CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 29 July The Soldier's Preparation for Battle By Dan Cartwright Battle 0 Comment The call to battle, the order to go to war issues from the Commander in Chief and moves downward through the chain of command until it rests upon the military unit(s) that will engage the enemy. Unit commanders prepare their combat forces to engage and defeat the enemy with the goal of walking victoriously off the battlefield. However, no matter how well trained their combat soldiers might be, no matter how advanced their weaponry, victory in battle will elude them if individual soldiers will shrink from their duties in the face of the enemy. In addition to being sufficiently trained and well equipped, the combat soldier also needs to have the 'heart of a warrior'. The same is true for the Christian soldier who would be effective for the Kingdom of God. In the 17th Century, Puritan preacher and author Thomas Watson called the preparation of the Christian Soldier 'provocation to duty'. He further defined it as: "Provoking ourselves to duty, implies an uniting, and rallying together all the powers of our soul, setting them on work in the exercises of piety. A man must say to his thoughts, "be fixed on God in this duty;" and to his affections, "serve the Lord without distraction." Matters of piety must be done with intenseness of spirit." He then describes seven duties required of a Christian soldier who would deveop a 'warrior's heart': The Reading of the Word. The Hearing of the Word. Prayer. Meditation. Self-examination. Sanctifying the Lord's Day. Holy conversation. The call to battle, the order to go to war issues from the Commander in Chief and moves downward through the chain of command until it rests upon the military unit(s) that will engage the enemy. Unit commanders prepare their combat forces to engage and defeat the enemy with the goal of walking victoriously off the battlefield. However, no matter how well trained their combat soldiers might be, no matter how advanced their weaponry, victory in battle will elude them if individual soldiers will shrink from their duties in the face of the enemy. In addition to being sufficiently trained and well equipped, the combat soldier also needs to have the 'heart of a warrior'. The same is true for the Christian soldier who would be effective for the Kingdom of God. In the 17th Century, Puritan preacher and author Thomas Watson called the preparation of the Christian Soldier 'provocation to duty'. He further defined it as: "Provoking ourselves to duty, implies an uniting, and rallying together all the powers of our soul, setting them on work in the exercises of piety. A man must say to his thoughts, "be fixed on God in this duty;" and to his affections, "serve the Lord without distraction." Matters of piety must be done with intenseness of spirit." He then describes seven duties required of a Christian soldier who would deveop a 'warrior's heart': The Reading of the Word. The Hearing of the Word. Prayer. Meditation. Self-examination. Sanctifying the Lord's Day. Holy conversation. Related Battlefields Battlefields “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11 When you get dressed each day do you put on your armor? Yes you heard me correctly, your armor. Those items used in battle for protection. Each day whether you realize it or not you enter a major battlefield controlled by forces of evil and darkness. Your job is to shine light and to protect yourself. Take a moment and read Ephesians Chapter 6:10-18 in the New Testament. In there you read exactly what is this armor of God and how do you put it on daily. The word of God is your most important part as it serves as a your sword to keep those fiery flames darts from Satan from hitting you. You combat them by reading and quoting scripture. To quote it you have to know it so to do this you study it. Which is more important to you, Facebook or His book. When you get dressed today don't forget your most important pieces of clothing that being your spiritual armor. PRAYER: The battlefield I enter daily does not have to bring me fear for your word goes with me and strengthens me to face any corruption, deceit, onslaught or evil. Thanks for my armor. In Jesus' name. Amen. Fighting The Battle Fighting the Battle The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) I don't know what struggle you have, but one of mine is imaginations. The enemy knows this so he tries to attack me in this area. Sometimes I allow him to, instead of fighting back with scripture. We who are Christians should be aware we are in a battle for our very souls. To be able to get a brother or sister in Christ imagining things and trying to figure things out is a specialty of the enemy. If you feel this occurring stop what you are doing and tell Satan to leave you alone. One example is that you think people are thinking something they are not. It is necessary to take every thought captive and focus on good things and not dwell on stuff that will make you start thinking wrong things. I am not saying this in a mentally ill sense but just the sheer area of controlling what your mind is allowed to dwell on. Wake up daily and grab your Bible and saturate your mind with good thoughts. Tell Satan he is to leave you alone because you are a child of the King. Then go enjoy a peace filled day. PRAYER: I choose this day to focus on things above and how I can add joy to someone's life around me. I cast down any wrong thinking. In Jesus' name. Amen. Becky Juett Miller God's Lemonade Stand https://www.facebook.com/GodsLemonadeStand/ https://www.godslemonadestand.blogspot.com Pray for the Troops Pray for the Troops A Seven-Day Devotional The life of a young man or woman is forever changed when they sign the dotted line contractually binding them to their enlistment or commission in the United States Armed Forces. That decision can bring exhilaration, fear, excitement, anxiety and a host of many other emotions however, the emotions that surpass trepidations are ones of pride, loyalty, sacrifice, patriotism, honor, and courage, to name a few. The moment when the individual steps into the uniform for the first time, and views and salutes the American flag, is forever a life changing and heart transformation event. Whether their initial contract binds them to Active Duty service or as a Reservist, whether a military member is relatively new in their role, and in their career or whether they’re a seasoned veteran having spent many years serving and leading in service to their subordinates and our great nation, structural elements and foundational duties and sacrifices do not change. The requirements and demands of the “job”, while dynamic, are consistent throughout one’s career. In fact, the only constant is the dynamic change as the day’s duties unfold. The “plan” is discussed during the morning hours and duties are assigned accordingly only to be sidetracked or overcome by other events. “Semper Gumby” is a fun take on the Marine Corps motto “Semper Fidelis”, or Always Faithful. “Semper Gumby” reminds military members to always be flexible, and that the focus of the mission can change at any second and they’re to adapt, improvise and overcome. Though the schedule is often fluid, there exists concrete infrastructural attributes of chain of command, expectations, and tradition, and they are deeply rooted into the fabric of Unites States Service Members. These concepts can be hard to wrap your arms around, if you’ve not had the opportunity to have “walked the walk.” How are we, as spouses, family members, patriots and supporters to pray for those in uniform? Why is prayer an important daily attribute that can help to shape and care for those that volunteer to be deployed in harm’s way? The Bible has many verses that provide guidance and comfort for how and why we’re to pray, here are two of them: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 (ESV) The above verse reminds us that we’re not to worry, that we’re to give everything to God in all circumstances and that our anxiety and worrying are fruitless. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 (ESV) Jesus compels us to ask with a pure and expectant heart and to pray with an understanding that we’ll receive what we’re asking for in prayer. Our military is in a constant state of readiness, or preparing for “being ready” to deploy Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, or Coast Guard globally, to any place, and at any time. Regardless of where they are in the deployment cycle, understand that every day, every exercise, every task is in direct support of the readiness and operational missions. That is their role and that’s how they conduct their daily planning and activities. The best way to pray for our troops, all troops, whether or not they’re in harm’s way, or are supporting the mission from home, is to do so with intentional deliberation in a sage and forthright manner. For you, this might include a prayer room, or a quiet place where you go to pray, or simply during your morning commute as you turn down the radio and seek to spend some time with the Lord during your drive. However you have developed your spiritual disciplines, I encourage you to spend a few minutes preparing your heart and then intentionally praying for those, and those who support those, who put on the uniform every day. For specific areas of prayer, if not focusing your prayer for a single person or family, you may want to focus your prayer on an age or rank demographic (young, intermediate or seasoned service members), or on a particular unit or a branch of service in general. Pray for their preparation and training, the success of their evolution or mission, and their safe passage to and from their areas of responsibility. The following is a seven day devotional that can be utilized as a guide: Day 1 Focus: Preparation — Military Member “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” Proverbs 24:27 ESV In this day-and-age of fluid and dynamic work and home environments, we are increasingly aware that “the only constant is change.” As a child growing up, your family members, parents/guardians, teachers and mentors around you have taught you some things along the way for how to be a responsible member of society when you step foot away from home for the first time. For our military members, basic training is the conduit that shapes the person and prepares them for their military service. Preparation teaches our military the elements of what it takes to become equipped in order to go forward and complete a mission. Without proper preparation, the mission outcome could be detrimental. Think about it: would you drive your car without the proper training and preparation? If you did not receive any preparation, the truth is that you most likely could mechanically operate the vehicle, but to what success? The apostle, Paul says: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13:11-14 (ESV) Preparation is a key element to the success of any mission. Whether or not our military members are in an operational environment, an operational support role, or engaged in the deployment cycle, they are always preparing. They are preparing for the next task, the next mission, the next deployment. Pray for them today. Heavenly Father, God. As our warriors prepare in this day, for whatever the next mission is for them, I pray that you keep watch over them. Prepare their hearts, minds and hands for the ability to focus on protecting themselves and others, so that they may complete their mission safely and return home with honor. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen. Day 2 Focus: Preparation — Spouse/Family “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28 (ESV) We think about preparation being only for the military member as they prepare for their next mission, whether they’re engaged in a training cycle, or a physical fitness regiment, we know that they are continuously preparing for the next stages in fulfillment of their orders. But we often forget, that the military member wouldn’t be successful in their preparation without the steadfast and unwavering support of their family. Military spouses are the unsung heroes of our armed forces. If there are children in the home, we know that their role, at times, are akin to single parenthood. They’re responsible for holding down the fort at home, while their spouse is deployed. Strangely enough, if things can go wrong, they do go wrong while the military spouse is deployed! The water pipes burst or the car breaks down. The child becomes ill and in need of special testing. A tree falls on the roof of the home during a storm. The family pet contracts a rare disease. All of these things, which are normal family undertakings at some point in their lives, tend to occur all at once and just-in-time for the spouse to be deployed. The spouse at home is left alone, having to deal with all of life’s struggles, seemingly alone. If they have prepared properly, powers-of-attorney have been signed and executed, in addition to the myriad of other preparatory elements. “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7 (ESV) As we consider praying for the preparation of our military, whether for an individual, a particular unit, or a branch of service; I encourage you to also consider praying for the preparation of the unsung heroes, the military spouse. Dear Lord, I pray that as you prepare the hands, hearts and minds of our military members for their mission, that you also prepare the household for the absence of the military member. Lord be with the spouse, the children, and the supporting members of the family so that they are a strong and fortified unit of their own as they endure the hardships of their spouse being away on deployment, potentially in harm’s way. Lord give the spouse the strength to endure the illness of children, household hardships or loneliness struggles during the time that their spouse is away. Lord I pray that the spouse leans into you, during this time so that you may keep them and guide them towards a continued and rejoicing life in you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. Day 3 Focus: Deployment — Military Member “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) The day is upon us. The day that all of the planning and preparation have called for. This is the day that we step onto the plane, or we cast off all lines to get the ship underway embarking on the beginning stages of the mission. Be at ease, rely on the training, this is what we’ve been mentally and physically preparing to do. Time to operate! As the beginning stages of the deployment are underway, the troops are anxious and excited. Some may be sad while others are exhilarated and thrive in the high optempo environment. Within these first few days of the deployment, as they transit to and arrive “on station”, God offers His kind and gentle support during this season. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) The day-counter has begun that will remind us on a regular basis how many days there are until our service member returns home to us safely. God willing. As we at home settle into our new routine, with the absence of our spouse, or our son or daughter, or as we come alongside our friends that are enduring this time, we’re to lean into the body of Christ and trust in His will in all things, and to rest in that as we go about our daily activities. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV) Father, God: I pray for our troops as they transition to their overseas environment. I take solace in the fact that you are with them, and that you are guiding the decisions of the leadership. Lord I pray that they lean into and hear your still small voice of direction, and allow for your guidance in the strategic decision making and care for each other, as they trudge forward to do the “hard job”, the mission, that protects me and keeps my country’s traditions and foundational morals and values sound. Protect them O Lord, and be with them always, until their return. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. Day 4 Focus: Deployment — Family/Home Support “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (ESV) There are “trimesters” to military deployments, similar to how we track growth, and events on the calendar as with gestation and human pregnancy. At the end of the third trimester, the process is finished and we’re left to enjoy the fruits of our labor. With deployed family members, the “stages” of the deployment timeframe can be tracked according to the calendar, and there are emotions and events that correspond with each. First trimester: feelings of exhilaration are abound as the day of your spouse leaving on deployment has finally arrived! The next few months will be an adjustment to the new schedule, taking care of the children, ensuring they get to little league or dance practice. Carve out time to meet with friends, perhaps take up a new healthy hobby. This is a time for perseverance for the “home-base” of support. Second trimester: The strong spouse, often becomes despondent and is filled with doubt and desperation during this time period. They miss their spouse, there is no end in sight to the seemingly insurmountable number of days between now and when their spouse returns. Hopelessness can set in. Couple this with some tragic events such as a water leak, the car breaking down, or a problem with the insurance and the burden of carrying everything alone, can become daunting. Third trimester: Over the hump! On the downward slide! Feelings of excitement and preparation, along with anxiety can accompany this period. How will they behave when they see each other? Will the spouse be angry at the new haircut or the new paint in the bedroom? Nervousness, doubt, anxiousness, and excitement are all bundled into the days leading up to the homecoming. Dear Father God, I pray that during each stage that you are the focus of the family. That all cares be given unto you so that all burdens and worries can be cast aside and that families flourish during times of strife, and their faith in you continues to grow as a result of your abundant and everlasting love. Be with them always, through each stage of the deployment as each stage brings forth its own sets of challenges. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. Day 5 Focus: Deployment — Troops Looking for the Home Stretch “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. ...” James 1:12-18 (ESV) It is during the last phases of deployment that the complacency, anxiety, and perfunctory numbness can set in for the troops. During this time, our troops are watching the calendar as well (or not) while engaging in what can be considered mundane tasks that are performed without feeling or consistency. The mantra “remember your training” is waning and the unit is in the throes of a continued haze of intermingled work days. “Time off” provides no respite as they’re still bound to the base, having to respond to emergencies, having to carry their weapons and perhaps run to the bunker if indirect fire is a threat to their area. Another day with a couple hundred of their closest friends, clogging the lines to chow, lugging their weapon around, trying to watch a movie or go to the gym on their “holiday routine” (holiday for others, routine for them). The hypersensitivity and hyper-vigilant operations tempo are the new norm, and no amount of caffeine can stimulate the “rush” that they experienced during the first few months on station. They now live and operate in a mode where loud weapons releases in the middle of the night are commonplace. When the siren goes off, they may grab their gear on the way to the bunker, they may not, or they may not even get up to go to the bunker for another alarm at all. What’s the point? Depression can set in and this is a critical time and area of prayer for our troops that are deployed in harm’s way. Dear Heavenly Father…we raise up our troops during this critical stage of their deployment. We pray that they remain steadfast in their mission and that they rely on you and the fundamental tenements of their job. I pray a hedge of protection against complacency, that they may remain alert and vigilant in their roles. Protect them Oh Lord, as they fight not only the physical enemy, but the spiritual enemy including the enemy of self which inaugurates depression, lethargy and complacency. Day 6 Focus: Homecoming — Family and Service Member “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15 (ESV) The countdown is over, the day is here! Service members wake up (if they’ve slept at all) to a day filled with hope and wonderment, a day that they’ve been longing for ever since they left home: the day of homecoming. Most of the time, this occurs with the accompaniment of a great fanfare. There are bands, flowers, news crews, the clapping of hands, freshly dressed families that all await the arrival of their service member with nervous excitement! That feeling of exhilaration upon first setting eyes on their loved ones as they step off the plane, or wave from the ship is an irreplaceable feeling of gratitude filled with patriotism and pride. At times, however, a member is returning home without the full complement of their unit. This can be accompanied by mixed emotions as a bittersweet embrace with loved ones. While thankful to be home safe, the service member might have anxiety and sadness due to lost comrades-in-arms, and return home with a heavy heart. What we can do for them, in those moments is be present, listen when required, offer two shoulders and two ears to allow for the outpouring of strife to occur. This is the beginning of a process that can allow for healing and growth to begin. Heavenly Father God, I pray that as our service members return home to their families, that they do so with a thankful heart. That you’re able to pierce through the emotional strife and continue to love and care and guide the service members as they reintegrate with their families. Though the experiences that they’ve endured, we rest in your grace as the One True God that provides an abundance of love and mercy to those that respond to your call. Be with them Oh Lord, as they return home to the safe arms of their loved ones. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen. Day 7 Focus: Family Unit Reintegration “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 Reintegration occurs on many fronts. For the spouse that’s been holding down the fort at home, to the child(ren) that’s been living with one parent for the past several months, to the military member that’s been living with a couple hundred of their closest friends for quite some time. The excitement of being back home gives way to stressful circumstances as married couples learn how to “do life” together again. This may include the service member becoming anxious as they’ve been operating in an unsafe environment and has learned to flourish on very little sleep and thrive on energy drinks. After they’ve cleaned and organized the entire house and there’s nothing left to do, anxiety can set in. They may feel useless as the “mission” is over and their participation is no longer meaningful. When this occurs, they try to fill the adrenalin and anxiety hole with other things. For some this is alcohol, which leads to relational problems. For others this is anger which leads to relational problems. As you can see, this is a volatile time for families as they discover that the elements of patience and grace are in great demand. Pray that they intentionally lean into the Lord, in order to fill their gaps. Pray for patience and understanding of the spouse and that they are involved with a loving and kind church family that can come alongside them during their time of reintegration into the home life. Where it is safe for the Sergeant to become Daddy or Mommy again, and the smile and joy returns as the member is home, and present in the lives of his or her family. Dear Lord, thank you so much for the safe return of the service members. I pray that when their elation subsides, that they are intentional in leaning into You father God and that they can find solace and refuge in your arms. I pray that their mission continues and that they find peace in that mission regardless of the role that they assume. Whether it’s Daddy or Mommy, Mr. or Mrs. instead of Sergeant or Captain, I pray that they have taken the positive attributes of their experiences and can utilize them in constructive and meaningful ways as they go forward. I pray this in the holy name of Jesus. Amen. Shalom. Romans 1:15 - Prepared Romans 1:15 "So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome." (NASB) "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also." (KJV) "So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News." (NLT) "I am ready ... - I am prepared to preach among you, and to show the power of the gospel, even in the splendid metropolis of the world. He was not deterred by any fear; nor was he indifferent to their welfare; but he was under the direction of God. And as far as he gave him opportunity, he was ready to make known to them the gospel, as he had done at Antioch, Ephesus, Athens, and Corinth." Dr. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" (Ephesians 6:15 KJV) Preparation PREPARA'TION, n. [L. proeparatio. See Prepare.] The act or operation of preparing or fitting for a particular purpose, use, service or condition; as the preparation of land for a crop of wheat; the preparation of troops for a campaign; the preparation of a nation for war; the preparation of men for future happiness. Preparation is intended to prevent evil or secure good. Previous measures of adaptation. Ceremonious introduction. [Unusual.] That which is prepared, made or compounded for a particular purpose. The state of being prepared or in readiness; as a nation in good preparation for attack or defense. (Noah Webster) Ready READY, a. red'y. [Eng. to rid; redo, ready; rida, to ride; bereda, to prepare. Gr. easy. The primary sense is to go, move, or advance forward, and it seems to be clear that ready, ride, read, riddle, are all of one family, and probably from the root of L. gradior. See Read and Red.] Quick; prompt; not hesitating; as ready wit; a ready consent. Quick to receive or comprehend; not slow or dull; as a ready apprehension. Quick in action or execution; dexterous; as an artist ready in his business; a ready writer. Psa 45. Prompt; not delayed present in hand. He makes ready payment; he pays ready money for every thing he buys. Prepared; fitted; furnished with what is necessary, or disposed in a manner suited to the purpose; as a ship ready for sea. My oxen and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Mat 22. Willing; free; cheerful to do or suffer; not backward or reluctant; as a prince always ready to grant the reasonable requests of his subjects. The spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14. I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 