“In His Steps” was a sermon series designed around the idea of discipleship. We want to be following so close in Jesus’ footsteps that we are covered in the dust of His path. We chose 10 things that Christ did that we believe we need to understand and emulate in order to become more like Him. Hopefully you have been learning through this process and begun to implement the ideas in your life and turned them into action.
Often people will move forward in the process from an unbeliever to believer to disciple and then stop just short of the final step. We need to be creating disciples. If the last people chasing after God stop at the point where they are not affecting others around them to move in the same direction what happens? There is less and less holiness and Christ in our world. We need to infuse the Sword of the Spirit into our lives so that our tongues might be sharpened like the “Sword.” When we talk we should talk through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If we spoke as if the Holy Spirit was inspiring us, our rhetoric would be radical to those around us. We would be doing things and saying things to people that would move them to action as well. Once we get people moved towards Christ we can begin to help mentor them for Christ. They can begin to connect with God through learning who He is and then letting their hearts connect to His spirit. If we all did this there would be exponential growth for the Kingdom and we would be so much better at showing the world an accurate reflection of whom God is.
If you haven’t started the reading plan that you set for yourself on day 43 then get to it. There is no better time to jump into the word than now. Lets fill ourselves with His word and Spirit! Lets start bringing the Kingdom to His people and change the world radically through the love of Christ revealed through us, Christ’s disciples!
2 Timothy 3:16-17
“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.
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
“He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of His hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver.”
These are the three verse will be using today. In 2 Timothy it tells us “All Scripture is God- breathed.” Now we know that men wrote the books of the bible, so what does that really mean? It means that The Holy Spirit inspired the words and thoughts written in the bible through those men. How crazy to be so synced with the Holy Spirit you write the words that change lives for the rest of eternity!
In Isaiah it says that his mouth was sharpened like a sword. What does this mean? It is to say that his spirit aligned with the Holy Spirit, so that when he spoke he was speaking through that relationship and inspiration. We can be connected like this, so why aren’t most of us?
We don’t allow ourselves to connect to God. Women have been told they are too emotional by society. Men have been told that to be emotional is weakness. These are lies to keep us from the Holy Spirit. We have walls around our hearts that don’t allow us to feel and the thing is, God wants an intimate relationship with us through His Spirit. We put up walls so that when anything tries to connect with the defenses immediately take up their arms ready to fight. Well God has been waiting for those walls to the fall! All the reading of the word we have been talking about this week is for nothing if you never connect to the Holy Spirit. Head knowledge without a connection of the heart is empty and hallow. The way it makes sense to me is if I am looking at a work of art and have knowledge about that art I can recognize the skill it took to produce the work. The other way is to allow the beauty of the artwork to move me to an emotional response and connect with the one that produce it.
We need to disarm our defenses and allow the Holy Spirit in to connect with us. Why stop at the Holy Spirit? Go deeper in the relationship around by allowing yourself to be open. Do you have a prayer life? We need a prayer life to develop that relationship as well. Just talk to God be honest with what is on your heart. If that means you aren’t happy then voice that to Him. God wants to hear your heart!
Allow yourself to connect with God and the Holy Spirit will inspire you. Your life and relationship with God will have all new depths you never knew possible?
Before Jesus began His ministry He was lead by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. I am going to go off on a quick tangent before getting into the purpose of today’s devotion, but I believe someone needs to read it.
“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted,” Hebrews 2:18.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,”
The Holy Spirit led Jesus out to be tempted and tested. Hebrews tells us that it is because of His trial and resistance He is able to minister to those going through trials. If you find yourself in a time of trial or you are looking back on trial with confusion even perhaps anger, I am here to tell you today the trail is not in vain. Some of these trials might have been spirit led because He needed to help cut away something or help you grow to a new place. Some trials maybe because of the evil in the world and some trials might be a little of both, but all have a purpose. These trials are your testimony and are unique to you and your ministry. Use these scars to show others it is possible to make it out strong with Christ. You can empathize and minister to people in a unique way that I cannot because of your story. Throw the efforts of the enemy to destroy you back in his face by building others up with your testimony.
“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death,”
There is power in your story, use it!
When the Spirit led Christ out Satan came to Him at the end of His forty days, at Christ weakest point, and tempted Him. Christ responds to the first temptation with scripture. Satan comes with another temptation and with this one he tries to justify it with scripture. You can read about the temptations in more depth in Matthew chapter 4 and Luke chapter 4. When Jesus Christ our example was faced with temptation He quotes the Word of God. God’s word was written for His believers. Christ is reminding himself in the midst of a trial of the commands God has given us. You can make the argument that He is rebutting Satan, which there is a point there. I would say that it was more of an internal aim to draw strength from the word to overcome the temptation. Jesus is not rebuking Satan in the first temptation but leaning into God. The word of God is intended to be your instruction guide and source of hope, not a platform to put others down.
