Mighty Warriors of Valor

This message is a compilation of things revealed during the course of a home fellowship group that meets in my home.  Each member of the fellowship brought aspects of this message with them, laid on their hearts by a loving God.  God brought this message together by His body working together, each member fulfilling its function.  It was inspiring to watch.

The translation of scripture was also the inspiration of the Spirit of God.  I started with the King James Version of the Bible.  I used Strong’s index of the original language words used in the KJV.  With this reference I reconstructed the scriptures as accurately as my understanding allowed, taking the scriptural contexts into account.  I also took into account the spiritual shorthand Paul used in his writings.  He wrote his letters to bodies of believers who would read and discuss them.  They understood all that was implied and included in short words like: grace, Christ, righteousness, sin and so on.  To say “Christ” today could translate into part of a curse, but when Paul wrote “Christ”, he meant “The Anointed One of God” and all that implies.  Likewise, when we say “righteousness” we may gloss over the word without thinking about what it really means.  I have tried to avoid glossing over these important words that have lost some of their meaning today.  I don’t present this translation as the definitive meaning of the scriptures, my only purpose was to restore some of their original meaning.  You may prefer to look up the scriptures in your favorite translation and read them there.  If there is a discrepancy between translations, take out your reference materials and research the scriptures.  I’m sure your efforts will be blessed.

What does it mean to be a mighty warrior?  What does it take?  In the Old Testament, God gives us a perfect example.  In King David’s day, there were over a million warriors who drew the sword in defense of Israel.  From out of all these warriors, thirty-seven earned a special place of honor by being immortalized in God’s Holy Word for their heroism.  Of the thirty-seven, three earned a special distinction for a specific act of selfless service to their king.  God honored these three, above all the rest, and we remember them as the Mighty Warriors of Valor.

Here is how the story unfolds.  The Philistines had invaded, pitching their encampment in the valley of Rephaim.  A garrison of Philistines had control of Bethlehem.  King David was in a stronghold, the cave of Adullam.  In the book of 2 Samuel in the Old Testament, David is recorded as saying this:

2 Samuel 23:15  And David said wistfully, “Oh, if only someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem.  You know the one I’m talking about, the one by the gate!”

Apparently, this particular well had some very good tasting water.  Now, you’ll notice, King David didn’t order anyone to get him a drink of water.  He wasn’t even talking to anyone in particular.  He was just thinking out loud.  He was hot and thirsty and wanted something cool to drink.  But three of his men were lounging close by, probably trying to stay out of the sun and stay cool themselves.  Warriors and servants, and who knows who else was there surrounding King David, but these three men require an introduction.

Chief among the three was Josheb-basshe beth.  I’ll just call him Josheb.  He had lifted his spear against 800 enemy warriors and killed them all in one battle, earning himself the roll of leader among the three Captains.

Next was Eleazar.  He had defied the Philistines to their face, and when he was alone by himself he attacked them!  He fought with them until his hand was cramped around his sword and he couldn’t turn it loose.  The Bible says the Lord brought a great victory to Israel that day.  It says the other soldiers only returned in time to strip the armor off the fallen enemy and loot their bodies.

Then there was Shammah.  While the rest of the army of Israel ran away from the advancing Philistine army, Shammah stood his ground in a field of lentils to defend it.  As the Philistines fell on him he stood in the center of the field alone.  He fought the Philistines by himself, but the Word records that God brought about a great victory that day.

These three warriors, these three mighty men, these three Mighty Warriors of Valor, overhear David’s musing.  I imagine them kind of looking at each other across the assembled entourage.  As they glance back and forth between themselves, they know what each of the others is thinking.  They look around.  Apparently no one else was paying attention to what their king had said.  Without a word, they each quietly get up.  They stoop to retrieve their weapons from where they lay close at hand.  Slowly they make their way through the crowd, till at last, clear from the throng surrounding the king, their paths join.  As they disappear over the crest of the rise, their heads are close together, quietly planning.  No one notices their leaving.

The Bible says they “broke through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate”.  That sounds simple enough, but, blow-by-blow, it probably happened along these lines:  They approached the walled and fortified city of Bethlehem on foot.  The Philistines saw them coming a mile away.  When they were within range, the archers on the walls let fly with every arrow that was in their quivers.  Undaunted by the arrows that rained down on them, Josheb, Eleazar and Shammah brought it on.  How did they escape the death that fell from the sky?  It was incredible, yet they did, and on they came.  As they neared the wall, infantry swarmed from the gates and fell upon them with sword and spear.  The trio met their foe and drove this incomprehensibly overwhelming hoard back, as they steadily advanced on the well.  Then, as they reached the well, what had been three swords against innumerable odds, became two, as one warrior lowers a vessel into the cool depths of the well.  When he brings it up again into the fierce heat of the ongoing battle, it is cold and wet and dripping as he clutches it against his chest, it’s coolness soaking through his tunic.  Once again his hand is free and he is able to swing his sword effectively.

By this time the whole city is alerted to the intruders and the three have to fight their way out of the gates and away from the walls.  How far do you suppose the Philistines pursued them?  Did they hound them out into the desert, leaving a trail of dead and dying Philistines to mark the Israelites’ retreat?  Or were they stunned by the carnage wreaked within their walls by so small a fighting force, and just happy to see them leave?  I don’t know, but the result was the same.  These three men returned to the cave of Adullam. 

As quietly as they went out, they returned.  They come before their king without fanfare and extend the vessel for him to drink.  It’s no big deal; they just got him a drink.  But King David was no fool.  He could see the haggard look on their faces.  He could reach out and wipe away the blood that still oozed from crusted wounds.  He could smell the death and battle that clung to their clothing like a medal of valor – and his soul was gripped with remorse as his flippant words rushed back to him.  His heart exploded with gratitude and humility at the devotion of these warriors who faced certain death, yet stood before him.

And he cried out, “There is no way, O Lord, that I could drink this!  This is the blood of my men who threw their lives away!  And for what!  For what!  So I could have a drink of water?”  And he wouldn’t drink it.  He poured it out on the ground as an offering before God.  The water soaked into the soil with the blood that still dripped from the warrior’s clothing.  These are the things that were done by the three Mighty Warriors of Valor.

What does it mean to be a mighty warrior?  What does it take?

The actions of these three men show us.  How could they risk their lives for a drink of water?  What value did these men place on their lives?  Did they leave families behind every time they followed their king off to war?  Did they have aspirations for their careers? Did they hope to live to a ripe old age, and, surrounded by their grandchildren and great grandchildren, recount the days when they served the king?  Perhaps, the Bible doesn’t say.  But what we know for sure is this:  No matter what value they placed on their own lives, it wasn’t as important as a drink of water for their God’s anointed king.

It’s that simple.  It didn’t matter to them whether they lived or died, because serving their king was life to them.  Providing a drink of water for their king was life to them.  They didn’t live for themselves or their own desire.  They lived only to fulfill the wishes of their king.  They counted their own lives as expendable.  They counted themselves as already dead, so they could live to serve their king.  And because they were already dead, and lived only to serve their king, it was living that they accomplished.

How did Josheb pick up his spear and slay 800 Philistines?  It was God!  How did Eleazar find the courage to defy the Philistines and single handedly wipe out an army?  It was God.  How did Shammah stand in the middle of a field of beans and fight Philistines all day so there was a great victory in Israel?  The Word tells us it was God!  How?  How?  How could these mortal men accomplish these supernatural victories?  It was because they considered their own selves already dead, and lived only to serve God’s anointed King of Israel.  They were dead men already in their own eyes, but their motivation was to live to serve God’s anointed King.

These three Mighty Warriors of Valor didn’t suffer from self-loathing.  They weren’t depressed or hate their lives.  They didn’t have a death wish.  They had just found something to live for that was more important than their next breath.  They discovered that nothing in their lives could compare to the honor of serving God’s anointed King.  Nothing they could do on their own brought them the fulfillment they received from serving their king.  In serving their king, at the cost of their very lives if necessary, they discovered the key to really living.  And live they did!

Out of all the millions of souls who have lived on this planet, how many of us have accomplished anything by living that would rate an honorable mention in the Bible?  I’m not seeing any hands.  Most of us are just content to know our names are written in The Lamb’s Book of Life.  This is why our lives are a struggle.  This is why the church isn’t reaching the lost.  This is why the lost are uninterested in what we have to offer.  This is why Satan is content to let the church build beautiful buildings to warehouse the Body of Christ in.  This is why our lives are powerless.  This is why you can’t find a Mighty Warrior of Valor when you need one.

The Spirit of the Living God is at work in our world today.  He wants to save the lost but He’s got a big problem - and it’s not the lost!  The lost can struggle, be ineffective, be uninterested, kill time and have no power to protect themselves from evil, all on their own without us.  They don’t need to join us and then be expected to invest ten percent of their income for the privilege!

