Sword of the Spirit – Present Vanities #1237

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1237

“Present Vanities”

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:3

Charles Spurgeon wrote: ‘Let him suffer no foolish attachment to present vanities to occupy his thoughts to the exclusion of this glorious, this heavenly honor of union with Christ.’

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” – Psalm 27:8

Our heart desires to seek the face of the Lord, to abide and rest in His presence. We get quiet before the Lord with our Bible and then, like a popcorn popper, our mind is bombarded with the thoughts and cares of this world – present vanities – and we are distracted from communion with Jesus.

We … take every thought captive to obey Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5

But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with … cares of this life …. – Luke 21:34

This happens to all of us. We can overcome these present vanity distractions by persevering in prayer, pressing through into the presence of God. Ask the Father to place a hedge of protection around you and to sanctify that place and time of prayer for His glory.

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. … Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Psalm 119:37; Colossians 3:2

Then the day begins, and we venture out into the world to work, school, play, travel, whatever occupies our daily lives. Are we walking with the Lord throughout our daily lives bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God or have the cares of the world, the present vanities, choked Him out of our heart and mind?

As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. – Matthew 13:22

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money – Matthew 6:24

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. – Galatians 5:16-17

Martha was busy doing ‘good things.’ But sometimes good things become present vanities and get in the way of what is best in our relationship with Jesus.

… But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

We cannot escape the present vanities that are part and parcel to our lives in this world. We can, however, keep ourselves from becoming foolishly attached to them to the point that they hinder our walk with the Lord.

May every facet of your lives, from thoughts through to action, be a testimony of your steadfast, sincere, and pure devotion to Jesus.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

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Sword of the Spirit – From Mess to Message #1236

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1236

“From Mess to Message”

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” … Then the Lord said, “… Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” – Exodus 3:4-10

I dare say that we have all made a mess of our lives at one time or another. Beginning with Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden and extending to the present day, humanity has been making a mess of things.

However, through the power of God, these messes can become messages for His glory. He can take our M, E, S, S and add an A, G, E (After God Encounter) and turn our mess into a message of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ.

Moses made a mess of his life in Egypt. After murdering an Egyptian, he was forced to flee into the wilderness to escape the wrath of Pharaoh. Then as we see in our reference Scripture, Moses had an encounter with God and his mess was turned into a message that brought deliverance from bondage for the people of Israel.

God can use some of the messiest people for His glory.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. …  The woman said to him, … “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” … So, the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him. – John 4:7-30

The Samaritan woman had five husbands and was currently living with a sixth who was not her husband. Her life was a mess and she no doubt had a reputation in the town. Yet, Jesus chose her to reveal that He was the Messiah. After her encounter with God, she became an effective evangelist for Christ. Her ‘mess’ was turned into a ‘message’.

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” – John 4:39

It is never too late or too far gone.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:39-43

The thief that was crucified with Jesus may have never preached a sermon, yet his story of faith, forgiveness, and salvation as recorded in the Holy Scriptures has preached to countless people. His mess was turned into a message after his encounter with God that day.

Don’t believe the lie of the enemy of your soul that it is too late for you, or that your sin is too great for God to forgive you. Hear the message of Scripture: God loves you and desires to forgive you and give you eternal life through Jesus who paid the penalty for your sin and mine.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9

The Word of God reveals the mess to message transformation of many: Jacob, Samson, Peter, Matthew, David and so many more.

Our sinful past, our mess, does not define us. After an encounter with God through Jesus we are defined by, and our message becomes all about the forgiveness and eternal life that is ours through Jesus Christ.

Will you add your name to the list?

Will you allow God to turn your mess into a message for His glory?

Will you carry that message, the light of Christ, into the darkness of this world proclaiming ‘Come and see what He has done for me and can do for you?’

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses … to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

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Sword of the Spirit – Final Answer #1235

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1235

“Final Answer”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” – Matthew 16:15

  • A Good Man
  • A prophet like Mohammed
  • The Messiah, The Son of the living God
  • The spirit brother of Satan

What is your final answer?

In a popular television show contestants were quizzed with increasingly difficult multiple-choice questions and answers. The host always gave them an ‘out’ asking, ‘Is that your final answer?’ The host’s question seemed to do more harm than good in that it worked to shake the confidence the contestant had in their answer.

