Inside out, Romans, Matthew, reject, rejected, gifts, calling, mercy, listen, understanding, practicing presence, squeeze, news, environment, true colours, masks, fears, anger, healing, love, fear, mouths, words, tongue, practicing presence, Shekinah

Sermon: Inside Out

READINGS:

    • Romans 11: 1-2a; 29-31
    • Matthew 15: 10-11; 15-20

 

This week, in the news from Charlottesville and then Barcelona, we see far more fear and hatred in the world than we are comfortable with. This is not the world that I want my daughter to grow up in. The unfortunate reality is that we are in an environment today where people have become comfortable showing us what they really hold on the inside – they are letting it come to the surface and showing their “true colours”. While I’m repelled by it, I’m also a little relieved that the masks are off – now that we know you have these fears and anger on the inside, let’s talk about them. Let’s talk about healing. Let’s talk about a love that casts out all fear!

Our readings this morning dealt with 2 particular topics:

  1. We each have a gift and calling from God that are irrevocable; and
  2. Whatever comes out of our mouths, comes directly from our hearts!

We are all like lemons: a lemon has some wonderfully positive characteristics; it’s full of vitamins, it can help your liver deal with bile, it can cleanse your bowels, you can use it to bleach your hair (if you don’t mind it getting dried out), we put “real lemon juice” in our dish-washing liquid and our furniture oil; it is considered anti-bacterial. On the other hand, it’s also sour, acidic, tart, astringent and in some cases just plain bitter! When you squeeze a lemon, what you get out is lemon juice – because that’s what is inside.

And when you or I are put under pressure and squeezed – the “real” you comes out: that which is really inside of you! And, like the lemon, you have some wonderful qualities, gifts and calling; and other parts of you are sour or bitter or not so pleasant.

STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES strengths, weaknesses, talents, gifts, serving others, learning, growing, born again, rebirth, transformed, renewing, God, Spirit, healing

Before I talk about your gifts and your callings, I want to remind you that our strengths and our weaknesses are usually connected: they can’t be looked at as independent attributes.  For example: your stubbornness is the determination that gets things done; your creativity is probably somehow tied to your day-to-day chaos; your inconsistency may allow you to remain flexible; your calm may be seen by many as emotionlessness. Many adventurers are seen as being irresponsible; someone who is realistic may tend to be negative and pessimistic; and someone who is self-confident may easily become arrogant.

Behind all of this, is the heart and the intentions of the heart! Is the heart coming from a place of love, caring and calling? Or is the heart  coming from a place of lack, fear and ego?

There is a story that is told of an old Cherokee teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.  “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

WHICH “I” ARE YOU FEEDING?

If you have followed me so far, you will realise that every one of your weaknesses might actually be a strength – a gift that God has given you to help you fulfill your calling. They say that the best moment to plant a tree was 20 years ago; but if you didn’t do it 20 years ago, the next best day is today. If you haven’t identified your calling in life, today is the best day to sit down and identify what you were called by God to do. Every single person that is born was born with a purpose to fulfill on earth! Everyone.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

You have your gifts and talents. You were given enough. But if you are busy feeding your heart anger, envy, sorrow, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt & ego – that is what will win. When you are put under pressure and squeezed, that is what will show to the world!

So, when you look at your gifts and talents, and you identify your calling: then you have to strive to perfect those gifts. Use it, or lose it? Anyone that has ever tried to learn a musical instrument knows what no matter how much talent you have, without practice it’s impossible to improve. There are hours of practice of techniques, until muscle memory takes over instead of having to think about each movement. They say it takes some 10,000 hours to become a master! If you look at your spiritual gifts and your Christian life – how far along the path are you investing 10,000 hours to master being a Christian and following in Jesus’ footsteps?

If you considered a University degree – 4 years of study, which is about 8 months out of the year, let’s say 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? That would be about 5,500 hours that you spent only to reach a bachelor’s level of education. Most of us would not consider a recent University graduate to have mastered anything yet. So, when it comes to your spiritual life and transformation, when it comes to what you have inside your heart, why do you expect it to be so easy?

