Shall We Gather at the River?

The illustration above depicts Julius Caesar crossing the River Rubicon on his way to Rome. Once Caesar did this in 49 BC, he and his men were committed to overthrowing the Roman Republic that had lasted for 700 years. Today, “crossing the Rubicon” refers to an individual or group committing itself irrevocably to a risky course of action, similar to the modern phrase “passing the point of no return.”

Salvation is a step of faith, believing that the holy, sinless Son of God will save me from sin through His substitutionary, atoning death on the cross. It is faith that what the Bible says about sin, salvation, and the Savior is true and that my very life depends on it. Jesus said this to a woman when He asked her for a drink of water from a well: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14 NKJV)

As fellow-soldiers, we have assurance that God will keep His Word and that our eternal destiny depends only on His faithfulness and not our own. As fellow-soldiers, fellow-laborers, and fellow-servants, we will meet together at a river one day in the New Jerusalem and spend eternity at the foot of the throne of God. Will you meet us there at that river?

E. W. Long’s Illustrated History of Hymns and their Authors says this about our “Battle Hymn” for today:

“On a very hot summer day, in 1864, Robert Lowry was seated in his parlor in Brooklyn, NY. It was a time when an epidemic was sweeping through the city, and draping many persons and dwellings in mourning. All around friends and acquaintances were passing away in large numbers. The question began to arise in the heart, with unusual emphasis, ‘Shall we meet again? We are parting at the river of death, shall we meet at the river of life?’ ‘Seating myself at the organ,’ says he, ‘simply to give vent to the pent up emotions of the heart, the words and music of the hymn began to flow out, as if by inspiration:—
‘Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod?’”

 

Shall We Gather at the River?

by Robert Lowry

Shall we gather at the river,

Where bright angel feet have trod;

With its crystal tide forever

Flowing by the throne of God?

Refrain

Yes, we’ll gather at the river,

The beautiful, the beautiful river;

Gather with the saints at the river

That flows by the throne of God.

On the margin of the river,

Washing up its silver spray,

We will walk and worship ever,

All the happy golden day. [Refrain]

Ere we reach the shining river,

Lay we ev’ry burden down;

Grace our spirits will deliver,

And provide a robe and crown. [Refrain]

Soon we’ll reach the shining river,

Soon our pilgrimage will cease;

Soon our happy hearts will quiver

With the melody of peace. [Refrain]

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”  Revelation 22:1-2

 

Fellow Soldiers

…my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier

“Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need;”  Philippians 2:25 (NKJV)

“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:”  Philemon 1:1-2

 

Roman military soldiers, especially front-line infantry, closely identified with their units; many were “branded” with their legion number or name. Veterans could immediately identify another veteran after they left service by the legion number or name branded on their arm. The historian Stephen Ambrose coined a term for soldiers—“band of brothers.” Today’s military describes unit cohesion as “…the bonding together of soldiers in such a way as to sustain their will and commitment to each other, the unit, and mission accomplishment, despite combat or mission stress.”

As Christian soldiers we are spiritually united to other believers through an unbreakable bond—we are all one in Christ! “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Members of a local assembly call one another “brethren” because of our unbreakable bond – not just as family, but as an indivisible, organic unit who work together as a spiritual body. “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (Romans 12:4-5)

This was the bond that the Apostle Paul had forged with many men and women who helped him in his ministry. He named many of them in his epistles as an indication that the bond between them mirrored that of soldiers who fight side-by-side, share a foxhole, march in the rain, and sleep in dark forests. People like Epaphroditus and Archippus were called fellow soldiers; Titus, Timothy, Clement, Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, and Lucas were fellow workers; Epaphras and Tychicus were fellow servants; Aristarcus a fellow prisoner. The Apostle Paul was close to these believers with whom he shared special bonds of friendship and suffering.

Today, the bond among believers is stronger and deeper than those formed by soldiers or people who work together. Our bond is secured by the Holy Spirit and cannot be broken. (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30; II Corinthians 1:22) Our common, binding tie with other believers is the fellowship that we have with the Lord Jesus Christ. “…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (I John 1:3)

Stay alert! Stay together! March on!

 

 

The Bugle Call

“Listen to the sound of the trumpet!”

