Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Sword

Ephesians 6:17
[Take] the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.

The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon mentioned in Ephesians 6. Everything else was defensive to protect against the enemy.

Without the sword (Word of God) you cannot attack the enemy. The better a person knows how to use the sword (Word of God) the better fighter they become.

I just want to use an Old Testament story as an illustration of this. You may have heard of King David's Mighty Men. Eleazar was one of the chiefs.

2 Samuel 23:9-10
Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. The the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

This dude is my freakin hero. Eleazar and David are taunting the Philistine army while everyone else is shaking and rattling in their armor. Eleazar is saying "Bring it." While the army of Israel is telling him to shut up. Whatever he did along with David to taunt the Philistines into battle it worked. It reminds me of the movie Braveheart where William Wallace offends the British guy to provoke a battle and rides back to the Scottish army and his buddy ends up saying. "At least we didn't get dressed up for nothin."

One thing I find amazingly interesting about this story is how hard Eleazar fought. It says that his hand was so tired from the battle that it froze to his sword. Oh that we would cling to the Word of God in that way. That we would till our dying breath be clutching without fear, without doubt, and with complete faith in the Word of God.

That verse says that the army of Israel only came back to strip the dead. It's the same type of thing when a person can only lean on the trust another has in the Word of God. "My Sunday School teacher said she..." or "My Pastor said that he..." but not have a story of their own. They do not fully understand the Word and so their revelation of God is small. A small understanding of God only leads to a forfeit faith. If we had an understanding what the Word of God can do for us we'd do more than just preach, memorize certain scriptures, or let it save our seat in the pew.

God's Word:

Generates Life | Creates Faith | Produces Change | Frightens Satan | Causes Miracles | Heals Hurts | Builds Character | Transforms Circumstances | Imparts Joy | Overcomes Adversity | Defeats Temptation | Infuses Hope | Releases Power | Cleanses Minds | Brings Into Being | Guarantees Our Future Forever
That's the reason this is our only weapon. We need to be so diligent and so proficiently savvy with the Word of God that we are like Eleazar with the sword; unwavering, unstoppable, unashamed, and unrelenting.

Notice this one last thing about the "Full Armor of God." There is nothing to guard your back. You can't run and hide from this. So the best option is to pick up your sword and become skilled at using it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Deeper Than Acceptance

Ephesians 6:12
Take the helmet of salvation...

A soldier's helmet protected his skull and neck from his enemy's weapons and falling objects. It also identified the soldier to whom he had allegiance to.

A person can survive most injuries depending on the severity; a broken arm, a missing limb, a stubbed toe all of which are painful but survivable. But head trauma is different. It doesn't take a neuroscientist to point out that head injuries are the most traumatic injuries a person can sustain. Head injuries can cause aneurysms, hemorrhages, hematomas and several other big fancy scary medical terms.

We, Christians, for decades have put an emphasis on salvation being something God offers and we accept. Not necessarily as a life changing new identity that we often tote as a "free gift". But more or less like an added credit card to our wallets.

God: "Do you want to accept this Heaven Express Platinum Card with a very low APR offer? We can also roll all your credit cards into your new Heaven Express Platinum Card in order to make your payments quick and easy. If you act now we'll give you this special bonus of touring our location once this card has expired. What do you say?"

Us: "Yes, sign me up today!"

Then as we incur the dept we work hard at paying it off. We don't make any true changes except for who we are in "debted" to. We pay off that debt by trying to have better behavior around church people and give Jesus a shout out now and then. But what happened to the life change?

As often as you read in Scripture where salvation is a discussed topic it mostly describes a new life or a transformation taking place. Salvation isn't found in a nod of agreement to a doctrine but in a life transformed by the person of Jesus Christ.

So if we get this salvation wrong we screw up how we view God, what we think about God, how we respond to God, and what we do for God. It's like a hemorrhage that leads to a spiritual coma. That is why it is so crucial for us to understand that salvation is meant to be worked out and lived daily.

I do accept what Jesus has done for me; that is just the beginning. Who I am is a representation of the salvation that has renewed my mind, transformed my heart, and opened my life up to a divine purpose.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sweet Liberty

“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” – Patrick Henry

Tomorrow our nation will celebrate Independence Day; our national birthday. 235 years old. We should often be reminded how fortunate we are to live in this great country. We've got all the best food:  hamburgers, hotdogs, pizzas, and Chinese buffets. We have so much freedom in America we can hardly tolerate ourselves. The funny thing is that all of us are slaves.

We have tasted the bitterness of slavery whether we are aware of it or not. Though it isn’t a physical bondage it definitely is a spiritual one.

Think back to the life you had before Christ or the life you're living right now. What was it really like? What benefits did you reap from the things you might now be ashamed of?

In this world people will struggle to keep from coming under the will of God even though they can find their true freedom and independence there. They will still dislike, even despise, those who so gladly submit to God’s will.

So what is the appropriate way to celebrate Independence Day? By getting drunk, firing off fireworks and guns? Gorging ourselves on barbequed whatever? How about this; why don’t we celebrate the independence of our “one nation” by staying “under God”?

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” - John 8:36

Never has there been a more true statement. Never has there been a more comforting statement. When Christ has freed you there is no force in this world that can take that away from you. When Christ has freed you, it is of little matter where you live, or how well or poorly you live. When Christ has freed you the things of this world become less and less important.

You can lock me up but I can be as happy as I choose wherever I am. You cannot jail my spirit. You can kill those I love, but in Christ, we will reunite. You can kill me, but in Christ I can even find comfort there. Who cares if I am in jail when heaven awaits me? Why should I be depressed about a body that is slowly getting weaker and older when there is a new one that awaits me? Why should I fret about money when I shall have everything I need and more in my next life?

I am one man, under God, indivisible, filled with liberty and justice that is available to all through the freedom in Jesus Christ. Such sweet liberty.