The people of God are Brethren, we are family, we are His family. Whoever does the Will of the Father, are Jesus' and the Father's family. We are bound together in battle, under the leadership of the Captain of our Salvation. The battles are not finished yet, there are sufferings yet to come, but the Family of God that bands together, are prepared by Christ Jesus through the sufferings, to go to war with the True and Faithful as the armies of Heaven. What will this time bring, this time we have between now and the time of the Final Battle ? ....What we decide to make of it.
A Band of Brethren by Craig Clark Freeland, Michigan December 3, 2022
So in the last, a couple of messages that I've given, more or less focused on the millennium, and what we will be doing and what it will be like for those that we will be working with. Today, I want to focus on something a bit different. But what? Well, I'm going focus on our journey getting there. And I know that's kind of wide open, right? I mean that doesn't say much. So, I thought, maybe to help get us focused in the right direction today, I want to review a few messages that I've given over the past two years.
In December of 2020, I began my message like this “2020 worst year ever” And then went on to say, “I know that there are a lot of people who feel like that”. And I mentioned that I had received a note from someone the other day, and part of it said, “I never want to look back at it”. Referring to the past year. I am sure that some of you are feeling the same way. And for some of you, it would probably be the worst year ever. Every one of us has had some difficult times this year. So, let's fast forward to my message of December 2021. I reviewed a few things from 2020. And then said this, “So what does that make 2021?” An even ‘worseter’ year or the ‘worstest’ year ever? [Laughter by Mr. Clark and the congregation.] I know what they're not words, but I think you get the meaning of that.
Think about what all we have experienced this year, so again, speaking of 2021. In the announcements that day, I had mentioned “two more deaths in our members, families.
We have all suffered loss just this year. We have had we have lost husbands, fathers, mothers, siblings, aunts, and uncles. And I said some of you came close to death yourselves. Not to mention other health issues and other trials. There are heart problems, back problems, knee pain, there are things people are suffering through that they don't even know what is causing it. There is anxiety and other mental, physical, and spiritual problems people are suffering with.”
And then there is the pandemic. So, I said last year in 2020. “At this time, people were optimistic that it would be over with in 2021. But today, people hope that there is a possibility that things will get better in 2022. But I don't think they're all that optimistic”.
So then, in January of this year in 2022 I gave a message about looking forward. And again, I want to read a few things from the introduction to that message. So I said “Last year had its ups and downs. Every year does. Sometimes there are more ups than downs and sometimes it is the opposite.”
And I then moved on. I said “The real question is, what do we see in the future? What will 2022 be like? The reality is that we don't know exactly do we? Unless God miraculously shows us somehow we can only speculate. And the truth is that sometimes even when God has provided a vision of what is to come, we don't really understand all the details, do we? All know, at least in general, what lies ahead. We see patterns, we know that things are going to get bad or worse. When? That's really the question we want an answer to. And that is one of the things that the apostles asked some 2000 years ago or so. What will it be like, and when will it happen? And we still want to know those things. And while Jesus gave the disciples some answers, answers that we read and wonder about, we still don't know all of the details.” And then I said, “That's okay.” So, my message in January  was not about prophecy. I said, “I want to talk about something else.” And I did want to look ahead with a different focus. And so I asked another question, “What is 2022 going to be like? And ask that question again?” And the answer was, “What we decide to make of it! Because let's face it, what our future looks like is really up to us! ” So I then mentioned a book that I had been given and had started reading a little bit before I gave that message. The book is titled QBQ, The Question Behind the Question, it was written by John Miller. And as I did back in January, I want to read just a short section, from page 11 of that book, chapter one, A Picture of Personal Accountability. It says, “It's a sad fact that when most of us are faced with a frustration or challenge of some kind, our initial reaction tends to be negative, and defensive. And the first questions that occur to us are IQs, or Incorrect Questions.” He goes on to say “The good news is this; that moment of frustration also presents us with a tremendous opportunity to contribute. And the QBQ or the question behind the question, can help us take advantage of it? The moment the IQs pop into our heads, we have a choice. We can either accept the:”Yeah. When are we going to get more help around here?” Or reject them. choosing instead to ask better, more accountable questions, such as, “What can I do to make a difference? And how can I support the team?”
And then I gave the definition QBQ or the question behind the question. “It is a tool that enables individuals to practice personal accountability by making better choices in the moment.”
And that message was about personal accountability. Which includes asking God for the help that we need when we need it.
I want to read just a bit more from what I said in that message. This was something that I did towards the end, and I said “In the spirit of asking and personal accountability, I want to start wrapping things up with a couple of questions and some things you might want to think about. They are not aimed at anyone else, but me.
-What will 2020 to bring? What we decide to make of it.
-What am I going to do? I can choose to follow God. I can choose to love God. I can choose to love my neighbor. I can choose to help those who need help. I can choose how I react to whatever happens. I can choose how I communicate with others. I can choose to be ‘present’, whether at services or in other ways. Who do I choose to be with?
I have heard people say no one would want to come to my place. It's too far. It's not this or it's not that. But maybe you should just ask, do you choose to be with the same people all the time? Or do you choose to spend time with everyone? Do you know everyone? Do you always sit with the same people? Do you always fellowship with the same group? Do you always spend your time with the same people?
Now in a lot of ways, 2022 has not been much better than 2020 or 2021, for a lot of people. But how have you reacted? And maybe more importantly, why do we have to go through all these things?
Today, we're going to look at one possible reason.
Now I know that some of you have seen the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. I've talked to a few of you about it. Now for those of you who don't know what it is, I'm going to read a description of it. And I can't remember if this came from their website or somewhere else, but it says:
“Band of Brothers it's a 2001 American war drama miniseries based on historian Stephen F. Ambrose's, 1992, nonfiction book of the same name. The series dramatizes the history of Easy Company, second battalion 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st airborne division from jump training in the United States, through its participation in major actions in Europe, up until Japan's capitulation and the end of World War Two the events are based on Ambrose's research and recorded interviews with Easy Company veterans.”
And, in a lot of ways the book in the mini-series focus on certain individuals and quite a bit on major Richard “Dick” Winters. He was with Easy Company from the beginning, starting as a second lieutenant, and ending the war as a major and responsible not only for easy company, but all of the second battalion of the 506 pair of troop infantry regiment, 101st airborne division.
Now recently, I had the opportunity to listen to Major Dick Winters memoirs. It was a book that he wrote with, I think, some somebody else but it was Beyond Band of Brothers, The war Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. I wanted to read the publisher's summary of the book.
It starts by saying “In war, great commanders lead soldiers into hell, to do the impossible. They were called Easy Company. But their mission was never easy. Immortalized as the Band of Brothers they suffered huge casualties, while liberating Europe, and an unparalleled record of bravery under fire. Dick Winters led them through the Battle of the Bulge. The attack on Foy, where Easy Company reached its breaking point, and finally into Germany, by which time each member had been wounded. Outside Munich, they liberated an SS death camp, and captured Berchtesgaden, Hitler's Alpine retreat.
Beyond Band of Brothers, is winters memoir based on his wartime diary, but it also includes his comrades’ untold stories. Only Winters was present from the activation of Easy Company until the war’s end. This is their story told in his words for the first time.”
How is this important? And what does it have to do with why we face the things that we do? That's what we're going to try and answer.
Now, I've never served in the military. I know some of you here have.
And I do work with a few veterans and deal with veterans on a fairly regular basis at work. Fact, I was at a single-company job fair, or a hiring event. Pretty big, big event at the Dow Event Center a few years ago, we were representing some training that we are in partnership with that company on and we had booth and we were set up next to their veteran’s representatives. And so, we got talking to them, kind of after we got set up and before everybody started coming. And one of the men there said something that has stuck with me is that “I can always tell if someone is a vet or not. There is something about them that is different. And sometimes it takes one to know one.”
Now, as I mentioned earlier, I've never served, let alone bonded with other soldiers in a foxhole. But I have seen enough who have to understand that there is a special bond between them that cannot be shared with those who have not been there. And the book clearly showed this. These men that Dick Winters served with, and especially those who were there at the beginning were his brothers for the rest of their lives. These men lived together, they suffered together and many of them died together. Easy Company suffered 150% casualty rate over the course of the war. And as I mentioned earlier, there is not there was not one of the men who was there at the end that had not been at least wounded along the way.
They understood each other's strengths and weaknesses. They knew what the other would do in any given circumstance. And through all that they went through, from training to the battlefield, they learned to trust one another, especially their leader.
As I listened to the book. I realized something I may not have served in the military, but I too, am at war. And so are all of you. And we are in this war together.
We have an enemy don't we? Satan the Devil. Let's turn to 1 Peter 5: 8. There is quite a bit in the Bible about our enemy and being at war. We're going to look a little bit of that Today, but in 1 Peter 5: 8. it says, Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary… And the word that is translated as adversary here, is defined by Thayer’s Greek Definitions as an “opponent in a lawsuit’, or as an ‘adversary’ or ‘enemy’. Strong's adds, specifically ‘Satan’, as ‘the arch enemy’. 1 Peter 5: 8. So be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
We have an enemy! I think we all know that. And we are in the middle of a spiritual battle, a spiritual war. Let's read a bit about that in Ephesians 6.