The Roman Army bugle (trumpet) gave signals to soldiers while marching in formation or on the battlefield when their commander wanted them to move in certain directions as a unit. Thousands of troops maneuvered at a single command to execute their leader’s will.

The Bible demonstrates that God uses trumpets to announce major events about His will and intentions for believers. The verses below illustrate how God initiates His sovereignty over history in commanding the Rapture, warnings about the coming Day of the Lord, and the regathering of Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” I Corinthians 15:51-52 (NKJV)

Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the LORD is coming, For it is at hand:”  Joel 2:1

“Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’” Jeremiah 6:17

“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”  Matthew 24:30-31

The battle hymn below is a “call to arms” for Christian soldiers to prepare for spiritual warfare which we must fight without rest until the trumpet signals that the battle is over and we are called to meet the Lord Jesus in the air!

The Bugle Call

Lyrics by James Summerfield Bitler, Sr. *

Hear the bugle calling,

Come without delay;

Every man be ready

For the fight today.

Do not sleep in danger,

Do not hesitate;

Rouse you up, O soldiers,

For the foe is great.

Refrain

Hear the bugle calling,

Calling you and me;

Awake, ye soldiers of the cross!

Hear the bugle calling,

Calling you and me,

Come without delay;

Rouse you up, O soldiers,

For the fight today!

Hear the bugle calling,

Time is going fast;

Men are dying ’round you,

Life will soon be past!

Seize the moment quickly,

Speak the word just now;

Trust the Lord to guide you,

He will show you how. [Refrain]

Hear the bugle calling;

See, it calls for you!

Don’t say there are others,

That will never do.

For your place, my brother,

Others cannot fill;

You must do your duty,

Do it with a will! [Refrain]

*  James Summerfield Bitler, Sr. (1852–1926) grad­u­at­ed from Ohio Wes­ley­an Un­i­ver­si­ty around 1870. He be­came a well-known ev­an­gel­ist, liv­ing in Ohio, In­di­a­na, Il­li­nois, Mis­so­uri, and Ne­bras­ka. At the time of death, he was pas­tor of the First Me­thod­ist Epis­co­pal Church in Ham­den, Ohio.

Stay alert! Listen for the trumpet!

 

The Military Trumpet

Sound the trumpet – prepare for battle!

 

“But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.”

I Corinthians 14:6-9 (NKJV)

 

Both the Old and New Testaments contain a total of sixty references to a “trumpet.” In the Hebrew Bible the context makes it clear that the trumpet is either a ram’s horn (shofar) blown for holy days and feast days; a coronet for special events like royal coronations; or a musical instrument to accompany a choir in Solomon’s Temple. The fall of Jericho recorded in the Book of Joshua mentions the ram’s horn trumpet being blown as the ark and the army circled the city before the walls fell. (Joshua 6:3ff)

A trumpet in the New Testament has a mostly prophetic significance as either a ram’s horn or some other type of loud instrument. It is used to announce key future events such as the Rapture of believers (I Thessalonians 4:16); the gathering of the elect at Jesus’ Second Coming (Matthew 24:31); the last trumpet at the resurrection of the saints (I Corinthians 15:52); revelations in Heaven to the Apostle John (Revelation 1:10; 4:1); announcement of the last three trumpet judgments (8:13) and specifically the sixth trumpet judgment. (9:14)

All of this is by way of prologue to say that in I Corinthians 14:8 the distinct sound of a “trumpet” (or “bugle” in some translations) is not like the blast of a ram’s horn that marks the beginning of an important event like a festival, feast, coronation, or judgment. The trumpet here is a military signaling device [see illustration at top] that a field commander would use to send instructions to his distant troops during a battle. It was loud and the dozen or so different sounds were distinct enough to be understood amid the chaos and tumult of the fighting.

Two bugle signals that many of us might recognize are “Reveille” and “Taps.” Reveille is a loud, energetic tune sounded in quick time to wake sleeping soldiers. The sound says, “Wake up! Get moving!” Taps is a slow, melancholy tune to honor the death of a soldier and ends in a sorrowful note of tears for the fallen soldier. Each trumpet sound marks a completely different mood or tone that is easily identifiable.

