A sword in its sheath does no good. It's just ornamental at that point, so is a Bible that lies on the table or sits on a shelf and gathers dust. If you want the Bible to do you good, you have to take it out, open it up, and learn to use its cutting edge.
Sometimes that edge is used by the Lord to correct us and set us free from our own destructive behavior or the prison we have created for ourselves by through sin habits, rebellion, or simple ignorance (Isaiah 61). However, for now, I want to focus on the Sword as our weapon of offense.
A sword is not a defensive weapon. A sword is something used for offensive attack. That may sound odd to some, but think of it this way: if your whole purpose for using your sword is defensive, you will ultimately lose the fight because your enemy will pummel you until you are exhausted and fall. Instead, you use the sword to attack your enemy, drive him back, or destroy him, thus, freeing you from the attack. Now you can stand, walk, and move at will. The sword is an offensive weapon.
The Word of God is an offensive weapon, too. It is not there for us to hide behind but rather for us to use to drive back the enemy (Deuteronomy 33:27), set free captives (Isaiah 61), and usher in the kingdom of God to this earth (Matthew 6:10) . However, for it to be effective, it must be taken out of its sheath.
There are several ways to make the Sword useful, but they all start in one place--the Word.
For years I've had people tell me they cannot be warriors because they don't know the Word. I have gotten phone calls from folks, been taken out to lunch, received emails--the whole gamut--by people who want help, need help. However, they aren't like me. They don't know the Bible like I do. They can't quote the Bible like I do. they just don't know all those verses.
That just tells me they do not make reading and learning the Word a priority.
It is like a soldier in gun fight hiding his head between his knees depending on all the other soldiers to defend him because although he has a gun loaded with powerful bullets sitting beside him, he chose not to learn to use it. Most of us think that is crazy. Christians do it all the time.
So, let's figure out how to make this Sword that created a universe in six days work for us.
Taking hold of the Sword--finding what pertains to us.
1. Read. Read. Read. For three years I read the Bible through each year. I learned tons. To read the Bible through in a year, you only need to read 4 chapters a day. I made it easier for me and read 5. By simply reading the Word, you learn the marvelous acts of God, see miracles (like when the dead body of a prophet was tossed in a grave in haste and the bones he landed on came back to life, very cool story), and learn God's heart. You also find out just how far God is willing to go because He loves you and some of the things He won't put up with at all.
If you read enough, eventually, you can simply pull things from memory.
2. Word Studies. This is not as daunting as it may sound. You can use a concordance, which is the list of words in the back of your bible (or that huge volume of Strong's Concordance), to look up a topic and then read the verses associated with it. The concordance is good because it gives a few words of the sentence and it isn't overwhelming. The negative is that it is not exhaustive.
If you want all the verses, use a software program such as Bible Gateway. It also lets you easily change translations or even compare them.
One of the common questions I receive is, "What if I can't find the word I am looking for?" Good question. When I battled depression, I couldn't find the word depression in there, BUT I found words like despair, hope, darkness, healing. Look at both the synonym and antonym. The verse might say, "You set me free from my despair," OR it might say, "You gave me hope." Both may be what you need, so look for both "sides" of the situation or word. I use http://www.thesaurus.com/ to find synonyms and antonyms. Just type in a word and hit enter.
Holding the Sword--Being Armed with the Word
1. Memorization--There are several methods for this.
a. Read, read, read.--Pick a passage or a verse and read it over and over and over. Eventually, your mind won't need the paper anymoe.
b. Concentrated time--Sit down with the verse or passage on paper and work on it until you get it. Do this several days in a row, though, so your mind doesn't think you were joking.
c. In reverse--Write the verse or passage on a paper or dry erase board and take out one word at a time (with the children, I do one or two a day) and read the passage over and over until you no longer need that word. Then take out another word.
Example: The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.
The _____ is my shepherd I shall not want.
The _____ is my shepherd I shall not _____.
You get the idea.
2. In your face.--Also known as Notecard Mania.
I have put posters of verses on my wall or papers with verses, but my friend Debra took this to a life-altering level. When the enemy threatened her family, she loaded up on the notecards. She wrote verses on them and put them everywhere--her daughters' bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, the laundry room, her bedroom, the living room. You couldn't walk into her house without seeing a notecard with a verse. And when she left, she took her baggie of notecards. When her daughters had a bad day, they pulled the notecards out and read them aloud. When Debra had a bad day, she pulled the notecards out and read them aloud. They not only kept the Word before them, they released it into the heavenlies. The Lord says, "My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11)."
Using the Sword--Declaring, Proclaiming, and Praying
I talked about this in a different post, so I'll only hit the highlights. The Bible says every promise by God is yes and amen in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). That means every promise He has made in the Bible, He made to YOU, too.
He promised forgiveness. That is for you.
He promised healing. That is for you.
He promised to be a rock, fortress, and shepherd. That is for you.
When pray verses over you or declare and proclaim God's promises, you are not burdening God or being a pest. Intead, what you are doing is saying, "God, you made this promise, and I trust your character enough to know you are going ot keep, that in fact, you want to keep it. I choose to agree with you so you can do that."
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." The enemy will tell you God is waiting for you to do something wrong, so He can smash you. The enemy will tell you God enjoys watching you be miserable. However, this promise if for YOU, and you can declare it over your own life.
"The Lord has plans for me. His plans are to prosper me--not to do me hard. He plans to give me hope and a future, and I receive His good plans. I receive His hope. I receive His future, and I praise Him for His goodness toward me. I rejoice in the goodness and the love of Almighty God."
Go yell it from your back porch (Yes, I've done that. No community comments, and it did make a difference in the circumstance). If you are having problems in your work place, go in there and start praying that verse while walking around the desks or standing outside your boss' office. If your marriage is struggling, you walk around your house and pray this. Lay your hands on your bed and pillows and pray this. Is your child making some questionable choices? Go in their room and pray this: "I know the plans my God has for this child..." Pray it every morning, noon, and night if you have to, but don't you let the enemy steal from you, and don't you buy his lies.
You have the power of Almighty God. It's His Word, and He has handed you the Sword. Yes, it is there to defend you, but its primary purpose is to defeat the enemy. So, Warrior, get out that Sword, get it polished up, and take what God has promised you.
Copyright Jerri Phillips 2008