Train to Live on Mission – Week 35

Battle Drill #35:

Endure the Refining Process!

Proverbs 25:4-5 (NAS95)

 

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – “Endure the Refining Process!” Just like an athlete needs help from their coach to break bad habits that will only hold them back from doing their very best in competition, so a soldier must endure the refining process of military discipline and training. Just as it can be a long frustrating process for athletes to reach their potential, so this can be a long painful process for soldiers to be all they can be! When you get a bunch of old veterans together, they like to reminisce about their basic training experiences, “They break you so that they can build you back better!”

 

Isn’t that what God is doing with us in the long slow obedience of progressive sanctification? We have all picked up a lot of bad habits through our years of living “under the sun” and He is refining us by teaching us how to bring all things in submission to His Son. We were enlisted to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ and that gave us our justification before God (our positional holiness), but our ability to be good soldiers doesn’t happen just because we are saved; it’s a process of growing in our personal holiness – breaking the habits of the flesh so that we can live in the freedom of the Spirit. There’s a new language to learn, and some old language to work out of our system. There’s a new way of communicating and dealing with conflict, and some old communication patterns and ways of dealing with conflict that need to be unlearned. There’s a new way of living if you are going to represent the Commander and live on mission for God. Let’s turn to the Field Manual and take the first step of a soldier’s training regimen.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 25:4-5,
 
“Take away the dross from the silver, and there comes out a vessel for the smith; take away the wicked before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.”
 
This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply it to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

To learn how to train today’s battle drill we must accept our own need for the refiner’s fire as a normal reality of our everyday Christian lives until we are with Him, as promised in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
 
While that is one of my favorite promises of God, simultaneously true is the admonition of 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Anyone who has devoted themselves for perfection in any area of life (whether sports, music, art, academic or professional) knows how much sacrifice it takes and how painful it can be to strive for mastery.

 

As a disciple of Christ, I am to simultaneously trust God for the completion of my life – when I will reflect Him perfectly, while I learn to walk with Him, becoming like Him each step of the way. This gives me the hope to be courageous throughout the long slow obedience in the same direction of Christlikeness. We see this dual charge in Philippians 2:12-13, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” There is a promise to be trusted – our perfection before God – and there is a praxis to embrace in every area of our lives – the reflection of His holiness in our relationships, marriage, parenting, etc. Remember, this is the will of God, His good pleasure, for your life – “to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

 

Brothers and sisters, I am here to teach you that you can’t have it one way or the other; it is a both-and that must be trained into your perspective of life circumstances, and in the mindset of your training regimen as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. If you are going to become the best version of you to the glory of God, then you need to trust God and His ways for the completion of that which He calls you to embrace wholeheartedly. Stop trying to hijack the process! For example, your marriage is more about your holiness than your happiness because He called you to represent Him in and through it. Until you get this, then you will continue to chase your tail.

 

Let’s pull at the thread of the biblical theme of today’s battle drill then we will understand how God intends for it to be applied to our lives as good soldiers. “Dross” is the waste material (scum or impurity) that is extracted from the silver during a repetitive process of heating and melting the silver to purify it. While dross is literally the impurity of metal removed during the smelting process, it was used to symbolize personal or national impurity, specifically the spiritual contamination of God’s people, as in Ezekiel 22:18, “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are the dross of silver.” God wanted His people holy – set apart for His purposes and His glory!

 

In Proverbs 25:4-5, dross represents the wicked of the kingdom that renders the whole society impure – the wicked and unrighteous. If a king wanted his kingship to be marked by justice and righteousness, he had to remove the dross – the wicked and unrighteous who were corrupting his kingdom. We see it used this way of God’s kingdom in Psalm 119:119, “You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross; therefore I love Your testimonies.”

 

This repetitive process for the spiritual refinement of God’s people through discipline and difficulties became deeply imbedded into the psyche of God’s people through Israel’s history of prophecy, as in God’s promise to His people in Isaiah 1:21-26:

 

How the faithful city has become a harlot, she who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, but now murderers. Your silver has become dross, your drink diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; everyone loves a bribe and chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, nor does the widow’s plea come before them. Therefore the Lord God of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, declares, “Ah, I will be relieved of My adversaries and avenge Myself on My foes. I will also turn My hand against you, and will smelt away your dross as with lye and will remove all your alloy. Then I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning; after that you will be called the city of righteousness, a faithful city.”

 

This is how God’s people were taught to interpret their history and their current events – through a lens of God’s providential purposes of refining them for His glory. During God’s justice, in Jeremiah 6:27-30, God made Jeremiah the prophet an assayer, a tester of metals:

 

“I have made you an assayer and a tester among My people, that you may know and assay their way.” All of them are stubbornly rebellious, going about as a talebearer. They are bronze and iron; they, all of them, are corrupt. The bellows blow fiercely, the lead is consumed by the fire; in vain the refining goes on, but the wicked are not separated. They call them rejected silver, because the Lord has rejected them.

 

This prophetic tradition continued in Ezekiel 22:18-22, then it ultimately culminated with the foretelling of the coming of the Messiah in Malachi 3:1-3:

 

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.

 

What is the refiner’s fire, and why does God use this imagery of the smelting process in His people’s lives? God is described as a consuming fire, but the consuming fire did not consume the burning bush when God called Moses. The friends of Daniel were tossed into the fire but were not consumed – the Fourth was with them! God is not a wildfire – He is controlled and has our best interests in mind. God is a holy fire because His fire has a purpose – to refine us into His image! Just as we see in God’s Creation, fire is an essential ingredient to life – for our warmth, for cooking, for production of materials, for the cauterization of wounds, and even for forests to thrive. So often we only think of the destructive power of fire, rather than its life-giving intent!

 

In the spiritual, Psalm 12:6 explains, “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.” This sevenfold refining process of the Word speaks to its perfection, and the purpose for which God sent forth His Word – to bring His people to perfection so that they can be with Him. As Isaiah 45:23 states, “I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance” (cf. Isaiah 55:11).

 

This is the purpose of the smelting process – to bring all things to completion through the fire of God’s glory, the refinement of His presence upon the earth. This is the reason for Christ coming! This is the purpose of His church! This is God’s plan to enlist you, and it is His pleasure to refine you through His Word and Holy Spirit. That brings us to the third action step of a good soldier of Jesus.

 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

The problem is that we all have spiritual impurities that must be removed from our lives for us to come to this perfection that God desires of us (Matthew 5:48).
 
You can be confident that God will bring this about in you because it is already done through the blood of Jesus Christ – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We read in 1 John 1:7, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” We read about Jesus in Titus 2:14, “to purify for Himself a people for His own possession.” This is why Christ came!

 

Jesus is the Living Word and His coming brought God’s refiner’s fire not only to Israel, but through Israel to all the nations. Jesus fulfilled the prophetic imagery of Israel. This is the imagery of Pentecost as the glory of God fell on the early church in “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3). The Holy Spirit came as a refiner’s fire to purify a new priesthood through faith in Jesus Christ, one that would offer right sacrifices in righteousness as foretold in Malachi 3:3. Peter expressed this plainly in 1 Peter 2:5 and 9:

 

You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. … But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

 

This is who you are, and that is why Christ has enlisted you, but let’s not forget that the smelting process, which removes the dross from your life, is a repetitive one. This is not a “once upon a time” or “one and done” proposal. While your salvation is exactly that – you are justified by the blood of Jesus – your “usefulness to the Master” is dependent upon your willingness to participate in the refinement process that the fire of the Holy Spirit continuously is doing within you, with every thought, word, relationship, and deed. As Paul taught his protégé in 2 Timothy 2:21, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”

 

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). With God’s continuous presence in your life, what are you asking the Holy Spirit to cohabitate with? What impurities are you asking God to “tabernacle with” in your life? Are you useful to the Master?

 

Interestingly, each time the refiner of metal repeats the refinement process he raises the heat to skim even more dross. His goal is to increase the quality and purity of the refined metal. Should it surprise you then that God does the same in our lives – He turns up the heat to increase the quality and purity of your life. Maybe you thought the hardest (hottest) work of your Christian life was at your conversion, and in the beginning years of sanctification, but I believe, from biblical and anecdotal evidence, that the work of the Spirit gets hotter the deeper it goes into your life. Issues of external holiness, what so many churches and pastors are focused on, are superficial compared with the deeply rooted issues of rebellion that fuel them. Therefore, when you experience fiery trials in your life, you can take comfort in knowing that God’s refining fire is removing the dross for your ability to reflect His glory through your effectiveness and fruitfulness in the mission! He perseveres in this work until the last breath – so that you may learn how to, and then, ultimately, surrender all to God unto death for His glory!

 

It is because of this understanding of God’s intent that Tevye, the beloved father from Fiddler on the Roof, prayed during suffering and hardship, “I know. I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?” God loves His chosen people, and He continuously increases the heat so that we may reflect Him more to allow who watch our lives – this is our mission! This leads us to the final action step of our soldier’s training regime.

 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

You have been redeemed back to God’s original purpose for your life – to be an image bearer of God!
 
But there is a problem! We all have impurities within us that lead to a diminishing of God’s glory through our lives, which means we too must go through discipline and difficulties for us to reflect God’s image clearly. We see this need for purification through the temporary trials of our everyday lives in 1 Peter 1:3-7:

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

In conclusion, the mission of God in and through your life is found in your faith and in how you walk through the refiner’s fire of your life with faith. Paul expressed this purpose to His followers in 2 Corinthians 4:5-10:

 

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

 

God is at work in your life because you are a temple of the Holy Spirit. You and your life are the very presence of the refiner’s fire in the world. May God’s unquenchable fire of holiness, His refiner’s fire, remove all that is perishable from you and purify all that is imperishable. May God’s image be reflected more and more in you and through your life as you shine His piercing light in the darkness of these last days. May you start seeing every circumstance and every challenging situation as an opportunity to become more like Jesus until your very life proclaims the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.

