Passage for Study: Acts 13 – 14 … Linked for your study …
My Journal for Today: I doubt if any who follow me here would disagree with me when I say that Paul was committed to Christ after his conversion; and Luke documents in Acts just how dedicated he was. But one might ask how he stayed so dedicated … in spite of all the rigors and trials he faced. Well, we get a clue by looking at the references to God’s word in Chapters 13 and 14 of Acts. Swindoll did the counting for us; and he stipulates that there are no less than fifteen references in these chapters, e.g., in phrases like the “word of truth,” the “teaching of the Law,’ the “teaching of the Prophets,” and the “Good News.” Trust me, I went back and looked; and Swindoll is right.
So, what is this saying to us as Christians today? Well, this is a message which is very personal to me. … Years ago, I had a mentor who was sort of like a friendly drill sergeant; and he really drilled into me the principle to which Swindoll is teaching in today’s devotional. And the lesson here is that if I desire to have a strong walk of faith as a Christian, I become vulnerable to my own flesh if I don’t have a strong commitment and discipline to be in God’s word EVERY DAY, investing significant time to get to know my God through the Bible.
And you don’t have to take my word for it, … nor my witness. That’s God’s promise as He charged Joshua to go into and take the promised land. In that commission (found in Joshua 1: 1-9), God gave Joshua (and to you and me) a prescription for spiritual success in this life; and we read that in Joshua 1: 8. Now, I’m not going to quote it here. I hope you already know that verse by heart; but if you don’t you can click on the link I provide you here. And as you can read (or know), God tells us we can expect success in any task (i.e., God’s will) which He sets before us IF (and only if) we stay focused on and remain in God’s word. God also promised (in Psalm 119: 9, 11) that the best way to avoid sin in our lives is to bury God’s word so deeply in our hearts (i.e., through Scripture memory) that it will empower us to battle our Spiritual enemies.
And Paul had an authentic ministry because he had God’s Word deeply in his heart; and he had learned, becoming a born-again Christian, that he could rely on the Holy Spirit to shine the way in his ministry through the truths of God’s word.
Toward the end of his devotional today, Chuck Swindoll charges his devotional readers to saturate our lives with the Word of God. And yes, I know the tendency and temptation to think or say, “But Bill, you don’t know how busy I am now. I just don’t have the time to invest time every day, digging into, memorizing, and meditating in God’s word.” But common, my dear one, do you have any more or any less time than did Paul, or me for that matter? No, we all have been given 24 hours in each day. It’s not a matter of having not enough time; it’s a matter of how we prioritize that time. So, with that truth before us, my questions [of myself] become, …
• Do I really believe God’s admonitions in Joshua 1: 8 and Psalm 119: 9, 11?
• Am I willing to prioritize my relationship with God above the tyranny of the urgencies of the world?
• Just how important is it for to me to really get to know God?
And if I can say an unqualified “YES” to the first two of those questions; and if I’m convicted to desire a deeper relationship with my Lord, I will FIND THE TIME to go deep into God’s word [yes, everyday] to let it become the sword of the Spirit (see Eph. 6: 17) which God has given me to combat my enemies and to stand and fight for Christ as we read Paul doing in Acts 14 and as we read Christ doing against Satan in Matthew 4 and Luke 4.
I hope that my daily time here each morning convinces you that I have learned this lesson which made Paul a powerful minister of the Gospel. I’ve got a long way to go to be anything like Paul or any of the other characters in Swindoll’s book, Great Days with the Great Lives. But I do know that there are no short cuts and no excuses for me to avoid going deep into God’s word. The only way to authentic ministry for the Lord and an abiding relationship with Christ is to devote the quantity and quality of time to get to know God through His word.
So, as I have said in the past, quoting the old Nike commercial … ”JUST DO IT!”
My Prayer for Today: Lord, I know that the only way I can know You intimately and serve You powerfully is through my time with You in Your word. So, keep me convicted of this truth and enable me to be with You every day here, digging for You the way I have this morning. Amen