At Your Command
Introduction: Matthew 6:25-33
Proposition:Jesus commands us not to worry each day for our basic needs but to,instead, be about our daily spiritual duties.
I.RECOGNIZE HIS INTEGRITY (by)
A.Obey(ing) His Commands
B.Perform(ing) All Your Duties in an Attitude of Trust
II.RECOGNIZE HIS HIGH PURPOSE (by)
A. Striving for The Kingdom of God
B. Striving for His Righteousness
Conclusion:Jesus has promised us that if we will commit ourselves wholly to the Kingdom of God that all our basic needs will be provided.
AT YOUR COMMAND
I remember my first day of basic training. Standing in one of several lines to come.
Hurry up and wait. And the demands: March this way. Eat that way. Left face. Right face.
Double time! Talk this way. Memorize this. Read that. Sign here. Stand there. Move it Move
it Move it! Don’t move a muscle! Sound off!! Be Quiet!
And in that moment so much seemed unfair...unnecessary... troublesome...burdensome.
I remember standing in line...heel to toe with the one in front and behind me...wearing
nothing but a pair of boxers and the skin God gave me...Nose buried in the “smart book”
memorizing the three general orders:
The first still rings in my ears. I hear it whenever I walk through long corridors...or see
soldiers in uniform... or pass a military vehicle on the highway...
“I will obey my special orders and perform all my duties in a military manner.”
What demands they placed on us then. What impossible, frustrating demands.
What we didn’t see amid the murmuring...and the wailing...and gnashing of teeth...and
the shower of our long youthful hair falling in torrents to the cold, highly shined, tile
below...were the demands we placed on them -- “the powers that be”...
What we couldn’t see through our agony and regret was that every line...every moment...
every inconvenience... provided us with something to eat,clothing, housing, a salary, education
benefits, medical benefits, innoculations, vaccinations, a job skill...
The demands were not impossible at all. We were free to become soldiers. Free to
excel... free to grow... The demands we thought were too heavy for a man to bear were not heavy
at all --- because every basic human need was provided for us. From that moment on we had
only one mission to dedicate ourselves to: Obey our special orders...and Perform all our duties in
a military manner. Our only concern was to become soldiers.
Matthew 6: 25-33
In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have
followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence the supreme
quality of a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real
success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, on a
football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find
him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity,
he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other.
The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower (Bits
& Pieces, September 15, 1994, Page 4)
No one can serve a master faithfully unless he trusts that master fully. Any authority that
demonstrates an inability to make good on the expectations of command are over-run. It is the
stuff mutinies are made of -- the arsenic in the sugar of labor unions -- the wedge of mistrust in
marriage -- the treatise of traitors:
Early in our American History we read of a young man at 14
who ran away from home and fought in the French and Indian War.
At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he joined the American
army as a colonel and in 1775 shared a command with Ethan Allen in
the capture of Ticonderoga. Later he led 1000 men into Canada
where he fought in the battle of Quebec. His courage in battle won
him a promotion to brigadier general. His visage should grace our
money, institutions bear his name, his genius studied by military
strategists and young officers. But something went wrong.
Thoughts of compromise ate away at his patriotic zeal. Difficulties at
home with a wife who loved her England and in-laws with great
British affluence took their toll on his reasoning. He looked around
to see Washington’s rag-tag army of derserting farmers in good
weather and the ill-equipped, starving, freezing faithful in the
winter. Soon the unthinkable happened. He offered his services to
the British, and in 1780 devised a plan to surrender West Point to
British control. Today, instead of being remembered as a natitonal
hero, Benedict Arnold is synonymous with "traitor."
Today in the Word, June, 1990, p. 10
General Arnold was not the coward we remember him as. Rather, he was a man under
conviction. Desperate. Convinced that he was on the losing side. When the leadership failed to
come through with adequate provisions, pay, and weaponry, his faith wained. If he was afraid at
all, it was a fear of being hung as a traitor to the crown for foolishly placing his loyalty in a new
government that could not meet the responsibilities of command.
No one can serve a master faithfully unless he trusts that master fully.
The soldier can function only when his most basic needs are met. He will only fight
when he believes in the integrity and the high purpose of his command.
Remember the Gulf War? Jihad or not -- starving Iraqi soldiers surrendered in mass to
the advancing American troops.
Standing in formation outside the basic training barracks that would become my home for
16 weeks...standing at attention within my platoon... 10 long and 5 wide...We were a group of
men who had just surrendered our individuality. Turning in our civilian clothes and donning the
Battle Dress Uniform symbolized our determined trust in that governmental machine known as
the United States Army. We gave up our indepedence to serve a greater good -- we were the
embodiment of Article 1, section 8, clauses 12-16 of the Constitution of the United States of
America... And we did so because we believed in the integrity of the government to fulfill its part
in our contracts of enlistment.
Hear the words of Christ as he addresses his disciples, his enlistees into the Kingdom of
God -- V. 25 “...Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about
your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
Difficult words. It flies in the face of every God-given survival instinct. It is a challenge.
It is a challenge to recognize His integrity. He’s forcing the question...Do you believe in the
integrity of Christ? Would you put your faith in a kingdom not of this world? Can you trust a
King not seen on earth for almost 2,000 years?
Some will not... can not... or won’t... Others are saying to themselves, “I will” and make
themselves a liar at every daily crisis....But if you would answer “yes” to those difficult
questions, how can you prove it?
You can prove your belief in His integrity by Obeying His Commands and by Performing
All Your Spiritual Duties with an Attitude of Trust.
The pace at which we wage war has increased exponentially in this century. The rate at
which a battle develops is a constant source of frustration to the modern war fighter because it
moves faster still than any modern means of communication. A scary thought when we think of
the speed of fiber optics and satellite communications. Where once we engaged in conflicts like
one recorded in history known as the Hundred Years War, now we begin and finish entire
campaigns in a hundred hours.
Where once military discipline mostly meant movement and facing commands into a seen
enemy, and the fortitude to pull a trigger at the command “fire!” Today, ground troops engage
the enemy at 3, 5, or even 8,000 meters... for an infantry man his closest comrade may be 50 to
100 meters away...For a tank, his closest wing-man 250 to 500 meters away...We fight blind. We
fight fast. Operation orders must be performed as second nature with a sense of extreme
urgency. There is no time for discussion or second-guessing...there is no individual view of how
the battle develops to inspire trust or affirm the wisdom of a decision. For that soldier there is no
time to be concerned about who’s bringing dinner...fresh water...munitions. His duty is to secure
a fighting position...dig a fox hole... draw a sector sketch...defend a line...engage an advancing
enemy. For the soldier there is only one way to demonstrate belief in the integrity of the
command --- Obey your orders --- Perform with an attitude of trust.
For the Christian who likewise fights blind against unseen principalities and powers of
darkness in high places, who trusts in the power and inspiration of Holy Scripture in the absence
of audible direction from the Most High, and who serves unconditionally a King who sits on no
earthly throne there is only one way to demonstrate unwavering faith -- Obey His Commands
fully and Perform All Your Spiritual Duties in an attitude of Trust. Give yourself wholly to that
mission. Focus your energies on those things above. Dedicate your waking hours to the Will
and the Direction of the Father so much as you understand them to be... Be about the work of the
Kingdom...Dinner’s on the way.
I remember our first day in our new apartment here in the Springs. Savings wiped out
by travel...first months’ rent and deposit. Clothes and furniture still in storage hundreds of miles
away. Groceries were supposed to be paid for by money available on our credit card...but when I
called to check the available balance -- there was none. An error on the account had blocked
access to only money resource we had.
