clean and ready to prep all you’re cooking the next time you’re getting dinner ready.

This past week at church, I sat in on a really fun class at church that is beginning to go through The Chronicles of Narnia and the spiritual connections between that series and the Bible. There was part of the story in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, where Aslan tells Edmund to clean his sword. It was such a pivotal moment in the book for Edmund and the brief conversation we had in class about this has definitely lingered in my brain this week.

It immediately had my mind racing with biblical imagery of battle. In God’s wisdom, and when the people were following Him with obedient hearts, the battle was always victorious! So many battles that the people prepared to fight in didn’t even have to raise their swords at all. In these battles of the Old Testament, the Lord was showing His people the true reality of wars in the spiritual realms. But there were also times that the people didn’t listen, taking matters into their own ‘capable’ hands and those battles were usually always lost.

If you are familiar with the book of Ephesians in the Bible, then you know there is a whole section dedicated to equipping the Christian for spiritual warfare. Before I go there, the Bible references swords a little over 400 times. All to do with battle of course.

Hebrews 4:12 says, For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Why does a sword need to be double-edged you may wonder? Well, when a soldier is adept at using their sword, they are able to wield it with such power that whether they hit from the left or the right, the sword will find its target every time and win. This is why the author of Hebrews uses this visual, comparing the Bible to a double-edged sword.

But how are we as warriors in the spiritual realm wield the Bible properly as a “two-edged sword”? In short, very carefully.

There are plenty out there who unfortunately use God’s Word to bring shame, disgrace, and defeat to those they deem inferior. Oh friend, if you have ever had someone use God’s Word to make you feel less than, please accept my apology on their behalf. Please believe and know that every scripture in the Bible is meant to draw us closer to the One who created each of us. Are there verses that deal with hard things like sin, obedience, disobedience, purity, and ways to live our life? Absolutely! But they are not there to make you feel like a worm.

The Bible is God’s love letter to you to let you know how truly LOVED you are by Him!

In Ephesians 6:10-17, we read a beautiful portion of scripture called The Armor of God:

The Armor of God

10 “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.

13 Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. 14 So stand firm and hold your ground, having[b]tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), 15 and having [c]strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. 16 Above all, lift up the [protective] [d]shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

In these short 8 verses, we see the perfect and complete description of what we need to do in our life today to be fully prepared to do battle. Whether that battle is in a hard conversation you have to have with someone, in disciplining one of your children, in decision-making times in your life, and of course in the spiritual realm.

God doesn’t say anywhere in the above scriptures, “Hey, if you’re tired or just feeling out of it, you can just pick the piece of armor you want to put on for the day and you’ll be good.” NO WAY!

Can you imagine actually going into a physical battle and deciding, “I’m just too tired to get ready. I’m having a great hair day and the helmet is totally gonna mess that up. Oh, and that shield is really heavy so I’ll give myself a rest today and grab it tomorrow.”

That would be ludicrous ~ and it would bring certain death!

So why do we as Believers do that to ourselves all the time?!?!?!

God tells us to be completely dressed in His armor so that we can successfully win the battle against us! These six pieces of God’s armor are all needed:

  • The belt of Truth
  • The breastplate of Righteousness
  • The ‘shoes’ of Peace
  • The shield of Faith
  • The helmet of Salvation
  • The sword of the Spirit

When we secure the truth of scripture around us, choosing to live rightly before God, walk in a way that brings peace to all situations, protecting our hearts with a deep faith in what God says about us and about who He is, keeping our minds clear and focused on the One who saved us from spiritual death, and properly utilizing God’s Word; then and only then are we truly prepared for battle.

It means that every day before we go to sleep, we must take care of our armor so that it’s ready for us to put on the next day. If we have battled, we must go before the Lord and have Him help us clean away the debris of the day. As the visual God gives us that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, how do we ‘clean’ that sword? This kind of stumped me for a minute and I asked God to show me what that means.

The Lord gave me a picture of a beautiful bible sitting on a coffee table, but that’s the extent of its use. It was simply decorative. The owner loved the bible enough to show all who entered that they had one but they had no idea what was inside.

We keep the ‘sword of the Spirit’ clean when we open it and do not let it collect dust or be on show for others to see. What’s important is the love letter that is inside for us to read and allow to permeate our heart, mind, and soul.

So, when you have those days, because we all do, where it seems like nothing is going right and everyone is against us…take a quick look at what you are ‘wearing’.

Did you try to go into battle on your own? Did we pick and choose what part of God’s armor to wear that day? Or worse yet, did we run out of the house spiritually naked? Yikes! Trust me, this is as much for me as it is for you that are reading this.

God does not waste words because His words bring life. 

Today, I would like to encourage you to allow God’s good Word to breathe life back into your soul today. Whatever battle you have been fighting, STOP! Take a pause to get dressed for battle and if you are weary, ask the Lord to help you put on His armor. The Lord’s armor is not too heavy ~ it is for your protection.

