Chasing Victory

Chasing Victory

I John 5:4-5 (AMP) For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God]. Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

Yesterday. Oh my goodness! Where to begin and yet not bore you or even overwhelm you with the details. The only reason that I even dare to share it is to encourage someone who may be facing the same. His voice broke through the darkness like a huge hand shaking me violently from sleep, “Honey, it’s 6:30!” How can that be possible? I set the alarm. No, I didn’t. I must have forgotten. We got in late. Our routine not the same. Ugh! No Jesus for me this morning, or so I thought. Running through the paces of what had to be done over what my heart desired to do, I bypassed the study to grab the dog and wake up the girls. My poor little had quite a shaking the day before while tubing on the river. Her head slammed into the water and the pressure made her earache. Now her body was sore from the impact, no worse for wear but exhausted from a long weekend without much sleep. Work has been crazy. Do I stay home with her? Is she okay? What should I do? Why is this so hard? She gets up and begins to get ready so I do the same. My husband and I run over each other in our morning routine which is usually hours apart. I am struggling with my attitude. I have so much to do lingering from last week into today. It seems no matter how much I mark off the list more keeps piling up. Running around in a flurry, I remember that I need to change the sheets in the guest room. The laundry is piling up, too. I grab some frozen chicken for dinner and head for the shower. I have to leave in less than an hour. I promise the Lord that we will talk on the way to work. The long commute is good for quiet time with Jesus unless work meets you in the car with your office manager. My mind is racing and my heart is sinking. Lord, help me today. This day is going to be a booger. I feel it inside me. I hate days like this. “Lord, I need you!”

Arriving to work and reviewing the que, all the projects due that loom over my head present as a little black rain cloud. “God, I need you!” I grab the Bible out of my purse. Surely, there is a word for me somewhere in this little blue book. I read Ezekiel the first chapter. Let me summarize. God calls Ezekiel to bring a Word to the Children of Israel – a strong retort to stubborn people who will not listen. Okay, thanks Holy Spirit that is encouraging…no seriously I get what you are saying but I need to hear that you will rush in to help me today, calm my racing heart, ease my anxious mind, and still this chaotic day. Leaving around six, two hours later than the norm. I am so tired and drained as I crawl to the car. My brain is mush for lack of better terms. My job is not physically strenuous at all, but mentally it is brutal. Holding the steering wheel tight in my hands, I whisper, “God, I need you!” I call my husband to let him know I am late. Hinting at fast food, his disappointment clear, I decide to cook even though it’s getting dark. Let’s not forget that the taxes are due. I have to submit them tonight. The to-do list for tomorrow may not leave room so prudence says, “Now!” While dinner is cooking, I slide into my desk chair. The place where I seek Him, but now just keep doing. The sheets in the guest room still calling – in between dinner and taxes – I strip it and put them in the washer. The timer sounds from the oven and I rally the troops. Sitting around our table, I look at their faces missing the ones who are not there. Thankfulness floods my heart. I made it. We made it. I begin to think about the things that have gone right today. All the small victories won. All the challenges overcome. I am thankful. So I ask each one to share just one thing no matter how big or small they are thankful for, too. The tension breaks as our family meal begins… Lord, thank you for being so much greater than me.

Everyone born of God IS victorious and overcomes the world. It says, “Everyone.” There are no exceptions. If Christ lives in me, I am enough. If He lives in you, you are more than enough to overcome every challenge and temptation that comes your way. It is our continuing and persistent faith in Jesus that gives us victory every day. My strength is no match for the enemy. However, His Grace is enough. It is sufficient. It is exposed when my weakness leads me to the Cross and I exchange my inability for all of His Possibilities. We become victorious and overcome by believing in the Power of Jesus Christ and its potential in us. I didn’t do the things I normally do including spend a significant time in my study and prayer room. Discipline puts me in this place daily so that on those days when life comes hard and pressures are overwhelming – the Christ in me is enough. I believe not because I everyone is in my favor but on the simple and active belief that all things are working together for my good because Jesus Christ is alive and well inside me.