Because here, we're told not only that we are in the middle of this spiritual battle, but we need to be prepared for it, to recognize, and understand that we are, and to be ready for that war and those battles that come.
Ephesians 6:10-17 Paul writes, Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day. And having done all to stand, stand, therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet, with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked ones, And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
We are in the middle of that battle, that war! Many of the trials that are part of that war, whether they are brought on by Satan or not, he will use every opportunity he can to try and separate us from God. So, it doesn't really matter where the trial comes from does it? We're still at war! And we need all the help and support and strength we can get.
Turn to 2 Corinthians 2:10-1.
See, we need to be aware of who our enemy is. We need to know what he what that enemy is like. That's the only way that we can really be prepared to understand those things.
2 Cor 2:10. So here, Paul writes, Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ,
I think that's interesting, because it puts us with everybody else around us. And even if somebody does something wrong to us, maybe they're influenced by our enemy to do so. It says,
2 Cor 2:10-11 So here, Paul writes, Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
He's going to do everything that he can in any way to get to us, and to those around us.
Over a few pages in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15. We learn a little bit more about that enemy and the way he works. We're just jumping into the middle of this but capturing the part that we really need to focus on right now.
2 Cor 11:14-15, and no wonder for Satan himself, transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
We always have to be on guard, don't we? We need to be aware. We need to test everything, prove everything. Make sure where that spirit is coming from.
Now, just as we see, men serving together in battles, a bond like nowhere else. We too, who are in a spiritual battle every day, should bond like nothing else.
Not only are we at war, we need to think that way. And we need to trust each other that way, we need to learn every bit that we can about one another so that we can help and we can gain the help that we need from one another. But we have something that most men don't. We are also bonded together through God's Holy Spirit. So how much closer, how much better bonds can we have with one another, i we're willing, if we take the time, if we want to do that?
I want to take a few moments and review some scriptures that talk about being brothers. I want to start in Proverbs, Proverbs 18. I think this gets at the heart of it. Why those men became this Band of Brothers who had a relationship for the rest of their lives, like they had with no others.
Proverbs 18:24, it says, A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
You know, there are some of us here who have family who are in the church. And we can have incredibly strong relationships with them. But there are others that don't. And even though some of us have family, some of you are even closer than our physical family. You're here. We're with you every day.
And that's a good thing. We need each other. We have to have that kind of a relationship.
Let's go to Matthew 5 next. Middle of the Sermon on the Mount, we're going to look at a few verses here.
Matthew 5:21-24 Jesus Christ speaking, teaching his disciples, He says You have heard that it was said to those who hold You shall not murder and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whoever is angry with his brother or without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother Raca, shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says you fool shall be in danger of hellfire. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you.
Right here I am giving a gift to God my brother's not happy with me for something, says leave your gift there before the altar and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Alright, the implication is if we've got problems with one another, God doesn't care what we're giving to him. Because we need to take care of that relationship. That's how important our brothers are to us.
Matthew chapter 12, we move forward a bit. And again, we're kind of jumping into things here, there was a lot going on at the beginning of the chapter, we're going to read verses 46 through 50.
Where again, there's a group of people here. And he'd been teaching and healing and says,
Matt 12:46-50 while he was still talking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and brothers stood outside…
So His physical family are outside, seeking to speak with Him,
…then one said to him, Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside and seeking to speak with you. But he answered and said to the one who told him who is my mother, and who are my brothers. And he stretched out his hand toward his disciples and said, Here are my mother, and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.
We are family, His family and our own family together.
I don't know how many times Paul refers to church members, and especially those that he traveled and work directly with his brothers. We see that in Romans, in 1 and 2 Corinthians, in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. 1 Timothy, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, and Hebrews. As do James, Peter and John.
So, there's a lot about brothers, in the faith.
I want to explore that a bit more detail by turning to First John. We're going to we're going to start in 1 John 2 There's a lot that John has to say, in this regard.
1 John 2:9-10 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
Do you think it's important to care for one another?
1 John 3:7-8 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous, right as Jesus Christ is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning, for His purpose, the Son of God. God was in for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Then down in verse 10, it says in this, the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest. Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God. Nor is he who does not love his brother.
We can do everything right, and not love our brother. That counts for a whole lot more, doesn't it?
Verse 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning that we should love one another.
Verse 14, we know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death, whoever hates his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love because he laid down his life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brother.
Verse 18, My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed, and in truth. And by this, we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
1 John 4:20-21 John continues, he says, If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God must love his brother also. Non negotiable.
