Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Battle-Ready Believer Chapter 2

This is the second chapter of the upcoming book The Battle-Ready Believer. The title of this chapter is What Are You Fighting For? Although I'm not a perfectionist in any other area of my life, when it comes to the things of God I strive to be just that.

It is because I have reverence for God and respect the calling that I go over what I write multiple times, and although I am currently on chapter 9 of this book, it may take a couple weeks longer than I first thought.
So, here's Chapter two. Enjoy!

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

What are you fighting for?

If a man has nothing in his life he is willing to die for he has nothing worth living for either. We all fight for something but the something we fight for must be so all encompassing that we are willing, if need be, to lay down our very lives in its service.

What motivates you to fight the fight you are fighting? Is your motivation strong enough to carry you through the pain and the heartache? Is your motivation strong enough to carry you through the hardships and the trials? Is your motivation strong enough to carry you beyond this present life?

I want to begin this chapter by quoting a passage out of Nehemiah, because it goes to another aspect or attribute a battle-ready believer must possess, and that is the knowledge of what it is they are fighting for.

Nehemiah 4:14, “And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.’”

It is of utmost importance to know what we are fighting for. Are we fighting for something temporal or something eternal? Are we fighting for something as fleeting as power or possessions or are we fighting for something with permanence like the Kingdom of God?

Each time you strap on your armor, each time you sheath your sword, each time you lift your shield, what is it you are doing these things for?

Each time you pray for someone, each time you share the gospel, each time you intercede, each time you give of yourself and your possessions, what is it you are doing it for? The answer we give must be clear and concise, without ambiguity. The answer we give will determine the wherewithal with which we do battle, and ferocity with which we fight, and the energy we exert on behalf of our endeavor.

In attempting to embolden his countrymen Nehemiah reminded them that they were fighting for their brethren, for their sons, for their daughters, for their wives, and their houses. There is nothing more personal, more intimate, and more motivating than fighting for those things you hold most dear, those things which are precious to you. There is nothing more energizing than the realization that you are the last line of defense for your family and your loved ones, and that their wellbeing hinges on the success of your endeavor.

 I don’t think it would have had the same punch if Nehemiah would have told his countrymen they were fighting for their political party. I don’t think it would have had the same punch if Nehemiah would have told his countrymen they were fighting for someone else’s lands and possessions. Nehemiah made it personal. He made it intimate. He opened the eyes of his countrymen to the reality that if they lost this battle then they lost everything.

What are you fighting for? This is a question you must know the answer to instantly without giving it any thought because it defines not only the battle but also you as a soldier.

Are you fighting to defend your pet doctrine or are you fighting to defend the truth? Are you fighting to defend a denomination or are you fighting to defend the kingdom of heaven? Are you fighting to defend a man or are you fighting to defend the name of Jesus? These are all questions only you can answer.

I don’t know about you but I am fighting for the name of Jesus, for eternity, for heaven, for those I love and care for, and for the Kingdom of God. Because I know what I am fighting for I hold nothing back. I do not try to minimize my effort, hedge my bets, or try to avoid the battle. I know what I’m fighting for and it’s precious enough to me that I would readily die for it.

When you know what you are fighting for you will nevermore grow weary, disillusioned, or despair. When you know what you are fighting for you will nevermore look for a way out, just for a way through. We know that our battle is not for earthly things or earthly possessions, but for heavenly things and treasures that do not rust or fade away.

Know what you’re fighting for! Know why you’re fighting the fight you are fighting! And know that the Lord is with you if you are with Him!

1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

So what motivates you? What promise? What reward? What prize motivates you to the point of forfeiting this present life and all its baubles, for the reality of battle day in and day out?

This in the end is what it must come down to. If we are soldiers of the cross, if we are warriors for Christ, if we are the army of God, then the only thing we must know, the only thing we can know is battle.

We’ve been lied to. Repeatedly, consistently, unashamedly, the household of faith has been lied to! We’ve been told by grinning fools that all one need do in order to obtain eternal life is be a good person, consider ourselves spiritual, try not to do bad things, don’t swear so much anymore, and of course, give ten percent of our money to the selfsame grinning men making these assertions.

As such, the notion of fighting the good fight has been lost from the collective hearts and minds of the church, and whenever the great majority hears of such a thing they are taken aback.  Many reject the notion of battle outright, because it would actually mean that they exert themselves, break a sweat, put down the TV clicker, or do something out of their comfort zone.

The church has grown lazy and we love to have it so. There is nothing required of us except for the few bucks we put in the offering basket, or the check we write to our favorite ministry. We love the spiritual leaders who encourage our spiritual slothfulness because they get us. We fawn over them and elevate them to godlike status because they understand us, and as long as they don’t rock the boat they’re alright by us.

The only problem with this scenario is that one need fight the good fight in order to lay hold of eternal life, and in the end that is the motivation. That is the driving force of why we choose to enroll in God’s army and do battle against the enemy.

Eternal life: the promise and the prize. The reward for your faithfulness, exertion, sweat, blood, tears, prayers, self-discipline, and everything else a life in Christ entails is eternal life.

