Now that you have arrived at the webpage Weaponized, please allow me to say a few words about its concept and its context. Consider the following Scripture passages as we explore the belief that the Disciples of King Jesus are to become weapons of warfare in this spiritual struggle for the souls of men… much like soldiers of a king learn to wield the weapons they are given and are willing to give their own lives as well in the advancement of their warfare. Many a soldier has perished for lack of a weapon, its ammunition, or the knowledge of how to use the one they have been given. Let us learn to engage the enemy on the Lord’s terms, using the Lord’s weapons and advancing His coming Kingdom.
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 fortresses. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
The context of the concept is that as we learn to live in a world increasingly hostile to the King of kings and His edicts, we can become weaponized with the Word of God. Here we can take a closer look at the devotional readings we are doing as a church, recognizing the biblical relevance in our cultural experience. At other times I will use these reflections as midweek teachings and invite you to engage the Scripture and interact with it in our small group setting. We will also use this opportunity to address any hot button issues at large on the world stage abroad or at home. I pray that this webpage will become a platform that we use to encourage one another in the study and application of the Word of God…one of our weapons for offensive spiritual warfare. As you read these writings please send me an email to share your thoughts, insights, and questions. Unless noted otherwise, scripture passages typically will be from the NASU version.
Blessings to you
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. (Matthew 16:21-22)
Text me the address. This is the modern day language of many of us when we want to know how to get somewhere. We can take the message and plug it into a mapping app on our smart phones or GPS receiver and hear some unidentified voice guide us to the place we want to go…with some notable exceptions. Sometimes we find we are led to a desolate place, often a place we don’t want to be. In days gone by, and not too long ago I might add, we would tell someone, Lead the way and I’ll follow you! Hopefully they wouldn’t drive too fast. A last resort was to ask directions. Something men are reluctant to do I’ve been told.
Jesus not only told people, but showed people where He was going. And wherever He was going, His call was for disciples to follow Him. Often we want to have confirmation of where it is we are to follow. What does the journey look like, inquiring minds want to know.
The practitioners of false religion asked that Jesus show them a sign. What can be wrong with that, one might ask. Signs on the roads we travel certainly can certainly show us the right way. That is, if we don’t miss the signs! The sign of Jonah was not only spoken to them by Jesus. It was shown to them. The Lord Jesus needed to show His disciples a preview of His Passion. And His Passion was His purpose.
Upon receiving His text message so to speak, did the disciples of His day react any differently than the elders, chief priests, and scribes? Think about the Pharisees and Sadducees. How did they respond to His provocative prophecies about Himself? The Sadducees did not believe much in spiritual things in general. The Resurrection was not in their reality. The Pharisees did not believe He was their Messiah, especially a suffering one. Peter gives us a glimpse of what it is like to follow Jesus. He was hostile to the idea of the cross. Only shameful criminals died there. Surely this is not where Jesus is going and where He is leading. There is one other created being that is hostile to the destination. The enemy of our souls surely is in opposition to the idea that a dead man can live again. Oh, Satan surely wanted Jesus to be killed. His message of Life was too loud. But to live after death is something only God can empower Him to do. And if you let that kind of thing occur, then disciples could learn something that Jesus already knew. The power of the devil is great but not supreme. And a weaponized warrior of Christ, one that has the Spirit of the Jesus within, wields great power over the realm of satanic power.
From that time, the devil, enemies of Christ, and His disciples who follow Him would remember the day that Jesus rose from the dead. You can’t keep the God Man down. So the teaching the Spirit of God would have us know today is to embrace this message of the Messiah. To follow Jesus, to live beyond the grave, is to first carry our cross. It is where our shameful criminality against the King is put to death. The death sentence for our sin is to be shared with Christ. From that time, only then we can truly share and experience the joy of His resurrection.
But He did not answer her a word. (Matthew 15:23)
Silence can speak louder than words. In warfare, assault teams often communicate silently. Inappropriate words can derail the mission. Our challenge is to think rightly about what the Lord’s silence is saying when He did not answer her a word. The Word of God with nothing to say. Kind of provocative, don’t you think? How strange it must have been for those who were following Jesus to expect Him to say something and hear Him say nothing.
