Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Major Sign?

A few blogs ago I touched on the fact that Israel had recently discovered massive natural gas deposits off it's coast which have been reliably reported to be in the "trillion" cubic feet range. I also speculated that this might well be one of the reasons in Ezekiel that the coming attempted invasion of Israel by a coalition of states is described as a pursuit of "spoil". As I did a few weeks ago, I would like you to read a blog by someone much smarter than I which explores this possibility, and explains in detail the possible ramifications in regards to the prophecy which many, including myself, feel could happen any day. Enjoy

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
A Spoil and a Prey

By Al Gist

Ezekiel 38-39 is one of the most amazing prophecies found in the Bible. It describes an attempted surprise attack by Russia and a coalition of Muslim nations against Israel in which God intervenes and destroys 5/6ths of the invading forces, leaving only the 1/6 to return home and tell the story of their defeat by the God of Israel. Such a war has never happened, so we must see it as yet a future event.

For a number of reasons, this prophecy of the “Battle of Gog of Magog” is getting a lot of attention these days from Bible prophecy scholars. First of all, even though there is a lot of debate about exactly WHEN it will take place, most place its occurrence either just before or in the first half of the Tribulation. So obviously, any signs that seem to be pointing to the nearness of this event will also indicate the nearness of the Tribulation and more importantly, the Rapture of the Church, which we believe will happen BEFORE the Tribulation.

Of course, no one wants to see war and bloodshed. And, certainly none of the evangelical Christians want to see any kind of an attack on Israel. But understanding God’s foreordained outcome of this event as we do (His supernatural protection of the Jews), and seeing it as another sign that speaks of our Lord’s imminent return, gives us a great deal of excitement. So, please don’t think of those of us who watch for these kinds of signs of the last days as “warmongers”. We are simply “realists”, knowing that all that God has prophesied in His Word WILL come to pass, including the wars and other sad events like widespread immorality, apostasy, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. We desire NONE of these things. But we are realistic in recognizing that they are all part of the human story in these last days of the Church Age.

Another reason there presently seems to be so much attention on this particular prophecy is because it is easy to see how the world stage is being set for it NOW. Allow me to list a few of those “stage setting” developments:

(1) Russia-Iran Ties - Iran (the Bible calls it Persia) is the first country listed in the Muslim coalition of nations that will join Russia in the attack on Israel (Ezek. 38:5). But only in recent years has the political ties between Russia and Iran become so strong. Russia has helped Iran build its first nuclear power plant and has also sold them a lot of military weaponry, including just recently a very hi-tech anti-aircraft missile system to protect it. The previous president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, made a first ever state visit to Iran just a few years ago and the act has been reciprocated several times by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Almost every economic sanction implemented by the UN security council against Iran in an attempt to stop their nuclear program has been vetoed by Russia.

(2) Russia-Libya Ties - Another nation listed in the Muslim coalition that will attack Israel is Libya (Ezek. 38:5). The following article dated 2/11/08 tells the tale:

Libya, Russia Sign Civil Nuclear Deal

“Libya and Russia signed a civil nuclear cooperation deal Saturday evening paving the way for stronger relations between the two countries in various fields…”

We haven’t heard much from Mr. Moammar Kadaffi in recent years, but it appears that he is now renewing his old friendship with the Russians.

(3) Russia-Turkey Ties - Turkey, referred to with the ancient names of “Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Togarmah” (Ezek. 38:3,6) is another one of the Magog coalition nations. Since its establishment as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism. In other words, they have been ruled by a secular (non-religious) government that has allowed them to have strong ties with western nations, including the USA. Also, even though it has not yet been granted, in 2005 they began negotiations for membership into the European Union, having had an associate membership since 1963. So, with such strong ties to the west, we often wondered how it would be possible for Turkey to end up in the Magog coalition made up of eastern Muslim nations and Russia.

In July, 2007, for the first time in post-Ottoman history, an Islamic-based party won 46% of the votes in the parliamentary elections and led to the inauguration of a strictly Muslim Prime Minister, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan. So, for the first time since its founding in 1923, the government of Turkey is being controlled by Muslim politicians who lean strongly in favor of a political system based on Islamic law. Turkey is now rapidly turning from its historically western relations to a more eastern direction, including stronger ties with Iran.