What does it mean to overcome? Jesus overcame the world. It would be a good idea to know what He did. Overcome means get the better of in a struggle. To conquer or defeat something. It means to prevail over or persist in one’s effort. It is to overwhelm or overpower the mind, will and emotions to hold on to our faith. It means to gain victory. Victory is just on the other side of overcoming. We must overpower that which is fighting against us to live in the constant state of winning that Christ promises. How do we overcome? We must fight for our faith despite the constant conflict with our flesh and relentless adversity by the enemy.

John 16:33 (AMP) I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

Jesus was honest. He did not sugarcoat the truth about life in this world. It’s going to be hard. Difficulties will rise up. Challenges will be faced. Temptations will greet us at every turn. It is not going to be an easy journey, just a worthwhile one. You will have “tribulation, distress and suffering” BUT be courageous, confident, undaunted and filled with joy. There is joy in Jesus Christ. What I failed to mention in my dissertation about yesterday is there was laughter. There were friends who encouraged me. Keep running! You’ll catch up. Jesus overcame the world. God is greater than my feelings. Many of the things, I give a high priority are not as important as I think compared to the more than I can think, imagine or ask (Ephesians 3:20) that the Lord is doing in me and through me at the very same time.

My conquest is accomplished. My victory abiding. I love these words so much today. They give validity to my hope that I hold so dearly and tightly to my chest. As if to let my beating heart, help revive it in tough times. Yet, I know that my hope is established by faith and not anything that I can do. I cannot boast of the breakthrough today. The kind of accomplishment that allows us to lay down and sleep in perfect peace even in the midst of crushing pressure and countless deadlines. Jesus keeps telling us these things, encouraging us to believe, empowering us to hang on because He is building, shaping and molding our heart to live in victory rather than chasing it all the time. He is filling us with more of His Spirit and the inexpressible joy that is evident in perfect peace. God is with us. He lives in us. We are victorious.

I John 4:4 (AMP) Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind]. 

It’s funny that these words of encouragement are sandwiched between warnings about false teaching. When I missed my quiet time in the Word this morning and did not go into my prayer closet, but conversed with the Lord on the go. I was tempted to take an invisible bat and beat myself in the head. I have to do this – I always do this – the Lord has instructed me to do this. No, He has simply asked me to follow Him wholeheartedly. All the “to do” things are of my own design. I believe that the enemy works on both sides. The world places a high demand on our time and attention. Sometimes the people in church can do the same thing. We must be faithful to the fellowship. We must “serve” the Lord and “do” the right things. Is this really the Voice of the Lord? Because His Word says that the “blessing of the Lord brings true riches and He adds no sorrow for it.” There was no more important place I went or task performed yesterday than to sit down with my family at the dinner table and join hands to pray. To speak our thankfulness to Jesus because no matter how difficult it was – we made it. Overcoming the world’s pressures and gaining victory over the enemy’s attack – our family sat together in the Presence of the Lord, filled with His Spirit, covered with grace and shared a meal together. We made it. It was in the moment of perfect peace that victory is secure. The knowing that God is with us – Immanuel and stopping because nothing is chasing us but His Unfailing Love and Goodness. It will find us if our heart and mind are set on Him.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (AMP) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Can I just encourage you a little today? You are victorious. You don’t have to chase victory or try to overcome. The Victor and Overcomer already lives in you. By trusting and believing that He is enough and continually pushing every care, worry, need or burden over to Him, it builds our faith into confident hope so on days when all hell breaks loose, nothing goes right, and everything seems to be falling apart – His Chaotic Love sweeps us up and envelopes us in perfect peace. The kind that our heart, mind, will and emotions can rest in even when our body is on the go. Life will continue to be full of temptation, pressure and responsibility. Jesus didn’t promise to take these challenges away but that in each one – His People overcome. Victory belongs to us if we choose to claim it, step in it and live in each day.

Psalm 117:2 (AMP) For His lovingkindness prevails over us [and we triumph and overcome through Him], and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

 

The Warrior

knight wearing armor and holding two-handed sword

Joel 3:9-11 (NLT) Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!