This Canaanite woman was used to hearing nothing from the gods of her life. Being from the region of Tyre and Sidon, known for its world class trade, wickedness and idolatry, she was used to gods who had nothing to say. This region was often condemned by the prophets and never fully possessed by God’s people, although it was promised to them by God. Jesus made reference to the region in the scathing denunciation of some cities in Israel such as Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum. Many miracles were done in these cities that Tyre and Sidon had not seen. This woman came from a culture of idolatry, a land fraught with warfare in the spiritual realm. She had a problem her idols could not solve…the idols were the problem. Her daughter was cruelly demon-possessed, a casualty of brutal spiritual warfare. But somehow the mother had heard of a Warrior King. Son of David, she called Him. Have mercy on me, Lord. She knew she was talking to a King. She knew she was talking to God. Even when God had nothing to say.
The gods of her land knew nothing of mercy or compassion. These impotent idols were at best made by human hands. At worst, they were demonic spirits impersonating territorial gods. Worship turns the key that will bind or set free the human soul. Do you wonder how she learned of Jesus? Maybe the Spirit of God was guiding her steps. Perhaps someone had passed through her land and talked about the miraculous God Man of Galilee. When the woman approached the Lord in exercise of her faith, the test of her faith truly began. When we come to Jesus we can believe that He is who He is. And when He doesn’t speak, it doesn’t mean He cannot hear. In His silence, we can also believe that He is full of mercy and compassionate and powerful. We can follow the example of this Canaanite woman who persisted in her appeal to the King.
Perseverance is a characteristic mark of a weaponized warrior of Christ. He, or she, must come to the King with their petition and persist in their plea. Do we give up too easily in prayer over some situation that seems to be getting worse and worse? Consider the fake faith of the religious community in the biblical context. They appeared to be connected. But they didn’t then, and don’t much now, seem to be much like God. This woman knew if her daughter’s condition was to improve, she must come to Jesus. The Word of God is truly powerful even when God doesn’t speak. He can heal through a touch. He can heal with a look. And He can heal from a distance when He finally does speak a word. How far will you go to get to Jesus?
We can be weaponized with the power of God in Christ no matter how disconnected we are to institutional religion. In fact, it seems the more connected we are to false faith and outward displays of ritualistic religion, the less we will experience the joy of the Lord, no doubt alive in the soul of the Canaanite woman when she got back home. When Jesus saw her great faith on display, healing awaited her arrival when she returned to Canaan’s land!
So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.
Scorched earth. That is the practice of some armies in the pursuit of warfare. Whenever they move across the terrain of the enemy destruction and devastation leaves its mark. Some armies will deliberately set afire the fields and farms that sustain the conquered population. Historically speaking, in the War Between the States, the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman delivered such a blow to the Southern armies as well as the civilian populace in his infamous March to the Sea across portions of Georgia. And when he left Savannah, he continued across portions of South Carolina practicing total war, what generals have emulated ever since. Succeeding generations of those once decimated agree. A message was being sent. In Sherman’s words, War is hell. When this conquering army advanced through the region entire fields and stores of crops were looted, destroyed, laid waste, and sometimes burned. The activity and frivolity of harvest time in an agricultural setting depends greatly upon who it is that reaps the harvest and what it is that is being harvested.
Harvest time. Since the dawn of man’s history, people have looked forward to this season with alternative visions of hope and horror. When a harvest produced much celebration it was usually because bountiful blessings were realized. But when the joyful noise of the celebrants was diminished it was usually because the harvest was meager. For the purpose of provision and sustenance it was considered a failure. When a harvest does not produce something of value to the grower it is as useless as weeds in the midst of a wheat crop. Consider the parable here that Jesus is telling. And rejoice in the explanation of it by the Grower Himself.
The parable expounds upon a prophecy. There will be a harvest at the end of our days. Armies of angelic reapers will gather humanity as farmers put a sickle to the wheat. And not just any angels. But the Lord will send the reapers from among His angelic armies. And any of that which is found offensive to the Lord of the Harvest will be gathered for destruction. More efficiently than General Sherman’s troops practiced total war will the Warrior King Jesus accomplish His purpose.
As a weaponized warrior of King Jesus I must focus on what the parable teaching reveals. You see, an enemy has sown bad seed in the King’s good field. And bad seed can only produce bad fruit. Left unchanged the bad seed will grow within humanity until the harvest unto death. Only one thing can change the nature of a human being who is carrying the bad seed of Satan. It’s the good news of the King and His Kingdom. The Word of God can change the nature of what is growing in a human being’s heart. Not family, fortune, or fame. Environment cannot change a man. But when the Word of the Lord invades a man’s heart and received as truth that man’s core is changed from within. Like a seed that has been transplanted. When this Word is carried by a warrior who has been burdened by the desire to speak the Word of God, there is hope for a good harvest. It is not our job to grade humanity and cull out the ones heading for destruction, like one who throws out bad fruit. We don’t know who will ultimately be saved and who will hopelessly be damned. That is for the King to decide. While there is life, there is hope. Our job is to deliver and live out the Word of God. Because it hadn’t been all that long ago that this wimped-out wild weed in God’s garden became a weaponized warrior for Christ and spared from the end time harvest. Only goodness grows from our good God. Know what grows in you…something is always growing…to show where we are going!