Fear...anxiety swept over us. But we were in the center of God’s will. Moving in
obedience. Before we could even commit the matter to prayer...a knock on the door... an
invitation to dinner...and if that were not enough...a box of groceries on our doorstep when we
V. 31and 32: “...Do not worry saying, What will we eat? or What will we drink? or What
will we wear?... Indeed your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
Dinner’s on the way...
Dinner time. A knock comes to the door of a small, middle-class home in Moore,
Oklahoma. It’s mid-April in 1988 --- just a few weeks till I graduate from High School -- when
my recruiter comes to our door...
He’s come to explain to my parents the same things he’s explained to me -- all the things
the Army will do for me...All the things Uncle Sam can give me...Hoping for a signature....
You see, I’m 17. Can’t wait till July when I’ll be 18. I’m like a horse chomping at the
bit... ready to run...
My parents listen to the green-suited salesman weave his web...I’m watching his brass
sparkle under the kitchen lights...staring at the medals pinned to his chest...wondering...how do I
get one of those??
“He’ll see the world...Have a career...Skilled training in technical fields....Money for
college...Physical Fitness...Medical and Educational Benefits....”
My eyes grow wide with every zero he adds to the dollar amounts I’ll earn and bonus’ I’ll
receive...My dad’s brow...remains unmoved... He is silent...Unstirred. Till at last he breaks the
silence and asks:
“What will he have to give. What will he have to do to get all of this..?”
While I begged for beads and trinkets -- my father was counting the cost...
“How many years?” “Can he choose his post?” “Can he lose the benefits?” “How can
they be lost?”
And what is the cost for so generous a provision from God? What is required of us in this
fantastic covenant? Just what are the Spiritual Duties we are commanded to perform with a
trusting attitude? What are the general orders for soldiers in the Kingdom of God?
V.33 “...Strive first for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things
will be added to you as well.”
We know He is faithful and just. We have dedicated our very lives to the Kingdom based
on our belief in the integrity of God’s Word and our Salvation. But have we counted the cost?
Just what does the contract require of us? Are we willing to stand for what IT stands for?
No one follows blindly for long. Sooner or later we choose to own or disown the vision
of our leaders. If we do not own the mission as our own there can be no commitment -- no
fulfillment of purpose.
Just what is God’s High Purpose?
His purpose is the salvation of all men...The building of the Kingdom... But are you
willing to work for it? To search for it? To strive for it? Struggle... Suffer...Be persecuted... or
Die for it? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to the see the Kingdom of God?
V.33 “Seek First”... “Strive First”
Are you willing to make it first priority in your life? Above all else? Above a pension?
Above a salary? Above fame? Above a friendship...a family? Does that sound politically
incorrect? If so, consider everyone you know who received national or international praise or
reward --- try to name one that did not sacrifice every waking hour, every dime, every ounce of
strength and moral fortitude to the search for a solution, or for a cause steeped in Higher
Purpose: A zoologist revered by fellow scientists because she spent her finest years living with
and studying apes in the mountains...A pacifist protester in India who sacrificed nourishment and
his life to send a message to the world...Every explorer who mapped the world...Every activist
who fought injustice...Every early alchemist who discovered a cure...Mother Theresa...
Now, name one person whose position brought them fame and fortune, wealth and
affluence who can hold a candle to the respect owed those you’ve just brought to mind...Neither
basketball player nor President -- though talented, educated or brilliant -- can claim the
admiration we give to those who sacrifice it all for a universal Higher Purpose -- a greater good
benefitting far more than just the one.
Can we offer any less to the Almighty God who equips us for every good work and whose
High Purpose is the Salvation of all mankind? The work of Redemption, that cure for the wages
of sin, is no less important for the benefit of all men than a cure for the HIV virus. But will we
say to our God that the work of the Kingdom-- His Will -- His Higher Purpose-- is less worthy of
selfless dedication...less worthy of sacrifice than the purposes we motivate ourselves to do? God
help us. Strive first for the Kingdom of God...
