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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

 

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Hope is like a belt buckle…

Yesterday, heard a pastor on the radio talking about hope. In that same day I visited my daughters’ high school to watch her sing with the worship team in chapel, and the teacher that spoke to the student-filled auditorium that morning… You guessed it – it was on hope. Later in the afternoon I read several posts from different Christian authors that I follow and all of their messages were about hope. In the evening on my drive home, the host on the radio program I was listening to was talking about hope. So it seemed very clear to me that God was calling me to investigate hope a little bit more and write them down for today.

Now I know my Bible enough to know that in terms of clothing analogies the “belt” in the Christian armor of God, is the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14). But as I heard the pastor speaking about Hope on that first radio program, he mentioned that hope is really the connection between the past and our future.

Whether it is something that is happening later in the day or even the next day, that is our future because it hasn’t happened yet.

Hope is something that is look forward to.

The radio pastor was encouraging us to remember what we have hoped for in the past and how God has answered those prayers, so that can fuel our hope for whatever it is we are looking forward to in the coming days, months, or years to come.

When I heard this analogy I have to admit that I immediately pictured one of those huge cowboy belt buckles! All blinged out and personalized for the owner.  Come on ~ you know what I’m talking about!!

I got to thinking more of the function of a buckle. The belt buckle must be connected to both ends of the belt fabric, in order to be effective. If we as believers are putting on our spiritual armor every day, which must include the belt of truth, we can in a sense, buckle that belt with the power of hope. Hope in the Lord!

When we know the truth of God’s Word then we can increase our confidence and walk in the hope that the Lord provides us. It says in Romans 5:1-5, Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  And not only that,  but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character,  and proven character produces hope.  This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (emphasis mine).

All of these things rest upon the other. Instead of looking at this list of virtues as a list as if they were all separate, imagine something different with me. Imagine the wood-shake siding of a cute little beach cottage. Each layer is built upon another to create that effect. So it is the same with all the characteristics that are named in this verse. We don’t get to skip some and just choose the ones that we want, or the ones that we think are going to be easier to attain.  That would leave holes in the siding and make the house susceptible to outside dangers.  So it goes with our spiritual life.

romans-5-verses-1-5

Honestly, we can hope for a great many things. But hope is nothing if we do not have truth to base it on.  Hope is not effective in our life if we do not have faith in the one who gives us that Hope.

I think Romans 5:2 summarizes this concept beautifully ~ “We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

One way to promote the growth of hope in our own lives is to be immersed in community with other Believers.  I have had a variety of experiences in my life that caused great suffering for me.  Had I not had the partnership of those around me to pray for me and lift me up when I did not have the stamina to do so on my own, I shudder to think where I would be in this life.  In fact, scripture tells us of the joyful command from God to be in community.

Hebrews 10:23-25 says, Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering,  for He who promised is faithful.  And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

A pastor at my church is well-known for saying, “remember in the dark what God has done in the light.” When we feel that we are in a dark place, that we are suffering, that we are feeling alone, we can take that walk of faith to remember all of the other times that God has lifted us out of a dark place. The moments of suffering that are replaced with rejoicing.

As we think on these things and as we look to scripture to bolster our spirits, we have our faith renewed and that will give life to a new hope in our heart for whatever it is we are trusting God for in the future.

With trust, faith, and hope…these three characteristics in our life are not a guarantee of ease or of even getting what we want or hope for. They are there to sustain us no matter what the outcome of our situation is. It is very difficult when the prayers that are lifted to the Lord from a heavy heart come back to us with the answer of ‘no’ or even the answer of ‘wait’. We do not have any guarantee of comfort, an easy life, or a life without suffering in various degrees.

What we are promised is that no matter what we go through, Jesus will always be by our side.

Forever and ever, Amen!

psalms-136-verses-1-and-26

Each New Year {especially} starts off with so much anticipation of what is yet to come. Sometimes the year ahead turns out exactly how we had hoped. Sometimes there are tweaks here and there, and sometimes our life is turned upside down.

These are the moments to choose to hold tightly to the hope that is in Jesus Christ. To choose to praise and worship the Father knowing that He truly does have the best in mind for us. God is not in the business of granting wishes or making our dreams come true.

But He will absolutely {and every time} give us what we need.

And what we need is to be filled with His Spirit so that we can shine the light of His glory to the world around us. The people in your realm of influence: be it in an office, a classroom, your own home, or your neighborhood. The Lord has put you right where you are for a specific purpose.

He has a plan for you, and it is good.

Blessings,

René