For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew12:37)
Words in a time of warfare are crucial to the success of the mission. Words that define the method of military operations are often classified. Not every soldier on the front line of the battle knows all the details of what the objectives are or what they are to defend. Some things are gained and lost because the right or wrong words were communicated. Think about the advice we teach to our children when they are complaining about what someone said to them or about them. We tell them to remember that sticks and stones may break our bones but words can never hurt us. This is another human wisdom philosophical fallacy. Words can indeed hurt us. Words can indeed help us. Just words…we hear that description used occasionally in our culture. The implication is that actions speak louder. If you have ever been on the cutting edge of critical and harmful words you know their power. For the weaponized warrior of Christ to be effective in the war we are engaged in we must master the use of the weaponized word.
This passage contradicts popular thinking that our words are insignificant compared to our actions. Jesus is teaching that words are very powerful. Words can justify or words can condemn. They can vindicate, convict, absolve, and console. We often take for granted their power, especially when they convey the power of God. Jesus uses the word pictures of good and bad fruit. Everyone has eaten good fruit and tasted bad fruit. One gives pleasure, the other gives unpleasant experiences. Good fruit and bad fruit grow on good trees and bad trees respectively. Only in God’s kingdom do we find it improbable, if not impossible, to find one bad fruit growing on any good tree.
Jesus spoke these words to those who condemned His work when He healed a demonic mute man who was blind. He was accused of being in league with the devil when He cast out demonic spirits. When He was accused of being an agent of Satan’s kingdom He exposed the dangerous and deadly claim for the foolishness that it was. The words of condemnation of God’s work in this type of warfare are still being spoken in the earth today. But the words of condemnation are so powerful they condemn the accusers. And the Words of Jesus justify the guilty. And you and I can be the beneficiaries of God’s good word.
As we learn to use the weaponized word of God, our lesson today is to be very careful of the words we speak concerning the work and word of God. Like a weapon we didn’t know was loaded, we can harm ourselves in the worst of ways through careless use and lack of discipline. Although we are called upon as warriors from time to time to speak the Word of God, we do have the right to remain silent when silence is the better option. No loose cannons in this King’s arsenal!
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. (Matthew 11:12)
Sounds like a lot of war talk to me. So how long do you think we’ve been studying war? I would declare since the earliest days of human history. Almost as soon as kings assumed power and command over other men’s lives then kingdom warfare was no doubt on the horizon. Power struggles seem to be in our DNA. How did it get there? Could it be possible that somewhere in our collective human memory we are drawn to violent kingdom conflicts? More than possible. More like probable. The fall of man into the condition of sin soon spread the desire for kings to conquer territory by waging war.
The immediate context of the passage is in a time when the nation Israel was under the domination of a foreign military power. The zealots of that day yearned for an uprising to be successful and cast off the yoke of Roman oppression. Many times during the immediate time frame of when Jesus walked among men on the earth, Jewish rebellion was squelched under the heavy hand of Rome’s rule. So when Jesus spoke about violent kingdom conflict it would have no doubt gained an audience initially…at least until they heard the rest of His message.
The time had arrived. The Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. And the messenger, the forerunner, who was the herald of the King, was clear and concise. Repent. It seems to me that this best captures the meaning of the passage. The kingdoms of this world, operating under the world order of Satan, were now on the defensive. In fact, they had been placed under siege. The assault had begun with the arrival, or Incarnation, of the King. As the herald of the coming King, John served notice on His behalf. The Kingdom was here…and the King came with it. It was not, and still is not, a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. The truth is that this warfare predates human history and the earth itself. And the spiritual warfare that shakes the heavenlies is still rumbling. Violence in the spirit realm is a reality. And we are most aware of it when we are awakened out of a dead existence when we are made alive in Christ. When we are born again we will become acutely aware of the violence.
