Author Archives: Darla Stewart

Pastoral Letter From Bishop Frank Beard

“…Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” — II Chronicles 20:21b
Our world is under attack by a ruthless enemy. An enemy that does not come from God. It is the job of every Christian and every church, opened in Jesus’ name, to join together in Christian unity, to wage spiritual warfare against this destructive evil until it is defeated.
As I was praying the other morning and lamenting that there was not much that we could do against this virus, I received a gentle nudging from the Holy Spirit that I was wrong. I sensed in my spirit that as a spiritual leader I was taking the wrong approach. This is not the time for Christians to hunker down and ride out the storm. This is the time for Christians to actively engage in spiritual warfare. I argued, but to no avail. The Lord spoke very plainly, “Tell them about the weapons I have provided for them to use.”
Like Moses, I argued, but even as I argued seven weapons came to my mind. I made a quick note of them and then fired off a text to a more spiritually mature Christian for confirmation. Their reply was almost instant, and not only did they confirm that it was from the Lord, they showed me how one of my points could be strengthened. I hope that this will prove helpful and will serve as an encouragement for Christians to realize the importance of spiritually engaging in the war against this deadly virus.

Our World is under attack from a vicious enemy whose primary purpose is death. As Christians we understand that this thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He is a powerful destroyer, but we are not rendered powerless against him or his vices.

God has given to every believer an arsenal of weapons to be used in the spiritual battles that we face. While this article will focus on seven of these weapons, please be assured that we are NOT limited to having only seven at our disposal. The one we serve is the “I AM” God (Exodus 3:14), the one whose very name means, “I will be what you need when you have need.” This would suggest that we have a full ammunition depot available for us.

Christians around the world are not powerless over this or any enemy that seeks to destroy people loved of God. We do well to remember, “For 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17).
The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, that as followers of Christ we do not wage war as the world. We have spiritual weapons because we are engaged in a spiritual battle. Please understand that the weapons we possess and use as Christians are never directed at people. According to the Apostle Paul, “
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12). It has been my experience that even though people are often times influenced and used by the enemy, our weapons are not deployed against individuals but against the spiritual forces influencing their negative behavior.
Let’s take a quick look at seven of our weapons:

PRAYER, PRAISE and WORSHIP

Each of these could serve as a weapon on their own merits but for the sake of time, I will treat them as one. The Bible is filled with stories from Genesis to Revelation that display the power of prayer, praise and worship.

One of the best and most powerful stories comes from II Chronicles chapter 20. It is the story of King Jehoshaphat. Three enemy kings formed an alliance and declared war against King Jehoshaphat. The King turned to the Lord for help and encouraged the nation to fast and pray. The Spirit of the Lord came among them and God gave them this message. “He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.
(II Chronicles 20:15).
King Jehoshaphat assembled an army, but he did an amazingly unconventional thing. He placed the choir and the praise band out front! The power of prayer, praise and worship was undeniable as the army was routed without the King or his soldiers having to engage in any physical fisticuffs. No wonder he is called “jumping Jehoshaphat!” I bet he was leaping and dancing and praising God for the victory.

The WORD of God 

Paul compares the Word to a soldier’s sword. “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:12). The writer of the book of Hebrews compares God’s word to a double-edged sword. “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).
Jesus overcame the temptations of Satan, in the wilderness, by knowing, understanding, and applying God’s word.

The NAME of Jesus

One of our strongest weapons is the name of Jesus. This name, supported by a personal relationship, is a powerful force that the enemy recognizes and fears.

The name of Jesus is a powerful weapon. I do not have time to list all of the blessings and benefits that belong to believer’s through the name of Jesus. I will, however, cite one precautionary story from the book of Acts, Chapter 19.

Seven sons of Sceva decided to have their own exorcism / deliverance ministry. They would invoke the name of Jesus by saying, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Because they did not have a personal relationship with Jesus, and therefore could not rightly operate in his power and authority, their mission failed (see Acts 19: 13-16).