We, as individual Believers, and members of the Body of Christ, through the course of time, the erosion of doctrine and the deception of the Evil One, have become guilty of perhaps the most insidious sin ever to fall on mankind.  I’m convinced it’s worse than any sin the godless are capable of committing.  We blissfully ignore all of the warnings in the Holy Scriptures so we can remain guilty!  In the eyes of the lost, we’re no better than they are.  In fact, they feel a certain moral superiority over “Christians” because at least, as unbelievers, they aren’t hypocrites!

Prepare your hearts, because this could get uncomfortable.  I know it made my knees weak when God revealed it to me.  But it also set me free.  Not since I became a Believer, twenty-four years ago, had I felt so liberated.  I no longer dread the Spirit of God peaking into the dirty little secrets of my life, (that were never secret from God in the first place!).  I’m not afraid to have all my motivations laid bare before the Righteous Judge!  In fact, I ask God to reveal my faults, weaknesses, wickedness, inconsistencies and filthiness so I can be cleansed before Him!  I ask Him to search my heart and root out the evil, which, for some unfathomable reason, I have always wanted to hang on to!  I ask Him to crush me under the weight of my own disobedience and sift my life like wheat.  Better for this to happen while I’m alone with God in prayer, than my life exposed to the world as the wreck I am without Him.

What could God have revealed after twenty-four years that would have this effect on a Believer?  You are about to find out!

It’s time to die…

It’s time to die.

It’s time to die to everything we hold dear, all of our dreams, all of our aspirations, all of our selfishness, all of the things we hold back from God.  It’s time to die because until we do, we can’t live for God’s Anointed King.  When we live for Christ alone, we will realize that nothing in life we’ve held onto compares to a single moment living to serve Christ.  When we count our lives already lost, we can live to serve God’s Anointed King.  And because we are already dead, and live only to serve The King, it will be living that we accomplish.

This was revealed through other Mighty Warriors of Valor in the Bible as well.  The Apostles knew it.  Paul wrote about it.

Acts 20:24  But none of those things move me, neither do I count my life dear to me.  Without the burden of dragging my life along, I can accomplish God’s purposes for me with joy, and the ministry assigned to me by the Lord Jesus which is:  To live for Christ and spread the good news of the grace of God.

Philippians 3:7-10  But everything I have gained in this life, I count as lost for Christ.  Without hesitation, I count all things lost for the vast richness and fullness of knowing The Anointed One of God, Jesus, my Lord.  I have let go of all things and consider them to be garbage, because I can reach out and embrace Christ.  I do this so my life would be yielded to His will.  So I would not rely on my own goodness, obtained by obeying the law, but trust in The Anointed One of God and His righteousness.  God grants this reconciliation to me through faith in His Son.  For this reason I can associate and identify myself with Jesus and the power released in His resurrection.  I can share in His suffering, being obedient to relinquish control of my own life.  For this reason I am dead to my own desires, raised from the dead to live to serve God’s Anointed One.

Paul had become a Mighty Warrior of Valor.  He counted his own life as lost.  He didn’t give up his life just to die.  He gave up his life so he would be free to live for God.  He knew life in Christ was living with power.  The type of power that made things happen.  The kind of power that supernaturally transformed lives of darkness into blazing beacons of grace!  It wasn’t just any old voltage that Paul was after.  He wanted the power of God that was released when God raised Jesus from the dead!  To share in the power that raises from the dead, you have to die first.

Romans 6:1-2  What should we say, (since we are delivered from the law which dictates that disobedience brings about spiritual death)?  Should we remain in our disobedience, to receive even more of God's graciousness towards us?  May God never permit this to happen!  How could it ever be, that being dead to disobedience, and experiencing the liberating life of serving The Living God, you could tolerate the bondage of disobedience again?

“Dying to Live” - It can be read a couple of ways.  “I can’t wait to live!” or “I’m dying to my old nature so I can be truly alive, living only to serve God.”  It all means the same thing to me, and it’s the scriptural key to becoming a Mighty Warrior of Valor.  But why would this make Believers uncomfortable?  Why would this revelation make my knees weak?  That’s what I’m here to tell you.  The scriptures explain it very clearly, but most Christians, myself included, gloss over the warnings, and willfully misinterpret the meaning of the scriptures.  God expects each of us to advance beyond just being “Saved”.  God expects each of us to become Mighty Warriors of Valor.  But the Body of Christ is content with being a 98-Pound Weakling!  The vast majority of “Christians” are satisfied with “believing with their hearts” or “thinking in their minds” that their names are written in The Lamb’s Book of Life.