BEING “BORN AGAIN”

rebirth, transformation, patience, struggle, effort, hard work, mercy, gifts, calling, God, listen, understand,, mouth, heartI know for myself, there is this lingering idea that when you are “born again” you become a new creation! Suddenly it’s all easy, right? But if you remember, about 2 months ago we were studying Romans 7, verses 14 to 25, where Paul was agonizing over how he wanted to do good and yet was doing exactly what he didn’t want to do! It was a constant struggle. But as you get to know your strengths and weaknesses, as you cultivate yourself – you practice, sharpen, and develop – then your heart becomes transformed closer each day to the calling that God has for you.

But I would dare to say that “being reborn” is simply “the first day of the rest of your life”. As today is. As tomorrow will be when you wake up tomorrow morning. So use your gifts well. The gifts and talents that God has given you  are not for your own benefit, they’re for the benefit of other people. My gifts are for your benefit. Your gifts are for my benefit. You are to use those gifts in the service of other people. God has given you a special role in this world: you have a special contribution to make that others cannot replace!

1 Corinthians 7: 7 reminds us:

each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.

LIVING FROM THE HEART:true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtue, praise, meditation, heart, words, mouth, acceptable, Lord, gifts, talents, focus, meditate, excellent, praiseworth, English speaking, Sunday service, Panama City, Panama

As we read in Romans 11:

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! … God has not rejected his people who he foreknew.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

God has NOT rejected us! God’s love abounds for everyone: the gifts and calling are irrevocable. But it depends upon us to make our way back to God’s calling and to use the gifts we are given. It is up to us to get ourselves back on track with the forgiveness, healing and help that God has promised throughout the entire Bible. We may reject ourselves. We may reject others. But God is love: God is not ONLY loving. God is love. This means that God cannot help but love us. We are all children of God, called according to God’s purpose. May our hearts and minds reflect this calling.

We read in Psalm 19, verse 14:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.

David knew well that what he meditated on, in his heart, would control the words that came out of his mouth. As you take stock of your gifts and talents, as you identify your calling and purpose, how you are called to serve others, then you will find the focus on which you are meant to meditate, ruminate, ponder, consider, reflect and think. And as you spend more time, thinking on things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, just, commendable: when you are squeezed by life – that is the fruit that will come out of your mouth from your heart! I trust, as we all leave today, that we will go forth to our calling, using our gifts as we were meant to do.

Readings:

  • Romans 11: 1-2a; 29-31

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! … God has not rejected his people who he foreknew.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you… have now received mercy… so they now, by the mercy shown to you, they too many now receive mercy.

  • Matthew 15: 10-11; 15-20

Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”
But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”
Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions… false witness, slander [gossip, lying, cursing, blasphemies, evil speaking, complaining, railings, perjury, impiety of speech]. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Sermon: Pentecost Sunday

READINGS:

  • Acts 2: 1-21
  • 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13

Welcome to Pentecost Sunday – a day when we remember Jesus’ promise to the disciples to send “the Comforter”, so that they would never be alone.  If you recall, in John 7, verse 38, Jesus says:

Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”

And the disciples and followers of Jesus were waiting expectantly in Jerusalem for this.  I want to take a moment and look at the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit, as it is given to us in the Bible, before Acts 2:

One of my favorite verses is in Jeremiah, chapter 31, verses 33-34:

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

And I am sure you all know Ezekiel 11: 19:

And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,”

And Joel 2, verses 28 & 29:

It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Maybe you remember John the baptist, who promised in Matthew 3, verse 11:

As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

And then Jesus promises, in John 15, verse 26:

When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,”

And a final verse: Luke 24, verse 49:

And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

I would guess that there was a LOT of expectation among the disciples and followers as they lived together in Jerusalem, waiting for this outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them, so that they could then go forth as commanded and testify.   As you will have noticed, the promise of the Holy Spirit was not simply a promise from Jesus, but rather a promise that was given time and again throughout the prophets, as being God’s promise.  We know, from Genesis 1 that the Holy Spirit is the creative power in the Creation story, the same way that Jesus is seen as being the Word and power of Creation.

Job 33, verse 4 reminds us:

The spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

David says, in Psalm 104: 30

“When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth

We also know from Proverbs that the Spirit is Wisdom: Proverbs 4, verses 5 to 9:

Get wisdom; get insight;
    do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
    love her, and she will guard you.

Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
    she will honor you if you embrace her.
.”

And so we find, on the day of Pentecost, the disciples all gathered together, waiting.  As we have read in Acts chapter 1, they were sharing everything, they ate together, and they spent their time in prayer.  Yesterday, in preparation for Pentecost, a small group of us got together to pray and prepare for today.  Our prayers centered on:

  1. Asking for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in this church:  “Pour out your Spirit upon us, for without You I am nothing. Clothe us with power from on high. You promised your Spirit would teach us; we need that teaching. You promised your Spirit would guide us; we need that guidance.”
  2. Submission – special prayers reminding ourselves that “Thy Will be Done”, as opposed to “My Will”
  3. Forgiveness & Reconciliation – the Holy Spirit came to a group where there was no quarreling or envy. They were no longer asking the question they used to ask, “Who is the greatest?” They were no longer seeking to sit on the left or the right of Jesus.  We all recognise that it’s hard to forgive if we’ve been hurt deeply, or something terrible has happened to us, perpetrated by another. But Jesus asks us over and over again:  forgive one another, love one another. We bring love, forgiveness and reconciliation into our world: if we don’t do this, who will?  What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus if we cannot forgive? And so, yesterday, we prayed for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, starting with our relationship with God, moving on to forgiving ourselves and finally with forgiveness and reconciliation with others.
  4. We prayed for unity and oneness of mind and purpose in Balboa Union Church:  The disciples were of one mind, one will, one feeling, one plan, one purpose, and one prayer.
  5. Gratitude – we practiced thankfulness and gratitude for the work that the Spirit does in each one of us, from the inside out.

And so, this morning, we read in Acts 2 of the actual coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples and followers of Christ in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost:

2:2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.
2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

As we know, some of those in the crowd, who were being addressed in their native languages (they could understand what the disciples were preaching because it was their language),  were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” Others simply thought they were drunk – this is all just a big joke.  And so Peter stands and addresses the crowd to say “this is what the prophet Joel promised:

2:17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
2:18 … in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

So, apart from having this divine experience of speaking in other languages and prophesy, what does it mean for the Church today to have an outpouring of the Spirit?  If we have a quick look at 1 Corinthians 12, which we read earlier this morning, we can see:

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good:

  1. There are many gifts and many services, but they all come from the same Spirit;
  2. There are many activities, but they are all lead by God;
  3. Some get wisdom
  4. Some get knowledge
  5. Some get faith
  6. Others get healing
  7. Working of miracles
  8. Prophecy
  9. Discernment of Spirits
  10. Speaking in tongues
  11. interpretation of tongues

But the most important thing to remember is:

12:11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

As a Church, each member has different gifts and strengths – but we need to be pulling together and working together towards one vision and one goal.

They say that there was a man called Louie,  and he was shipwrecked on a desert island.  Finally, after many years, he was rescued.  Now, before leaving the island, he gave the rescue party a tour:
“I built myself a house. That’s it there. Here’s the barn, and over here is the church I worshiped in.”
“What’s that building over there?” one of the rescuers asked.
Louie sneered. “That’s the church I used to belong to.”

It seems to be human nature to be divided and pulling different ways, and it takes a lot of effort to leave to one side our pride and our prejudices, the need to be right and the desire to have control, and put everything under the control of the Holy Spirit, so that as a Church we all pull in the same direction towards a common goal: Divine Will, rather than our personal agendas.

This morning, as we invite the Holy Spirit to flood this church once again with presence and power, I invite all of you to take a moment to put aside “ego” and “self” and to ask God for Divine Will and Divine appointment to take place in this Church, that we grow as God would have us grow.

Sermon: Armour of God

Lectionary:
  • Ephesians 6:10-20

The Bible depicts countless battles. From Genesis to Revelation,  from the time Cain killed his brother Abel, right down to the present day and even into the predicted future and the Apocalypse.

In fact, it is estimated that more than 14,500 wars have been fought from 3600 B.C. to present day. Think of it this way:  5,305 years of war … compared to 292 years of peace.