(4) The Muslim Alliance - It is interesting to note that ALL of the coalition nations listed in Ezekiel 38 who join with Russia are MUSLIM nations. They are Iran, the central Asian, ex-Soviet block nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, etc. (I call them the “stan” nations.), Turkey, Sudan, and Libya. Although we are not positive about it, some other nations that MAY be included with these are the north African nations of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco and the Caucasus nations of Georgia, and Azerbaijan. With the hatred that the Muslims have for Israel, it is easy to see how these nations would join the fight to exterminate the Jews.

(5) The Roki Tunnel - In July, 2008, Russia attacked its tiny neighbor to the south, the nation of Georgia. Supposedly, they were doing so to protect the people of South Ossetia, a province of Georgia sandwiched between Georgia and Russia. After an EU negotiated truce, Russia withdrew its forces, leaving behind only what they called a “peace keeping force”. The truth is, Russia still controls South Ossetia.

Georgia is situated in the Caucasus mountain range which sits like a east-west wall between the Caspian and Black seas. The only passageway through these rugged mountains is the Soviet built Roki Tunnel that connects southern Russia with South Ossetia in Georgia. Now that Russia controls this tunnel, they have the ability to move their military southward through it into Georgia, then into Turkey, then into Syria, and then into Israel. In other words, Russia now has a clear corridor southward all the way to Israel. (By the way, Syria, even though it’s not one of the Magog coalition nations has strong ties with Russia and is a long-standing, bitter enemy of Israel.) Ezekiel 38:15 says about Gog of Magog,

“And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee…”

(6) A Spoil And a Prey - In just the last few weeks, a news event occurred in Israel that is, without a doubt, one of the biggest since its founding in 1948! And yet, it has gone almost completely unreported by the American media.

Just off the coast of Haifa, Noble Energy announced in January, its discovery of three massive natural gas fields that are reported to be one of the biggest gas deposits in the world. Yitzhak Tshuva, one of the owners of the well said,

“I have no doubt that this is a holiday for the State of Israel. We will no longer be dependent [on foreign sources] for our gas, and will even export. We are dealing with inconceivably huge quantities…”

Then, just a few weeks later, Arutz Sheva, an Israeli newspaper reported,

Huge Israeli Gas Find Even More Massive Than Expected

“A massive natural gas find off the coast of Haifa which was lauded as capable of fueling all of Israel for 15 years is actually more than 60 percent larger than originally estimated…” (emphasis mine).

Ezekiel 38:11-12 says,

“And thou [Gog of Magog, Russia] shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages… to take a spoil and to take a prey…”

For years, Bible scholars have speculated about what kind of “spoil” in Israel would motivate Russia to attempt this attack. Some said that Israel would eventually make a huge oil discovery. And even though that has not happened, hopes are high now that such an oil deposit is located near this gas discovery. Others speculated that the spoil would be the millions of dollars of minerals found in the Dead Sea. But NOW…. We are wondering… could it be this massive natural gas field? Well, to make that seem a little more feasible, consider what has been happening in Europe this winter.

In the days of the Soviet Union, a large pipeline was built from Russia to its soviet neighbor, Ukraine, to supply them with natural gas. But since the collapse of the USSR and Ukraine’s move to independence, relations have not been so great between Russia and Ukraine. However, Ukraine has continued to be dependent on Russia for its gas. And not only Ukraine, because that same pipeline system passes through Ukraine to supply gas to several other European countries, including Germany. In fact, Germany gets about one third of its gas from Russia, 80% of which comes via the Ukraine pipeline.

Like the United States and many other countries, Russia has been suffering severely with its economy. So, this winter (Jan. 09), just when Ukraine was most dependent on the Russian gas to heat its buildings, Russia decided to increase the price on its exported gas to Ukraine from $200 per 1000 cubic meters to $418 to generate some much needed cash inflow into its economy. But Ukraine balked and refused to pay the higher price, so Russia simply cut off the supply. This, of course, also cut off the supply to the other European nations that were dependent on the Russian gas coming through the Ukraine pipeline.

Eventually, the EU convinced Russia to restart the supply. But it was stated publicly by both sides that further stoppages are still possible.