The metaphor of a Roman military trumpet makes the Apostle Paul’s point in I Corinthians 14:8 that speaking in tongues is not some gibberish or monotonous sound that conveys no real information. Biblical “tongues” to which Paul refers here and Luke mentions in the Book of Acts, were distinct languages that people understood clearly.

“And when this sound [speaking in tongues] occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.’ So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’” Acts 2:6-12 (NKJV)

Any so-called “tongues” which impart no information or which nobody can understand are not Biblical and not to be allowed. Paul (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) used a military trumpet to illustrate something about Biblical tongues that can be understood and applied today.

Sound the trumpet! Grab your weapons! March on!

 

Who is on the Lord’s Side?

Choose you this day…

“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15

 

Will you be a good soldier of Jesus Christ or will you follow your own path through life. We’ve looked at submission to God and yielding our lives on the altar to Jesus Christ. Now it’s time to march. Who will you follow?

 

Who is on the Lord’s Side?

by Frances Ridley Havergal * music by C. Luise Reichardt ** arranged by John Goss ***

Who is on the Lord’s side?

Who will serve the King?

Who will be His helpers,

Other lives to bring?

Who will leave the world’s side?

Who will face the foe?

Who is on the Lord’s side?

Who for Him will go?

By Thy call of mercy,

By Thy grace divine,

We are on the Lord’s side—

Savior, we are Thine.

Not for weight of glory,

Not for crown and palm,

Enter we the army,

Raise the warrior psalm;

But for love that claimeth

Lives for whom He died:

He whom Jesus nameth

Must be on His side.

By Thy love constraining,

By Thy grace divine,

We are on the Lord’s side—

Savior, we are Thine.

Jesus, Thou hast bought us,

Not with gold or gem,

But with Thine own life blood,

For Thy diadem;

With Thy blessing filling

Each who comes to Thee,

Thou hast made us willing,

Thou hast made us free.

By Thy grand redemption,

By Thy grace divine,

We are on the Lord’s side—

Savior, we are Thine.

Fierce may be the conflict,

Strong may be the foe,

But the King’s own army

None can overthrow.

’Round His standard ranging,

Victory is secure,

For His truth unchanging

Makes the triumph sure.

Joyfully enlisting,

By Thy grace divine,

We are on the Lord’s side—

Savior, we are Thine.

Chosen to be soldiers,

In an alien land,

Chosen, called, and faithful,

For our Captain’s band;

In the service royal,

Let us not grow cold;

Let us be right loyal, noble,

True and bold.

Master, Thou wilt keep us,

By Thy grace divine,

Always on the Lord’s side—

Savior, always Thine.

* Frances Ridley Havergal (1836–1879) Frances was a bright but short-lived can­dle in Eng­lish hym­no­dy. She was read­ing by age four, and be­gan writ­ing verse at age sev­en. She learned La­tin, Greek and He­brew, and mem­o­rized the Psalms, the book of Isai­ah, and most of the New Tes­ta­ment. On her tomb­stone was the Scrip­ture verse she claimed as her own: “The blood of Je­sus Christ cleans­eth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

** C. Luise Reichardt (1779–1826) Luise was the daugh­ter of German com­pos­ers and granddaughter of a violinist and composer. Her life knew tra­ge­dy: Her fi­an­cé, died short­ly before they were to mar­ry. Her se­cond fi­an­cé al­so died be­fore their wedding. Some­what lat­er, she lost her voice. Known for her trans­la­tions and ar­range­ments of Han­del’s or­a­tor­i­os, she com­posed ov­er 90 songs and chor­us­es of her own.

*** John Goss (1800–1880) Goss was the son of a church organist and com­posed most­ly church mu­sic. He was or­gan­ist at St. Paul’s Ca­the­dral in London. He was al­so a com­pos­er to the Cha­pel Roy­al, and Pro­fes­sor of Har­mo­ny at the Roy­al Acad­e­my of Mu­sic for al­most half a cen­tu­ry. Queen Vic­tor­ia knight­ed him in 1872, and Cam­bridge Un­i­ver­si­ty award­ed him a Doc­tor of Mu­sic degree in 1876.

