2 Cor 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal…
The news of Russian forces attacking Ukraine was shocking but not surprising.
I know the Russians have some top-notch weaponry but I’m not sure about the Ukrainians.
However advanced weapons are not the only thing needed to win a war.
You need the heart to fight and the Ukrainians have this since they defend their homeland.
If you are a Christian, your homeland is under attack every day.
It is not a battle of tanks and rifles but a spiritual battle for the soul.
Your homeland is that of God’s kingdom and the attack is from a massive enemy that seeks to keep prisoners of sin exactly where they are.
But you can set them free with the message of the Gospel.
God’s word is your weapon for the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. Heb 4:12
That weapon, wielded by you, gives life instead of death, like other weapons.
Carry your sword with you today, in your hand or in your heart and do not be afraid to use it.
1 Cor 9:27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
If I wanted to run a marathon I would need to get into shape.
I would need to get up every morning and work out with some walking, weight lifting, and a diet that supports my desire to run a marathon.
I would have to build up my endurance and stamina to where I could run a few laps, eventually to a mile, then five, and on to ten, and so on.
I will need to discipline my body to keep going because, although my mind wants to run, my body wants to stop.
I want to stay in bed.
I don’t want to get up and work out anymore.
I understand that even when you are in top physical condition, you’re body will try to tell you to stop during such a long run.
Your mind must tell your body to keep going, keep pushing forward, and reach the finish line.
In Christianity, it is much the same as your flesh and mind war against your spirit.
This is the reason Paul said he disciplined his body to bring it into subjection.
I know how difficult it is to read the Bible every day.
Going to church every Sunday and Wednesday gets old when there are so many other things that need your attention.
This is where you must discipline yourself to press on and reach toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Rom 7:19-20 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
You go around and around the parking lot trying to find a close place to park.
Finally, a car pulls out right at the entrance.
You make a turn down that row and just before you get to the parking space a little car whips into the space.
It is very aggravating and easy to have sinful thoughts or let something awful slip from your lips.
You didn’t want to think it.
You didn’t want to say it.
You didn’t want to shout at the person indicating what kind of idiot they were.
It’s just one example of the many things that can happen to upset your Christianity during a day.
It takes discipline to keep from thinking bad thoughts, saying awful things, or doing stupid acts.
Paul understood this when he wrote in Romans 7.
Like you, he wanted to do good but he did not.
He did not want to do evil but did it anyway.
He realized that sin will always conflict and fight against the spiritual nature of Christianity.
To overcome it you need the help of the Holy Spirit but it also takes a conscientious effort on your part too, that is, discipline.
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
To become a Navy Seal takes some great discipline on the part of the candidates.
A Seal wannabe needs to pass a physical screening test that includes swimming 500 yards in 12.5 minutes or less, followed by a 10-minute rest.
Then do 42 pushups in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest.
50 situps in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest.
Six pullups, followed by a 10-minute rest.
Run 1.5 miles in less than 11 minutes.
A trainee will need to discipline their mind and body to continue pushing the limits.
Each has to forsake the desire to stop, which their body screams back at them.
It also takes discipline to become a disciple of Christ.
Jesus says you must forsake all.
My body naturally sins but sin is antichrist.
I must forsake what my body and mind want to do naturally and give in to what the Holy Spirit directs me to do.
To become a Seal you push yourself to do certain physical and mental feats.
To be a disciple of Christ you will push yourself to not do things, like sinful behavior.
Luke 14:27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
If you play a sport you need to have a commitment to the sport.
Let’s take basketball for example.
You will need to listen to the coach and follow the instructions.
You need to work out and build up your speed and stamina.
Practice bouncing the ball and walking or running while doing it.
There is also practice shooting from different approaches to the net.
Then you need to also practice with the rest of the team and against an opponent.
This looks like it will take quite a bit of time out of your day to do all the practicing.
You will really need to commit yourself even more.
You have games to play at different locations, days, and times.
You may play a lot or sit on the bench a lot.
It will interfere with other activities.
You will come home tired.
You will have a few bumps and bruises.
You will win some and lose some.
But if you love the game it will all be worth it.
Jesus says you need commitment to be His disciple.
You need to take up the cross and follow Him.
It also takes listening to the coach (the Holy Spirit), reading your playbook (the Bible), building up stamina (prayer), coming to the team meetings (church), and facing opponents (sharing your faith with others).