Most churchgoers have reasonable enough assurance that when they die, they will be allowed into heaven.  And that’s enough.  They don’t take it any further.  They try to be “good people”.  They try to be “good Christians”.  They ask God to forgive them when they sin.  But they never get beyond that point.  It wouldn’t be apparent they were Christians unless they happened to mention it, or someone saw them walking into a church.  If we have to tell people we are “Christians” for them to know it, we’re not very good Christians.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, one of the main excuses the godless use to remain godless, is because they think “Christians” are hypocrites!  The personal witness of our lives speaks louder than anything we say.  If the pathetic way we live our “Christian” lives makes the godless feel they aren’t any different than us, then there is a problem.  And there is a problem!  The lost are dying and going to Hell every day because there isn’t enough difference between our lives and theirs for them to feel they have anything to worry about.

This is the depth of deception that the Body of Christ in America has sunk to.  Our lives are so powerless, our prayers are so faithless, and our nice programs are so pathetic, that we have nothing of value to offer a lost and dying world.  But, our names are written in The Lamb’s Book of Life, right?  We’ll make it to heaven when we die, right?  Yeah, right!  This is what made my knees weak.  This is the revelation that changed my life.  God expects us to become Mighty Warriors of Valor!  He didn’t assemble an Army of Christian Soldiers so they could march around in circles, or mark time until they finally died.  God EXPECTS something from us!  He tells us what it is!  And, he warns us!  Listen to the scriptures.

1 Peter 4:18-19  It is appropriate that God continually passes judgment, and that it starts with the family of God.  Moreover, because judgment begins in the family of God, and because it begins with us, what will be the limit of punishment of the disobedient who disbelieve the good message of God?  For if those made righteous through Christ, are barely saved, and only with difficulty and much hard work are they delivered from bondage to sin, where will the ungodly and the disobedient end up?

Do you hear what the scripture says?  If the righteous are barely saved, how bad is it going to get for the sinners?  Doesn’t it make you a little uncomfortable that when God looks at us as a Christian, He thinks we are barely going to make it?  Don’t get me wrong here, He does think we will make it, but it almost sounds as if it’s touch-and-go sometimes.  What else does God have to say about this subject in the Bible?  Remember, the Word admonishes us to let everything be established from two or three sources.  Is God’s judgment of Believers addressed anywhere else in the Bible?

1 Corinthians 15:31  As surely as you glorify the relationship I have because I have given myself wholly to The Anointed One of God, Jesus, our Master; I myself find it necessary to die to self every day, so I can live for God.

The Apostle Paul himself found it necessary to crucify himself every day so he could live for God.  It was because he considered himself already dead, that he could live the life of a Mighty Warrior of Valor, serving God’s Anointed King, Jesus.  Paul understood how important is was to press on beyond just having his name written in The Lamb’s Book of Life, to serving the Living God.  He passes on what he has learned to Believers in this next passage, along with a warning!

Hebrews 10:26-31  No doubt, if we are disobedient voluntarily, after we have gotten hold of the knowledge of the truth, we leave behind and there is no longer an atonement, to cover our disobedience.  Moreover, there is a haunting, frightful, expectation of punishment and fiery jealous rage, that is feared will consume the offender.  Whoever violated the law God revealed through Moses, was slain without pity, based on the testimony that they had done wrong, presented by two or three witnesses:  How much worse punishment do you think will be allotted to those who have rejected and trampled on the Son of God – and on Christ’s atoning blood of the new covenant which was instrumental in purifying the defiled – and also as an insult to the Holy Spirit extending grace?  (This is the sin of “Christians” who have “accepted” salvation, yet continue in disobedience in spite of Grace.  This is the sin I am convinced is worse than any sin the “godless” can commit.  The godless reject Christ and are damned to eternal separation from God.  The “Christian” embraces Christ’s sacrifice, and then turns around and continues to live in disobedience as though God’s redemption has no value.  What an insult to Jesus who suffered; to God the Father, who had to watch as His sinless Son pay the ultimate price for our disobedience; and to the Holy Spirit who extends God’s offer of salvation to us, dwells in us, and then gets dragged along by us through all the sin we indulge ourselves in.  This is an offense to the very nature of God, and done right in his face!  How can we escape judgment?)  No doubt we are aware God said, “Vengeance and punishment are mine!  I will repay both good and evil!” declared the Lord.  Indeed, He went on to say, “I, the Lord God, will surely judge those who belong to me!”  It is a frightful and terrible thing to be overwhelmed and consumed within the grip of the Living God.