Stay alert! Grab your weapons! Follow the Lord!

 

 

 

 

A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ

Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ

 

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” II Timothy 2:3-4 (NKJV)

As the United States honors its military veterans on November 11th, two words stand out as characteristic of all soldiers: service and sacrifice. We salute these men and women for their service to our country and for their sacrifice. We enjoy freedom in the United States because of them. May God bless our troops!

The Greek word for “soldier” (strateuomai) used metaphorically in II Timothy 2:3 is mentioned in a literal sense twenty-five times in the Gospels and the Book of Acts where it refers to a Roman infantry-soldier. Since the exact word is only used once here in a figurative sense, we must grasp its meaning from the context.

Paul’s second epistle to Timothy exhorts him to hold fast to what he has been taught, to teach others, to be strong in the faith and in God’s grace, and to endure hardship because he will face difficulties and trials as a pastor. Paul’s military metaphor in vv. 2-3, likens Timothy’s pastoral service to that of a soldier in the army of Jesus Christ.

The first similarity to a literal soldier is enduring hardship. Paul mentions his own hardships in 2:9-10 as a prisoner chained in jail for the cause of Christ. Like a soldier marching in the cold rain or a warrior struggling for hours against an enemy in the heat of a battle, Timothy may have to endure physical deprivation and spiritual heartache in service to his Lord.

The second similarity is the personal sacrifice a soldier must make by setting aside a home, a family, leisure time, and normal day-to-day pursuits. A soldier turns away from things we take for granted as part of an ordinary life and commits himself to focusing on one mission: carrying out the instructions of his commander. Timothy “enlisted” in the Lord’s army when he was born again. At that moment, he became a soldier of the Lord whose only goal was to please his “Commander.” Paul’s desire was for his spiritual son to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Every believer is a soldier in God’s Army. Let’s purpose in our hearts to be good soldiers who serve and sacrifice for Him!

Stay alert!  Grab your weapon! March on!

 

All to Jesus I Surrender

All to Jesus I Surrender; I Surrender All

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

A Roman soldier in antiquity would never think of surrendering! If he were to think of surrender going into battle he would perish. But a good soldier of Jesus Christ would have surrender to God on his mind all the time! Like submission, surrender to God is to put self on the cross and to allow God to rule in our lives. John the Baptist said this about Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

All to Jesus I Surrender

by Judson Van DeVenter * and Winfield S. Weeden **

All to Jesus I surrender,

All to him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust him,

In his presence daily live.

Refrain

I surrender all,

I surrender all,

All to thee, my blessed Savior,

I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,

Humbly at his feet I bow,

Worldly pleasures all forsaken,

Take me, Jesus, take me now.

(Refrain)

All to Jesus I surrender;

Make me, Savior, wholly thine;

Let me feel the Holy Spirit,

Truly know that thou art mine.

(Refrain)

All to Jesus I surrender,

Lord, I give myself to thee,

Fill me with thy love and power,

Let thy blessing fall on me.

(Refrain)

All to Jesus I surrender;

Now I feel the sacred flame.

Oh, the joy of full salvation!

Glory, glory, to his name!

(Refrain)

* Judson Van DeVenter was an art teacher and supervisor of art in the public schools of Sharon, Pennsylvania. He was, in addition, an accomplished musician, singer, and composer. He was also an active layman in his Methodist Episcopal Church, involved in the church’s evangelistic meetings. Van DeVenter wavered for five years between becoming a recognized artist or devoting himself to ministry. Finally, he surrendered his life to Christian service, and wrote the text of this hymn while conducting a meeting in Ohio

** Winfield S. Weeden was Van DeVenter’s associate and singer for many years. “All to Jesus I Surrender” was put to music by Weeden, and first published in 1896 in Gospel Songs of Grace and Glory, a collection of old and new hymns by various hymnists.

Submission to Rank

“Submitting to one another in the fear of God” Ephesians 5:19-21

“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (I Peter 2:13-15)

Strong’s Concordance says that the Greek word for submission is hupotasso. It is a military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions or ranks] in a military fashion under the command of a leader.” In non-military use, it was, “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.” A commentator said that the word hupotasso translated submission: “… is actually a military term, and in the military there is a strong sense of submitting to someone of higher rank. A soldier must arrange himself in order under his sergeant…Everything is ‘arranged in order under.’”

