The Good Soldier (Part 2)

“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” [2 Timothy 2:3 NASB]

Who is the good soldier of Christ Jesus? In part 1 we saw the good soldier of Christ Jesus is a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven. He faithfully enlists because of a passion for the honor and glory of his Commander and in his zeal will lay down his earthly life in death. Because the good soldier is always in active service, he willingly and selflessly suffers hardship to uphold the authority of Christ’s Kingdom. 

Today we continue looking at “The Good Soldier of Christ Jesus” in as we move to 2 Timothy 2:4.

“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.” [2 Timothy 2:4 NASB]

Since it says, “No soldier”, let’s pay attention to the life style of every good soldier of Christ Jesus: does not entangle himself in the affairs of everyday life. The good soldier lives with no thought of self, but only for his Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” [Galatians 2:20 NASB]

Being crucified with Christ is a putting aside as to death the old ways of the mind (thoughts) and the old ways of the heart (actions). The good soldier serves with his mind and heart faithfully focused on the glory of Christ in the warfare for the Kingdom. He is not to let himself be distracted by “the affairs of everyday life”. To entangle the old life focus of selfish ambitions with the new life focus of Christ divides the loyalty and makes the soldier unfit for war.

“Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” [Hebrews 12:1 NASB emphasis added]

Sin is the entanglement that makes a soldier unfit. Sin expresses itself with many ugly faces: worry, conformity to the world’s ways, anger, selfishness; the list goes on. When a soldier leaves home to serve, he also leaves the “cares the everyday affairs” of that home behind. Now his main concern is to have the mind of Christ, which focuses on the affairs of the Kingdom.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” [Philippians 2:5 NKJV]

The good soldier is to serve his Commander with nothing held back; he serves with body, mind, and soul in the fight to uphold the standards of the Kingdom. He must wholeheartedly be engaged to “suffer hardship” to remain true to the Kingdom and his Commander. This wholehearted devotion must not be a work of the flesh that focuses on a personal strength of will power to bring himself glory. The goal is to do everything to bring his Commander the glory. How does Christ equip His good soldier to “suffer hardship”, to serve wholeheartedly to bring Him glory?

“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” [2 Timothy 2:1 NASB]

 Christ’s soldier is equipped in the strength found in “the grace” of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1 identifies some of the armament found in this “grace”: sincere faith (v. 5), the gift of God (v. 6), God’s power, love and discipline (v.7). And the soldier is given the indwelling Holy Spirit to guard what has been entrusted to him. Thus, Christ’s soldier is fully equipped and all by God.

“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.” [2 Peter 1:3 NASB]

Are you a “good soldier of Christ Jesus”?  Have you put aside the affairs of everyday life that entangle you that lead you into sin? Are you strong in the grace of your Commander fully equipped to engage in the warfare of the Kingdom? Let us be good soldiers who do not entangle ourselves in sin, but focus on His glory and honor wholeheartedly.

“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.” [2 Timothy 2:4 NASB]

Next time: The Good Soldier of Christ Jesus (Part 3)

The Good Soldier of Christ Jesus (Part 1)

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” [2 Timothy 2:3 NASB]

Paul, the author of this second letter to Timothy, calls us to action “as a good soldier”. Having spent much time associated with Roman soldiers through his various imprisonments, he took the concept of soldier and applied it to the Christian life.

What is implied in the concept of “soldier”? The soldier is a citizen of his country and serves his country out of love and devotion. As a soldier, he seeks to uphold the authority of his country’s government because he believes that government to be true and trustworthy. This strong love for country excites within him a zealous patriotism that propels him to fight to the death. It is his great honor and privilege to serve as a soldier for his beloved country and leader.

Paul calls each believer to serve “as a good soldier of Christ Jesus”. A soldier of Christ Jesus has his citizenship not of this world but of the Kingdom of heaven . 

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” [Philippians 3:20 NASB]

The good soldier serves out of love and devotion for the Kingdom and his Lord. He believes its government, laws and statues to be true and trustworthy, therefore he upholds its authority and advances its goals of righteousness, faith, love, and peace (2 Timothy 2:22). 

“Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” [2 Timothy 2:22 NASB]

The good soldier is consumed with a passion for the honor and glory of His Commander and in his zeal will lay down his earthly life in death. He is persuaded there is no greater honor or privilege than to serve as a soldier in his Lord’s army.

