Lucia's Blog: 2021
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Thursday, December 30, 2021

NONE OF SELF AND ALL OF THEE

"Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
Mark 8:34


HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY BRETHREN AND FRIENDS FROM THE PARTAINS!

Indeed, 2021 has been another hard and painful year for many of us. It has been a season of sorrows, tears, and many burdens to carry.   So many are hurting because of their losses!  I’m praying for them. However, we have learned many helpful lessons along the way. Despite the pain and challenges we have had to endure, there are many reasons for which we must still be thankful to God. We must be mindful of His many blessings toward us, even when life seems difficult and we are struggling.  

Even amid our troubling and dark times, God shows His goodness and kindness toward us.   As the New Year 2022 quickly approaches, I am sure each of us is ready to bid farewell to 2021. I hope that as 2022 arrives, it will bring hope for a better year and a clean slate to write a new chapter in our lives. Every year at this time, we wonder what the Lord will have in store for us in the coming year. Despite the circumstances, we are pleased with what our God has accomplished through us in 2021We are grateful to God for the glories He has shown us even amid our trials and sufferings! Isn't it exciting and wonderful to imagine that God has no limits to what He might do in our lives?! Our hope for our brethren and friends in this coming year is that you may have a year full of wonder and Grace. 

Every new year we have new hope and a second chance. No matter how badly we may have failed this year, we still have a second chance to do things right and better in the new year. When our Lord pardons our faults, He gives us the hope that tomorrow will be better and more fruitful. As we come to the end of this year and the beginning of a new one, let us examine ourselves and reflect on how we have used the past year, choosing to do better and make better and wiser use of the time the Lord has granted us. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make changes that can make a huge eternal difference in our lives. There is no greater need in one’s life than maintaining a good relationship with our Creator! We must make a change to improve our relationship with God. 

My focus for the New Year shall be "None of Self and All of Thee."


I.   NONE OF SELF AND ALL OF THEE:

As the new year approaches, let us refocus on those things most important and recommit ourselves completely to God. Let me suggest a few:


  • Let us have less of self and more of Him.  
  • Let us put the will of our Lord Jesus Christ first in our lives.  
  • Let us redeem the time and not allow anything or anyone to distract us from serving our Lord and His kingdom of righteousness.  
  • Let us put ourselves to death. When we crucify ourselves with Christ, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20). Let us strive to live for Christ and not ourselves! 
  • Let us deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ (Mk. 8:34).
  • Let us strive to know God better and walk in a manner worthy of His calling.
  • Let us bear abundant fruit to God’s glory. 
  • Let us examine our hearts, look back at our lives, and devote ourselves entirely to God (1 Pet. 4:1-2).  
  • Let us aim to become poorer in spirit (Matt. 5:3).
  • Let us bolster our faith! 
  • Let us grow in Grace and strengthen our faith (Mk. 4:26-28). As our faith grows and develops, we start having none of self and all of God. We begin to fathom the width, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love (Eph. 3:18-19). Christ can only conquer our hearts when we give up ourselves and surrender to Him completely (Rom. 5:5).  
  • Let us serve God better and more faithfully. Let us use the gifts the Lord has given us to serve Him abundantly.  
  • Let us be more active in evangelism and start saving souls, for they are precious to God our Creator.  
  • Let us be more zealous for the Lord and not be afraid and lukewarm.  
  • Let us have more love and kindness.  
  • Let us be more disciplined and have self-control.  
  • Let us not be ashamed of Jesus and the Gospel, pull back, and neglect our gifts to further God’s kingdom.  
  • Let us not be ashamed or afraid to talk to people who do not know the remedy for sin. Do not be ashamed of Him who has saved us, even though the outcome of our faith may cause hardship and troubles! Should we be ashamed of Jesus, or should He be ashamed of us?! (Hebrews 2:11; Mark 8:38Should we be ashamed of our Rescuer?! Should we be ashamed of our hope?! Should we be ashamed of the life that Jesus has brought to us?! Let us not have a silent faith!  
  • Let us fight for our faith and hope like good soldiers of Christ! A brave and good soldier is not distracted on the battlefield. He is not entangled with other things. He is focused on doing what his Commander says to do. A good soldier acknowledges that distractions will keep him from serving and pleasing the one who enlisted him. He is single-minded, focused, and not distracted with daily affairs (everyday life, our country, sports, entertainment, social media, cultural problems, politics, jobs, hobbies, devices). Remember, a good soldier pleases the Lord and is not distracted, for he is focused on God’s kingdom of righteousness! Let us be good soldiers of Christ!  
  • Finally, let us be good athletes who compete by the rules to win. Which rules? Those sufferings that require us to take up our cross to follow our Lord (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:3). The rule for the athlete is not to avoid difficulties but to be willing to take up his cross, follow Jesus and suffer for Him (Matthew 16:24). The good athlete competes by the rules. He is willing to suffer shame, suffer pain, suffer rejection, and suffer death. His reward is the crown of life forever! God will exalt him to His right hand! The rules of this race require us to die to ourselves, not save our lives at any cost.


CONCLUSION:

Let us purpose in our hearts this year and for the rest of our lives not to fear and be ashamed of our Lord and His kingdom of righteousness. Let us proclaim Him and His Message to the world of darkness! Let us be faithful and endure that we might reign with Him.  But to accomplish that, we must not be ashamed and give up! We must be willing to suffer, lose our lives, be faithful and stand up for Him! Moreover, let us also be strengthened by the Grace in Christ to be more merciful, compassionate, loving, and forgiving. Remember Jesus and the Grace found in Him!  

The truth is that this might be the last year for many of us! Will we be one of those who will stand before God this coming year, or will we live to see many more years? Only God knows!  

Thus, let us choose to serve our God better. While we still have the breath to live, let us be grateful to our Creator and start bearing much fruit to His glory. Let us show our gratefulness by our devotion and service to Him as good soldiers who endure until the end and are approved of God, receiving their great reward (2 Tim. 2:14-26). Let us be instruments for honorable use (2 Tim. 2:20-21). To be honorable instruments to God, we must cleanse ourselves from the things of this world, dishonorable things, and start purifying our lives from the filth that stains us. To be an instrument for honorable use to our God, we must run from the passions and lusts of the flesh and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace from a pure heart. There is no other way to be useful to our Master and be ready for every good work!  

Let us make an inventory within our hearts to get out of the mud and be clean! Let the world watch in awe as they see our sincere faith and devotion to our Lord!  

May we further our service in God’s kingdom not only this year but each day of our walk with Him.  May we evaluate our strengths and weaknesses to fulfill God’s purpose for us. 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Col. 3:23)


I want to encourage each one of us with the song, “None of Self And All of Thee,” to put the will of Christ first in our lives, giving ourselves up and thus committing ourselves completely to Him.  

O, the bitter pain and sorrow That at time could ever be,
When I proudly said to Jesus, ‘All of self, and none of Thee.’

Yet He found me; I beheld Him Bleeding on th’accursed tree,
And my wistful heart said faintly, ‘Some of self, and some of Thee.’

Day by day His tender mercy, Healing, helping, full and free,
Brought me lower while I whispered, ‘Less of self, and more of Thee.’

Higher than the highest heavens, Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last has conquered: ‘None of self, and all of Thee.’