When I was a new lieutenant in the military, I had a commander who made some poor decisions and I was critical of him for doing so. A master sergeant old enough to be my father gave me two pieces of advice that have stuck with me through the years. “Don’t forget that he puts his pants on in the morning just like you do.” Our commander was human, just like me, and could make mistakes, just like me. His other observation was, “We salute the uniform (position), not the man.” Those who wear the uniform (or work in a shop, drive a bus, teach children, or wash dishes) have to follow some orderly structure or rank. We salute (submit) to authority even if the person is not of sterling character or ability. No matter who we are, we’re all human beings who have to rank ourselves under and/or over someone else. Nobody in that line of order is any “better” or “worse” than the other—we each have different ranks and with that rank (position) comes certain obligations and duties.

Sometimes it’s difficult to perceive the difference between submission and obedience. There is a difference, and it lies in subtleties that are apparent to the one who is either obeying or submitting.

  • To obey simply means “to follow a command”; “to conform”; or “to comply with an order.”

  • To submit, though, means “to yield, or defer out of respect, superior authority, affection, persuasion, or even compulsion.”

God has a plan for order in the world today:

Submission to God

There can be no question about God’s “rank” over all of His creation. God is Supreme, King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and Omega. We submit to God because He is God! “Therefore submit to God.” (James 4:7-10, NKJV) The best example of submission to God was when Jesus cried these words before He went to the cross, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39b)

Submission to God’s Word

Submission to God and to His Word are indistinguishable. If we submit to Him then we submit to what He says. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Knowing God’s Word and submitting to it will put our lives in the order He intends, “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him…” (II Peter 1:3)

Submission to Authorities

Jesus submitted to His earthly mother and father when He was young. “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them…” (Luke 2:51) Romans 13:1-7 is a call for us to submit to human government:” “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (v.1) The passage tells us why God calls for submission and not mere obedience—God’s authority (see above) is behind governmental authority. Resisting authorities means resisting God! (v.2) In addition to civil government, God’s order extends to church leadership: “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.” (Hebrews 13:17a)

Submission of Wives to Husbands

God’s plan for order in the home is a clear line of authority from Jesus Christ “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:22-23) This is not popular today, but a Biblical order of submission in the home is the key to spiritual growth for the whole family. This is God’s plan for a husband and wife in the home. Note: It is NOT Biblical to say that women must submit to (or obey) men in everything. We are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:38)

Submission to One Another

Submission in the local church extends to each member of the body. As explained in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12, each member of the Body of Christ needs the others and has a role in God’s program for the church. Ephesians 5:19-21 is a beautiful picture of harmony in the church when everyone submits to one another: “…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

The difference between submission and obedience is is a matter of our will. We submit to government, to one another, and wives submit to their husbands because that is God’s plan for orderly living which we choose to follow. The military term for submission to rank can teach us a lot about how we interact with God and with one another. God’s divine order for family, church, and community is not difficult to understand when we know what submission means.

Stay Alert! Fall into your ranks! March on!

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Hymn: Captain of My Salvation, Hear!

Hear me, O God!

King David was a soldier who prayed to God for help and deliverance in battle and especially when it looked like the enemy could prevail. He prayed not only for God to save him because he was the king over God’s people, but also so Israel’s enemies would see that Israel’s God was over all other gods and keeps His promise to deliver His people for His Name’s sake. Moses said, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome…” (Deuteronomy 10:17) God, through Isaiah, proclaimed, “I, even I, am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior.” (43:11; also 45:5)

“Answer me speedily, O Lord;

My spirit fails!

Do not hide Your face from me,

Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,

For in You do I trust;

Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,

For I lift up my soul to You.

Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;

In You I take shelter.

Teach me to do Your will,

For You are my God;

Your Spirit is good.

Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake!

For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

In Your mercy cut off my enemies,

And destroy all those who afflict my soul;

For I am Your servant.”

Psalm 143:7-12 (NKJV)

 

Captain of My Salvation, Hear!

by Charles Wesley *

Captain of my salvation, hear!

