God Trains Our Hands for War
As Christians, we know we’re in a war. Sometimes, though, it can seem like the battle is between us and the clock. We’re busy. We’re tired, and it feels like we just don’t have enough time or energy to get things done in a day — much less in the week, month, or year we have before we look up and realize that another one of those is gone as well. We tell ourselves that something’s got to give, so we look at our schedules and start to prioritize. Unfortunately, for many Christians, the first things we start to cut when things get tough are the very things God uses when He trains our hands for war.
Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.”Psalm 144:1
Lessons From World War 1
During the first world war, men were conscripted for service. That meant that joining the military wasn’t optional. Healthy men between certain ages and of certain occupations were simply told to report for duty. With no experience, they had to be trained in a very short amount of time. Rigorous exercises taught them to march, follow commands, use weapons, and even perform a specialized job duty. God does something similar when He trains our hands for war.
We Must Learn to March – Attend Church
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”Hebrews 10:25
When soldiers march, they walk in step with others using regular, measured steps. This takes a commitment to practice working as a team. It also requires noticing the movements of others and changing one’s own movements accordingly. The benefit of marching in unison is that it boosts the confidence of soldiers and intimidates the enemy.
As Christians, we were never meant to live in isolation. We need the community and support of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We give when others need our help, and we accept help when we are the ones in need. Yes, we can watch sermons online, sing praises with the radio, and read the Bible in our closets. But none of it is a substitute for gathering with other believers in corporate worship. We need our brothers and sisters, and they need to be able to count on us to be there for them. Even more than that, we need the Lord. He promises to be with us any time even two or three are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20).
We Must Learn to Follow Commands – Pray and Listen
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”John 10:27
Military leaders are put into position for a reason. They have more experience and training than regular soldiers, so they take responsibility for those they lead. Soldiers are taught both simple and complex commands and to understand the action expected of them in return. They learn to obey without question because in war the wrong decisions can mean the difference between life and death.
Jesus is the commander in our spiritual war. With all the noise of the word outside and even our own thoughts inside, it takes time to even be able to recognize His voice when He speaks. For that, we must regularly spend time with Him in prayer and meditation on God’s Word. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” Think about it. When you talk to someone, you typically look at him/her. Focusing our attention on our Heavenly Father allows us to tune in to hear Him. Once we learn His voice, it’s just a matter of disciplining ourselves to do the things He tells us to do (which will never contradict the Bible).
We Must Learn to Use Our Weapon – Study the Bible
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”Ephesians 6:17
Weapons can be complicated. No matter if we’re talking about a musket from the Civil War or the most modern M4 machine gun, weapons must be learned. Soldiers aren’t just taught how to handle and aim, but they are taught how to take care of their equipment from cleaning to preparing to storing.
The Bible is our one offensive weapon against the spiritual wickedness that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. It’s our sword. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” But it’s not enough to have a Bible or even to read it. We must study the Bible, meditate on it, and take care to apply it to our lives. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” When we submit to God and His Word, the enemy has to flee (James 4:7).
We Must Learn Our Positions – Use Your Spiritual Gifts
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.”1 Corinthians 12:4-5
In war time, many soldiers specialized their skills to hold positions of benefit to the whole military. Some handled the wounded, some worked on vehicles used in transport, some prepared meals, and some would pilot airplanes or captain ships. Even on the battlefield itself, soldiers were placed in formation based on the strengths they had and/or skills they learned. Everyone contributed in the best way he/she could.
There are 16 different spiritual gifts listed in the three Bible passages where they are mentioned (Romans 12:6–8, 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, and 1 Corinthians 12:28). The Holy Spirit imparts these gifts to us so we can serve and encourage others. Our specialization allows us to benefit the Body of Christ while fulfilling our life’s purpose and God’s will in our lives. Sometimes these can be tied to ministries, in which case the Holy Spirit will both train and empower us to operate in the field where He calls us to be. In the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, we are reminded to use the gifts God has given us for the benefit of the Kingdom of God.
Know What NOT to Cut
When pressures from work, family, and home start to build and time for rest dwindles, we can find ourselves looking around for places to cut before burnout or breakdown occurs. But sleeping in on Sunday, skipping prayer and Bible reading, and neglecting the ministry or mission field in which we are placed just can’t be options. Although unseen, the spiritual battle we are in is always raging and is a matter of life and death. We need to keep our swords sharp and our ears in tune with our Master’s voice. We also need to play our part in the Body of Christ. In this way we submit ourselves to God so he will train our hands for war.
If you like articles about spiritual warfare, try Spiritual Warfare: A Defeated Foe. Or, try In Our Spiritual Battle, the Defil Has Cookies. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email in-box. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.