21. Willing; disposed. Men are generally ready to impute blame to others. They are more ready to give than to take reproof. Being at the point; near; not distant; about to do or suffer. A Syrian ready to perish was my father. Deu 26. Job 29. Psa 88. Being nearest or at hand. A sapling pine he wrench'd from out the ground, the readiest weapon that his fury found. Easy; facile; opportune; short; near, or most convenient; the Greek sense. Sometimes the readiest way which a wise man has to conquer, is to flee. Through the wild desert, not the readiest way. The ready way to be thought mad, is to contend you are not so. Readiness and Preparation are no small things. Yet it is seldom that I deeply ponder my readiness to serve in the Gospel each day in the manner exhorted in the Armor of God. If I were preparing to head into the war zone of Iraq, I am sure that my mind would be full of the many things that need to be done to ensure a state of readiness that exceeds the level of threat. Yet the threat I face today is unseen. What is my part in the preparation and readiness to meet the challenges of this day. To rise early and prepare to secure good and prevent evil. Dear Heavenly Father it seems that the challenges of the day far exceed my abilities for preparedness. I cannot see the invisible threats and circumstances that may come my way nor the eternal appointments and opportunities. Let my heart rest in you. Deuteronomy 23:9 When Thou Goest Deuteronomy 23:9 When thou goest out with the host against thine enemies, keep thee then from all wickedness. To entitle this time to this text, or to shew it pertinent to the present occasion, will ask no long preface. “When thou goest forth,” &c. This “when” is now. There be enemies, and we have an host; it is going forth. Christ’s own application which is the best may be well applied here, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”* This our host so going forth, our heart’s desire and prayer unto God is, that they may happily go, and thrice happily come again, with joy and triumph to her sacred Majesty, honor to themselves, and general contentment to the whole land. So shall they go, and so come, if we can procure the Lord of Hosts to go forth with, and to take charge of our hosts. “It is He That giveth victory to kings,”* saith David;* it is He That is Triumphator Israel, saith Samuel. Victory and triumph never fail if He fail not. Now then that God may not fail them, but go in and out before them and bring them back with victory and triumph, and that we all desire and pray for may so come to pass, Moses doth here out of his own experience bestow an advice upon us. And Moses could skill what belonged to war, as one that forty years together was never out of camp. Which advice is, that among our military points we would reckon the abatement of sin for one; that now this time of our going forth we would go forth against sin too, and keep us from it as we would keep us from our enemy. If we could be but persuaded to reform our former custom of sin, it would certainly do the journey good. That therefore with other courses, some remembrance, some regard be had of this; that at this time sin do not so overflow among us, be not so very fruitful as before time it hath. And this is an use of Divinity in war. And as this an use of Divinity in war, so have we withal an use of war in Divinity. For Moses telling us, that “when our forces go forth against the enemy,”—that we then, at that time, are in any wise “to keep us from wickedness;” by sorting these thus together doth plainly intimate that when the time of war is, then is a fit time, a very good opportunity, to draw from sin and to return to God. These former years, this time of the fast, and this day, the first day of it, both ministered an occasion to call for an abstinence from sin; this day, and this time, being set out by the Church’s appointment to that end. Now besides that ordinary of other years, God this year hath sent us another, the time of war; and that a very seasonable time too, wherein to repent and retire from sin. As if He should say, If you would forsake sin now you may do it; for “behold, now is an acceptable time,”* and a fit season. This time to concur with that time, and both to cooperate to the amendment of our lives. And what shall I say? O that one of them, the former or the latter, or both might prevail so much with us, that as the forepart this day is fulfilled in our ears, so the latter part might be fulfilled in our lives; that it might not be singly regarded that is thus doubly commended; that the fast at hand might keep us, or the war at hand might keep us, or both might keep us, that we might be kept from sin. That either Joel’s trump proclaiming a fast, or Amos’ trump proclaiming war, might serve to sound this retreat, might serve to awake us from that now more than sleep, even almost that lethargy of sin which the security of our so long peace hath cast us in. This is the sum. These the double use, 1. of war in divinity; that our going forth might procure the giving over sin. 2 Of Divinity in war; that our giving over sin might procure good speed to our going forth, even an honorable and happy return. The parts are two; for the verse parteth itself by “when” and “then.” These two; 1. the going forth of the host; 2. the keeping from sin. To express them in the terms of the present business; 1. the former, the commission authorizing to go. 2. The latter, the instruction directing so to go that we may prosper and prevail. In which latter will come to be considered these three points; 1. The conjunction and coherence of these two. 2. The consequence. 3. The contents of the latter, how to keep us from sin. “When thou goest forth,” &c. In the first is the commission, which is ever the corner-stone of all proceedings. If we take the verse entire, both parts together, it riseth thus; If they which go to war must keep themselves from sin, then is war no sin but lawful, and without sin to be undertaken. Or, if we take the first part by itself, in saying “when thou goest” he implieth a time will come when they may go forth. For vain were the supposal, and far unworthy the wisdom of God’s Spirit to say “when,” if never any such time would come; if there were no time for war of God’s allowance. We cannot better pattern it than by the Gospel of this day, “when ye fast, be not like hypocrites”*—by all Divines resolved thus. Fast ye may sometimes; and then fasting, look you fall not into hypocrisy. And as in that, so in this: go ye may sometimes; only when ye go see ye “refrain from sin,” and then go and spare not. Out of which match of these two, fast and war, we may rise higher. It is no less usual with the Prophets to say sanctificate prælium, as Joel 3. than to say, sanctificate jejunium, “sanctify a war,”* as well as “a fast.”* And in another, consecrate manus vestras hodie Domino, “consecrate your hands this day unto the Lord.”* Which sheweth war is not so secular a matter, but that it hath both his lawfulness and his holiness; and that the very hands may be sacred or hallowed by fighting some battles. And therefore,* in the Calendar of Saints we have nominated, not Abel, Enoch, and Noah alone, men of peace and devotion, who spent their time in prayer and service of God; but Gideon, Jephtha, Samson, worthies and men of war “who,”* saith the Apostle, “through faith were valiant in battle, and through faith put to flight the armies of aliens.” War therefore hath his time and commission from God. Secondly, I add that this kind of war, not only defensive war, but offensive too, hath his “when.” And that, out of this very text; which is, if we mark well, not when they come forth against thee, but “when thou goest forth against them,” παρεμβάλλειν, say the Seventy, “to invade or annoy them.” Both these have their time; the former to maintain our right, the latter to avenge our wrong. By both these ways doth God send His people forth; both have warrant. Before Moses,* Abraham’s war to rescue Lot his ally was defensive and lawful; Jacob’s war, to win from the Amorite “by his sword and bow,”* offensive and lawful too. Under Moses, the war against Amalek who came out against them,* and the war against Midian, against whom they “went forth to wreak themselves for the sin of Peor,”* both lawful. After Moses, King David, in the battle of Ephes-dammim,* keeping the enemy from their gates; in the battle of Gath,* seeking the enemy at his own gates, and giving him battle in his own territory. And this as good law, so Egredere, et compelle eos intrare, “Go forth, and compel them to come in,”* is good Gospel too. So that war, and this kind of war, hath his commission. Thirdly, and to strengthen the hands of our men of war yet farther. As war, and to go forth to war, against our enemies, any enemies, whether foreign foes or rebellious subjects; so of all enemies against the latter, against them to go forth, hath ever been counted most just and lawful. Many commissions are upon record in the law, of journeys in this kind. Against