A Soldier’s Story

2 Timothy 2:2-2:3 "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2 Timothy 2:3) Introduction I have become a big fan of the Apostle Paul as I continue reading and digesting the letters written by him in the NT. I’m particularly intrigued by his multi-faceted personality. In this second letter to Timothy, Paul shows versatility that is worthy of some serious and heartfelt consideration. After all, in the first chapter of 2 Timothy, he presents himself in various roles: · He is Paul the Apostle (v1). · He is Paul the Father in the Faith (v2). · He is Paul the Thankful Servant (v3). · He is Paul the Prayer Partner (v3). · He is Paul the Faithful Man (v5). · He is Paul the Encourager (v7). · He is Paul the Prisoner (v8). · He is Paul the carrier of the command (v11). · He is Paul the Preacher (v11). · He is Paul the Teacher (v11). · He is Paul the Unashamed Slave (v12). · He is Paul the Sound Proclaimer (v13). · He is Paul the Recipient of Mercy (v16). · He is Paul the Chained Christian (v16). · He is Paul the Roman Captive (v17). Then in chapter 2, his presentation shows another side of him. He has taken off of the liturgical garments of the Apostle, Preacher, and Pastor. He has figuratively removed the chains of the Roman high command. He has slipped into a role that is unfamiliar and well known at the same time. He has put on the guise of a solider. Body This is his story. I know that there is not one iota of information found in the biography of the Apostle Paul that even suggests that he had draft card, that he ever registered for the draft, that he went through boot camp, or that he held a commission in the Roman Army; however, he says that you can learn from what soldiers go through, take that information, relay it to your station in life, and pick up some tips, learn some lessons about your Christian service. Some of us don’t even realize it, but we’re all in the army – THE army – The Christian army.

Interestingly, it has parallels with the US Army that most of us are quite familiar with: · The US Army has a commander in chief - George W. Bush assisted by...Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condelessa Rice, and others… · The Christian Army has a commander in chief – God.. all by Himself. · The US Army fights for victories on the land, in the valleys and on hills. · The Christian Army points to a hill and an empty tomb where Jesus already has the victory. · The US Army moves on man’s whims. · The Christian Army moves on God’s command. · The US Army awakes up at the sound of a trumpet. · The Christian Army looks forward to Gabriel blowing his trumpet. · The US Army fights against other armies, provinces, and nations. · The Christian Army fights against spiritual wickedness in high places. · The US Army is assisted in warfare by the Navy, Marines and Air Force. · The Christian Army is assisted by the Power of the Holy Ghost! Even though Christian Army is fighting for a greater prize than the US Army, there are very relevant lessons we can learn from them. Josephus, the Jewish historian of that time, described the Roman soldier like this: "Each soldier every day throws all his energy into his drill, as though he were in action. Hence that perfect ease with which they sustain the shock of battle; no confusion breaks their customary formation, no panic paralyzes, no fatigue exhausts them. All their camp duties are performed with the same discipline, the same regard for security; the procuring of wood, food-supplies, and water, as required - each party has its allotted task; nothing is done without a word of command. The same precision is maintained on the battlefield.” Having served in the military myself, I can relate to this perspective… But more importantly, I can relate because of my current enlistment in God’s Army. The same requirements apply - Exerting all your energy in preparation, standing in faith during the storms of life, doing what God has called you to do to the best of your ability, and maintaining that boldness on the battlefield! Timothy’s call to service is found in Acts 16:3 - "him would Paul have to go forth with him." The words "go forth" literally mean "to take the field as a soldier." This was Timothy’s enlistment. Do you remember your enlistment? Every Christian is automatically a soldier in God’s army! But when Paul shares his story, in the persona of a soldier, he gives to us some inspiring and inspirational words.

