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.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org