Often the word of God is used to condemn the world. A perfect example would be the Westboro Baptist. The Westboro Baptist picket LGBT parades chanting that God hates them. Not only are they wrong, God does not hate anyone, God hates sin, they are misusing the Word of God. It is more often intended to help cut away the sin in your own life allowing you to be filled with the love of Christ so that the love can overflow to others. You want to change the wickedness of the world? The best way is not condemning but loving. Be filled with Christ love and show that to the world despite your obvious disagreements. That method is radical and has the power to change nations!
The times Christ used the Word to chastise were to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the ones entrusted to teach the word of God to the people, yet missed the message themselves in pursuit of self-righteousness. There are times we need to use the word to speak the truth in love, but this is in those relationships of accountability.
Another point that I wanted to bring out of Christ temptations was from the second temptation. Satan tries to justify the temptation with scripture. There are many false prophets out there that have twisted the word of God. If you are not rooted in the word, you can be fooled and led astray. It is important to read the Word of God and study it. It is not the easiest task and often at the beginning it is hard to understand, but keep with it. Like in an earlier devotion during week three we need to learn to “study through.” The spirit will begin to reveal God’s love, power, and grace through the word.
Take time to reflect on these questions?
Have you studied bible enough to lean on its commands and promises in the hard times?
On the first day of this week you were asked what would be your plan to increase your time in the word. Have you started that plan? If not, why not? What is stopping you? Get in the word there are blessing and a whole new life waiting for you!
This week while at Church Under the Bridge a man came up to me after the service. He told me that something I had said opened his eyes. I first had to tell him that it is the Spirit that speaks to us and the grace within him that recognizes the goodness in the words from the Spirit. The man went on to tell me that the situation with his significant other was not good and he realizes if he wants her back he had to follow Jesus. I had to stop him and explain that Jesus was not a magic eraser.
Do we all know what a magic eraser is? If you have a mark or sharpie on a wall you could take that magic eraser and wipe it away. We have a bunch of markings on our lives and want to take our magic eraser, Jesus, out and wipe it away and throw Him back in the cupboard. It doesn’t work that way. In fact it is quite the opposite. In John, Jesus tells us this, “ If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you,” John 15:18-19. We know that there will be trouble when deciding to follow Christ.
If our motivation to follow Christ is to fix our problems we will never find a lasting solution, peace, or relationship with Him. We need to realize that we have fallen short and we need a perfect savior to intercede on our behalf. We need to come to the point where we can say if I have Jesus and everything falls apart I will still praise Him in the darkness; that is a relationship, that is falling in love with who He is. Many begin with the motivation of Christ being their magic eraser, which is okay in the beginning. It is not a bad thing that the power and hope Christ is what brings us to him. In fact the more we learn of these the more we fall in love with our God, but we must mature past the magic eraser to go deeper in the love and blessings of the Lord.
We cannot fall in love with our God if we do not learn whom our God is. That is like seeing someone on the street and deciding they are the one, do you really know them to be able to say that you love them? Like we have discussed in the previous first three days I learn who my Father is by reading His word. Then I can fall in love with who He is not with what He can do for me.
When I can fall in love with Christ then my heart begins to change. My attitude begins to change. My view of my situation begins to change. Then by the logic of cause and effect a lot things begin to change. It is not the fact that I say the salvation prayer that changes my situation. When my heart changes and who I am changes, not just my actions, then I handle things differently, which is what changes my situation. Don’t get me wrong I do believe that our God is still in the business of miracles and can change anything at the flip of the switch. I am saying that I tap into the blessing of my loving Father when I begin a relationship by falling in love with who He is not what He can do for me.
We win our battles when we fall in love with Christ and then the sword of the spirit begins to do what it does, cutting away the darkness from our life and protecting us from the attacks of them enemy. We fall in love when we get into the bible and learn who God is and let go and allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Take time to reflect on these questions.
Do I treat Christ as my personal magic eraser? Do I go to Him only in time of need?
If everything fell apart would I praise Him because He is still good?
So far we established what the double-edged sword is, how to use it internally, and today I want to focus on how to use it externally. How do I take this newfound relationship I have with the creator of the universe and use it daily with the people that surround me.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
These verses are known as the Great Commission. This is a command to Christians from Christ; to go out and not only “save” people, but teach them how to have a relationship with God and how to follow the ways of Christ.
The first part of this process is having a genuine relationship with Christ for yourself. Looking back at yesterday’s devotion, “This will cause you to start to see His precepts not as harsh condemning rules but as a loving measure in which He draws you closer to Him. You will begin to act according to the Word of God not to avoid the punishment, but because to disappoint Him will break your heart!” this needs to be where we strive to be.
People see through fake. We all know that person that has all the right words to say but there is no substance behind what they say, whether that is in spiritual, work, cars, sports, etc. You cannot lead where you have not been, so if we are to be effective in the Great Commission then we first have to be become disciples of Christ ourselves. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that perfection must be obtained prior to making disciples. I am saying there must be a genuine relationship and dedication before moving forward. Relationships have ups and downs. God knows that we are fickle and knows mistakes are to come, but He wants your heart. He wants to walk with you and when that becomes your desire and priority, without a selfish motive, then you have a genuine relationship.