Luci




Sunday, November 28, 2021

HARVEST TIME

"Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." 
John 4:35



Our lovely song, “Harvest Time,” is a  Gospel song that compels us to look on the white fields that are ready to harvest.  Jesus sees the world of humanity as hopelessly destroyed by bad behavior, lost like sheep without a shepherd. However, He also sees our world as a wheat field ready for harvest. The song before us urges Christians to get engaged in reaping the Lord’s harvest.  Jesus tells us we need to participate in His harvest, the reaping of souls (Matt. 20:1-7).  He wants devoted volunteers who will gather far and near.  The Lord wants us to labor in His harvest and not sit or stand idle (Matt. 13:38).  The world is the field He has called us to labor.  He wants us to seek those souls who don’t know Him and lead them from the ways of sin.  Jesus urges us to be involved in His harvest, reaping souls who have gone astray like sheep that need to be sought and rescued (Lk. 15:4-7).  Our Lord and Master, the owner of the harvest, has promised to reward us if we serve others the way He wants us to serve Him (Matt. 25:34-40).   

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.'"  (Matt. 20:1-7)

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.'"  (Lk. 15:4-7)

 

I.   “LIFT YOUR EYES UPON THE HARVEST”

“… Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (Jn. 4:35)


Each Christian must go out into the hedges and highways to bring the lost to the Lord.

"But he said to him, 'A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.'"  (Lk. 14:16-23)  


The Lord has already given us the Message of the Gospel that we must preach to all nations under heaven (Mk. 16:15-16).  That Message tells the world of the Savior’s love shown by His death on Calvary (Rom. 5:8).  The Gospel Message proclaims full and free salvation to everyone who accepts it (Rom. 1:16-17).  

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'  18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.'"


God wants us to look upon the fields and notice that they are white and ready for reaping.  He is urging us to lift up our eyes upon the harvest. He commands us to be reapers in His harvestThe fields are ripened with souls that are just waiting to be harvested!  There is fruit over all the land. Thus, we must pray to God to send laborers to His harvest (Matt. 9:37-38).  Those who have labored patiently and diligently in God’s fields will produce fruit as they plant and water.  God will give the increase (1 Cor. 3:6).  

The Lord’s work must be done before the night of life falls (John 9:4)Death is the time when the reaper’s work is done (Heb. 9:27).   Knowing this truth, let us use the time that God has granted us to bring in the sheaves (Ps. 126:6).  Wake up!  The Master is calling us, the reapers, to be diligent workers in His vineyard!  (Matt. 20:6-7).  Many precious souls need to hear the calling of the Lord, the Gospel Message, and respond so that their souls may be rescued from sin.  Of course, the ultimate harvest time will be the end of the world when the final reckoning is made (Matt. 13:39). The reapers on that day will be God's holy angels.


CONCLUSION:  

God is urging the reapers, all true Christians, to see the importance of looking at the ripened grain ready for reaping.  Lift your eyes upon the fields!  The golden grain is bending low.  Let us not waste one ripe kernel of that grain.  To the harvest of souls, we must go!

God’s word is the seed.  The seed is planted through the preaching of the Gospel in the soil of people’s hearts.   Let us preach the Gospel to this dark world of sin and water the seed of God’s Word through continued teaching and gather a mighty harvest of people, lost souls, as they obey the Truth.  Every Christian must be engaged in this process of harvesting souls.  The Lord is compelling us to lift our eyes upon the harvest!  

So let us get busy working for the Lord as soon as possible.  Let us wake up and labor diligently for the Master and Lord in His “Harvest Time.”  Let us see the harvest as Jesus saw it so that we may win souls to Christ effectively.  Jesus saw the harvest as lost souls dying and facing judgment (condemnation) eternally.  Jesus saw the harvest as plentiful, precious, harassed, helpless, hopeless, and perishing. For all of these reasons, He saw them as His priority.  There are many lost souls everywhere! Are you able to see them?  Are you doing anything today to teach them the Good News of salvation?  Or are you wasting your time on something else rather than proclaiming the Gospel to the lost?

"Arise! Arise! The Master calls for thee; Arise! Arise! A faithful reaper be. Arise!
The field is white, and days are going by; Awake, awake, And answer, ‘Here am I.'"


May we pray that God send forth laborers to reap a great and mighty harvest of souls for His glory.  May Christians arise and hear the Master’s call. May we be faithful reapers, for the field is white and ready to be harvested.  May we proclaim the Gospel Message to every soul that needs to be saved, for they are precious to the Master and Lord of the harvest.

We have a song that stirs us to enter the harvest with joy and join the volunteers who are daily growing everywhere.  The title is "Harvest Time."  


Arise! The Master calls for thee, The harvest days are here!
No longer sit with folded hands, But gather far and near.
The noble ranks of volunteers Are daily growing everywhere,
But still there’s work for millions more! Then for the fields prepare.
 
Go seek the lost and erring ones Who never knew the Lord;
Go lead them from the ways of sin, And thou shalt have reward.
Go out into the hedges where The careless drift upon the tide,
And from the highways bring them in–Let no one be denied.

The message bear to distant lands Beyond the rolling sea;
Go tell them of a Savior’s love–The Lamb of Calvary.
Arise! The Master calls for thee! Salvation full and free proclaim,
‘Til every kindred, tribe, and tongue Exalt the Savior’s name!

Chorus:

Arise! Arise! The Master calls for thee; Arise! Arise! A faithful reaper be. Arise!
The field is white, and days are going by; Awake, awake, And answer, ‘Here am I.’





Luci



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

OVERFLOWING WITH THANKSGIVING

 
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.’” 
John 7:37-39


The last year and a half has been a time of loss and grief for us. We are coming up on the season of Thanksgiving, and it is a struggle for us to imagine what we might be thankful for. By the Grace of God, our hearts are enlarged to see the greater picture and bow before our great and loving God to say thank you again every day for the beautiful things that He has done for us. Let us consider a lesson from the Gospels that shows the power of gratitude in an unlikely soul.

Jesus says that those who believe in Him will have rivers of living water flowing from their hearts. When we come to Jesus and drink the living water that He offers, the living water can flow from us to others. So my question is, what flows from your heart and life?  Can others see what’s flowing from our hearts?  This week many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving. It is the time of the year when we pause, meditate, and give thanks for what we have.  I know this year and last year have been challenging for many of us. It might be a little more challenging to be thankful due to our losses and trials.  Indeed, this year has been rough!   Yet despite what’s negative in our lives, God wants us to overflow with thankfulness or thanksgiving, even in a rough year like this. Listen to Paul’s words.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

How can one be thankful, even amid trials and sorrows?  How can one overflow with thanksgiving? Let’s read God’s Word in the Gospel of Luke 17:11-19.  Let’s consider Jesus’ teaching for a little help with thanksgiving that overflows.
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ 14 When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19 And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.’”


 I.   GRATEFUL HEARTS THAT OVERFLOW WITH THANKSGIVING:
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’”  (Luke 17:11-13)

  • The Condition and Cry of Ten Lepers:
When Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, He entered a village where ten lepers met Him, though they stood far away because the Law of Moses commanded it. Hear what the Law said regarding those who had leprosy.  
“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip  and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.’”  (Leviticus 13:45-46)

This reminds me of those who test positive for COVID.  I’ve been there.  We must stay far away. Limit any interaction with others and remain in quarantine for 14 days.  
    • Imagine living that way, not for 14 days but in life?  
    • Imagine not allowing anyone to come near you for years or the rest of your life?  
    • Imagine living alone, separated from society and technology while you’re leprous?  
    • How terrible it is to be cut off from the world!  