...And His Righteousness.
Righteousness? What’s that? A big word thrown around by bee-hived hair-do-ed church
ladies and Bible-thumping preachers. It usually means something that you don’t do that I do that
makes you holier than me...
We have no idea what it means. And don’t really care if we are or not... We have not
only lost sight of Jesus’ idea of righteousness but laugh at any Biblical notion of
righteousness...In the words of an insightful Christian, “Our god is the conventional
righteousness of the society to which we belong.
Righteousness. Mis-used...misunderstood... and a pity... because it is the second general
rule of the Christian soldier. We can simplify its connotation by saying “right-living.” But in
our post-modern world of relativism we had best define it as the Scripture defines it... “His
Righteousness.” “Right-living” according to God’s Code of Conduct.
“Conduct un-becoming a soldier.” “Conduct un-becoming an officer.” Words we have
heard in the news quite often this decade....Indiscretions of the Sergeant Major of the Army... the
TailHook scandal...The adulterous affair between a female officer and her married enlisted
lover...Not to mention the cases that never make the news, tabloid TV, or the Monday Night
made-for-TV Movies: Child Abuse, Spouse Abuse, Drug Abuse, Alcoholism...
The Military has a Code of Conduct...perhaps one of the last institutions in America to
promote and enforce a series of mandated values...And this code covers every situation a soldier
might find himself in...There is a code of conduct for combat... for garrison... for the soldier
taken as Prisoner of War...It is a series of principles designed to dictate what actions are
appropriate under every circumstance... and its conditioning begins in basic training...found in
the words of that first general order -- “and perform all my duties in a military manner.”
Likewise, the soldiers of the Cross have a similar charge to conduct themselves in a
We are commanded to revere the Law and live by its standards...Hold fast to the words of
Christ: Love the Lord your God with all your heart...and love your neighbor as yourself... Know
that we ought to strive for Godly perfection... that is, that righteousness by the Law...Allow the
Word of God and the Holy Spirit to produce in you a Christian Code of Conduct written on your
heart. Do what is good. Abstain from what is evil.
But take comfort when you fall...and you will fall...in that righteousness by faith... And
what is that righteousness? In the words of the prophet Jeremiah...Him who we call The Lord
Our Righteousness... take comfort in the grace given to us at Calvary...that wondrous justifying
work that becomes our Salvation...our redemption from ungodliness.
Said the great Christian author, Oswald Chambers:
“Righteousness must never be made to mean less than a guiltless position in the presence
of justice and right. God justifies me by my supernatural faith in Him, but it is my just walk that
proves Him just in saving me; if I do not walk in the life of faith, I am a slander to God...
‘Except your righteousness shall exceed’ [that of the Pharisees. Those are Jesus’ words
in Chapter 5] -- not be different from but ‘exceed’...we have to be all they are and more...We
have to be right in our external behavior, but we have to be right, and righter in our internal
behavior. We have to be right in our words and actions but we have to be right [also] in our
thoughts and feelings...All our righteousness is as filthy rags unless it is the blazing holiness of
Jesus in us uniting us with Him until we see nothing but Jesus first, Jesus second, and Jesus
In striving for His Righteousness and striving first and foremost for the Kingdom of God
we recognize the High Purpose of our Great Commander. His purpose becomes our own. His
integrity is affirmed to us as He provides our most basic needs. Remember He is the one with
cattle on a thousand hills...The span of His hand is the Heavens... The author of all
Creation...Everything that is belongs to Him...
The message here is mission... The promise is provision...Soldiers of the Cross -- AT HIS
Jesus commands us not to worry each day for those essential needs, but to instead, devote
ourselves wholeheartedly...urgently...sacrificially... to the building of the Kingdom and to
righteous living. His promise to us is that if we commit ourselves to His High Purpose trusting
in His divine Integrity, He will faithfully take on the responsibilities of command...providing for
your every need... And He knows your every need --- even before you ask.