the tribe of Reuben,* for erecting them an altar beside that of Moses; and that have these of ours done too. Against the tribe of Benjamin, for a barbarous, and brutish outrage committed at Gibeah, and that have these too, and not one,* but many. Against Sheba, for blowing a trumpet and crying, “No part have we in David, no inheritance in the son of Jesse;”* and so far hath their madness proceeded. And the Gospel is not behind neither. Against them that send word, nolumus hunc regnare super nos, producite et occidite,* saith our Saviour Christ Himself. In effect these say as much as nolumus, and as much may be said and done to them. Nay, if once he say “no part in David;”* if he were Absalom, or Adonijah, of the blood royal, he “hath spoken that word against his own life:”* much more if but such a one as Sheba the son of Bichri. And yet even he was nothing so deep as this. For neither had King David vouchsafed him any favor any time before, neither offered him peace, or to receive him to grace after he had lift up his heel against him. But here, here have been divers princely favors vouchsafed, and most unkindly rejected; means of clemency many times most graciously offered, and most ungraciously refused; yea, faith falsified and expectation deluded; contempt upon contempt heaped up, that the measure is full. These then are the enemies “against,” and this the time “when.” When not only we may but must, and that not with God’s leave only, but with His liking and full commission, “go forth” in this cause. So that war is lawful; and this kind, “to go forth;” and against these enemies most just and most lawful. At this time against these enemies it is a war sanctified; they shall “consecrate their hands,” they shall præliari prælia Domini, that fight against them. So much for the commission. The commission being had, we are not to depart but stay and take our instructions also with us; which is the latter part, of “keeping from wickedness.” Joshua had his commission from God to go up against Ai;* yet for leaving out this latter, and not looking to Achan better, had not so good speed. This therefore must accompany and keep time with the former, as a “then” to that “when.” 1. Wherein first, of the joining these two, 1. that they must go together, 2. and of the reason why they must go together. 2. And after of the manner, how we may and must “keep ourselves from this wickedness.” The meeting of these two within the compass of one verse, 1. “Going forth with an army,” and 2. “forbearing of sin,” is worth the staying on. Leading an army pertaineth to military policy, forbearing of sin is flat divinity. For what hath the leading an army to do with forbearing of sin? Yet God hath thus sorted them as we see. Therefore policy of war whereto the former, and Divinity whereto the latter belongeth, are not such strangers one to the other, as that the one must avoid while the other is in place. But that, as loving neighbors and good friends here they meet together, they stand together, they keep time, consequence, and correspondence, the one with the other. God Himself, in Whose imperial style so oft proclaimed in the Prophets they both meet, “the Lord of Hosts,” “the Holy One of Israel;”*—God, I say, Himself in the great chapter of war, the twentieth of this book, assigneth an employment to the Priests as well as the officers of the camp, even to do that which ere-while was assayed, to animate the companies in the Lord, and the power of His might; letting them see the right of their cause, and how ready God is to receive the right under the banner and power of His protection. And from God Himself no doubt was that happy and blessed combination which in most wars of happy success we find, of a captain and a Prophet sorted together:* Joshua, with Moses a Prophet; Baruk,* with Deborah a Prophetess; Ezekias, with Esay;* Jehoshaphat, with Jahaziel; Joash, with Elisha;* and one of these doing the other no manner of hurt but good.* Joshua lifting up his hand against Amalek, Moses lifting up his hand for Joshua.* The one leading against the enemy and annoying him, the other leading against sin and annoying it; against sin, what some reckon of it it skills not, but certainly the most dangerous enemy both of private persons and of public states. These two then, 1. “going forth with the host,” and 2. “departing from sin,” being thus linked by God, our suit is, Break not this link; God hath joined them that we should join them. And this is a needful suit. For it is one of the diseases under the sun: in war all our thoughts run upon the host, looking to the host only and nothing but the host, and letting sin run whither it will without any keeper. I know well, I both know and acknowledge that the army’s going forth is mainly to be regarded, it hath the first place in the verse, and it hath it not for nought. Joshua must choose out men first; victuals must be supplied.* And nemo militat stipendiis suis, pay must be thought of.* We must go forth with our host; they be the words of the text;* go—not sit still; and with an host, not a heap of naked or starved men. We must help, and not tempt God. To help God is a strange speech, yet said it may be seeing an Angel hath said it; “Curse ye Meroz,” saith the Angel of the Lord, “curse the inhabitants thereof.” Why? “Because they came not to help the Lord, to help the Lord against the mighty.”* This must first be done. But when this is done all is not done, we are not at a full point, we are but in the midst of the sentence yet. As that part of the host is to be regarded, so this of sin’s restraint is not to be neglected. As that hath the first place, so must this have the second, and second the former, or we shall have but a broken sentence without it. There is not, there cannot be a more prejudicial conceit than to say in our hearts, If the first be well all is well, then sin on and spare not, it skills not greatly for the latter. Si putas in robore exercitus bella consistere, faciet te Dominus cadere coram inimicis tuis, saith the Prophet to Amaziah.* If this be our conceit, so the host be well all is well, God will teach you another lesson, saith he, which I list not english. A proof whereof we have before Gibeah. Where the whole power of Israel, 400,000 strong,* trusting in their going out so strong, fell before a few Benjamites, a small handful in comparison, and shewed plainly to all ages to come that it is but a part, it is not all, to “go forth with an host” though never so well appointed. Let us then, as advice leadeth us, make up our period with taking a course for restraint of sin. For what sin unrestrained can work the valley of Achor may teach us,* where the inhabitants of the poor town of Ai put to flight Joshua with all his forces, and all because this second point was not well looked to. Now this second point being within the compass of our profession, and yet having so necessary an use in war as the sentence is not perfect without it, may serve to answer the question, more usually than advisedly oft cast out, What good do these Churchmen? What use is there of them now at such times as this? Yes, there is an use of them, and that in war we see. The camp hath use of this place, and they that serve there of them that serve here. Which God shewed plainly in the first field that ever His people fought; and when He had shewed it, caused it to be recorded ad perpetuam rei memoriam—they be God’s own words—that the same course might be ever after holden in all.* Where it is thus written, and “if we believe not we shall not be established,”* that Joshua’s having the better or going to the worse depended not a little on the steadiness of Moses’ hands, and that Moses staying behind and striking never a stroke did his part toward the attaining of the victory not much less than Joshua that went forth and fought manfully. Prayer then is of use; and though we be, saith St. Paul, armed at all points from hand to foot, yet must we super omnia, “over all,” draw this, and arm even our very armor with “prayer and supplications.”* But what availeth prayer without keeping from sin? Therefore to that armor of St. Paul’s we must add St. Peter’s too, “to arm ourselves with this mind of ceasing from sin,”* that our prayers may be effectual. Therefore Moses himself joineth not to our going forth his exercise of keeping up our hands at prayer, but this rather “of keeping our feet from sin.”