As I write the title to this blog, I pause. There was a time when I wouldn’t hesitate to title a blog to tell Christians to take up their sword. Of course, most believers in Jesus know this means to take up spiritual weapons of the Word of God, prayer and fasting.
Yet, I pause. I pause, because I wonder if Facebook or other platforms will censor my fasting blogs because of this title. (I have seen them censor pro-life messages.) I pause, because I wonder if others believers in Jesus will cringe, thinking I am promoting violence. I pause, because I wonder if it seems too overly aggressive – to believers, not non-believers.
Why am I pausing? Well, I could say that I am pausing because there is an increasing limit on freedom of speech in American- a grass roots kind of pressure. Yes, we still have it constitutionally on paper, but there is a hatred against Christianity that is rising up that even influences those who go to church to mock other Christians and to ridicule them. This is an anti-christ spirit that is pervading the church.
1 John 2:18-25 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
“As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.”
Why would this ridicule and incredulous attitude happen amongst Christians? I believe – with 100% certainty- that Christians today are spending way more time dining from the spiritual table of the world than the Bible. There is a desire to see the Bible with “enlightened eyes” of skepticism and “wokeness” rather than to see the world with the enlightened eyes of a person who has Holy Spirit awakening. We spend more time getting our marching orders from social media platforms than from the platform of the Word of God and the throne room of God.
In some ways it feels like the peer pressure of high school has leaked into our back pockets, with every ding shaming us and correcting us on how to live and what to think.
Well, I want to live how Jesus wants me to live- I want to live in his presence and with his direction- so I need to deal with the weaknesses of my own fear. If I can’t handle the low-key pressure that happens on social media, how will I ever endure true persecution?
Lord, change my heart.
So, today, I encourage you. Take up your armor. It’s time for a spiritual battle.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 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.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”Ephesians 6:10-20
Take up your swords! I am not calling to pick up a physical sword- this is a spiritual sword. We need to be ready for spiritual battle. During this 40 day fast, we have been preparing our hearts for what God wants us to do. We are preparing our minds. We are reinforcing the walls around our spiritual city and our families with prayer and with the Word.
Today, I was feeling weary from fasting. It’s easy to get tired of such a commitment. I was giving myself a pass from a more difficult fast today. I was looking for the easiest way out. Then I read something online that the Lord told a pastor, “If you are fasting then I require 100%; if you are interceding I require likewise. As I was with Joshua in battle so I will be with you says the Lord. Your success in this war is in direct proportion to your preparation. As I was with Joshua in battle so I will be with you says the Lord.”
I pondered this before the Lord. What does this look like? This scripture came to mind.
“‘Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will make them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or towards daybreak. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’” (emphasis mine)Luke 12:35-40
We don’t know the hour of Jesus’ return. We don’t know the future. Many Christians use this verse or other passages about not knowing the day nor the hour of Christ’s return as a spring board to jump on saying, “Stop thinking about the day of the Lord. Stop talking about the day of the Lord. Stop.” But, here, Jesus gives us his perspective. If we don’t know the hour of his return, shouldn’t we be keeping watch? We shouldn’t be lazy servants- we should be vigilant.
Jesus doesn’t call us to be anxious about his return. Jesus doesn’t call us to live in fear about current events. Jesus doesn’t call us to spend all our time online looking at the news and prophecies or articles about the end times. He does call us to be spiritually ready, with oil in our lamps. He does call us to have his house in order. He does call us to always be aware that someone could try to break into our spiritual house.
When you set up an alarm system on your home, you don’t know when or if it will be needed. You just do it. Just because it’s smart. Believers need a system of protection and readiness and that is found in fasting, prayer and time in the Word of God. For most of history, Christians have lived in times and societies where they really needed to pray and trust God to survive. Not in America. – I say this with sarcasm, of course. – We are so blessed by God that we have become spiritually lazy.
Our condition is very similar to ancient Israel. God blessed Israel and then the nation gave themselves credit for the blessing and started chasing after other gods who couldn’t save them. Can you see the similarities? God has blessed America, which was founded on Christian principles, yet Americans have now completely turned their backs on God. Idols of money, politics, fame, career, education, health, sports and entertainment all have replaced God in our hearts. Now all these idols have fallen and God is bringing American Christians into a place where we truly need to rely on him daily.
When faced with the daily news or discussions about the condition of our nation, I have heard believers in Jesus say things like, “I don’t want to live in fear,” or ” I don’t need to fast – that’s living by works not grace.” Fasting is not about salvation by grace through faith. Fasting is about growing in grace and growing in your relationship with God. This is about making Jesus a priority and putting aside those things that will keep you from hearing from the Master of the House.
Today, can you prayerfully ask the Lord to give you strength to go deeper into your fast? Perhaps, God is calling you to a new level of fasting? I couldn’t tell you what that looks like. It’s something God would tell you in prayer. What does the Lord need you to know? I can’t tell you!
Fasting is a time of picking up your spiritual weapons. Prepare your hearts. Prepare your homes.
I also have been convicted that today I am not going to type out the prayer for you. Today, I will let you pray and seek the Lord on your own. If you need a template, I suggest using the Lord’s Prayer or Ephesians 1:17-23 or Ephesians 3:14-21. But, truly- pray and seek the Lord. Ask him to give you strength and to lead you. Draw into his presence. This is truly where we draw our strength from.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.