“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
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“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” 2 Timothy 2:3, NKJV
Over the last few years I have become extremely sensitive to the plights of our military servicemen and women and their families, being that we became one also. We had one of our own deployed in another country far away. It was an experience like no other.
Nothing prepares you for the sadness that comes when they depart. The heart unexpectedly wrestles with negative thoughts while they are away and sometimes the hopelessness of not being able to help overshadows you when you hear of their hurts and the trials they face.
It takes a lot to be a good soldier! Do you have the makings of it? Let’s find out.
From the first moment one arrives at basic training, Paul’s truth to Timothy becomes a reality: for one to be a good soldier you have to “endure hardship,” 2 Timothy 2:3, NKJV. From that very day, one is conditioned to withstand the fight. Bodies, hearts and minds are tested for staying power. They are trained to defend and protect. That means the task is not easy. One has to be able to endure some stuff that the regular, every day Joe can’t. People that are weak won’t last long at all.
God’s army is no different. It’s not for the faint of heart. We are in a spiritual battle and the gospel needs defending and protecting. Knowing beforehand of the possible struggles ahead can dress one with readiness of mind. It can prepare them for the fight through trials and tribulations. Paul had been urgent for Timothy to know ahead of time that there will be times of resistance, but the need to press is even greater.
Endurance is key for a soldier. Learning how to walk through the muck and the mire of this world takes an exertion of strength. But, the only way to get stronger is to keep pushing through, building up the necessary muscles that it will take to see this to the point of victory.
Secondly, Paul tells Timothy, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life . . .” (2 Timothy 2:4a, NKJV). It detracts the mind from the mission. To be in God’s army you have to be focused. Circumstances will always arise. Situations will always try to push themselves to the forefront of everything, but one has to remain focused and centered on the task at hand.
God has gifted each of us with special things to do for His kingdom, but the distractions of this life often invade and cloud our focus. It makes it hard for us to zero in on what God wants us to do – or, on what kind of soldier He wants us to be. A good soldier has learned how to take stock of everything going on around them, prioritize them, and keep straight on the course where God is leading, working in the gifts that God wants him to.
When we do that, 2 Timothy 2:4b, tells us it pleases, “him who enlisted him as a soldier,” (NKJV). The right man for the right job! God sees the potential that each of us have. Unfortunately, many of us don’t see it the way God sees it. Because of that, we are not so inclined to press through the fight and work in those gifts He has given us.
It “pleases” God when He sees us operating in and fulfilling what He has purposed us to do. He knows we can do it. Now, we need to grab a hold of those marching orders and press forward until the mission is complete. Make Him proud that you have been “enlisted!”
Switching themes to athletic competitions, in order to be one that can make it, 2 Timothy 2:5 tells us that everything has to be done “according to the rules,” (NKJV). Whether in competitions, or military, or with God, we don’t enlist on our own terms. Protocol has to be followed. Once you are enlisted, your way is out the door. The way you used to walk, the way you used to talk, the way you used to stand, the way you used to eat, etc. All of that is done away with. When you joined up, you joined up and took an oath to follow the rules.
We will never see the victory at the end of the battle trying to do this our way. It’s God’s way or no way! “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” (Isaiah 55:8, NKJV). God said that Himself! If you don’t compete according to the rules, you can run all you want, but you still will not get the prize.
Finally, switching themes once again, 2 Timothy 2:6, lets us know that it all pays off after a while. “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops,” (NKJV). Yes, it is hard! Yes, sometimes you will feel like quitting! But, don’t! Hang on in there and the reward will be yours!
Do you have what it takes to see this through until the end? Recheck that list and note if there are any areas that need improvement. Start today to be even more determined to be a “Good Soldier.” Endurance + Focus + Pleasing God + Following the Rules = a Reward for all your hard work. Are you up to the challenge today? Do you have what it takes to make it?
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall
speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come,
it will not tarry,” Habakkuk 2:3, KJV
I’m excited!!!! It’s coming!!!! It can’t hold off too much longer!!! It’s almost here!!!
I see something that has me positively giddy. BUDS!!! That’s right, tree buds! Oh, does it get me worked up. When I see those pretty little things start to form on the end of barren tree branches it sets my soul soaring because I know spring is just around the corner. The season has to come. It can’t hold off forever no matter how dim and dismal the weather may seem right now.
This anticipation is much like our spiritual lives. We know the promises of God. We read them daily in His Word. We have rehearsed some of them. Bound them in our hearts. Hold with a death grip on them. Yet, they are not here at this moment. But, it’s coming!
Often times the branches of hope in our lives can seem so barren as if no fruit or leaves will ever produce on them again; dry and lifeless things just blowing in the wind. But, it can’t stay like that forever. There is hope on the horizon that the promise of new life and productively will once again blossom for you and me, bringing to pass the vision that God has for you in your life.
The Bible tells us, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We don’t know why we often seem to be in a holding pattern but we can be assured that during the process God is working out His purpose in the midst of it all.
“Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come!” When God appoints the process to be done and the vision plan to initiate, it CAN NOT hold off. It has to COME! I know, I know! It’s the waiting part that’s hard – tell me about it! But as a mother carrying a child, the vision has to be birthed when the term is up. It can’t stay in that holding pattern for long. It has to come forth. It’s coming!
Do you want to know something else? One day I heard the birds chirping. A sure sign that Spring is on its way. Pretty soon I’ll be planting flowers and such but right now I’m giddy over the fact that’s it almost here. It’s coming!
What are you waiting for today? The Bible says, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” Psalm 84:11. God is not our magic genie but He is a promise keeper. “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” Deuteronomy 7:9. If it’s in His will and we are doing what we are supposed to be doing – It’s Coming!
We have a hope to hold on to today. Though we may not see it at this moment, the signs are around us. My promise is coming! “It will surely come and will not tarry!” Don’t Give Up!
SAY TO YOURSELF, “MY PROMISE IS COMING!”
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“Doth not all nature around me praise God? If I were silent, I should be an exception to the universe. Doth not the thunder praise Him as it rolls like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not the mountains praise Him when the woods upon their summits wave in adoration? Doth not the lightning write His name in letters of fire? Hath not the whole earth a voice? And shall I, can I, silent be?” – Charles Spurgeon
God has been teaching me a lot lately about how I view people. For instance, recently I ordered food at the drive-thru of a local fast food joint. The voice that came through the microphone was very well-spoken, eloquent and respectful. Pulling up to the window to pay for the meal, before me stood a gentleman with green hair, big fat wooden earrings in his ears, tattoos and so forth. I mentioned to my husband that I would have never identified that voice with that look or persona (not that any of those things are indicators of anything negative, it was just an observation).
Often we can come across people in our pathway who don’t look the way we feel they should look or don’t carry themselves in a manner approving of our standards, yet in them is a real person with a real soul.
David was judged wrongly by those of his own house. When the prophet Samuel came to Jesse’s house to anoint a new king no one suspected that the little ruddy boy out in the fields was the one God had in mind. Even Samuel himself looked at the appearance of the other young men and thought that surely one of these was the one God was seeking after. God plainly told Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7).
God has a perspective that we can’t have; He can see the heart of man. Perhaps instead of making up our minds too quickly about individuals we can just decide to love them and accept them as God made them and let God be the one to deal with their heart. God is awesome like that! He keeps teaching me and I am still learning, and in the process I am pleasantly surprised 🙂