Tag: spiritual conflict

Buy a sword?

Scripture reading for April 25th: Luke 22:35-54

“Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”  “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.  It is written: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in Me.  Yes, what is written about Me is reaching its fulfillment.” (Luke 22:35-37)

As Jesus approached the Garden of Gethsemane where His final hours would be excruciatingly painful.  He reminded  His disciples about their mission and His supply of all their needs.  But then He told them of their need to use what they had to care for themselves.  This curious passage has caused many questions over the years.  Why would Jesus tell them to buy swords?   Was He advocating the use of force to defend themselves?  Jesus knew what was ahead, even that very night!  He knew and foretold how these disciple’s faith would be shaken and Peter and the rest would deny Him.

At the Garden of Gethsemane,  Jesus asked them to pray that they not enter into temptation and He withdrew from them a short ways and knelt down to pray.  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.  And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:42-44)  The spiritual conflict was intense.  He was wrestling in prayer, knowing that the final fulfillment of what was written must take place.  In order to accomplish His mission of saving lost sinners, He must be numbered with the transgressors and die for their sins!  Great drops of blood came from His body as He earnestly prayed!

The disciples slept, Jesus woke them as Judas appeared with the band of soldiers.  Judas betrayed His Master with a kiss, and the disciples wondered if the time for swords had come.  One cut off the high priest’s servants ear! “But Jesus answered, “No more of this!”  And He touched the man’s ear and healed him.” (Luke 22:51)  The swords were not for this night!  Jesus must finish His mission!  What an interesting passage to ponder!

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Not peace, but a sword!

Scripture reading for January 13th: Matthew 10:24-42, Psalms 9:11-20, Proverbs 3:3-6

Jesus Christ is the “Prince of Peace” according to Isaiah 9:6!  Jesus lived a life of peace but preached a message that sometimes stirred up violent rejection and spiritual warfare.  In our reading today, Jesus was preparing His disciples for ministry in the world and the warfare that would result from spiritual conflict with the devil and those in league with him.

“”Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)  Jesus offers us peace with God through the forgiveness of our sins.  In order to obtain this promise, we must repent or turn away from sin (breaking of God’s law) and turn toward God through Jesus Christ.  This all comes by faith through God’s grace  freely given to those who believe. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The message of the cross is offensive to the human ego and religion’s rules.  Our flesh wants to work for our salvation or do something to earn it.  Religion is based on man’s efforts to do enough to appease God.  Even the Jews had drifted into a works-oriented religion instead of “by grace through faith”.  Jesus wisely taught His disciples about the conflict that would happen between the flesh and the Spirit calling it a “sword”.  When we turn to Jesus and begin to move in the Spirit, some resent our new freedom and react in derision or violence.

Disciples must not react, but keep on loving God and following Him.  “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38)  Our love for God is demonstrated by taking up a cross!  This cross represents death to our own desires and the demands of our flesh.  Our love for God must take priority over all family relationships.  It was demonstrated by Jesus Christ as He took up His cross to completely obey His Father’s will.  We counter the “sword” by the “cross”!

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The Holy Spirit and joy!

Scripture reading for June 21st: Acts 13:42-14:7

Even when the preaching got them expelled from the region, the missionaries left with joy knowing that the Lord was using them to bring light into the darkness!  The people who were usually behind the persecution were the religious Jews who were threatened by the message and its power to draw people.

Paul and Silas were invited back to the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch.  During the week, their message stirred up the people and the whole city was on hand to hear them again.  (Acts 13:44-45)  This made the Jews who ruled the synagogue jealous and they talked abusively about the missionaries.   “Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first.  Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.  For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”” (Acts 13:46-47)

The Gentiles who heard this word of rebuke, gladly believed and were saved.  The word of the Lord spread quickly throughout the whole region but the Jews were upset and pushed back against it.  “But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city.  They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.  So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.  And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:50-52)

The disciples had been taught by Jesus how to respond–shake the dust off as a witness against these people!  (Matthew 10:14-15)  Jesus had promised that it would be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town or people.  Jesus sent his disciples out as sheep among the wolves and they needed to be shrewd and know that not everyone would accept their message!  It would offend some.

Even as they were expelled, a fullness of joy and the Holy Spirit marked these followers.  It is a blessing to be used by God for the purpose of bringing eternal life to those who will be saved!  There is no joy quite like it!  Have you experienced this joy for yourself?  Why not ask the Lord for opportunity today?

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Satan Fell Like Lightning!

Scripture reading for October 24th: Luke 10-12

We are in a war and often our lives here on earth resemble a war zone!  The Kingdom of Heaven is in direct opposition to the kingdom of the devil.  The devil’s kingdom is one of dominance, manipulation, fear, and deceit.  God’s Kingdom is one of love, compassion, faith, and truth.  The devil uses sickness, oppression, depression, and poverty to imprison those made in God’s image.  God sends His people out under His authority to heal the sick, deliver the oppressed, preach good news to the depressed and hopeless, and share His great riches with all who will receive!  These kingdoms are in conflict that is raging around the earth each day.

In our reading today, Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples into this conflict. (Luke 10:1-4)  They were not to take a purse, bag, or sandals.  They were not to greet anyone on the road because they had a mission.  They were armed with His Word and authority and had prayed that the Lord would send out workers.  Jesus then sent them!  Be careful what you pray for– you may be the answer!

They were to live by faith and trust God for whatever they needed in the way of daily provisions.  As they entered a town, or a house, and were welcomed, they were to speak ‘peace’ to those who dwelt there. They were to eat and have fellowship with those who welcomed them.  They then were to heal the sick and tell them of the Kingdom of God.  (Luke 10:8-9)   However, if they were not welcomed, they were to shake the dust from their feet and warn the people that the Kingdom of God had come near to them and their dust would be a witness against them on judgment day.  (Luke 10:10-12)  It was a simple assignment!

As the seventy-two returned to Jesus, they were full of joy and rejoiced at their results!  The demons had fled, sick people were healed, and Jesus’ authority had given them victory after victory!  Jesus Himself remarked: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:18-20)  Jesus was filled with joy at these disciples’ success and their understanding, for the Father had opened their hearts and given it to them.  He cautioned them not to become proud, but to remain humble about God’s grace gift to them.

As we reflect on this passage and on our own lives, we realize that each day we are sent into this conflict.  We have the Holy Spirit and the Name of Jesus Christ.  Authority is ours to plunder the enemies’ camp!  All power of the enemy can be overcome by faith and the Word of God.  We must remain humble and under His authority.  Go out with humble boldness today and bring joy to God’s heart!

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