Girls with Swords, Week 3

For my birthday earlier this month, Lacy bought me a book that I’ve been wanting: The Art of War.  It’s said to be a great book, used by successful entrepreneurs  to improve their skill.  But as I read it during this time while I’m also studying Girls with Swords, I find we can apply it to Christian living, too.

“To all nations war is a great matter.  Upon the army death or life depend: it is the means of the existence or destruction of the State.” Sun Tzu in The Art of War

The existence of God’s Holy nation – Christians from every part of the world – depends on how well each of us prepares for our spiritual battle.   If we stand ready to fight against the spiritual enemies who wage war against us, we will be able to persevere and protect our people from the enemy’s attacks; but if we stay ignorant and in denial of the war around us, Satan will easily overpower us and cause the people of God to stumble and fall away.  War is a great matter, whether we stand in the offense or in the defense; we have to be ready for the battles ahead.

If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” John 15:18-21  (ASV)

This week, the Girls with Swords chapter focused on how we might be heroes just like the men and women spoken of in Hebrews 11.  Through faith, we can face the enemy and stand bravely for Christ.  With God as our power, we can be superhuman.

It sounds unbelievable; but don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies against this concept- you really are the hero of your own story.  The moment you chose to be baptized, you became an enemy of Satan, and all the angels in heaven rejoiced (Luke 15:3-10).  If you haven’t chosen baptism yet, then Satan’s legion of demons fight every day to keep you from making the decision of accepting salvation through Christ’s resurrection.  While God wants no man to perish but all to have eternal life through Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:9), Satan wants quite the opposite. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), but Satan wishes that all people shall perish and none have eternal life.

Once you accept your role as hero, whether you perform amazing miracles like the hero Captain Sullinberger of the US Airways flight 1549 or you’re just a forgotten survivor, victim of life’s worst events the way that Chuck Noland was in the movie Castaway, you are a hero in your own story and Satan is trying to bring you – as a Christian – to ruin.

“Reacting does not equal choosing. Fear will drive you to react, but as you become more skillful with the sword, you will choose your response with the intent of honoring your Father – rather than protecting yourself.” -Lisa Bevere, from the Girls with Swords Fencing Manual

The best way to choose your response with an intent of honoring God instead of fearing the enemy is to prepare for the attack and be ready for whatever will happen.  To be ready, we must put on the proper armor so that we will have the protection that God provides us.

“He who does not know the evils of war will not reap advantage thereby. He who is skillful in war does not make a second levy, does not load his supply wagon thrice.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

If you don’t spend your time preparing, then the enemy will have an advantage over you and you won’t have enough “supply” -strength, knowledge, and will- to fight back.  On the other hand, if you prepare for war and grow skillful with the provisions that God gives you through Scriptures, then the enemy cannot surprise you with an attack that you didn’t expect.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us six articles of protection that we should wear in our fights against Satan.  We should never be found without them, unprepared.  Our enemy is always on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8), and will pounce the moment we set our armor aside for a moment of rest.

Heroes may feel afraid of something, but they trust in their power, whether its the power of their sword, or their own [superhuman] abilities, or something else. In [Christians’] case, God is our power.  -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

God is permitted to do what he wants with me, because I have no idea who I am anymore. I mean, if my ideas have to “be scrapped” before God can place me in his own, then let it be so, because my plans are void almost like a money check when it’s VOID. So Lord, I permit you. -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

 

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The God of Many Chances

“Can you count the stars of evening that are shining in the sky?
Can you count the clouds that daily over all the world go by?
God the Lord, who doth not slumber, keepeth all the boundless number;
But He careth more for thee, but He careth more for thee.”

-verse 1 of “Can You Count the Stars?” by Johann W. Hey

“He counts the stars and names each one.” Psalm 147:4 (ICB)

The story of Jonah begins with God speaking to His prophet.  “Go and preach against the great city of Nineveh, for it is an evil place” was his call.  But Jonah knew the evil that was at Nineveh, and he decided to flee God’s call for him.  He wanted to go in the opposite direction, as far away from God’s call as he could.  So he headed to Tarshish instead.