It is not an earthly reward, it is not some material thing that rusts and loses luster with time; it is eternal life with God in His kingdom forever.

Once we understand the magnitude of what we’re fighting for, the training, the equipping, the exhaustion and the bruises are all worth it. Every scar, every blister, every sleepless night, every single one is more than worth it when we acknowledge the reality of what God offers as reward to those who overcome, and remain faithful until the end.

Revelation 3:21, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

Not only does inheriting eternal life require we fight the good fight, it stipulates we must win the battle. We must overcome for to him who overcomes will Christ grant to sit with Him on His throne.

Men can twist it however they want. They can give their spin and put their personal interpretation on it – insisting that Jesus didn’t really say what He in fact said –  but the verse is there, plainly written, so even the plainest of men can understand it. The honor to sit with Christ on His throne is reserved for those who overcome.

It is not our duty to get along with the devil. It is not our duty to make peace with the enemy. It is not our duty to try and explain away God’s righteousness and holiness. It is our duty to defend the Gospel, if need be with our lives, and stand for truth even if we happen to be the only one standing before a sea of men.

I realize full well that some of us do not see ourselves in this role. That’s fine, neither did Gideon. What we must understand, what we must allow to sink deep into our marrow and take root in our hearts is that we must be willing and God will do the rest.

He will strengthen us when the time comes if we are faithful and true. He will strengthen us when the time comes if we stand in Him no matter what. It’s not that those who came before us were braver men than we. It’s not that those who came before us were cut from a different cloth. Those that came before us were committed plain and simple. They were committed because they knew what they were fighting for down to the very fiber of their being, and they would not allow forked tongued fools to sway them in their convictions.

They had purposed in their hearts to remain faithful no matter what, and seeing the sincerity of their heart, seeing their desire to remain faithful, God strengthened them and equipped them to the point that they remained faithful even unto death.

Thankfully, we weren’t just thrown upon this spinning rock and left to fend for ourselves. God is with us as long as we are with Him, and He will defend, protect, strengthen, and comfort us every time we need it.

Does this mean that we will never be called upon to endure hardship? Does this mean that we will never be called upon to endure persecution? Does this mean that we will never be called upon to suffer, and perhaps even die for the cause of Christ? No, the fact that God will be with us means none of those things.

What it does mean, what it has always meant since the advent of persecution against the saints is that God will give the necessary strength and fortitude to weather every storm. He will give the necessary wherewithal to stand no matter who the foe happens to be, and He will give the peace surpasses all understanding in our darkest hour.

Do not be afraid. Stand firm, and be committed to defending the truth and righteousness of God.

The life of a soldier is not an easy one. The Word of God forewarns us that if we desire to be soldiers of Jesus Christ, we will have to endure hardships, we will have to be molded, matured, refined, trained, and battle tested, because all these are necessary steps to making a true soldier.

Not only does a pretend soldier pose a danger to their own person because they are untrained, ill equipped, and likely fearful of the enemy’s advances, the pretend solder is a danger to those around him as well. Much of the time a pretend soldier serves as a distraction for the true soldiers because what they are doing is so out of step with what ought to be done that even the most seasoned warrior is surprised by their actions.

Yes, I know, we like to tell each other God is doing something new all the time, so it’s perfectly fine if some knucklehead is kicking cancer patients in the stomach, but in reality such individuals are a distraction, and often times a source of shame for the household of faith because of their actions.

 It’s one thing to suffer for righteousness’ sake, it’s quite another to suffer due to the actions of some conman whom the world automatically associates with you because he calls himself a Christian just as you do.

I’ve been asked on a number of occasions to come alongside other ministries, to validate certain preachers, to lend my name to some gathering or another, and I’ve always been hesitant because I know once I lend my name to a certain event or individual I will be associated with them whether for better or worse.

This is the reason I do not endorse ministers by and large, and if I do it is only after I possess enough knowledge about them as brothers or sisters in Christ wherein I know that they are walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

The Bible tells us our God changes not. He remains the same in perpetuity, and if something worked perfectly well a thousand years, a hundred years, or a day ago, God is wise enough not to mess with it, or try to improve upon it. How can one improve upon perfection? How can one improve upon something God Himself created and put together? 

Yes, men take it upon themselves to try and help God, to improve the ways and means by which we reach out to the lost, or attract the world to the household of faith, but these are gimmicks God neither sanctioned nor approved. We do these things of our own volition, driven by our own vanity, unimpeded in our actions by the reality that God is not in it.

So what does this have to do with knowing what you’re fighting for? No matter what motivates you to battle, no matter what you’re fighting for, fighting in defense of the truth will always be undergirding this motivation.

In the end that’s what it comes down to. We fight against the darkness, we fight against deception, we fight against principalities and powers, we fight against the rulers of the darkness of this age, we fight against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places, and as reward for our service we receive a crown.

