“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
This post is going to be a bit long, so please bear with me. There will be a lot of bible verses to read. But I believe that the Lord wants to convey something beautiful through this – a noble cause we are invited to pursue and remember. I’m sure that many have read the bible verse above and even know it by heart. Yet how do we rejoice? Have you ever asked yourself this question? I want to share some things God has been teaching me these past few weeks regarding this issue and I warn you ahead that this is not for the wishy-washy. This is for the soldiers, the good, committed ones!
If you have ever watched the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, you may remember the battle speech of King Théoden. The Riders of Rohan ride non-stop for days and days to finally arrive at the war scene where humankind is facing the fate of near defeat against the dark forces of evil. I know you’re wondering why I’m talking about the Lord of the Rings all of a sudden but I ask you to first watch this scene to the end (or at least read the speech that is written out in the description):
Did you get goosebumps, too? How do you feel about them shouting “Death!” after their King? How do you feel about the faces of the orcs at the very end when they realize these soldiers are not afraid of anything? Look at the chaos and fear that sets into their camp as the riders approach!
Now I’m not here to only talk about the Lord of the Rings. But I’m here to talk about God’s army. I’m here to talk about soliders. We all know who the King of this army is: our King Jesus Christ, our Lord! And who are His soliders? His disciples – US, if you consider yourself a follower of Christ, too!
In his letter to his “son” Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes this:
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.2. Timothy 2:3-4
And again, a Roman centurion in the days of Jesus states this simple fact about order within the army:
But (Lord), say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go’, and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.Luke 7:7b-8
Now imagine yourself being in this situation like the soliders in the movie clip; your King orders you to fight unto death for victory. How are you going to react? Hear this:
“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”
Do you know how many times He encourages us to rejoice in suffering? (1. Peter 4:13; James 1:2; Romans 5:3-5 etc.)
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things …”
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.“
“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.“
See, this is my plea to my brothers and sisters to endure with me and to rejoice with me in suffering with Christ for the Heavenly Kingdom! There is a renewal of the mind happening as we thank Him for discipline and learn to rejoice always. Because ultimately, we will have a heavenly reward of eternal life and bliss and joy! When we set our minds on things above, we realize that there is hope in resurrection. We realize that there are things eternal which we cannot see (yet) but in which we must believe so that we will partake in it!
The Lord shared with me that this year would be a year of renewal. We will learn to have pleasure and delight in obedience and following His command, His ways only. As Paul says, good soldiers really seek to only please the commanding officer. Everything that distracts them are put aside for the sake of Christ! So coming back to the question of how we continue rejoicing like He commands us to do: We remember who we are – His children – and that we are part of His army. We fear God when He says that there is life in doing what He says: to love Him and our neighbors as ourselves; to forgive, have compassion, be generous, gentle, humble and meek. To go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded us (Matthew 28:19-20). For this, we forsake any distraction, any “civilian affairs” and put to death our selfish, fleshly desires by the power of the Holy Spirit. We cut ties with any signs of lust, sexual immorality, evil desires, greed, and impurity. We constantly come to Him FIRST for refuge, healing and deliverance. We truly ABIDE in Him!
The Breath of God is coming from all four winds to revive the army of God! He has been calling them from all around the world because the fulfillment of His promises are near! He told us to always keep our lamps burning. Is your lamp burning? Do you have oil to keep it burning this season? If not, repent and seek mercy! He is faithful and just to forgive when we confess our sins (1. John 1:9).
We must be ready, Christians! We must prepare the way for the RETURN OF THE KING. So rejoice, soldiers of God! Rejoice! He has taught us how to! Grab your weapons, day and night! Fast, worship, pray and read His word, day and night! Do not let sin overtake you. Do not let darkness override you. We serve a God who is God. He is God.
Amen. Glory to Him.