“God doesn’t give the hardest battles to His Toughest Soldiers, He creates the toughest soldiers through life’s hardest battles.” I believe this is absolutely true. Soldiers are developed in training, but warriors are produced in battle. This is contrary to the popular quote, “God gives His Hardest Battles to His Strongest Soldiers.” Forget this idea. Erase it from your brain. This is simply not true. Close but not quite. God has placed eternity in every human heart. It is our purpose in life to secure the Kingdom and arrive at our destination. It will be a fight to the finish to hang on to our faith and secure confident hope. The enemy is real. He is waging war on God’s Elect from the moment the first breath is taken. To believe that my strength is my own puts me at a great disadvantage. The potential within me is a tiny seed called faith. The one who hates me wants to take it from me and destroy it thereby killing me.

I do not mean to discourage anyone by these words but rather to encourage you. Those who feel like weaklings and failures of faith are usually the mightiest of all God’s Warriors. My strength comes from the Lord. The Power within me is Jesus Christ. His Spirit has been given me along with the potential to overcome. This great power is manifested in my utter weakness and humility before the Lord. He is the Warrior. (Exodus 15:3) His Name is Yahweh. Psalm 144:1-2 tells us that God trains our hands for war. He gives our fingers skill for the battle. He is also our loving ally and fortress who is the tower of safety, as well as our rescuer. He is my shield who makes the nations submit to me. There is really not much room for me in this picture except through submission and surrender to the Lord in the heat of the battle and midst of war.

2 Timothy 2:4-7 (NLT) Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you.” It is important to know what exactly the fight is all about. The enemy is the author of confusion. Many battles in the Old Testament ended abruptly when the enemy camp was thrown into a state of confusion. A military unit is only as strong as the commitment of each soldier to the mission or objection. Each man’s heart set on the same thing. They become so focused on the goal that the danger surrounding them blurs in the mindset of victory. Athletes are known for the same spirit. The battle faced each day is for faith. Will I hold tight to my faith in the Mighty Warrior enough to trust Him in the face of all opposition? Will I overcome in my weakness submitted to His Grace? The only thing worth fighting for on a daily basis is faith. This is the act of endurance that allows us to reach the end of this life and receive victorious redemption through Jesus Christ. “I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

“Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life.” This is probably our biggest distraction. We get caught up in pointless pursuits rather than purposeful practice. We are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. We wage war on the unseen world, against the mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) Know your enemy today. It is not the people in life who oppose you but the enemy who uses whatever means necessary to secure your defeat.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus Christ overcame the world. “It is finished” meant it was finished. The battle over the war won for us. Now, we fight to believe it. To believe that the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ secured a place for us in His Kingdom so now we are Sons and Daughters of God. The family of unity formed by the Body of Christ binds us as God’s Army ready to fight until death for our faith. Do you believe? Jesus gave us His Spirit to help our unbelief. He knows the battles we face, the struggles of life, the heartache involved and exactly what is needed to overcome. He offers it to us in the form of His Spirit who trains us for the war of life.

John 14:16-18 (NLT) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

Jesus promised to send down His Spirit to us. When He said, “It is finished” with His Last Breath on earth – He did just that releasing His Spirit to all mankind. Now we have an Advocate who teaches us and trains those who are willing to become mighty warriors of the Lord. Not every soldier is a warrior. In 2 Samuel 24, there was a census that noted over a million capable warriors, yet in 2 Samuel 23, only 37 make the list of the mighty men. The Presence of the Holy Spirit within us empowers us to be good soldiers and fight for our faith. It is the total development of that soldier through successful engagements that make mighty warriors. We all have such potential but only few will answer the call to grow from simple soldiers to mighty warriors.