* The King of Moab, Balak, when he observed what prayer had wrought in the battle of Amalek, thought to take the very like course, and sent for Balaam into his camp, to match Prophet with Prophet, and to oppose prayer unto prayer. But when all his altars and rams would do no good, Balaam knowing well there is in sin a power to defeat any prayer, he cometh to the dangerous counsel of “causing Israel to sin with the daughters of Moab,” which was found too true. For it turned to their ruin, and all their prayers would then do no good. Here then is another use. For “the chariots and horses of Elisha,”* the “weapons of our warfare,”* as the Apostle termeth them, though not carnal, if God enable them to cast down such sinful thoughts and wicked desires as exalt themselves daily, and to captivate them to the obedience of Christ, have certainly their use to second the former; and we in our turns serviceable, as by crying unto God by prayer, and drawing Him to the host Who is our chiefest and best friend, so by crying also against sin and chasing it away, which is our chiefest and worst enemy. Since then these two have this mutual use either of other, let this be our petition and withal the conclusion of this part, that we single them not or lean to either alone, but suffer them as they stand together in the verse, so in our care and regard jointly to keep time and go together. So much for them. And now to enquire into the reason of this coupling. Why now? Why at this time in war, a giving over sin? For that indeed they be not barely joined, but so joined as one is made the antecedent, the other the consequent. One the time, and as it were the reason to infer the other. Truly Moses’ word כי will bear both, either quando or quia; “When thou goest then keep;” or “Because thou goest, therefore keep thyself from sin.” With the same word speaketh the virtuous lady to King David, quia præliaris prælia Domini, ideo non inveniatur in te iniquitas, “because thou fightest the Lord’s battles, therefore let there not any iniquity be found in thee all thy days.”* Sin certainly at all times is to be forborne. When it is war, and not only when it is war, but when it is peace too. “Take ye heed, lest at any time,” saith Christ, “your hearts be overlaid with surfeiting, with drink,”* &c. Not allowing us any time to be wicked in. But though at all times we be to refrain sin, yet not at all times alike, saith Moses here. For it is as if he should say, Be it at other times, sin may better be borne with, it is less perilous; but “when thou goest forth with an host, then”—then, with an high accent, with an emphasis, that is then especially; then above all other times, then, if ever, it importeth you to have least to do with it. Good Lord, how cross and opposite is man’s conceit to God’s, and how contrary our thoughts unto His! For even ad oppositum to this position of His, we see for the most part that even they that are the goers forth seem to persuade themselves that then they may do what they list; that at that time any sin is lawful, that war is rather a placard than an inhibition to sin. A thing so common that it made the heathen man hold that between militia and malitia there was as little difference in sense as in sound; and the Prophet David to call Saul’s companies in his days, torrentes Belial,* “the land-floods of wickedness.” Which being well considered, we may cease to murmur or to marvel, if our going forth have not been ever with such success as we wished. God Who should give the success commanding then a restraint, and man that should need it then taking most liberty. Verily if we will learn of God, if He shall teach us, sin is never so untimely as in the time of war, never so out of season as then; for that is the time of all times we should have least to do with it. To insist then a little upon this point, because it is the main point, and to shew the vigor of this consequent. 1. From the very nature of war first, which is an act of justice, and of justice corrective, whose office is to punish sin. Now then consider and judge even in reason, what a thing this is, how great, gross, and foul an incongruity it is to pour out ourselves into sin at the very time when we go forth to correct sin; to set forth to punish rebels, when we ourselves are in rebellion against God, His Word, and Spirit. Which, what is it but “to cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub?”* Sure our hearts must needs strike us in the midst of our sin, and tell us we are in a great and grievous prevarication, allowing that in ourselves that we go to condemn and to stone to death in others. Therefore, since to go to war is to go to punish sin, certainly the time of punishing sin is not a time to sin in. 2. Secondly, from war in respect of God I know not what we reckon of war; peace is His blessing we are sure, and a special favor it is from Him as the Prophets account it, for a land to spend more iron in scythes and plough-shares than in sword-blades or spear-heads.* And if peace be a blessing and a chief of His blessings, we may reduce from thence what war is. To make no otherwise of it than it is, “the rod of God’s wrath,” as Esay termeth it; His “iron flail,”* as Amos; “the hammer of the earth,”* as Jeremy, whereby He dasheth two nations together—one of them must in pieces,* both the worse for it. War is no matter of sport. Indeed I see Abner esteem of it as of a sport: “let the young men rise,” saith he to Joab, “and shew us some sport.”* But I see the same Abner before the end of the same chapter weary of his sport, and treating with Joab for an end of it; “How long shall the sword devour,”* saith he, “shall it not be bitterness in the end?” So it may be “sport” in the beginning; it will be “bitterness in the end,” if it hold long. War then being God’s rod, His fearful rod, and that so fearful that King David though a warrior too, when both were in his choice, preferred the plague before it and desired it of the twain; when God’s hand with this rod, this His fearful rod, is over us, to be so far from fear and all due regard as then not to shun sin any whit the more, but to fall to it as fast as ever; it cannot be but a high contempt, yea a kind of defiance and despite then to do it: “Do we provoke the Lord to anger, are we stronger than He?”* Then since war is God’s rod, choose some other time; under the rod sin not, then forbear it. Certainly that time is no time to sin. 3. The rather, for that sin it is and the not keeping from sin, but our keeping to it and with it, that hath made this rod and put it into His hand. For sure it is, that for the transgression of a people, God suffereth these “divisions of Reuben”* within; God stirreth up the spirit of Princes abroad to take peace from the earth, thereby to chasten men by paring the growth of their wealth with this His “hired razor;”* by wasting their strong men, the hand of the enemies eating them up; by making widows and fatherless children, by other like consequents of war. If then our sins common unto us with other nations, and that our unthankfulness peculiar to us alone have brought all this upon us; if this enemy have stirred up these enemies, if war be the sickness and sin the surfeit, should we not at least-wise now while the shivering fit of our sins is upon us, diet ourselves a little and keep some order? But1 “drink iniquity as water,” and distemper ourselves as though we were in perfect state of health?* Shall we make our disease desperate, and hasten our ruin by not containing from sin that hath cast us in it? Know we what time this is? Is this a time of sin? Certainly, we cannot devise a worse. In the time of war it is high time to “keep us from sin.” 4. But above all, which will touch us nearest, and therefore again and again must be told us over, that the safe and speedy coming again of them that now go forth, whose prosperity we are to seek with all our possible endeavors—that their good speed dependeth upon God’s going forth with them; and God’s going or staying dependeth very much upon this point. Most certain it is the event of war is most uncertain. When Benhadad went forth with an army that “the dust of Samaria was not enough to give every one in his camp a handful,” it was told him and he found it true, Ne glorietur accinctus, &c. “He that buckleth on his armor must not boast as he that puts it off.”* They that fight can hardly set down what name the place shall have that they fight in; it may be the valley of Achor, that is “sorrow,”* by reason of a foil, as that of Joshua; it may be the valley of Berachah, that is “blessing,” by means of a victory, as that of Jehoshaphat.* All is as God is, and as He will have it. Once, twice, and thrice, by David, by Solomon, by Jehoshaphat, we are told it that “it is neither sword nor bow,”* “it is neither chariot nor horse,”* “it is neither multitude nor valor of an host will serve;”* “but that the battle is God’s,” and He giveth the upper hand.* We need not be persuaded of this, we all are persuaded I hope, and we say with Moses, “If Thy Presence go not with us, carry us not hence.”* Then if we shall need God’s favor and help in prospering our journey, and to make that sure which is so uncertain, it will stand us in hand to make sure of Him in this, this needful time, and to keep Him sure if it may be. For if He keep with the host, and take their parts, Rebelles tui erunt quasi nihil, saith Esay; and “these smoking tails of firebrands”* shall quickly be quenched.