The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence when it is resisted. But take heart. The Kingdom is being advanced when the King’s men become weaponized for the war. The devil is fighting a retreating action. But make no mistake about it. He will attempt to reoccupy the spiritual ground of our lives that has been wrested from his grip by Jesus any time we succumb to the temptation to sin. Violent men, weaponized warriors must be armed with the gospel and take this war seriously. Take it by force. Do not negotiate with the enemy for one square foot of territory purchased by the blood of our Warrior King. Christ is not a passive King, leading from behind. He is a Conquering Majestic King overcoming a lesser kingdom. Think about it…in God’s Kingdom, there is never room for more than one King. Follow Him. We are gaining ground whether we think so or not. The rules of this warfare flows out of one foundational fact…Jesus rules!
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
Instead of the wolves coming into the sheepfold, consider the strange concept of the sheep going out into the midst of wolves. This is a rather strange word picture it seems. A natural born sheep would not willingly go out into the wolfpack. That’s just not what sheep do. It would be a death sentence. So what is Jesus getting at? He seems to be outlining what disciples of Jesus in every age need to expect. For a sheep to be obedient to the Shepherd who sends the sheep into the midst of wolves would necessitate an incredible change in the mindset of a sheep. The sheep will have to overcome the fear of dying in the midst of wolves. Like the sheep, the fear of losing our lives must be dealt with if we are to be weaponized as warriors for Christ.
The lesson here is to learn that we do not go out in our strength. We go where Christ sends us in our weakness. We go out in the authority of Jesus. Disciples have been given this authority to move out into a world of sinful men who are as threatening to us as wolves are to sheep. And when we go into their lair we are to rely completely on the Lord. He owns our lives. And He sends us out in the authority of His word. Preach the authority of God unto those who are in bondage to sin, sickness, and the devil. None of these things wield power over the one that wields the sword of the Word of God.
It is in our meekness that God is revealed as mighty. We naturally want to be wolf killers in our own power. But God’s way is different. In Isaiah 11 God’s word declares there will be a time when the wolf will dwell with the lamb, not dine upon them. Furthermore, the Lord says that, "The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent's food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain," says the Lord. (Isaiah 65:25) Don’t miss this message. The word of God is what the Lord will use to transform human nature into that likened to domesticated wolves and emboldened sheep. The weaponized warrior is the one the Lord will use to carry the weapon of transformation within us, which is the authoritative Word of the Living God.
Here is our calling in a world that threatens to devour us. We are to become shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. Disciples, it is time we really studied Jesus…this is His nature. And we are to be like Him. Willing to die because we are enabled to live. Vulnerable as His sheep, yet victorious like our Shepherd. Are you willing to go where He sends us, say what He tells us, share what He gives us, to show how He loves us? There’s more than a few wolves I hear howling out there!
But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9:8)
Authority. One word…authority…causes great conflict and solves great problems. Men will naturally question authority. This was happening in the days when Jesus walked the earth in the flesh. It certainly happens in our day when lawlessness seems to be in vogue, fashionable in the minds of those who seek to cast off the restraints that authority places on human activity. In the context of the text before us, multitudes were highly impressed; awestruck is the word, when Jesus healed the paralytic. The men who carried the paralytic surely had a human agenda. They came to Jesus because they believed, or had faith, that Jesus was the answer to their problem. And they were right. This man Jesus was the answer. He still is. But there is always something deeper going on than getting what we want from Jesus. God’s agenda is much more profound. Miracles point to something else. Miracles seem to get our attention. People chase God for the miracles. But we don’t always hear the message. God’s miracles always display something else that God is doing in the affairs of men.
He saw the faith of the stretcher-bearers, burdened with the burden of the paralytic. In warfare some people are trained to bear a stretcher and carry the wounded. When we actually carry the weight of another person rendered immobile and seemingly lifeless, we will suddenly understand better the descriptive words of dead weight. Jesus not only saw the faith of more than one of the burden bearers, He identified the problem of dead weight. Sin had rendered the man helpless and burdensome. The sin of the man was the real burden. Unforgiven sin in the heart of a human keeps us from walking with God and wielding our weapon in warfare. Dead men don’t walk or do warfare very effectively.
Sin, rebellion to God’s authority, is the real burden of the souls of fallen humanity. All of us are infected. Humanity was designed to be free of the burden of sin. That is our destiny. The crowds saw the miracle and they were awed, or fearful, of it. They were fearful of the authority of God. The miraculous power of God to heal was only part of what aroused the fear of God within them. The forgiveness of sin by Jesus put Him a class all by Himself. The authority to forgive sin belongs only to God. Therefore, God was in their midst. God was at work in the hearts of men and in the middle of human activity. He still operates that way.