 
 
 
 

You can listen to the message by clicking below:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 

 

 
 

 

Extra Materials

(not preached, but still for the edification of the brethren):

 

Today’s battle drill helps us make sense of the smelting process of our difficulties, as described in Romans 5:1-5:

 

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

 

Every circumstance of your life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – now makes sense when you learn to endure God’s refining process. As Paul taught in Romans 8:26-30:

 

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

 

Even the evil of this world – the wickedness and injustices – will be used by God for His glory, and in the refinement process of His people, as taught in 1 Peter 5:6-10:

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

 


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Train to Live on Mission – Week 34

Battle Drill #34:

Building up Heart & Mind

Proverbs 24:3-6, 10-12

 

Pastor Jerry shared last week about learning resilience, and that it is more than just being tough and having a ‘thick skin”, learning from the example of Paul’s life and skills. Today I would like to take follow up on that thought and take us through the fundamentals that this resilience comes out of… the building up of your heart and mind.

 

Proverbs 24:3-5, 10-12

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;
And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power.

If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited. Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this, ”Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?
 
 

 

I. It starts with the heart, for the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

 

It takes a heart of integrity! Look at King David! It was said of him:

 

Psalm 78:72

“He shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them”

 

His son, King Solomon wrote:

 

Proverbs 4:23

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

 

Physically, it is the source of life. It pumps the blood it stops, you stop Spiritually, it provides the springs of life love, words and blessings flow Source of direction, sets stage for our choices, attitudes and behaviors.
 

 

A. Know the field manual: He Weighs the Heart

 

 
It Starts in the heart

 

Romans 10:9-10

 

“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

 

 

God is the one who makes the call

 

1 Samuel 16:7

 

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for [a]God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

1 Thessalonians 2:4

 

“but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.”

 

 

God uses the Word to measure

 

Hebrews 4:12

 

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

 

 

 

B. Importance of Training Together: It Brings Unity

 

 

ILLUS: “Don’t Lose Heart” by Steven Curtis Chapman

 

It is the home of your hope and faith

 

One heart as a tribe

2 Chronicles 30:12

The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.”

 

 

One heart, one mind as a church

 

Acts 4:32-33

 

“And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.”

 

 

A pure heart

 

 

C. Seek the Commander’s Approval: More than just good intentions

 

1 Tim. 1:5

 

“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

 

 

 

A sincere heart

 

Heb. 10:22

 

“ let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

 

 

Benefit: God will guard your heart

 

Philippians 4:7

 

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Proverbs 24:3-5

 

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power.

 

 

 

 

A. Know the field manual: Set your mind

 

 

ILLUS: On the line of scrimmage – no flinching

 

 

Proper placement

 

Romans 8:5

 

“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”
 

 

Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)

 

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

 

 

We have to prepare

 

1 Peter 1:13

 

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

 

 

 

God will evaluate

 

Psalm 26:2

 

“Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.”

 

 

B. Importance of Training Together: We Need Each Other!

 

 

ILLUS: Things we can’t go without: Air/3 minutes; Water/3 days; Food/3 weeks; Fellowship/3 months.

 

Starts having impact on our overall well-being.

Human touch inspires positive thinking & expands trust, reduces social anxiety & stress, boosts immune system & lowers blood pressure.”

 

 

In an article published in a secular psychology magazine, the writer stated:

 

“It’s ironic that during a highly contagious pandemic where our immune systems are being the most stressed, we are being deprived of something (human touch) that is so essential to our body’s function.” *

 

How the early church started

 

Acts 2:42

 

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

 

 

Paul’s challenge to the Philippians

 

Philippians 2:5 (ESV)

 

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”

 

 

We need to encouragement and accountability

 

Hebrews 10:24-25

 

“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

 

 

BE HONEST…we all need it!
 

C. Seek the Commander’s Approval: Put God first!

 

 

 

Proverbs 24:12

 

“If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?”

 

 

ILLUS: Reading or hearing the instructions.

 

 

 

He provides the direction

 

Proverbs 3:6

 

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

 

 

Do everything for His glory

 

1 Corinthians 10:31

 

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

 

Colossians 3:17,23-24

 

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father… Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

 

 

How do we Live on Mission? K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Silly)

 

 

The Children’s Church Song: “Read Your Bible, Pray every day”

 

 

I have given you 21 different scriptures that I want you to “chew on” this next week. If you need help remembering, you can go to the blog on our church webpage for the message. If you don’t have access to a computer, see me and I will print a copy off for you. I want you to take and reflect on for them (3 a day). Maybe you need some work done on your heart this week. Or maybe you need some renewing of your mind. But remember this…when you read them, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how you need to apply them to your life. God is faithful and will help you to grow stronger in Him.
 

 

You can listen to the message here:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 

FOOTNOTE:

 

*Psychology Today: “The Vital Importance of Human Touch”, by Nicole K. McNichols, Ph.D., published August 3, 2021.
 
 

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Train to Live on Mission – Week 33

Battle Drill #33:

“Keep Getting Up! (Learning Resilience)”

Proverbs 24:16 (NAS95)

 

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – “Keep Getting Up!” Today, we are going to undergo resilience training, one of the favorite teachings of the US Army Chaplaincy School. In the military, the role of the chaplain to his unit is complex and multifaceted. In addition to other duties and responsibilities, the chaplain performs or provides religious services to the diversity of soldiers in the unit as requested, and the chaplain serves on the commander’s staff as a “combat multiplier.” Some commanders only care about this last function because they have a utilitarian view of chaplains and religion – whoever and whatever can make their soldiers more effective on the battlefield is all that matters to them! This last role of a chaplain can be daunting to the uninitiated.

 

As a combat multiplier, the chaplain helps soldiers focus on the mission, without distraction, and give their very best, without compromise, to the job that needs to be done. This may feel clean and easy, especially when it looks like marriage conferences and stress management seminars back on base. But what happens when it starts to include doing critical incident debriefs after combat missions to mitigate the immediate effects of a traumatic experience so that the soldiers can go back out on their next mission? Or when it is the transitional work to help minimize the long-term effects of repeated traumatic experiences after being in a theatre of operations for a sustained time before redeploying home to loved ones? Battlemind training is real and helping soldiers transition out of it and come home is a critical work of a team.

 

Resilience training is the work of a team – the chaplain, the medical providers, and the chain of command (to include the Family Support Group at home in preparation for receiving soldiers back from deployments). Resilience training aims at teaching soldiers the skills to retain their mental health, emotional well-being, and physical capacity to be able to CM – continue the mission – regardless of what the mission has asked of them or taken from them, or their buddies. This is hard work, and the Army has recognized that spirituality, for those who practice their own, has an essential role to play in increasing a soldier’s resilience!

 

As a church, we must learn how to CM after we’ve been through traumatic experiences, either personally or vicariously. To put it simply, resilience is the ability to bounce back when you have no reason to be able to get back up from being knocked down (or falling) in the first place. I summarize resilience like this, “Never stop starting!” Don’t just get up, bounce forward! Resilience is the ability to learn from the worst of experiences and demanding of circumstances to get better. Imagine what the church would look like today, what your family would look like, what you would look like if you learned resiliency skills. Let’s turn to the Field Manual and take the first step of a soldier’s training routine to live on mission.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 24:16,
 
“For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity.”
 
This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply it to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

To learn how to train today’s battle drill, we are going to turn to a subject matter expert who is going to share a part of her story.

 

Cindy Sheffer’s testimony

 

To further illustrate, we are going to turn to God’s Word and contrast two of the disciples of Jesus Christ – Peter and Judas. Both were hand-picked by Jesus, through the same discernment process of prayer. Both walked with Jesus for three years, and both forsook Jesus at the end of his life – Peter by denying Jesus three times and Judas by betraying his location to the Sanhedrin. What was the difference?

 

I know we can spiritualize the answer to this question and let ourselves off the hook by explaining how Peter was preordained to be the rock of the church and Judas the son of perdition. While we wouldn’t be wrong to point that out, we would be wrong to think that neither man had choices of their own to make along the way of becoming what they were. C.S. Lewis explained it this way in Mere Christianity:

 

Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.[1]

 

I believe that Peter demonstrated the best of resiliency; whereas Judas fell and did not get back up. They are an illustration of Proverbs 24:16, “For a righteous man [Peter] falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked [Judas] stumble in time of calamity.”

 

Allow me to emphasize my point by talking about the end of their journeys with Jesus. Judas’ story ends in Matthew 27:3-5:

 

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. (cf. Acts 1.18)

 

I believe with my whole heart that Jesus would have forgiven Judas the same way He forgave Peter if he had been resilient. Let’s now turn to that critical moment with Peter in John 21:15-17:

 

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

 

As many a commentator has pointed out, Jesus asked Peter three times, redeeming him for each time he denied Jesus in Matthew 26:69-75. I want to quickly point out two things about Peter’s denial of Jesus, because we like to clean up the lives of our heroes, but Peter’s denial of Jesus should not be cleaned up. To do so would be to lose the hope of redemption and lessen the lesson of Peter’s resiliency. First, in verse 72, “And again [the third time] he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’” Peter put himself under divine judgment if he was lying by denying it with an oath, and we all know that he was lying. His punishment could only be atoned for through a sacrifice of blood, just as Judas’ sin could only be atoned for through a sacrifice of blood. They both rebelled against God and deserved death! Peter knew this, too, and that is the bitter pill of verse 75,
 
“And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”

 

His fall was foreseen, he was warned about it, and in his pride he fell anyways. But here is the difference between the two – three days! Three days after His death on the Cross, Jesus defeated death through His resurrection, which made redemption possible for anyone who came to Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. The atonement of sin was made through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. In response to the shed blood of Jesus Christ, Judas killed himself, whereas Peter was cleansed from his unrighteousness by it, because of three days!

