Ladies Meet Your New Best Friend – Part 3

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Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (NKJV)

“Ladies, meet your new best friend”; and with that, the new Army recruits would be introduced to one of the most important elements of soldiering. Their new “best friend” was an M-16 rifle. (I only trained male soldiers, and “ladies” of course, was a loving term straight from the heart of their new, sensitive, Drill Sergeant. BR)

As a Drill Sergeant in the Army we had to instill in the untrained soldier that his weapon was now the “best friend” he had on the battlefield. From the day he was issued the weapon, it could never leave his side or be neglected. The well-trained soldier knows every detail about his weapon: how it was made, how it works, how to care for it and how to use it. Indulge me for a moment and hear these words in your mind coming from the best Drill Sergeant voice you imagine – loud, strong, authoritative, demanding:

    • “Christians! A – ten – shun! Let me introduce you, to your new “best friend”: your Bible.
    • You will learn it. You will love it. You will care for it. You will protect it (Psa 119.11), and it will protect you.
    • You will read it, know it, meditate on it and tell others about it.
    • You will wake up with it. You will go to sleep with it. It will never leave your presence. You will become it, it will become you.
    • You WILL be an expert on the battlefield and you ARE guaranteed victory over the enemy. You WILL learn to be a killer of sin. You WILL be relentless in obeying it.
    • The training will not be easy and it will end only when you die. You will not quit. You will not fail. You will sweat. You will bleed. You will suffer for it; and it will NEVER fail you.
    • You will report each morning for intensive training. You will not be absent; you will not be excused. Any questions? I didn’t think so. That is all. Dismissed!”

Wow, I almost went in and put on my old uniform (which of course is about 3 sizes too small now)! If only we could “order” someone to spend time with God and read the Bible. Seriously, the Bible is your weapon, your “Sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6.7). Let’s start by learning ABOUT our weapon. You must KNOW a weapon before you can USE a weapon:

  • The Bible is the supernaturally inspired written words of God (2Tim 3.16-17).
  • The Bible contains EVERYTHING we need to know concerning how to live a pleasing life to God (2Pet 1.3).
  • God wrote it using regular people just like you and me as He inspired them to pen the words He wanted us to read.
    • People from all walks of life: rich, poor, soldiers, professionals, writers, doctors, tax collectors, etc.
    • People with all different educations, from the academic elite to the completely uneducated.
    • People who spoke different dialects and wrote the Bible in 3 different languages.
    • Normal people, whose sins and failures are not sugar coated or ignored.
    • People who lived over great distances covering three continents.
    • People in a variety of circumstances including war, peace, freedom, prison, bondage, slavery, poverty and wealth.
    • People in a variety of moods: happy, sad, grief-stricken, depressed, apathetic, joyful, exuberant, etc.
  • The Bible was written over a span of about 1500 years, by more than 40 authors.
  • The Bible addresses many, very controversial issues which routinely cause argument and dispute; and all 40 authors agreed on everything controversial to us.
  • The Bible contains 66 different books in various styles of writing: history, poetry, wisdom, instruction and revelation.
  • The manuscript evidence supporting the accuracy of the Bible far surpasses ANY other known written work.
  • The Bible has endured thousands of years of intense scrutiny and persecution yet still remains the one Book that changes men’s lives, and entire nations for the good.
  • The Bible is the runaway leader in number of copies printed, number of languages translated into, and extent of distribution.
  • The Bible is the only book that contains hundreds of predictions of future events that have all come true down to the last letter. No other book claims more than a handful of predictions, and even those are generally vague.
  • With the increase in scientific and archeological discovery, the Bible continues to be vindicated as completely accurate historically and technically
    • Researchers continue to discover people, cities, societies and events that only the Bible records. In the past, those very same historical facts recorded in Scripture were used to “prove” the Bible as being false.
    • The Bible records many scientific ideas that have not been discovered as true until recently: the earth is round, thermodynamics, dinosaurs, cosmology, wind patterns, the water cycles, atmospheric pressure, the earth “hangs” in space, rivers in the sea, the “balance” of life on earth, man’s circulatory system, psychosomatic illness, conception, and many other facts about nature and biology.

Despite the time span, distance, languages, circumstances, diversity, and sinfulness of the authors… the Bible miraculously contains a consistent, harmonious, error free message from cover to cover.

The Bible is God’s plan for the salvation of mankind and
the glorifying of His Son, Jesus Christ.