We must understand that those who had leprosy did not have a normal life like yours and mine.  

Going back to our story.  The ten lepers were standing at a distance because the Law commanded it. And though they were obeying the Law, they still cried out to Jesus, yelling.  “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” These ten acknowledged that Jesus had the power to change their lives.  They did not regard Jesus as just another teacher.  They did not see Jesus as just a rabbi, teaching good things about God. They acknowledged that Jesus had the power to heal them. Thus they cried out to Him with loud voices as they stood at a far distance from Jesus. They knew the Master would have mercy on them!  Master, have mercy on us!

  • Healing:
“When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed.’”  (Luke 17:14)

It is strange what Jesus said and did.  Why?  Because He told these ten lepers to go and show themselves to the priests. Why must they show themselves to the priests?  Because they had been healed from their leprosy, and the priests had to verify their cleanness to be allowed back into society.  When  Jesus commanded these lepers to go and see the priests, they still had the skin condition, and it did not make any sense. But these ten lepers did what Jesus commanded.  They are on their way to see the priests in whatever city they might be found and, as they were going, they were cleansed.  We find some powerful words in verse 14.  
“And as they went they were cleansed.” 

  • Jesus Asked An Important Question:
“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, 'Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  (Luke 17:15-18)

Notice that in verses 15-16, one of the ten lepers turned back to praise God with a loud voice and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving thanks to Him when he saw he was healed from his leprosy.  This grateful leper was on the ground thanking Jesus!  I can only imagine the gratitude of this leper’s heart and the praises he was offering to God!  This man had just gotten his life back!  
    • He was destined to die, but Jesus gave him life. 
    • He was destined to remain an outcast, but Jesus restored him to society. 
    • He was destined to be alone, but Jesus brought him back into society.   

What a beautiful picture of gratitude in this man’s heart!  It moves us deeply! 

But Jesus asked a critical question in verse 17
“Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” 

Where is everyone else? Verse 18 gives us the answer.
“Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
    • Didn’t any of the other nine lepers return to give God the glory except this foreigner?  
    • Would no one else come back and give thanks to God? 
    • Was no one else going to come back to praise God? 
    • Why didn’t all ten of them return?

Let’s pause for a moment and think about what happened.  
    • Do you think that if we were to ask the other nine lepers if they were grateful for being healed, they would say that they truly were grateful?  
    • Could you believe that they were overflowing with gratitude now that they no longer had this terrible skin disease? 
    • Do you think they would admit they were thankful for what Jesus did? 

Yes! Of course, they would!  Sadly, they did not express it!  
    • They did not come back to thank Jesus and let Him know how grateful they were.  
    • They did not praise God for being healed of such a terrible disease.  

You see, this is what Jesus was pointing out as their main problem. We may think in our hearts that we are grateful to God, but if we do not express our thankfulness, we are not thankful at all.  Instead, we show ourselves ungrateful. That is exactly what’s happening here in this story.  And though the other nine lepers might have been grateful for Jesus healing them, they did not thank Him, nor did they draw close to Him with thankful hearts.  They did not praise God or surrender completely to Him.  

  • The Result:
“And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19)

One of the ten lepers returned to Jesus, and it would be life-changing.  In verse 19, Jesus told this one leper who returned to thank Him, 
“Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you” (CSB).  

Another Bible translation says, 
“Your faith has made you well.” 

But notice that the Greek literally is,
“Your faith has saved you.” 

I believe this is the correct translation.  Why?  Because one out of ten lepers who were healed came back to Jesus and was saved.  This one-man experienced something much greater than what the other nine did.  And though all ten were healed, only one experienced much more because he came back to thank Jesus with a grateful heart.   


CONCLUSION:

So What Is Jesus Teaching Us?

Jesus is teaching us that it is not enough to feel grateful. It was not enough for the ten lepers to feel how great it was to be healed.  It was not enough to just believe they were thankful. Jesus is teaching us that gratitude or thankfulness must be expressed, not merely felt.

We must tell others that we are thankful for them. We must tell others that we are grateful for having them in our lives and what they mean to us.  Have you noticed how the apostle Paul started almost every letter he wrote in the scriptures?
 “I give thanks to my God always for you…”  (1 Corinthians 1:4). 

Paul was not hesitant to tell others how thankful he was to the Lord for them, the brethren.  Thinking it was not enough. Feeling it was not enough.  Paul always expressed his thankfulness or gratitude to others.  How will others know we are thankful for them if we fail to express our gratitude and appreciation?  Sadly, they will never know.   Our lack of words will express our lack of gratitude or appreciation.   You see, God’s children must overflow with thankfulness, and that means we must express it in words to others.

We must express our gratitude and thankfulness to our Lord for all He does, has done, and will do in our lives.  We must be grateful to God, and we must express such gratitude to Him!  It is disturbing to me that only one out of ten lepers returned to Jesus to thank Him.  It is hard to fathom how only one came back to Jesus with a grateful heart considering what He did for them!  Don’t you think that after being sick, cast away from society, and then being healed by Jesus would have made these ten lepers overflow with thanksgiving and grateful hearts?  

Only when we realize our desperate condition will we appreciate and express our gratitude to God.  We must see ourselves as the lepers in this storyWe Christians were once cut off from God, living alone, and destined for death. But because of God’s goodness and mercy (Grace), He sent Jesus to free us from our sins.  So, what will we do next?  What we do next is everything, according to Jesus. Ten are healed, but only one is saved. We can be healed, but we are missing out when we refuse to return to Jesus, expressing our sincere gratitude and praises to Him.  

It is so easy to fall into this trap and take what Jesus has done for us for granted! God has given us many reasons and memorials so that we might not forget, but continue to be grateful every day for what Jesus did for us. Our lack of gratitude keeps us from having a relationship with God.  

In Luke 17:19, Jesus said,
“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” 

Jesus declared that this one leper returned with a thankful heart to express his faith.  How was his faith expressed? This leper expressed his faith when he returned to Jesus with a grateful heart that overflowed with thanksgiving.  The faith of the other nine was shallow and superficial.  And though they got what they wanted from Jesus, they missed out on so much more.  They missed out on worshiping God and praising Him.  However, the returning leper came back glorifying and praising God because he truly loved and believed in Jesus.  What a contrast!  

Grateful hearts overflow with thanksgiving because they acknowledge they’re not worthy of such blessings.  Ungrateful hearts show a lack of salvation.   Hearts that overflow with thanksgiving express their gratitude by the way they live.  They express their gratitude by the way they worship God, and they do it daily.  Saving faith is an expression of giving thanks to God.  
Even amid so much grief and trials, there is so much for which we must be thankful to God in our lives! 

We must be grateful and overflow with thanksgiving until our last breath for what Jesus did for us.  We were destined to death, but because of what Jesus did, we now have the hope of eternal life.  Thus we must be grateful every day of our lives to Him and praise Him. Jesus gave us our life back!!  

