Happy Memorial Day! Today is about celebrating and being thankful for all the men and women who have laid down their lives to preserve our freedom. Where would be without freedom? Watch this amazing video my Pator showed in church yesterday. It will get you “fired up” about our country and the amazing people who have given everything for our right to freedom.
As thankful as I am for my personal freedom and the fact that I live in America, I am abundantly more thankful for my spiritual freedom and the fact that I know Christ. He came here to this earth and died for me so that I could live in freedom from sin and have a hope that, when I die, I can be with Him. What a miracle! What a story! But, that freedom didn’t come free. A heavy price was paid when Jesus laid down his life for us. He suffered. I’ve often thought about how He could have planned the whole thing differently. He could have just arrived on the scene when he was 33, descended from heaven so everyone could see that He was the Son of God, then died an easy death, rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven. Would that have been enough? Did he really have to suffer like He did?
He suffered so He could be acquainted with our suffering. He is more than just our Savior, He is our friend. There is nothing we could ever face in this life that He didn’t face. We could never look up at Heaven and tell God that He doesn’t understand. Jesus walked the earth for 33 years, sacrificed everyday for the people around Him, never sinned, and suffered an unthinkable death as an innocent. None of us can say that our life, or our situation, is harder than that, right? Right. So, we find comfort in knowing that He suffered before us and He is walking with us because He understands. He is acquainted.
He gave everything so we could be free, just like many people have given everything for the freedom of our country. When I watched the video above, I was struck with the quote from Martin A. Treptow. It started with an expression that “America must win this war” and ended with this,
“I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost as if the whole issue of the struggle depended on me alone.”
Wow. Imagine if we all lived with that kind of determination and selflessness. That man would never know the millions of people who would live in freedom after he was gone, and he didn’t care. He loved his country enough to give everything he had, even if he never saw the fruit of his sacrifice. We would not be a free country if it were not for men and women like Martin A. Treptow. The enemy would have prevailed and we would be enslaved.
The Bible reminds us constantly that we are in a spiritual battle. Although Christ won on the cross, we remain here in this sinful earth and, until Jesus comes again, we will fight the fight. We must have this same resolve and this understanding that there is a bigger picture we can not see. This life is not about me and you. It doesn’t revolve around us and what we want to gain from this life. There is a greater war going on and we must be strong, brave and cheerful soldiers. We must fight as if the entire struggle depended just on us. And, we must be determined that our cause will win. It will. I’ve already read the end of the story, so I know that Jesus wins. The question is….will you be on the winning side. Will I be on the winning side? Will we make it to the end? The good news is that God tells us how to prepare ourselves to win. Let’s look at a few scriptures. The most famous scripture regarding our preparation for battle is Ephesians 6:10-18,
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 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, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”
He tells us how to arm ourselves for this battle. No soldier would go into battle unprepared. It starts with truth and righteousness. God must reveal the truth to us about who He is and what He has done for us. We have to accept that truth, repent, surrender our lives to Him and allow Him to cover us in His righteousness. There are no works that will save us and there are not enough rules we can follow to save us. We must believe the truth of His Word, repent and allow Him to give us HIS righteousness. We must be prepared to share this gospel. As we are fighting our battles, others will come to know Christ through what they see in our lives, so we must be prepared to share the gospel so they can come to Jesus. Above all, we must have faith. Now, faith is a gift. You can’t conjure it up. You can’t work for it. It is a gift. Read Ephesians 3: 14-21. Paul prayed for God to GRANT the church that gift of faith. He gives it to us. All we have to do is ask with a willing heart. Ask Him right now. If you are not filled with faith for the battle you are fighting today, stop and ask Him. He will give it. Our mind is protected by a helmet of salvation. It says to “take” the helmet. Receive it and allow the salvation from sin to cover your mind and protect your thoughts. Think of things that are good and true and right. Then comes our weapon. This is the most important weapon we will ever need – The Word of God.