Yesterday I spent a brief second talking about the word being living and active. I believe that the effect it has on your life is contagious. Goodness, truth, and transformation are inspiring and undeniable. The relationships you have will begin to change as your relationship with God deepens. You will not have to force anything because the way in which you live will be the testimony that inspires.
We learn who God is and where we are with God through His word. As we read, the double-edged sword will begin to pierce and cut away that which is not of God leaving room only for God.
Then we begin intentional discipleship. We find that relationship that we can pour into, what God has revealed to us. These types of relationship are deeper than your normal day to day because you begin to get into accountability. You are holding that person and yourself to a higher standard.
As a side note many Christians use the Word of God to elevate themselves in order to condemn others. This is not the message of the bible at all. The best way to show Christ in the day to day is through love. There is a time to be up front with someone and tell them the truth in love, but more times than not that time is not in your day to day relationships, but in the deep relationships. We as Christians need to embody love and show that to the world and stop condemning the world. Christ did not come to condemn, so who are we to condemn those around us. Love elevates and promotes progress.
Take time to reflect on these questions?
Is there substance behind the things that I say?
Do I use the bible to develop a relationship with God that causes an overflow of love into those around me or do I use it to raise myself above those around me?
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Genesis 2:7 “ Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Through God’s breath He created life and through His word He now gives us spiritual life. Trying to go about life without the word of God is to try walking around without breathing… you won’t make it far.
In Hebrews 4:12 it says that the word is living and active. What does that mean for us? The Word of God is alive. It produces effects. Meaning as we read the word changes will begin to happen in your life.
A little later in Hebrews 4:12 it says “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” What is different between soul and spirit? Soul is the intangible part of us in which we exist. Spirit is that which gives us spiritual life from God, which goes beyond this physical life.
What does it mean that it is going to “pierce to the division of soul and spirit”? The author explains it with the analogy of joints and marrow. Joints are what allow me to move, but the marrow is what gives my bones life. Without bone marrow it would not be long until you die. When reading the word of God it will pierce through your outer layers into your deepest darkest spots. The last part of verse 12 says “discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The word will cause you to be self aware of what is going on inside your spirit. Are you focused on that of good wholesome spiritual things or are your intentions shallow and self serving?
The truth that we read about in The Bible appeals to our spirit making it impossible to lie to ourselves. Of course you can ignore what you find continuing down a reckless path to destruction of your spirit.
We use the double-edged sword internally by cutting away that which is not of Him, making room for more of Him. We can allow it to pierce into our most internal thoughts and purify them. Your relationship, love and respect for our Lord will grow as you learn about His heart and His desires for you. This will cause you to start to see His precepts not as harsh condemning rules but as a loving measure in which He draws you closer to Him. You will begin to act according to the Word of God not to avoid the punishment, but because to disappoint Him will break your heart!
Once again to take time to reflect on these questions:
I hope that these questions will not be a downer but and eye opener in which you can begin to see where you need to grow in the Lord. God knows more than anybody. He knows how imperfect we are; yet He calls out to us longing for a relationship. He wants to clear your record and move on.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” Isaiah 1:18.
A double-edged sword was developed in order to be more accurate and efficient against enemies with stronger armor. With the design it allows the sword to be more agile and more efficient thrusting to find the weak points in the armor. In early Europe as enemies became more advanced they had to evolve as well. The double-edged sword was developed to evolve with advancement of armor. One of the benefits was that it could also be used in a defensive manner to block blows as well as a strike.
Humanity has had an enemy since we were created out of the dust. Our enemy, Satan, comes with a cunning plan and is well equipped. He is not to be taken lightly. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy..” John 10:10.
What is our doubled edged sword as Christians to protect us? In Hebrews we are told that our double-edged sword is the word of God. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” Hebrews 4:12. This week we will dive into how to use the word of God to equip us in the fight of life.
We need to understand the severity of the fight. John tells us that the enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy. This is not an exaggeration Satan wants nothing more than to see us turn our back on God. He doesn’t just want you to fail, but wants you to be tortured and in agony. We try to overlook him sometimes as if spiritual warfare is not a big deal, but in fact he is a very formidable opponent! Satan does not come to me and say, hey cheat on your wife. He is smart, it starts with a just a quick inappropriate thought. If I am not prepared for his tactics and protected by God I have no shot against him. If we can understand the seriousness of our enemy it should shift our frame of mind when making decisions on our preparation. In Song of Songs Solomon tells us it is the little foxes that spoil the vineyards. Which is to say it is the small things that destroy us.
I believe that we need to understand that the devil is real and his plans are devious to understand why the imagery of a sword would be used. We are in a war against the enemy and we need to bring our weapon to battle. In the same breath Jesus has also instructed us exactly how the hierarchy flows. John 10:19 “Behold I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” God has told us that we have authority over the enemy, so although we are in a battle we have already been equipped to win the war. God has given us a tool to learn about who He is, what He ask of us, and how to whether the storms and fights!
The rest of the week we will look into how to use the Word of God in our life and protect us from this awful evil and advance into a daily thriving relationship with God. We have to buy all the way in to God!
Take some time to reflect on these questions
How much do I read the Word of God?
What stops me from reading and diving into it more?
What is my plan to increase my time training in His word?