To be weaponized as warriors, we must first see ourselves on that stretcher. Someone has carried the burden of our dead weight of sin to God. And God has seen fit to forgive. Without any of us doing a series of good deeds to earn His favor. He has demonstrated His authority in our lives. He has granted forgiveness if we will acknowledge our need and receive His authority. Once we have realized our potential as wounded warriors and are enabled to walk, or live with God, we can look for opportunities to be stretcher bearers and bring another person’s burden of sin in prayer to Jesus. Unforgiven sin keeps dead men dead…and disables many people who are designed to walk with God in the cool of the day. Come under the authority of God in your life today and deal with the sin that cripples you. Fear God…Receive Forgiveness…Follow the King!
When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." …And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (Matthew 8:1-3, 5-8)
Two men. Big Problems. A leper and a soldier came to Jesus. The leper said, “If You are willing…You can…” And the centurion said, “Just say the word, and my servant will…” Both men understood the power of Jesus to heal. One man knew that the word of Jesus, even at a distance had power to heal. One man knew that God can…if He is willing. Do we honestly know this? Here is faith expressed in a way that gives witness to what these two men with big problems really believed. Do we seriously approach Jesus with our own problems and others’ burdens in such a manner?
Both of these men were separated from the worshipping community. One a leper, the other a Gentile. Seemingly unconnected from the power source. But both men with big problems come to Jesus. There was a reason for that. They had not only come to know that God can if He will…but they had come to know that Jesus was God Himself. They not only knew Him as God, they knew Him as Lord. The leper would have told you he was unable to win the fight against leprosy. It is a powerful enemy. The centurion would have told you that to win the battle you are sent into you must know the right weapon to use.
Here is our teaching for the weaponized warrior to take in today. The knowledge of Jesus as Lord is a powerful belief. But the belief is an impotent one unless it is put into action. We weaponize our belief that Jesus is Lord and the Lord, He is God when we trust that to be true. Not because we think so or hope so. But because God says so. And we consider His word to be true.
These two men with their big problems brought them to Jesus for a solution. They had come to know what the sons of the Kingdom, which began in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had yearned to know. These disciples of Jesus, the sons of Israel, and pagan religious practitioners of that day only came into that knowledge when God in the flesh was in their reality and in their midst. The Word of God in Christ is still willing and able to cleanse the leper and heal the servant in these days as well. The question for us is do we exercise our faith in such a way? Do we really believe Jesus is both Lord and He is God?
Jesus is not only seriously compassionate…He is supremely competent. His will is superior to ours…and when our will is lined up with His will…we will become weaponized as warriors with Christ…God’s ultimate warfare weapon!
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life… (Matthew 6:25)
When you learn how to read the Word of God as a manual for battle and how to use the Word of God as a weapon for fighting spiritual warfare, you can find out how God intends to equip His warriors for the fight. What am I talking about? Look at the first phrase in the portion of Scripture given above. For this reason… What is the reason we shouldn’t be worried or anxious or stressed or concerned or fearful about our lives? Scroll up to verse 24 for the answer. We cannot serve two masters. Idolatry is not an option for the carefree life.
The reason we don’t have to be afraid is found in Who we serve. We don’t have to worry about our lives, or our souls as the textual note reminds me, when we serve the Living God. No other person or thing can take care of my eternal life, my everlasting soul, but God. Because we are built and born to worship, we will serve what we worship. We will invest our lives in the subject of our worship. We will give our lives to that which we worship, our time, our talent, and our treasure. When I am anxious about my life it is because somewhere deep inside me I am less than convinced the master that I serve is a dependable and trustworthy source of provision.
Do you truly trust God? Is He really your Master? I am contending that the hardest part of trusting God is trusting God! If I say I trust Him…then what is it about that statement that causes me to become anxious? Is it because He is unable or unwilling to provide for me? Do you really think He thinks less of me than any other part of creation? Do I believe that my Spiritual Father cares less for me than the birds of the air or the flowers of the field? Jesus takes issue with that mindset. So in my unbelief and mistrust of God am I in reality treating Him like some deadbeat dad who skirts and skates around his child support obligations?
Here is today’s word to be weaponized as Warriors of the Word. Our ability to trust God will deliver us from the fear of being abandoned in this world of sorrow. You see, our Father
in Heaven is not like the fathers in the earth. He owns the Kingdom of God. He has no lack of resources and His love knows no boundaries. The good part is that He intimately knows the need of His children. Our greatest need is His righteousness and He has provided that for us in the life and death of Jesus, the Christ. What God has done for us in Christ cannot be denied. And it surely can be believed. He can be trusted. He is the Most High God…there is none like Him!