Breaking it down for you, just for the 12-month period (August to August) of 2014 to 2015:

10,000 or more deaths in the last year:

  • Syria
  • Afghanistan (since it started in 1978, about 2M dead, which is more than half of the population of Panama)
  • Iraq
  • Boko Haram Insurgency in Africa

Conflicts causing at least 1,000 deaths in one calendar year are considered “wars” even if they are only “conflicts” or internal power struggles – so let me give you the details on those conflicts causing between 1,000 to 9,999 deaths in the last year:

  • Israeli-Palestine conflict
  • Somali civil war (at least 500,000 so far)
  • Communal conflicts in Nigeria
  • War in Darfur (Sudan)
  • War in North-West Pakistan
  • Mexican Drug War
  • Libyan civil war
  • Yemini crisis
  • Sinai Insurgency in Egypt
  • Central African Republic Conflict
  • South Sudanese Civil War
  • War in Donbass (Ukraine)

The Iraq war may be over, but in this world, we are still at war!

Plato said:

I exhort you also to take part in the great combat, which is the combat of life, and greater than every other earthly conflict.

Life truly is a battle. It is warfare on a grand scale – a war against falling back into sin and bad habits, a struggle to keep the faith, to stay humble, to love each and every person that crosses your path. Admit it, some people are just plain hard to love.  But, we are still called to be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

And so, I want to give us a brief outline of the armor of God that we have been exhorted in Ephesians to put on.

Let me read the passage for you:

fullarmorofGod4
Put on the full armor of God

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

Note – it says very clearly and more than once – put on the “WHOLE” armor of God.  Don’t leave a piece or two off.  Maybe you think one of the pieces is too heavy or unnecessary – “that’s just not for me”!  But I can only imagine that Paul had soldiers around him day and night while he was in jail and writing to the Ephesians, and hence the simile was very apt for his purpose.

So, where does the armor start?

PREPARATION

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

It starts, as you might have guessed, with God, rather than with ourselves.  Our armor is not physical, but supernatural.  It’s the reminder from Philippians:

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Psalms 28: 7 reminds us:

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me…

PUT ON THE ARMOR:

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

The Greek word translated “put on”(enduo) carries the idea of permanence. The full armor of God is not something to be put on and taken off occasionally but is something to be put on permanently.  You don’t simply take it on and off at your leisure.


Rather than doing the latest fad diet, it’s adopting a new lifestyle.  And it’s accepting that this is a permanent change, not just something you’re “going to try” and “see if it works”.


But Paul says more than just this – he also reminds the Ephesians that they need to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  When used in a military sense, the Greek word translated “stand firm” (histemi) refers to holding a critical position while under attack.

1 Corinthians 16:13 reminds us also:

13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY

Ephesians 6: 12 says

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Are you uncomfortable with this thought, that there are things happening in realms we cannot see?  In this day and age, many of our wars are not flesh and blood, but really are about corporations and corporate profits, powers and world forces that perhaps we don’t know who the true controlling hand and force is – the interest in keeping wars going is to sell more weapons or change the stage of a market.  We don’t really see or know what the true motivation behind any war or conflict may be.

The same way we can appreciate this on a physical level, we can also apply this on the spiritual one.

Most of us are acutely aware of our own struggles and we are preoccupied with our own problems. We sympathize with ourselves because we see our own difficulties so clearly. But Ian MacLaren noted wisely, “Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.”

BELT OF TRUTH

truthThe Roman soldier wore a tunic, an outer garment that served as his primary clothing. It was usually made of a large, square piece of material with holes cut out for the head and arms. It draped loosely over most of the soldier’s body. Since the majority of ancient combat was hand-to-hand, a loose tunic was a potential hindrance and even a danger. Before a battle it was therefore carefully cinched up between the soldier’s legs and tucked into the heavy leather belt.

The Greek word translated “truth” (aletheia) basically refers to the content of that which is true. But alethia can also refer to the attitude of truthfulness. It represents not only the accu­racy of specific truths, but also the quality of truthfulness. That seems to be the primary mean­ing Paul has in mind here. To be girded with truth reveals an attitude of readiness and of genuine commitment. Every encumbrance that might hinder his work for the Lord is gathered and tucked into his belt of truthfulness so that it will be out of the way. You can’t get tripped up in it or it can’t be used to pull you in another direction.

