Build Your Own Sword

Most of us are familiar with the armor of God described in Ephesians 6. Some of us may even put on this armor for spiritual protection as we begin our days. But, do we really use it? Are we aware that we are daily involved in spiritual warfare?

We are exhorted in Ephesians 6:10-12, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Today, I want to highlight one specific piece of our spiritual armor. Ephesians 6:17 says, “And take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

I recently listened to an online message by Ron Zondervan. He challenged his listeners to build their own spiritual swords. We can gain some insight for how to build a spiritual sword by looking at how military swords were made in the past.

Military swords were crafted uniquely for each sword bearer. A different size, shape and weight for each weapon. Steel forged with an anvil and hammer. Grinding, hammering and heating changed a piece of metal into a weapon. Heat applied to the blade was critical. The craftsman started applying heat at a low temperature and then gradually increased it. Finally, the blade was sharpened with a whetstone. A coarse grit stone was first used. Gradually, finer grit stones were used to achieve the sharpest blade.

The steel for our spiritual swords comes from the Bible. However, we must open the Bible and learn His promises if scripture to be our effective weapon. II Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” All verses have the potential of becoming material for a spiritual sword. However, each of us will craft a sword that is usable for our own battles. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive 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.”

The Holy Spirit is the fire applied to the sword we are constructing. In Acts 2:3-4, the Holy Spirit descended like tongues of fire at Pentecost. Today, the Holy Spirit is our Helper who gives us understanding of the scriptures we use to build our spiritual swords. The Holy Spirit knows just how much “fire” to apply for the best spiritual sword. We must be careful to heed I Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.”

Finally, our spiritual sword needs sharpening with a whetstone. Jesus is our stone.
I Peter 2:4 describes Jesus as the living stone who is precious in God’s sight. Verses 6-8 continue, “For it stands in Scripture: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone; and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame.’ To you who believe, then, this stone is precious….” Ephesians 2:20 emphasizes, “Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.”

In summary, the sword that Jon Zondervan encourages us to build is a sword composed of scriptures found in God’s Word, refined by the Holy Spirit and sharpened by Jesus Christ. The result is a powerful spiritual sword!

II Corinthians 10:3-6 reminds us, “For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

The sword of God’s Word is a sword of truth we can pull out whenever needed. Jesus declares in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” The truth reminds us who we are and the power of God that is working with us and for us. It reminds us that we are victorious. Truth reminds us that the devil is defeated.

As we take a closer look at Ephesians 6:14-17, we will notice that the sword of the Spirit is our only offensive weapon. It is all we need. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive 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.” This special two edged sword penetrates and implants God’s Word into our souls. It also pierces and cuts out what is not of the Lord.

So, how do we wield this spiritual sword? We skillfully handle our sword through praise, proclamation and prayer.

There is power in praise. It is good for us to fulfill Psalm 103:1. Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. According to Psalm 22:3, the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. Join me in declaring Psalm 71:14, “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.”

God’s Word is alive and needs to be proclaimed. Isaiah 45:21 says, “Declare what is to be, present it– there is no God apart from Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but Me.” Matthew 10:27 tells us, “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” The words we speak out loud are powerful. Our words change us and our circumstances.

I Thessalonians 5:17 simply says, “Pray continually.” Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” James 6:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Specific scriptures are effective prayers. Praying God’s Word back to Him is a powerful weapon against the forces of evil that surround and attack us.

In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus used the Word as His sword when fighting spiritual battles. Three times (verses 4, 7 and 10) satan tempted Jesus and each time Jesus fought back with a specific scripture. Jesus knew the scriptures well. His spiritual sword was sharp.

My Reader, have you built your spiritual sword? Philippians 2:10-11 says, “Be ready to speak to the enemy. Then be ready to skillfully handle your sword as you fight the enemy.” I encourage you to take time to study God’s Word. Scripture is “God-facts” – not just stories. God’s Word is a sword to pull out when you are tempted or discouraged. Find specific verses that will help you overcome such hindrances as fear, doubt, worry. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to the appropriate verses. Then speak these words with the authority of the name of Jesus.

Battling with Prayer

prayer-man2prayer-man-1Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and
go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand
on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
Exodus 17:9

The Amalekites had attacked and now it was time for the Israelites to fight. However, Moses was not going to let his men fight without the help of the Lord. Moses said he would oversee the battle with the staff of God in his hands. This was not the first time Moses relied upon the help of his staff while leading the Israelites. He used this same staff when he initiated each of the 10 plagues before Pharoah while in Egypt. This was the staff he held over the Red Sea when it was parted and the staff with which he stuck the rock to create a spring of drinking water. I believe that the staff Moses held in his hand was the staff of God, To me, it symbolizes the power of God that brings about change.

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered,
and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were
winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the
Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired,
they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.
Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one
on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
Exodus 17:10-12

The day of battle arrived! Joshua and the men were on the battlefield while Moses, Aaron and Hur were on a hill overlooking the field. I believe there were two battles taking place that day. There was the physical battle fought by the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua and there was a spiritual battle under the direction of Moses, Aaron and Hur. Physically, it was a battle at Rephidim fought between the Amalekites and the Israelites. Spiritually, there was a bigger battle being fought in the heavenlies. Paul reminds me in II Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of the  fortresses.” I continue to set the stage for this spiritual warfare according to scriptural references of other battles in the Bible. In Joshua 5:4, the Lord says, “as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” and II Chronicles 20:15 states, “This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” I want to suggest that Moses, Aaron and Hur are members of God’s army portraying different aspects of prayer. First of all, Moses oversaw the battle with his staff in hand. In the previous paragraph, I pointed out that the staff symbolized the power of God. Through intercessory prayer petitions, Moses pleaded for the power of God to be active in the battles both at Rephidim and in the heavenlies. His prayers were answered because as long as he held up his hands the Israelites were winning while when he put his hands down, the Amalekites had an advantage. Another thing I notice in verse 12 is that Moses sat on a stone. I believe the stone or rock represents the Lord. Psalm 78:35 says, “They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.” Effective prayers have Jesus as their cornerstone and are prayed in the name of Jesus. Verse 12 also says that Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s arms. I want to suggest that Aaron symbolized thanksgiving and Hur represented praise. Both are aspects of prayer. I may get tired of repetitively asking God for the same things, but I can expand my prayers to include thanksgiving and praise. I can thank God for what He has done in the past, what He is doing at the present, and what He will do in the future. I can praise God for who He is; my conversations with the Lord do not always have to be focused on His actions. I want to use Philippians 4:6 as a guideline for my prayers. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Another good scripture is Hebrews 13:15,“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Thanksgiving and praise, represented by Aaron and Hur, helped Moses to be steadfast in his intercession. Thanksgiving and praise will also help to increase my faith for answers to the petitions I pray.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His
might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able
to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For 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. Therefore, take up
the full armor of God, so that you will be able to
resist in the evil day, and having done everything,
to stand firm.
Ephesians 6:10-13

 I began by focusing upon an Old Testament account regarding battles that were fought. However, you and I still fight battles today. Ephesians 6 is a good place for us to go for help regarding our battlefields. Our strength comes from the Lord and does not lie within us. Paul describes the armor of God and we need to put on these powerful pieces. Ephesians 6:14-17 describes the specific pieces of armor available to us. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The sword of the Spirit, or God’s written Word, is our only offensive weapon. I see a similarity between the sword of the Spirit we can hold in our hands and the staff Moses held in his hand – both entail the power of God. We may think we are only fighting a physical battle, but we need to see that we are warriors in a much bigger battle. This is something I need to remember when praying.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of
prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and
always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18

In this verse, Paul not only gives us a mandate to pray but he also gives us directions as to how we are to pray when battles are being fought in both the natural and supernatural realms. I feel that the spiritual warfare done by Moses, Aaron and Hur is an example of what Paul is encouraging us to do. In Ezekiel 22:30, the Lord says, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” This verse refers to the Lord’s need of intercessors to stand in the gap. Intercessors pray presenting the needs of people to the Lord while also presenting the Lord to the people. We are part of God’s army and He needs prayer warriors to fight for Him and with Him. However, we do not need to pray alone. Moses became tired and needed the support of Aaron and Hur. If we are to stay alert, it is wise for us to become a part of a body of intercessors, a part of God’s army. Jesus promises us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

We are all aware of the tragedy caused by terrorist attacks upon Paris this past week. This is a current example of a physical battle that is taking place within our world. However, I believe that every physical battle is ultimately a spiritual battle as well. Let us support France with our spiritual warfare just as Moses, Aaron and Hur supported the Israelites. My Reader, will you enlist in God’s army to be a prayer warrior with me? I encourage you to be like the Old Testament characters we have focused upon today. Remember to incorporate petitions, thanksgiving and praise within your prayers. The Lord is the commander-in-chief of all battles but He needs you!

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