By some estimates, Jesus asked over 300 questions as recorded in the Scripture. What is your final answer to some of His questions?

Do you want to be healed?

One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” – John 5:5-8

Jesus asks us, ‘Do you want to be healed?’

  • The doctor says it is terminal.
  • The medicine makes me sick.
  • Yes, Lord, I want to be healed. Make me whole in Jesus’ Name – Amen.
  • I got this. I’m going to take care of it myself.

The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. – Psalm 41:3

Why did you doubt?

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So, Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:28-31

Jesus asks us why we doubt Him?

  • I don’t know You well enough to trust You.
  • My biological father failed me before and I have trust issues.
  • I want to be in control.
  • I was afraid.
  • Any or all of the above.

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6

Will you leave Me also?

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So, Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” – John 6:66-67

Jesus asks us ‘Will you leave Me?’

  • These are tough times, I think You left me!
  • I see professing Christians sinning like everybody else. I want no part of hypocrisy.
  • I was hurt by someone in the church.
  • No, Lord. I will never leave You.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life – John 6:68

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

Do You Love Me?

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” … – John 21:15

Jesus asks us if we love Him.

  • Of course, I do. Look at all the good works I do.
  • I attend church often.
  • Define love.
  • Yes, Lord, I love You. You bore the punishment for my sins and clothed me in Your righteousness that I may have eternal life. I do love You, my Lord and Savior!

If you love me, you will keep my commandments: And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – John 14:15; Mark 12:30-31

What is written in Scripture?

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” – Luke 10:25-28

Jesus asks us ‘What is written in Scripture about eternal life?’

  • I only know what I am told by the preacher.
  • I don’t have time to read and study the Word.
  • I don’t have a Bible.
  • “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” – Acts 16:31

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6

Jesus’ questions recorded in scripture are still valid questions to us today. If we are honest with ourselves, our answers may be nothing more than an excuse. May your final answer to all of Jesus’ questions be rooted in the unshakeable confidence you have in Him and in His Word of Truth.

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Sword of the Spirit – Mindset #1234

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1234

“Mindset”

In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. – Romans 8:4-7

A mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes and beliefs held by someone. Our mindset drives our behavior. A mindset on the things of this world behaves in hostility toward God through willful sin. A mindset based on the eternal Kingdom of God behaves as a citizen of heaven seeking to reject sin and live in obedience to Christ.

A mindset based on the flesh cannot please God. Jesus was firm in His rebuke of Peter.

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” – Matthew 16:23

A mindset that rejects God and embraces the sin of the world results in an unrepentant, hardened heart.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. – Romans 1:28

The greatest defense against our propensity for sin while in the flesh is to have a Christian mindset, that is the mind of Christ.

… But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2:16

A Christian mindset trusts in the Lord and is peaceful.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3

A Christian mindset is obedient to God out of love for Him.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. – Matthew 22:37

A Christian mindset follows Jesus’ example of humility and selfless service to others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5-8

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:42-45

How steadfast is your Christian mindset?

How stable is your Christian walk?

Is your Christian mindset compromised – being double-minded with the things of the world and the Kingdom of God – like feet of clay and iron that cannot stand firm and walk with stability in following Jesus.

Prayerfully ask the Lord to prove your mindset.

… Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. – Psalm 26:1-3

Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to transform and renew your mind.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

May your mindset and thinking be steadfast and solidly rooted in the mind of Christ.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8

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Sword of the Spirit – A Firm Foundation #1233

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1233

“A Firm Foundation”

Therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation… – Isaiah 28:16

I was in Yokohama, Japan in a business meeting in the mid 1980’s when a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit. I recall seeing the floor undulate as if it were waves upon the sea and the walls teeter and wobble. When the all-clear sounded and we returned to the conference room, to calm my nerves, I immediately opened my Day-Timer and read a prayer taped on the inside cover titled: Jesus Help Me.

The recent, tragic earthquake in Turkey brought back this memory. It is interesting to note that what we consider to be ‘Terra Firma’ is not all that ‘Firma’ and when the foundations of the earth shake, and life’s troubles are upon us the response for many of us is to turn in prayer to the solid Rock foundation of Jesus Christ.