The soldier of Christ Jesus is called to suffer hardship in his service.  Webster’s Dictionary defines “suffer”: “to sustain loss or damage, to undergo, to experience, or to submit, to endure.”  The thought implied by “hardship” is evil or trouble. The soldier is to submit to loss caused through the evils and troubles that assail him while in “active service”. “Active service” indicates that the soldier is serving a tour of duty such as in a military campaign, engaged in warfare defending his country from enemy attacks.

“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.” [2 Timothy 2:4 NASB]

Have you enlisted as a soldier of Christ Jesus? Entering into His service is a daily dying to self and living only for Him to please Him.

Next time: The Good Soldier of Christ Jesus (Part 2)

A Table Prepared

“The LORD is my shepherd… You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” [Ps 23:1,5 NKJV] “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” [Psalm 34:8]

Psalm 23, a familiar and beautiful psalm, was written by David. David, a shepherd himself, saw the Lord his God as his shepherd in the midst of his. The Lord provided everything he needed in his life.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” [Psalm 23:1 NKJV]

A good shepherd was diligent to lavish tender care upon his sheep. He was careful especially to find a pasture where the sheep might graze securely, freely and sumptuously. So as a good shepherd, David searched for the pastures, prepared them, and then led the sheep to enjoy the bounty of the pasture. He set the pasture as a table before them as an act of care and love.

David sees the Lord as his shepherd preparing the events in his life as a pasture the Lord has set before him. His enemies are around him, seeking to destroy him. Yet he beholds the bounty of his God as a table prepared, a banquet lavished with good blessings. The enemy could not destroy him; they could only watch him partake of the bounty of His Lord, his shepherd.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” [Psalm 23:5a]

You might even see this preparation as a celebration of victory! The Lord is my Shepherd. The enemy must come through my Shepherd to bring me harm. The enemy may only watch the sheep partake of the bounty upon the table of feasting for those whose Shepherd is the Lord. Behold, the Lord has prepared a feast of many good things:

“the bread of life” [John 6:35]

“living water” [John 4:10]

“wine of gladness” [Psalm 104:15]

“oil of joy” [Isaiah 61:3]

“honey from the rock” [Psalm 81:16]

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” [Galatians 5:22-23]

“every word of God” [Luke 4:4]

Let us pick up His words and eat them as the sustenance of our life. Let them sink into the depths of our souls where they may nourish us in the goodness of our Lord. Let them be our hope of life and peace of soul.

“Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” [Jeremiah 15:16]

As we walk in the pastures prepared by the Lord, our Shepherd, are we partaking of His feast for us?

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” [Psalm 34:8]

“The LORD is my shepherd… You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” [Ps 23:1,5 NKJV] “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” [Psalm 34:8]

The Lord Will Perfect

“The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” [Psalm 138:8 NKJV] 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.” [Philippians 1:6 NASB]

In Psalm 138, David praises the Lord with his whole heart in worship for the Lord’s lovingkindness and mercy. David remembers the saving help of his Lord. In David’s time of trial, the Lord answered with strength and boldness needful to walk through the midst of trouble. The Lord did not forsake David for he humbled himself before his God. David boasts that his confidence is wholly and completely in the Lord. The Lord went before him with His right hand to save.

“I will praise You with my whole heart. …
 I will worship … And praise Your name
 For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
 In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
 And made me bold with strength in my soul. …
 For great
is the glory of the LORD.
 Though the LORD
is on high,
 Yet He regards the lowly….
 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
 You will revive me;
 You will stretch out Your hand
 Against the wrath of my enemies,
 And Your right hand will save me.”
[Psalm 138:1-7 NKJV]

David basks in the glory of his Lord to save him through the battles with his enemies. David also glories in the goodness of his Lord for he knows He will also save in that final eternal rest promised in God’s everlasting covenant of life.

“He has made with me an everlasting covenant, Ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation.” [2 Samuel 23:5 NKJV]

Then in climatic summation, David embraces the marvelous truth that the LORD will perfect, complete, mature all that concerns his readiness, his salvation, for that final day! His prayer rings out to the Lord, “Do not forsake the works of Your hands!” David is in effect crying out to the Lord, “Do not to stop the shaping, chiseling, and molding of my life in the midst of the trials and troubles of my life.” David’s desire is that the hands of God will work His goodness through every circumstance of life to make him a holy vessel that will forever rest in the glory of his Lord.