* But if God either go not with them, or retire from them, if there were among them but naked or wounded men—what speak I of men? if but frogs or flies—they shall be sufficient to trouble them. Now then we are at the point. For if we will have hold of God, make Him sure, be certain of Him, we must break with sin needs. Sin and Satan are His enemies, and no fellowship nor communion, no concord, no agreement, no part,* no portion between them. If we will draw Him into league, we must profess ourselves enemies unto His enemies, that He may do the like to ours. At one and the same time enter as an outward war with wicked rebels, so an inward hostility with our wicked rebellious lusts. For that if we keep ourselves from the one, He will keep us from the other, and these being suppressed those shall not be able to stand. Thus doing, “the sword of the Lord shall be with the sword of Gideon:”* God shall be with us, Ithiel; and we shall prevail, Ucal.* For where Ithiel is, Ucal will not be away. But if we will needs hold on our league with hell, and continue our wonted intercourse with wickedness still, and go forth unto it when it beckons or calls, and be so far from keeping from it that we keep it as the apple of our eye, and cherish it between our breasts; if we retain the mark of it in our very foreheads, and the price of it in the skirts of our garment; for not keeping from it He will keep from us, and withdraw His help from us, and put us clean out of His protection. Therefore, without keeping from sin there is no keeping God, out of Whose keeping there is no safety. This advice being so full of behoof, so agreeable to reason and religion both, so every way for their and for our good, it remaineth we set ourselves to think of it and keep it. “Every one returning to his own heart, to know there,” as Solomon saith, “his own plague,”* even the sins wherewith he hath grieved God, and to make a covenant with himself, from henceforth more carefully to stand upon his guard, and not to go forth to sin or entertain it as a friend, but to repute it as an enemy and to keep him from it. First, for the term of keeping. “When thou goest forth against thy enemy,” go forth against sin. We should indeed go forth against sin, and practice those military impressions that are done in camp against the enemy; give it the assault, annoy it, pursue it, never leave it till we have driven it away. These we should do against it. But the Scripture “offereth more grace;”* and bids us, if we list not go forth against it, only not to go forth to it, but keep ourselves, that is, stand upon our defence, to keep good watch, that it surprise us not, that it “get not dominion over us:” do but this against sin,* and it shall suffice. But this must extend to all wickedness. Wherein yet we do humanum dicere propter infirmitatem nostram, “speak after the manner of men because of our infirmity;”* retching this all no further than human infirmity, than the frailty of our nature will bear, than this corruptible flesh wherewith we are compassed, and this corrupt world in the midst whereof we live, will suffer and give us leave. In the body, we put a difference between the soil which by insensible evacuations goeth from our bodies, keep we ourselves never so carefully, and that which is drawn forth by chafing or sweat, or otherwise gotten by touching such things wherewith we may be defiled. That cannot be refrained, this falleth within restraint. And even so, there is a soil of sin that of itself vapoureth from our nature, let the best do his best. I say not, we should keep ourselves from this, but from provoking it by suffering our minds to wander in it; by not keeping our ears from such company, and our eyes from such occasions, as will procure it, as the Prophet speaketh, “by putting the stumbling-block of iniquity before our faces.” From that by the help of God we may keep ourselves well enough.* From sins lighting upon our thoughts it is impossible, it cannot be; but from making there a nest or hatching ought, that we are willed to look to, and that by God’s grace we may. And the word that Moses useth here דבר רע is not without a dixit at least in corde; not without a saying within us, This or that I will do. It must be dictum, or condictum, ‘said to,’ and ‘said yea to,’ or else it is not דבר רע. The heart not resolving or saying content, but keeping itself from going forth to any act; though wickedness be not kept from us because of the temptation, yet we are kept from it because of the repulse; and with that will Moses be content at our hands as our estate now is. But with these provisos. We say generally, They that go forth keep from all; from all such both deeds and words as justly may be censured to be wickedly, either spoken or done. Words, I say, as well as deeds. For the word דבר bears both. And indeed, if in good words as in prayers there be force to help, I make no question but in wicked words, as blasphemies, irreligious sayings, jocis fulmine dignis, there is force also to do mischief. Therefore keep from all; all those especially, as very reason will lead us, which have been the ruin of armies in former times; a view whereof we may take when we will out of Liber bellorum Domini, “the Book of God’s battles.”* Wicked words first. Presumptuous terms of trust in our own strength; “I will go, I will pursue and overtake, I will divide the spoil”—Pharaoh’s words,* the cause of his perishing and all his host. To keep them from that. Rabshakeh’s blackmouthed blasphemy; “Let not Hezekiah cause you to trust in God over much”*—the eminent cause of the overthrow of the host of Ashur. To keep them from that. And if from words, from wicked works much rather. Achan’s sin, that is sacrilege; Anathema in medio tui, non poteris stare coram hostibus tuis, God’s own words to Joshua,*—the cause of the army’s miscarrying before Ai. To keep them from that wickedness. Such shameful abuses as was that at Gibeah;*—the expressed cause of the destruction of a whole tribe. To keep them from that. Profaning holy vessels or holy places with unholy usage;*—the ruin of Belshazzar, and with him of the whole Chaldean monarchy. To keep themselves from that. Corrupting our compassion, and “casting off pity quite,” and spilling blood like water;*—the sin of Edom, and the cause he took such a foil as he was never a people since. To keep them from that wickedness. From these and from the rest, you shall have a time to read them, I have not to speak them. Arming themselves with a mind to cease from sin, keeping their vessels holy; having pay wherewith they may be content, and being content with their pay; et neminem concutientes, saith St. John Baptist;* not being torrentes Belial, “land-floods of wickedness.”* Or if this will not be that private conformity will not keep them, at least that public authority do it; that kept they may be one way or other from it. If Achan will so far forget himself as “to sin in the execrable thing;” or Zimri to play the wretch,* and abuse himself in the camp; let Joshua find out Achan, and see him have his due; and Phinehas follow Zimri, and reward him for his desert. That the ravine of the one, and the villany of the other be removed as it is committed, and so kept from polluting and pulling down God’s wrath upon the whole host. For sure it is, “Phinehas’* standing up and executing judgment” hath the force of a prayer no less than Moses’ “standing in the gap” to make intercession,* and both alike forcible to turn away God’s anger and to remove evil from the midst of Israel. This advice is to take place as in them that go, as before hath been touched, so in us likewise that stay at home; that what the one build the other destroy not. Not by Moses’ exercise of prayer and incessant prayer,* or Jehoshaphat’s exercise of fasting and abstinence; both are out of the compass of the text; but that which is in it, by turning from sin to God, and that with a serious not shallow, and an inward not hollow repentance. Not confessing our sins to-day and committing them to-morrow; but every one saying, Dixi custodiam, “I have said, I will henceforth more narrowly look to my ways,”* at least while the sound of war is in our ears. Thinking with ourselves it is now war, it is now no time to offend God, and separate between Him and us in this needful time of His help and protection, by entering into that good and virtuous consideration of Uriah’s; “The Ark of the Lord and all Israel and Judah dwell in tents,* Joab and the servants of our sovereign abide in the open fields,” and shall we permit ourselves as much as we would in the time of peace, and not conform ourselves in abridging some part of our wonted liberty, and forbearing to enjoy the “pleasures of sin for a season?”