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Listen while you read: "Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling"1 (Lyrics)
James 4:7-10 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (ESV)
A lot of healing has gone on over the years. Like many of my fellow Christians with a history, I rejoice in not being the person I once was. However, like the Incredible Hulk, I am not likeable when I am angry. Fortunately, my wife is often there to remind me to let it go, to be gracious, or such like, and not to continue being in a bad place or frame of mind. I love my wife, who loves me enough to tell me.
Back in the mid-eighties, I knew a lady in church who could see pictures from God. Once, she told me that she saw a picture of me standing on the dais as a soldier of Christ in armour. Ever since then, I have pictured myself as that soldier, and as need or habit arises, I have prayed on the armour of the kingdom in Ephesians 6:10-17.
Last week, I was taken aback by an experience at church. Yes, in the greater scheme of things, it was a storm in a teacup, but somehow, I found it hard to let the issue go. I believed that I had the luxury of knowing that the issue was totally not of my doing, and it rankled! Knowing that to respond would only make it worse, there was nothing that I could do but suck it up, go home, and lay it at the feet of Jesus, in the hope that the emotion would subside. Eventually, in prayer, I received enough grace and peace of mind to be able to go to sleep.
This morning as I talked with God, I saw this picture of me in armour standing ready for battle. This time, I was swinging an oversized, heavy, double-handed, six-foot, sixteenth-century duelling long-sword. As I swished, I cut my attackers off at the knees before they could get near me, but as I grew tired, one nipped in around my sweeping sword and cut off my hand!
The normal sword that I carry in my mind's-eye picture of Ephesians is a short, double-edged sword, just held in my hand as the Word of God. So being curious, I asked God what the meaning was of this new sword.
The reply that came was that this is the sword of self-righteousness, and those who live by it will die by it. Ouch, ouch, and again, ouch. I had thought that I had let the issue go, but apparently, I had not let go of the pride and smugness of being right. I am still a work in progress.
Later, I prayed with a friend, and I laid the long-sword down, and so, by grace, I have my short sword back again.
Today, examine what you are holding on to. If it seems to be bringing you down, place it at the feet of Jesus, and seek wisdom for the greater good. Maybe, like me, ask a friend to pray with you.
Prayer: Lord, help us to set down the long-sword of self-righteousness and to pick up the sword of the Spirit. By Your grace and redemption, enable us to let go of the toxic thoughts and issues in our lives that harm ourselves and others, to set down the heavy thoughts that are not Your thoughts, and to make peace with You and our neighbour. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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May it be so, Rod.
Love your practical approach to problems.
Thank you, Rod, for sharing this devotional with us. Blessings.
Amen, Rod, hard to let things go. You are not alone in this arena… on a number of levels.
Oh, my, Rod, what a great image! I will remember it the next time I’m swinging my “big sword”!
Yes, a lot of us have a problem with self-righteousness once and awhile. Thanks for the message. Blessings.
I have a bad habit of going over in my mind something upsetting. Really hard to get rid of.
Thank you for encouragement.
I sure liked this and spoke!!!! Love the expression, a storm in a tea cup. wow, never heard that before but it sure puts ‘storm’ in perspective. Thanks and God bless.
Thank you for your message. I too have been struggling with an issue I need to let go. I think I’m doing well and then the thoughts of unfairness pop back up. I think God definitely had a hand in your message reaching me. Thank you.
Rod, Thank you for the encouragement to put down the long sword. I don’t normally have pictures in my head but this one is a very good reminder when we think we are right and want to hold onto it when we are only hurting ourselves. Thanks for sharing.
O yes, Rod and PRAY for them daily, all the good things you would like for yourself. It takes about two weeks in this way to get rid of a resentment and sometimes these persons become your good friends. At 77 I have years of experience that says this works. Prayers for you today.
Appreciated your devotional this morning. Yes, when situations arise that irritate us we have to take time and remind ourselves “let go and let God”. God’s solution is the better one.
Blessings to you for your writings.
Very helpful, intriguing, interesting, transparent, and soul-searching devotional. Thank you very much for sharing with us today.
I was just curious, you wrote speaking of your battle encounter: “but as I grew tired, one nipped in around my sweeping sword and cut off my hand!”
This image is a real KEEPER. Isn’t it frustrating to know that our own pride and self-righteousness are still wreaking havoc with our deep desire to serve Him!
What a wretch I am, Lord, especially when I imagine that I have it all together. Forgive me Lord and grant me the grace to remember at all times, that without YOU I can do nothing (of eternal value).
Blessings on you Rod. Your ‘voice’ is always so filled with His Grace.
What a treasure you have been in my life over the years.
Beautifully and powerfully said!
The armour of God is my favourite. I recently did a Women’s Bible Study on the armour of God and of all the studies we did, that is my go-to passage.
Trust in the Lord will all your heart and soul and ask Him everyday to dress you in His armour and fill you with His Holy Spirit.
God bless you my brother in Christ.
Dear Mr. Marshall,
I am a long time admirer of your devotionals. They often have had a profound effect on me and my walk with Our Lord Jesus!!
When I started reading this devotional, I had no idea it was written by you (I can usually tell). Thank you for allowing God to give you grace and reveal His Truth to you. Your lesson has become my lesson too. I am a retired psychiatric social worker and used Jesus’s words: “The Truth will set you free!” as the basis for all of the therapy I facilitated for over twenty years with patients and in my own personal life.
God is so Loving and Merciful and provides us with just the right event to bring us to a place where we can see and hear our failing/sin/wound that is getting in the way of our being the best Christian example we can be for others to emulate. Praise God!! I celebrate every truth He has brought to my attention as needing to be changed. Growth and healing often hurts during the process, but the rewards are huge and always lead to Freedom (from bondage or sin).
I thank you for every devotional you have contributed because every one gave me something I could use and apply in my walk with The Lord.
God Bless you and yours.
Dear Roderick Marshall,
Thank you very much for a devotional that speaks Jesus’ truth. May God help us all to see, believe, and do his will in his way.
May we choose his way in all of our relationships with fellow human beings.
It is always good to read what the Lord is doing in your life. Thank you for sharing this message and the vivid image and significance of the long-sword. Your closing reminder and prayer are well taken.