In Joel 3, warriors are called forth. Let’s go back a chapter to Joel 2. Who do we find? The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people. Jesus has given us His Spirit with the intent of intensifying our faith, growing our confidence in God that becomes courage. The Spirit becomes our sword in the heat of battle. His Word our weapon. Faith is the shield that keeps us safe when the enemy attacks with all his fiery darts, lies and betrayal. It keeps us focused from distractions and busyness. We all have the potential to become mighty warriors but must be willing to fight for our faith to become one.

Judges 6:11-13 (NLT) Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

The Lord found Gideon hiding in a wine press threshing wheat so the enemy would not take it. He greeted Gideon, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you?” I imagine Gideon probably sarcastically chuckled a bit like Sarah’s laugh at the thought of pregnancy at 99. My current condition will never limit God’s Potential in my life unless I abandon faith. Faith makes every impossibility potential in my life. Gideon was ripe for productivity. He was about to advance from soldier to warrior even though he did not see it, feel like it, or even believe it. God called Gideon who He created Him to be not who He was.

Too often our circumstances and current condition are the thermometer of our faith rather than basing our life outcomes on the Word of God by faith. No soldier enters a battle or athlete a competition intent on losing. Faith is the mindset that in complete submission to Jesus Christ that we overcome every single time that leads us to victory. Doubt means I believe losing is an option. It implies that the Power of Christ within me is not enough. Confident hope produces courage that no matter what happens my victory is secure in the Lord both now and forever. It is not prideful, boastful or cocky just plain good old confidence that Christ is enough.

Gideon was a man. He was human. He asked the angel of the Lord to paraphrase, if I am so “mighty” why am I hiding in a winepress cowering in fear? Why is this happening to me if I have the Favor of God?” Why is life so hard? This life is temporary. The Kingdom is eternal. The Kingdom is taken by force. You must fight for your faith every day in order to enter the Kingdom. Your faith and confident hope becomes the light that leads other to victory. No solider becomes a warrior without acts of engagement and forays on the battlefield. To become a warrior means you must fight the war…and win. Why is this so important? “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.”

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When sharing the wonderful testimony of our son’s victory over cancer thanks be to God, many people say, “I don’t know how you did it” or “I couldn’t have made it through like you”. I immediately stop them. When the cancer diagnosis came it wasn’t the result of a questionnaire given us the choice to opt out of the battle. No it was satan’s best attempt to kill our son and the potential within him. With four relapses, each one threw away every bit of my self-confidence. The thought that I had the power to protect and save my own children destroyed my confidence as a mother. There was little of me left by the time – we entered the realm called hope. But it was there when God’s Grace finally became enough for me that I discovered I am not the strong one at all. My faith is the strength of my life. Faith in Jesus Christ that allows Him to take over when I cannot take another step, breathe another breath, do another thing or hold all the pieces of my broken heart. It is in that very moment that I discover Jesus is all that I need. It is through these times that soldiers become warriors not the other way around. I thought I was strong and self-sufficient along with being faithful. Total surrender to the Power of God is claimed in our absolute weakness apart from Him. This is the potential of the warrior hidden within. When against all odds, our response to the war cry of the enemy is that Christ is enough to overcome and claim victory. To fight for our faith above all other things. To advance the Kingdom at all costs. To care less about our life and more about eternal life.

Nothing can separate you from the Love of God today. He is our overwhelming victory. To engage this life in Christ will create a victorious lifestyle that makes you a warrior rather than just a well-trained soldier. These are the ones who thwart the enemy at every turn. The ones who race out to face the giant. The ones who against all odds persevere not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God within them. Are you a soldier or a warrior today? You can choose to advance anything you want to by faith. The Lord is calling His Warriors as He readies His Return. Will you answer the call?

Isaiah 13:2-3 (NLT) “Raise a signal flag on a bare hilltop. Call up an army against Babylon. Wave your hand to encourage them as they march into the palaces of the high and mighty. I, the Lord, have dedicated these soldiers for this task. Yes, I have called mighty warriors to express my anger, and they will rejoice when I am exalted.”