May we thank Him for what He did for us, giving us our lives back, with every breath we take.  May we always be thankful for His steadfast love and for not abandoning us.  May we always have a heart of gratitude and never take the innumerable blessings we have through Christ Jesus for granted. 

I commend to you the words of the song “Thank you, Lord!”  It is a touching way for us to express our gratitude to God.  I hope you find it useful for your own expression of gratitude or thanksgiving.


For all that You’ve done, I will thank You, 
For all that You’re going to do. 
For all that You’ve promised and all that You are 
Is all that has carried me thru, Jesus, I thank You!

Chorus: 

And I thank You, thank You, Lord, 
And I thank You, thank You, Lord! 
Thank you for loving and setting me free. 
Thank You for giving Your life just for me.
How I thank You, 
Jesus, I thank You, 
Gratefully thank You. 
Thank You.



Luci


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

SOLDIERS OF CHRIST ARISE!

  
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:7-8



The trials of life are no accident. They knock us down, and we wonder what happened so suddenly, to change everything in our world. The evils that we have confronted this year give us pause and send a chill down our spines. Never forget, our struggles are not against flesh and blood but against spiritual soldiers of wickedness (Ephesians 6). We must be equipped for the battles of this ongoing war between our beloved God and His enemies because we are the targets of invisible evil spirits.

Throughout history, there have been different conflicts and wars among many nations.  Those who have served on the battlefield of military war know who their enemies are.  They must have a strategic plan to defeat the enemy, and, of course,  they must be well-trained for the battle.  However, there is another battle that Christians must wage in the spiritual realm surrounding us.  Sadly, many do not know their enemy and are not very prepared for victory.  They have very little training to win this fight on the battlefield of their souls.  Our battle has been going on since the beginning of mankind, and many are not even aware.  We must understand that we are not here to "wrestle against flesh and blood" but against the darkness of sin.
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."  (Eph. 6:12)

The Bible describes Christians as soldiers (Phil. 2:25; Philem. 2). In Ephesians 6:10-20, the apostle Paul speaks of the Christian's fight as the fight of soldiers faithful to Christ in the face of Satan and sin.  Christians must wake up and realize that we are at war and must prepare ourselves with the armor God provides to fight and win on the battlefield of our souls (Eph. 6:10-12).  We must put on our armor as soldiers of Christ to be strong in the strength that God provides through His beloved Son.  We must wake up and acknowledge that we are fighting a war against Satan and his evil forces in the heavenly places (Eph. 5:14).  These evil forces are not asleep.  They actively seek to deceive many souls into destruction (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Pet. 5:8).

Nevertheless, we may be confident in this fight, like God’s people of old who conquered Canaan, because we are on God’s side (Deut. 31:23; Josh. 1:6).  Since our God is on our side in the battle, we must rise and put on our armor to follow Him into the battlefield (2 Cor. 10:3-6; Eph. 6:13-18).  Indeed, our life in Christ is a constant battle!  We war not against flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.  In Ephesians 6:10-12, the apostle Paul exhorts us to engage in this spiritual warfare. We must take it to heart. 
"Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."  

On the battlefield of right and wrong, there is a "bloody" fight going on. Our very souls are at stake, as well as the future of our families and churches. Think with me about some fundamental truths of faith and promises that the Lord provides for us in this battle.  


I.   SPIRITUAL WARFARE:   Ephesians 6:10-20
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak."

  • Our War Is As Real As The Visible World:
Those things that we can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste are real and not fiction.  We can experience these things with the senses God has given us.  Those invisible things we cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste are still as real as the invisible world.  In Ephesians 6:12, we are given further truth.  
"For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood (contending with physical opponents), but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness (present), against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places."  

You see, while we live in this present visible world, we also live in the unseen world that Paul describes.  The unseen world is described as the place where evil beings dwell.  But it is also the place where Christ and all Christians dwell.  In our text, I believe the spiritual or heavenly realm is much greater than our physical realm.  In Ephesians 1:3, Paul wrote.  
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places"

In Ephesians 1:19-20, Paul also wrote.
"And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places."

Ephesians 2:6,
"And raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."

Without a doubt, beyond this world of ours, there is an unseen realm where all that is spiritual exists, both good and evil.  In this invisible world, there is a spiritual warfare taking place.  We fight against the principalities and powers that seek to harm us in this invisible world.  Thus, we must be aware that this invisible spiritual realm wages war against our souls, affecting our present lives and eternity.  

We are here, in our tabernacle, constantly fighting the good fight of faith.  Satan is the general of our enemy, trying at all cost to defeat us as well as the Lord's church.  Therefore, we must arise and go to battle, putting on the whole armor of God to be strong in the strength that God supplies through our Lord and Savior.
"Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."  (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Unfortunately, this war has existed since the beginning of time and will continue until the Lord comes. Often when our faith is stretched to the limits, we become weary on the battlefield.  We start longing for peace.  Our biggest desire is for everything to be perfect and peaceful.  However, we must embrace this battleremaining steadfast in our faith and the Word of God as our main source of nourishment for our desperate souls.
"For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,  do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,  and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might  which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places."  (Ephesians 1:15-20)
 
  • A Spiritual Conflict That Affects Our Lives With Eternal Implications:
Daniel, the Prophet, prayed to God but did not receive an answer to his prayer.  When the angel of the LORD came to him and explained the reason for the delay of his answered prayer, I believe such delay involved some invisible spiritual warfare.  Notice what Daniel 10:12-13 tells us.
"Then he said to me (the angel), 'Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.'"

There is much in these verses that we do not understand.  However, the spiritual conflict that is going on between these spirits and the angels is evident.   It reveals the reality of the unseen world and the conflict between good and evil, light and darkness, God and Satan.  Moreover, it shows the satanic and heavenly forces at work in an invisible world.  It is a reality and not fiction!  And like Daniel, we sometimes are affected by these evil forces.

Do you remember when Elisha and his servant were confronted with the king of Syria’s army as they surrounded the city?  Elisha's servant went into despair when he saw the enemy's chariots and began saying, 
"Alas, my master! What shall we do?' 16 He said, 'Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, 'O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.' So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.'"  (2 Kings 6:15-17)

God revealed that He was ready to fight on their behalf from a realm difficult to see by human eyes.  Our spiritual war is no less real than that of Daniel's, Elisha's, or any of God's children throughout the ages.  

In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul declared,
"Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God."  

Have you felt close to God once but now you find that you are straying away from Him?  Maybe you are engaged in a spiritual war you're not even aware of.  Maybe you don't realize that Satan is blinding your mind to the Truth.  Perhaps, he is just messing with your life miserably.  We, who are in Christ, are here on this earth to fight, not against non-believers but against Satan and his evil spirits whose primary goal is to keep humanity from understanding what is really going on.   Please, don't be naive. Be strong in the Lord and break Satan's strongholds!
"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."  (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

  • Do Not Underestimate The Power Of Our Enemy:
We Christians must be aware that our foe is fiercely dangerous and seeks to destroy us and Christ's cause.  Since he is powerful, we must not let our guard down, but fight him tooth and nailWe must not give him more power than he already has!  Can't you see that he and his demonic army want to destroy our faith and take away our credibility by making us stumble into sin?  Take heed!  