It takes commitment to be a disciple but if you love God it will all be worth it.
Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
When you get married, many times the vows contain the phrase for the groom and bride to “forsake all others”.
You cannot have a relationship with your wife and still have girlfriends.
You might be friends with some but you cannot hang out with them as you did in the past.
The same is said for the wife.
It’s not that you hate or despise them, but their importance in your life is different.
Your wife or husband becomes the center of your life.
Becoming a Christian is somewhat like that.
You set aside all other relationships for Christ.
In fact, Jesus said you cannot be His disciple unless you do so.
It’s very strong language in today’s verse.
It does not mean to hate as much as it means to love less.
I remember when I first married I would take off my socks in a ball and just throw them on the floor.
Linda informed me she was not my mother and wanted me to pull my socks out of the ball.
She threatened to wash them that way if I continued to wad them up.
It took discipline on my part to retrain myself to pull my socks off straight.
But I did it knowing it would please my wife.
It takes discipline to live a pleasing life for Christ too!
1 Thess 5:1-4 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
While Jesus says no one knows the day and hour of His return, the Bible also tells believers we can know the time and seasons, perhaps the day although not the day and hour together.
Jesus will return like a thief in the night.
Our church was robbed seven times and we never caught them in the act because they all came at night.
However, we did take measures by installing an alarm system and security cameras.
Now they don’t bother with us.
I’m not sure drug dealers make their deals in the parking lot anymore because of the security cameras.
Even though thieves are still around the area they just don’t try to break in anymore.
Likewise, believers are not in darkness so that day catches us unaware.
We positively know Jesus will return.
And in my study of the scripture, I believe He returns on Yom Teruah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets.
Therefore I claim to know the day but I certainly do not know the hour.
Whether I am right or wrong, Jesus is returning so it is high time we prepare for His return and what better way than spreading the gospel message to those that need to hear it.
1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
As you read the preceding verses 15 to 17 you get the joyful news about the return of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and the catching up of those saints alive at the time.
Then it says we should comfort one another with these words.
Originally Paul was comforting the Christians at Thessalonica that worried they would never see their long-gone Christian family and friends again.
I take comfort that we will.
I take comfort in Jesus’ return for His very own.
As this world spins out of control with disease, war, financial uncertainty, and political and civil unrest it is high time we comfort others with the message of Christ.
That message is He came and gave His life so that we might be forgiven our sins and saved.
That message is He was dead and buried but He came back and is victorious over death.
That message is He is seated on high and making intercession for us against the adversary.
That message is He has not left us alone in the world but the Holy Spirit fills and guides us every day.
And finally, that message is HE IS COMING BACK!
Matt 9:37-38 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
I’m not a farmer, although I have had my fair share of being in a field picking purple hull peas or butter beans with my grandparents.
Closer to the house was a smaller garden spot for pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
One thing I learned is there is always more to pick.
You can spend an hour on a row of peas and think you got every last one. But turn around and head back down the row and you will pick another half bucket full.
I also learned that if you don’t pick that most things will spoil and become unusable.
Tomatoes and peppers will begin to rot, while the peas and beans become hard and dry.
Jesus said the harvest was ready but there aren’t enough laborers.
You can present the gospel to 15 people, turn around, and there are 20 more you can present the message to.
The longer you wait the more hardened people become to the gospel.
The adversary wastes no time in presenting a message against God.
We should counter by wasting no time heading into the harvest with the message of God.
It’s high time we get into the garden.
Rom 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
On those days I work from home I wear sweat pants and a T-shirt.
I usually wear it all day with no reason to get dressed.
It’s comfortable and relaxed and, after all, no one is going to see me in them.
However, if I must go into town or even out to the barn, I put on my overalls, socks, and shoes.
I want to be more presentable in public and wear something more durable when I do some outdoor work.
There is a time when you can lie around in your jammies all day and there is a time when you need to get dressed in something more appropriate.
It’s high time for Christians to wake out of their slumber, put off their spiritual jammies, and put on Christ.
The world needs to see us wearing Christ and making provision for a worldly lifestyle.
The world does not need to see actors nor hypocrites, but genuine God-fearing believers in love with Jesus and those He came to die for.
As you get up and get dressed today, put on Christ!