 

To Be A Champion

Confetti and trophy

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Can I encourage you a little bit today? To all those who are tired, weary, and on the verge of giving up, can I offer a little insight today? Does this race of faith seem just a little too long? Is endurance a longer word than you thought? Is persistence requiring patience you just do not have? Do not give up. Stay right where you are. You can be a champion. If Jesus Christ lives within you and eternity is etched on your heart, there is no fall to far, failure to fatal or loss to bad for you to be the victorious overcomer that the Lord has called you to be. In fact, champions are not winners all the time. Yes, you heard me correctly. It takes losses to be the lessons. It takes weakness to find new strength. It takes humility to overcome the pride that wages war against our flesh. You must breakdown fat to find muscle. You must have a broken heart to be saved.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us. What is slowing you down today? What is tripping you up? What is the obstacle that you named Goliath too big to overcome? Goliath came crashing down with a little stone marked faith planted square between the eyes. What are you hurling at that mountain refusing to move? Are you being tossed to and fro by the wind, waves and storm swirling around you? Endurance is needed for athletes to become champions. Persistence is the pays it forward for them to overcome losses to obtain the big win. Champions overcome failure to grab hold of victory. Failure does not make you a loser. Never trying again is what labels quitters. Jesus is our example. He was not a failure. The Lord never quit, but that didn’t mean in human form it was not a temptation. Jesus is our champion. He gives us the ability to be a champion, too!

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” What makes Jesus our champion? Dying on the Cross did not give Him that honor. If Jesus had died for our sin, and remained in the grave – He would not be a champion. What made Jesus our Champion is the fact that after He died – He did not stay in the grave but came walking out with the keys to death and the grave firmly in His Hand! This is our encouragement today. To fail a test, lose our way, or give in to sin now and again does not take away our potential to be overwhelmingly victorious in life. Grace would not be necessary if this were the case. God would not give us new mercy each day. Renewal, restoration and revival would not be promised if one pitfall was all it took to take away our victory. Those who endure to the end will be saved. They will obtain the crown of righteousness offered by our Champion – Jesus Christ. Somebody needs to hear that today. You are not defined by your past, your today, your failures, your shortcomings, your weakness or even devastating heartbreak – what makes you a champion is when you decide despite all things I am going get back up and do it again.

I Corinthians 9:25-27(NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Champions realize their purpose and capitalize on potential. Perseverance is an act of discipline. It is to push our mind, soul and body past the natural limitations of our flesh and decide that faith is our primary goal. Faith is never a natural thing but always dependent on the supernatural. It is all about what we cannot see, the highly unlikely outcome and even the impossible that is promised to us in God’s Word. It is the thing that makes us send away our Hagar and Ishmaels because God promised us Isaac. It is the determination to put away the things of this world to make room for His Kingdom. All athletes are disciplined in training. They set a goal in their heart long ago that is not dependent on their team but solely defined by a heart that refuses to quit and sees the glory of their goal. We must decide as believers what our true purpose is in Jesus Christ. What has He called you to do? What is your calling? Calling is not what you feel necessarily qualified to do. Purpose defines the potential of our life. It is in the commitment of our natural life to godly purpose in each step of every day that will bring it to life as we discipline our mind, soul and body to keep persevering and never give up on what God is doing in us and Christ died for us to accomplish.

Matthew 26:36-41 (NLT)  Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

I love that the Lord inspired this passage in the Word of God. We need to see the humanness of Christ in order to understand that Jesus is truly a valid example. He saw the future. He knew the agony not only of the physical nature of crucifixion, but the torture of each sin to be laid upon Him in that moment. His Father, God, was going to turn His Face from His Son. Every wretched disease would soon leave a strip down His Back. Jesus was God incarnate but His Flesh was real just like ours. His Body would feel every terrible torture that would be endured to set us free. He asked God, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken from me.” Jesus knows what it feels like to come to the end of self. He knows the feeling of weakness due to the oppression of flesh. It doesn’t matter how willing our spirit is to follow in His Footsteps, the weakness of our body will always try to stop us.