He opens the discussion by including Timothy as a part of his ministry. Paul uses an interesting concept. That is: Those who partake in the Lord’s service must partake in two aspects - the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet. Unfortunately, there are those who want to have the good and never deal with the bad: · Salvation by grace - the good · Shunned by loved ones - the bad · Joy in the midst of a storm - the good · Tears shed in the midnight hour - the bad · Lifting up holy hands in the sanctuary - the good · Heartache and heartbreak - the bad · Waking up in the morning - the good · Can’t sleep at night - the bad If no one told you before, let me be the first to tell you that these two sides of life will continue until we check out of here. I’ve heard this idea said clearer than I’ve ever heard said it before. Would you like to hear it? Here it go! "We have to deal with the good and the bad until we get to the ’Land of Nomo.’ No mo’ sickness - No mo’ trouble - No mo’ problems - No mo’ pains - No mo’ – disappointments." Paul really says, you Timothy, you young man, you young pastor, you young preacher, you are a part of this ministry and no matter what, you have to accept the fact that it exacts a price! That price is being lied on, being talked about, being abused, and being scorned. I can remember what it was like to just go to church, sit in the pew, and get there when I wanted to, leave when I wanted to. A meaningless routine, I had no hope, no joy, no real love… But, glory to God, one Tuesday afternoon while driving home from work, the Holy Spirit changed my plans. I had my own Damascus road experience on I-270… Now, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness! I realize that “weeping my endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning! I have found real Love, because now I know God is Love! I’m just trying to show you how Christian service is like military service… You know that military is not always an option, right? Some people get drafted. Some people volunteer. Some people go to get an education. Some people go to stay out of trouble. Some people enlist because they come from a family of enlistees. It’s the same in the church. But here’s where a analogy breaks down. Regardless of how you end up in military service, you know what you’re getting into. But the call to Christian service is a call to unknown situations and circumstances. I’m in Bible country? You know I am! · Moses heard a voice from a burning bush, but that was just the start. · Abraham heard a voice saying leave, but he didn’t get a map.

· David knew he was anointed as King, but didn’t know how or when. · Peter knew Jesus said follow me, but didn’t know he would deny Him. Another parallel can be drawn in the area of equipment used while serving in the army. In Biblical times, men who enlisted in the army all soldiers carried the same gear. Every soldier had a dagger about 9 inches long, double-edged sword a little less than 2 feet long held in a sheath that hung from the waist, and a javelin a little over 6 ½ feet long. It had an iron head with a sharp point to pierce shields and a barb to prevent its removal. It was thrown before hand-to-hand contact. Stay with me, I’m going somewhere. The army was divided into legions of 6,000 men, under command of a legate. There were ten divisions of about 600 men under the command military tribunes. Each division was divided into three maniples, which were themselves divided into two centuries, each under the command of a centurion. Each legion consisted of infantry units and specialist troops. These specialists were units of engineers, bowmen, cavalry, and medical officers. Each century had it’s own trumpeter, orderly, and flag bearer. Now, here’s a very important point. Even though they all carried the same gear, everyone in the army didn’t perform the same job! The Bible speaks clearly as God gives the Apostle another divine revelation. Again, Paul uses the soldier metaphor in Ephesians 6:10-18. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." And here’s the gear that we are all equipped with! Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Can’t leave off verse 18, that’s secret to the power in the equipment… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all

the saints. I have to do a little bowling down some alleys now. I have do some player hating, I have to step on some toes! One of the problems with the soldiers of the church today is: · Armor bearers want to be cooks. · Banner bearers want to be on the front line of battle. · Artillery soldiers want to serve as medics. · Riders want to be walkers. · Walkers want to be Riders. All I’m trying to say is: yes we all have the same gear as soldiers in the Lord’s army, but we don’t perform same job! If you’re going to enlist in the Lord’s army, you’re going to have to discover where your ministry really is. Perhaps one of the greatest crimes in the Black church is in the area of when a young man comes forward and says the Lord has called him to preach. Some people don’t believe him. Some people are skeptical of him. But worst of all, some people believe that the call to preach is also a call to Pastor. And consequently, we put undue pressure on preachers. Having them feeling that unless you’re a pastor, you’re a failure, or that something’s wrong, and what’s so bad about it is that it’s not biblical!! Another term for the gear that God gives His soldiers is "gifts." He gives us GIFTS to edify the body of Christ. Everyone has a measure all of the GIFTS, but not in the same amount and mixture. That’s why Paul wrote the following: "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (I Cor. 12:28-30 - KJV) Here’s a suggestion for you: · If you’re a preacher - preach on and praise God! · If you’re a teacher - teach on and praise God! · If you have the gift of healing - heal and praise God! · If you are a prophet - prophesy and praise God! · If you are a worker of miracles - work on and praise God! But whatever you do, understand what part of the army you serve in and be glad - serve the Lord with gladness until He returns. Now that the foundation has been laid, it won’t take but a few minutes to