God knew what Jonah was doing.  So he sent a storm to intercept the ship.  Jonah could not flee from His call. God had a plan for him.

But God used Jonah’s decision to flee for His glory. As the storm was raging, the men questioned Jonah about his God, and Jonah answered them truthfully, saying “I am a Hebrew; and I fear Jehovah, the God of heaven, who hath made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9, ASV)  This caused the sailors to fear God and they offered sacrifices and vows to Him. God allowed Jonah to flee because He cares not only about His people the Hebrews, but also about the sailors who didn’t know Him.  God is the God of first chances.  He gives all people the chance to know Him personally.

“Can you count the birds that warble in the sunshine all the day?
Can you count the little fishes that in sparkling waters play?
God the Lord their number knoweth, for each one His care He showeth;
Shall He not remember thee? Shall He not remember thee?”

-verse 2 of “Can You Count the Stars?” by Johann W. Hey

“Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns. But your heavenly Father feeds the birds.  And you know that you are worth much more than the birds.” Matthew 6:26 (ICB)

Jonah told the sailors to throw him into the water, and they did.  The storm ceased, and Jonah 1:17 tells us that “…Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (ASV)

Jonah prayed to God while he was in the fish’s belly, and then God heard him, and then spoke to the fish, and the fish spit Jonah out on dry land.

God gave Jonah a second chance, because Jonah was His prophet whom He cares about. God is a God of second chances. He is eager to encourage His people to do the right thing, even after a rebuke is given.

So God called for Jonah to go to Nineveh again, and this time Jonah went and did as he was told.

“…Nineveh was a big city, very big-it took three days to walk across it. Jonah entered the city, went one day’s walk and preached, ‘In forty days Nineveh will be smashed.’” (Jonah 3:3-4, MSG)

The people of Nineveh heard Jonah’s warning, and they listened to him.  They mourned for their sins and fasted, proving to God that they were repenting of all the evil they had done.  Even the king did it when he heard Jonah’s proclamation.  He ordered everyone: “Not one drop of water, not one bite of food for man, woman, or animal, including your herds and flocks! Dress them all, both people and animals, in burlap, and send up a cry for help to God. Everyone must turn around, turn back from an evil life and violent ways that stain their hands. Who knows?  Maybe God will turn around and change His mind about us, quit being angry with us and let us live!” (Jonah 3:7-9 ,MSG)

“Can you count the many children in their little beds at night,
Who without a thought of sorrow rise again at morning light?
God the Lord, who dwells in heaven, loving care to each has given;
He has not forgotten thee, He has not forgotten thee.”

-verse 3 of “Can You Count the Stars?” by Johann W. Hey

“Be careful. Don’t think these little children are worth nothing. I tell you that they have angels in heaven who are always with my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10, ICB)

It was a glad day in Nineveh, when God heard the repentance of the king and people of Nineveh and forgave them. Just as He gave the sailors a chance, and He gave Jonah a second chance, God gave the people of Nineveh another chance, too, because God is a God of many chances. He is always ready to forgive.

It wasn’t a happy day for Jonah, though.   “I knew this would happen.” He says in Jonah 4:2 (ICB).  “I knew it when I was still in my own country. It is why I quickly ran away to Tarshish.  I knew that you are a God who is kind and shows mercy. You don’t become angry quickly. You have great love. I knew you would rather forgive than punish them. So now I ask you, Lord, please kill me. It is  better for me to die than to live.”

Can you imagine?  Jonah ran away because he knew that God would forgive the people whom he was sent to preach to, if they cried out to God in repentance. That was the reason for the storm at sea and the great fish; all because Jonah didn’t want God to forgive the people of Nineveh! Even after God forgave him for running away.

God asked Jonah why he was angry, but Jonah had no answer for him.  Instead, he left the city and sat outside to see what would happen to the people there, as if their judgement  was a spectacle to be seen.  While he was waiting, God let a plant grow up to shade Jonah from the sun. This made Jonah very happy.  But when God allowed the plant to die the very next day, and Jonah felt the hot sun on his head again, he grew angry and prayed to die.

“God said, ‘What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?’ ” (Jonah 4:10-11, MSG)