Did we hear what the scriptures said?  Open up the ears to our heart and listen to God’s stern warning!  God said he will surely judge those who belong to Him!  If we call ourself “Christians” we belong to Him.  Surely, God will judge us!  Judged, not by me, not by anyone else on this earth, but by God Himself!  Don’t worry about what I think or say, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God!  If this doesn’t make our knees weak then our hearts are hard beyond understanding!

1Corinthians 3:16-17  Don't you understand?  Because you are the temple of God, the Spirit of God lives and remains all through you!  If any person spoils the dwelling place of God, God will ruin them.  God will do this because the dwelling place of God must be pure, holy and set apart for God's use.  And you belong to God.

1 Corinthians 11:27-32  As a consequence, anyone who eats the bread and drinks the wine of the Master unworthily, will be in danger of penalty for disrespecting the body and the blood that Jesus presented as a sacrifice for our disobedience.  For this reason, every person should examine himself or herself first.  After that, let them eat the bread and drink the cup, symbolizing their oneness with Him.  Because, if anyone eats and drinks unworthily, they eat and drink their own condemnation, never understanding the implications of the Lord's body as a sacrifice for sin.  For this same reason, a large number of your assembly are feeble, moreover, many of you are plagued by illnesses, likewise a good many have died.  You see, if we would only judge ourselves, to make sure we are separated thoroughly from our old nature, we wouldn't have to be judged by the Spirit of God.  But when we are condemned and punished by the Master, it is so we won't be damned along with the lost.

Hebrews 2:1-3  For this reason exactly, we should, out of necessity, pay attention to these things more earnestly.  We should pay closer attention to the things we have been told.  We should hold onto them tightly, lest at any time they would carelessly slip our minds.  Because certainly, the instructions delivered by messengers of God continues to be firm.  And since it is firm and forceful, every single violation, every single disobedience, will bring down the appropriate judgment.  How is it possible we can escape this judgment if we are careless with this mighty deliverance from our sins?  And you took hold of this message of deliverance as soon as you heard it preached for the sake of the Lord.  Indeed, it was confirmed in all of us through understanding and being enlightened.

So what do you do now, if you have listened to the warnings coming to you directly from God through His word?  Some will harden their hearts and dismiss this message altogether.  Others will realize they have only been playing “church” and they don’t know salvation at all.  Many, like myself, will realize we have been stunted Believers, saved for decades but bearing stunted fruit.  This is the crossroads that will change the course of your life.  It’s time to get honest with yourself and get honest with God.  He knows it all anyway, so you might as well quit trying to hide it!  There is liberation in exposing your soul to God.  There is freedom in brokenness before the Lord.  Willingly throw open the doors of your heart!  Toss off the curtains that have veiled your soul.  Allow the shackles to fall that have kept you in bondage to the desires of your body.

2 Corinthians 13:5  Scrutinize yourselves.  Examine yourselves honestly to see if you belong to the truth, reliant upon Christ for salvation.  Test your heart.  Don't you acknowledge yourselves, that if it weren’t for Jesus, the Anointed One of God, being in you, you would be rejected?

Philippians 2:12  Therefore my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not just because I was among you, but now to a greater degree because of my being away; accomplish, see through, complete your own salvation amid exceeding terror, indeed, with trembling.

It’s time to die!

It’s time to die!

It’s time to throw off the raggedy old life of death we’ve wrapped ourselves in.  It’s time to discover that true life is living for God’s Anointed King.  It’s time to step into what God has desired for us from the beginning.  It’s time to become Might Warriors of Valor, achieving supernatural exploits for our King.  God never intended for the Body of Christ to be a 98-pound weakling!  God intended for us to live victorious lives.  God intended for the joy and love and power of our lives to convict the lost of their sins just by being in our presence!  

Deuteronomy 14:2  Certainly you are a sacred people set apart for Jehovah, the Lord your God.  Jehovah has chosen you to break apart from the crowd and be a special treasure gathered to Him; set apart with whosoever would gather together as a troop, employed in battle, arrayed against the earth.

It is no accident you are hearing this message today.  God is calling together a mighty Army, not to war against the lost, but to fight for the lost.  He is calling on you. 

Romans 12:1  I beg you emphatically brothers and sisters, through the mercy stretched out to you from God.  Yield your bodies as slaves, a living sacrifice, set apart for God, pure, blameless, consecrated, holy, fully pleasing to God.  Having received God’s grace, this is your reasonable and rational worship and divine service.

Rise up Mighty Warriors of Valor!

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