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:1-2

From the end of the earth, I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I – Psalm 61:2

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. – Psalm 27:5

Our lives are built on foundations. These can be unstable foundations built on the principles of a fallen, sinful world or they can be built on the solid foundation of the Rock that is Jesus.

Foundation of Salvation

He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. – Psalm 40:2

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

Foundation of Business

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. – Matthew 7:24-25

Foundation of Faith

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 3:11

He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. – Psalm 62:6

Foundation of Marriage

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5

Foundation of Career

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began – 2 Timothy 2:19; 1:9

Foundation of Government

The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. – Deuteronomy 32:4

Foundation of the Church

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18

So, then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. – Ephesians 2:19-22

May every relationship area of your life be solidly founded upon the stable and eternally unchanging power, presence, and peace of Jesus Christ.

There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. – 1 Samuel 2:2

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Sword of the Spirit – Earnest Prayer #1232

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1232

“Earnest Prayer”

So, Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. – Acts 12:5

As Christians, our lives should be characterized by prayer.

Continue steadfastly in prayer… – Colossians 4:2

Pray without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

…Be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12

We say morning and bedtime prayers. We pray over our food at each meal. We pray spontaneous, ‘popcorn’ prayers throughout the day, some silently and some aloud. These are all well and good, but the danger is that they can become rote, parroted, ritualistic prayers spoken with our mouth while our minds are occupied elsewhere.

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; – Matthew 15:8

There remains a need in our Christian walk for individual and concerted, persistent, earnest prayer.

The word translated ‘earnest’ in our reference Scripture is from the Greek word ‘ektenos’ from which we derive the word ‘tension’. It means being fully stretched, extended out to full potential. Earnest prayer is much more than a ‘I lay me down to sleep’ prayer. It is a fully engaged, heart, mind, body, and soul persistent prayer.

Jesus prayed in earnest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. – Luke 22:44

David prayed in earnest for the healing of his son.

David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. – 2 Samuel 12:16

I recall rushing my infant son to the hospital. This was not a time for a wishful, rote, half-hearted, prayer. It was a time for earnest prayer, fully stretched, a persistent reaching out to God with every fiber of my being.

Note that while Peter was imprisoned, such earnest prayer was made by the church. Corporate prayer is a key aspect of earnest prayer.

Many of you who read these Sword of the Spirit devotionals are part of a prayer team network. I encourage you to persist in that prayer ministry with earnest, fervent prayer for the needs brought before you.

When your church body calls for a time of corporate prayer, I encourage you to set the world aside and participate in earnest prayer.

Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:19-20

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints – Ephesians 6:18

God does not always give us what we ask for in earnest prayer, but He always does what is best for us and others. He said ‘No’ to David’s and to Jesus’ earnest prayer requests. Paul stopped earnestly praying after three times, not because he decided to quit, but because God said ‘No’ and Paul rejoiced in that answer because He knew that God works all things for the good of His children.

Reference a related devotional on this topic at the following link:

Our God is the God of possibility and earnest prayer is called for during impossible times and situations.

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. – Jeremiah 32:17

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

What are the impossible needs before us today? Physical healing, salvation for loved ones, the people suffering in Ukraine and Turkey, the unborn children being murdered in the womb, the homeless, the need for a job? The list goes on and on.

…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. – James 5:16 (NKJV)

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Sword of the Spirit – We are Powerless #1231

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1231

“We Are Powerless”

O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12

Jehoshaphat’s prayer to God when the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites came against Judah indicates that he realized just how powerless they were without God. Our tendency is to believe that we are powerful, strong, and invincible, then a microscopic virus throws the entire world population into a tailspin, and we realize just how powerless we really are.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31

In our youth we don’t give a second thought to being weak, but as we age, we become more keenly aware of our need for physical, emotional, and spiritual strength. The wisdom that comes from years of walking with the Lord teaches us that such strength and renewal of strength is only found in the Lord.

Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God! – Psalm 68:35

It is only through the abiding presence of Jesus in us that we have true power for living in this fallen and corrupt world. We can do nothing apart from Him.