You see, our weapons of warfare are not of this world, for they are not visible. They are unseen invisible.  The weapons that break Satan's strongholds are our prayers and the Word of God. He has given us many others that I will discuss later in this study.  If we refuse to take up these weapons for warfare, there will be eternal consequences.  We must understand completely that the struggles, relational conflicts, and misunderstandings about God and His Word are caused by satanic opposition and plots.  Please, hear Peter's warning.
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."  (1 Peter 5:8)

It is not fiction. Satan is a reality in our lives whether we like it or not!  So, we must be prepared to attack him with all of our might.  We must learn his evil abilities or tactics.  Consider Jude 9 on how we must treat Satan.
"But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you.'"

And though this Scripture doesn't give us much detail, it does make it clear how we must treat Satan.  Satan is a powerful and rebellious spirit.  He is God's enemy.  When Michael, an archangel, was disputing about Moses' body, he would not dare say anything that attacked Satan's dignity.  I would say Michael the archangel respected Satan's position and power.  It is foolish for us to assume anything less.  Do you know what's funny?  Those who rebuke the devil when even Michael the Archangel couldn't do it.  Jesus was the only One who had that power to rebuke Him and no one else.  Thus, we must not minimize his power and ability! 

  • We Must Respect Our Enemy, But Not Fear Him:
Like Paul, we must be aware of Satan's evil tactics to win our war against him.  We must acknowledge that he is our adversary, the slanderer, the evil one, the prince of this world, the Serpent, dragon, pretending to be an angel of light, but the "accuser of the brethren."  
    • Satan wants to dwarf God's plan of salvation by promoting false philosophies (Col. 2:8).
    • False religions (1 Cor. 10:19-20).
    • False teachers or ministers (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
    • False doctrine (1 John 2:18).
    • False disciples (Matt. 13).
    • False morals or principles (2 Thess. 2:7).

We must become vigilant toward Satan's attacks.  He attacks us by:
    • Directing governments (Daniel 10:13).
    • Deceiving men (2 Cor. 4:4).
    • Destroying life (Heb. 2:14).
    • Persecuting the saints (Rev. 2:10).
    • Hindering our service to God (1Thess. 2:18).
    • Promoting schisms (2 Cor. 2:10-11).
    • Planting doubt in our hearts (Gen. 3:1-2).
    • Provoking sin and anger (Eph. 4:26-27).
    • Pride (1Tim. 3:6).
    • Worry and anxiety (Matt. 13:22).
    • Self-sufficiency (1 Chron. 21:1).
    • Discouragement and apathy (1 Pet. 5:6-8).
    • Worldliness and ungodliness (1 John 2:16).
    • Lying (Acts 5:3).
    • Immorality or a seared conscience (1 Cor. 5:1-2) and 
    • Producing sects or cults (1 Tim. 4:1).

Despite all that Satan, our enemy can do to us, we have the assurance that his power is limited.  Since he is a created being, he is not omniscient or infinite like God.  Our Lord has also given us other promises: 
    • We can fight Satan and his evil powers when we equip ourselves with God's armor (Ephesians 6:13-18). 
    • The devil will flee from us when we resist him (James 4:7).  
    • God limits Satan (Job 1:12).  

Thus we must fight not for victory but from victory, for we are invincible in the strength or the power that Christ provides! 

And though our spiritual enemy was defeated at the cross of Christ, he still continues to hurl out lies, insults, and condemnations at us, the saints.  Undoubtedly, we fight a real enemy and a real battle!  It is not fiction, for it is real!  What then must we do?  We must acknowledge that our victory over the devil is assured, for we do not fight for victory but from victory.  Jesus has already won the ultimate war over Satan. So, having this assurance, let us be aware of our weaknesses and Satan's strength as we fight the spiritual warfare that faces us until our last breath.  Remember, God will eventually destroy the devil and his angels in the end, throwing them into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:20).  Evil will forever be gone!  What a great day that will be!!!

Consider how we can prepare to overcome our enemy Satan and his attacks against God's saints.  The apostle Paul referred to our fight as a struggle, for we are battling a powerful enemy.  An enemy who is the devil, the world, the flesh, and false teachers.  So the question is, what are the characteristics of the army of God?


II.   TAKING OUR STAND AS TRUE WARRIORS ON THE BATTLEFIELD:

In  Colossians 2:8, Paul urges the saints, 
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ."

The phrase "see to it" implies that we must "beware" and be "careful."  A gullible soldier can indeed fall easily into the enemy's trap.  We Christians can fall easily into the traps of Satan and those who are against God's Word. Paul warns us about the devil's traps he sets before us like false teachers.  He warns us to be careful and not get captured, that is, being taken away from the pure Gospel and our good relationship with God and our brethren. When we are captured and taken away, we become Satan's plunder.  Notice that Paul's warning is present tense which implies it is an ever-present danger!

However, God provides Christians protection and weapons.  In Ephesians 6:3, Paul said,
"Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm."

We are not only warned about our enemy and the spiritual war going on, but we are also urged to put on the full armor of God and the right weapons to fight on the battlefield of our souls to defeat Satan's attack.  The Lord, our Chief Commander, wants us to be valiant soldiers in His army.  
    “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”  (2 Cor. 10:3-6)

  • Christ's Army is Composed of Volunteers:
God does not force anyone to serve Him.  He does not draft us to become one of His troops.  Why?  Because He has given us free will.  He expects us to love and serve Him voluntarily.  God expects us to obey "from the heart that form of doctrine" that was delivered to us (Rom. 6:17). As soldiers of Christ, we are called to serve Him sacrificially and follow Him as our perfect Commander.

  • Christ is Our Perfect Commander: 
The Captain and Commander of our salvation is Jesus Christ (cf. Heb. 2:10). He is our perfect example whom we can confidently follow on the battlefield.  As long as we follow our Commander Jesus, we will make no mistakes.  Paul said,
"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (I Cor. 11:1). 

Paul is saying that if we follow Christ, we are safe.  
    1. Jesus is our perfect Commander, for He is holy, harmless, and undefiled (Heb. 7:26). 
    2. He is our perfect Commander because He can sympathize with our weaknesses and was tempted in all points as we are, yet He did not sin (Heb. 4:15). 
    3. He is our perfect Commander because we can confidently follow His leadership wherever He leads us.  

    • Christ's Army Has Only One Offensive Weapon:
    In I Timothy 6:12, we are commanded to "fight the good fight of faith." 
      • To fight in the Lord's Army, we are given only one weapon, which is plenty to win.  
      • That one weapon is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17). 
      • Our sword is sharper than any two-edged sword, which cuts to the heart (cf. Heb. 4:12).
      • When that weapon is used correctly, it will never fail to defeat the enemy.  
      • Further, we have been given battle attire besides the sword: the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation. 

    This is God's armor, as described in Ephesians 6. All the components of God's armor are for our protection against the "fiery darts of the wicked one." God's armor is our defense.  The Word of God is our only offense.  It is our only weapon of attack, and it is enough. 
    "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."  (II Timothy 3:16, 17)

    What a beautiful picture of Christians fully dressed to fight on the battlefield of their souls!

    You can rest assured that Satan and his demons tremble when they see a child of God ready to fight on the battlefield, using the sword effectively! 


