Secret Weapon

by Doug Batchelor


"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12.

I could hear the sound of his three-wheel bicycle squeak up behind me as I walked down the street. Brother Harold was a living legend among the young people in Palm Springs. He was a 70-year-old saint who knew how to "walk the walk" and "talk the talk." His day began at 4 a.m. with two hours of Bible study and prayer, followed by a few hours on the street handing out tracts. Next he was off to the hospital. As a self-appointed chaplain, he would visit the rooms and share an encouraging scripture or two with the patients-all from memory. I will never forget how his voice quivered with reverence when he quoted the Bible. One time at an early-morning prayer meeting, I thought I saw his old bearded face shine as he prayed.

I was a new convert about 17 years old, still struggling to separate my former hippie philosophy from the truths of the Bible. Needless to say, I was feeling a bit like a failure as a Christian.

"What a glorious day God has given us!" Brother Harold called as he pulled up beside me with his oversized tricycle. He was always so up.

"Yeah, nice day," I responded. I must not have been very convincing, because he detected from my voice that something was missing. He studied me for a moment with a loving yet concerned expression.

"How long can you hold your breath, Doug?" Brother Harold suddenly asked with a twinkle in his eye. His question surprised me, but I seldom missed an opportunity to brag. In school I had played a little game of seeing how long I could hold my breath while waiting for the class bell to ring.

I boasted, "I can hold my breath for 4 minutes, if I hyperventilate first."

"Then you should not go any longer than that without praying," Brother Harold quipped. "God's Word tells us, 'Pray without ceasing.'"

Next he asked, "How often do you eat?"

Now I was beginning to sense where he was leading. "About two or three times a day," I slowly answered.

"Well that's how often you should read or meditate on God's Word," he said. Then he added, "Doug, what will happen to your body if you never exercise it?"

"I suppose I'll get weak and flabby," I responded.

"That's right," said Brother Harold, "and that is what will happen to your faith if you don't use it and share it."

As he peddled away, Brother Harold called over his shoulder, "The same laws that apply to your physical body also apply to your spiritual health."

That day 20 years ago in Palm Springs, Brother Harold directed me to the secret weapon for the Christian. That weapon is our personal devotions-Bible study, prayer, and witnessing. It's not a secret weapon because it is a hidden truth, but rather a neglected truth.

George Mueller said this about God's Word: "The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts."

Salvation leans very heavily on the necessity of knowing God. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:3.

Remember that Jesus said, speaking of the lost, "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7:23. And in Hosea 4:6, God declares, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

This knowledge that saves is not a casual understanding of biblical doctrine. The devil has that, but it will not save him. James 2:19 says that "the devils also believe, and tremble."

To know God means to have a loving relationship with Him. "I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness,: and thou shalt know the Lord." Hosea 2:20.

We can't really obey the Lord unless we love Him first. This is why Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." John 14:15.

We all know how important it is for a Christian to have faith. Where do we get faith? Paul tells us, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17.

It is a very simple formula.

To obey God, we must love Him. To love God we must know Him.

To know or trust anybody, we must first take time to communicate with them. They talk to us, and we to them.

God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him through prayer. The more we know God, the better we will love Him. The better we love Him, the better we will serve Him.

Morning is the best time for getting to know God. This principle was deeply impressed upon the children of Israel through His gift of manna. It rained down from heaven early in the morning, six days a week. If they waited too long, the manna would evaporate. "And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted." Exodus 16:21.

If we wait too long to have our devotions, the cares and pressures of the day will get our attention before the Lord does. Let's not let the manna melt! Remember, the busier we are and the more we have to do, the more we need to take time to pray.

Having morning devotions was also the practice of Jesus, our perfect example. "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." Mark 1:35.

It is important that we consider eating spiritual food just as essential as physical food. If we are late for work and must choose between our Raisin Bran or personal devotions, most people feel that our quiet time with God is expendable. Fiber is important, but it will not keep you from sin that day.

Job 23:12 says, "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food."

When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," it should apply more to the spiritual bread than the baked variety (Matthew 6:11). When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness after a 40-day fast, He told the devil, "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." Luke 4:4.

I can't explain it, but it seems that spiritual food gave Jesus not just spiritual strength, but also physical strength. John 4:31, 32 says, "In the mean while, his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of."

Elijah received supernatural physical strength from eating heavenly bread an angel prepared. "And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God." 1 Kings 19:7, 8.

You may even find that if you wake up a little earlier for more devotional time with God, you will have increased energy throughout the day.

If we want to be able to resist the daily temptations that assail us, we need the same secret weapon Jesus used. It is described in Ephesians 6:17: "And take ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

We all desperately need and want to have Jesus abiding in our hearts; how do we get Him there? Another name for Jesus is "The Word." In reading the Word, we are directly inviting Jesus into our hearts and minds.

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalm 119:11.

Since Jesus is the Word, it would also be safe to say that Jesus Himself is the secret weapon! The principle is that as we spend more time with Jesus through prayer and Bible study, we will know Him better, and therefore love Him better. Just as our natural reaction is to talk about those we love, so it will become more natural for us to tell others about our Lord. Then, as we share our faith with others, our own faith will become stronger-just as a muscle is strengthened by activity.

More love, more witnessing, better surrender, more energy, less depression-all this and much more is a direct chain reaction that comes from using the secret weapon of personal devotions.

So, how long can you hold your breath?

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