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)

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)