Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gettin' Ready

So it’s time for a little self-defense. I mean, if we’re going to start tearing down the ‘names’ we’ve believed about ourselves, we’ll need to prepare. You can’t go into combat unprepared, and we are definitely in a battle. Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Now what do we do with that? I can hardly even defend myself against flesh and blood. I’ve always supposed when my Fight or Flight response kicked in, I’d have some amazing Kung Fu moves to take down any fleshly attacker that stood in my way. But the ‘powers of this dark world’ and ‘spiritual forces of evil’ that we can’t even see? Puh-leese! That’s like telling me to try my non-existent split kick on the wind! Thankfully, God left me with a manual that has nothing to do with my physical prowess or muscles.

If you keep reading in Ephesians 6, you’ll see a whole list of armor that needs to be put on each day. They are all important in our fight, but the piece I’m most interested in right now is our Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Hebrews tells us “For the word of God is living 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.” (Hebrew 4:12) Sounds pretty powerful and something we should learn how to yield.

Now please note that it’s called the ‘Sword of the Spirit’. This means that we need to have the spirit to begin to know how to use it. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior yet, you’ll never understand how to use this sword. Corinthians tells us that once we’ve asked Christ into our hearts, we’ll have “…not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (I Corinthians 2:12, emphasis mine) There are a lot of things Christ freely gives us: forgiveness, freedom, joy, peace, an endless list of gifts. But for right now, as I mentioned, we’re interested in that sword! And we want to understand it. So if you haven’t done so already, ask his Spirit to live in you and then pick that sword up and come along. He’s only waiting for you to ask. (Yes, asking Him is that easy and it's THE single most important and amazing thing you'll ever do in your life! See Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 7:8, Acts 17:27, and most definitely II Corinthians 5:17)

All right, the asking part is easy, and everything starts there. However, there’s so much more than just asking God to live in our hearts. Many of us ask God into our lives, and leave it at that. And God does hear us when we call. He cleanses us of all our sins and makes us new. That, in itself, is an amazing miracle and so much more than what we deserved. But God didn’t just want to make us new, he wanted to make us victorious. This is why he left us his Word, and why we need to learn how to use it.

Our Bibles are not just to use for decoration on our night stand. They’re not to simply carry with us so that we look more spiritual. John 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” His word has been around since the beginning of time. God is the Word and he’s already defeated death and the grave. He left us with his Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and his Word to carry, not just in our minds, but in our very hands! That word is powerful, ‘sharper than any double-edged sword’ remember, and it’s ours to use if God dwells in us. Luke 10:19 tells us that he has “…given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” We don’t need to take it from satan any longer. We never did!

So this is what I’m asking you to do. It’s a wonderful habit I learned years ago while taking a Beth Moore Bible Study. Some of you may know it, but do you follow it? If not, I challenge you to begin. Keep a 3x5 stack of cards by your Bible. When you read or hear a scripture that reaches out to you, write it down. Keep those cards someplace that you can get to easily. You can even clip them together with a little ring. Or, keep a notebook that you write your verses in. If it’s a verse that really speaks to something you’re struggling with at that moment, write it on a sticky note and stick it on your bathroom mirror. The idea here is placing God’s word into your mind so that as satan throws his lies at you, you can hit them back with the Word of Truth. Memorize this verse if you haven’t already: “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.” (II Corinthians 10:5) That’s specifically what we want to do. Make our thoughts obedient to Christ, no one else.

Here’s what I want to end with today. Many of these names we’re going to start making obedient to Christ began with a hurt. They’ve become a stronghold that is keeping you back from who God created you to be. Remember, he created you with a plan and a purpose. I looked up the definition for stronghold and this is what I found. “Strongholds are walls or fortresses around beliefs and emotions to protect us from further pain.” I immediately pictured an old castle, built rock by rock, that towered between me and God. I wanted to break that tower down, and help others learn to do the same. As I was looking up scripture that showed me the power of God’s word, I came across this one that is going into my stack of cards. “Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)

Yes, not just a sword, but a hammer! I love multi-purpose tools:) And I’m ready to pick up that hammer and start smashing those walls. Aren’t you?

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