Ok. This is a really cool thought. Stay with me. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then in verse 14, it says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” This means that Jesus IS the Word. Right? So if our sword is the Word of God, then Jesus, Himself, is our sword. He is what we fight with. We fight with the Word, which is Jesus. I’ll never forget one Sunday morning, my Pastor was teaching on the power of the Word. He held up His Bible in front of us and said, “This Bible is spiritual. It is Jesus. This book that you hold in your hand is the only spiritual thing that is also tangible. It is here on earth and has a physical presence, but it is completely spiritual. It is alive. It is Jesus!” I put that in quotes because I want you to know that these are not my words, but, of course, I don’t have his words exactly as he said them. But, that’s what I remember. I couldn’t stop thinking about that. I carry this Bible, I leave it in my car sometimes, I’ve read it so much that it’s about to fall apart, but I never really stopped and thought about the fact that it is alive and it is a spiritual thing. Ponder that for a minute and you might never feel the same way about your book.
If you are looking for Jesus….read the Word. It is Him. Like David, ask Him to grant you the wisdom to understand it, then open it and read. He will speak to you if your heart is open. He wants to be found. He came here and suffered so we could find Him. The greatest joy in finding Him, is knowing that we can suffer in this life with strength and help. You may not be suffering at the same level that Clay and I are suffering right now, but please don’t compare yourself to us. This is not about us. It is about Jesus. Whatever battle you are fighting right now is equally as important as our battle. God is trying to accomplish something in your life and He wants to help you.
I Peter 4:13 and 19 says, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing as unto a faithful Creator.”
As we fight and suffer, we can commit ourselves to Him and rejoice. It’s true, y’all. I’m telling you. In your darkest moment, if you allow Him, the Holy Spirit will come and He will fill you up with joy. Ask Him. Let Him. Seek Him.
I’ll leave you with this last thought. Many times over the past month, I’ve had this picture of Satan going before God, like he did in Job, and telling God that Clay and I only loved Him because He blessed us. So, God said, “Ok, do what you want.” So, Satan came for the jugular. He skipped over taking away our material possessions and other people in our lives and he just came in full force and gave Clay a massive brain tumor. I don’t know if you will understand this, and it might be a little much for me to share with you, but I’ll trust God that you will understand. Satan knew that taking Clay from me was the very worst thing he could do. Clay is my soulmate. We are supposed to be together until Jesus comes or until we live out a long life and die together at 85-90. My children will grow up and start their own lives and leave me. As much as I love them with all my heart, they will leave me. Clay was supposed to be by my side for the rest of my life. So, Satan knew. He knew how to get me.
But, God. I’m going to say that again. But, God. Satan gathered his army and he developed a smart battle strategy and he came at us with everything he had. What he didn’t expect was that there was an army of Angels waiting for him. We were already armed and ready. We didn’t know why God had armed us. We didn’t know why He was preparing us. But, we knew we were being prepared. Thank God, we had ears to hear. We listened. We did what God told us to do. We were prayed up and armed with the Word of God. We learned from the examples of others who had gone before us in battle. So, Satan fought hard, but he lost. He is still losing. I have this picture of him just standing there in shock as he watched the Angel Armies defeat his stupid little demons. He came with an anticipation of victory and then he stood there and watched God work….again. You’d think he would learn, but he doesn’t. Praise God for those Angel Armies. Yesterday, we had a guest speaker at our church, David Owens. It was so good. God moved in a great way. He read a story about a man who had been fighting his own battle. When he was in prayer one day, the Lord encouraged him by speaking to him this little phrase, “You should see the other guy!” So, if you feel beaten down or wounded in your battle today. If you feel like you are not winning, or like you are being overcome, stand strong and let the Lord show you what your enemy looks like right now. He is scared, defeated, and scrambling to figure out what to do next.
Don’t focus on your battle. Focus on what God is doing to our opposition through your battle. Satan is being defeated. And, I can promise you that this battle is just a small part of a very big war that is being waged all around us. It is a spiritual war and it is affecting eternity. Although your battle may feel like the most important thing happening right now, it’s not. There are many battles being fought, and all with the purpose of glorifying Jesus in the earth. It won’t be long until we are all coming back on white horses and Jesus is leading us into the final battle.
Be strong. Put on the WHOLE armor. Stand. Do all to stand. Pray always. And, let your Angel Armies defend you. I hope today that you will smile and even laugh a little as you let God remind you of this little phrase…”You should see the other guy!”