    Sadly, many Christians don't use God's given weapon well, that is, the sword. They don't even know how to handle their swords, not even on a rudimentary level.  Why do I make such charges?  Simply because many don't know their Bible well.  If you ask them to name the books of the Bible, the plan of salvation, sin, and its consequences, they struggle to answer.  It is amazing!  
      1. How on earth can we be soldiers who have mastered their weapon, the Word of God, to win against our enemy?  
      2. Have we forgotten that a good soldier must become proficient with his weapon to survive on the battlefield?!  It is exactly what a good soldier of Christ must do!  

    God is dismayed when He sees our unskillful actions, disinterested passiveness, and lack of fighting spirit.  He is disappointed in us when we can't face and defeat Satan and his wicked devices. We must learn David's attitude of heart and hate every false way!   
    "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.  You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me.  I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.  I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.  I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.  I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me.  How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way."  (Psalm 119:97-104)

    Do you hate sin and condemn it for what it is? Do you put your sword away, turning your head the other way?  Christians, we must know the Word well to fight back!  Are you not aware that God demands that His soldiers fight sin and ignorance for the sake of others and their own spiritual safety?! 

    Christians, are you not aware that Satan's primary tactics are deception and lies, which he uses to confuse, rob, and destroy us?  


    In John 8:44Jesus declared that Satan was a liar from the beginning.  The only weapon against his deceitful schemes and lies is the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit.  

    • In Christ's Army, There is No Time of Leave:  
    That's right!  In Christ's Army, there is no such thing as a vacation from Him.  
      • Our first-century brethren "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).  
      • These brethren were in the habit of gathering "daily in the temple" (Acts 5:42). 
      • Our Redeemer and the Author of our salvation accepts no excuses. 
      • He doesn't issue Sunday passes. 
      • Soldiers of Christ who purposefully refuse to assemble with other Christians on Sundays are "absent without leave." 
      • And God will judge them, for He sees and knows everything! 
      • Nothing is unknown to our heart-searching King and Lord! 

    There is no room for breaks, for we must fulfill our duties as soldiers of Christ. 
    "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58). 
    "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Gal. 6:9).

    We must fight the good fight of faith as valiant warriors because God has commanded it.  
    "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."  (I Timothy 6:12)
     
    So, why is it that so many Christians get "knocked out" early in the fight?  Some are defeated because they have not been careful and watchful (cf. II John 8). Others begin strong but run out of steam, refusing to come out for the last rounds too soon. They are disqualified because they sit on "the stool of do-nothing," becoming neutral (e.g., Rev. 3:15).  Do you know that many losers blame others for their bad choices?  It is never their fault! However, they will be surprised when they hear the Judge's indictment on the day of judgment.  The Word of God will judge them.  We will be judged by our actions.
    "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). 
    "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who 'will render to each one according to his deeds" (Rom. 2:4-6).  

    The question is, Do you want to be a good fighter on the battlefield of your faith? Then consider ten essential qualities of a good fighter.


    III.   TEN ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF A GOOD FIGHTER OR SOLDIER:
    • A Good Fighter is Well Managed:  
    Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is our perfect manager.  But for Jesus to be our perfect manager, we must yield ourselves to Him completely.  We must surrender ourselves to Christ as slaves! How do we do this?  Consider the following Scriptures that tell us how to present ourselves to Christ.
    "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16). 

    We must never forget that we are a "new creation" (II Cor. 5:17)Think of Christians as a restaurant under new management.  

    • A Good Fighter Trains Fervently:  
    Seldom will a boxer win a bout without proper training.  You see, to stay on top in our contest against Satan and sin, we must strive nonstop to stay in shape spiritually. Like Paulwe must discipline our bodies to bring them into subjection, that is, keep it under control (I Cor. 9:27). Even Paul acknowledged that he could fall from Grace and lose his salvation.  Thus, he worked out his salvation with fear and trembling not to be disqualified (cf. Phil. 2:12).  Think about that!

    • A Good Fighter Endures:
    A good fighter endures because he is brave and wants to win.  Those fighters who lose cannot endure any contest beyond the first five rounds. And though they have a flashy beginning, they do not end well and stay on their feet.  They are unable to plan their attack for the next struggles.  They always lose at the final bell. They run out of energy or steam before the battle ends. Jesus calls it a failure to "count the cost" in Luke 14:25-33. As the letter to the Hebrews says, "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1).  Hence, Christ's soldiers must remain focused to grow in His grace and knowledge (cf. II Pet. 3:18). Those who don't build up endurance will remain in the novice bracket all of their days.  Take heed!

    • A Good Fighter Must Develop a Good Offense:
    No boxer has ever won merely with defensive measures. Paul said, "I have fought a good fight" (II Tim. 4:7).  Sadly, many professing soldiers of Jesus depend on what they haven't done to save them. Often their only plea of righteousness is: "I have not done anything wrong." But James 4:17 and II Corinthians 10:4-5 demand that we bring our lives in complete subjection to Christ as good and valiant soldiers who fight to win.

    • A Good Fighter Must Strengthen His Defense:
    Our enemy Satan wants to have us in his clutches (e.g., Luke 22:31). He wants us to surrender to him.  We must resist him!  We must resist his advances of temptation. We must have an impenetrable defense because he will try at any cost to get us where we are weak. Thus, we must have strong protection against sin and its deadly punch (cf. Rom. 6:23).  Good fighters and soldiers develop good defensive weapons to be equipped and prepared for the spiritual battle that intends to destroy them.  Are you well prepared?

    • A Good Fighter Must Be Mentally Prepared:
    Every fighter must have hours of solitude and plenty of time to think things through. A good fighter must plan firmly in his own mind. These are valuable moments that will determine the margin of victory or defeatThe Bible commands Christians to meditate in study and prayer as they face life's struggles (cf. Phil. 4:8; II Tim. 2:15).  Thus each soldier of Christ must devote some time alone with God to have strength and receive help to be mentally prepared for any situation that may arise.

    • A Good Fighter Must Be Willing To Take Blows:  
    Although boxers take tremendous punches or blows, some never make it because they cannot take punishment (they have "glass jaws," so to speak). You see, they are removed from the contest with one or two heavy hits from their opponent.  Jesus said the same thing of those who receive the Word of God, but as soon as "tribulation or persecution arises," they fade away (Mark 4:17).  Good fighters must understand and accept that it takes great "heart" to get up off the canvas in a physical fight as well as a spiritual one.

    • A Good Fighter Must Not Throw The Fight:
    Sadly, many boxers agree to "sell out" for money.  Their professional matches are "fixed." Their greed is worth more than honesty and integrity.  Christians do the same thing when they allow  "the cares, riches, and pleasures of life" to mar their record (Luke 8:14).  Do you remember Judas Iscariot?

    • A Good Fighter Must Fight To Win:
    Good fighters never enter the ring planning to be “good losers.”  They know no champion ever thinks of being defeatedfor there is no substitute for victoryGood soldiers and fighters acknowledge there is no virtue in spending eternity in hell as a "good loser."  As good fighters in the ring, we must put on the gloves and fight against Satan.  Let us finish well, hitting Satan right on the chin like a good boxer, with an uppercut that pops like dynamite!  And though that might sound kind of funny, there is a lot of truth to it!  Romans 1:16 declares that the Gospel is God's power (dynamite) to save us!  Hence, let us fight against our enemy to win!

