And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 11 December 24, 2006
In this issue:
The true and living God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them. He created mankind in His own image, and has revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:1-18). God communicates with mankind today through the New Testament of Christ (Heb. 1:1-2).
The Bible is the inspired word of God. It completely equips us to do God’s will in our lives (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, revealed the mind of God and inspired its writing so that we can know the things that God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor. 2:6-13; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). The things written by the apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ (the New Testament), are the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37).
The word of God is a “sword” the Christian uses to protect himself against sin and error. “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” is part of the “whole armor of God” that Christians wear to be victorious over evil (Eph. 6:10-17).
This bulletin, The Spirit’s Sword, is not inspired by God. But, it is written to help you study, learn, obey and live by the inspired word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16-17; Jas. 1:21-25). The Spirit’s Sword contains Bible lessons to help you understand and obey the will of God (Eph. 5:17). It contains articles on Bible subjects that will “reprove, rebuke and exhort” you to follow God’s word (2 Tim. 4:2-4). With its pages we seek to urge Christians who have strayed from “the pattern of sound words” to repent and come back to the “old paths” of truth (2 Tim. 1:13; Jer. 6:16).
We ask you to carefully examine the Bible to see whether the things taught in these pages are true (Acts 17:11). Truth does not fear honest examination and open discussion. Sin and error love the darkness, but truth shines in the dark places and restores the light of salvation to those who will come to its light (Jno. 3:19-21).
Because the light of truth exposes the darkness of sin and error, The Spirit’s Sword will continue to endeavor to shine the light of truth on the darkness of immorality and the shadows of false doctrine. “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” gives victory over sin and death to all who properly use it (Eph. 6:10-17; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Jno. 5:4).
I received the following Bible question recently: “How can we pray without ceasing and apply Mat 6:7, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” I mean, how can I stop myself from not repeating the same thing if I want to pray without giving up, eventually I am going to run our of words and will have to repeat! Help.”
The instruction to “pray without ceasing” does not conflict with the Lord’s teaching to avoid vain repetitions in prayer, because acceptable prayer is not based on the number of words we use or the length of our prayer. Praying without ceasing compliments Jesus’ teaching “that men ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1). Christians are prayerful people and must not become discouraged or give up on prayer. We must not view prayer as an occasion to display ourselves before others. Hence, the Lord’s warning not to use “vain repetitions” (“to repeat the same things over and over, to use many and idle words, to babble,” Thayer, 99).
Jesus is not saying that we can never “repeat the same thing” when we pray. However, He is teaching us to be careful that our heart is fully engaged and involved in the words we speak to Almighty God in prayer. God does not listen for the amount of words we pray, but for the heart that is speaking the words. We cannot turn prayer into a mindless exercise of spilling out liturgical phrases and thoughtless expressions and expect God to accept our prayers.
How can we be more effective in our prayers, wanting to both “pray without ceasing” and not use “vain repetitions”?
Seek solitude. In contrast to the self-righteous motive of wanting to be seen by men when we pray, Jesus said to “go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6:6). The objective of prayer is communication with God, not with men. Make time to be alone with God in prayer; away from the distractions of life. This does not mean we cannot pray any time of the day. It means that whenever we pray, our attention must be given to God and not to the reactions of those around us. Solitude helps us focus on what we want to say to God. For example, Jesus found a solitary place to pray (Mk. 1:35). So should we.
Be specific. There is a lot to be said for the song we sing; “count your many blessings, name them one by one…and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” Please note that just after saying we are to “pray without ceasing,” the apostle wrote, “in everything giving thanks” (1 Ths. 5:17-18). Keep a list of people you know, of brethren and the specific things they are going through, of the spiritual blessings you have in Christ, of the opportunities in your life, and so forth. Thank God specifically for the blessings you have. Supplicate the Master’s help for specific trials or problems (yours and other’s). When you are specific in prayer you will be surprised what the Lord has done! And, you won’t be vainly repeating yourself just to “have something to say.”
