An Army Engaged in Battle!

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I was having a conversation with a person the other day about what I do (I’m a pastor/officer with The Salvation Army).  In the midst of our conversation she told me that recently The Salvation Army was featured on a trivia show.  They were the answer to this question:  What is the only Army in the world that has never fought a battle.  This revelation kind of caught me off guard.  Of course I understood the connotation – a physical battle, but I thought to myself in a very real, practical/spiritual sense how wrong they truly were.  The Salvation Army was formed for just the purpose of engaging an enemy that has ravaged this wretched world since the fall of Adam and Eve.  We are at War!!  The public may not know this, but we are engaged in the front lines of spiritual warfare every day.  Sometimes I fear perhaps even some of our Soldiers and (dare I say) Officers don’t know this.   

We must continue to be an Army that is engaged in this battle daily!  Do falter or to fall is not an option!  Ephesians 6:12 says this:  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

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There is a very real spiritual adversary that holds many sinners captive still today.  Many people are bound by all kinds of addictions, perversions and entanglements that they cannot break.  Who can save them?  We alone certainly do not possess the strength, nor the power to free them, but girded with the full armor of God, this Army of Salvation can still be vital and effective!   We never stand alone in the midst of the fray, we carry the banner of Christ with us and the Holy Spirit is our ammunition and power!  

So how must we begin?  We begin on our knees in penitence before the Almighty!  We seek His power, His guidance, and His direction.  Only when we have been thoroughly equipped through our conversations with the Father can we then get up and fight on.  Without these necessary daily, even moment by moment conversations with the Father we will not continue to stand against the father of lies.  

Dear fellow Christ-followers and Soldiers of the Army, we cannot simply wear the uniform and pretend to be engaged, we must actively fight for the salvation of other lost souls in our communities and even in our own homes!  Without active soldiers and officers who are willing to fight and willing to boldly stand up, this cause will surely falter and fail.  We don’t need casual partakers or bench warmers, but we need active participants who will stand in the gap for the hurting, the tired, the poor, the wretched and the lost!  This battle for the lost is not over!  It certainly did not end when our Founders were promoted to glory, nor will it end when we grow old and one day meet Jesus face to face!  But in the here and now, in our small corners of the world, there is still a battle cry to be heard!  There is still a fight to be waged!  There is still lost souls to be saved!  Who will go?  Who will serve?  Who will fight on and answer the cries of the broken and the shattered?  May we all hear the cries, but more importantly, may we all hear God’s calling for us to take our stands and to reach out a helping hand to poor souls still drowning in the depths of sin.  

I’m reminded of this Battle Song: 

#718 in the Red Song Book –

Fight the good fight with all thy might,

Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;

Lay hold on life, and it shall be

Thy joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace

 

2.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,

Lift up thine eyes and seek his face;

Life with its way before us lies,

Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

Cast care aside, lean on thy guide

 

3.

Cast care aside, lean on thy guide,

His boundless mercy will provide;

Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove

Christ is thy life, and Christ thy love.

Faint not, nor fear, his arms are near

 

4.

Faint not, nor fear, his arms are near,

He changeth not, and thou art dear;

Only believe, and thou shalt see

That Christ is all in all to thee.

John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-75)

 

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Eye of the Tiger

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Ok…cue the music…let’s get it over with.

Perhaps I am showing my age, but I can remember going over to a friend’s house and cranking up his dad’s stereo and singing at the top of my lungs this song “Eye of the tiger”.  I associated it with Rocky of course, but to me it spoke to the essence of my own life.  It evoked for me a sense of iron determination and if I had that iron determination I could accomplish anything in life!  I played soccer at the time and so I imagined myself out dribbling my opponent and scoring the game winning goal all because I had the ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

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Still today I occasionally think about that song and even though many years have passed since I was young and screaming its lyrics at my friend’s house, I still get a charge out of it.  The song still pumps me up and encourages me to keep on going no matter what obstacles might lay in my way.

In the spiritual realm, many so desperately need to have this ‘Eye of the tiger’ buried within their faith.  Unfortunately it is not uncommon for fellow Christians to get so bogged down by burdens and stress and issues that they abandon their faith all together.  Sometimes when the going gets tough those that lack the proper endurance fade away or simply abandon the cause all together.  How sad it would be to have come so close to grasping the image of Christ in our lives and to just give up when we are spiritually attacked or oppressed.

Do spiritual crisis’ still come to those who are in Christ?  You bet they do, in fact sometimes they often increase instead of diminishing.  The father of lies, Satan himself, would love to deter us and convince us that this path that we’re on is too hard or impossible to continue.  Often times when we see victories for Christ taking place in ministries and in our lives we may face strong spiritual opposition because Satan would love for us to give up and abandon instead of witnessing these victories that God provides.

You and I need the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ in our faith!  We cannot be deterred by the slings and arrows that the evil one throws our way.  But we must also be careful because, we cannot claim victory by and of our own strength.  Our Heavenly Father will supply us our needs and our His strength all we have to do is ask for it and it will be given!

Perseverance is often viewed as keep on keeping on…willful determination in the face of adversity.  We too, must keep going no matter what types of discouragement and obstacles we face!

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  

Do not give up!  Don’t quit the fight or lose your way!  Embrace this strength that comes from God so that we too can be more than conquerors!

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  Romans 8:378

Do you have the Eye of the Tiger in you today?  

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Better yet do you have the Eye of the Lion of Judah in you today? Don’t quit, your battle is not fought alone!  You are not engaged in this spiritual war in and of your own strength either, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Phil 1:6)!

Get on with it, stand boldly on your faith and keep on keeping on!

I get knocked down…but I get up again!

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“Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…” (1 Timothy 6:12)

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Rocky is training for the fight (yeah I know this does age me doesn’t it?) he is running, he is working diligently for the fight and every ounce of sweat, tears and endurance is focused on THE EVENT, when he will face Apollo Creed.  He is trained, ready and focused on the goal.

In this Academy Award winning film, the main character ‘Rocky’ pushes through a lot of adversity to face off with the world champ in the ring.  The main theme of this film is on focus, determination and perseverance.

Aren’t these qualities what every Christian needs in this world today?  Haven’t you ever felt like giving up?  Have the pressures of the world around you seemed insurmountable? When you get knocked to the mat by criticism, gossip and even slander have you wanted to quit?  I imagine each of us in our own power would have quit long ago!

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Having perseverance in the faith requires us to have a firm footing in whom it is we worship and count on to lead us.  God wants so very much for us to keep fighting no matter what!  It’s not a physical fight we wage in this world, but this very real spiritual battle does spill over into the physical world doesn’t it?

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Today, whatever you are facing, whatever trouble that might come your way, know that God is in your corner!  He wants you to keep going and not to quit!  He gives us His strength when we are weak, the supports us when we don’t have the power to stand on our own.  So if you’ve been knocked to the mat, and the referee is counting there in front of you, get back up!  Don’t quit…Eternity is our goal and Christ is our coach!

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