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! – 1 Chronicles 16:11

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5

When we feel weak and powerless against whatever we are facing, God’s grace is sufficient to take us through it.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me; I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13

In life, we may spread the sail, but it is the Lord who provides the wind.

May you acknowledge your powerlessness against the ‘great hordes’ of challenges that life this side of heaven throws at you.

May you continually seek the abiding presence, power, and peace of the Lord, Jesus.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might; that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being – Ephesians 6:10; 3:16

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Sword of the Spirit – The Feet of Judas #1230

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1230

“The Feet of Judas”

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. – Matthew 10:2-4

Judas Iscariot is a name that lives in infamy. It is a name we use to deride someone who proclaims to be a friend yet cannot be trusted. However, upon reflection, who are we to ‘cast the first stone’ at Judas? Are we any better and what can we learn from the feet of Judas?

The feet of Judas walked with Jesus for three years.

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal… And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. – Luke 9:1-6

Judas was among the twelve that were given power and authority over demons and to heal the sick. He walked the walk and talked the talk of a disciple of Christ, yet his heart was not fully committed to Jesus. How many of us wear the ‘Christian veneer’ for others to see, yet the Lord sees the hypocrisy of our heart?

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ – Matthew 7:22-23

The feet of Judas served as Jesus’ treasurer.

Judas was entrusted with the Lord’s finances – to go and purchase what they needed to minister and to meet their needs and the needs of others.

“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. – John 12:5-6

How is our performance as the steward of the Lord’s financial and material provision for us? Do we withhold our tithe? Do we tithe on the net pay rather than the gross, giving first preference to the government over the Lord? Do we view the Lord’s provision as ours to use or as all His and our role simply to faithfully administer it as He directs?

The Feet of Judas were washed by Jesus.

…During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:1-5

Jesus set an example for us as He took the position of the lowest servant of the day and washed the feet of His disciples, even the one He knew would betray Him.

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. – John 13:15

Judas’ feet were washed by Jesus, yet his heart remained hardened. By Jesus’ death and resurrection, He cleansed His church from the stain of sin.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:7-9

Are we willing to accept the free gift of cleansing salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection or will our hearts remain hardened by unbelief?

The feet of Judas took him to negotiate the betrayal of Jesus.

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. – Matthew 26:14-16

Judas did not agree with or accept Jesus’ mission. He saw an opportunity for personal profit and gain by going with the momentum of the ‘Jesus movement’ of the day. He saw that opportunity dwindle as Jesus proclaimed that He must suffer and die.

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. – Mark 14:6-10

What do we hope to gain by being a Christian follower of Jesus? Do we follow Him because we love Him and worship Him and desire a personal relationship with Him? Or do we follow Him for what we think we can get from Him? Will our feet be quick to betray Him when the going gets rough or not the way we want them to go?

The feet of Judas took him to betray Jesus.

…So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly” …; Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.”- John 13:25-29; Matthew 26:48

A greeting with a kiss on both cheeks was a common sign of deep respect, honor, and brotherly love in the culture of the day. Are we any less hypocritical as Judas when we worship the Lord in church on Sunday and then live like the devil the remainder of the week? Are we any less hypocritical when we praise His Holy Name in church and use it in vain and anger elsewhere? Are we any less hypocritical when we express our honor and love for Jesus in one context and then seek to be entertained by music, movies and other programming that promote sin and all that the Lord deems abhorrent?

The feet of Judas took him to his death.

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. – Matthew 27:3-5

This is the saddest part of the life story of Judas Iscariot. He had a choice but the hardness of his heart led him to the wrong one. He was remorseful, despondent, and discouraged – yet he was not repentant.

Judas heard the Gospel message of forgiveness and salvation for three years as he walked with Jesus, yet he never believed it. He could have chosen to repent and accept the free gift of salvation from Jesus – the thief crucified next to Jesus did and was saved.