There are many athletes who must overcome weakness, pain and injury to become a champion. It is not the absence of such things that afford them the title but their mindset that no matter what they will give their all. They are persistent in training and strengthening of their body investing countless hours in training. They give up time with their family, friends, hobbies, and just loafing around to preparation. They endure insult and injury to play the game they love so much. Pain doesn’t stop them – they push through it willing to pay the price when it’s over. Champions see the potential and prize ahead of them and refuse to give up. They may be taken out of the game but a true champion will never leave the game willingly.

2 Corinthians 6-10 (NLT) For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

God has filled each human heart with purpose. It is marked eternity and labeled with the promise “made beautiful for its own time”. Champions pursue purpose. The potential to be the best is the drive and motivation of their heart. Where do you spend your time? What is the prevailing thought you strive for? What is life all about to you? When our passion, pursuit and purpose becomes the Kingdom it will change the pathway of our life. The Light in our heart is His Glory. It shines brightly in our brokenness and weakness as death gives way to life in us. With each step of faith – our purpose becomes more evident which means our opponent sets his sight on overtaking it. Nobody wants to play the loser. They want to play the champion to take away the crown of victory.

The enemy comes like a thief to steal, kill and destroy. His onslaught more pervasive when purpose begins to breakthrough sin, shame, doubt and disbelief. The moment you believe that you will overcome – is the second you gain the enemy’s full attention. He is going to pressure you to give up and attempt to perplex you by filling your mind with lies tempting you to stop the nonsense. A stealth predator it is not uncommon for him to wait until you are alone, feeling somewhat isolated, and vulnerable to try to separate you from others. Champions are hunted. When they get knocked down, they get back up. Endurance, perseverance, persistence and discipline cause flesh to suffer but with each conquest new life is produced in us. These are the qualities that define champions. Though they are pursued they do not stop because they see the prize and desire it more than anything.

John 16:1 (NLT) “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.

John 16:33 (NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

These are the words of Jesus before He ventured to the Cross. Before He felt the coldness of death and solitude of the grave. These were his parting words before marching straight into hell and taking back the Keys to the Kingdom which was about to hand to you. Jesus knew His Purpose. He was a champion. He won the victory over death and the grave. Super Bowl Sunday is just a little over a week away. We watched the division championships last weekend. I noticed that during the presentation of the trophy – it was not the most valuable player of the game, the quarterback or the coach who received it but in each case an elderly gentleman. The announcer would then acknowledge them as the owner of the team. He was not the one who engaged in the battle on the field, took a single hit, caught a pass or even kicked a field goal. He is the one who paid the price so each one of those players could pursue their passion and achieve their purpose.

Jesus paid it all. He overcame the world so our faith would be worth something. Our purpose is faith that produces such confident hope that we can give up pursuing lesser things and overcome in all things. My life “in Christ” can achieve its purpose. My heart will satisfied when eternity is mine. Until that time, I must remain in Christ who is my champion. I must follow His Example. He never quit. Jesus never gave up. He endured suffering, temptation, isolation and even death for me to have victory over all these things. It is up to me if I will join in. Will I choose life over death? Will I pick blessing over the curse? Will I let the Light of His Love show through my broken heart, dead dreams and failures until His Glory overtakes my life? I cannot give up and be a champion. I may lose a few, but I win it all if I persevere never losing faith but always reaching for hope.

“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Just to be clear, Jesus came to be a champion. He would secure victory over sin, death and the grave once and for all. What was the joy awaiting Him when Jesus stepped down from His Throne carefully placing His Crown on the seat to come to this world? He had all of Heaven. The only thing missing was you and me. He came to this earth for just one thing. His Treasure and Special Possession. He came for us. He left everything to have us with Him forever. You and me. Ordinary people who fall, fail and stray just about every day – but Jesus wanted us. He desired us above all things and gave up His Life to have us. Will I do the same? Will you?