The Bible tells us that, “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10).
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament scriptures are filled with verses that talk about the power that is in the name of the Lord.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (I Samuel 17:45).

The BLOOD of Jesus  Because of the shed blood of Jesus, believers are redeemed, sanctified (set apart), cleansed, forgiven, and justified (brought into right relationship) in the presence of God. The blood of Christ grants us entrance into the very throne room of heaven where we are welcomed as children of God.

The blood of Christ provides victory over all of our enemies. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11).
We are able to defeat our enemy because of the shed blood of Jesus, our pascal lamb.

Our FAITH

Hebrews  11 is called the FAITH chapter. It highlightsGod’s hall of fame
of faith-filled men and women who, through their faith, accomplished seemingly impossible tasks.

Paul describes faith as a shield for believers.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
(Hebrews 6:16).

The shield of faith protects us from the flaming darts of our enemy. Faith extinguishes the enemy’s fire and turns those sinister plans into blessings. Faith is a spiritual weapon that clears the way for us to receive God’s grace. Faith enables us to triumph over whatever the world throws at us.“… for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (I John 5:4).

Our TESTIMONY 

One of the last promises that Jesus gave to his disciples was that they would receive, from the Holy Spirit, power to be effective witnesses. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).

Jesus promised that their personal testimony would provide the evidence needed to spread the gospel message throughout the world. This power was promised for individual and corporate witnessing. Each personal testimony of the followers of Christ is a highly charged weapon that connects Christians to God’s grace and to each other. Each testimony speaks of God’s presence and of God’s transforming power. A power that defeats the enemy and inspires hope in the downtrodden.

The High Priestly Prayer, offered by Jesus in John 17, has a verse that is often overlooked. It states, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” (John 17:20). Jesus knew that the power of the believer’s testimony would be used to assist in unlocking closed hearts and providing a witness for others to find him.
The Overcomers in the book of Revelation were victorious, in part, because of their testimony. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11).
 
Our UNITY in Christ
We don’t often think of unity as a spiritual weapon.  I’m not sure why we don’t since it was one of the great prayers that Jesus offered on behalf of his followers (John 17). It was also one of the keys that opened the door for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on the believers in Acts chapter two. As those early believers waited in obedience and as they prayed together day-by-day, an atmosphere of unity was formed. When they were united and connected in their pursuit of Christ’s promise, the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them and they became witnesses to the community.

Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, gives them a list of servant leaders that God has provided for the church in order that the church would achieve unity and grow into Christlikeness.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Our enemy works extra hard to sow seeds of discord, disharmony, and destruction within the body of Christ around the world. I believe that our enemy knows that if the church achieves the unity that Christ desires, and prays for, that the church will be a powerful force that will signal Satan’s final demise.

This tragic pandemic is an opportunity for the followers of Christ, around the globe, to unite and engage in spiritual warfare that will defeat and destroy the works of darkness. Each Christian, within their own unique context, will need to decide how God has called them to engage in this spiritual battle. Each Christian leader will need to listen for the Lord’s voice (and nudging) to decide how best to rally, equip and deploy the troops under their direction. We dare not sit silently and idly by wringing our hands and thinking that we are powerless against this pandemic. Jesus said about US, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15).
NOW IS THE TIME to let your light shine for Jesus. People are searching for solutions and seeking answers to this pandemic. Believers are not powerless. We have been given weapons to assist in fighting against this evil. It is our job to stand up, stand out, and proclaim victory even before we see the end of the battle. Let us not shrink back or shy away because we don’t believe we can do anything. Remember the story of Jehoshaphat. This battle belongs to the Lord. I’ve read the back of the book and we win. Ultimate victory does not excuse us from engaging and utilizing the weapons God has provided for us to use in defeating this pandemic. Perhaps God has strategically placed us “for such a time as this!”

God Bless
Bishop Frank J. Beard