You have heard… But I say to you… (Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28)
This particular phrasing is repeated in what we have come to know as the first part of the Sermon on the Mount. It seems to be a useful tool when you are using words as weapons. Jesus is using this method of reminding people of what they had heard to help them understand what they need to know. He had not come to abolish the Law…but intended to present it on a higher level. Jesus is driving home the point that the behavior of a person is not the beginning of sin. Intent is where sin begins. The attitude of the heart is launching pad of sin’s destructive nature. Desire is the beginning of sin. Wow…who among us would not be able to defend ourselves from the guilt of sin? That is exactly the point. We are not able to justify our sinful actions to a holy God. We need an advocate. We need a Justifier. We need a Savior.
Jesus is pointing out there is much more to keeping the Law of Moses other than what the outward manifestations of our actions put on display. We can refrain from murdering others but treat them like dead men. We may be able to keep ourselves from having extramarital affairs but have a harem of mistresses inside our head. We can pretend to worship God as though we are reconciled to him but have our hearts far apart from one another on a human level. It is a hard thing to be a weaponized warrior of the Word of God and be at odds and hold a grudge with your brother or your sister in Christ.
This word from the Lord raises the bar on the requirements of those of us who frequently battle with sin. Sin is far more serious than we have ever thought. We cannot tolerate sin within us and pretend it is not a factor in the fight against the forces of darkness. When sin is found within us, we are to fight it…not negotiate with it or excuse it. We are commanded to put it to death in our members. Basis training for this battle requires extreme vigilance and radical treatment. We will do well to get a handle on this powerful weapon the Lord gives us for battle. Just as amputation is sometimes prescribed when something in our physical body is out of order, the Lord requires no less where our spiritual health is concerned. Sometimes it will take radical removal from sin’s temptation to overcome it. And when we are estranged from other believers and attempt to worship God it will take deliberate reconciliation to set our hearts free to worship the Lord.
Whether our problem is our judgmental attitude towards others, or committing adultery in our minds or trying to forget our schisms with one another as though they don’t matter to God, these things affect our ability to worship the Living God. And when our right worship is out of order, sinful humanity will default to idolatrous worship substitution. Worship is what we were built for. We can’t help ourselves…But help is on the way.
You have heard it said…But I say to you…
Hear clearly the Word of the Lord today. Let’s get weaponized for the warfare!
Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22)
“Come here after Me…” These words are given to us in a textual note in the New American Standard translation for the words “Follow Me.” I remember being called as a child by one of my parents or grandparents. Come here…was the language of instruction. I soon discovered it didn’t work to my advantage to stall for more time because I wasn’t finished with what I was doing. The question that I asked in response, Where is here? only bought me more trouble instead of the time I was trying to buy. Here is where the sound of the voice came from. It was up to me to follow the sound to its source and come without delay. What I came to learn was the sound of the call was the voice and the source of authority. The instruction that disciples of Jesus receive when they are called to follow is as good for us today as it was in the days of these first disciples of the Word of God. To follow Him is to know we must come after Him. We must go where He is…to follow where He goes. The call of Jesus could not be much clearer if we don’t clutter it up so much. Many a modern day disciple happily sings the song I Have Decided To Follow Jesus…but never really comes to where He is so he can follow where He goes. We expect that Jesus will accept us Just As I Am…and praise God He does…but if we are honest we don’t desire that we change into who God desires us to be. It will surely cost us too much. We will have to give up something…usually something we have grown to love more than God, even if it is a very good thing.
Fishing is a very good thing in my opinion. I operate on the belief that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day of working! Now that’s a good working philosophy when you’re talking about fishing for fish… but is it relevant when you’re fishing for men? Why do human beings have to be made to fish for men? Some people may think they are born to fish for fish but they won’t naturally fish for men. That is a supernatural and spiritual empowerment. And we have to be taught by the Word of God…up close and personal.
Family is also a very good thing. At least in its original concept. This is why some tell me that the greatest hindrance in their spiritual progression with God is getting past the past of their twisted family ties. This may be why we see in this passage the high cost being paid by the first disciples. Some left their nets…some left their father and the boat…and followed Jesus. They did this immediately, without hesitation, and without compromise. So here is today’s strategic instruction for the weaponized warrior of Christ. We must abandon anything that will hinder our ability to handle the Word of God as a weapon. My hands must be as free as my heart and my mind. We must be free to follow Jesus. And to do this we must come to wherever He is to enable me to go where He goes.