Stir up Thy strength, and bow the skies:

Be Thou the God of battles, near;

In all Thy majesty arise!

The day, the dreadful day’s at hand!

In battle cover Thou my head:

Past is Thy word: Here I stand,

And confident expect Thine aid.

Now arm me for the threatening fight;

Now let Thy power descend from high;

Triumphant in Thy Spirit’s might,

So shall I every foe defy.

I ask Thy help; by Thee sent forth

Thy glorious Gospel to proclaim,

Be Thou my mouth, and shake the earth,

And spread by me Thy awful name.

Steel me to shame, reproach, disgrace,

Arm me with all Thy armor now,

Set like a flint my steady face,

Harden to adamant my brow.

Bold may I wax, exceeding bold,

My high commission to perform,

Nor shrink Thy harshest truths to unfold,

But more than meet the gathering storm.

Adverse to earth’s rebellious throng,

Still may I turn my fearless face,

Stand as an iron pillar strong,

And steadfast as a wall of brass.

Give me Thy might, Thou God of power;

Then let or man or fiends assail!

Strong in Thy strength, I’ll stand a tower

Impregnable to earth or hell.

* Charles Wesley (1707-1788) was the son of Sam­u­el Wes­ley and Su­san­na An­nes­ley, bro­ther of John Wes­ley, and hus­band of Sar­ah Wes­ley. Charles and John wrote over 6,000 hymns. In ad­di­tion to hymn writ­ing, Charles and John Wesley found­ed the move­ment which be­came the Me­thod­ist de­no­mi­na­tion.

Be alert! Pray without ceasing! March on!

 

The Whole Armor of God and Prayer

Pray without ceasing

“…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 6:18 (NKJV)

Prayer is part of our study of military metaphors because it is mentioned in the context of standing with the whole armor of God and it tells how that armor is to be used. Meyer’s New Testament Commentary says, “After Paul has [in Ephesians 6:14-17] placed before his readers in what armor they are to stand forth [v.13], he shows yet further how this standing ready for the combat must be combined with prayer.”  The Expositor’s Greek Testament Commentary explains the phrase in v.18, ‘praying always with all prayer and supplication’: “This clause is a further explanation of the manner in which the injunction ‘stand therefore’ [v.14a] is to be carried. This great requirement of standing ready for the combat can be made good only when prayer, constant, earnest, spiritual prayer, is added to the careful equipment with all the parts of the panoply.” Like the physical armor that all soldiers need for combat with the enemy, the equipment alone will not protect us against injury or death. Armor has limited value unless it is put on and used. Ephesians 6:18 explains how that equipment must be used.

The modern military has a saying, “Train the way you fight – fight the way you train.” Constant training hones the skills needed for victory over an enemy whose attacks can be relentless. When it’s time to fight the good fight of faith, we must employ the tactics we learned in our spiritual training.

“…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” This verse is the soldier’s instruction manual for how to use the range of spiritual weapons God has given us. Prayer (in a general sense) and supplication (specifically seeking, petitioning, asking, requesting) is to take place in the realm (or will) of the Holy Spirit. As we pray, we watch with expectancy for God to answer. We cannot stop praying, petitioning, or watching. This is what it means to, “pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5:17) Don’t forget to include our fellow soldiers in these prayers. The enemy’s tactics are aimed at all fellow-soldiers. One moment we may be under specific attack and a moment later a brother or sister can be the target of our spiritual enemy’s weapon. Pray for one another! (Colossians 1:9; James 5:16)

Prayer is the training ground that teaches us how to use our weapons and to trust in Almighty God for the outcome of our spiritual warfare. If we learn to resist the day-to-day temptations of life through regular prayer with our Heavenly Commander (our spiritual training camp), we will be fully equipped for the large ambushes and attacks when they strike. Outfitted with the best armor and continuing in prayer, we can safely trust the Lord for victory in the coming battles. 

“Thus says the LORD:

‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,

Let not the mighty man glory in his might,

Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;

But let him who glories glory in this,

That he understands and knows Me,

That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness,

 judgment, and righteousness in the earth.

For in these I delight,’ says the LORD.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NKJV)

Be alert! Pray without ceasing! March on!