“The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” [Psalm 138:8 NKJV]

The same is true for all believers today. The Lord our God comes to us in His lovingkindness and mercy to save our souls from the enemy of death.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” [Ephesians 2:4-5 NKJV]

This same God transforms us into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ’s likeness.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” [2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV]

He shapes us, molds us, and tests us through the trials and troubles of our life.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” [James 1:2-4 NKJV]

So we too, as David, may have the confidence that our Lord and God will work the salvation He has begun in us until we are completely transformed into the glory of Christ’s likeness. Our Lord God will not forsake the work of His hands. In His enduring mercy He will bring us into eternal life in the glorious image of our Savior!

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.” [Philippians 1:6 NASB]

Has the Lord done a good work of salvation in you? Then He will not forsake you. He will complete, He will perfect, the work of salvation in you: conforming you in holiness into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” [Psalm 138:8 NKJV] 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.” [Philippians 1:6 NASB]

Lord, Teach Us To Pray (Part 2)

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him. ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’ ” [Luke 11:1 NKJV]

“In this manner, therefore pray:” [Matthew 6:9a]. 

The Lord Jesus in “The Lord’s Prayer” is setting before us a manner in which to pray. He presents a beautiful structure that teaches us how to pray. Each sentence is elegantly constructed with a truth about prayer. These truths form a “table of contents” or an “index”* for the content of our prayers: a pattern of prayer. Let’s look at it.

“Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” [Luke 11:2a KJV]

The opening sentence directs our attention to Whom we offer prayer and the manner in which we are to address Him.  We pray to our Father, hallowing (esteeming holy) His Name. This sentence sets forth the principle that prayer is worship of the Father. We are to approach Him in adoration, awe, and wonder for Who He is.  His praises should sound forth from our lips and heart. We are His creatures created to give Him glory. Thus prayer must begin with worship of the Father, giving Him the glory due His Name.

“Thy kingdom come.” [Luke 11:2b KJV]

 As the King of His kingdom, He is Lord and Master of all its citizens. Now we pledge allegiance to Him and His kingdom. We vow our undying loyalty, love, and allegiance to the cause of His kingdom. We pledge allegiance to the cause of His kingdom, righteousness, and to seek to bring that kingdom into reality through our faith and manner of living.

 “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 14:17 NKJV]

Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” [Luke 11:2c]  

Our allegiance then demands that our will be humbled to His will in submission to His commands. As He rules in heaven, so we desire He will rule in our hearts, that His will on earth will be done. We walk in obedience (submission) to do His will. We put aside the ways of our former lusts to be conformed to the image of His Son that we may do His will on earth as it is done in heaven.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” [Romans 12:2 NKJV]

Give us this day our daily bread.” [Luke 11:3]

When our hearts are bowed before our Sovereign God, we are then bidden by our heavenly Father to bring our petitions and intercessions. The requests and supplications are not for self only for the pattern is inclusive using “us” and “our” instead of “me” and “my”. Now we present the cries of our heart in the worship of Who He is and in our allegiance and submission to His Kingdom. We as loyal subjects know He hears for we ask according to His will.

And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us.” [Luke 11:4a]

Our petitions and intercessions cannot be complete without our trespasses, sins and iniquities being dealt with in confession. The confession of sin includes both our inward life as well as our public life. It is only because our sins are forgiven in Christ – we have been justified by faith – that we have access to our heavenly Father.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” [Romans 5:1-2 NKJV]

And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.” [Luke 11:4b]

The pattern continues keeping ourselves and others in view with respect to temptation and evil. We pray for watchfulness that we be not led into paths of sin. We pray that we may understand any deception and “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. And in midst of temptation ask for deliverance for we cannot deliver ourselves, our help is in the Lord; He alone is our refuge, our strength, our shield and Defender.

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” [Psalm 46:1 NKJV]

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever.  Amen.” 

His alone is the kingdom everlasting. To Him are all Majesty, Glory, and Honor due. In humble adoration we again turn our prayer to worship. We were made to worship. Let us worship the only Lord and God, Who alone has provided for our salvation in the death and resurrection of His Son. 

Lord, may we have ears to hear how you teach us to pray. 

“Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever.  Amen.

*The concepts of this post are taken from Kay Arthur’s book, “Lord, Teach Me To Pray in 28 Days” (Harvest House Publishers; Eugene, Oregon; 1982, 1955).

