Soldiers and Victory

Decisive Victory

On September 6, 1863, forty-eight Confederate soldiers, commanded by Lieutenant Richard “Dick” Dowling (who was only twenty-five years old), waited for the Union invasion of Texas on the muddy banks of Sabine Pass. The Union had sent four gunboats, and seventeen transport ships that contained 1500 troops. Dowling and his men were holed up in a few ramparts made of mud. They called these mud barricades Fort Griffin and although they were not made from the most costly fort material, they still stand today. Dowling’s men were not professional soldiers. They were ordinary working men. However, they had practiced to fight, and they were ready. The Union boats attacked, but their shells could not penetrate the solid walls of Fort Griffin. The Union soldiers tried to land, but they could not for they sunk up to their knees in mud. The Union gunboats moved closer to the fort. This was their mistake. Lt. Dowling gave the order to fire and one Union gunboat was destroyed. Upon seeing this, one of the other gunboats flew the white flag, however another was persistent. It continued to attack the fort. Dowling’s men fired upon this vessel and sunk it. And even though the barrels of their guns were so hot they blistered their hands, they continued. And soon, the captain of the gunboat surrendered. Lt. Dowling accepted his surrender. Forty-eight non-professional soldiers had defeated four gunboats and seventeen transport ships containing 1500 men. They had captured two gunboats, 350 men and wounded or killed over 100 federal soldiers. It was a decisive victory. This battle was the biggest upset of the Civil War. Look at some of the lessons we learn.

Are you one of God's soldiers committed to victory?

Are you one of God’s soldiers committed to victory?

1. The number of people involved in a conflict does not itself determine the outcome. Forty-eight men destroyed two Union gunboats, killed or wounded over 100 men and captured close to 350 men. 2. Preparation is necessary to win the battle. These men probably never expected Union soldiers to come their way, but they prepared for that day, whether they expected it or not. 3. A solid, defendable stronghold is necessary for protection from the enemy. Although it was made of mud, sticks and concrete, Fort Griffin was solid and defendable. This stronghold provided these men with protection and safety from the enemies’ projectiles. 4. Perseverance and steadfastness are necessary qualities of victorious soldiers. Lt. Dowling did not send attack as soon as he saw the Union boats coming, instead, he played cards and patiently waited for the enemy to make the first mistake. 5. A person does not have to be a “professional” to put up a victorious defense. The men of Fort Griffin were regular everyday workers. They were not professional soldiers. However, they did not let that stop them. They went ahead and fought like soldiers. The bullets they fired were just as real as the “professional” soldier’s bullets.

Notice too that the Bible contains many great “upsets” from which we can learn these same lessons. Remember Joseph (Genesis chapters 38-50)? Remember Moses and the children of Israel (Exodus chapters 1-14)? Remember Gideon and his 300 soldiers (Judges chapter 7)? And what about David when he defeated Goliath (1 Samuel chapter 17) and Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego (Daniel 3) and Mordecai (The book of Esther)? And there are many more which are not as well known. However, we can see the above five principles involved in these situations. Now, the New Testament Christian soldier is also concerned about these principles. The Christian soldier knows that he will be in the minority (Matt.7:13,14). The Christian soldier knows that he must prepare for spiritual battles yet to come (2 Tim.2:15,16; Eph.6:15). The Christian soldier knows that the faith is his solid (Heb.11:1), defendable (1 Peter 3:15), stronghold and is able to protect him from the fiery projectiles of Satan (Eph.6:16). The Christian soldier knows that he must be patient, steadfast, and persevering (Heb.12:1). And the Christian soldier knows that he does not necessarily need to be a “professional” preacher, or a graduate of this university or that, in order to victoriously defend the word of God. Truth will ring just as clear in the ears of honest hearts whether it be taught by a man with a wall full of degrees or by a small country farmer (Paul was a graduate of the Rabbinical School [Phillipians 3:5] but Peter was a fisherman [Mark 1:16]).