It’s as important to know what you are fighting against as to know what you are fighting for. Some men are zealous in their desire to do battle, but they have not a clue whom their battle is with. Rather than pursue the enemy, rather than strike out at the darkness, they end up fighting amongst themselves, wounding both brothers and sisters alike, because they had not the discipline to grow, and understand who their battle was with.

It is important to go through basic training. It is important to be taught war. It is important to possess the ability to identify your enemy. It is important to know what you are fighting for. It is important to know how to wield the weapons in your arsenal, so that when war does come, you are prepared, you are ready, and rather than flee from before the enemy, you will advance against him as a true warrior ought.

Just consider this: God even allowed certain enemies of Israel to remain in the olden days, simply so the children of Israel might be taught war.

Judges 3:1-3, “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it), namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites, who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Ball Hermon to the entrance of Hamath.”

We cannot shy away from battle, nor can we shy away from the training implicit in every soldier’s life so that he might be able to not only defend himself, but advance into enemy territory and vanquish him.

God did not want His people to forget what war was like, nor did he want them to forget what being a soldier implied, so He allowed certain nations to remain for this specific reason.

Nowadays we’ve come to believe that just because our fathers knew spiritual warfare, it is enough. Since they knew it, in our mind there is no need for us to know it, not realizing that every generation and every individual must stand on the battle field, and on that day all that will matter is whether or not you’ve learned warfare, or just pretended at it.

History is rife with individuals who counted on their pedigree to see them through, only to find themselves fleeing from before their enemy in fear.

Thankfully, I don’t have a reputation to protect, or a following to impress, or a demographic to win over to my side, so I can still tell you the truth whether it hurts or soothes. That is what soldiers do. They do the work. They do the hard tasks. Soldiers run into the battle, they put on their armor, and they stand for what they know they ought to stand for, sometimes knowing full well that it’s only a matter of time before they are either injured or killed.

In order to be willing to lay your life down, in order to consciously make the choice to forfeit your dreams, aspirations, expectations, and future you must know and vividly so the driving force and the motivation behind this decision.

Every man and woman of God throughout history has known what it was they were fighting for. Everyone, to the last, who has left their mark, who is remembered, who stood out from the pack in their bravery and valor knew why they were doing it. It takes a certain level of self-awareness and intimate knowledge of God to choose to remain faithful, knowing that it will mean nevermore seeing another sunrise.

When we do not know what we are fighting for, when we are not certain of our motivation we are easily swayed, readily silenced, and far too often made to flee from before the enemy. Thoughts begin to creep in, and sooner than one might think we find justification for desertion and excuses for cowardice.

The flesh is ever ready to supply us with a long list of why we shouldn’t stand, why we shouldn’t fight, and why it’s best to keep our head down. The flesh is ever ready to try and save itself, keep itself comfortable for as long as possible and spare itself hardship of any kind.  

The enemy knows that if he can get into your head, if he can make you doubt your calling, if he can make you doubt your motivation, if he can make you doubt the need for battle, he’s gained the upper hand even before the first blow is struck.

The devil’s desire is to face you at your weakest, not at your strongest. His desire is to make you doubt because doubt is the fertile ground in which the defeatist mentality can grow unencumbered.

Even if during the battle you have moments of doubt or moments when you feel your strength ebbing, because you know what you are fighting for, because it is well defined and preeminent in your actions, you will fight through the doubt, you will fight through the exhaustion, you will fight through the weariness, because that for which you are fighting is worth the effort.

Only you know what you are fighting for. Make certain that it is something that will sustain you throughout, something that will keep you advancing on the enemy, and doing your utmost to vanquish him.

If your motivation is not strong enough you will give up the fight sooner rather than later because an unmotivated soldier will do his utmost to avoid the frontlines of battle. Rather than make war against the darkness a compromised soldier’s utmost desire becomes to keep himself from toil, even abandoning his post if need be.


Unknown said...

Excellent!! Very looking forward to getting the book!

Anonymous said...

The enemy comes after you with trying to terrorize you and when that doesn't work, he switches to being your best friend mode. This is even more dangerous because when you try to run, they accuse you of being abusive to them. You are either the victim or then turned into the bully. Being willing to be shamed is the true test, to have people accusing you for not liking them and associating with them as if you are the one stoking evil.

The more you are at peace, the more they try to fight with you and stir up trouble. I think the duck and run is the most important maneuverer. You can't fight everyone and if you win, you get in trouble for that. God loves to bless people who follow him and then other people get jealous for that. It says in parables, against jealousy, who can stand?

You are in trouble no matter what. You have to fight no matter what. Avoiding fights seems like a good tactic. It isn't easy at all. Even Christ had to run from people constantly.

Patti said...

Dear Brother-Thank you for this writing of encouragement and hope. Last year the Lord gave me a booklet to write called "Soldiers of the Cross," on much of the same truths you present here. I have experienced the feeling of rejection around me in America that it is antiquated, and the belief that this warring is not anymore relevant. So, even though, I knew it still was relevant and necessary, I pressed on with little support in this belief continuing to "fight the good fight of faith." This chapter served to "build me up" even more, as the Body of Christ should do with one another in truth and exhortation. Thank you.