 

We each have the same choice to make! Will you train spiritual resilience by learning to trust in the healing and cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ? Will you live your life according to the promise of the resurrection – Jesus got back up! So can you – learn resiliency!

 

There is a better way to live than giving yourself over to bitterness over your hurts, habits, and hang ups. That brings us to the third action step of a good soldier of Jesus.

 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

Resiliency is a learned set of skills that must be trained to make getting back up a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life.
 
It’s easy to want to quit when traumatic experiences happen to us, personally or vicariously. It’s easy to fall into a victim mindset, but that will not help you get back up; it will only keep you down. When I was going through my training to be an Army Chaplain, I spent time at Fort Sam Houston learning how to do trauma ministry and hospital chaplaincy. I was integrated into a team that put me at the head of the bed in the ER of a Level 1 Trauma Hospital and taught me to how to care for survivors. We were trained to never call people victims. Words have power, both the ones we speak over others and the ones we think about ourselves.

 

There are numerous Bible characters we can study to learn resiliency skills. From the Old Testament, Joseph and King David come to mind, as do the prophets, such as Jeremiah and Daniel. From the New Testament, we have already learned from Peter, so let’s look at four verses from Paul’s ministry that give us insight into his real-life resiliency skills, each of which we can apply to our own lives:

 

  1. In Romans 8:35-39, Paul teaches us the importance of a positive outlook that allows us to put negative events into perspective and helps us see that our hardships are temporary. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  2. In 2 Corinthians 4:7-11, Paul explains that our bodies are an important part of our resiliency training (they are temples of the Holy Spirit after all). The better our physical health, the better we adapt to and learn from stressful situations. This includes proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and effective exercise. It also works the other way because stress kills – better resiliency equals better health! “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
  3. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul demonstrates for us an active coping mechanism to face the reality of our situations, honestly process our emotions, and effectively solve any problem to the glory of God. “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me – to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
  4. In Philippians 1:21-26, Paul exhorts us to attach meaning, purpose, and value to our experiences. Our faith provides a moral compass on how to respond in our situations that continues the mission and furthers the gospel, even in the face of our own deaths. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.”

 

As you learn to apply God’s Word in practical ways, you will cultivate a positive outlook on your life and circumstances (mind), care for your physical well-being (body), apply healthy coping mechanisms to regulate your emotions (heart), and maintain your moral, ethical, spiritual compass in the midst of your response (soul). In other words, your resiliency skills, when properly trained into your life will help you obey Jesus’ Greatest Commandments, found in Matthew 22:37-40, regardless of your circumstances:

 

And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

 

In doing so, you are assured to please your Commander by obeying Him. This leads us to the final action step of our soldier’s training regime.

 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

Resiliency training teaches us that we must proactively respond to events and circumstances in such a way that allows us to overcome their negative impact on our lives. Additionally, resiliency skills equip us to live our lives on mission in more effective and fruitful ways. In short, they allow us to get back up and CM!

 

God has given every believer the same power that gave Jesus the resiliency to live His life on mission for God, without distraction, and to face His own death for the glory of God, without compromise. Paul prayed according to these truths for his own ministry in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” As good soldiers of Jesus Christ, this is my closing prayer for you, that may you walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the grave, so that you may live your life on mission for God, without distraction, and face your own death for the glory of God, without compromise. Join with me in praying, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Say that out loud three times. If you believe that, and learn to live it, you will be able to get back up and CM, no matter the circumstances of your life.

 

Jesus was tempted. You will be, too – Get back up and CM!

Jesus was misunderstood. You will be, too – Get back up and CM!

Jesus was gossiped about. You will be, too – Get back up and CM!

Jesus was ridiculed. You will be, too – Get back up and CM!

Jesus was betrayed. You will be, too – Get back up and CM!

Jesus was abandoned. You will be, too – Get back up and CM!

Jesus wept and was grieved. You will, too – Get back up and CM!

Jesus anguished and experienced anxiety. You will, too – Get back up and CM!

Jesus experienced pain and suffering. You will, too – Get back up and CM!

Jesus died. You will, too – Glorify God with your death and CM!

Jesus was resurrected. You will be, too! Do you believe this?

 

No matter what happens – Get back up and CM! To live is for Christ and to die is gain! If you believe this, live it! Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.
 

You can listen to the message by clicking below:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 
 

FOOTNOTE:

 
[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York, NY: Macmillan Pub Co, 1984), 92.
 
 

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Train to Live on Mission – Week 32

Battle Drill #32:

Get a Grip on your Appetites before they take hold of you!

Proverbs 23:1-5 (NAS95)

 

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – “Get a Grip on your Appetites before they take hold of you!” Appetites come in many shapes and sizes. Speaking of which, so do we! Soldiers of Jesus Christ are a diverse group of people, and, in fact, often it is our diversity that highlights our unity in Christ more than anything else. Often what threatens our unity is when our appetites take hold of us, and we no longer want what God wants for us. We are to desire holiness above all else, but what happens when our appetites for sensual pleasures, worldly success, or wealth take over our agendas and calendars? What happens when congregations lose their focus on godliness in the name of the mission, or for the good of their community, and pastors drift away from their first love as they strive to serve their people, or their careers? We must get a grip on our appetites before they take hold of us! Let’s turn to the Field Manual and take the first step of a soldier’s training routine to live on mission.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 23:1-5:

 

When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for it is deceptive food. Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.

 

This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply it to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

“Put a knife to your throat” is an idiom that means, “to exercise self-control.”[1]
 
The way we get a grip on our appetites is by exercising self-control as a Spirit-habit of our lives. If you are put in a situation where you can give yourself over to your appetites, like an all-you-can-eat buffet, or an open bar at your buddy’s wedding, or free Wi-Fi, you must practice self-control, or you are going to get yourself in trouble and be taken out of the fight. Regardless of what the areas of temptations are in your life, if you want to be “useful to God,” then you must exercise self-control, as Paul teaches his protégé in 2 Timothy 2:19-22:

 

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

 

Earlier I called self-control a “Spirit-habit of our lives.” That’s because it is the fruit of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23,
 
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” These are the supernatural qualities given to us by God’s Spirit – they are a collective whole that demonstrate the Spirit’s work to mature us in our Christian walk. The more we manifest them the more Jesus is made visible in the world through us! I want to emphasize to you the life-giving reality of walking in the Spirit, from which God manifests in and through us His divine power, such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

 

Paul taught Timothy that if we are to be “useful to the Master” then we must “flee from youthful lusts and pursue faith, love and peace.” In the same way, a good soldier of Jesus is not to be distracted from the mission (2 Timothy 2:4). The Christian life is not one of sin management! That is a frustrating and distracting way to live, one that doesn’t lead to fruitfulness and effectiveness! Quite the opposite, the life of a good soldier of Jesus is a positively focused life, as Galatians 5:16 states as an introduction to the fruit of the Spirit, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

 

What are you focusing on – your sin or God’s Spirit? We are to walk in the freedom of the Spirit, not in slavery to sin. Both seek to rule your every impulse and thought, but only one for your good and God’s glory! Allow me to further demonstrate from 2 Peter 1:2-11, the supernatural reality of how self-control works in the life of a good soldier of Jesus:

 

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

 

Did you hear that promise? “As long as you practice these things, you will never stumble!” We must train the promises of God into our lives, such as 1 Corinthians 10:13-14:

 

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

Are you stuck in a negative sin-management mindset? Have you allowed your appetites to take a hold of your life? Do you have idols you need to flee from today?

 

What are idols in our culture? We do not normally go to a pagan temple and serve the pagan god by making offerings. But, what do we bow down to (or submit to) when it makes a demand on our lives? Is there something that belongs only to God, that we give to someone (or something) else? To help you understand, here is a parallel question: Is there something that belongs only to our spouse, that we give to someone (or something) else? Idolatry is spiritual adultery! Just like with adultery, an idol overpromises and underdelivers. Idols, and the sin that manifests from them, hold no power except what we feed them. Therefore, as Paul said, make no room for idols in your life – Flee from idolatry! There is a better way to live and that brings us to the third action step of a good soldier of Jesus.

 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

Today’s battle drill exposes our heart issue of addiction, which the Bible calls idolatry.
 
Whenever you habitually want something more than you want God, you have an idol problem! This is not a benign tumor, which you will give more time to see what comes of it; rather, this is a malignant one that we are going to decide to remove today. Why? Because it’s sin! Don’t manage the bad fruit of your idolatry, get to the root of it and rip the idol out of your heart that is producing the perennial sins of your life.

 

When someone struggles with addiction they habitually and repeatedly expose themselves to a substance or behavior that alters their brain chemistry, until the brain and body become dependent on either that substance (e.g., drugs, alcohol, or other chemicals) or the effect of that behavior on their brain chemistry (e.g., dopamine release from screens or activities). Addiction causes that substance or activity to become rooted into the physiology and psychology of the person, and that must be addressed wholistically – spiritually, but also emotionally, mentally, physically, and many times with body chemical adjustments that should be provided and monitored through your medical provider. Today, I’m addressing the spiritual reality of it.

 

There are two areas of addiction that many people in our culture struggle with and are named in today’s chapter from Proverbs: sensuality (specifically food and drink) and wealth. Both, your senses and wealth, are gifts from God when they under the blood, but without the mastery of the Holy Spirit they can destroy your life. Let’s deal with sensuality first. In this category we find the issues of food and drink as mentioned in our battle drill, Proverbs 23:1-3, and throughout Proverbs 23, such as in verses 20-21, “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.” This calls for self-control, just as we see prescribed in Proverbs 23:29-35:

 

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. “They struck me, but I did not become ill; they beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink.”