Here is the biggest obstacle in our pathway to Jesus, much less in following Him. We tend to want the Lord to help us cast our nets better, help mend our nets so they’ll be stronger, or help us stay in the family boat just a little bit longer. And if God is calling us to fish for fish, that is not a bad desire. But remember, we are to fish for men. And to do that, we must be taught so men can be caught to the glory of God. Reject the idea that following Jesus is without cost. It will cost us all the attachments that bar us from coming closer to Him. How close are you to Jesus today?
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1)
Ever wonder why some of God’s most powerful weapons are found in some of the most desolate places? We asked that question in an earlier submission about John the Baptizer’s word of repentance. Once again we peek into the desert place. In this environment that we see the most powerful weapon, the God Man Himself, resisting the wiles of the devil. You would think the devil would leave Him alone there…you would think the devil would leave us alone when we are in a desolate place. But the devil does some of his best work when we are isolated and are at our weakest times of human existence. Jesus, the Living Word of God, is effectively weaponized against the temptations of the world and its Tempter. The devil comes to Jesus after a time of supernatural fasting and tempted Him with the proposition to satisfy His natural human hunger by taking advantage of His ability as God. Why would that matter you may ask. What was the big deal about Jesus performing a miracle of turning stones into bread? Because God is in control of what God does. He will not be manipulated by the devil or any other creature. God is in control…of allowing the temptation of Jesus and allowing the devil access to us as well. Don’t miss this…the Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness. The devil is controlled by God anytime and all the time. And more specifically, the Word of God is our weapon.
Again and again, Jesus counters the devil’s temptation with the weaponized Word of God, spoken with the authority of God. Even when the devil tries to entice Him with the gift of what the devil never really owned…the kingdoms of this world… our Lord speaks the Word of God to the usurping ruler of this world. It was never really a gift at all that the Tempter offered. It was an exchange. The world’s kingdoms for the worship of the devil. I am deliriously happy that Jesus didn’t fall for that one, aren’t you? Then why do we, who are given the authority of God and His Word in this world, all too often fall for the devil’s bad deals? Could it be that we really don’t yet have a handle on this weapon called the Word of God and when to wield it against the devil?
If we seriously consider being weaponized by the King of kings, we must entrust our lives to the Lord. We must never, never, never surrender our worship of God to the temptations to worship something else. No matter how hungry we get…no matter how prominent we become, no matter what we are promised by another. Get to know what God says in times we are tempted to satisfy our human desires with something other than God’s promises. Know how to use this weapon to overcome the devil when he uses God’s Word against you…because he will. Notice how the tempter manipulates the meaning of what God has said as he twists the context to his advantage. Unless we know exactly what God has said and what He means when He says it, we will be easily deceived as to how to use God’s word…in our lives and in the lives of others. That kind of human behavior has a long history. The devil comes into the Garden as well as the desert. Don’t just be another hopeless human in the theater of temptation…be a Weaponized Warrior, surviving our spiritual desert storms with the Word of God in your heart and in your hand. Remember, He’s got the whole world in His hands…He’s got me and you, brother, in His hands…and, oh yeah, He’s surely got the devil too!
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:1-2)
If there ever was a man weaponized in the Hand of God it was John, the Baptizer. I think he was God’s Axe Man. Kind of like a spiritual sniper trained to hit his target, no matter who they were, and where he found them. John was born of the priestly line of Abijah on his father’s side and his mother was of the Aaronic lineage. That’s a pretty impressive pedigree, from a purely Jewish religious perspective. But when you add the part where he was born again before he was born to begin with, indwelt by the Holy Spirit while yet in the womb (See Luke 1:15…in itself a powerful argument against our culture’s murderous practice called abortion), you would think that his platform for preaching would be the center of Jewish cultural activity…I would be thinking the Temple was in his future. But that’s not the way of God’s way…he went into the wilderness, or the desert. Ever wonder why some of God’s most powerful weapons are found in some of the most desolate places? Could it be that the Lord doesn’t need the trappings of that which attracts us humans to get His message across? The Word of God is all about the message in the midst of the marketplace without compromising with the marketplace message. Into a barren wasteland of the world comes some basic training for all warriors of the Word. REPENT! The Kingdom of heaven is at hand! Hear the Axe Man as he informs religious leaders that most men were impressed with that God is not impressed with their religious heritage. Whether you are born as a Jew or baptized as a babe, holiness is what curries favor with God…holiness is what He is looking for in the hearts of His people. And when John says the axe is already laid at the root of the tree, cutting it down because it bears no good fruit, the message is hard to miss, unless they were blind to their need of repentance. It seems that most people don’t know their need…and most will miss this message.
Repentance is good fruit…because it leads to godliness. To repent is to recognize our lives are moving in time toward the wrong destiny…and getting closer to the wrong destination.