Next time: Bible Nugget

Lord, Teach Us to Pray (Part 1)

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him. ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’ ” [Luke 11:1 NKJV]

Through the example of John, the Baptizer, and Jesus, the disciples are engaged to take a deeper look at prayer. They were acquainted with the motions of prayer; the Pharisees made a great show in the temple with their long prayers (Matthew 23:14). 

“Woe … Pharisees … For you … for a pretense make long prayers.” [Matthew 23:14 NKJV]

Prayers to God are recorded throughout the Old Testament. Here are a few examples:

  • Samson prays for a last vengeance on the Philistines.

“Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, ‘O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” [Judges 16:28 NKJV]

  • Hannah prays for a son.

Then she made a vow and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.’”   [1 Samuel 1:11 NKJV]

  • Daniel prays for Israel while in they are in exile.

“Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer … And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity… by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. … O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face … because of the unfaithfulness … committed against You. … Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant … O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see … O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake …Your people are called by Your name.” [Daniel 9:3-5, 7, 17-19 NKJV]

Even many of the Psalms themselves are prayers to God for salvation, mercy, deliverance. So though the disciples are very much acquainted with prayer, they are now stirred to desire the truth of prayer that is beyond the visible eye. They want to know the heart of prayer. So we hear their cry:

“Lord, teach us to pray.” [Luke 11:1]

Jesus responds to their heart cry:

“In this manner, therefore pray:” [Matthew 6:9a]. 

What follows is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer”. It is a brief prayer that Jesus sets before His disciples so that it may be remembered and recalled as a manner for prayer. We might also call it a pattern by which we may pray. It is not intended to be repeated blindly only by rote. Jesus rebuked this a couple of verses before:   

“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” [Matthew 6:7]

So, how are we to pray this prayer again and again without it being a vain repetition?  How is the Lord teaching us to pray with it? He is giving a pattern, a manner in which to pray. He is giving us a beautiful structure to teach us how to pray. Each sentence is elegantly constructed with a truth about prayer. These truths form a “table of contents” or an “index” for the content of our prayers: a pattern of prayer.

When we pray let not these words of “The Lord’s Prayer” be in vain repetition. Let our hearts savor the beauty and truth of each of its words.

“Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”

Next time: Lord, Teach us to Pray (Part 2)

God Has Spoken By His Son

“Surely the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives.” [Deuteronomy 5:24 NKJV] God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,” [Hebrews 1:2] and “whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (forgiveness of sins) [Acts 10:43] and “should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:15]

The book of Deuteronomy contains the last words of Moses to the children of Israel. He reminds them of the deliverance of God from slavery in Egypt. They came out of Egypt to be free to worship the Lord their God and learn to serve their holy God. They came to Mount Sinai for the Lord to speak to them His holy words.

“So it was, when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, that you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. And you said: ‘Surely the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives. Now therefore, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God anymore, then we shall die. … You go near and hear all that the LORD our God may say, and tell us all that the LORD our God says to you, and we will hear and do it.’ ” [Deuteronomy 5:23-25, 27 NKJV]

The Lord God’s presence was so holy the people feared death knowing their uncleanness in sin. For God had told them that no man should see His face and live. [Exodus 33:20]. This same fear now falls upon them as they hear the Lord’s voice and know the closeness of His presence. They understood that man could hear and not die at the voice of the Lord.

However, the holiness of God was so bright and frightful, they feared for their very life. In response to this holy fear in the presence of a holy God, they asked Moses to go before God and bring God’s word back to them. Moses would now be God’s prophet, speaking God’s word to the people. The people promised to obey the word Moses brought from the mouth of God. And so God’s word would come to God’s people through prophets.

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things.” [Hebrews 1:1-2]

Then the time came when God would once again speak to His people face to face. He did so in His Son, Jesus Christ.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” [John 1:1, 14]

This Word of God in Jesus Christ came to speak face to face with God’s people so they might know Him. As they know Him, believe upon Him so that they might no longer fear their uncleanness of sin, but receive forgiveness (remission) of their sins through Jesus.

“To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” [Acts 10:43]

For as God, Jesus, had eternal life to give to whoever believes in Him.

“whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:15]

We no longer hear God’s word through His prophets; God has spoken His Word in His Son. In believing the words of the Son of God, fear of death is removed for God forgives the sin of all those who believe in His Son. Hear Him today.

“Surely the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives.” [Deuteronomy 5:24 NKJV] God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,” [Hebrews 1:2] and “whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (forgiveness of sins) [Acts 10:43] and “should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:15]