 

In the same way that God calls us to self-control in our food and drink for our own good, He does in our sexuality. Paul teaches in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8:

 

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.

 

Please realize that God is not trying to rain on your parade! Quite the opposite, He is wanting to reign over your life so that you can experience abundant life of Jesus Christ through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (John 10:10).

 

The second place God calls us to self-control is with our wealth, as our battle drill teaches us in Proverbs 23:4-5, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” Jesus made this clear in Matthew 6:19-24:

 

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

 

The only solution is to get to the heart of the problem – mistrust of God! John says in 1 John 5:21, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” While this seems to come out of nowhere in his triumphant letter, it is the perfect conclusion because idolatry is a lack of faith in God. Because we don’t believe God will keep His promises on time every time, we put our hope and faith in lesser things to meet our needs. For example, an ungodly desire for wealth reveals a lack of faith that God is Jehovah-Jireh. This is a faith issue, the root of idolatry is not money, but the love of it (1 Timothy 6:10) – it’s the failure to realize that everything we own has been given to us by the grace of God. God is the provision, and He meets our every need. We rest and live in an effective and fruitful life when we trust that this is true, when we believe God; that is saving faith! This leads us to the final action step of our soldier’s training regime.

 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

Jesus stated in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” That’s the action plan for today’s battle drill, and it will set you free from sin to live for Christ as a good soldier.
 
Jesus rebuked the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4-5:

 

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.

 

You must invite the refiner’s fire – the Holy Spirit – to purify your heart and lead you into repentance! Paul taught his protégé in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline [sound mind, self-control].”

 

The mission of God requires the soldiers to be focused on the mission. In combat, a distracted soldier is a dead one! You must train yourself to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit who gives you all you need for life and godliness, from love to self-control and everything in between so that you can live on mission – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3a; cf. Romans 8:29). James 1:12-17 teaches us how to do this:

 

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

 

Outside of Jesus’ nail-scarred hands, your sin will take hold of your life and keep you weak and ineffective. To be useful to God, you must crucify you flesh and walk in the freedom of the faith God has given you (Galatians 2:20). Are your appetites under the blood of Jesus Christ or are they still wreaking havoc on your mind and heart, distracting you at every turn? Get a grip on your appetites today by bringing them to the throne of grace and know that in God’s hands you are forgiven of your sin and cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9; Hebrews 4:16).

 

Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.
 

YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE MESSAGE BY CLICKING BELOW:

 

YOU CAN WATCH THE MESSAGE BY CLICKING HERE.

 
 
 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), Pr 23:2.


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Train to Live on Mission – Week 31

Battle Drill #31:

Build a Good Reputation!

Proverbs 22:1 (NAS95)

 

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – Build a Good Reputation!” In the military, your reputation means everything, not only within the unit you serve, but also in determining your future opportunities. While there are professional qualifications that do set you apart by their mere presence on your uniform and in your personnel file because,let’s be honest, the military loves their uniforms and bureaucracy, what really matters is the character and conduct of the person who is wearing the uniform. Whether you are a private or a captain, and whether you have badges and tabs on your uniform, at the end of the day, it is your reputation that will determine your success. Yes, making the next rank, earning special qualifications, and graduating from elite schools are indicative of your potential, ultimately, it is what you do with your potential that matters.

 

In the same way, you can dress the part in the church, you can learn the language of Christianese, and you can even hold important positions in the congregation, but what matters is your character and conduct. Just like in the military, it is what you do and how you do it that shapes your reputation amongst the congregation and the community. While appearances, positions, and education can make a positive impression up front, it is your character and conduct in the everyday situations of real life that builds your reputation. God’s Word speaks clearly to the importance of this in today’s battle drill. Let’s turn to the Field Manual and take the first step of a soldier’s training routine to live on mission.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.”

 

Ecclesiastes 7:1a states it this way, “A good name is better than a good ointment. This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply it to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

Your name, which is your reputation, is more valuable than any measurement of wealth (silver, gold, or ointment); in fact, it has eternal value.

 

To learn how to properly train this, we are going to learn to do two things:

 

1. How to live with an eternal perspective of our name by learning to live backwards.
2. How to seek the commander’s approval by learning to live from the inside-out.

 

Let’s start by training ourselves to live life backwards by cultivating an eternal perspective of our reputations. Watch Jesus train His disciples to live on mission in Luke 10:17-20:

 

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

 

The disciples’ names were written on the roll call of the Commander – they had been chosen by God to be enlisted as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3-4)! Here’s the point: You don’t deploy yourself to become a soldier or because you want people to think you are a soldier; soldiers train to live on mission so they can deploy at their Commander’s direction, according to His authority for the fulfillment of His mission.

 

Jesus emphasized this kind of thinking in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” You have been chosen, now bear the good fruit of eternity. Paul emphasizes this in Ephesians 2:8-10:

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

 

God chose you by grace (remember Proverbs 22:1 stated, “favor is better than silver and gold”), so now walk in the good works He prepared for you ahead of time. God gave you good works to shine His light and to proclaim His Kingdom. There is a backwards feel to this because in the world your works determine your reputation, but in the Kingdom, you don’t earn Heaven with your works. In direct opposition to that, you proclaim that you belong to Heaven by your good works! You do the works of the Commander because you are being a good soldier whose name is on the rolls of His army. Jesus explained such thinking with the fruit-bearing imagery of the Christian life in Matthew 7:15-23:

 

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

 

Pointedly, this haunting passage teaches us that we could do the same kinds of things as those people – claim ourselves to be people who can cast out demons, be prophets, or perform miracles, but if we are not doing so as good soldiers, in accordance with God’s will, then we are equated with the lawless one. Church, let us not be so easily impressed with personality, charisma, or self-righteous proclamations of faith,let’s watch the consistency of conduct and character, the good fruit that demonstrates whether we are good trees. There are charlatans out there, wolves in sheep clothing, who can dress it up and talk the talk, but only those who belong to Heaven will persevere to the end. In Revelation 3:5, Jesus challenges us with the truth of having an eternal perspective on our name, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” This is the backwards way of living – it is an eternal perspective on your name which allows you to persevere until the end because you know it is what God says that matters. This brings us to the third action step of a good soldier of Jesus.

 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

Today’s battle drill exposes our heart issue of hypocrisy.

 

This is a significant issue, especially seen in social media, where people present a false front of what is true. To the point that many people have multiple social media accountsone that is for their teachers, employers, or family to see their crafted identity, and the other, often under a different name, so that those same people do not know who they really are.

 

Allow me to give you a piercing but liberating truth so that we can eradicate the issue of hypocrisy from our own lives. Hebrews 4:13-16 gives us the treatment plan:

 

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Praise God that He knows the truth about us! We don’t have to hide from Him, but rather we can find rest for our souls in surrendering our lives to His lordship and working out our salvation with fear and trembling so that God has full access to bring about His good works through our lives. This is what Paul promised in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

 

God wants to build our reputations from the inside-out! The heart of Jesus’ invitation to become His disciple is take on His easy yoke and find rest for our souls – in relationship with Him we become like Him, gentle and humble in heart, so that the world may see and hear Christ through us (Matthew 11:28-30). We are called by God to be His image bearers and our reputation, our name, is shaped by His Spirit in us. We are to shine brightly, just as Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16:

 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

 

My name is designed by God to point to His Name – my reputation to His gospel proclamation because “there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)! This leads us to the final action step of our soldier’s training regime.

 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

Paul spoke of those who served in the mission alongside of him in a special way in Philippians 4:1-3:

 

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion [yokefellow], I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

 

Paul was saying that those who are His true companions are those in the yoke of Jesus Christ. The mission is to make Christ visible through us, so that people will repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Our reputations make visible which kingdom we belong. I have tried to make it clear that we will persevere until the end when our names are written in the book of life because God does His work from the inside-out through His Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul speaks of it in terms of our inheritance of the Kingdom of God:

 

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

 

It is not that you have struggled or once were a partaker of these sins. No, haven’t we all sinned and struggled?! It is that you are not defined by your sin – such things are not the pattern of your life nor definer of your name. Quite the opposite, your name, your reputation, are washed through the blood of Jesus Christ to shine Christ alone. John admonished us in 1 John 1:5-10:

 

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

 

We conclude with a glimpse of the New Heaven and New Earth from Revelation 21:23-27:

 

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 

If your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, your name will point to the eternal name of Jesus Christ! That is the work of the Holy Spirit in you because the Spirit causes you to persevere until the end – to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ through the good works He appointed you to do. This is God’s will.

Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.

 

 

You can listen to the message here:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 

 

 


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Train to Live on Mission – Week 30

“Do Righteousness and Justice!”

Proverbs 21:3 (NAS95)

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – “Do Righteousness and Justice!” This is an essential battle drill because, just as we learned the importance of preventing friendly fire incidents, which demoralize an army and reduce its effectiveness, so, today, we learn that we must avoid war crimes, which tarnish the reputation of the Commander and the nation he represents, as well as jeopardizes the moral high ground and legality of the mission. War crimes happen in every war, and when war criminals are brought to justice, they are tried by military tribunals and civilian courts, alike, to measure their actions according to the laws of land warfare, such as the Geneva Convention, and the specific rules of engagement as established by their Commander.

 

In the same way, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, when we do things outside the authority God has given us as His agents, actions which are not representative of our Commander nor the kingdom He represents, and are outside of His purposes for His army and His will for His people, we tarnish the reputation of Jesus and His kingdom, as well as jeopardize the moral high ground and legality of God’s rescue mission, as Jesus’ commissioned us in Matthew 28:18-20:

 

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

War crimes must be avoided if we are to fulfill our mission! Let’s learn how to train today’s battle drill, “Do Righteousness and Justice,” by seeing what the Field Manual has to say about it.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 21:3, “To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.”
 
This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply it to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

You must know the Word of God and prioritize the way of Jesus Christ above all other pathways if you are to do righteousness and justice as a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life.
 
This is a call to obeying orders, just as we have learned repeatedly during this sermon series. For example, this is the third time I’ve quoted to you 1 Samuel 15:22, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” Soldiers follow orders. They don’t cover their disobedience with self-justifications, blame shifting, or religious talk.

 

The word selection of “justice and righteousness,” used by Solomon in Proverbs 21:3 is found throughout the Old Testament and it “represents the ideal standards for legal and ethical behavior and an ideal for kingship modeled on the righteousness of Yahweh.”[1] These words are yoked together as a word pair to signify a larger concept of God’s kingdom and, as such, they cannot be separated in the eyes of God, nor should be in our own. We cannot shirk justice under the guise of “being righteous” and we cannot place justice on a pedestal above righteousness. The two are integral concepts to being loyal citizens of God’s kingdom.

 

We find this word combination in 1 Chronicles 18:14, to describe David’s kingdom, “So David reigned over all Israel; and he administered justice and righteousness for all his people.” Very interestingly, this idealistic description of David’s kingdom as one of “justice and righteousness” is used in Jeremiah 22:1-5 to establish a standard by which Israel would be judged:

 

Thus says the Lord, “Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, who sits on David’s throne, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates. ‘Thus says the Lord, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place. For if you men will indeed perform this thing, then kings will enter the gates of this house, sitting in David’s place on his throne, riding in chariots and on horses, even the king himself and his servants and his people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by Myself,” declares the Lord, “that this house will become a desolation.” ’ ”

 

The word pair of “justice and righteousness” is God’s standard of conduct for His chosen people. When we carry this into the New Covenant, we realize that Jesus not only exemplified “justice and righteousness” in his own life and ministry, but He also fulfilled it on the Cross of Calvary so that we, through faith in Him, may live according to His example as citizens of His kingdom. Jesus commanded His early listeners to the equivalent of the Old Testament’s “justice and righteousness,” by teaching us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

 

The kingdom of God that Jesus calls us to prioritize is His fulfillment of what Israel got only a glimpse of with David’s kingdom. As we just saw, David’s kingdom, though not perfectly, was modeled on the righteousness of Yahweh, and, in fulfillment of God’s promises, unified the twelve tribes of Israel and gave them rest from their enemies within the secure boundaries of the Promised Land – a partial and temporary fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3:

 

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

 

Whereas David’s kingdom saw its fulfillment in Solomon’s Temple and his golden era of prosperity and influence, Jesus’ kingdom will not fall into decay and division, and will have its ultimate fulfillment in the eternal Kingdom of God, called the New Heaven and New Earth, with a New Jerusalem, as described in Revelation 21-22. Until that time, Jesus’ kingdom, in which we, His Church, the living temples of the Holy Spirit, are called to administrate His kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven as kings and priests, with justice and righteousness, in order to unify all nations under His banner of love, with the promise that one day Jesus will return to rule from His throne with a “rod of iron,” a symbol of God’s unerring government of justice and righteousness where there is no corruption, perversion, or favoritism (Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15). Until the completion of the promise to see all nations blessed, we are to continue the work of blessing all the families of the Earth through the blessings we have received in Jesus Christ as rightful heirs to the promise of Abram, as I read from Genesis 12:1-3 earlier, and for which Jesus succinctly stated in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

 

We are to train ourselves to take the blessing we have been given and bless others with it – we are to bring Christ’s rule of justice and righteousness to all people. This is our mission! Now we must deal with what causes us to become distracted from the mission. This brings us to the third action step of a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

Paul commanded his protégé in 2 Timothy 2:3-4, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
 
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” You were saved for the mission of God – you were enlisted! That’s not enough because being a good soldier requires training to develop a vigilance of mind and heart so that you don’t give into lesser pressure, whether from the world, other people, or yourself.

 

Today’s battle drill exposes our heart issues of worry and anxiety – the worry that causes us to lose focus on the mission of God and the anxiety that entangles us in the affairs of everyday life. As one pastor explained, “Our actions flow from what we actually BELIEVE to be true – not from what we SAY we believe. We worry because we really don’t believe that God owns everything, that he provides our resources and protection. Worry is a statement of belief that God will not fulfill his promises, and is not a good father.”[2]

 

This is a common example from our daily human experience – many of us struggle with financial security, finding ourselves worried about whether we or our loved ones will have our daily bread, enough money for retirement, or enough (and the right kind of) insurance to pay for our increasing medical care, or whatever it is we are fretting about at that moment. In that place of worry, we have a decision to make in our daily walk with Jesus Christ – to trust God and walk faithfully in His ways, or to trust in ourselves and do it our way or the world’s way.

 

To do justice and righteousness as a battle drill, we must trust the Commander and seek His will, His way, even in the places and times of our insecurity and fears, which cause us anxiety and worry. Simply trusting in Him is a huge step toward quelling the fears that try to overtake us. Faith moves mountain of unbelief within our own mind and hearts. Faith calms the storms that are raging inside of us. Paul promised God would do this for us in Philippians 4:6-9:

 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Right actions flow from right emotions which flow from right thinking. Right thinking comes from meditating on God’s Word, which is the spiritual principle behind the promise of prosperity found in Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

 

We must actively separate our thinking from the thinking of the world. It is the thinking of the world that often feeds into our anxieties and fears. But God’s way is different, and better, from the world’s way.[3] We are admonished to do just that in the promise of transformation found in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” If you want do righteousness and justice, then you must submit to God’s ways.

 

Let’s take this into our everyday lives. Jesus explained how we are to have victory over our worry and anxiety so that we can prioritize justice and righteousness in Matthew 6:25-34:

 

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Jesus diagnosed us accurately and told us the truth of why we struggle to do justice and righteousness – we allow our worry and anxiety to control our lives, instead of living by God’s grace and walking in the Spirit. We are reacting to people and situations from fear and not faith, worry and not grace. We are not trusting God to calm the storms. Jesus is inviting you to a great faith. This leads us to the final action step of training as a good soldier to live on mission today.

 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

Today’s battle drill requires you to prioritize your life around faith.
 
You have a choice to make – to trust God and His ways or to take matters in your own hands. The life of faith comes with life and consolations from the Spirit. The life of flesh comes with death and desolation of your spirit. Paul spoke this clearly in Galatians 5:16-25:

 

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

 

The conclusion of this passage, verse 25, has military image in the original language. The picture given by Paul is that when we live by the Spirit then we are walking in rank and file as His good soldiers, submitted to His commands.[4] The Commander is calling you to train yourself to live by faith and walk in the Spirit, and in doing so, you will not commit war crimes – you will do justice and righteousness – you will seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

 

You have received the right of inheritance[5] – the kingdom of God has come to you through Jesus Christ, and you are to manifest it on Earth as it is in Heaven! This is your birth rite and the mission of God; the question is whether you will live according to it. Just like with any soldier at any time in world history, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, you are off mission when you disobey the Commander and aren’t focused on His purposes for your life. Soldiers who violate the rules of engagement or the laws of land warfare become an impediment to the mission, and potentially a war criminal. Please, don’t do this as a soldier of Jesus Christ! You will do nothing but illegitimize the mission in the eyes of nonbelievers, bring dishonor to the name of Jesus, and further blemish the Church. Instead, trust God in word and deed, and you will proclaim the kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven! Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.
 
 
 

You can listen to the message here:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 

 

 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), Je 22:3.

[2] Shared with me in an email from Curt Ferrell on September 22, 2022.

[3] Comments to me in an email from Emily Hurst on September 23, 2022.

[4] Emily Hurst commented on this passage in an email to me on September 23, 2022, “The original Greek shows us something interesting about verse 25. The word live here comes from the Greek verb ‘zaó,’ which means both the physical vitality of being alive as well as the process of living life. The phrase ‘let us walk by’ comes from the Greek “stoicheó” WHICH IS THE MILITARY WORD FOR WALKING IN RANK, AS SOLDIERS!!! So, a paraphrase of this verse, based on the Greek roots, might be: ‘Since the Spirit gives you life, stay in rank for the Spirit.’ Which is literally the whole point of the battle drills we are learning.”

 

[5] Curt Ferrell commented in this statement in an email to me on September 22, 2022, “Reminds me of John 1:12-13 – ‘But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.’ This translation seems to imply that while we have the ‘right’ to become children of God, we might not claim that ‘right’ – and lose out on being called Children of God. But I recently saw a different perspective/translation – ‘he gave the AUTHORITY to become Children of God.’ If we are truly children of God, we must act within the authority that he has given us. We could simply ‘claim’ to be children of God, or be ‘identified’ as children of God – but we can only ACT as children of God if we have his authority and act according to the power inherent in that authority.”


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Train to Live on Mission – Week 29

Battle Drill #29:

Prioritize Peace!

Proverbs 20:3 (NAS95)

 

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – “Prioritize Peace!”

 

Nothing will lose a battle quicker than friendly fire! It’s demoralizing to the army when soldiers are taken away from accomplishing the mission by either intentional or unintentional friendly fire. Unfortunately, and to the detriment of our mission success, the Church of Jesus Christ has had to learn this lesson repeatedly, throughout our two-millennia history, but we must continue to learn it afresh in every generation, and on a more frequent basis within our local assemblies. The strife and division caused by infighting, and the quarrelling that comes with it must be dealt with directly by their fellow members of the body, and when people won’t listen to their brothers and sisters, then by church leaders. Just like when the blood cells in a person’s body turn against other blood cells, a congregation that turns against itself will become unhealthy, and, if not treated, will die.

 

It is one thing to discuss, and even debate, ideas on what the Bible teaches about different topics, but to assassinate people’s character and attack them because they don’t agree with your perspective is completely another. You see, it is ok to disagree (at least it should be!) and it’s even okay to debate the weightier issues of life and godliness, but to quarrel is never acceptable for the children of God. We, as the people of God, just like we, as Americans, have lost the civility (and humility) to prioritize peace over our own opinions and perspectives.

 

There is hope – the hope that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, who gives us peace with God, offers us His Holy Spirit who guards our minds and hearts with God’s peace, and invites us to live on mission as His peacemakers to all people. These are the precious and magnificent promises, and we covered all these promises of peace, in detail last year – vertical peace, internal peace, and horizontal/external peace – and this is the purpose for Christ coming and it is our mission! [To learn more about this, you can find them in my study on the Promises of God, Live Like a Champion Today: The 40 Promises in 40 Days Challenge!] Let’s learn how to train today’s battle drill, “Prioritize Peace,” by seeing what the Field Manual has to say about it.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 20:3, “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.”
 
Earlier, in Proverbs 17:14, Solomon wrote, “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.” This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply it to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

We are commanded not to quarrel! It is foolishness because it’s in violation to God’s Word, as James 3:13-18 explains:

 

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

 

We will yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” when we submit ourselves to the discipline of our Heavenly Father, and that includes whenever we find ourselves quarreling with  our brothers and sisters, in thought, word, or deed (Hebrews 12:11). No good parent finds joy in watching his kids fight, but, rather, good parents desire to see their children cultivating a lifelong friendship. Let’s be honest, children of God, we reap what we sow! If you want to be a peacemaker during your week, in the hard places of work and life, then you must prioritize peace in here, with your church family. We are off mission whenever we quarrel.

 

Paul gave the following instructions about prioritizing peace in their ministries to the church to both of his famous protégés:

 

  1. Titus 3:1-11. “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”
  2. 2 Timothy 2:14-26. “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’ Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

 

Paul requires us to train ourselves according to the will of God, and the will of God is for us to become like His Son Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. This requires discipline. I have repeatedly told the elders of our church that they are not allowed to be quarrelsome, but to be listeners and to be people of prayer. That if they are to speak, they do not speak from political ideology or personal perspectives, but from the Word of God. This is a hard discipline to be under, and all church leaders fail at it because we are all human, but we must prioritize peace, especially the Gospel of Peace. That means we must deal with our own heart and mind issues that war against the Prince of Peace and His Cross. We can’t give the world what we first don’t carry ourselves. That takes us into the third action step of a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

Today’s battle drill exposes our heart issue, which is exposed every time we quarrel (inside and out)! Allow me to introduce this to you in a positive way, through an Old Testament story where the great Patriarch of our faith, Abraham, exposes the heart issue of his nephew Lot, from Genesis 13:5-9:

 

Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land. So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.”

 

Abraham avoided a quarrel by giving up the chance to seize the best portion for himself. After all, he is the one called by God, and Lot was a just a tag along. Why should he allow, nevertheless offer Lot the first choice of the land? And that question is the crux of the matter; there is our heart issue – it’s why Jesus Christ came as a servant (Philippians 2:3-11)! We are always looking out for #1 and trying to make our lives work out for us according to our own desires. Humanity, from the beginning, has proven to be a bunch of schemers, who are willing to rebel against God, and one another, to get ahead. We orchestrate events in our best interest, so that we can be the masters of our own destinies! Oh, don’t get me wrong, we give lip service to worshipping God and living for Him and His will (“take the wheel God”), but ultimately, every single person in this room has already proven that they would sell their birthright as a child of God to gain worldly happiness or comfort – it’s called sin, and according to Romans 3:23, every single one of us is guilty, deserving of judgment.

 

This is why Jesus Christ came – to rescue us from the grip of our selfish ambition and vain conceit, the sin that seeks our own desires (Philippians 2:3-4). Apart from Jesus Christ, we are not at peace with God; therefore, we cannot be at peace with ourselves, or with others. While we can orchestrate a cease fire, which only works as long as it benefits everyone according to their own desires (well, at least until someone feels like they get a better deal by breaking the cease fire). That’s the peace the world has to offer; it is a counterfeit of what God offers us through Jesus Christ. Jesus promised in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

 

As you already know, every promise of God comes with a praxis, and the praxis of peace comes with a hard discipline – the discipline of crucifixion, to carry one’s cross. In the same way Jesus had to be crucified to bring us peace with God, you must crucify your own rights to be a peacemaker. The gospel invites you to carry your cross; listen to how Jesus invited His followers to follow Him in Matthew 16:24-26:

 

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

So go ahead and justify your quarreling with your pompous self-righteousness and arrogant pride, but don’t be deceived, God will not be mocked even if you are swimming in da-Nile (denial), the Bible exposes the real issues that your quarreling exposes; it cuts to the heart, as diagnosed by Jesus’ half-brother, in James 4:1-4:

 

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. [Open your Bible and read the rest of the chapter; it’s relevant!]

 

With the heart condition of today’s battle drill diagnosed, and your training regimen established through Paul’s exhortations to Timothy and Titus, let’s conclude by looking at the final action step.

 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

Let me be clear with you, and please know that I say this as a fellow beggar at the King’s table, so I will personalize it, there is no justification for when I quarrel with you, for when I provoke my children to anger, or for when I pop off like a blowhard and alienate someone from the gospel of Jesus Christ because of my ideologies and perspectives.

 

In my opinion, there is only one thing that I should ever do that is offensive to you and that is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to you without compromise, declaring that the wages of your personal sin is your death, the second death of eternal torment in Hell. There is a coming judgment, and the only solution is to humbly yourself, confess your sin, repent of it, and cry out to God for His peace through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the only way to receive God’s peace, because it was Jesus Christ who came to take away God’s quarrel with you and, in His place, gives you His righteousness. The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, saved you to be peacemaker who proclaims the Gospel of God’s love with grace. Therefore, there is no place or time for you to wage a war that has already been won on the Cross of Jesus Christ. You are to declare it in word and deed; therefore, you are to prioritize peace as your way of life – vertically with God, internally within your own mind and heart, and in your relationships as you extend the gospel peace of Jesus Christ to all people, regardless of their ideologies and perspectives (Philippians 2:14-15).

 

I dream of peace within the people of God. While it feels like a pipe dream in today’s world, nonetheless, I pray for it, and I prioritize working together with God’s people, His Church, to fulfill the angelic proclamation that accompanied the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Peace is the good fruit of the Christmas miracle!

 

We are the branches upon which we are to bear that fruit! It is the Holy Spirit who brings peace to the nations through the coming of the Messiah. That is the promise of Isaiah 9:6-7:

 

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

 

The Holy Spirit works through the people of God to accomplish this purpose for the coming of Jesus Christ. God is bringing the world under His peace, through the Church’s faithful proclamation of the Gospel of Peace, in preparation for the Messianic Kingdom. This is what He has saved you for, He bestowed love and grace upon you, to give you peace and reconciliation, to enlist you for His peace-making mission. As Paul stated in Romans 5:8-11:

 

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

 

Prioritize peace today. I pray Paul’s words from Colossians 3:15 over you, “[may] the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

 

Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.

 
 

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Train to Live on Mission – Week 28

Battle Drill #28:

Listen to Counsel and Accept Discipline!

Proverbs 19:20-21 & 27 (NAS95) 

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – “Listen to Counsel and Accept Discipline!” 

The military is an uncompromising environment for obedience; that is for one primary reason: the mission is dependent on every single soldier doing his or her job, regardless of the circumstances. Soldiers are expected to follow orders, to listen to the counsel of those who have been put in places of responsibility over them, and to accept discipline when they have not done the first two. The Church of Jesus Christ is set up the same way because, like the military, we are a missional people – the mission is dependent on us understanding clear lines of authority. In other words, just like the military exists by decree of national authority to execute the will of its Commander, so the Church exists by the grace of God to fulfill the will of God. The clearest illustration of this is Jesus’ praise of the centurion’s faith in Matthew 8:9-10: 

“For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.”

Did you hear what Jesus just taught us – a right understanding of being under authority is “great faith.” Even though it has been misapplied by many church leaders, to the detriment of the church’s reputation and the fulfillment of our mission, it is this understanding of submission to authority that caused Paul to reference soldier imagery in the Scriptures. If we, disciples of Jesus, are to be effective and fruitful for the very reason we were saved, then we must remember the words of Paul to his protégé in 2 Timothy 2:3-4, which are the theme verses for this entire year of study on how we are to train to live on mission, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” 
 

Let me be clear, in praising the centurion, Jesus was not praising Rome nor affirming the military occupation of Israel. Jesus was not rubber-stamping might makes right, political coercion, nor the subjugation of a people. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was praising the centurion, a Roman military officer, for understanding authority and submission to authority, in a way that military people uniquely understand – good soldiers reflexively, instinctively, and habitually follow orders! Paul understood this and called the church to have the great faith of the centurion – to teach us how to live under authority and focused on the mission of God for the glory of the King of Kings, Jesus, our Commander. Let’s learn how to train today’s battle drill, “Listen to Counsel and Accept Discipline,” by seeing what the Field Manual has to say about it.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 19:20-21 & 27,
 
“Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand. … Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”
 
This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply it to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

From the beginning of the book of God’s Wisdom, as we previously discussed in this sermon series with the battle drill, “Heed God’s Wisdom,” Proverbs 1:33 states, “But he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

 

Just as today’s Scripture, Proverbs 19:20 reminds us, “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days.” Stated in the negative, Proverbs 19:27 illustrates the same point, “Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” The connections between these verses are obvious. If you want to live the victorious life of Jesus Christ, then, like a good soldier, you must submit to God, by listening to and obeying your Commander! I’m not trying to be overly simplistic, but, truly, just like I would counsel a recruit in the Army, it is that simple. [So why do we make it so hard? I’ll explain that in action step #3, but let’s keep learning how we are to train this before we focus on why we don’t do it.]