Do you know what your truth is?  Speaking from a place of criticism, comparison, false appeasement, and fear leads to living inauthentically, which translates into low satisfaction and high frustration levels. When we limit our responsiveness to our Truth, we compromise our ability to achieve our potential.

BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

No Roman soldier would go into battle without his breastplate–a tough sleeveless piece of armor that covered everything apart from his head and limbs. It was often made of leather or heavy linen, onto which were sewn overlapping pieces of metal molded or hammered to conform to the body. The purpose of that piece of armor is obvious–to protect one’s heart, lungs, intestines, and other vital organs. Also keep in mind that the high priest wore a golden breastplate over his linen robe that was set with 12 precious stones, each inscribed with one of the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. This place represented nearness to the heart.

Another interesting aspect of the breastplate was that it offered no protection to the person’s back. It was assumed that soldiers would not turn their backs toward the enemy to retreat.

SHOES OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

In the Bible, the foot is a symbol for the direction or “the walk” of a person’s life.

Since the average ancient soldier marched on rough, hot roads, climbed over jagged rocks, trampled over thorns, and waded through streambeds of jagged stones, his feet needed much protection. A soldier whose feet were blistered, cut, or swollen could not fight well and often was not able to stand up–a perilous situation in battle. The shoes of Roman soldiers were usually impregnated with bits of metal or nails to give him greater traction as he climbed a slippery hill, and greater stability as he fought.

The Greek word translated “preparation” (hetoimasia) generally refers to readiness. A good pair of boots allowed the soldier to march, climb, fight, or do whatever else was necessary at a moment’s notice.

SHIELD OF FAITH

In New Testament times the tips of arrows would often be wrapped in pieces of cloth that had been soaked in pitch. Just before the arrow was shot, the tip would be lighted and the flaming missile would be shot at the enemy troops. The pitch burned fiercely, and on impact it would splatter flaming bits, igniting anything flammable in its path. In addition to piercing a person’s body, such arrows inflicted serious burns on enemy soldiers and destroyed their clothing and gear. The most reliable protection against these flaming missiles was the thureos; this shield was the first line of defense. Its covering of metal or treated leather would either deflect or extinguish them, and it was designed to protect the entire body of the soldier.

The purpose for our shield of faith is to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy and prevent them from ever making contact.

HELMET OF SALVATION

Your body has seven sacred openings from the neck up: two nostrils, two ears, two eyes, and one mouth. (and you ask why we only got one!) In order to protect their heads and these vulnerable parts, the soldiers wore helmets. The purpose of the helmet was to protect the head from injury, particularly from the dangerous broadsword commonly used in the warfare of that day.  Some of the helmets were made of thick leather covered with metal plates, and others were of heavy molded or beaten metal. They usu­ally had cheek pieces to protect the face.

The purpose for this helmet of salvation is not only to keep out the rocks, but also to keep in the brains! Your mind should not be open to anything and everything.  What are you feeding your mind and soul?  How are you protecting your thoughts?

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT – WORD OF GOD

The sword was the most common weapon in battle. Indeed, the word “sword” appears 449 times in Scripture. The other armaments in God’s arsenal are defensive in nature, but the sword is primarily an offensive weapon. The machaira was any­where from six to eighteen inches. It was the common sword carried by Roman foot soldiers and was the principal weapon in hand-to-hand combat. Carried in a sheath or scabbard attached to their belts, it was always at hand and ready for use.  Ancient soldiers also used their swords for cooking, splitting kindling, and for cutting the ropes that bound their captives to set them free.

Paul explicitly states that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. As such it is first of all a defensive weapon, capable of deflecting the blows of an opponent; and yet it is also a practical tool for every area of life.

Hebrews 4: 12 reminds us:

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”

Are you open to letting the Word of God work in your life, thoughts and heart?

PRAYER

Paul closes reminding the Ephesians of the importance of a life of prayer, of constantly having their relationship with God present in their lives. It wasn’t about them spending hours upon hours on their knees in prayer, but rather about them acknowledging, as when we started this reading, that God is the source of all of our strength. And it’s so appropriate that this prayer is not only for ourselves, but also for others.