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ became a champion for us because He loves us. He was committed to love us even to the death, but that wasn’t long enough so He overcame death to give us a crown of righteousness so we could live as champions with Him forever. Are you fulfilling your purpose? Do you know the true potential of your life? Jesus did and He came up out of the grave to give you the power to complete it. The rest is up to you. When you feel like you have fallen too far, you haven’t the Lord is there to pick you up. When you think you have gone too far, His Spirit will lead you right back. When you wonder if it is worth it, ask Jesus because He sure thought you were. Choose to persist, persevere, pursue and prevail in every situation because in our weakness His Power is perfect. If you don’t give up but endure by faith until the end, you will win every time. Discipline is painful but defeat is agonizing. Celebrate each victory no matter how small. It is one step closer to winning it all. You are a Champion. Jesus lives in you. Don’t give up on victory today. Hold tight to your faith for it is the key. Be confident in Your Hope because God hasn’t given up on you. The best is yet to come if you believe.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Sink or Swim

sink-or-swim

Matthew 14:28-31 (NLT) Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Greg Louganis climbed the high dive in the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul Korea with his eye on the prize. He had worked all his life to prepare for this one moment. As he took the jump that would make history catapulting into a reverse somersault dive something went terribly wrong. He did not clear the 3-meter springboard but instead hit his head during the rotation. I can still feel the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. People watching around the world gasped with a huge intake of breath waiting to see if the young man was injured. He did sustain a laceration to his head requiring stitches. It is a mark which is still there today. The greatest triumph of all time would soon occur but it was all up to him. In the moments following his failed execution, Greg Louganis had to decide if he would try it again. Less than 30 minutes after the accident, he climbed back up on the board and executed the best-scored dive of the day leading to a gold medal that would gain Louganis the title of best diver of all time. It provided a new definition of human strength and resilience. The agony of defeat loomed over the young diver’s head. He had to decide whether the defining moment would end his career in fear or become history-making courage that overcomes fear by faith. It’s moments like this that separate the greats from the fakes in life.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

The story of the famed diver would not have been historical if Greg Louganis had given up. In fact, if he had not hit his head on the board just before securing the gold medal, he would be like every other diver in the history of the sport. His name on a list somewhere or heralded poolside for his achievements but never heard around the world. He was considered a champion in a sport often not recognized in the big arenas. The moment, he triumphed over fear to do it one more time – everything changed for him. Now the world will forever recognize him as the athlete who triumphed over fear and failure to claim victory.

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away.” Peter was doing it for an eternal prize. The storm threatened the disciples. So afraid that they even believed the figure coming toward them on the water to be a ghost rather than the Lord. Peter had purpose in his heart that he was not aware of so he called out to Jesus from the boat. ““Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Jesus told the man to come. Peter was in training. His purpose and calling was not to survive the storm or become the first man next to Jesus to walk on water. The Lord was preparing him. Jesus saw the purpose God had instilled in him and knew it would take failure to discover faith. To be the man called him to be. Peter would have to sink not once but many times to get through the thick layers of flesh to the heart of the man. It is there that eternity and purpose would produce his victory.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” Every step of our natural life leads us to the purpose that God has for us. From the moment our first breath is drawn until the last one is taken, the Lord provides opportunity after opportunity to take hold of the confident hope that anchors our soul. It’s called faith. Faith produces confidence in God. It is not a one-time endeavor but a series of faith failures that produce the certainty needed to make hope secure. It is in such moments of doubt that gives us insight to the areas of disbelief in our life. If we do not see each step as destiny and consider the purpose within them, our life gospel to others might be compromised. The agony of defeat looms over us. Yet Christ died so that I might overcome disbelief, doubt, fear and failure to claim victory in my life and become a history-maker.

What about you? On the verge of giving up? God called you to this place so why are you failing? The Lord told you to come so why are you sinking? The weight of the heart that takes us under is doubt. It is disbelief. It is the very thing that hinders faith. It is the Goliath people face every day that seems too big to overcome. David didn’t meet Goliath first. He established a relationship with God during all those lonely nights in the fields caring for sheep. He overcame a lion and a bear before facing the giant that day. Each step ordained by God to prepare the King of Israel. You have a purpose far greater than the potential of natural strength. It is found in the eternity in our heart that collides with passion and persistence in our relentless pursuit of God. It cannot be denied and our flesh remains dissatisfied until it is firmly established in the natural as it is in the supernatural. How do we get there from here?

