14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to 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.
I don’t consider myself a blogger or this a blog. In reality, my entire Journey of Redemption body of work across all medium over the last 3+ years began as journaling. I would get up in the morning, open the bible, read a passage, meditate and pray on what it is God had for me in His word, then put pen to paper and begin to write. I later got a journaling program for my computer which remained private. Somewhere along the line I decided to email it to my brothers in recovery and received positive feedback, which morphed into a Mailchimp newsletter and finally to a WordPress blog.
The process that I began with years ago of opening God’s word early in the morning, taking time to pray over that time with God asking what “He” wanted to reveal and to then reflect and write about it has not changed.
It has never been just an intellectual endeavor to stuff the Word into my head but instead an aching for His Word to reach into my heart and change my very being.
As I began to pray and reflect on what “the sword of the Spirit which is God’s Word” means to me this morning it became very clear in hindsight that this piece of Armor has been the very foundation of my sobriety, my growth both as a man and a disciple, and is my rock. Without God’s word I would be nothing.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness
If you believe yourself to be a Christian but the Word of God does not hold a critical place in your walk then I would seriously reflect on how is it that God reaches into your heart and changes you.
I have heard people say “I talk to him all day long”. That’s great, my question then becomes “how does He respond and are you positive it’s Him”.
In my own life, since crossing over the line into an authentic relationship with Christ (at the age of 45) there has been no other source greater than the Word of God for encouragement and conviction, for hope and peace, for shaping my desires and molding my will.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
I am so incredibly grateful that the churches I have attended regularly have either directly or been affiliated with serious discipleship programs. Currently I am in ROOTED which is an authentic biblical look into the heart of Christ and promotes deep inward reflection on what it means to be a Christian who is poured out in serving not just the Gospel, but providing hands-on healing to a broken and dying world.
We don’t serve because it’s the right thing to do or to earn brownie points with God, we serve because Christ saved us and calls us to then sacrifice our very life for his Glory.
Matthew 25:31-46 (NASB)
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [a]take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
I don’t know about others, but for me the most powerful part of that double-edged sword is the side of the blade that cuts inward working to carve out my own selfish, pride, ego, lusts, idolatry(s), fears, soul wrenching lies of the Accuser that come in the form of unworthiness, hopelessness, and powerlessness.
The Word of God tells us who we are, reveals to us our strengths in Him and weaknesses of the flesh, draws our hearts closer to our true callings, reminds us that we are not alone in our human weaknesses by showing us real men of the bible who both struggled in their humanness but when obedient glorified God and furthered the Kingdom in mighty ways.
God’s Word encourages us to step into the difficult situations for righteousness sake; no longer motivated for personal gain but solely for the glory of God.
The truly tragic thing is that I know several people who have spent their entire lives as a student of the bible stuffing massive amounts of “knowledge” into their conscious mind but none of it makes way to a heart change. They quote scripture in judgment and condemnation of those around them and completely miss the inner edge of that Sword, seeing themselves as righteous and others as lacking.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves
Much like the Pharisee, they knew the words of God but they didn’t know God as was evidence by their lack of fruit, darkness of their heart, their pride and ego which was on display through their garmets, markings and holding dearly the law of God but not the heart of His word.
9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Father God, my heart both soars and aches when thinking about all that is contained in Your Word, Your loving Word that sets us free but only if that Word makes it into our heart and changes our feet, our hands, our thoughts, our words. The bible is Your gift to us that we might have something that gives us even the tiniest opportunity to grasp the realities contained within Your great love for us. May we all Lord become increasingly hungry to know more of You, to be insatiable seekers constantly drawing deeper into Your Word, never satisfied with where we are but always knowing that we will always be on this journey of sanctification reliant solely upon the blood of the Cross for our salvation. Help us hear your call on our lives, let us not be satisfied with who we are today, but only drawn to find greater ways to glorify You in and through Your work in our lives. May we live out that light and salt that you created us for, finding our purposes in You, for You and only because of You. Thank you Father God, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit within for all of the Armor that You are. May we rest in your grace and press on toward the goals You alone set for us always. In Jesus precious name…