Now, enter into this picture Israel… with all of this natural gas, some of which she intends to EXPORT. It’s very likely that if Israel does export some of this new-found gas, it will be to Europe… something that Russia may not like very much. So, even though we are still speculating on the “spoil”, it certainly could be Israel’s new gas fields.

Now you can see why there is such interest these days in the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy! The stage is certainly being set for its fulfillment!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hope In Uncertain Times

There is no question that the state of the economy is probably reason one why many people worry today. Layoffs, budget cuts, shrinking home values, stock market collapse, all subjects which in one way or another have touched most everyone. As believers, do we have reason to worry? What, if anything, can we do to help ourselves? As always, I believe the Bible can provide the answers we are looking for in the uncertain times which we face today.

I want to start by asking you to look at something profound that David had to say in the book of Psalms.

Ps 37:25
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

It seems here, according to David, that believers who choose to live righteous lives will not be reduced to having nothing, but will in fact, be preserved by God. So the key may be to figure out exactly what God, through David, was telling us about righteousness and how that affects how we live in the troubling times we find ourselves.

If you recall, we recently studied the armor of God which we as believers are to wear every day. One of those pieces was the breastplate of righteousness. Why is the breastplate so important? Consider that it protects our heart, and as we are told in the book of Matthew;

Mt 6:21
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

In this chapter we find Jesus teaching against the Pharasees who believed it was what you did that made you righteous. But it would appear that Jesus is saying that righteousness is what you are, and what you do will be a result of what you believe in your heart. You see, here we find that the religious rulers of Jesus' day thought what they did made them righteous which is why they went around making a show of what they did. Jesus in essence told them they had it backwards. So what is our "treasure" supposed to be, and what should our heart be focused on?

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 10:6, 9-10

Hopefully you remember that one of the biggest ways Satan attacks us is to try and create doubt in our minds about the promises we have from God. If, in the times in which we find ourselves, we begin to doubt that God will sustain us as we see the material possessions we have accumulated begin to disappear, where exactly is our heart? Do we truly believe that God will take care of us, or are we, like the Pharasees, just putting on a good front?

God promises to take care of the righteous. Our righteousness is revealed by our proclamation of faith, and living with the knowledge that God will take care of us.
Do people look at you and see worry and concern, or do they see the confidence we have in our hope in Jesus? Now more than ever, we can be a witness for Christ by living confidently.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More of the Same?

For a change I thought I would let you read a commentary by someone else who probably is a whole lot smarter than I, yet believes like I do that we are seeing signs of the end approaching. Of course, by now you might have begun to think I'm alone in my convictions, but there are others out there who think like I do. I know, that's a scary thought, but since this article goes hand in hand with what we have been studying lately I felt it might help give you some perspective. If and when I become computer literate and figure out how to add links to this page, I will put Mr. Strandberg's at the top of the list. For now you can just type in and enjoy. Keep watching.

by Todd Strandberg

Playing Chess With The Devil

I have always been terrible at the game of chess. It's not that I don't understand how the game is played--I perfectly understand the rules and moves. The problem is my inability think ahead. If I make a move on the board that seems to be prudent, three moves later, it usually turns out to have been a fatal mistake.

When I play against a computer, I normally get beat like a rented mule. The only way I've been able to win at the game is by cheating. I have one program that allows me to turn one of my pawns into an extra queen. Sadly, even with this unfair advantage, the devilish program still finds a way to overcome the shortfall and checkmate me.

Chess is often depicted as a sport for wimps, but this label is incorrect. A son once asked his dad why chess is not an Olympic game. His father’s response was brief and to the point: "Chess is not a noble sport. When you play chess, your object is to crush the opponent's mind. In today's world, a man's mind is his most precious commodity. Proving to your opponent that his most precious commodity is useless can be devastating for him."

Satan: The Chess Master

It is anyone’s guess what Satan does for recreation in his spare time, but I imagine he would be very good at chess. For someone who spends most of his time devising strategies for ensnaring humanity with various vices, he would likely be a formidable chess opponent.

One of the greatest mistakes we can make is to underestimate Satan’s cunning. We tend to view him as a loser who ran afoul of God and got fired from his job. Unfortunately, he found new employment: the task of damning men's souls to hell.

The Bible certainly doesn't play down the devil's abilities. We are warned that he is an enemy who wishes to destroy all of us. In fact, 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

A wise person is someone who realizes it is impossible to match wits with the devil. Just as I would have no chance of winning a game of chess against the world's most powerful computer, Satan can outmaneuver me with hardly any effort.

A good example of this can be found in the waning days of World War II. As Germany was losing the war, many Germans realized Adolf Hitler was a mad man who needed to be stopped by any means. At least 42 attempts were made to take his life, and all failed in preposterously inconvenient ways.

Once you read some examples of these attempts, you would have to conclude that some unseen agent was protecting Hitler from harm:


An Iron Cross recipient at Nuremberg was going to stab Hitler in front of 1,000 soldiers at an assembly. Hitler had a cold that day and decided to go home early.

A bomb that was intended to blow up the Nazi leader in mid-flight failed to go off because cold weather had hindered the reaction of the chemicals in the bomb.

An infantry captain made plans to explode a bomb while he demonstrated a new army winter overcoat to the German leader. The day before the bombing was to take place, a British air raid destroyed the uniforms.

One general tried to kill Hitler with a concealed bomb that was to be detonated by acid. Unfortunately, Hitler left the building before the acid could act.

A bomb finally did go off next to Hitler. The Fuehrer was spared by a heavy desk that shielded him from the blast.

Historians actually joke that Hitler had “Satan's luck.” The truth is, the devil's hand was as work, and the opposition was pursuing an impossible quest. Perhaps if the Nazi leaders had prayed for “God's luck,” they might have accomplished their goal and saved millions of lives.

Satan's Favorite Moves

Most professional chess players have a series of favorite ploys they like to use against their opponents. Satan has several tricks he regularly uses against us. By being aware of them, we can avoid his snares. Paul said, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:11).

Here are six of the strategies that Satan uses. Because they all begin with letter "D," they should be easy to remember.

Divide - A standard strategy is to divide the enemy force in order to make it easier to conquer. Satan loves to create division so he can pick off the weak and weak-minded people.

Doubt - The Bible says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Once Satan can persuade people to question God's Word and His goodness, forgiveness, and love, he is ensured of victory.

Discourage - This strategy involves getting us to focus on our problems rather than entrusting God to provide a solution. It can also be someone else’s problem that creates discouragement in our own lives.

Diversion - Not all problems are equal. The enemy may come at us with an attack of lesser importance to distract us from his main attack. He may also distract us with good things. For example, parents may become too focused on their careers, enabling their children fall into rebellion.

Defeat - The devil is at his best when he causes people to feel so overwhelmed by failure that they don't even try to resist his onslaught. If we’re not resisting the devil, he will move in for the kill.

Delay - In the game of life, Satan wins by default. We are all born in a lost state, so unless we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we will perish. Because procrastination doesn't require doing anything, this strategy is an easy path for victory.

God: The Ultimate Chess Master

The rivalry between God and Satan is often seen as a battle between two equally skilled chess masters, playing against one another to see whose plan will be victorious. This vision is totally fictitious. There never was a real contest between God and Satan, and there never will be.

God is in charge of everything that happens. His level of control is so absolute, He sets the stage for everything that will happen in the universe. How can Satan compete against a Being who knows every move he is going to make ahead of time? God does more than just rule the chess board. He controls both the white and the black pieces.

The devil is so hopelessly outwitted, God published in the Bible many of Satan’s fatal mistakes far ahead of the time he made them. There are still some blunders yet to come. The Holy Word predicts that the devil will attempt to destroy the Jews and that he will make a stand against Jesus at the Battle of Armageddon. Both will end in total failure.

With God having proven himself unbeatable, one might wonder why Satan keeps challenging Him. The devil's problem is that he has such a depraved, arrogant mind, he is incapable of admitting defeat. There is no limit to the foolishness of a heart that is in rebellion against God. For this reason, Satan still thinks he has a chance to vanquish the Almighty.

The only reason we have the impression that God is in a fair contest with His adversary is the fact He grants His creation free will. Our decision to accept or reject God has no reflection on Him. We can make all the decisions we want, but in the end, they all fit into God's perfect plan.

