Combat Training with God – Philippians 1:27-30

Show No Fear – That Will Be A Witness That Any Who Oppose You Will Be Destroyed

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Live the Life

Paul exhorts us to live a life worthy of the gospel that we have received.  In the world today, it is so much easier to just “go with the flow”.  We must be vigilant, and guard our hearts against the pull of the world, our flesh, and the devil.  Everything that we do is being witnessed by men, angels, and God.

And although only God can see our thoughts, Satan has been around for who knows how many millennia, and he and his cohorts in crime are pretty good at guessing what we are thinking.  Impossible, you say?  How is it then that con artists are able to “read” a person – properly evaluate how a person is reacting to something – and then feed them information that will speak to their inner desires, resonate with them, and then get them to do things that no one in their right mind would ever voluntarily do?  They are able to see the “tells” that we all have.  We have imperceptible changes in breathing, heart rate, pupil dilation, fidgeting, and other subconscious involuntary reactions to our environment.  They are able to “read” them – notice them and then watch for them – as they probe us with their carefully crafted words.

Satan can do the same thing.  He and the demons have been studying humans since the creation of Adam and Eve.  They know more about you than you know about yourself.  They cannot read your thoughts, but because we are spiritual creatures, they are able to interact with us on a spiritual level, and “whisper in our ear” the lies that they want us to believe and internalize.  Not every thought in your mind started with you.  Satan can bring back to memory the deepest and most emotionally powerful memories that you have, usually of your failures (to shame you) or your successes (to lead you to pride).  That is one of the reasons that Paul told us that we should, “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

When we do that, we are able to put everything in its proper place, and remember our training (“If you love me, you will obey my commands…”, “…offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…”).  A good offense needs a good defense as well.  Otherwise, the enemy will easily break through your line of defense, and cause you unspeakable pain while interrupting your carefully planned strategy for success.

Stand Strong

Paul also exhorts us to stand strong in the one Spirit.  In Ephesians 6:14, we are told to “stand firm“.  The Greek word for this is stEte.  It is an imperative command – we should do it! – and it has the word-picture of a Roman soldier who has dug his shield and both his feet firmly into the ground, bracing himself for the impact of a rushing hoard of enemies.  Paul tells us here we are to stand firm as well – stEkete, or “YE ARE STANDING firm”.   We are to lock shields with our brothers and sisters in Christ, hold the line, and in all of this, be unified in purpose and thought.

Unified Undertaking

Paul tells us to strive together as one for the faith of the Gospel.  We are to all be engaged in the last great commission of our Lord and Savior:

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Face your Fear

Ah, the dreaded subject that is on our minds.  What will we do when we are opposed?  Internally, we are all frightened.  We are human, and God has instilled within us a very good mechanism that biologically activates a number of chemicals that inform us of what we should do when we are in perceived or real danger.  We experience fear.  It is a self-preservation mechanism that, if we didn’t have it, would cause many more of us to die unnecessarily.

If we had no fear in and of ourselves, we would do crazy things, like jump out of airplanes thousands of feet above the ground, jump off thousand food cliffs into coves of water, and…  Oh, I guess there ARE people who do these things!  We can overcome our fear of dying, pain, public embarrassment (that’s a hard one), public humiliation, and many other things that cause us fear.

But we don’t overcome them the way the way the world overcomes them.  We rely on and trust in the Lord God Almighty, who in our time of distress, gives us a peace that is beyond understanding and guards our hearts in Christ Jesus against anything that our enemies can bring against us.

When we react in this way, we are bringing two separate witnesses to bear:

  1. We are being saved (removes any doubt in the minds of those who oppose us)
  2. Our opposition will (eventually) be destroyed by a holy, righteous, and faithful God who doesn’t take it lightly when someone messes with their child (unless they repent).  Ask any parent what they would do if someone was trying to bring harm to their child.  Multiply that times infinity (God’s love and wrath are eternal), and you have God’s final reaction to any who refuse to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord in the flesh and opposes His children.

Selected for Suffering

Jesus Christ endured great hardship and suffering while He walked the Earth and died on the cross for our sins.  Since the student is not greater than the teacher, we should expect similar hardship and suffering while we engage in His work here on Earth.  Endure all hardship as discipline.  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.   Look to the life of Paul, and consider your suffering in light of His good example.  Remember what God said to Ananias concerning Saul, who was breathing threats against the brothers:

“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: When faced with fear, how do I respond?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown me that I am to show no fear in how I conduct myself.  You expect this of me, because You will provide for my every need at the time I need it.  You have said through Your servant John, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  Help me to endure and allow perseverance to complete its work so that I may be mature in love.  Help me, as I overcome the enemy of my soul, that I would grow and mature in my walk with You.  Grant me the strength to walk, and the desire to live in holiness and righteousness before You and man.  Help me in my time of need when fear threatens to overtake me so that I would be bold, even unto death.  For even in death, You have promised me that You would never leave me nor forsake me.  This I ask in the precious name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training With God – John 16:1-4

Be Faithful To The Very End

1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.”

Misled Motives

Many throughout the last two thousand years have been murdering disciples of Christ, believing that they are offering a service to God.  From Saul of Tarsus – who later because Paul – to fundamentalist adherents to the greatest of all deceivers, many believe that ridding the world of the disciples of Christ is the right thing to do.  There are two main reasons why they want to do this:

  • They think that they are offering a service to God (heresy)
  • They greatly disagree with holiness and righteousness, and seek to silence anyone who reminds them that their actions are evil (self-centeredness)

In China, it is open season on believers.  Disciples are being hunted down through genocide in Middle Eastern and African countries.  This is now spreading throughout Europe, and will soon come to the Americas.