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:43

Know this, you are never too far gone from Christ that He will not forgive you. Jesus’ death and resurrection paid the price for all sin – no matter how egregious.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. – Romans 10:9-10

The enemy of your soul will tell you that there is no hope. That is a lie from the pit of hell. There is always hope in Jesus. Don’t let your feet follow the path of Judas. May your feet always follow the narrow path of Jesus that leads to eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

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Sword of the Spirit – The Gift of NO #1229

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1229

“The Gift of NO”

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John 5:14-15

We love to read Scripture verses with such encouraging promises. Here are two more like it.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. – Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24

There is a danger in building our theology as well as our relationship with Father God by picking and choosing Scriptures out of context that appeal to us. The entire Word of God is balanced and true and we must study the ‘whole counsel’ of God.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. – 2 Timothy 3:16; Acts 20:27

I am reminded of a song from the early 1970’s by Janis Joplin where she asks God to buy her a Mercedes Benz because all her friends had Porsches.

“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me A Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches I must make amends.” – Janis Joplin

When we build our relationship with Jesus and our theology on a ‘Name it – Claim it’ basis we are way off base. When God says, ‘No’, and He will say ‘No’, our faith is shaken, and we become despondent and perhaps even angry with God.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. – James 4:3

Sometimes, God says ‘No’ to protect us from harm and to work all things for our good.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

Other times, God says ‘No’ to our plans in order to accomplish His plan for our lives and to benefit others through us as when He prevented Paul from going to Bythynia and directed him instead to

Macedonia.

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them… And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us. – Acts 16:6-9

Like Paul, we make our plans for what we want to do, where to go, and what to buy. But like Paul, we must have a relationship with the Lord such that we can hear from Him and obey His leading. He may say, ‘No’ to our plans and direct our path differently.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes, we plead with God in prayer for good things such as physical healing for ourselves or for others and sometimes, in His perfect love and sovereign plan, He says ‘No’.

David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground…On the seventh day the child died…- 2 Samuel 12:16-18

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

The Truth of the matter is that God is sovereign, and He loves you.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him; But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Colossians 1:16; Romans 5:8

Trust God for who He is, not what you want Him to do for you. Note that David and Paul did not waver in their obedience, faith, and trust in God despite His saying, ‘No’ to their plans or prayer requests.

Thank God for what He does not give you. Trust and worship Him in His gifts of ‘No’ as well as His gifts of ‘Yes’.

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Sword of the Spirit – Division #1228

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1228

“Division”

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” – Luke 12:51-53

Have you ever read God’s Word and were left scratching your head wondering what Jesus meant? Our reference Scripture is one such verse. We wonder how the Prince of Peace whose birth we just celebrated at Christmas can say that He came to bring division and not peace.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Digging deeper we see that the Greek word translated, ’peace’ in Luke 12 is ‘eirene’ which means unity and wholeness. Contrast this with the Hebrew word for peace in Isaiah 9:6, ‘shalom’ which implies calmness and serenity. Jesus did not come to unite and make the world whole. He came with the absolutes and uncompromising Truths of holiness which brings division to a fallen, sinful world.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. –  Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)

Division happens at the gate of choice to accept Jesus Christ or not. This division occurs in families, societies, and yes, even in Christian Churches at the denominational and local levels. When we choose to repent and uncompromisingly accept the Truth of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ we turn away from the sinful ways of the world and the flesh and seek to walk the narrow path of Jesus. We remain in the world, but no longer of the world.

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. – John 17:14-17

Christians have experienced the hate of the world since the time of Christ. In more recent times we saw this hate played out during the pandemic when churches were banned from congregating for worship and singing having been deemed ‘non-essential’ while casinos, liquor stores, and abortion clinics were considered essential.

In a world society increasingly embracing the woke ideology of inclusivity, Christians are being marginalized because of the uncompromising Truth of God’s Word. Being sanctified in the Truth of God’s Word means to be separated and set apart from a world seeking to embrace the wide path to destruction.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you… – John 15:18-20

Jesus never promised us a life of ease in this world. He did promise however that He would never abandon us.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

There will be the final division in the last days where the wheat will be separated out from the weeds of the world that refused to accept God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus.

His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” – Matthew 3:12

Jesus’ prayer was that the Father not take us out of the world. He desires that we occupy until He returns. We are to be salt and light in this dark world showing the lost the way to eternal life through Him. He promises us His peace and protection in the midst of the trials, hatred, and persecution that we are faced with because the world in the grip of Satan hates Him.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27

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