Sunday, May 27, 2007

Enlisted in the Lord's Army

This Memorial Day weekend has given me the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices that so many soldiers have made for the freedom of our country and freedom we sometimes take for granted. The cost of freedom is great, it's paid with the blood of our soldiers.

I joined the United States Army back in 1977. I was a senior in high school and I actually joined the Army in what was called "The delayed entry program." Although I joined and signed up and was technically enlisted in 1977 at the start of the school year, I would not go active duty until after I graduated from High School in 1978. Finally that day came in July of 1978 when I raised my right hand and was sworn into the United States Armed Forces as a soldier in the United States Army. That day I gave up all my rights as a civilian and became the property of the United States Government. I gave up all my authority and submitted to the authority of my Commander in Chief, the President of the United states of America. Talk about submission or surrender, those that have served in the Armed Forces understand exactly what this means. A soldier must react to orders without hesitation, without thinking of consequences. The soldier simply carries out, or executes to the best of his or her ability the command that they have received. We're trained and disciplined to follow orders and commands with urgency and without hesitation and this training starts in "Boot Camp" and carries us through the rest of our days in service to our country.

I'd like to mention here, that no matter how you feel about the War we're engaged in right now in Iraq, the soldiers that are there serving, are doing so because they go where they are told when they are told. If you wish the situation to be different, they pray for God to change the situation, pray for our leaders in our Government to make good decisions, but the soldier, the soldier is at no fault. The soldier is to be commended for their commitment to our country. Too many times we protest against the soldier, and that's sad and wrong.

When I was in my training to become a soldier, I was taught discipline, commitment, urgency, and perfection in everything I did. We we're given a soldiers manual that instructed us on how to carry out basic functions as a soldier. We studied and eventually were tested on each chapter of that book till we could perform every function without making any mistakes. We had to know it so well that we could perform every task without even thinking about it. It had to be automatic for us. We learned to react quickly to orders and commands. When told to run, we shouted with urgency, "Sir, Yes Sir." the only appropriate response was "How far?" When we were told to jump, we shouted, "Sir, yes Sir." and of course the only appropriate response was, "How high?" If we didn't react fast enough we were disciplined, if we didn't shout out loud enough, we were disciplined. All this conditioning was for one reason of course, to develop us into soldiers that would react with a very high sense of urgency of obedience when given an order, no matter what it was.

Well this weekend I've been thinking about the similarities of the United States Army and the Lord's Army. I believe that many Christians forget or really don't understand that they are soldiers in the Lord's Army. As a Christian, you are thrown into battle the day you "enlisted." Wait a minute Steve. I didn't join in any Army, I simply gave my life to Christ as my Lord and Savior. He's promised me eternal life and someday I'm going to live with Him in Heaven. I didn't become a Christian to fight in a battle, No Way!

Well let's take a look at what the bible says...

Eph 6:10
A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power.
Eph 6:11
Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil.
Eph 6:12
For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
Eph 6:13
Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.

You can see from these verses that we are fighting in a battle. This is a War unlike any other because the cost is so high. If we don't fight, then Satan (our enemy), claims another casualty of War and the soul of that person is lost forever. Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians that we must put on the armor of God because we are fighting against an enemy that we can not see, against powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits. Without God's armor, we're not equipped, we're not able to succeed in this battle and resit the enemy and be able to stand firm. When I read these verses I immediately think back to my military days long ago. And when I think about the discipline I had then in the Army, When I think about the commitment I had then, when I think about the understanding I had of my manual and how I had perfected and learned all that was in it. I have to say that now that I'm enlisted in the Lord's Army, and realizing that the consequences of this battle far exceed any other, I'm ashamed to say that my urgency to obedience, my commitment, and my knowledge of my manual (the bible) is less than acceptable as a soldier in the Lord's Army.

My challenge for each of us this weekend is to think about where we stand in our Lord's Army as one of His soldiers.

1. Have we truly given ourselves over to our "Commander in Chief's" authority? Do we do what God tells us to do, do we obey His commands without hesitation, or do we waiver in our obedience?

2. Have we read the manual? Do we know our bible? Have we studied it backwards and forwards so that we can live it without thinking about it? Do we strive to perfect our lives in Christ?

3. Do we understand that we are all soldiers enlisted in the Lord's Army, fighting the battle of battles? Do we understand that if we are not wearing the full armor of God, we will not be effective in this battle at all? Do we know how to fight? Do we understand and know our enemy and his tactics and strategies?

Final thought... How would you feel about a soldier in the United States Army, who didn't care to train and learn how to obey commands and orders without hesitation? How would you feel about our armed forces if there was no discipline and commitment of our troops? How confident would you be with our military if they didn't work hard to perfect their abilities and skills of warfare? I guess there's only one question left to ask...

What kind of soldier are you?

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father. Thank you for my time of service in the US Armed Forces. Not only did I learn to love and respect my country, I learned skills and values that I can apply to my life as a Christian serving in Your Army. Please Lord, may we all be challenged to grow, to become better soldiers for you. May we all renew our commitment to the fight and take a stand with you in this battle against our enemy Satan. Thank you Lord for equipping us with all we need to be successful and victorious in this battle. We know in the end, the victory is yours, but we also know many will be lost in this battle before it's over. Forgive us Lord, where we've failed in the past and help us now to train and discipline ourselves for your service. It's in Jesus name we pray. Amen

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