1 John 5:16-17 We really see some responsibility here, it says, If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin, which does not lead to death, he will ask, and he will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is the sin leading to death, I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin, not leading to death.
We have a responsibility to our brother. It's hard to point out somebody's sin when they don't see it, isn't it? We don't want to do that. Instead, we want to tell somebody else about it. And hope that they'll tell them. It's not easy. But that's love for the brother. Right?
I mean, we're not going to go back to Matthew [18:]. But there's a whole section there that talks about what we're supposed to do to help our brother when they sin against us. And it isn't to go tell everybody else. So we've looked at quite a few different passages that talk about brothers.
Do you know how many verses there are in the New Testament alone that talk about brethren, because we really haven't dealt with that at all. I was specifically looking at things that talk more about brothers… but brethren, takes it to a whole different level.
There are 191 verses, at least in the New King James Version, that include brethren in them. I'll let you do your own study on that one.
I want to shift gears just a little bit, thought. I mentioned something about leaders, briefly earlier. So, I want to talk about our leader for just a moment. Because Jesus Christ, He's not only God, He's not only our Savior. But He is our Commanding Officer. He is the Captain of our Salvation.
Hebrews 2:9-11. I think we need to really look at what it says here, because there's a lot of detail and a lot of information.
Hebrews 2:9-11. it says, but we see Jesus. Right? And we know that he was with God, and He was God. And all things were created by Him. Through Him.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
Yes, absolutely. He is our Savior. Our Creator and our Savior.
It goes on to say For it was fitting for him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things and bringing many sons to glory.
Our Commanding Officer wants us to succeed, doesn't He? He wants us to come through to the end, to victory.
For it was fitting for him for whom are all things and by whom are all things in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect, through sufferings,
Even He suffered for a reason. He learned from it. It bonded us together.
Verse 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one
for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.
It wouldn't be the same if he didn't understand completely what we go through, and He suffered so much more for all of us, so that we can be one, bound together in this spiritual war, and we will be victorious because of Him.
Let's go back to Luke for a minute. Luke 10. Here, Jesus talks a little bit about that enemy, Satan and the power that He gives us to deal with it.
Luke 10:18-19, And he said to them, to his disciples, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
It sounds like paradise doesn't it? We can do anything and not get hurt. We know that that's not exactly the case, don't we? But will be in the end.
Verse 20 Now, nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
That's our goal, isn't it? That's what victory is all about. To overcome our enemy, to win the war, to be there with Jesus Christ, and God the Father.
Earlier I read the publishers summary of the book Beyond Band of Brothers, the War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. I want to read just the first sentence again? It says:
“In war, great commanders lead soldiers into hell to do the impossible.”
That's exactly what Jesus Christ does with us, isn't it? Those soldiers that were part of the Easy Company would have done anything that their captain asked of them. Because they trusted him. And they knew that he was looking out for them the best that he could.
How much more so can we follow Jesus Christ anywhere?
We might die. We are going to suffer. But He has the power to raise us up to give us, not only our life back, but eternal life.
There is no commander greater than Jesus Christ. He is the Captain of our Salvation. And we cannot ask for a better leader. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what the best thing for us is. Often we don't like it. And we don't know it. But he does. And He calls us His friends and brethren.
I want you to turn to Revelation 19. Because our war is not done yet. And it won't be done for quite a while. But we can never change. We can never not follow our Commander, our Captain, our Leader. And here in Revelation 19. We see in the future that that's exactly what we will do.
John writes, Rev 19:11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
See, Jesus Christ is not afraid to go to war; at the right time, for the right reasons.
Verse 12-13 His eyes were like a flame of fire and on his head, where many crowns he had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with the robe dipped in blood and His name is called the Word of God.
What is the Sword?
Verse 14 and the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
I want to follow Him into battle. Isn't that where we all want to be? He is our leader and He is going to lead from the front. And He will be victorious. And He will make sure that we are as well.
I began this message by talking about the mess of the last three years, and how difficult it has been for so many. Then asked, “Why do we have to go through these things?” I hope that this has given you at least one reason.
It is through being at war, suffering through trials, especially when we face them together with our brethren that we can grow. Individually and Collectively.
As we just read even Jesus Christ learned through the things that He suffered!
I want to conclude by reading one more passage. We're going to go back to 1 Peter 5. We read verse 8 earlier, I want to read verses 8-11.
1Peter 5:8-11 Peter says, Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him.
Right, we're at war. We need to fight against our enemy!
Verse 9-10 Resist Him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But May the God of all grace who called us to his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
There's a lot we have to go through. But we'll get there. All these things are going to help us to be what God wants us to be and He knows exactly what we need to get there.
1Pet 5:11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.