Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Center
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 6:10-20 in the New Testament for Everyone (NTE). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians 6:16–17 says, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Every since I was little, I’ve had a fascination with swords and people who wielded them. Pirates, ancient soldiers, and Olympic fencers all had my admiration.
The best sword fight I’ve ever seen is in the movie The Princess Bride. The sword fight between Inigo Montoya and the six-fingered man is all that a sword fight should be. Tables jumped on and turned over, flaming candles sliced in half, lunging, and plenty of parrying before the final end when revenge is had and satisfaction still eludes the avenger.
The sword is the only weapon Paul includes in his spiritual body armor that could be construed as an offensive weapon. In truth, it was used as much for defense as it was used to attack an enemy, but yes, swords are used to do damage also.
If someone thrusts at you with an object, your proper reaction would be to parry the oncoming object. This is the defensive act; the act of parrying can save you from getting unwanted holes in your skin. The sword is a defensive weapon.
Yet the sword is a offensive weapon also. It can be used to do damage, even kill. Jesus warns those who would rely on the sword for success. He said to His followers that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Living a life of violence is opposite the life of peacemaking that Jesus calls His followers into.
And then there’s the picture of Jesus painted in Revelation 19, riding down from the heavens on a white victory horse slinging a sword around that slays the nations. A violent depiction of Jesus and swords for sure. At least we can conclude that He’s using the sword as an offensive weapon and not for defense.
Notice in that passage that Jesus’s use of that sword is different than how you or I might think to use a sword. In this case, it’s coming out of His mouth. If indeed, as Paul suggests above, the sword is of the Spirit and is the Word of God (Jesus is the Word of God), then Jesus is conquering the nations with the truth about Himself. He slays the nations with Gospel truth, which, for all intents and purposes, is the message of grace and inclusion that He delivered while He walked and talked with us in Galilee and Jerusalem.
If this is the sword of the Spirit, I pray that all God’s children would be armed and ready for battle.
Recalibrate: If you were to define the Gospel in one sentence, what would your definition be?
Respond: Ask Jesus to arm you today to ward off evil and slay it with good.
Research: Read 1 Samuel 17 and ask yourself who was truly wearing armor that day.
Remember: “Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need” (Ephesians 6:18, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Talk to your little one today about all the things that you love about them and why. Ask them what they know or love about you or a friend and why. Ask them what they know about Jesus. Tell them the things that you love about Jesus and why you love those things.
Memorize The Words to Remember: “Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need” (Ephesians 6:18, ICB). Try a new kind of prayer today! Grab a piece of paper and something to write with, and write your prayer to God. You can ask someone to help you with spelling or even ideas about what to ask God for as you write. Be creative and have fun talking to the One who knows you best!
Like many kids, I was afraid of the dark. OK, maybe not the dark itself, but what was in it. I was a pretty smart kid and I knew monsters weren’t real but, for some reason, whenever the lights went out, I was terrified of what was in my closet. It got so bad that I wouldn’t even hang my foot over the side of the bed for fear it would be bitten off by some imaginary creature. I remember praying to God to keep me safe almost every night. I’m sure He was listening to me chuckling up in heaven but He was faithful. I can honestly say that I never got my foot so much as tickled by monsters in my room. Although my story might be a little silly, God is truly there to protect us. He can shield us from all kinds of scary things if we ask Him to.
There is nothing more dangerous than a Christian who, in the most dire of circumstances, still places their faith and hope in God. We often think that faith is something we get when everything is perfect and life is going really well. We think faith is something you get when you’re on a spiritual high from summer camp or a conference. It is easy to believe the lie that, because you’re a Christian,all of a sudden you are immune to the consequences of sin. Nothing bad is going to happen to you because you believe in God. Sadly, that is not the case and the devil wants us to think that God is the one to blame for evil. “How could God let this happen? Why is God doing this to me? Why didn’t He do anything about it?” Faith is saying, “Even though my life may be falling apart, I choose to have faith and believe that God can work something good out of this. I will still praise God because He is ultimately in control.” Habakkuk 3:17-19 says, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” Why does Paul call faith a sword? Because if you have faith in all circumstances, the devil will lose his power over you. So I challenge you to practice claiming God’s promise and take up the sword of faith so that when the devil tempts you to doubt God’s goodness, you will be able to stand firm.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.