No Longer a Civilian [Podcast]

Do you have a family member, friend, or fiance who enlisted in the military, completed Boot Camp, came home on furlough, and was barely recognizable? Their facial expression and body posture reflected confidence. And the joker who formerly made everyone laugh now had a controlled smile and spoke a different conversation.

It is often difficult for civilians to adjust to the significant transformation of the one they love and have acted silly with. The person is now a soldier. No, they have not lost their ability to love or have fun. They were trained, given, and accepted the mission to serve and protect their country. A soldier has experienced a total mental and emotional makeover. Their priorities and values no longer align with a civilian’s everyday lifestyle.

I recall a vid testimony of a young man who purchased a Bible, accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, and asked the Christian community, “Now what?” He received mass congratulations for the choice to serve Jesus. But he expressed disappointment after reading the posts that described the Christian lifestyle. He posted that he did not desire to attend church to engage with other believers or give up the worldly things that he enjoyed. Since none of his friends or family were believers, following Jesus would cause a separation. His final post stated, “Serving Jesus seems to be too hard.”

His true feelings may shock most Christians, yet, it is the truth. The journey of Sanctification [spiritual transformation into the character of Jesus] is lifelong. Christians have a life of suffering, trials, and sorrows. We are called to be disciples who follow Jesus. We embrace God’s moral code and values. Faith, trust, and obedience are requisites for being part of God’s Army.

  1. We are required to “Take Up the Cross and Follow Him.”

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'” (Matthew 16:24-26)

2. “If you love me, obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)

The soldier surrenders their former mindset and is 100% obedient to the rules and policies of the military. God also requires His soldiers to obey. But we have convinced ourselves that we can have the mindset of Cain–to give God our perception of obedience. We consider a weekly church service, giving tithe and offerings, and an occasional witness to others as good enough. Sadly, our disobedience will cost us the loss of our reward of eternal life.

3. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law.”(Galatians 5:22-23).

Soldiers in the Army of God must also experience a spiritual, mental, and emotional transformation. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our characters begin to align with Christ’s character.

4. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When loving God, it’s all or nothing. Jesus mandates 100% surrender, loyalty, and commitment to God, His Father. We give up worldly desires, habits, and people. “God, not my will, but Your will be done. Amen.”

Our Great Commission

5. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.'” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Military soldiers are not required to love their superiors or fellow soldiers. Nor do they have to recruit and make soldiers. Witnessing the Good News is not an option. We make disciples because it is Jesus’ command.

Saving the best for last: “It’s All About Love”

“Jesus declared, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39 BSB)

Without 100% love for God, we will view discipleship as burdensome. Many individuals believe in and love God, but they have boundaries. Our lifestyle reflects our endless love and expresses our desire and dedication to obey and please God, our Father. Obedience is our highest form of worship.

The Apostle Paul describes the life of a Soldier in God’s Army.

Put On The Whole Armor of God
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 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.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—(Ephesians 6:10-18).

Prayer: God, we admit our fault for withholding our love for you. Our lifestyle reflects our selfish desires and disobedience. We ask forgiveness. Not our will, but Your will be done. Please reveal our spiritual gifts and Your purpose for our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

We Are More Than a Conqueror

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” John 5:14

When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from Christ, the source of strength and life. Rest in God. He is able to keep that which you have committed to Him. If you will leave yourself in His hands, He will bring you off more than a conqueror through Him that has loved you. EGW

Praise and Worship Music is one of the most powerful resources that God has blessed us with. The lyrics should focus on the divinity of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. There are times when the vicissitudes of life are so overwhelming that worry and anxiety replace the joy and peace that Jesus has promised us. Memorize one song that reminds you of God’s love for humanity and hum or sing it throughout your day. You will develop a spirit of gratitude for the never-ending love and mercies from our Heavenly Father.

Stay in His presence through prayers and praises. Jesus’ love is matchless for His sheep. He is our Shepherd and will lead us to the Promised Land of the New Heaven and New Earth. Redirect your focus from yourself to Jesus Christ.

Prayer: God, please help us to understand that we were not created to carry our burdens alone. We need your help. We ask for the wisdom to realize when our focus has turned away from You. In Jesus’ Worthy name, we pray. Amen.

The Desires of Jesus’ Heart

Sharing this wonderful Devotional, from His Healing Love by D. Winn

THE LONGINGS OF JESUS’ HEART

“I will come back and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3, N.I.V.

Our understanding of heaven takes its first shapes from the stories and pictures of childhood. I can recall the time when heaven seemed attractive to me for three reasons. I would be able to fly without effort, I would be able to play with a lion without fear, and I wouldn’t have to pull weeds.

As I grew older and faced a few more of the realities of this sin-damaged world, I began to be drawn toward heaven because of its promised relief from pain and death. I have found that heaven can be craved as an end of poverty, war, prejudice, and even taxes! Unfortunately, our desires for heaven often fixate at these rather materialistic levels, and we fail to let God stir in us greater longings. We seldom even know what those desires should be.

So let us listen with our hearts to Jesus’ own longings about heaven. What about heaven stirred Him to look forward to it with such eagerness? In His well-known farewell conversation with His disciples Jesus told them that He was returning to heaven to make preparation for His friends. But then He made a very personal promise. He said that He Himself would return for us, to “take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

In Jesus’ mind the most satisfying joys of heaven are not centered in its lovely architecture, its economy, or even its ecology. For Jesus, heaven is a great place to be with His friends–with us! Jesus knows that the greatest need of our hearts is not for a tame lion, quick transportation, or even a weed-free garden. Our greatest need is for a loving, trusting relationship with a close friend. We are, after all, made in His image. Those needs are a reflection of His own heart.

Of course, heaven will be a marvelous exquisite place, with nothing to mar its perfect joys and beauties. But that’s just the way He does things for His friends. He did not intend that the tearless bliss of heaven should be a sop for our selfishness. Rather He intended that nothing should be in heaven that would detract from the enjoyment of its truest essence: loving, growing friendships.

Wouldn’t you love to spend eternity with such a Savior?

Prayer: God, help us to take the focus off of ourselves and think of Jesus who gave Himself for sinful humanity. Thank you, Jesus for your great sacrifice. We love you and ask this prayer in your Worthy Name. Amen.