The subject of Biblical authenticity, accuracy and proof is one far too extensive to cover in a Devotional format. I present these facts to you as an introduction to your “new best friend”. The more you know ABOUT your Bible (origin, evidence, proofs, structure, etc.) the more you can trust and defend what the Bible “says”. Tomorrow we will continue our training by learning what the Bible says about itself.

O God, Open our eyes to the importance of being trained with Your Written Word. Instill in us the desire to know it, prove it, test it, examine it and apply it. Give us ears to hear, and eyes to see the Truth You have set before us. In the Name of the Ultimate Best Friend, Amen.

Contemplation: How much do you know about where the Bible came from, how it is structured, what evidence supports its authenticity, and why it can be trusted as inspired from God? If you had the same level of knowledge about a rifle, would you march into war confidently?

Application: It is important to know ABOUT your Bible, as well as knowing what it says and applying it. Be ready to give an adequate answer when someone asks you “can I trust the Bible?”

>>> Click on this link, to send this devotional to a friend:
>>>
http://www.tulsabible.com/send/default.asp?teachingid=115
>>> (or go to www.seriousfaith.com and click on this devotional under “most recent teaching”)

————
Written each weekday by Brent Riggs. Brent is a member of Tulsa Bible Church in Tulsa, OK. These devotionals are produced as an individual work and there is no intention to imply they are the official teaching or doctrine of Tulsa Bible Church. Do you have a question or topic you would like to know more about? Send your comments or questions to: devotional@seriousfaith.com

You can see past devotionals and studies by clicking here.
Serious Faith.comwww.brentriggs.com(seriesid:17)


Time For Training – Part 2

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Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (NKJV)

The Bible is our “spiritual sword” (Eph 6.17), our weapon for spiritual battle. As a Drill Sergeant in the Army, I knew very well that the primary foundation to becoming a skilled soldier was training, and lots of it.

There was no substitute for it. Quality of training, while very important, was not sufficient to compensate for the sheer quantity of time needed. We have a popular phrase today that in reality has become an excuse for wrong priorities: “It’s not the QUANTITY that matters, it’s the QUALITY that counts”.

To quote Grandpa’s all across this great nation: “that’s horse puckey”.

It is certainly true that a large amount of “poor quality” anything is probably useless. Most things in life that are valuable require a commitment of extensive time AND high quality. I hear this “quality not quantity” business most often when it comes to family and God. Even the unbeliever knows better. You won’t hear an athlete, entertainer, soldier, doctor, lawyer or any other serious professional tell you that the amount of time spent on training doesn’t really matter as long as its “quality time”. And yet, we apply that silliness to things about our life that eternally more important.

Psalm 119:2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart! (NKJV)

Fellow Christians, let’s talk plainly. There is no substitute for large quantities of time spent in God’s presence through prayer, reading His Word, meditation, worship and service (Josh 1.8; Psa 1.2; 44.8; 86.3; 119:97; Phil 4.8; 1Tim 4.15). Yes, quality counts. Everything we do should be with our whole heart “as if unto the Lord” (Col 3.17).

This is not legalistic. Of course, sheer amounts of time reading the Bible or praying won’t save you; it doesn’t merit God’s favor with regards to salvation. No amount of time is profitable, if your heart and motives aren’t pure (Ps 24.3-4) and your spirit isn’t first renewed by God (Titus 3.5). Assuming your salvation is genuine, the point is clear:

There is no substitution for spending substantial,
routine amounts of quality, private time with God.

This private time is the Christian training ground (Lam 3.22-28) where we prepare for warfare and the equation is indisputable: your effectiveness in overcoming sin and serving God, is directly proportionate to the amount of time you spend training for spiritual battle through Bible reading, study, worship and prayer (Eph 6.13).

Psalm 119:10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. (NKJV)

If a Christian can’t find at least an hour or so a day
to read the Word, study, worship and pray;
their priorities are out of Godly balance.

Let’s examine this honestly and frankly. Except for extreme circumstances, if you’re schedule does not allow for at least an hour with God every day, then something in your schedule has most likely become idolatrous (an idol being anything that has replaced God in your life).

