Tuesday, February 28, 2023

There are still Soldiers in the Army of God: Encouragement for God's Weary Soldiers

Soldiers gather on the outskirts of a city. There are about two hundred of them gathered there, though other groups of faithful fighters are gathered in other places, some out in the woods encamped around fires, others in facilities deep within the cities. 

These soldiers are beat up, bruised, weapons still hot from combat. They've been fighting a long time. They've been fighting for years. War takes it's toll on soldiers. They are tired, exhausted, and low in morale. 

These are soldiers of the spiritual war for the souls of humanity taking place across the western world today. And I'm one of them. Gathered with my band of heroes, out in the sticks fighting a long, taxing war. 

We aren't winning, in fact our nation is ablaze with destruction. But still we fight on. We don't give up. But some of us, myself included, have become very tired. We've sorrowful from the battle. Our hands are shaking from the trauma of it. We want rest. We want the battle to end. We want things to be different.

These wants are not bad things. But the war will continue. We all have to understand that, and wrestle with that, and then keep going. We have to refocus in this battle. We have to find a new footing for this battle. Because our current attitude of bitterness, of grief, of lostness, of brokenness is not a solid footing to stand on.

It's not uncommon for a soldier to feel this way. We're gathered around fires, thuds in the distance, storm clouds brewing in the mountains. 

I was weary from the battle, bruised, and bitter, many troops who had battled with me had departed, though others joined with me, I felt exhausted, cold, and empty, and I longed for peace. But I realized that God was saying to me, "I'm with you in the battle." But God was also saying to me, you haven't kept your mind and heart on me. I had begun to disregard prayer. I had begun to lose some of my faith. I had allowed my heart to get a bit hard on the edges. I said to myself, what's the use?

I had taken big tag boards and written names, of people in the area where I served and prayed for them night and day for years, and I looked at the boards and realized most of them, if not nearly all of them, were not with the Lord, very little had changed in their lives. And I was discouraged. I was losing heart.

Ten years of battle I thought to myself and what has been gained? Not nearly what I'd hoped. Not nearly what I'd dreamed. But there had been victories, many victories in fact. But also defeats. Defeats are part of war. It's all part of what happens on Earth. Particularly in America many people don't want God. They feel like they have everything they need. They don't want to listen. That's hard on us, fighting day and night for them to turn to Christ. It's devastating to see them reject Jesus. However, when we get down, and depressed, and sullen, we start to focus on the negative, and not the positive. So we need a change of mind, from the Holy Spirit, and I'm praying in Jesus Christ name, that this will happen now for you. 

First, we need to adjust our entire mindset on this battlefield. We need to focus on Jesus Christ our glorious, victorious savior full of perfect love and grace and truth, and find refreshment for our souls. That's the first thing we've got to do, get our eyes off our problems, off our hearts, and onto the perfect Jesus Christ, the true King of the Earth, the Lord of all, and rejoice in his current total victory. We may see defeats, but our victory is so very secure. Others may reject it, we have not. And so our victory is secure. Other have their sacred choice to make. We can't help it if they make the wrong one, that's their sacred choice.  But we must keep our eyes on Jesus. I don't mean that as simple encouragement. I mean, as a matter of survival itself, you must, must, must keep your eyes on Jesus. Your salvation depends on it. So do it. He is victorious. Keep your eyes on that complete victor King Jesus, or you will lose heart and give up.

Psalm 123:1 "A Song of Ascents. To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!"

Hebrews 12:2 "Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

Two, understand, believe, and know that God's angelic armies fight alongside of us. We may look around and see only a tattered army of men and women. But, we are surrounded on all sides by soldiers who have been fighting much longer than us. They are elite soldiers, with powerful weapons, and constant direct access to our chief General the Lord Jesus Christ. These are angel armies, warring angels that stand beside us in combat and fight beside us in our desperate battles against the forces of darkness in the high places. They are with us. God commands them. They give all glory to Him.

Psalm 34:7 "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them."