Ironic Ignorance

The sad and ironic end of this is that many believe that they are following the one true God, YHWH.  Instead, they show by their actions that they don’t know Him, and never knew Him, since if they knew Him, they would accept what His disciples have to say.  In this, it is necessary to love them with the same love that God loves you.  Pray for them, that the blindness that they have is removed, so that they may see the One True God.

Well Warned

When they come door-to-door looking for disciples of Christ, do not be alarmed, and do not be caught unawares.  Jesus has warned us that this would happen.  Even as the fundamentalist adherents to the greatest of deceivers presses towards the eradication of Jews, the disciples of Christ, and any who would dare not convert to barbarism, remember to keep the faith until death:

14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I show fear when I am threatened?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You that You have provided for all my needs.  You give me Your peace that surpasses all understanding.  Help me to stand strong that it would be a witness that You are real.  Strengthen me in my weakness.  Help me to overcome my fears, that should I ever need to stand strong, that I would be able to stand on the solid rock of Christ.  Remember those who falsely accuse me, and persecute me for the sake of the name of Jesus.  This I ask in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Victory with God – Psalm 20:6-9

May the Lord grant all your requests.

6 Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

9 Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!

Vital Victory

We have victory in Jesus!  It cannot be understated.  Rejoice in it!  We have been freed from indentured servitude to sin to be free to follow God.  We were born to worship.  Let us worship the One who laid down His life for us.

Regardless of whether we are successful at any secular endeavor in life, we have been made more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.  Since God is for us, who can be against us?  Remember – you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.  When we overcome sin by receiving Christ, we are given special access to God’s victory banquet that will be held in Heaven. Many were invited, but few have been chosen.  We must prepare ourselves for the victory we already have.  Let us not be dawdle with trivial things.

The Challenge of Chariots

Which is easier – to put our trust in an army of the most highly trained, best equipped, and (apparently) loyal army to protect us, or to put our trust in the Lord our God for our protection?

We are often more prone to put our trust in what we can see rather than what we cannot see:

We cannot see the spiritual because of the fall of Adam.  Let us put our trust in God, who is sovereign over all that He has created, rather than in riches or kings or anything on Earth.

Stand Steady

Those who trust in the world’s help will fall, but those who trust in God will stand firm.  Daniel stood firm and prayed to God when he was told he could only pray to the king.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood firm and refused to worship an idol.  There are many others.  The greatest to stand firm was Jesus Christ, who allowed Himself to be crucified for us.

An Amazing Answer

God answers the call of His children.  He has an answer prepared before we even complete the request!  God greatly desires to answer our call to Him!  He eagerly waits to hear from us.  What good Earthly father would ignore their children’s cries for help?  God is truly good, and with compassion and joy desires to answer us.  Let us be patient as we wait for His response!

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I trusting in God for victory, or in someone or something else?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given me victory through the victory You provided to Christ through resurrection.  Let me never forget Your sovereignty over all that You created.  Strengthen me in my struggles, and hear my cries for help, O Lord.  You have said that You answer our requests even before they are out of my mouth.  Watch over me this day Lord God.  Grant me victory in every area of my life.  May my path be set straight and upon You and Your Word only, Lord God.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Judges 7:2-8

God Plus You > All The Known Universe

2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.

 Required Resolve

God is looking for a people who will trust in Him and gather their strength from Him.  When Gideon was tasked with convening the army that would destroy the Midianites, he sent for the fighting men of Israel.  They replied, but not all were up to the task.  God reduced the size of the army by giving the fearful an opportunity to bow out.  God wants us not only to show up, but to trust in Him and overcome our fear through our trust in Him.  We need to have resolved in our hearts that God will provide whatever we need, since God has called us to the task.

Solemn Selection

“Not all who are called are chosen.”  God then indicated that there were STILL too many people in Gideon’s army.  It is a shame to Israel that God would say that because they had so many people in the army that they would boast after victory that they had delivered themselves by their own hands.  God is looking for confident but humble people, knowing the true source of their strength and victory.

it is still amazing that after more than two-thirds of the gathered men went home, God declared there were still too many people!  How counter-intuitive this must have seemed to Gideon!  Usually the largest, best-trained, best-armed, best-prepared army wins the battle.  But God was letting Gideon know and understand that the battle did not belong to him, but rather, the battle belonged to the Lord:

“All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.‘”

Divine Deliverance

After God thinned the army even further, he chose only three hundred men for Gideon’s army.  Gideon must have felt overwhelmed and afraid, even though he knew it was the Lord that had called him to this purpose.  God placed fear into the hearts of the Midianites, and they feared the name of Gideon. When the Midianites heard the trumpets and battle cry of Gideon’s army, they cried out in fear, and began to kill each other as they fled.

Gideon’s army of three hundred water-lapping soldiers didn’t have to lift a finger; all they had to do was stand strong in the face of the enemy.  And God delivered the Israelites from the Midianites, as the other Israelite men faithfully pursued the Midianites and destroyed them.  God also tells us:

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question: Am I standing strong in the Truth, with complete trust in the Lord?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You provide for all of my needs.  Grant me strength today when opposition comes against me.  Remember me – act divinely on my behalf, that I may overcome all fear and valiantly take a stand for You.  Remember me in my weakness, and drive all fear from my heart, for there is no fear in perfect love.  Regardless of the foes against me, whether they surround me, or any emotional issues that I may experience, grant me peace in my heart that I may honor and glorify Your name in these battles.  This I ask in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?