  • If you have an hour a day to watch TV (to “wind down”), but can’t make an hour for God, TV is your idol.
  • If you have an hour a day to read magazines, newspapers, the Internet or books (even Christian books, even this Devotional) but can’t find an hour a day with God, reading has become your idol.
  • If you have several hours once a week to play sports, but can’t make an hour a day for God, sports is your idol.
  • If you work long hours every day, but can’t spend an hour with God, work is your idol.
  • If you can make time for your love interest, family or friends but not for God, your relationships have become your idol.
  • If you can find several hours a week to talk on the phone or chat online but are just “too busy” to spend a “whole hour” with God every day, then chit-chatting has become your idol.
  • If you can serve the Church for many hours every week but have insufficient private time with God, then church work has become your idol.

That’s legalistic and judgmental! No, my brethren, that’s REALISTIC and FUNDAMENTAL. We’re not talking about what SAVES you; we’re talking about what sanctifies, purifies and matures you as a result of your salvation. What other profession or life-pursuit can you think of, that would prosper on a quick 15 minute “devotion” somewhere between your shower and breakfast, or during the drive in to work? Or in the foggy moments just before falling asleep at night?

Lest I be misunderstood, if you are giving your whole heart to God 15 minutes day… good for you! The Lord will bless your sincere commitment. If 15 minutes is an obvious blessing, consider how much blessing an hour or more would be. “One hour” is not a magic number, just a good starting point. A characteristic of our Christian life should be an INCREASING commitment and devotion.

Psalm 119:34,38,72 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Establish Your word to Your servant, Who is devoted to fearing You. The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of coins of gold and silver. (NKJV)

Make time for training every day and let NOTHING keep you from it;
not sleep, not family, not work, not recreation or life’s interruptions.

A Christian Soldier is the only “profession” in the world that routinely ignores mediocrity and rationalizes minimal training time. If the unsaved occupations of mankind recognize the folly in neglecting to train extensively, how much more should the Army of God? Why don’t you start today by setting aside an hour for training with God? There is tremendous blessing waiting to be experienced, but you will never know until try.

Heavenly Father, we confess our excuse making and procrastination. For far too long, we have cultivated every creative reason imaginable to soothe our conscience concerning our lack of commitment and dedication. Foolish Christians, may we grow up and quit toying with God’s Word! O God, rain down on us conviction and wisdom as we ponder the state of our devotion. In His Name, Amen.

Contemplation: How much committed, routine private time do you spend with your Savior and God every day? Is it an embarrassing amount? Do you allow yourself to make excuses about it? Has it ever dawned on you that this could be the reason for a lack of consistency and spiritual power?

Application: There is no substitution for extended time with God, each and every day. Don’t pretend there is. Make the necessary changes and commitments. Read Psalms 119. Identify another Christian that you know is dedicated to longer periods of time with God and ask them to share the blessings they receive because of their commitment.

>>> Click on this link, to send this devotional to a friend:
>>>
http://www.tulsabible.com/send/default.asp?teachingid=114
>>> (or go to www.seriousfaith.com and click on this devotional under “most recent teaching”)

————
Written each weekday by Brent Riggs. Brent is a member of Tulsa Bible Church in Tulsa, OK. These devotionals are produced as an individual work and there is no intention to imply they are the official teaching or doctrine of Tulsa Bible Church. Do you have a question or topic you would like to know more about? Send your comments or questions to: brent@brentriggs.com

You can see past devotionals and studies by clicking here.
Serious Faith.comwww.brentriggs.com(seriesid:17)


Weapons Training – Part 1

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Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (NKJV)

If you are a defeated or inconsistent Christian, it’s because you’ve neglected your weapon, and your training.

When I was a Drill Sergeant in the Army, one of the most important things we taught new soldiers was how to use their weapons whether it was their rifle, hand grenades, machine guns, mines, tanks or even the weapon of last resort, a bayonet. Regardless of the weapon, the lesson was always the same:

  • have your weapon ready and available at all times
  • know everything that can be known about it
  • keep it clean and well maintained
  • be an expert in its use through relentless, intensive, daily training

Before the advent of modern weaponry, the sword was the weapon of choice for thousands of years. It came in many forms but all had the same purpose: to cut, to kill, to intimidate and to serve as protection.

It has always amazed me that the Scripture refers to the Bible as the “Sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6.17), serving as our weapon in the battle against temptation and sin. Stronger than titanium and sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel, we use it to cut away, hack up, fend off and destroy sin (Heb 4.12; 1Sam 15.33). We wield it in both offensive and defensive techniques against attacks of evil (Eph 6.12; 6.17; Matt 4.4).

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (NKJV)

Writing about spiritual warfare, the Apostle Paul uses the greek term “machaira”. This was a short type of sword or dagger used for precision thrusts of attack and defensive movements by Roman soldiers of that time. It wasn’t the long, broad, heavy “Braveheart” type of sword that required huge sweeping motions with both hands, flailing away with intense abandon hoping to strike the enemy with one decisive blow.

God has not left his soldiers defenseless and unarmed. We have a weapon at our disposal that when properly used, cannot be defeated by any attack the Enemy can produce. But a weapon that is not used, used improperly, or that you don’t know how to use, is truly ineffective and powerless. Sin and Satan are the enemy. The Sword of the Spirit (the Bible) is our weapon. If you are being defeated by sin, you need a sword, and sword training. We would think someone foolish who would fight a battle without a weapon, and yet sadly, this is the reality of most Christian soldiers who war against Satan with weak or non-existant weaponry.

Be assured that our Enemy never casually
enters into battle unarmed or untrained.

Our Enemy is well armed, well trained and fights relentlessly. Do you wonder why you are defeated so easily? It is utterly futile for a soldier to go into battle:

  • without a weapon
  • with the wrong or inappropriate weapon
  • with a broken weapon
  • untrained in the use of the weapon

Humiliating defeat will be the result for the Christian who tries to fight a war against sin and Satan knowing very little or nothing about his weaponry; sorely neglecting weapons training; and worse, not even taking his weapons into battle with him. As Christians we must be expert, professional soldiers. We must well-trained in:

  • The need for intensive daily training
  • How our sword is made, and what it is made of
  • Keeping it with us and ready at all times
  • Care and maintenance of our weapon
  • Offensive and defensive techniques
  • Knowing our enemy
  • Plans of attack and defense

My fellow Soldiers of the Cross, the war against sin and evil is serious business.

What soldier would enter an ongoing,
bloody battle with the same casual attitude and neglect
displayed by the typical Christian soldier today?

There is a very disturbing trend in the our nation’s military today. Many people join the military not to do battle, but to get some sort of personal benefit from it such as a paycheck or an education. Their primary goal is not to serve, fight and defend; but to be employed, provided for and educated.

When a war starts (and I have witnessed this first hand), those who have joined for personal gain and not to “fight”, desperately search for any means possible to avoid the battlefield and attempt get out of the military by any means necessary. I lost track of the number of times I heard someone say “I didn’t join the military to go to war”. How absurd.

Sadly, this is the attitude of many Christians as well. Countless numbers join for the personal benefit they perceive: Jesus will fix all my problems; God will make me healthy and prosperous; my life will be happy and positive from now. “Why, Christianity is a really good deal. Okay, I’m in.”

It never crosses their mind, and often they are not told, that serving Christ means going to war against wickedness and it will cost you your life (but gain you eternity in Heaven). Certainly there is great personal reward and benefit; but they are the RESULT of giving up your life for the cause. “Benefits” should not be the primary objective of your enlistment into God’s army.

The primary objective of enlisting is to join the Army
that has already been declared victorious.

Everyone will enlist, like it or not. Signing up on the WINNING side is the issue.

Make no mistake my fellow soldiers, we are in a war. This is not dramatic language for the purpose of entertaining reading. We must learn to use the weapons of our warfare (2Cor 10.4) and engage in relentless, undistracted training (2Tim 2.4). Your effectiveness as a warrior depends on your commitment to training, and choosing the right weapon.

Tomorrow we will begin our “bootcamp”. Drill Sergeant Riggs will be your Instructor; Jesus Christ is the Commanding General; and God Almighty our Commander-in-Chief.

Father, You have told us plainly we are in a war, but we have not taken You seriously. We have neglected our weaponry and joined Your Army only for the benefits, but not for the war. Instill in us the understanding of the spiritual battle and the discipline to be well trained. In the Name of the Master Swordsman, Amen.

Contemplation: How’s your sword? Are you a fearsome warrior, or a child with a toy? What in your life has become more important than your training as a Godly warrior?

Application: There is no magic pill or trick to effective training. It takes time, commitment and effort. Determine today that you will set aside “training time” every day and nothing will cause you to neglect it.

>>> Click on this link, to send this devotional to a friend:
>>>
http://www.tulsabible.com/send/default.asp?teachingid=113
>>> (or go to www.seriousfaith.com and click on this devotional under “most recent teaching”)

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