The Wrong Tool

Parent’s words are indelibly stamped on their children’s lives.  Whether encouraging or devastating, weighty or inconsequential, they lodge deep in our consciousness and give shape to who we are.   Which is why the prayer of the Psalmist is critical. “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  As is Jesus’ warning, “on the day of judgement, people will give account for every careless word.”

What words of ours will lodge in the consciousness of our children and give shape to their lives, their thought, their faith?   It is a weighty question.  I pray it will be words of depth and value, of weight and significance.   But I fear it will be proverbs of complaint.  “That is a bad design.” Or “that is the wrong tool.”

Children are apt to use whatever is at hand, not inquire or inconvenience themselves to find the right tool.   Tablespoon measures are not serving spoons, nor paring knives for spreading mayonnaise.   Mere convenience is no reason to use the wrong tool when the right one is at hand.   Though, perhaps, my view is more elastic when I am in a hurry.   And so, my children often hear, “use the right tool!”

While perhaps not so important when spreading mayonnaise, the right tool is critical when fighting spiritual battles.   And all of the crises we face are, in fact, spiritual battles.   Failing to recognize this leads us to seek purely logistical, relational, or circumstantial solutions.   And neglect the means of grace God gives us. 

God’s presence, purpose, and promises are central to every struggle, every adversity, every decision we face.   Yet he is often the last, not first resort.  We are apt to use the wrong tool.  To reach for worldly weapons to fight spiritual battles. The Bible reminds us repeatedly to be well armed with the right weapons.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:10-14

And again,

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

After the exodus, Israel moves toward Sinai.   Getting to Sinai, not leaving Egypt, is the primary goal of the exodus.   At Sinai God will renew His gracious covenant.  He will declare that he is Israel’s God and they are his people.   Yet the two-month journey from the Red Sea to Sinai is fraught with every spiritual peril.  

The prospect of hunger and thirst led the people to doubt, grumble, and rebel against the Lord.   With the pillar of cloud and fire at hand they ask, “Is the Lord among us nor not?”  Pharaoh is no longer a threat, but Satan still actively opposes the people inside and out, whispering, “did God really say?” 

And as if hunger and thirst were not enough, the Amalekites launch an unprovoked attack.  Moses would later recall. 

Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. 

Deuteronomy 25:17-18

Satan attacks God’s people inside and out to dishearten and destroy their faith.  Pharaoh tried to prevent Israel from leaving. Now Amalek works to prevent them from entering the Promised Land.  But Satan is behind it all.  Moses tells Joshua to mobilize for war.  But the real weapon in Israel’s arsenal is prayer.  Spiritual warfare demands spiritual weapons.  

How well armed are you for the spiritual conflict behind every crisis?  What weapons do you reach for?   Are the means of grace your weapons of first resort? Or last?  Moses holds up God’s staff while Joshua fights with Amalek.  But this is more than military history.  It reminds us we are well armed for spiritual warfare.  And we have a faithful high priest in Jesus, through whom we “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Join us as we examine Exodus 17:8-16 and see how God arms us well for spiritual warfare through prayer.

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube