To Be A Veteran - 11/11/18

TO BE A VETERAN 11 11 2018

2 Timothy 2: 3-4

In many Churches, just like ours, … there stand two flags; … the American Flag
and the Christian Flag. … These two flags represent two types of freedom. …
One is a freedom that allows us to go where we want to go, … say what we want to
say, … to live where we want to live, … to dream big dreams and pursue them.
You’ve heard this many times … but it bears repeating: …
It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
Veterans, over the centuries have sacrificed so much to obtain and preserve this
precious freedom … which includes the God-given right to worship our Creator
anytime, … anywhere.
That leads us to the other type of freedom, represented by the Christian Flag; …
a greater freedom that can only be found in Christ, … who died as a ransom to set
us free. … This is a freedom from a life of futility , … freedom from the enslaving
power of sin, regret, hate and bitterness. … It’s the freedom to love God … and
love our neighbor.
To serve either of these flags (and the freedoms they represent) faithfully and
effectively, … we must meet certain requirements. … Before one can become a
Veteran, … we must first be a good soldier.
So my question for you today is; … what does it take to become a Veteran?
Not just a military Veteran … but a spiritual Veteran?
The Apostle Paul knew a little something about that.
Having enlisted in the Lord’s army after encountering Jesus on the road to
Damascus and enduring countless dangers, labors … and snares as a result, …
Paul was a Veteran Christian, … if there ever was one.
Toward the end of his life, … while facing execution for his commitment to Christ,
… Paul sat in a cold Roman prison, cut off from the world, … with just a quill and
some parchment. … Paul knew that he would soon be executed, … so he wrote his
final thoughts to a young pastor named Timothy, … passing to him the torch of
leadership, … reminding him of what was truly important … and encouraging him
to keep the faith.

In 2 Timothy 2:3-4 (and for this, I prefer the New King James Translation), …
Paul states: … “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus
Christ.  4  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life,
that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”
In these two short verses, Paul uses four “e”-words: … endure, engage, entangle
and enlist; … each representing a different aspect of what it takes to become a
Veteran soldier of Christ.
I will start with the last “e”-word, which is, … “ENLIST”
You can’t become a Veteran if you don’t enlist. … As Paul says in another
translation, “A soldier wants to please his commanding officer” (2 Timothy 2:3-
4 NIV).
Thankfully, … our country no longer uses the Draft. … Recruitment officers are
sent out to encourage people to volunteer … but men and women have the freedom
to choose whether or not they serve in the American military today … and people
make that choice for different reasons.
Many enlist so that they can go college, … others out of a sense of patriotic duty,
… some were raised in military families … and still others … because they’re
looking for some sense of direction or purpose for their lives.
No matter what the reasons are, … it’s a tough decision; … life changing, …
to simply leave everything behind.
God does not force anyone to join in the service of His Kingdom, either.
He does send out recruitment officers, … that’s you and me, … to encourage
people to serve in His Army … but it’s our choice to enlist.
Following Jesus is a life-altering commitment that requires full devotion.
When we make the decision to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, … our life
must change. … No longer are we able to be the commanding officer and general
of our life. … We’ve given that over to Christ. … He is now the leader of our life.
The first step to becoming a spiritual Veteran is enlisting.
The next step is ENDURING
American soldiers in every branch of the military have a lot to endure, … not the
least of which is the grueling nature of basic training. … If ones not ready for it, …
they will be worked harder than they have ever worked. … Not only does the
soldier have to endure the physical aspect of the military … but there are the
mental and emotional stresses of being away from their families. …
In order to be successful in the military, … one has to endure the different
situations and circumstances which come their way.

Likewise, … if one wants to be a veteran Christ follower, … they also have to
endure.
As Paul told Timothy; … “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier
of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV). …
In our country, … we are so thankful that we don’t experience the kind of
hardships they do in other parts of the world; … hardships like the ones Paul
experienced. … During his missionary journeys, … Paul was flogged, stoned,
shipwrecked and more … but I need to tell you, religious persecution is not only
happening in foreign lands, … it’s also happening right before us … and we need
to be ready for persecution (Sermon for another day).
We will be challenged in ways we could not imagine, … we will have trials, …
temptations … and tribulations in this life which we never thought would come our
way. … It’s not the sicknesses and illnesses Paul is talking about; … he’s talking
about persecution for being a follower of Jesus Christ. … As soldiers of Christ, …
we have to endure. … We have to keep the faith. … We have to trust God’s plan is
better than our plan, … even in the middle of our struggles.
We enlist, we endure. … The next is: … “ENGAGE”: …
While I’ve never experienced war, … mush less, a soldier’s uniform, …
I have great respect for those who have experienced war. … Every soldier goes
through basic training, … so that when the day of battle occurs, … they will be
ready for the war. … They go through that, so they will be prepared to engage the
enemy. … Through training exercises and combat practice, … the soldier is
prepared to always be ready for battle.
As Christians we need to do the same. … Paul explains; … “since the weapons of
our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of
strongholds. We demolish arguments  5  and every high-minded thing that is raised
up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
In-other-words, … as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, … we have to be prepared to
engage in spiritual warfare. … We battle temptation. … We stand opposed to false
religions and worldviews that are hostile toward Christianity. … We are called to
defend our faith with reason and precision. … We can’t be afraid to stand up for
Jesus in public or in our personal relationships. … God is counting on us to “take
captives,” … which means surrendering our own thought and beliefs to Christ …
but also leading others to do the same, … with gentleness and respect.
In the Lord’s Army, … we don’t kill our enemies; … instead, … our goal is to
make them our allies.

In the Lord’s Army, … we aren’t fighting alone. … Just as soldiers in a squad,
platoon or company, depend on each other, … Christ followers rely on our Church
family to support us and stand beside us.
In order to be a Veteran, … we must enlist, endure, engage … and finally, …
we have one don’t; …don’t get ENTANGLED
Paul teaches: … “ 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of
this life”
I’ve used this one in a previous sermon … but it applies here also; …
A new recruit, shortly after joining the Navy, … asked his C/O for a pass so he
could attend a wedding. … The officer gave him the pass … but informed the
young man he would have to be back by 7 p.m. Sunday. … The recruit said; …
“You don’t understand, sir, … I’m in the wedding.”
The officer shot back; ... “No, … you don’t understand, … you’re in the Navy!”
When you serve this (American) flag, … you are expected to be completely
committed to your country and to allow nothing to prevent you from performing
your duties and serving faithfully.
When you serve this (Christian) flag, … you are also expected to be completely
committed to Christ and His Kingdom. … You are expected to serve Him
faithfully, … not allowing anything to keep you from doing His will.
Unfortunately, … countless Christians, … after coming to faith in Christ, … do get
entangled in the affairs of this world. … They let other concerns become more
important to them than Jesus. … In fact, Jesus told a story about that very thing.
He talked about a farmer who scattered seed everywhere he went. … Jesus said, …
“A sower went out to sow his seed. As he was sowing, some fell along the path; it
was trampled on, and the birds of the sky ate it up.  6  Other seed fell on the rock;
when it sprang up, it withered, since it lacked moisture.  7  Other seed fell among
thorns; the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.  8  Still other seed fell on good
ground; when it sprang up, it produced a crop: 100 times what was sown.” As He
said this, He called out, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!”
(Luke 8: 5-8)
If we are entangled in the concerns and pleasures of the world, … we need to
bookmark Luke 8: 5-8!
We need to be careful about what we let distract us from Jesus.
“More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing
value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of
all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3: 8)

So, … we ENLIST, … we ENDURE, … we ENGAGE … and we don’t get
ENTANGLED.
I carry this still, from a sermon Rev. Mike Baldwin gave at Bethel Christian
Church several years ago; … a single piece of a puzzle. …
We are a piece of the puzzle … and we need to believe that. … We may start out
as a simple recruit, … we might begin as a lowly private … but we have a role to
play in God’s kingdom. … The goal, … in the Christian life, … is to become a
veteran; … one others can look up to, … someone people can look to and say “he
or she is a great example of living the Christ-like life.”
Be someone people witness about as to how you made a huge impact on their life
… and how it gave them a new direction and purpose in life.
Does anyone here today want to give testimony about someone who filled that
place in their life?: … How that person made you a “Piece of God’s puzzle”, …
fulfilling a part of God’s Kingdom!
AMEN