The Prepared Soldier…

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2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

An unprepared soldier won’t hold out against the enemy.

Since believers are at war with Satan, we must train wisely so that our heart stays clean and our testimony remains strong. Here, then, is a Christian soldier’s guide to preparing for battle:

  • Soldiers must acknowledge the war.
    The Bible is clear: The devil is determined to destroy the saints. For this reason, we must view our life as a battleground (1 Pet. 5:8).
  • Soldiers must know the enemy.
    Satan’s ways and tricks are recorded in Scripture. We know that his words are deceitful—but also very tempting.
  • Soldiers must undergo training.
    Every day believers have the opportunity to demonstrate their trust in God in at least some small way. This is preparation for facing future decisions or adversity with wisdom and courage.
  • Soldiers must know how to use their weapons.
    The Word of God is very helpful in combating Satan, encouraging the heart, and guiding decision making. Prayer keeps us in touch with our Commander in Chief.
  • Soldiers must resist propaganda.
    Satan will use any worldly means possible to entice us—the media and entertainment industries, educational systems, and false religions are all tools of his trade. Believers must be wise in deciding what to allow into their minds.

A prepared soldier is a believer whose mind and heart are full of the Lord and His Word.

The Spirit-filled warrior will be victorious against Satan’s attack.

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Guilt or Shame…

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Genesis 3:7-13 (KJV)

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

After not listening to God, Adam and Eve found themselves in a terrible predicament.

Their first reaction was to cover up rather than “fess up.”

Fig leaves can never hide the root problem of sin (Gen. 3:7), but even today, we still try this approach.

Instead of acknowledging and confessing sin, we frequently look for a quick fix to the situation.

Adam and Eve’s second response was to avoid God.

They knew they were guilty of disobeying, but instead of coming to Him to reestablish their relationship, they hid from Him in fear (v. 8). We often do the same thing when sin breaks our fellowship with the Lord. Have you ever found yourself avoiding prayer and time in the Scriptures because you were struggling with sin and feelings of guilt?

A third reaction was to try and avoid personal responsibility by blaming others (vv. 12-13).

Shifting guilt to another person can’t remove it. We are each responsible before God for our actions, regardless of the circumstances or who else is involved.

Despite Adam and Eve’s sin and their evasive ways of handling it, the Lord came to them (v. 9).

Our sin is never large enough to keep Him away; God still calls to us and asks, “Where are you?” He knows what we have done and why, but He questions us so that we can come to realize our desperate state.

Never let guilt or shame keep you from the Lord.

He seeks those who have made a mess of their life and speaks to them through His Word, His Spirit, and His people.

Forgiveness and a restored relationship await all who are willing to listen, confess, and repent.

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What’s Your Bowl of Soup?

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Genesis 25:29-34 (KJV)

29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

You probably read the story of Jacob and Esau today and thought, I can’t believe Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. How foolish! 

But let’s think beyond birthrights and soup.

Is there anything of true value that you are trading for something of lesser worth? In other words, what is your “bowl of soup”?

Have you pursued wealth and a career at the expense of family?

Maybe your busy schedule has kept you from spending time with God in His Word each day. Some people become involved in extramarital affairs, trading the well-being of their family for the satisfaction of lustful desires. Others sacrifice their health by consuming harmful or addictive substances, or even by overindulging in food.

The list of ways we make foolish, shortsighted choices is endless.

Some of the decisions we make today could rob us of the blessings God wants to give us. When you yield to temptation in a moment of weakness, you’re actually sacrificing your future for momentary pleasure. We can’t afford to live thoughtlessly, basing our decisions on immediate desires or feelings. Since the principle of sowing and reaping cannot be reversed, we need to carefully consider what we are planting.

The harvest will come, and we’ll reap what we have sown–and more than we’ve sown.

Are you contemplating anything that could have serious long-term ramifications if you yield to the yearning? A wise person evaluates choices by looking ahead to see what negative consequences could follow a course of action.

Don’t let “a bowl of soup” hinder God’s wonderful plans for you.

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An Obedient Heart And A Willing Spirit…

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Proverbs 4:20-27 (KJV)

20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

The most obvious source of godly wisdom is the Bible.

You cannot think of a question or life circumstance about which God’s Word is silent. His principles for right character, conduct, and conversation apply to every situation and decision confronting human beings.

We’re all able to recall times when we didn’t respond wisely.

Those incidents can be traced back to one of two possibilities—either we didn’t know a certain biblical principle or we knew the principle that applied but chose to ignore or violate it.

To ensure that we’ are familiar with God’s standards and the importance of following them, we’ve got to dig into His Word.

For example, suppose that you walk into the office and a coworker verbally assaults you with undeserved blame for a costly mistake. Your flesh and the world would have you respond in kind with anger and malice. But Luke 6:27-29 offers a different approach, that might go something like this: “Is there anything else? Thank you for telling me how you feel” (spoken gently).

Knowledge comes from learning biblical principles; wisdom has to do with applying them.

The Lord cautions us to keep His Word in our heart and in our heads so that we will heed His instructions (Ps. 119:11; Prov. 8:33).

Wisdom is acquired as we pursue the Christian life—absorbing Scripture, doing what it says, and observing the result, which is for our good even when consequences appear less than favorable.

Special classes aren’t required; God simply wants obedient hearts and a willing spirit.

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