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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, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Spiritual Amnesia ~ the struggle is real!

Do you remember cramming for those final exams?  Putting together material for a 10 page research paper?  Running bible verses with your little ones on the way to Awana so they get their patch? (Yes…I was “that” mom that would forget to help my girls with their Awana homework until about 2 hours before they needed to be at church.)  Let me ask you this….do you really and truly remember any of those things that you studied?  I think you can call that “Situational Amnesia.”

Or my personal favorite….after just a few weeks of driving 16 miles (which in SoCal speak = 35 minutes of drive time) on 3 freeways to get my girls to school (for seven years!), it didn’t take long for a certain type of “amnesia” to set in.  Fairly soon, I knew the rhythm of the morning and afternoon traffic, and my car seemed to “just know” how to get there and back.  It was actually a bit disturbing when on occasion, I would pull into the driveway back home and wonder, “How did I get here?”  EEK!

Have you or someone you know, ever experienced amnesia?  Or maybe just selective amnesia?  I think all young children fall into the latter category at some point in time.  A mom will ask, “Did you remember that I told you not to walk through the house with mud on your shoes?” And the child will answer, “No.”  Mom ~ “Well, I’ve told you everyday this month.  You don’t remember?” Child ~ “I don’t know.”  Good times!  Translate that to conversations we have with our Heavenly Father, “Do you remember that by grace you have been saved?” Our response, “No….I have to work hard to prove I’m worth it.”  ~ that my friends is Spiritual Amnesia!

Okay ~ we’ve read our bible during our morning quiet time; we’ve read over our scripture verse of the week to memorize; we have our time of prayer with the Lord.

Then….

…..we walk out the door to begin our day (and sometimes don’t even make it that far) when we are hit with a situation or person, which causes us to forget everything we just did!  WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN??? How can we so quickly forget the goodness and grace of God!?

I think partly this happens to me because I’m not really spending time in God’s Word, I’m speeding through it to check it off my “to do” list.  I’m being honest here.  I’m not proud of that and I don’t recommend it all.  Now, I don’t think there is anythign wrong with putting “Quiet Time” in your planner or on your iPhone calendar ~ but right now, please join me in choosing to enjoy this time spent with the Lord instead of as just something we have to get through to get on with our day.  That’s the attitude that causes spiritual amnesia.

Amnesia literally means: loss of a large block of interrelated memories;complete or partial loss of memory caused by brain injury, shock, etc.

**In no way in this blog do I mean to diminish the reality of amnesia that some people may have to live with everyday.  It’s very serious, and I do not wish to make light of it.**

That said, what could be a “brain injury or shock” that we can encounter as a Christian that causes us to forget who God is and who He has created us to be?

*You prayed for a loved one to be healed and they died.

*You lost your job and it’s been months or  years since you had full time employment.

*Your child disobeyed you AGAIN for the same reason.

*Your marriage suddenly erupts with the uncovering of years of being lied to by your spouse.

*Your child tells you that they don’t want to see you anymore.

*People you thought were your friends have been gossiping about you behind your back.

And I’m sure you can add a few more to the list.

But guess what ~ as horrible as those things are, they don’t have to define you.  These are the moments in time when it is imperative to have been having true time with the Lord and allowing His living Word to saturate your soul with HIS TRUTHS!  So that when we come across those incredibly mind-bending experiences of pain, grief, aggravation, or fear ~ we can call out to the Lord and ask Him to remind us of who HE is and who we are in Him!  But we also have to be mindful of keeping scripture first and foremost in our mind.  The only we can do that is to be reading the Word everyday!  We may not always be able to think of the book a scripture is in, but when we need to reign in our negative thoughts, turning to God’s Living Word is the only way to redirect our thinking to that of what is positive and pleasing to the Lord.

Here’s just a few of those reminders to get you started:

Isaiah 55:8-9, ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Right here ~ God is reminding us that what He thinks about is totally different than what we think about.  Meditating on His Words are the only way to make sure we are making at least an effort to think how the Lord thinks.

**Please know the context in which I’m using the word “meditate.”  If you have a picture of someone sitting cross-legged on the ground with their hands in a funky position, chanting….STOP!  That is NOT biblical meditation!  Eastern mysticism & meditation tell you to “empty your mind.”  That is the exact opposite of what God calls us to do when He tells us to meditate on His Word.  Biblical meditation calls us to FILL our mind with scripture and to think on how we can be obedient to the Lord by weaving those scriptures in and through our daily life, to live a life honoring to Him.  If you spend time emptying your mind, the enemy is waiting nearby to fill it with his version of the truth…and you will be led astray.**

I Corinthians 2:9-12,However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”

Hebrews 4:11-13,Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-6, The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

I hope these verses are encouraging to you ~ they are key verses in understanding how and why we need to keep our thoughts focused on the Lord and not on the circumstances or situations around us.  Not to go blindly walking around saying, “The Lord will figure it out.” (He will by the way…but He wants to work with us!) Our Heavenly Father wants to join with us, His children, because He loves us!

When you are tempted to give into fear, sadness, or anxiety ~ make a choice to run to God’s Word.  Speak out loud the truths of scripture.  Give the devil his notice that he cannot control you.  Praise the Lord that He is good and that He has called us to be His own!  We are create in HIS image and He was happy and satisfied in His creation! You are royalty ~ all the negative think and feelings of guilt and condemnation are not who you are…so toss that all in the garbage!  Rejoice that He calls you by name and He loves you so very much!!

Hebrews 4 verse 12

Blessings,

René

 

 

Women's Ministries

Created for Relationship

Today, I was reminded that even though social media is a great way to stay connected with friends who live far away, nothing beats sitting down across a table and sharing life.  Even more than that, when you meet with someone that you haven’t seen in years (we’re talking like a good 15 years here!), you can still fill up three hours worth of conversation…and still not be finished. This, by the way, absolutely stymies my husband who wonders what the heck we can talk about for that long.  My answer, “What DON’T we talk about!”  But the real icing on the cake is when you are sitting across from a sister in the Lord ~ the fellowship is even more sweet!

Driving home, so thankful for the time with my friend, I was listening to some favorite Bethel music, and the song “We Dance” came on (see the link below to listen to this song on youtube), it made me so emotional.  Well, that’s not very hard to do ~ music is my love language and I love to worship my Lord in song! Part of that song I absolutely adore is “…And remind me of that song, the one You wrote for me…” It made me think of a verse that calms my heart in the midst of any unsettledness I might be feeling. I know I’ve shared this verse before, but I think it’s worth a repeat mention ~

Zephaniah 3 verse 17 - God sings over me

Seriously ~ how beautiful is God’s Word!  My friend, my sister, your Lord God – the Creator of the Universe will EXULT over you with loud singing!  He has a song just for you and He sings it over you. You know that feeling that comes out of “no where” to calm you in the storms that life kicks up…that’s HIM!  The Holy Spirit is the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” agent.

Sometimes that calmness comes in the form of God’s still small voice of encouragement, sometimes through music, and sometimes through the shared fellowship at a local coffee shop.  God created us for relationship ~ with Him and with others.  And I am so very glad He did!

My prayer for you today is that if you are struggling with a friend or family relationship, do not lose hope!  Continue to pray about it and ask God to give you the wisdom on how to move forward ~ and that might mean standing still while God works things out.  I know it’s hard, but so worth allowing the Lord to sort and sift.  And while you wait, put on your favorite worship music and let those melodies wash your heart and soul with the love the Father has for you.

Blessings,

René