unpack this brief passage and reveal its truths. See the word hardness in the text. Paul uses a Greek word, which describes this best. He uses the word kakopatheo. This word shows up three times in the New Testament: · In 2 Timothy 2:3 (this text) it’s translated, “hardness”. · In 2 Timothy 2:9 it’s translated, "suffer trouble." · In James 5:13 it’s translated, "afflicted." I have noticed that all three times this word appears, it never appears around sinners, but it appears adjacent to the saints. · In 2 Timothy 2:3 - it is adjacent to both Paul and Timothy. · In 2 Timothy 2:9 - it is adjacent to Paul and all believers after him. · In James 5:13 - it is adjacent to the scattered church in Asia Minor. This word is rooted and akin to the word sunkakopatheo, which is to suffer hardship with, or to suffer hardship with someone. A whole lot of us are suffering some kind of hardship right now … don’t you know you are suffering with someone else? · You are not alone in your struggles. · You are not alone in your afflictions. · You are not alone in your trouble. · You’re not the only woman a man has been dogged out by some man. · You’re not the only man whose spirit has been broken by a woman. · You’re not the only person who’s ever been laid off. · You’re not the only person who’s ever caught hell. · You’re not the only person to lose friends for no reason. · You’re not the only person to have been lied on. · You’re not the only person to have been talked about. · You’re not the only person to have been scorned. And for those of you who haven’t been lied on, wounded, destroyed, scratched, or cut - just keep on living. I have discovered that when those of us in Christian Service catch hell, it’s not a one-time experience. If you’ve been dogged out, it will happen again. If you’ve had your spirit broken, it will happen again. If you’ve lost some income, it will happen again. If you’ve lost friends, it will happen again. But there is good news in this text. You see, it would be sad if we had to handle kakopatheo and sunkakopatheo all by ourselves. But thank God, we have an advocate; we have someone who is on our side. · There is Someone Who cares. · There is Someone Who understands. · There is Someone Who protects us. · There is Someone Who guides us. · There is Someone Who will strengthen us.

There is a phrase found throughout the Word of God that has power to encourages all of us. No matter how bad things get, no matter what kind of hardship you are under, no matter the stress and strain of this existence, if you can just hold on, if you can just be patient - wait for the phrase "but God." · Genesis 31:7 - "Your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times, BUT GOD suffered him not to hurt me." (Jacob & Laban) · Genesis 50:20 - "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; BUT GOD meant unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." (Joseph & his brothers) · 1 Samuel 23:14 - "And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him everyday, BUT GOD delivered him not into his hand." (David & Saul) · Acts 7:9 - "And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt, BUT GOD was with him," (Stephen & Pharasees) We need to understand that when there is a hardship, there can be a BUT GOD situation. · I may be poor; BUT GOD will feed me when I’m hungry. · I may suffer hardship; BUT GOD is my rock and my fortress. · I may be lied on, BUT GOD knows. · I may be torn asunder; BUT GOD will put the pieces back together again. · I may be born a sinner; BUT GOD has saved me anyhow. · Yes, hardships will come. · Yes, suffering will come. · But GREATER is He that is within me than he than is in the world. May I also throw this in? If you think you’re suffering, if you’re thinking you’ve caught hell - let me tell you about somebody who had caught more hell than you... His name is Jesus! · He suffered in society before His birth. · He suffered in silence before a tribunal. · He suffered in loneliness in the Garden of Gethsemane. · He suffered in agony on the cross. · And if HE suffered - you will suffer! Conclusion Before I close, let me give you the rest of the story real quick like; that is, you can become not just a soldier, but also a good soldier. Notice that Paul tells Timothy that you don’t really have a choice - you must endure these hardships because they will make you a good soldier. There is a cause and effect of suffering. For some people suffering makes them weaker and weaker. But for the child of God, suffering gives you an

unseen benefit. A story is told of a small bible study group who was studying the 3rd chapter of Malachi. Consequently, one lady decided that she would visit a silversmith and report to them on what he said about the subject. When she went she did not tell the silversmith why she was inquiring as she begged him to tell her about the process of refining silver. After he had fully described it to her, she asked, "But, sir, do you actually sit there during the entire time while refining is going on?" The silversmith quickly responded, "Oh, yes ma’am, I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured." At that moment, the lady saw the beauty and the comfort of the first expression in Malachi 3:3, "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying us. His wisdom and love are both at work for our good. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure. Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "How do you know when the process is complete?" "Why, that’s quite simple," replied the silversmith. "When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished." I’m wondering if there are any soldiers here... When I was a child, at the church I attended the choir sang this song during the processional: We are soldiers in the army. We have to fight, although we have to cry. We have to hold up the blood stained banner. We have to hold it up until we die! That song is pregnant with testimony. But I have my own testimony. I am a soldier. The war is rough. The problems of life are rough, but I’m so glad that I can testify today: · THE LORD IS my shepherd. · THE LORD IS my protector. · THE LORD IS my provider. · THE LORD IS my bread in a starving land. · THE LORD IS my water in dry places. · THE LORD IS my hope for tomorrow · THE LORD IS my all and all!