    • A Good Fighter Must Never Underestimate His Opponent:
    "Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices" (II Cor. 2:7). 

    "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet. 5:8). 
      • We must never underestimate our opponent, especially one as dangerous as Satan. 
      • We must not under any circumstances believe that we've conquered Satan and then become overconfident and careless. 
      • We must not let our guard down! The devil is more powerful and astute than we think. 
      • We must "walk carefully, not as fools but as wise" (Eph. 5:15).  

    Pause for a moment and ask yourself: 
      • What kind of soldier am I in the Lord's army? 
      • What is my value in His service? 
      • Am I capable of wielding the sword of the Spirit acceptably? 
      • Will I serve in such a way that one day I may lay down my armor at Jesus' feet and reign forever with Him?  

    Ponder these questions and start fighting like you should to win on the battlefield of your soul.
      • We must never be satisfied with being mediocre soldiers.  
      • We must improve and thus become better, as good soldiers of Christ.  
      • We must know the Word of God, for it is our only weapon of defense against our enemy. 
      • We must follow our perfect Commander, our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ. 
      • We must never look for a vacation spiritually. 
      • We must never be blind and overlook how dangerous our opponent is, that is, the devil. 
      • We must be well-trained, develop and strengthen our offense. 
      • We must train fervently, building up endurance and fight to win. 
      • We must not throw our fight, getting wrapped up in the cares of this world.  
    Do not let go of your prize!!

    So decide to serve the Lord with your energy and gratefully respond to His matchless love.  Give your best to the Master, for such wondrous love must compel us to be devoted to our Father's business here on earth (II Cor. 5:14). 
    "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). 

    In response to the riches of His Grace, we must "live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12).

    Thus, Christianslet us wisely and joyously give ourselves to Him, for no one else has the words of eternal life (cf. II Cor. 8:5; John 6:68).


    CONCLUSION:

    So far, we've considered the characteristics of the Lord's army.  His army is composed of volunteers led by a perfect commander.  This army possesses only one weapon.  It is given no time for “leave.”  Christians are Christ's soldiers engaged in a fierce battle against evil (Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Timothy 2:3).  We must suffer hardship as good soldiers of Christ Jesus.  We must fight the good fight of our faith (1 Tim. 6:12).  May we never forget such truths.  

     Jesus wants us to join Him in this great battle.  Jesus said,
    "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Matt. 12:30)

    Every Christian must be fully armored to be a front-line soldier (Ephesians 6:10ff).  
    “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
    “In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”  (Ephesians 6:16).  

    The devil wants us to believe his lies that we are insignificant, not armed for the battlefield and that we do not matter. Yet the truth is, God has called us to sacrifice, suffer ridicule, and risk everything, even the loss of life and possessions, to gain heaven.  Christians must not be intimidated by Satan's attacks, ridicule, and persecution.  We must wake up and realize we are in a war!  (1 Peter 4:12; Matthew 13:21).  Sadly, we live in a culture that belittles and mocks Christians.  Yet Jesus was never embarrassed or ashamed to proudly proclaim, 
    “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19).
    “I live because of the Father” (John 6:57).

    “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10).  

    David, proudly proclaimed, centuries earlier, 
    “I love you, O Lord, my strength” (Psalm 18:10).

    Like David, we also have a shield that helps us extinguish the devil's flaming arrows whose primary purpose is to take us out, cripple and destroy our strength (Ephesians 6:16).  We must diligently seek God and His Word to strengthen our faith on the field of battle.  We must learn to love the Psalms.  They strengthen the prayers that we desperately need for the battlefield.  Prayers help us greatly in our spiritual war.  The Psalms strengthen our weaknesses and the fears that sometimes freeze us.  The Psalms quiet our murmuring and complaining and build up our faith.  If we follow the examples of David on the battlefield of his desperate physical war when he wrote down his feelings and emotions in poetic form, we can easily apply his counsel to our spiritual warfare.  Ephesians 1:15-20 describes the strength of God in our lives.
    "For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the boundless greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places."

    Since our Lord gives us strengthwe must accept it to stand firm against the devil's flaming arrows or darts.  We are children of the Almighty!  We are born of the Spirit to conquer!  We subdue, bring into subjection, conquer and keep our enemies under our feet.  How do we accomplish this? 
    • Through our knowledge of the Word of God (v. 17).
    • This knowledge of God's Word, along with our prayers, are great weapons to conquer and subdue all the powers of darkness that subtly creep into every aspect of our lives as Christians.  
    • Through prayer (Ephesians 3:14-19),  Paul’s desire was that God might grant us, according to the riches of His glory, strength in the inner man (vs. 16), so that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith (v. 17), rooted and grounded in love to be able to comprehend His love and be filled with all His fullness (v. 18)
    • Our prayer must not be just a one-time prayer, and that is it!  It must be a constant and fervent prayer.  
    • Our thirst and hunger for the Word of  God is not just a one-time thing, and that is it!  
    • It must be a constant thirst and hunger.  
    • It is the only way to fight and take control of our souls.  And finally.
    • Through our hope in Jesus (v. 18).
    “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Cor. 10:3-6)

    On the battlefield of right and wrong, there is a "bloody" fight going on. Our very souls are at stake and the future of our families and churches.  Indeed, there is a war raging over the faith of Christ, and Satan is behind it all! Satan's soldiers fight in subtle and aggressive ways taking advantage of our entertainment arenas, the news media, and our legal system. One of the most powerful channels of attack against our faith is social pressure. When one has strong faith and convictions and takes an open stand against immorality and lawlessnesshe is often viewed as crazy, a weirdo, unloving, narrow-minded, ignorant, judgmental, and hateful. 

    Our culture prohibits us from judging anyone for their wrongdoings and evil works. We are not supposed to tell them they’re wrong because that would make us “judgmental, unkind, and mean-spirited.” But really, who is the only one who decides right and wrong? Who is the one who has set those standards by which we must live? It is God! Isn’t it something how one is put in the minority today for taking a stand for righteousness! Our godless culture gets angry at us for our principles of righteousness, and they show themselves to be shameless. 

    Although our culture elevates sinfulness, we must heed God’s warnings about calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). We must set our minds on things above and not on the earthly things of this world (Col. 3:2). Our culture is sinking deeper into lawlessness and sinfulness. We must not allow social pressure to influence our way of thinking, faith, and influence, for we must be salt and lights that shine brightly amid so much evil. We must not allow Satan to prevail over our faith and influence. Remember, this world will pass away and all its evil works (1 John 2:17). 

    Let us stand against sinfulness, lawlessness, and all forms of evil. We must be the salt of this earth and the illuminating influence, the light (Matt. 5:13-16). We must teach others the Gospel to help them straighten their crooked ways of living (Phil. 2:15). The Gospel has the power to transform men from wickedness to righteousness. But our culture tells us that we cannot tell others that they’re walking in darkness and need to repent. So how then can we help this crooked world of darkness change its sinful way of living? Simply by teaching them the Gospel and by living examples of righteousness. The Gospel and our godly influence are what make us the salt of the earth.  But Satan is determined to wage war on Christians and Christ's kingdom! Christ is our ultimate source of victory. 

    We, the faithful, must thwart the devil’s plan and not allow him to conquer us! 