To repent is to change the direction…not just think about it…but act upon it. The Pharisees and Sadducees of John’s day went out to see what the people of Jerusalem were attracted to and they were engaged with the call to repent. It was not enough to confess sins and request baptism. It is not enough now. Unless there is repentance there will be no change of direction. A repentant man’s life will look different to the Lord and to others. Something different is growing on them. Evidence of a changed life will be manifested. The good fruit of repentance grows in godly people and will continually be harvested. Godliness will be increased in our character, the world will benefit from it, and we will be blessed by becoming more like our Lord.
If you are serious about being weaponized by the Lord, the practice of repentance will be a familiar discipline to you. The Word of God will reveal our need and then the choice is up to us…repent…the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand because the High King of Heaven is at hand. Learn to follow the King. And if you find He is getting further from you and harder to hear, it may be because you are the one who has changed course and are in need of correction. For the Weaponized Warrior of the Word of God will not be effective in the preaching of repentance unless we preach from a repentant point of reference. Like the Axe Man John, it won’t matter where you are when the Lord weaponizes you with His message…the desert will do just fine. But the direction you face when you fire the gospel missile makes all the difference in the war.
Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. (Matthew 1:16)
Lately I listened to one of the latest news stories about a war of words between the leaders of two nations. It was utterly chilling to hear the U.S. President's chief foreign ambassador speak words that demonstrate such severe lack of biblical knowledge as to the outcome of the nations that oppose and do not help Israel. The Lord God has promised to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. The lecture from the U.S. Secretary of State either reveals a colossal ignorance of what God has said (maybe the Secretary really doesn't know) or an arrogant attitude of catastrophic apathy (perhaps the Secretary really doesn't care) about what God cares about. Either position is a dangerous one...and it sets us as a nation at odds with the Living God. That's a fight we won't win...history is littered with the rebellious pride of humanity buried in the dust of the earth. His careless words will be seen to have great power and will be compared to a loaded assault rifle in the hands of a careless child, speaking words of warfare, saying and spraying many who will be impacted with collateral damage!
The passage we look at today is one in which a genealogy is traced as to the birth of Jesus. These words matter to God and His people as to how the ruling bloodline is traced from Abraham to Jesus. Thisthrone is the solution for Mideast Peace. It was promised by God and God Himself will bring it to fruition. There will be no two-state solution that the world's kings crave. There will be a one-state solution... but not the one that Israel demands. The one-state solution is the Kingdom of God...ruled by Jesus the Christ in all of the world for all of time. The reign of King Jesus is the promised blessing to the nations dependent upon whether they blessed the sons of Abraham or not. The reign of King Jesus as a promised blessing is to be realized upon the Gentile nations who were at one time idolaters and enemies of God. The promised blessing of being ruled by King Jesus is also offered to those who have lived and died in shame and scandal...and here is where we take a deeper look at this passage of scripture.
Joseph, the husband of Mary, was tied to the royal line that would have occupied the throne in Israel had history worked out a little differently. But God's promises are not nullified by cultural events. And the blessing of God is not always dependent upon our actions as to whether we think we deserve His blessing or not. God can keep His promises independent of what humans interpret as right or wrong. He usually does. We see Mary as having to wear the shame of her pregnancy, bearing a Child conceived out of wedlock, and placed upon her by those who did not know what God had done. And even though Joseph could have been a king, a true descendant of David, there were scandals in his bloodline as well. There were deceivers, foreigners, adulterers, and harlots hanging from the branches of his family tree.
So here is our instruction. No matter who we are as humans, noble at birth or notorious at best, we are still human. And the best of men are men at best. In God's plan, His people one day will rule the earth with the King of Kings. And the King of Kings could not have been born of an earthly king... there was too much corruption there. He must be born of God and be the Seed of the Woman as well. This was the fulfillment of the first promise that God made to win the war between Him and Satan...the Seed of the Woman was to crush the Head of the Serpent. In the Christmas narrative, when the Christ was born, the Word of God was weaponized! The Word of God became flesh and to live and die as the God Man among men. To usher in His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. This reality is closer than we think. Perhaps in our day. So it’s time that we learn to unsheathe and wield the Word of God...and do what God says. Only a child of this King, cleansed by His blood, and born of His Spirit, is equipped for the warfare that is our destiny.
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles... They will run and not get tired...They will walk and not become weary... Isaiah 40:31
Mount Olivet Baptist Church • 3500 Edwards Mill Road • Raleigh, NC 27612 • (919) 787-1910 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org