The Bible teaches that each and every Christian must be concerned about spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18). Further, the principles above are just some of the principles that regulate the life of the Christian soldier as he engages in spiritual warfare. As we have seen, a person does not need to be a “scholar” to be a Christian soldier. However, he must love the truth, apply it to his life, and be willing to defend it. In doing this, he can become a warrior of the truth. And together, applying the principles of the Christian soldier to our lives, God’s army can win decisive victories for the truth.

Brethren, if there is one thing the church needs now, the church needs people who are willing to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3); the church needs spiritual warriors; the church needs Christian soldiers.

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Do You Keep His Commandments?

Do You Keep His Commandments?

John 14:21

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

All who profess to follow Christ will unhesitatingly state that they love God.  That’s a given, and from a certain perspective it’s a good thing.  It speaks of their sincerity and of a heart-felt gratitude they have towards their Creator.

Do You Keep His Commandments?

Do You Keep His Commandments?

Yet, so many of us profess to love God…while unrepentantly doing things that grieve him, anger him, and displease him.  Consider this…

  • We say we love God but we hardly ever open our Bibles.  Do you truly love someone if you’re not interested in learning what they have to say?
  • We say we love God but we hardly ever pray.  Do you truly love someone if you’re not interested in talking to them?
  • We say we love God but we choose to worship him according to what we think will please him rather than according to his will revealed to us in his Word.  Do you truly love someone if they ask you to give them a certain gift and instead you give them what you think they will like?
  • We say we love God but we then say he has saved us in a way which is foreign to how he has told us he saves us in his Word.  Do you truly love someone if you basically call them a liar, especially over something as important as your salvation?
  • We say we love God but we do not care enough about the souls for whom he sent his Son to die to share with them the gospel as he told us to do.  Do you truly love someone if you don’t care enough to do everything you can to save the person for whom they gave such a high sacrifice?

If we truly love God and his Son Jesus, we will obey their commandments.  And when we sin and fail them, we will repent and try again because we love them.  Otherwise, all we are doing is lying to them, to others, and to ourselves.

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Little Things Are Humongous

Little Things Are Humongous

The Bible is filled with emphasis on the little things we can so easily overlook. In recent weeks, we have mentioned Gideon’s small army, the little oil the widow of Zarephath shared with Elijah, Moses’ rod, the widow’s mites and the little “pegs” God used for His purposes. God does not need the grandeur of mortals to show His glory. He can use little things.

Little ants and laziness. America has largely become a nation of people who have become dependent on others instead of knowing the blessing of working hard and reaping the fruit of our labor. Yet, the Bible plainly says, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). America’s attitude of laziness was also part of the ancient world. Solomon said, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest” (Prov. 6:6-8). Wisdom comes from little things.

Little children and humility. The disciples of Jesus often struggled as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom. In one simple act, our Lord showed them the true path to greatness. “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly I say to you, unless you be converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matt. 18:2-3). Lazy people need to look at small ants and arrogant people need to look at small children.

Little garments and love. Hannah promised God that that she would give her firstborn child to Him (1 Sam. 1). After he was weaned, she brought Samuel and gave him to Eli, and only saw that child once each year. Hannah would “…make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year” (1 Sam. 2:18). What a treasure those little robes must have been. Every stitch made by his mother’s hand was a stitch of love. There are so many little things we can do for others to show them this same kind of love.

Little sips of water and His eyes. When we are reminded that God sees everything, some immediately think of His remembrance of idle words, hidden sins and angry words spoken to family members in our homes and in our cars. However, we must never overlook that He sees every cup of cold water given to others (Matt. 10:42). Remember the judgment scene in Matthew 25? He sees food prepared and taken to the least disciple; He sees visits we make to the sick, especially the least among us; and He sees our hospitality to the least among us. It is these little things we might overlook which determine whether we are on the right or left hand.

God, help us to see Your lessons in “little things.”

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