Three, hope is the secret weapon of the soldier on the battlefield. Hope is the weapon of our mind to defeat any discouraging thought. Use this powerful weapon, by training your mind to counter any pessimistic thought with the truth of the scriptures, which is solid and real. 

When you think to yourself "I can't go on" stop yourself in your mind and say, "that isn't true. The sword says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The sword says in Christ I'm more than a conqueror through Him who loves us. God has not given me a spirit of timidity but of love and power and sober mind. Counter the negative thoughts immediately in your mind with the truth of God's word. God's word is not pessimistic. It acknowledges difficulty, it acknowledges grief and pain, but it also shows there is a Living Hope to cling to in those times. 

Isaiah 40:31 "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Romans 15:4 "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Four, find refreshment in the place of intimate prayer with God. In any time of prayer in your life, you must get alone with God and begin to praise Him, thank Him, rejoice in Him, delight in Him, and make your requests known to Him. But you need to go beyond there, and press deeper into prayer, and as you pray, longer and longer, you'll notice at some point in the prayer you'll breakthrough and begin to sense God's presence around you. Then delight in God in those moments, time will begin to pass more quickly, because you won't want to leave that sacred place. You're with God. This time when you're in God's presence is healing, and you'll find refreshment. But it takes diligently seeking His Face. At those times you'll also receive divine revelation, and guidance, so you may know His will and follow it.

Psalm 34:17-20 "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken."

Five, like Esther, you were made for this moment in history. Consider this wonderful reality of space and time and history. Think about it! You were made for this moment in history to fight this battle. As Galadriel said to Frodo, "If you don't find a way, no one will." You were crafted to be able to handle this fight in Christ and win the victory. 

See it from this perspective: This is a war that will always be remembered, and you have the incredible honor of fighting on the frontlines in this war on the side of the Light. Few can say the same. Many end up unwittingly serving the forces of evil. Consider it a great honor to serve your Master in this desperate battle. He sees your victories, and is close to you in your defeats. 

"If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” -Esther 4:14

Six, the life of the Christian is much suffering. I don't mean to be blunt, but that is a big part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. And the secret to learning endurance in suffering is something very odd and paradoxical that the apostle Paul talked about, he said, "I rejoice in my sufferings." He wasn't just making a cute statement to tell us how clever he was. He was talking about something very practical. When you suffer for Jesus, turn it around on the enemy and say I'm glad for this, I rejoice in this, because this is keeping me from apostasy, this is keeping me close to Jesus, this is training me toward godliness. Respond to suffering with rejoicing. I know it sounds crazy, it's actually biblical. 

2 Timothy 2:3 "Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus."

Romans 5:3-5 "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

Seventh, remember that Jesus Christ will return to give relief and victory to his dedicated soldiers. Jesus Christ will come again. I think it will be much sooner than we realize. I honestly expect it to happen within my lifetime. That's how close I think we are. So we should see that the return of Jesus Christ is very real and very close, and rejoice with hope. The return of Jesus Christ means the total victory of the cross will go from a faithful hope to a present reality, that transforms us into His likeness at last! Then, no more sin nature, no more law of death, no more suffering, it ends then when Jesus returns. 

Revelation 19:11-15 "Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations."

Until that day brothers and sisters, keep the faith and never give up hope! Yes, you're tired right now, you're exhausted from the battle, you're tired of losing battle after battle in the west. But take heart. Take a deep breath, and apply these principles to your heart and life. For me friends, I had to ask for someone to pray for me, I was at a theatre play of Pilgrim in Grand Rapids, and one of the actors afterward prayed for me, that God would soften and heal and renew my heart. I had allowed my heart to become somewhat callous and hardened. If that's you on this battlefield and you're demoralized, then cry out to God, ask your church family to pray over you, and God will hear from heaven and renew your heart and mind to softness and hope and a new outlook. Take some time, rest and pray, and then get back onto the frontlines of the salvation war, because we aren't done yet! 

Until then, veritas Domini manet in aeternum.

1st John 4:4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.