    We must keep carrying the Lord’s banner and stand against Satan and his wicked ways.  If we let him win, mankind is lost! We are the last line of defense! So we must fight Satan for our souls and the souls of those who are living in darkness and are captive in their prison of condemnation.   We must fight with our most powerful weapon, the Gospel, and we must teach it to everyone if possible! Can’t you see that every time we teach the Gospel, a soul can put on the Lord in the waters of baptism, and Satan is defeated?! God has promised to stand with us, strengthen us, and give us victory over Satan through the Gospel.  So we must fight like good soldiers! Are you willing to live or die in this fight? There is no middle ground or third choice, for we must be wounded in this war.  Are you willing to start fighting for your soul and the souls of men? Are you pleasing our Lord in this battle?  Do you have what it takes to win on the battlefield of your soul against the devil?  The devil tries to convince us that we don't have what it takes.  Yet, God says, 
    “So that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).

    To survive this fight, we must not rely on our own might but on that which God supplies through Christ (Eph. 6:10).  God, the Lord of Hosts, is the warrior who fights against evil and for His people (Ps. 89:6-8; Jas. 5:4).  Nothing can stand against our Almighty God!  Christians must trust in the strength which God supplies through Christ to fight the good fight of faith and be victorious (2 Tim. 2:1; Eph. 3:14-16; Rom. 8:31, 37; 1 John 4:4).  God has provided everything we need to fight our fight of faith, and we must stand in His great might and fight the enemy (Eph. 6:10-11, 13-14).  A good soldier is focused on the battle he must face.  He is not complacent and distracted by other concerns (2 Tim. 2:3-4).  A good soldier will not turn and flee but will stand firm and fight with all his might when faced with the enemy (1 Cor. 16:13; Phil. 4:1).  God has provided everything we need to fight against our powerful foe (1 Thess. 5:8-9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).  However, we must take up the whole armor of God to stand and fight the enemy (Eph. 6:11-13).  A good soldier of Christ is always vigilant and does not leave himself vulnerable to our enemy who always seeks to attack (1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 6:11-13).

    Good soldiers of Christ grow and strengthen their faith and will not allow it, under any circumstances, to grow weak or waver (Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Thess. 1:3).  They are well aware that they must take on every virtue and grace to reflect God and Christ's character (Gal. 5:22; 2 Pet. 1:5-7).  God's armor provides truth, righteousness, readiness, etc. (Eph. 6:14-17).  The Word of God, vigilant prayer, study, and application in our lives fortifies our souls and will prepare us to fight against Satan and his attacks (1 Tim. 4:16; Matt. 26:41).  When we heed God's words, we will overcome Satan and be victorious in Christ ((Eph. 6:13).  

    Therefore,
    • We must feed our souls with the Word and prayer to win the fight.  
    • We must be on the alert because our enemy, Satan, will attack us without mercy.  
    • We must be in the middle of this battlefield fighting with all of our strength and might.  
    • We must realize that we cannot win this battle alone.  We need our God to fight for us.  He is our Helper, who will help us conquer the land and subdue the kingdom of darkness in a spiritual sense.  
    • We must arm ourselves with the weapons of war, fighting the enemy on the home front.  
    • Let us never forget that we must be warriors ready to fight at all times: warriors who purpose in our hearts to have victory.  The Kingdom of heaven is for valiant warriors and not cowardly ones.

    We see this picture portrayed in our Lord and Savior.  He was both the Lamb and the Lion.  As the Lamb, He surrendered Himself to the cruel cross accepting the penalty for our sins.  He was obedient as a sheep that yielded itself to the shearer, never opening his mouth in protest.  But He is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  The Lion to whom every knee shall bow, bringing all of His enemies, kings, and kingdoms into subjection to His Lordship and dominion.

    Let us be encouraged by Nehemiah's exhortation. 
    " When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.”  (Nehemiah 4:14)

    Our lives as Christians are a battlefield of the heart, soul, and mind in which we must fight to have victory and receive our Crown.  2 Corinthians 10:3-6 describes this spiritual battle.
    "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete."

    The Word of God continually speaks of the battle and our fight for the right cause.  It is indeed an ugly war!
    • Let us not lose heart!  
    • Let us not give into the desires of our flesh.  
    • Let us crucify Self.  
    • We are children of the Almighty God who have been born of the Spirit through our Lord and Savior, Jesus.    
    • Let us not forget that our Father in heaven dwells in us and is totally opposed to lawlessness and the desires of the flesh.  They repel each other.  

    So my question is, to whom are we going to yield?  ,  
    "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please."   (Galatians 5:16-17)

    Is it not wonderful that we have the Grace of God!

    His Grace teaches us and helps us deny all ungodliness and worldly desires so that we may live righteously and godly and use sound judgment.  His Grace helps us bear good fruit and be zealous in our daily walk with Him.  We could never do it on our own!  Thanks be to God for His indescribable Grace!  We have no excuse since we have all we need to be equipped to fight on the battlefield of our souls.

    The only way we will resist Satan is by overcoming our weaknesses.  Romans 12:21 says not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.  I John 2:13-14 speaks of those who have overcome the wicked one.
    “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  (I John 5:4-5)
    "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."  (I Timothy 6:12)

    Although we Christians face all sorts of conflicts, trials, sufferings, and sorrows in our lives, we have hope.   Paul reminds us of this in 2 Timothy 4:7.
    "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  

    We should be looking toward a time when we will no longer have to fight this war—a time of eternal peace.   One day, our part in this battle will be over! (2 Tim. 4:7; Rev. 14:13).  But we must put our faith in Christ alone to be victorious on the battlefield of our souls (1 Cor. 15:57; 1 John 5:4; Rev. 12:11).

    Christ is our ultimate source of victory.  He will be with us through this life, and He will be with us as we leave this life to stand before the Supreme Judge of all.  As he wrote of our spiritual battle, Paul always looked toward that victory.  
    "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  (I Corinthians 15:57)
    "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."  (Revelation 12:11)

    With the burden of this battle on our shoulders, let us purpose in our heart, soul, and mind to fight on the battlefield against the flesh and all forms of evil.  Let us remember that we have chosen to fight the good fight of faith.  Let us not forget that one day we must stand before our Lord and King to give an answer for everything we have done (2 Cor. 5:10).  What a day that will be, when we can finally stand before God (in judgment), having done the will of God, passing the test for eternity!
    "... that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."  (Colossians 4:12)

    May the Lord help us to fight the good fight of faith and never give up, even until our last breath, that we may receive the crown of life.  May we be strong in the Lord’s might and fight in such a way to bring Him honor and glory so that He will give us victory.
    "Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  (2 Timothy 4:8)
    "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.  Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules."   (2 Timothy 2:4-5)  
    "But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.  13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I am writing to you, young men,    because you have overcome the evil one.  I write to you, children, because you know the Father.  14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one."  (1 John 2:11- 14)


    Are you pleasing our Lord in this battle?
    "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."  (II Timothy 4:7-8)

    The following song is a call to battle. It reminds us of our war against Satan. Let us consider this song that we may be motivated and devoted to serving in His army, seeking always to please Him.


    Soldiers of Christ, Arise

    Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
    Strong in the strength which God supplies through His beloved Son.

    Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
    Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.

    Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
    But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;

    Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul,
    Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole;

    That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
    You may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last. 




    Luci