* To conclude, if we shall, or when we shall be tempted to any of our former sins, to think upon God’s own counsel, even God’s own counsel from God’s own mouth, memento belli et ne feceris,* ‘to remember the camp and not to do it;’ to think upon them in the fields and their danger, and for their sakes and for their safeties to forbear it. Thus, if we shall endeavor ourselves and eschew our own wickedness, our hosts shall go forth in the strength of the Lord, and the Lord shall go with them and order their attempts to an happy issue. He that made our foreign enemies “like a wheel”* to go round about us, and not to come near us, shall make these “as stubble before the wind;” causing fear and faintness of heart to fall upon them as upon Midian; sending “an evil spirit”* of dissension among them,* as upon Abimelech and the men of Shechem; causing their own woods to devour them, as rebellious Absalom;* and their own waters to sweep them away, as it did Sisera; yea, “the stars of Heaven, in their course to fight against them,”* as under Deborah’s conduct He did. Many such things are with Him, many such He hath done and can do again, if to our going forth we join a going from sin. Even so Lord, so let it be. Those whom thou now carriest forth by Thy mercy, bring them back by Thy might in this place, the place of Thy holy habitation. That Deborah may praise Thee for the avenging of Israel,* and for the people that offer themselves so willingly;” for letting her ear hear,* and her eye see the fall of the wicked that rise up against her; that she may praise Thee, and say, “The Lord liveth,* and blessed be my strong help, and praised be the God of my salvation.” “Even the God that seeth I be avenged, and subdueth the people unto me. It is He that delivereth me from my cruel enemies, and setteth me up above all my adversaries.”* Great prosperity giveth He unto His hand-maid, “and sheweth still and continually His loving-kindness to His anointed.”* Praised be the Lord for evermore! To this God, “glorious in holiness, fearful in power, doing wonders,”* the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, &c. * Lu. 4:21. * Ps. 144:10. * 1 Sam. 15:29. * * Mat. 6:16. * Joel 3:9. * Joel 2:15. * Ex. 32:29. * Heb. 11:4, 7. * Heb. 11:32, 34. * Gen. 14:14. * Gen. 48:22. * Ex. 17:8. * Num. 31:2. * 1 Chron. 11:15. * 1 Chron. 20:6. * Lu. 14:23. * Jos. 22:12. * Jud. 20:1. * 2 Sam. 20:1. * Lu. 19:14, 27. * 1 Kings 2:23. * * * * * Exod. 17:8–13. * Jud. 4:9. * Isa. 37:6, 7. * 2 Chron. 20:14. * 2 Kings 13:14. * Ex. 17:9. * Jud. 20:10. * 1 Cor. 9:7. * Jud. 5:23. * 2 Chron. 25:8. * Jud. 20:17. * Josh. 7:5. * Ex. 17:14. * * Eph. 6:18. * 1 Pet. 4:1. * Num. 22:5. * 2 Kings 13:14. * 2 Cor. 10:4. * 1 Sam. 25:28. * Lu. 21:34. * * Mat. 12:24. * * Isa. 10:5. * Amos 1:3. * Jer. 50:23. * 2 Sam. 2:14. * 2 Sam. 2:26. * 1 Cor. 10:22. * * 1 shall we * * 1 Kings 20:11. * Jos. 7:26. * 2 Chron. 20:26. * Ps. 44:6. * Ps. 20:7. * Prov. 21:31. * 2 Chron. 20:15. * * Isa. 41:11. * Isa. 7:4. * 2 Cor. 6:15. * Jud. 7:20. * Prov. 30:1. * 1 Kings 8:38. * * Rom. 6:14. * Rom. 6:19. * Ezek. 14:3. * * Ex. 15:9. * Isa. 36:14. * Jos. 7:11, 12. * Jud. 19:22–30. * Dan. 5:2. * Amos. 1:11. * Lu. 3:14. * * * Ps. 106:30. * Ps. 106:23. * 2 Chron. 20:3. * Ps. 39:1. * 2 Sam. 11:11. * * * Ps. 83:13. * Num. 22:3. * Jud. 9:23. * 2 Sam. 18:9. * Jud. 5:20, 21. * Jud. 5:2. * Jud. 5:9. * Ps. 18:46. * Ps. 18:47, 48. * Ps. 18:50. *  Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 1, pp. 321–337). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain) Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture Part 2 - Situational Awareness I find it interesting that the first paragraph of military combat orders cover the battlefield “Situation”, followed by “Mission”. Many of us might think that a statement of the missions would come first. ‘Situational Awareness’ (SA), a term familiar to many of us, means nothing more than recognizing your circumstances; knowing what’s going on around you. For instance, a military commander must be aware of the total situation (enemy and friendly) around him and his unit on the battlefield, as well as the bigger ‘strategic’ picture. Total situational awareness is essential for successful military operations against any enemy, on any battlefield, for any warrior. As Christians, and warriors in the Kingdom of God, we need to maintain complete situational awareness as inhabitants of planet earth (the battlefield environment), as well as our Commander’s intent (God’s strategic picture). Sadly, we often lose focus of both our battlefield environment and our Commander’s intent, for a variety of reasons, ranging from our tendency to focus almost exclusively on ‘personal’ growth and fulfillment, to applying human wisdom and worldly principles to the operation of the ‘postmodern’ church as a whole. At both levels, the result is that the Lord of the harvest, the Holy Spirit, sits in the back of the bus as we arrogantly occupy the driver’s seat! Dear readers and friends, it is past time to regain our ‘situational awareness’ and overcome our spiritual ‘nearsightedness.’ For that task, we need to ‘begin at the beginning’ of our lives as Christians and go from there. In a familiar and often quoted verse of Scripture, the Apostle Paul tells us: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 What a promise – the greatest makeover of all time! When we place saving faith in Christ, we step out of darkness and into the light, passing from death to life! We are given a new nature in Christ as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our being, giving us a desire to serve God and the power to live a life of obedience to Him. This is common knowledge, not rocket science. Our ‘makeover’ is so complete that in another of his letters to the early church, Paul presents what is a mystery to limited human logic. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6 This is a bit more difficult for human logic to grasp, but notice the past tense verbs in this verse. Paul is saying that as Christians, although we physically remain here on planet Earth, we have already been ‘raised up’ and ‘seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.’ Paul partially explains this mystery in more easily understood terms a bit later in the same chapter: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. . .” Ephesians 2:19 A citizen is a legal resident of a nation, country or state. Paul is saying that, at the moment of salvation, our ‘legal citizenship’ status changed! One could say that if before we received Christ, we could have visited the ‘heavenly realm,’ we would have been ‘illegal aliens.’ We are not like the child born to an American military family overseas, who has dual-citizenship status until he or she is 18 years old and needs to make a decision. We are NOT dual citizens. Now listen to the Apostle Peter in one of his letters to the early church: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 Do you see the contrast here? Paul tells us that at one time we were ‘aliens and foreigners’ to God’s household, while Peter tells us that as Christians we are now ‘aliens and strangers’ in the world in which we live! Why is the world in which we live ‘foreign territory,’ why are we ‘aliens and strangers in it,’ and how do we apply these truths? First, we need to understand that the world in which we live is not, the world that God created and pronounced ‘good’ and ’very good’. In fact, Scripture tells us that the willful disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden affected more than just our little piece of turf. There is a clear description of the present condition of God’s creation in Romans 8:17-24, in which we find the following: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22 All of God’s creation is somehow tainted, polluted by sin, and in need of redemption. Scripture also gives us an interesting description of the state of the human race after the fall of Adam, as well as a who seems to be controlling things (the god of this world). “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Ephesians 2:1-2 “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 As believers, we are citizens of the household of God, with a new ‘landlord,’ servants of the Most High God, no longer bound by the god of this world. And as members of God’s household, we are now foreigners and strangers to the world we live in and enemies of the ‘god of this world.’ If you still aren’t convinced of your citizenship as a Christian, listen to the words of Jesus from his high priestly prayer: “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:13-16) I have come to the inescapable conclusion that we are living behind enemy lines! Perhaps this has caused your thought process to pause for a moment of speculation. Maybe it came to a screeching halt because your first reaction was “No way!” Then hear what the Apostle James had to say to believers in his day who were becoming a bit too ‘friendly’ with the fallen culture around them. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4 If you still aren’t convinced that we are living in enemy territory, I encourage you to read James 4in its entirety, followed by Jesus’ words to his followers in John, chapters 15 and 16, concerning what to expect from the world that is hostile to God. All of the above leaves with an inescapable question: “Why are we still down here?” That might be connected to the second paragraph of a Combat Order – “Mission”. More to follow. - Dan Cartwright Comments are closed.