Winning the Game by Following God's Will

One of the clearest indications of how vulnerable we are to Satan's willpower can be found in the warning Jesus gave Peter in Luke 22:31: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat." At first, I thought this verse meant that Satan had asked for dominion over Peter and Jesus rebuffed the request. Jesus then said, "I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail..." (Luke 22:31). But I didn't pay attention to the last part. Jesus added "...And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers," which means that God had allowed Satan to sift Peter.

Peter was the type of emotional person that made him easy pickings for the devil. In the space of one night, he rebuked Jesus when He told the disciple of His pending death, he turned to violence by cutting off the ear of the High Priest's servant, and he denied the Lord three times.

Peter met with failure because he was out of God's will. He trusted in his own strength, and Satan made mincemeat of him. When Peter realized his mistake and became totally dependent on God's guidance for his life, he then became a victorious leader of the Church.

I have been whipped by the devil several times because I failed to seek God's counsel on important issues. What has saved me from complete disaster is the belief that Jesus is Lord of life. Giving God credit didn't save me from having to seek His guidance on how to untangle problems that I allowed to come my way.

We generally fail to take our daily matters to prayer because we don't think it’s that important, we’re too lazy, or we just don’t think God will answer us. Because we live in an evil world with an enemy who drools at the thought of being able to destroy the lives of Christians, we can't afford to not seek God's direction.

I will end with these words of advice. Jesus Christ is our Eternal King, and He is Invincible--the ultimate Checkmate Master of this chess match of life in which we are engaged. If we put our trust in the Lord, He will lead us to victory.

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

How Long is Your Sword?

Do you have a pet peeve? Something that bothers you a lot and never seems to get resolved? I'm sure we all do and today, as a special gift, you get to listen to mine. Lucky you. It sort of follows what we have been talking about lately in our study of the armor of God, and especially the use of the Sword of the Spirit. As we found last week, the sword can be used defensively in our own lives to help us live in such a way as to not only please God, but be a witness for Him as well. I want to expand on that thought a little bit today as I try to share my favorite frustration with you, and hopefully shed a little light on what we really need to be doing as we seem to be approaching the end of this age.

"Judge not"! Have you ever heard those words? I know I have. I can't really recall meeting anyone who enjoys being told they are wrong, or that a choice they may have made is the wrong one. If they are believers, it often seems to be their favorite comeback, using this portion of scripture to avoid any feelings of guilt on their part. The question is though, are they correct? We have just learned that the scripture is in fact, a sword that can cut both ways; offensively and defensively. If the Word tells us how to live, or what to or not to do, and we ignore it, are we not then being judged by the Word of God rather than the individual who points it out to us?

Take a look at a couple of verses in the Gospel of John and think about what Jesus said.

"And if anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day." John 12:47,48

You see, what Jesus seems to be saying here is that if we have His word to tell us what to do, and we choose not to do it, we will be judged by the Word we willingly chose to ignore.

As believers we are going to be held accountable for the choices we make here on earth. Of course, unless you just fell off the hay truck, you are probably aware that the word "accountability" is not one we hear too often from the pulpits today. ( Are you starting to figure out what my "pet peeve" is? ) All to often we find that instead of explaining what the Bible has to say about what is expected from us as believers, churches are falling back on the old " I'm ok, you're ok " theology which tells us to feel good about ourselves and not worry if we find it difficult to accept certain parts of scripture which make us feel uncomfortable.

Excuse me? If I read a verse from the Bible that makes me feel uncomfortable I figure God is trying to tell me something and I really ought to listen instead of ignoring it. Yet today we find that the largest and most successful churches are by far, (though not exclusively,there are a few great exceptions) ignoring great portions of scripture because it tells us what to do or not to do and nobody can feel good about themselves if they feel "judged". Let me try to illustrate what this does to our armor.

I don't know about you, but when I was young, reading was a very important part of my education. Most of my favorite books from that time seemed to have had one thing in common and that was a good sword fight. Books like Zorro, King Arthur, Robin Hood, The Count of Monte Cristo, all had great swordplay in them. So something I enjoy in movies today is also a good sword fight. One of the funny scenes that a lot of movies with sword fights have in common is the part where one man manages to cut off part of his opponents sword leaving him with a shorter one than what he started with. Obviously the advantage goes to the person with the longer sword, and it doesn't take long for the person with the short one to turn and run.

