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Join us for this 22-session blog series, as we explore the themes surrounding Christian warfare. Sadly, over the centuries, we Christ-followers have used this biblical theme to do some pretty horrible stuff to others, all in the name of our God.
Over the next seven weeks (3 readings per week), we are going to explore the way Jesus of Nazareth dealt with the issues of warfare. Without a doubt, our Lord understood that life down here on planet earth can be a battle. But just as He does with other earthly problems, the Master brings some fresh, new answers that often surprise and contradict the status quo. Join us as we look at ‘the battle’ that rages around us each day, explore how Jesus handles it, and then we’ll unpack Paul’s words to the Ephesian church that offer us six amazing tools that are issued to Christ-followers, weapons of our warfare that come directly from the hands of God the Father, through the Son, and by the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
Each one of our Lectio Divina readings below can be used by themselves. If you’d like, you might also click on the corresponding link listed immediately below each reading for the day. The link will take you to a short blog reading which will include some thoughts to consider, concluding with a prayer and a question or two for you to ponder. Go slow. Walk at your own pace, inviting the Holy Spirit to join with you as you read and reflect. Might we also suggest you also try your hand at journaling along the way! May the Holy Spirit join with you as you go…
Our reading for TODAY: Sunday, October 21: 1st Peter 5: 8-11 (MsgB)
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, He does.
Our reading for Monday, October 22: Romans 6: 6-11 (MsgB)
Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in His life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, He took sin down with Him, but alive He brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
Our reading for Wednesday, October 24: Luke 4: 3-13 (MsgB)
The Devil, playing on His (Jesus) hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.” For the second test he (the Devil) led Him (Jesus) up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re Yours in all their splendor to serve Your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re Yours, the whole works.” Jesus refused, again backing His refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve Him with absolute single-heartedness.” For the third test the Devil took Him (Jesus) to Jerusalem and put Him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘He has placed You in the care of angels to protect You; they will catch You; You won’t so much as stub Your toe on a stone’?” “Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’ ” That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.
Our reading for Friday, October 26: Ephesians 6: 10-18 (MsgB)
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and He wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
This week’s theme: The Belt of Truth.
Our reading for Monday, October 29: John 8: 31-38 (MsgB)
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in Him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are My disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” Surprised, they said, “But we’re descendants of Abraham. We’ve never been slaves to anyone. How can you say, ‘The truth will free you’?” Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.
Our reading for Wednesday, October 31: John 4: 23-24 (MsgB)
It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.
Our reading for Friday, November 2: John 17: 15-19 (MsgB)
I’m not asking that You take them out of the world, but that You guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; Your Word is consecrating truth. In the same way that You gave Me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I’m consecrating Myself for their sakes so they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission.
This week’s theme: The Breastplate of Righteousness.
Our reading for Monday, November 5: Romans 3: 25-26 (MsgB)
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in Him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins He had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in His rightness.
Our reading for Wednesday, November 7: Colossians 1: 13-14, 21-22 (MsgB)
God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the Kingdom of the Son He loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating…You yourselves are a case study of what He does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of Him, giving Him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving Himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in His presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted.
Our reading for Friday, November 9: 2nd Corinthians 5: 14-19(MsgB)
Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in His death so that everyone could also be included in His life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at Him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and Him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with Himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what He is doing.
This week’s theme: The Shoes of Peace.
Our reading for Monday, November 12: 2nd Corinthians 5: 20-21 (MsgB)
We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ Himself now: Become friends with God; He’s already a friend with you. How you ask? In Christ. God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.
Our reading for Wednesday, November 14: John 14: 25-27 (MsgB)
I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at My request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s My parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
Our reading for Friday, November 16: Philippians 4: 6-7 (MsgB)
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
This week’s theme: The Shield of Faith.
Our reading for Monday, November 19: Hebrews 11: 1-3 (MsgB)
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s Word, what we see created by what we don’t see.
Our reading for Wednesday, November 21: Romans 8: 26-28 (MsgB)
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Our reading for Friday, November 23: Philippians 3: 12-16 (MsgB)
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
This week’s theme: The Helmet of Salvation.
Our reading for Monday, November 26: 1st John 5: 11-15 (MsgB)
This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in His Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life. My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to His will, sure that He’s listening. And if we’re confident that He’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.
Our reading for Wednesday, November 28: Philippians 4: 8-9 (MsgB)
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies.
Our reading for Friday, November 30: Romans 12: 1-2 (MsgB)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
This week’s theme: The Sword of God’s Word.
Our reading for Monday, December 3: John 1: 1-5, 14 (MsgB)
The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word.
The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through Him; nothing—not one thing!—came into being without Him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
Our reading for Wednesday, December 5: Hebrews 4: 12-13 (MsgB)
God means what He says. What He says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.
Our reading for Friday, December 7: Joshua 1: 7-11(MsgB)
Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.
Good job, my friend. You have now completed our 22-session Lectio Divina! We suggest that you take this ancient tool of Lectio Divina with you as you meditate on the scriptures found in our many blog studies from our As I See It webpage.
See you Sunday, December 9th as we add yet a third tool to your spiritual formation tool box, caring for your soul.
Marty & Sandy Boller