Sword of the Spirit

This has been a strange week! If you are reading this at a later time or from another country (welcome!), we are in the first week of social distancing in response to the Coronavirus, here in Arkansas. People are trying to work from home while homeschooling their children. Others are trying to figure out what in the world to do because they are out of work and their businesses are shut down. We are trying to learn how to pastor our congregation online. Everyone is having to adjust.

This is an unprecedented time in history. It is our responsibility to steward this season well. We have to be intentional to stay positive, grateful, and connected while our normal routines have been disrupted. We have to engage our wills to keep our attitudes in check. Is working from home and homeschooling hard? You better believe it! But it is not a punishment to be given this time with our children. I want this to be a sweet and fun time for my babies. 

This whole situation is an opportunity for the Church to rise and for God to be glorified. We are in a spiritual battle and our armor needs to be ON. The enemy would love for us to sit in the mully grubs, feeling sorry for ourselves, consumed with fear. That is not who we are! We are children of God! I want to load you up with scripture today so that you can combat any fear or stress that you might be facing. The Bible is called the Sword of the Spirit for a reason, and these verses are weapons in your arsenal:

“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,” (Ephesians 6:10-17 NLT, emphasis added).

There are a whole bunch of action verbs in there. We don’t just wake up fully clothed in armor because we are in relationship with Jesus – we have to thoughtfully put on each piece. Now, more than ever, we need to be aware that we are in a battle. The good news is that we are on the winning side! 
 
The following scriptures are promises from God. I have listed quite a few but there are countless others. I pray that these will bring you peace and encouragement:
 

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.’

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 ‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation,’” (Psalm 91 NIV).

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lordbe strong and take heart and wait for the Lord,” (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV).

No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him,” (1 Corinthians 2:9 MSG).

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” (Exodus 14:14 ESV).

“And the God of peace will swiftly pound Satan to a pulp under your feet! And the wonderful favor of our Lord Jesus will surround you,” (Romans 16:20 TPT).

He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary,” (Isaiah 40:29-31 NASB).

For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand,who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you,” (Isaiah 41:13 NASB).

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1:9 NLT).

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

“We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28).

All who are oppressed may come to you as a shelter in the time of trouble, a perfect hiding place. May everyone who knows your mercy keep putting their trust in you, for they can count on you for help no matter what. O Lord, you will never, no never, neglect those who come to you,” (Psalm 9:9-10 TPT).

He will keep you from every form of evil or calamity as he continually watches over you. You will be guarded by God himself. You will be safe when you leave your home and safely you will return. He will protect you now, and he’ll protect you forevermore! (Psalm 121:7-8 TPT).

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33 NIV).

If you aren’t encouraged yet, read the verses again slowly. When we are familiar with a particular scripture, our eyes read right over it because we already “know” what it says. Please don’t do that. These words are promises from your Dad. He wrote them because He knew that we would need them today. The Bible deserves our time and careful meditation. Look at every word. Ask yourself if you are honestly living in God’s reality and truth.  

God is in no way shocked or surprised by what is happening in our world. He wrote extensively about how we were going to have our lives interrupted with trials and trouble. They are a consequence of living in a sinful world. None of us are going to navigate this perfectly and God doesn’t expect us to. He just wants us to bring Him our fears and follow His instructions. 

“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does,” (1 Peter 5:10-11 MSG).

God gave us the appropriate response to this trial in scripture:

  1. Keep a cool head.
  2. Stay alert.
  3. Keep your guard up.
  4. Remember that our brothers and sisters are suffering with us.
  5. Trust that God has a plan.

These steps are simple but will keep us in the right head space. The first thing God says to do is: Calm. Down. Take a deep breath. I listened to a podcast this week (Trim, Healthy Mama) that talked about how when we stress, our cortisol levels rise and it actually LOWERS our immune system. We can freak out about the potential of getting a virus and actually make ourselves sick. Put on your spiritual armor, play a worship song, be wise, and remember that we are not alone. God is still on the throne and has a plan. Here is what God is up to:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing,” (James 1:2-4 NLT).

When I started writing a little over a year ago, I felt like God was calling me to remind His people to put their trust in Him. Are we going to put our trust in the media or in God? Which way leads to life and peace? We don’t have to bury our heads in the sand and pretend this isn’t happening, but we do not have to be consumed with it either. I want us to squeeze out every ounce of JOY from this situation that we can. God is testing, strengthening, and perfecting us. If we will submit to the process, when this is all said and done, we are going to look more like Jesus, and have a pretty cool story for our grandkids. 😉 

Love,

Tif

This week’s Homework.

Here are a few older posts that might be helpful during this season:

Attitudes, Excuses, & Challenges, Part

Sabbath

Lay Down Your Agenda

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