And remember, when the battle is done, clean your sword, shake off the dust of war, and trust that your Commander-in-Chief will take the night-watch for you!

Blessings,

René

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Jesus IS Enough…

The past few months, I will admit that I’ve let so many circumstances get jumbled up in my brain so much that they traveled into my heart, and created quite a bit of havoc in my thinking!  Did that makes sense?  I hope so…and not that I would wish the same upon anyone else, but I sure hope I’m not alone here.  Just being honest with you.

Why do we that?  Why do we take an event, a circumstance, a conversation, a tone or a look, someone’s body language ~ and create an entire narrative that begins to haunt us whether we are asleep or awake.  Why do I allow my thoughts to grab hold of something, dig in its proverbial teeth and not let go?

Flippant answer ~ because we’re human.

Real answer ~ because we want control…and we want what we want when we want it…that’s why!

Oh, don’t get me wrong…when I have those sleepless nights and days filled with “what if” scenarios that mess with my mind and confuse the reality of life, I definitely pray.  I pray and ask God to take those things from my mind.  I pray and ask the Holy Spirit to fight the battle on my behalf.  I pray and put on the whole armor of God.

And He does…the Lord has never not answered a prayer.  Maybe not always how I want it to go, but He always answers me!

But sometimes, just five minutes later, I’ve let the door of doubt crack open just enough that the enemy throws another log on the fire of frustration & anxiety. {Sigh!}

Most days, I stay in the battle until God relieves me from the issues at hand.  And nothing feels quite as victorious as a victory with the Lord against the spiritual forces at play!  However, I’ll be honest with you…some days, I just want to curl up and binge-watch InkMaster (don’t judge me people!) and eat some chocolate!

But here’s the best part of all of this…

Jesus IS Enough!

He really is and He can prove it ~ actually He doesn’t have to prove anything to me because He is the Alpha and Omega…the beginning and the end.  But He shows me in His scripture, He shows me through “Verse of the Day” texts I get on the variety of apps I have on my phone, He shows me via a text or phone call from a friend who “just happened to be thinking of me in that moment” and wanted to encourage me in my day.

I John 4:7 (HCSB) says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

What about those times that we allow ourselves to dwell on actual things that have truly happened and have made an indelible mark on our heart?  The intentional harsh word from a friend?  The cruel comment made about you by someone that didn’t realize you could hear them?  The friend who gossips about you and it gets back to you (because you know…it always does)?

Those are not false hurts.  Those wounds happened TO you, and are not because you are trying to control the situation.  Those moments of heart-pain are most difficult to process, because they weren’t an accident.  They weren’t stories concocted in the “what if” part of your thought life.

But still my friend, even in those times {and maybe ESPECIALLY in those times}, Jesus IS Enough!

Psalm 123:2-4 (HCSB) says, “Like a servant’s eyes on his master’s hand, like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand, so our eyes are on the Lord our God until He shows us favor.  Show us favor, Lord, show us favor, for we’ve had more than enough contempt. We’ve had more than enough scorn from the arrogant and contempt from the proud.”

The Lord’s eyes are always on us.  He is always near to gather us to Him and show us comfort. The Holy Spirit is always available to act as our advocate at the foot of the throne when there are no words that can come out of our mouth. Jesus understands deep wounds of the heart.  He knows the damage gossip and untruths can cause.  And He knows the frustration of a situation that isn’t going as planned.

Matthew 6:33-34 (HCSB) is a promise that has truly become a comfort to me, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Yes…that is actually quite comforting to me.  Living the Christian life does in NO WAY…like ZERO…promise an easy ride.  You can search the scriptures but you will never find that promise.  Jesus knows that everyday will have troubles of its own ~ some days the troubles are like tiny little pebbles we can easily cast aside, and some troubles seem as difficult to traverse as it would be to climb Mt. Everest!  Yet, He is there through it all!  While on earth in His human form, Jesus went to spend time alone in prayer and conversation with the Father.  If Jesus did this…we have got to make time with God a priority as well!!

This passage from John 14:7-9 is one that I absolutely LOVE!  Jesus is enough in part because He is not alone either.  He is a part of the Holy Trinity.  They work together, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to watch over us and care for us when we are hurting and struggling with life.  Read these beautiful words,“If you know Me, you will also know  My Father. From now on you do know Him  and have seen Him.” “Lord,” said Philip,  “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (emphasis mine).

When we see Jesus working in our life, when we feel the Holy Spirit guiding our thoughts and actions, when we know that God is putting the details of our life together ~ we have seen the Father.  We have seen the Trinity.

