December 31, 2020
Preparing for a Better Year
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“There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days. The Philistines wouldn’t allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews.” 1 Samuel 13:19 (NLT)
Growing up, I wasn’t much of an athlete, but there was one game which got my heart racing and my competitive juices flowing. Sword drills! It was a game we played at our church youth group, a little contest to see who could find a Scripture reference the fastest.
Its purpose? To entice the younger generation to know our Bibles, inside and out. Our youth group leaders knew the Word of God would help us stand firm in our faith as we got older and faced more challenges.
I recently came across a passage of Scripture which took me back to those sword drill days. In 1 Samuel 13:19, we read, “There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days. The Philistines wouldn’t allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews.”
For much of the Old Testament, the Philistines were the Israelites’ long-standing archenemy. They did everything in their power to ensure the Israelites had a limited arsenal of defense.
How did they accomplish this? By cutting off the Israelites’ defense system at its root.
The Philistines saw to it that the Israelites had no blacksmiths. No blacksmiths meant no weaponry. No weaponry meant no proper way to defend themselves. For decades, this put the Israelites at a great disadvantage, as they were constantly subject to neighboring bullies.
Friends, the enemy’s tactics have not changed.
The Bible is our sword. Hebrews 4:12a tells us so: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword …” (NIV).
The enemy knows the power our Bibles hold, so he does what he’s done for thousands of years. He attempts to cut off our defense system at the root.
Sure, the Bible has never been so accessible, but unfortunately, so are a million other things, and those other things fight hard for my attention … and usually win.
You see, Satan isn’t intimidated by the number of Bibles in my home. He doesn’t mind that I’ve downloaded it on my phone or read an occasional verse of the day. He doesn’t care that I have a sword if I never really use it.
Statistics indicate that individual Bible reading has taken a strong hit in the 2020 pandemic. We may be spending more time at home, but we are spending less time in the Word.
I know it’s not easy trying to juggle new norms with less outlets for relief, but if there ever were a time we need to be soaking in God’s Word, it’s now! When we open up our Bibles (or our Bible apps) and read His Word, breathing in the God-breathed Word, the Bible will do what it says it will do — cut between our soul and spirit, exposing our innermost thoughts.
The Bible is so multifaceted. It isn’t just sharp and convicting; the psalmist tells us God’s Word is also a “lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105, NLT).
Have you needed a guiding light this year?
Or when temptation comes our way, quick access to the Scriptures can give us discernment and protect us from sin. “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11, NLT).
Do you desire greater discernment and protection from sin?
No other book can transform our lives like this book can.
Sword drills were great, but we shouldn’t stop there! God’s living, breathing, active Word must get inside of us … only then will we have what it takes to experience victory over any and every situation that comes our way.
Friends, the enemy took away the Israelites' swords; let’s not let him take away ours.
Dear Jesus, thank You for the power Your Word has in our lives. Forgive us if we have been distracted. We ask You to give us the dedication we need to stay focused on You and on Your unchanging Word. Thank You for the hope we have in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’” (NIV)
Have you heard? Our next First 5 Study Guide is now available! The Thoughts We Think, The Words We Speak: A Study of the Book of Ephesians starts January 4. Jump into a new year with this brand-new study, and learn about why the thoughts we think and the words we speak matter more than we know. Click here to get your Study Guide! Looking for new friends to do this study with? Check out our Facebook community group here!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you have a desire to grow deeper in God’s Word? Make a plan for how you can practically accomplish this. Consider joining a Bible reading plan through your Bible app or simply start with the book of Matthew, and read one chapter daily.
In the comments, let us know how you plan to be in God’s Word more in 2021!
© 2020 by Binu Samuel. All rights reserved.