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“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

I hit the snooze. Again. Before I know it, those red digits glare alarming numbers. I have fifteen minutes to get out of the house. After a quick prayer, I hack my frizzy locks into submission. Mascara rebels against the hurry with an eye-gouge. Ten minutes left to spackle my prize-fighter appearance, jump into a pant suit, and choke down some vitamins. As I back out of the garage, a breakfast bar dangles from my teeth. It crumbles into my lap by the first stoplight.

In my hurry, I’m at risk of facing battles ill-equipped. It isn’t the first time. And the neediness isn’t related to the two-hundred calories littering my seat. I left more significant nourishment behind. Without it, stressors and needs will overtake me. Thankfully, there’s backup. I keep a Bible in my car so I’ll never go a day without my sword.

Unlike wearable armor components like belts and breastplates, a sword must be taken up and used. My mind, heart, and soul hunger for a daily meal of living scripture. Whether I memorize or study the verses, their power comes from intimate relationship with the Spirit while I ingest and apply scripture. Satan knows the Bible, but it remains a mere recitation for him. Because I know the Word Himself, scripture becomes my sword of the Spirit and pierces the enemy. The Word of God stands out as a short-range weapon to cut down spiritual opposition.

Jesus modeled successful fencing skills when He wielded Scripture to vanquish temptation (Luke 4:1-13). As the Incarnate Word, Christ could have said anything and made it so. He quoted verses to teach us how to pierce the heart of darkness with His Word. He spoke from scripture at certain times to highlight his example, but at all times He lived out God’s perfect truth.

The power of the Word surpasses human imagination, but John’s gospel offers us a glimpse. “The Word was God . . . Through him all things were made . . . In him was life,and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5). Christ is the logos, the creative force through which all things came into existence. In God’s perfect symmetry, Christ is also the power through which all things are redeemed and renewed. Jesus spoke to exorcise demons, heal, and exhibit miraculous provision, but that remains the tip of the iceberg. By definition, there is nothing the Word cannot do or undo.

Not something I want to leave behind for the day, let me tell you.

Many herald breakfast as the day’s most important meal, but nothing rivals the significance of nourishing my soul. No discipline proves more vital than making time to take up the Word. I must learn it and make it a part of who I am. Wielding the sword requires putting Christ’s truth into practice. In following Jesus’ example, I must speak the Word at times and live it out at all times.

Come join me on the battle front. Let’s make sure we have left no sword behind.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
    in the shadow of his hand he hid me” (Isaiah 49:2).

“In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:16).

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

As we visited Busch Gardens’ one day, I observed a toddler patting the glass of a wildlife enclosure. A lioness sprang toward him from the other side. Massive canines flashing, she pounced again and again. Huge paws engulfed the outline of the child’s hand. He grinned over his shoulder into the camera’s flash, as if playing pat-a-cake with the alpha predator.

If not for the glass shield, the lion would have devoured him like a cupcake.

With the exception of sunscreen, we tend to give little thought to shields these days. Few of us encounter large predators outside the zoo. Battles rage in distant lands, where armored vehicles and fortified bases matter far more to others than to us.

First century military officials knew the importance of defense equipment all too well. An effective shield could win or lose the war. If a soldier lost his scutum, as they were called, he became a walking target. Warriors often chained or strapped their ultimate means of protection onto their forearm, lest they lose their grip.

Roman shields remain legendary icons in military equipment design. Curved to deflect arrows and layered for strength, the scutum was large enough to cover a man and overlap the next shield in reptilian shell formation. Centurions also used shields as an offensive weapon to charge enemy lines.

With faith, we can break through enemy strongholds. Matthew 8 records examples of faith breaking through to the disenfranchised and excluded. The next chapter reveals how the faith of our friends can bring us out of hopelessness into the presence of Christ.

Faith deflects enemy arrows hurtling toward our souls each day. Lies, toxic attitudes, and insecurities glance off the surface when we hold up our faith against them. The King advises us to huddle together in formation so the enemy cannot find any spaces open for attack. Christ’s victory seals our triumph in the protection of our unified and mutually fortified trust in Him.

We must not let our guards slip and get caught playing pat-a-cake with this lion. So let’s strap on our trusty shields and snuggle in close, fellow soldiers. We’ll keep our faith out front and charge onward.

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth . . .”

As we prepare to face evil himself, the first element revealed for our defense is truth. And it’s a belt. Ho hum. Belts live in a neglected rack at the back of the department store–a fashion afterthought at best. Shouldn’t we have started with a magnificent sword and something like faith or salvation? Perhaps one of Paul’s editors should have reminded him to start his message with an attention grabber.

A little further investigation into the soldier’s outfit suggests more significance in the ancient article than our modern hip huggers. Not only did the centurion’s belt secure the rest of his uniform in place, but it also carried his food rations, coins, and weapons.The placement of this wide strap could also serve as an extra layer to cover vital organs. The warrior’s sustenance, livelihood, and survival rested in the leather girding his waist. His life depended on reaching for these vital items with confidence in the unchanged position of each one. A soldier must keep his eyes on the battle at hand, and cannot afford to search for his weapons.

In our battle with the ultimate deceiver, we Christian soldiers cannot begin to wonder where the truth lies. If we begin darting our eyes to the right and left, the enemy takes advantage of our vulnerable state. Thankfully, the Lord can teach us how to reach for His Truth with confidence. It never shifts position. We must buckle this essential tool in place as the nourishment and defense of our souls hang upon it. We also cannot understand true worth or experience prosperity in the absence of Truth.

Without the belt, nothing else can stay put. Armor shifts and tangles us into a stumbling knot. We must have truth to maintain unhindered motivation to combat evil. Paul listed Truth first to help us get a grip on the divine reality. Awareness of the Who clarifies our view of every other what. Such a vision transforms flesh into armored warrior core.

Let’s thank the King for our magnificent armor, and remain mindful of what truly holds us together.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6).

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32).

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:17-18).

“For you are great and do wondrous things;
    you alone are God.
 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:10-11).

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).

“For you are great and do wondrous things;
    you alone are God.
 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:10-11).

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:17-19).

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