There is a very important theme here, and for those of you who were with us last week, it will sound very familiar: Listen! There is an important Hebrew word behind this big concept, and it is found in all three of the above verses: Shema, translated “listen” or “hear” is a famous Hebrew concept because Jesus Christ declared the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:37) to be what the Jewish people traditionally call, “the Shema,” from Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Every good soldier of Jesus Christ must learn that if you want to train to live on mission, then you must listen to and obey God’s wisdom. We must heed God’s reproof when He warns us or disciplines us. This is the way of wisdom! The book of Proverbs gives us the primary way to discern whether you are a wise person; it is by how you respond to the wisdom of God – to His counsel and His discipline. Accordingly, King Solomon teaches us that there are only three categories of people: 1) the wise, 2) fools, and 3) mockers (“scoffers”). Fools and mockers hate God’s wisdom, do not listen to counsel, nor accept discipline; rather, they turn away from it and hate God’s messengers who bring it. This is made clear in Proverbs 1:20-33:

Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

This passage captures one of the major themes of the book of Proverbs – be wise by listening to and obeying God’s counsel; don’t be like the fools and mockers. Wisdom must be trained into our lives and that requires the discipline of listening to God’s counsel through His Word and its messengers, and accepting God’s discipline through providence, the direct work of the Spirit through the Church, which is Paul charged his protégé in 1 Timothy 4:6-11:

In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things.

This is my charge as your pastor, from the counsel of God’s Word and when I don’t do it properly or faithfully, then the Lord has put me under His discipline. Therefore, allow me to make this as simple as possible: Good soldiers obey the Commander’s orders! That goes for me, as well as it goes for you. We each must submit to His authority and do our respective part as members of one body. Let us now take the third action step of a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

Last week’s battle drill was dependent on you cultivating the character quality of humility, and we learned that humility is forged in the crucible of your prayer life. It is in your quiet times with God that you become like Jesus.

Today’s battle drill is dependent on cultivating the relational quality of trust! Trust and humility go hand in hand. They have a reciprocal relationship – you will never learn to trust God until you humble yourself and submit to His authority! We learn to trust our Commander by putting Him to the test every time He tells us to do something. What do I mean by that? I mean you listen and obey! You listen to His counsel as if your life depended on it, and you accept His discipline as from the hand of a good and loving father who only has good plans for you. Until you trust God, you will not listen to counsel, from God or His people, nor will you accept discipline from God or those He has placed in authority over you. 

In fact, until you learn to trust God you will be a stubborn, stiff-necked person who will not listen to anyone else’s counsel, but only that which agrees with you and presumptions about how your life should work out, and you won’t even accept the premise of your need for discipline, because all that you do is right in your own eyes. That’s not being a good soldier of Jesus Christ, that’s being a self-righteous person who does what is right in your own eyes! I have countless stories from the 929 chapters of the Old Testament to pull from for where such thinking will take you, but allow me to read what the prophet Samuel said to King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:13-23:

Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the command of the Lord.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Wait, and let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak!” Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel, and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”

The word “obey” in verse 22 is shema – listen and obey! You think you are worshipping God with the things you choose to do for Him, by doing what seems right to you, but the fact is, according to God’s counsel and the example of His discipline, you are only truly worshipping God when you are doing what He commands you to do. So, listen to my counsel today and hear God’s word of counsel to His people from Jeremiah 7:22-28:

For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and sending them. Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck; they did more evil than their fathers. You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you. You shall say to them, “This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God or accept correction; truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth.”

This is a prophetic word to our nation today. I beseech you, God’s people, train this battle drill until its reflexive, instinctive, and habitual – listen to God’s counsel and accept His discipline. Trust that your God is a good and loving God who only speaks truth and only disciplines His true children for their good, and for His glory, as Hebrews 12:7-11 explains:

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

It is only with an unwavering trust in God that you will live on mission and bear the good fruit of the Holy Spirt as a member of Jesus’ body. Let’s look at the final action step. 
 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

In John 15:8-11, Jesus calls us to this very purpose:

My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just like soldiers who are serving in the military, the church has a mission that depends on every member of the body of Christ to do his or her job, regardless of the circumstances. Paul teaches this in Ephesians 4:11-16, where we hear the reason why the centurion’s faith is so critical for us today because God has placed each of us under authority so that His church will be faithful to fulfill His purpose for enlisting us as members of His body:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

These are your marching orders for the sake of the growth of the body of Christ. The key is for you to trust God and to take Him at His Word – to listen to counsel and accept discipline! Until you have proved Him to be trustworthy in every area of life and godliness, He will not prove you to be His disciple because the fruit of righteousness only comes through obedience – the true worship of God! This is your freedom from sin (your enlistment to be a member of His body through your salvation), so you can sincerely worship of God in truth and spirit! God is looking for a few good worshippers today! Men and women who will bring His gospel to a world in desperate need of His rescue: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”
 
Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.
 
 

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Train to Live on Mission – Week 27

Battle Drill #27:

Listen Before You Answer!

Proverbs 18:12-13 (NAS95)

 

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – “Listen Before You Answer!”

 

Effective communication skills are essential to the success of any military operation. In radio communications, there is a very important word that you must learn if you are going to be successful as a soldier. That word is “over.” When the speaker says, “over,” it means he is finished speaking. It implies that you, the receiver of the message, are now allowed to answer. If the speaker doesn’t need or expect an answer, and has nothing else to say, he doesn’t use the word, “over;” rather, he uses the word, “out.” Now, you as the receiver must give the appropriate response, such as “roger,” which means, “received,” and implies you understand what was communicated. That is different than “wilco,” which means “will comply” and indicates that you understand and will complete the task that has been given to you. Here’s the point of this lesson, both military protocol and basic communication etiquette dictate that you would never answer “roger” or “wilco” until the other person says, “over” because you can’t answer wisely without first listening to the entire message being communicated. You always listen before you answer, and that skill must be learned if we are going to CM as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Let’s learn how to train this skill, by listening to what the Field Manual has to say about it.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 18:12-13,
 
“Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor. He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”
 
This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply today’s battle drill to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

The key attribute to today’s battle drill is humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking about yourself less. For example, when someone is speaking to you, are you listening to them or thinking about what you are going to say next?

 

Good communication requires two things: 1) assertiveness, which is the ability to put into words what you are trying to communicate; and 2) active listening, which is the ability to listen and hear what the person is saying to you. It takes both people to achieve effective communication, but it is active listening skills that allow you to verify you have heard the message before you answer the message; it is the skill of mirroring and validating the person for sharing their heart and mind with you. Which is why active listening requires your full person, your full attention. You can’t multitask when communicating with a person and expect to do it well. You need to stop what you are doing and give your full attention to the other person.

 

I encourage you to pray in the Spirit for God to give you wisdom and discernment so that you can have ears to hear what the person is trying to communicate to you. Often, we all need help to do this because what we hear is not always what the person is trying to say because we have filters from our own life experiences, our hurts, habits, and hang-ups, which can distort an accurate interpretation of the intended message. There are not only filters, but assumptions, particularly in situations where we already perceive we have been wronged. Therefore, active listening requires God’s assistance, as well as full body listening, to include your eyes to watch for non-verbal cues, and your ears to listen to words and tone because we all know that the same words can have different meanings based on how they are said. It requires patience to seek validation that you heard properly and to seek clarification when confused by what the person is saying, or why they are saying it to you.

 

Here’s the bottom line of training today’s battle drill, and it’s found in Philippians 2:2-3,
 
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

 

If you care more about your response than you do the other person’s message, then you will never be good at communication. You may be able to lead meetings, give presentations, or speak from the front, but you will not achieve effective interpersonal communication skills. Listening before you give an answer requires you to have humility, one of the greatest attributes people can achieve through their relationship with God, and one that defined Jesus. A powerful illustration of this, from the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, is found in Mark 10:46-52:

 

Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

 

Jesus listened before He answered the man’s cry for mercy! Jesus listened first! Of all the people who have ever walked on the face of this earth who could have presumed to know what someone would want without listening, it would have been Jesus. But Jesus listened first, even to a blind beggar! Jesus’ half-brother taught us to follow Jesus’ example in James 1:19-20,
 
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”

 

Until you realize your own need, as a fellow blind beggar, to cry out for mercy and ask Jesus to open the eyes of your heart, you live in the reality of Proverbs 18:12a, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty.” A prideful person never listens before they answer because they presume to know what the other person is thinking and is going to say. A prideful person interrupts instead of listening, rushes to make judgments about the other person, and imputes motives on the other person based on those judgments. No wonder such pride leads to destruction, of our relationships, and of our own lives. There is a better way! Let us now take the third action step of a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

We learn how to do this battle drill reflexively, instinctively, and habitually by practicing it in every relationship, including our relationship with God!
 
In theory there is no new information here, we all know to do this, to listen before we answer, but very few of us are consistent enough to say that we are good listeners, especially in the most difficult of conversations when we feel anxious and want to defend ourselves or our point of view. In fact, this is the most common issue I deal with in marital counseling – poor communication skills that cause ineffective conflict resolution. That is why I spend so much time teaching this in premarital counseling, in hopes of preventing the predictable damage caused by people who don’t listen before they answer!