Be spontaneous. Nehemiah gives us a good example of spontaneity in prayer (Neh. 2:4). Situations where prayer is helpful present themselves to us every day. But, unless we have a mindset to be a prayerful person, we can begin to view prayer as drudgery rather than a blessing. When we have a prayerful attitude our habit will be to pray throughout the day, not just at “set times.” This helps us overcome “vain repetition” while becoming more earnest and vigilant in our prayers (Col. 4:2). Prayer is an expression of our faith in God (Lk. 18:8). In other words, don’t wait to pray!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Genesis 50:22-26
People of faith continue to speak and influence from beyond the grave, Heb. 11:4.
I. THE BONES OF JOSEPH (Heb. 11:22; Gen. 50:25; Exo. 13:19; Josh. 24:32).
A. Joseph had Faith in God’s Promise, Heb.
11:22; Gen. 50:24-26 (48:21; 46:3-4); Jno. 4:5-6; Phil. 3:20 (Heb. 11:16).
1. The dead bones of Joseph testify to a living faith in
this man of faith.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:105-112
Bible reading & study results in spiritual weakness, susceptibility to Satan
& the ruin of the soul, Eph. 6:13-17.
I. THE BIBLE DESTROYS UNBELIEF, DOUBT & SKEPTICISM. (Lk. 8:8, 18; Jno. 8:43)
A. Faith is Produced by Word of God, Rom. 10:17 (Psa. 119:49-50).
B. Truth & Dependability of Bible is Confirmed, 2 Pet. 1:16-21 (Jno. 20:30-31); Lk. 1:1-4; Acts 17:11-12.
II. THE BIBLE DESTROYS WORRY & FEAR.
A. God’s Word Contains Promised Help to Combat the Distractions to our Faith, Matt. 6:33-34 (16:26); Lk. 12:4-9; Phil. 4:4-7; Rom. 8:28; Psa. 119:25-32.
III. THE BIBLE DESTROYS INDIFFERENCE.
A. God’s Word Works Christians’ Lives, 1 Ths. 2:13-14; 1:6-7; Lk. 8:15; Col. 1:9-12.
B. Humble Obedience Replaces Spiritual Indifference, Psa. 8:3-9; Rom. 5:6-8; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:21-23.
IV. THE BIBLE DESTROYS MORAL IMPURITY, Jno. 17:17; 1 Ths. 4:3.
A. Sin is Cleansed when we Follow God’s Word, Isa. 1:15-20; 1 Jno. 1:7 (Heb. 5:9; Rom. 6:17-18, 3-4; Col. 3:1-3).
V. THE BIBLE DESTROYS RELIGIOUS ERROR & DIVISION (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
A. The Only Standard for Unity is Truth, Jno. 17:17-21; Eph. 4:3-6 (Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Jno. 9).
Concl. Word of God destroys all 1things that separate us from God, Heb. 4:12.
Eyes Full of Darkness
The attention grabbing headlines in America this week had little to do with the war in Iraq, although a new Secretary of the Defense was sworn in. Neither was it the heroic efforts to rescue three doomed mountain climbers on Mt. Hood, Oregon. It was not even the huge blizzard that closed the Denver International Airport for two days, stopping holiday air travel for many and disrupting the mail delivery of millions of packages.
No, America’s attention this week was given to beauty pageant queens behaving badly. Miss USA, virtually unknown before her drunken and lascivious escapades, was given a second chance by Donald Trump, owner of the Miss USA pageant. Miss Teen USA seems to have “dodged a bullet,” keeping her crown. Then, there is Miss Nevada, who was “fired” for her lewd behavior from years earlier.
All of this is more evidence of the moral decline of our country. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Unrighteousness is on display, and millions cannot seem to get enough of hearing about it, watching it on TV and viewing it on the Internet. Voyeurism appears to be at an all time high. The sins of “uncleanness, passion, evil desire and covetousness” grab the headlines and the ratings – the people love to have it so (Jer. 5:31). “If a man should walk in a false spirit and speak a lie, saying, ‘I will prophesy to you of wine and drink,’ even he would be the prattler (prophet, jrp) of this people” (Micah 2:11). (And, we haven’t even mentioned the immodest dress on parade! 1 Tim. 2:9-10)
“It is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret,” yet the American media streams it into our homes, cars and computers every second of the day and night (Eph. 5:12).
We need the moral courage to say “no” to such outrageous things. Let us make a covenant with our eyes not to gaze with pleasure upon sin (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:27-30).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 12/26/2006
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA