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No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:4 (NIV)

Military service is far more appealing during times of peace than in times of war. Growing up in the 1960’s, I remember the protests and controversy surrounding the Vietnam War. Every year the military drew dates for the draft. Those dates became the order in which men were required to report for military service and inevitably deployment overseas. The higher your number, the more likely you were to be chosen.

With few exceptions, there was no way out of fulfilling your requirements. Those that were called and survived left as boys and, the lucky ones, returned as men who’d seen things no man alive would want to see. But they hadn’t been called to be tourists. They were called as soldiers with a job to do.

It’s interesting that Paul makes the analogy of the servant of Christ and a soldier when he writes to his young protégé, Timothy. All those in the Mediterranean world knew about soldiers. Rome’s tight grip on the world was due to the presence of a well-trained and disciplined army. There may have been atrocities, but the main goal of the soldier was to keep Rome strong and they did very well at it for hundreds of years.

Soldiers aren’t called to live in peace, they are called to acquire and keep the peace. As soldiers for Christ we must remember that we are at war. Our main charge is not to develop strong churches and cool programs. While worship of almighty God is essential, one must never forget that we have but one command from our commander and that command is spelled out very succinctly in Matthew 28. We are to make disciples and teach them about Jesus.

Jesus didn’t make disciples from good, church-going men and women. He didn’t spend his time preaching to the choir; in fact he made it clear he was called to make disciples and followers from the sick, the destitute, and the immoral. The healthy don’t need a doctor, the sick do.

Each of us is called to be a soldier for Christ. Our primary job is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ out in a way that shows the world they can experience forgiveness and freedom from the sins and struggles that hold them captive.

Whether you are in full-time ministry or a factory worker, a teacher or a hamburger flipper, your mission is the same. Disciples aren’t made through well-designed programs or social media. Disciples are made through hand-to-hand combat.

As a soldier for Jesus, who can you touch today? Who do you know in your circles that need to feel the encouragement, forgiveness and freedom of the grace you have received through Christ? They don’t need to hear your sermons. You don’t need to have a seminary degree to show them the way. You just need to be willing to share your life with them.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you have called us to be a soldier in your army. Empower us with your Spirit to stay true to our calling so that we may win others to you. Amen.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 2 Corinthians 9:12

“The best way to get people to praise God is to bless them. Even works with your enemies!” These were the words of a friend of mine I’ll call Ben. Ben had a casual friend we’ll call Steve several years earlier. This ‘friend’ and Ben had a falling out and, unfortunately, even though both parties were Christ-followers, the relationship was never the same. One day, shortly after the falling out, Ben received some unexpected money.

“I went to bed that night wondering how to spend the money,” Ben told me. “It wasn’t a large amount, but I wanted to spend it wisely. The Lord brought one name to my mind over and over again,” Ben smiled as he told the story. “I just couldn’t get Steve out of mind. I knew he needed some work done on his car. I also knew that if I tried to give him any money it would be rejected or misunderstood. So, I decided to send him an anonymous letter in the mail with the cash I knew would repair his car.”

Ben went on to tell how, several days later Steve was praising God to everyone he saw because of how the Lord had blessed him. “I wanted to come forward so bad!” Ben still smiled to tell the story, “but we were both blessed by the gift and that’s the important thing.”

How do you get people to praise God? By blessing them! It may not be money. It may be shoveling their sidewalk after a snowstorm, or mowing their grass while they are on vacation, or throwing out the guidelines on tipping at the restaurant (even if the service is terrible!).

It’s not always easy to bless someone else with our service. We can be abused or taken advantage of, misunderstood or criticized. It’s especially hard when the ones God calls us to serve are our ‘enemies’ or hate us. During the times when serving others is hard remember that our service to other people is really service to God.

Serving others is a three-fold blessing. We are blessed in our giving, those we serve are blessed by our service and God is blessed by their praise! When you get the opportunity to serve others, remember that your service never affects just one person. Our Heavenly Father loves to hear the praise of His people and serving others always leads to our Father being praised as well.

PRAYER: Awesome Heavenly Father. You have blessed me in so many ways. I have life. I have Jesus. I have the promise of eternity with You. Empower me by your Holy Spirit to reach out to those around me and bless them so that they in turn will give you the praise you so richly deserve. Help me remember that it isn’t my praise I seek but Yours. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

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February 2023
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