So picture us as believers with the Sword of the Lord in our hands ready to do battle. At some point in time, because we choose to ignore part of the Word, our sword gets a little shorter. The more we ignore or resist obeying, the shorter the sword becomes. Eventually the Word of God is useless to us because we have chosen not to be "judged" by it, and allow it to direct our paths. I would call that "Advantage Satan". Isn't that just what Satan wants from us? Ignore the parts of the Bible we aren't comfortable with, and it won't really matter? People, we as believers need the Word of God to judge us. We can't be afraid of hearing when we do wrong, and what God really expects from us, especially when the Bible tells us that eventually, the Word will judge us all.

Better now than then don't you think?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Keep Your Bubble in the Middle

Well we have come to the last two pieces of armor listed in Ephesians 6: 13-17, and as you might expect, God may have saved the best for last. Just as we are summing up our study, Paul may be telling us that these last two pieces are the finishing touches of our defense against Satan and his attacks on us. So if he saved the best for last, let's look at what he has to say.

Verse 17 tells us to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit with us as we go into battle. Now I don't know about you, but when I read this the first thing I thought of is the use of the phrase "And take". It's almost as if it's a reminder because it's something you often forget. Do you remember your mother telling you as you went out the door in a hurry not to "forget" something? I almost get that feeling here. It seems like Paul is telling us not to forget our helmet and sword on our way out. Why would we do that? Well, most often by being in a hurry. It may well be that Paul is trying to tell us that when we know we are going into battle, or we feel we are coming under attack, don't be in such a hurry to fight that we forget two very important pieces of our armor.

Why so important? I think we may be able to answer that if we remember how Satan chooses to attack. Remember we found that he always attacks what we have chosen to believe. He tries to create doubts, so what we need most is protection of our thoughts. Paul tells us that the "helmet of salvation" protects our head, or mind, by helping us remember that we are saved. No matter what, once we have made the decision to accept Jesus into our hearts we are saved. No one can take that away, so our minds can be protected by the knowledge of our salvation.

We are also instructed to take up "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God". Now most people would say this is an offensive weapon, and in fact, many commentaries do say this. Though I wouldn't necessarily disagree, within the context of this passage where we are being told that we are to be "defensive", I wonder if we need to look at it in a different light. Notice first of all that Paul mentions the sword along with the helmet in the same sentence. He also goes further by using the word "and" to tie them both together. That tells me they must work together, or sort of "hand in hand". How so? Well if we are to use the helmet to guard or protect our minds, the sword, which Paul describes as the word of God, must also protect our mind in some way.

A verse that comes to my mind when I think of this is Psalms 119:11 where it says that "Thy word have I kept in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." You see, although the word of God is most certainly an "offensive" weapon, it is also used defensively to keep us as believers living godly lives which then are a visible witness to an unbelieving world. Look at Hebrews 4:12 where Paul again tells us that the word is "sharper than any two-edged sword", but then goes on to say that it is "able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart". So in fact, we as believers are being told we need to use the word defensively by using it to control our thoughts and actions.

If you know me at all, you know how much I enjoy skiing. What you may not know is that two seasons ago, I decided (very reluctantly) to begin wearing a helmet when I skied. Go figure, the same season I began to wear it, I fell on a steep slope and slid head first into a very large boulder. I actually hit the rock so hard that I cracked the helmet in two places, and bit through my tongue. Believe it or not, I was able to finish my day skiing (hey, I paid a lot of money for the lift ticket) thanks to the protection given me by wearing the helmet. I did, however, suffer from what was later determined to be a mild concussion. But the reason I bring this up is to mention what my doctor told me after I went to see him and finished trying to describe exactly how I was feeling. He looked at me and smiled and said "so you're telling me your bubble isn't in the middle? With a background as a carpenter, and knowing first hand the importance of using a level, I had to laugh.

Dare I say this might be what Paul is telling us here? Use the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit to keep your bubble in the middle? Hey, it works for me. Let's all go into battle with the confidence that if we put on the whole armor of God we can succeed in defending ourselves from the attacks that come from Satan and his angels, and by using God's word as our level, we can live lives that truly reflect the hope we have in Jesus Christ.