Taking a Stand – January 27, 2023

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.
Ephesians 6:14

Military Devotion – January 27, 2023

Devotion based on Ephesians 6:14

See series: Military Devotions

In 1858, the sleeve of Pastor Tyng’s gown was caught in a machine for shelling corn being pulled by his mule. His arm was mangled, then amputated. He died the next week. As he was dying, he was asked what message he wanted to give to his people.

“Tell them,” he said, “let us all stand up for Jesus.”

Neighboring pastor, George Duffield, was struck by these words. A week later, he ended his sermon with a hymn he had just written. The new hymn began with the now famous line, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross!”

We know that hymn. We can mightily sing its words, even though we may often carry them out rather meekly.

The hymn does not encourage us to be undercover Christians. Nor does it invite us to become foxhole Christians. “Stand up!” is the command.

But as soon as we stand up, are we not a target?

We are.

We, Christians, need to face that. We gladly and boldly sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus!” It would be good for us to remember the saying, “The friend of my enemy is my enemy.” Jesus has enemies.

Those who have been in war zones understand this. The American flag stakes a claim. It shouts out, “This stands for the United States of America.” The uniform announces, “The one who wears this takes a stand for the United States of America. This person will stand up against all its enemies.”

The uniform of the Christian is the lifestyle others see. When God is an important person in our life, when the worship of him is an essential part of our life, this is recognized. It should not surprise us if those who take a stand against God are not pleased with us.

Those who served in Vietnam expected to be vilified by the Viet Cong. The same was true of the enemy in every other theater of war.

The war against the powers of darkness is no different. In fact, the insulting, reviling attacks may even be worse.

Those who find themselves on the front line, at the point of the spear, in the fight against all that is ungodly should take the backlash as evidence of being effective.

But they also should receive encouragement from fellow warriors.

Pastor Duffield aimed his words at those who take a stand against the deadliest enemies known to humankind, namely, the satanic forces from hell, their human allies who surround the Christian’s life, and the rebellious nature within each person.

“Soldiers of the cross,” he called them. We are called the same.

To those who say it is far-fetched to compare the spiritual struggle of the Christian with the real-life combat of the warrior, we say, “But that’s exactly the comparison that God makes!”

Ephesians 6 tells us to “be strong in the Lord.” It goes on to warn us, “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.”

Then Scripture names the pieces of the battle gear the spiritual warrior is to use. The first to be mentioned is “the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”

Every piece of our spiritual uniform is essential. But if we did not have the truth, if we did not stand for truth, nothing else would much matter.

That’s why we must stand up for Jesus today. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

That’s what counts.

It matters little what our spiritual enemies throw at us. It makes no difference if standing up for our Savior brings retaliation.

In another famous hymn, the old words are, “And take they our life, goods, fame, child, and wife; Let these all be gone, They yet have nothing won; The Kingdom ours remaineth.” (TLH 262:4)

These words were also written by a member of the clergy. He was serious about the possibility of losing everything, including his life, for standing up for Jesus and his truth.

The year was 1521. The place was Germany. The defender of the faith was a monk named Martin Luther. When the great powers demanded that he renounce truths of his Savior God, he replied with famous words.

“Here I stand,” he said. “I can do no other. So help me, God.”

No wonder we sing out the words, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.” We have inspiring examples to follow.

More than that, we have orders.

Jesus has told us, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:14).

We have no choice. We want no choice. We echo the words of another Christian soldier who fought in service to the King. He wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

With the apostle Paul and all the other heroes of faith, we take our stand.

Don’t we?

Prayer: Holy Spirit, remind us of those who faithfully fought in the army of God in years gone by. Encourage us in days of doubt or danger with the assurance of victory in Christ. Permit us to stand in spirit next to the heroes of faith as we sing:

“And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again and arms are strong.
Alleluia!” Amen.
(Christian Worship 880:5)

Points to ponder:

  • Today, in our country, it is unlikely that we will lose our life for standing up for Jesus. So, what are we afraid of that keeps us from always doing that?
  • Have there been some people in our lives who stirred our hearts to serve our Lord more faithfully? What are their names?
  • Do you feel there is more risk for a Christian to show his faith today than it was 20 years ago? 50 years ago? Why or why not?

Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Stillwater, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.

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