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Monday, October 1, 2012

This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru

                            "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing thru..."

                                                   (Words of a well-known spiritual song)

From time to time I like to present a lesson based upon songs that we sing. Today I'm going to use two hymns that we're all familiar with and a new song that I just heard for the first time the other day. The two hymns are "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "This World Is Not My Home." The new song that I mentioned is a beautiful song entitled: "Foreign Land."

Let me just start with the new one and tell you a little about it which will tell you what inspired it to be written. It's a song about soldiers who gave their lives overseas, who died in service to their country, in a "foreign land." It truly is a beautifully written and performed song, but I'd like to cite to you just a few words of it that will serve as a lead-in to our lesson.

One line of the song goes like this: "Countless souls who give their lives on 'Foreign Land." Can't we take these words and see a spiritual lesson within them? I think that we can and I'm going to do my best to present it in a way that you can see it also and here's how I'm going to do it.

My first point is: all Christians are soldiers. We've all enlisted (volunteered) in the army of God, led by our King, Jesus Christ. Several scriptures use the analogy of warfare to describe the adversarial situation that ever goes on between God's army and Satan and his army. Our "tour of duty" is the accountable years of our lives here on battlefield earth.

Here are a few passages to show what I mean about the Gospel's analogy to Christian warfare. In 2Cor. 10:3-4 we're told that, even though we "walk in the flesh" we do not "wage war according to the flesh." That our weapons are not of the "carnal" or fleshly kind, but are even better because they are of "Divine Power."

To get more specific as to our weaponry, we're told that we only have one offensive weapon at our disposal while in the field. In Eph. 6:12-17 is found the oft-quoted passage regarding the "whole armor of God." Every item mentioned there, with the exception of one, is defensive in nature. Only the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," the "Divine Power" with which we engage the enemy.

These thoughts should allow us to segue into a brief connection to one of our old, familiar hymns and allow me to tie the words of the song "Foreign Land" to this point of the lesson. You see, this earth, this world is not our home. Our souls are here in a "foreign land" in the service of our King. And this is where we'll die in that service.

It doesn't matter what special talent/s we've been blessed with, we're expected to serve, use them, to the best of our ability. Sort of in keeping with last week's editorial wherein we said that God doesn't have a "second string," neither does He have "reserve troops." We're all on the front lines at all times. And, we all operate under the same set of orders.

At this point I'd like to point out a big difference between fleshly warfare and spiritual warfare and that difference is this: not ALL earthly soldiers die in their service to their country but, ALL Christian soldiers die in their service. We do not have an "Honorable Discharge" after X amount of years of service. Our enlistment is for the duration of our Christian life. When we come to the end of our enlistment, if we've "faithfully" served, then we'll receive the reward promised as shown in these scriptures: Matt. 10:22, Heb. 3:6 & 14, 1Pet. 1:9 and Rev. 2:10. There are others but, these should be sufficient.

A thought about our fellow soldiers leads me to our third song and final hymn: "Onward Christian Soldiers." Allow me to, just briefly, tell you a little about this famous old hymn.

One would think that by the nature of it being put to music in a "march beat" that it would have originated as an "army song." Or, maybe as a "battle song." If one thought that, they'd be wrong. The writer of this song was a minister in England by the name of Sabine Baring-Gould and he wrote it in 1864.

The inspiration for the song might surprise you as it originated as a children's marching song. It was customary on a particular day of the year for the Sunday School kids of his village to walk, in procession, to a nearby village for a church outing. Baring-Gould thought that they should have a song to sing as they marched so, in one evening, he penned the words to this song.

In order to tie this song into the subject line of our lesson today, I'd like you to note some words from the 3rd verse of the song: "Brothers we are treading where the saints have trod." Ever think about the import of those words? If not, here's what I thought about in regards to them.

We are the present army of God occupying the battlefield. The current soldiers serving the cause in this ongoing war against "the wiles of the devil." Ever consider our connection to the battles and the lives of our former, fellow soldiers? Those valiant, faithful brethren who have "fought their good fight" and "finished their course," their enlistment, if you will. More to the lesson; those who have died in the course of their service in this "foreign land." God bless them for their service and their example to us still engaged in the "fight."

One last little thought for today and I'll shut up. One of the things standard to armies is their "standards." Their battle flag or their "colors." In a sense, returning to the words of our last hymn, we find identified there the "standard," the "colors" of our Christian army: "With the cross of Jesus going on before."

Ron Covey


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