 

Why was Jesus so good at listening? (Please don’t say because He was God. Such answers tend to make us lazy in our Christian discipleship. The Bible teaches us Jesus is fully God and fully human. As a person, Jesus learned and matured, just like all people must learn and mature. That is made clear in Luke 2:52, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”) Jesus Christ learned how to listen before He answered by spending time with God alone in prayer, being silent before God. As Mark 1:35 describes, “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” Even more tellingly is Luke 5:16, “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”

 

If you haven’t learned the humility to sit in prayer and listen for God, then how do you expect to sit with a person and listen to them? Do you have a regular rhythm of practicing silence as a part of your prayer life? Silence with God is where humility is forged into our character! It is my firm conviction that there is a direct correlation between our prayer life – our consistency to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen – and our ability to listen before we answer. Why? Because a good listener is someone who has learned the value of humility, and a humble heart is forged in the crucible of your prayer life, not the productivity or efficiency of your work life. A famous example of this is found in Luke 10:38-42:

 

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

 

Mary was humble to listen, as Proverbs 18:12b states, “humility goes before honor.” Jesus honored her and forever established the precedent that sitting at His feet and listening is the one thing necessary in the Christian life. Are you daily doing the one thing necessary? Why is it that we so often give ourselves to answering before we listen, to working before we pray, to going into our day without first reading the Field Manual? I’ll tell you why, because of pride! And we demonstrate our pride through our inability to be good listeners. Our relationships are filled with presumption and pride and that is why we are experiencing destruction in so many aspects of our culture and communities. Presumption and pride are the enemies of communication! That brings us to the final action step of our training regimen.

 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

The Church exists to communicate the love of God to all people! How are we doing at being good communicators of God’s love? Paul says of the love we are commanded to demonstrate to one another and our neighbor in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a:

 

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…

 

Jesus taught us in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” This is our Commander’s intent – for the world to know that we belong to Jesus and that they, too, can come into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ, in His life, death, and resurrection. This is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ – Christ crucified, resurrected, and glorified is coming back to rescue His bride.

 

Are you listening? Or, in military language, “Do you copy? Over.”  

 

We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. How are we to know how to serve others, in the name of Jesus and with the love of God, if we don’t listen well enough to know the needs of our neighbors, which includes those in this room, those at home, and those with whom we work and play? Let’s take our cue from Jesus who went up to the blind beggar and listened to Him. We must learn to ask that same question, “What do you want God to do for you?” Instead of being presumptuous and prideful, assuming we know their answers or imputing motives on their lifestyle or circumstances, what if we actually listened? If we want people to understand Jesus is the answer, then we must be different when we approach them – humble, active listeners who care about them as real people and not just targets of evangelism.

 

Do you copy? Over.

 

According to military radio etiquette, you can respond to today’s message in one of two ways: 1) “Roger,” which means, “I have received and understand;” or 2) “Wilco,” which means, “I understand and will comply.” Maybe “Roger” is the best you can manage today. That’s ok; it is my prayer that as you walk with Jesus, it becomes easier and quicker for you to respond not just “Roger” but “Wilco.” May we work hard to discipline ourselves to listen before answering. Maybe “Roger-Wilco” is the right answer, even if it is redundant, “I receive, understand, and commit myself to training myself to comply.”  We will all fall short, but don’t quit just because you fail. Just like in anything, get back up and do it better the next time.

 

Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.
 
 
 

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Train to Live on Mission – Week 26

Battle Drill #26:

“Apply First Aid – The Joy of the Lord is My Strength!”

Proverbs 17:22 (NAS95)

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – “Apply First Aid – The Joy of the Lord is My Strength!”

 

When I was a soldier, we were required to learn first aid and CPR. Why? Because the potential is high that a soldier, whether in training or on a battlefield, will need to apply first aid. In the same way, and for the same reasons, the good soldiers of Jesus Christ must train themselves to be able to apply first aid in all circumstances. God has provided a great medicine for our soul – the sweet balm of joy! There is much suffering and many tribulations in this life; therefore, we must build our lives upon the sure foundation of what Christ has given to us – His joy!

 

There is great joy found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is not only the joy of our eternal salvation, secured through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but this is the work of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of God’s presence in and though our lives that gives us a joy that will empower us through the mountaintops and valleys of our emotions and life experiences. Nehemiah 8:10 commands and promises, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Let me be clear from the beginning that the joy of the Lord is not a response to your circumstances, it is the posture of your heart in your circumstances, it is the firm foundation upon which you can biblically respond to your circumstances as a good soldier of Jesus! The strength of your joy is found in none other than the Rock of your Salvation – Jesus Christ! Let’s take the first action step of a soldier’s training routine to live on mission.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 17:22,
 
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
 
This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply today’s battle drill to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

Today, we are going to learn how to apply this truth to all circumstances – “a joyful heart is good medicine.” But the proverb also emphasizes that “a broken spirit dries up the bones.” This truth leads me to Ezekiel 37:1-10:

 

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ “Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.’ ” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.” ’ ” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

 

An exceedingly great army came to life because God breathed His Holy Spirit upon a bunch of dry, lifeless bones. Ezekiel described the bones as “very dry,” as if to say, “there’s absolutely no life left in these bones, and there hasn’t been for a long time.” And how similar is the experience of a broken spirit? A broken spirit dries up the bones! The decay is not instant, but the longer the spirit remains broken, the more apparent it becomes that there has been no joy in that person’s spirit for a long time.

 

Have you lost your smile? Do you feel dried up by the circumstances of your life – weary from this life and heavy-burdened by sin? The answer to your dry-bones condition is the balm of joy through a relationship with Jesus Christ because a joyful heart causes good healing!

 

As I shared with you at our worship in the park service in Memorial Park a few weeks ago, my favorite song to start off the day is from Psalm 118:24, “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This verse both reminds me and exhorts me to live according to what is true. One of the greatest ways to train this battle drill is through singing, so let us sing together this wonderfully simple, yet powerful hymn from Psalm 118:

 

This is the day (this is the day).

That the Lord has made (that the Lord has made).

We will rejoice (we will rejoice),

And be glad in it (and be glad in it).

This is the day that the Lord has made.

We will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the day (this is the day)

That the Lord has made.

 

The reason this verse, and its corresponding song, are so powerful to me is the context of the passage, found in Psalm 118:20-23:

 

This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, and You have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

 

We rejoice and are glad because Jesus Christ has come and brought life to our dry bones! Jesus told us in John 10:7-11 that He is the gate of the Lord:

 

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

 

Additionally, after Pentecost, in Acts 4:8-12, Peter preached that Jesus is the chief corner stone which the builders rejected:

 

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

 

The Holy Spirit brought life to the Church on Pentecost, raising up a new exceedingly great army for God. In the same way that the dry bones of Israel needed the Spirit of God to bring life and raise them up for a purpose as God’s army, so do you and I, today, as His Church, need the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our dry bones. Like the first Pentecost nearly two thousand years ago, God calls forth life to our dry-bones condition on purpose! He’s doing the same today, in and through us! Let us now take the third action step of a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

Applying the balm of joy to our circumstances (aka rejoicing) is a choice that we each must make moment by moment because of our faith, regardless of our circumstances. This battle drill is an act of obedience to what we know is true and it’s for our good – it’s to strengthen us for the mission and to shine God’s light in dark places! It’s an act of defiance against the evil and injustices in the world, declaring that this is not the way it is supposed to be!

 

Paul invites us to join him in Philippians 2:18, “You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.” Later, Paul commands in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” You can declare this in song, just like we did with Psalm 118:24, but you are to apply this to every circumstances. This decision, whether you rejoice, or not, has significant implications on your emotional stability, mental health, and spiritual vitality.

 

We see this truth laid out for us in Proverbs 15:13-16:

 

  • Emotional stability is expressed in Proverbs 15:13, “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.”
  • Mental health is communicated in Proverbs 15:14, “The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly.”
  • Spiritual vitality is proclaimed in Proverbs 15:15-16, “All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it.”

 

The joy of the Lord is your strength! God is at work in and through you in every circumstance you face, but you must choose to walk with Him and in His strength – to rejoice in His presence being with you! I often say to people when I counsel, “You choose to get better, or you become bitter – your choice!” It’s about faith in your Commander, not about your feelings (emotional), perspectives (mental), or interpretations (spiritual) of your circumstances. Let’s walk through five Scriptures to demonstrate this spiritual truth about joy from God:

 

  1. Psalm 16:11. “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
  2. John 17:13. “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.”
  3. Romans 15:13. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
  4. Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
  5. 1 Peter 1:3-9. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

 

Joy is not about our ever-changing circumstances, but our unwavering trust in God and His promises – our rejoicing in Him and His power to perform every promise, on time, every time, in us and through us! How many of would “rejoice always” if we walked under own strength. It’s impossible! Our joy comes from knowing that the resources at our disposal are not limited to the inadequacy of our humanity, but rather the resources we have access to flow from the fountain of grace that brings us salvation and the power to walk confidently and securely in all our circumstances – the Holy Spirit! In His power, we live on mission for God. This brings us to the final action step of our training regimen.

 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

This battle drill becomes the foundation on which we can be resilient when knocked down so that we can bounce forward and persevere to the end.
 
When joy is the deep bedrock of our souls we can experience the human realities of anger, grief, and sadness without being displaced from the rock of God’s joy into the shifting sands of human emotions. You can experience the hardships and injustices of real life, and respond authentically as a child of God, and authoritatively as a soldier of Jesus, without the forsaking of the joy of the Lord because you are secure in the Father’s love and sovereign grace.

 

We live on mission by reflecting the heart of Jesus Christ in how we live our lives and in how we conduct our business. This is our calling as image bearers of God – to reflect Jesus by living our lives as He did His. Jesus was motivated by the joy of the Lord, and went to the Cross for His joy to be made full in us, as promised in John 17:13, and as described in Hebrews 12:2-3:

 

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

We are to follow His example. Do not grow weary and lose heart, apply first aid, and allow the ever-present breath of God, the balm of His joy, to be your strength. May your dry bones come to life!
 
Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.
 
 
 
 

You can listen to Pastor Jerry’s message here:

 

You can watch his message by clicking HERE.

 
 

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