So with all these truths and promises, what do we do as Christians in this life?  Ephesians 6:19-20 (HCSB) encourages us this way,Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”  The Apostle Paul wrote these words when he was ending his letter to the church in Ephesus.  We can have this same prayer as we go about our typical day, or a quite atypical time of life.

ephesians-6-verses-19-and-20

We need to be bold in our daily walk, in the testimony of our life, and in our speech and habits.  The sinful humanity of life in this world, will do its very best to get in our way every single day.  But we already have the victory in Jesus.

Jesus IS Enough.

Let me leave this posting with verses from Romans 12:9-21.  If you are ever wondering how we are to act in the face of real (or imagined) issues, here is the answer.  With the strength of God who created the heavens and the earth, you absolutely can life out your days with honor as you bring glory to the Father who loves you and wants you reconciled to Him.

Love must be without hypocrisy.  Detest evil;  cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord.  But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.”  {Romans 12:9-21, HCSB}

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

In the Shadows

On a recent trip out of town with my husband, we took a bunch of photos…and of course posted them on social media!  In many of them, I was in the shadow of my tall husband because the sun was so bright.  I couldn’t open my eyes in the photos, and I don’t like taking photos with my sunglasses on.  I know, I know…big problems of life here!  One of my darling witty daughters commented on one photo saying, “So sad that you’ll always be in dad’s shadow.”  It actually made me laugh since I had CHOSEN to be in his shadow so I didn’t have to squint into the sunlight or leave my sunglasses on.  I wrote a reply saying, “I like to think of it as shelter from the heat!” And the next moment, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “In MY Shadow is exactly where you are supposed to be.”  Whoa!  I love it how God can even speak to my heart through social media!  LOL!!

I’ve been mulling over this whole idea between “in the shadows” and “in shelter of” for the past two days now.  And here I sit now chatting with you!

Shadow ~ “a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light; shade or comparative darkness; darkness especially that of coming after sunset; shelter; protection.”

Shelter ~ “something beneath, behind, or within which a person, animal, or thing is protected from storms, missiles, adverse conditions, etc.; refuge; protection from blame or incrimination; a dwelling place or home considered as a refuge from the elements; to be a shelter for; to place under cover; to protect; take under one’s protection; find a shelter.”

Psalm 91:1, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Isn’t that beautiful!  This verse in Psalms completely captures the unique quality of the beauty that combines being in the shadow AND being sheltered by the Lord ~ at the same time!

Take a quick look back at the dictionary definition of the word shelter.  Now think of this meaning in spiritual terms.  When we are sheltered beneath the wings of our Heavenly Father (Psalm 36:7*), we are able to sing with confidence!  He is able to protect us from the storms of life, from the missiles of discontent blasted off from the enemy, and from conditions in our life that are meant to distract or make us dissatisfied with the Lord.  When we make our home with the Lord, we can take refuge from the arrows of the enemy and trust that He will extinguish the deadly fires of dissatisfaction.

Notice as well what I’m pointing out here….the attacks from the enemy WILL COME!  They are inevitable simply because we are children of the Most High God.  We are reminded in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  And how do we maintain a sober and alert mind?  As we read scripture, we are sheltered by the Word of the Lord and all that comes into our mind from Him enables us to wage a victorious battle against the lies of Satan.  This verse maintains that the enemy is “like a roaring lion” ~ it doesn’t say that the enemy IS one…big difference there!  It also doesn’t say that we as Christians are like sitting ducks waiting to be picked off ~ we are moving targets that the enemy tries to pin down, but we are NOT to be passive!  NO my friend ~ we are to be ever-moving about our life, navigating the path that God has set us on, and be ready to press into the Lord when the battle wages.  And the battle will be tougher on some days than others.  There will be seasons of hand-to-hand combat, and seasons of less contention ~ but every day we should be ready for whatever comes our way.

Another reason to remember to put on the proper battle gear ~ the Armor of God!! (Ephesians 6). Oh, and here’s one of the most comforting pictures in scripture to me ~ I don’t have to worry about constantly looking behind me to see what’s coming.  I can use all my energy (mental, physical, and spiritual) to move forward knowing that I’m protected because God has my back!  Isaiah 52:12 says, “But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”  YES!!!  My God and His angel armies are sheltering my life from all that I cannot see as I move in concert with what I can see and follow God’s leading in how to combat the enemy as he tries to throw me off course! I don’t know about you, but I gave myself chills here!

We have an endless supply of reminders in God’s Word of how the Lord protects, shelters, and shadows us.  But we have to be IN and involved in spending time in the scriptures to know this.

When the heat of battle is beating down on your head ~ hide in the cool shadow of the everlasting God.

Blessings,

René

Psalm 91 verse 1

{ photo taken on our trip as we drove through the Presidio in San Francisco }

 

All Bible verses found on http://www.biblegateway.com, NIV version
 * Further reference: Psalm 36:7, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”