The very first thing that Holy Spirit did after filling Jesus was to take Him into the wilderness for 40 days.
Jesus had just seen Holy Spirit descend on Him in the form of a dove and heard the voice of Heavenly Father say, “You are my beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.” It may seem strange or unusual to us but the express purpose of taking Jesus into the wilderness was to be tempted by the devil. Jesus had heard Father say, “You are my beloved Son;” at the end of 40 days without eating He heard the devil say, “If You are the Son of God command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answer to the devil sets the tone for dealing with our enemy for all time: “It is written, ‘That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Jesus spoke the word of God to defeat the temptations of the devil. In fact, in the Revelation of John He is envisioned with a sharp double-edged sword coming from His mouth.

The newly enlisted soldier is prepared by Holy Spirit to do exactly what Jesus did when faced with temptation. After the soldier is enlisted there is always a period of training in a secure facility. Since we are drawn into a love relationship with Father through Jesus the training we experience is in the use of weapons of a spiritual nature rather than weapons of hate or physical combat. We are immediately shown that our salvation in Christ protects our minds and hearts. There is a sense of rightness with God that gives us a new boldness to pray and relate to Him in a very intimate way. Our sense of faith allows us to face daily encounters with evil in a powerful, overcoming way. At the same time this new relationship with our Commander in Chief is preparing us to speak with excitement and joy about what God has done for us
through His Son, Jesus.  

The familiar Psalm 23 is a compact illustration  of what God does in our lives to prepare us for combat. It may seem strange to think of sheep as warriors but we really are like sheep following a shepherd while simultaneously becoming a mighty army that can overcome the world. In this famous Psalm that is often quoted at funerals because of the theme of overcoming through the, “valley of the shadow of death,” we find that the sheep starts out in a secure location grazing on green grass and drinking still waters. We are in a perfect place, a secure place, a place of peace. This corresponds to our initial faith step of entering into a love relationship with Father through Jesus.

Quickly, however, we are led in “paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” We are being led to higher ground because the summer winds will soon dry up the green grass and the still waters. If we are to survive we must be taken to the high pastures on the tablelands or mountain plateaus. In order to get there it is necessary to travel through a mountain pass that has many dangers. We are safe through this, “valley of the shadow of death” because we keep our eye on the shepherd and follow Him closely. He anoints our heads with oil; representative of Holy Spirit, of course; and guides us with discipline and teaching (the rod and staff). We emerge from this dark valley to experience the feast on the high tablelands and enjoy this feast even in the presence of enemies still lurking about. The end of the Psalm is the declaration that we are fully prepared to live eternally with God, the ultimate Good Shepherd.

Our preparation is to become more and more intimately acquainted with God through Jesus Christ in the power of Holy Spirit. The Word of God, the Bible, becomes the love letter from God constantly showing us how much we are loved. The Holy Spirit then takes the words of the Word and causes them to come out of our mouths in answer to the temptations of the enemy. Furthermore, Holy Spirit guides us by bringing the words of Jesus to our minds so that each day we are enabled to live according to the Law of Love. 

 This illustration is taken from Psalm 23 from the Point of View of a Shepherd by W. Phillip Keller.

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The JourneyPreparation for camping would involve planning the route; deciding on places that would be good for camping; packing tents, sleeping bags, food, and other supplies; consulting maps of the camping area; and in all ways prepare for a safe, enjoyable trip. To prepare for the spiritual journey of life there needs to be more dilegence than for a camping trip. There are far more obstacles in life than in a camping weekend. Let's look at the preparations necessary to make our spiritual lives successful....

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The Warrior

Warrior gloved handThe idea of warfare does not immediately come to mind when contemplating the life of Jesus Christ.
However, His life and teaching encompasses the attitude of the warrior in the cause of peace. Not only was Jesus willing to die to establish peace and joy and righteousness; He asked us to be willing to die also. We, too, have been enlisted in a battle that rages around us in an unseen world. Are we prepared to fight?
When a soldier goes into battle he or she is equipped with armor and supplied with the best weapons and material. Communication with the leader of the platoon and division is of paramount importance. The General of the Army is in direct control at all times with all of the affairs of the engagement. During training and preparation the soldier goes through rigorous physical preparation. Furthermore, the education and training of leadership is considered of greatest priority. Military schools have been established to educate future officers. After education these women and men then are promoted into vital positions of leadership because they have exhibited skill, resourcefulness, and potential. Ultimately, this preparation and education produces high ranking officers who are able to successfully lead the troops. 
In the context of the Church, the Christian community, and the kingdom of God we often go into battle with the greatest possible potential for failure that can be imagined. We go into the fight unprepared and uninformed. In fact, most of us in the Church have not even been informed that there is a battle. We have been led to the conclusion that we are to struggle with our personal fears and problems on an emotional and psychological level. Yet, there is a spiritual battle all around us and we are in that battle.
When we become aware of the battle we can then prepare to win the battle. First, we win the battle in our personal lives. Then we are prepared to help others with the battle that they are experiencing. Our Commander in Chief has provided all of the weapons necessary including communications equipment. As we engage in the battle in our own lives and prepare to help others we will learn how to win peace; joy will become second nature in all we do; and a sense of right standing before God will become a reality.

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