Matthew 16:13-19 (NLT) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

When Jesus began preaching, Simon Peter was the first disciple to answer the call – “Follow me.” One might discern immediately that he was a leader with an impetuous nature. He simply walked away from his business and family to follow this man called Jesus. (Matthew 4) Peter immediately responded to the call. Many of us do. We find our way into a church building or maybe born there and hear the gospel to which our heart responds. The Love of God so profound it sparks a desire to know Him and be known by Him. However, it is not in our initial calling that purpose is found. Jesus Christ our Savior says, “Whosoever will, let him come.” It is a just as you are message for those who are lost in the darkness of this world and dying in sin. He instantly applies grace. Many people, despite the religious banter, will live in this position of servant of God for the rest of their life. Struggling with sin and trying to keep their head above water. Salvation is all about grace. It is having just enough faith to believe that He is our Savior. The victory is secured for our life and purpose fulfilled when a person exchanges fear for faith and decides that He is Lord.

Jesus called Peter from his former life to embark on a new journey. He immediately got up and followed the Lord. When Jesus asked him, “But who do you say I am?” He was asking Peter despite the opinion of everyone else, who do YOU say that I am? “You are the Son of the Living God.” It was in this moment that God’s Purpose in this man was revealed through the Word, Jesus Christ. It was way bigger than his finite brain could perceive or his weak and wavering heart could accomplish in his current state. This revelation came after Peter sank. The fact that Peter had already failed once and fallen did not change God’s Call on his life.

Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. How important was Peter’s purpose? How significant this revelation? Peter would be a credible witness to thousands of people who at the sound of his voice would give their heart and life to Jesus Christ. They would be filled with His Spirit and triumph over sin. He was to be the first great preacher after Jesus leaves. He would establish the church and begin to knit together the body of believers that would become the Kingdom of God. However, if Peter did not overcome his fear to find faith – his preaching would most certainly be disqualified. To fall is human. To get up is faith. To stay down is ultimate failure.

Matthew 26:34-35 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

The test on the water followed by the true revelation of who Jesus is was only the beginning of his training. Peter would go through many trials to discover the true meaning of faith. Faith is essential. The Book of Hebrews is very informative when it comes to revelations of faith especially chapter 11. It begins with the definition of faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” How many times do we try to apply faith to the natural when it is intended for the supernatural? If you can see it, perceive it, do it, or attain it outside of Jesus Christ, it does not require faith. Faith is the deposit in us that connects heaven to earth and establishes Kingdom principles in our life. It is essential in our ability to overcome the powers, rulers and principalities of darkness set on robbing us of purpose, killing our faith, and stealing our destiny. We must have faith.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Men and women line the “Halls of Faith” in Chapter 11. People who could not give up on what they hoped for and overcame by their ability to believe by faith in an unseen God and His Word. Our ability to discover faith is perceived when against all odds – we overcome. Faith is not discovered in success but in failure. All the times, we mess up and God still loves us. All the dead ends that give way to destiny. Faith is a necessity far greater than human strength of ability. It takes us out of our comfort zone. It makes us face every fear and overcome it. It challenges us to climb higher mountains and to go through the deepest valley until we reach such confidence in God that no matter what happens in the natural – the supernatural is the very thing that dictates our next step.

Matthew 15:15-16 (NLT) Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.” “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked.

Peter had some things to overcome to become the rock that was ready to form the first church. The first was religion. Peter was a religious man. Raised a Jew, the new covenant that was coming challenged everything he knew about God. He couldn’t just eat anything or do anything because he was a Jew. The new covenant would do away with Jew and Gentile to produce only Children of God. There would be no more illegitimate children such as Ishmael. Abraham asked if the blessing could go to Ishmael because his faith too small to see Isaac. Ishmael was compromised faith that sought God’s Will man’s way. God’s Plan has always been for His Children to be legitimate so Jesus came to offer His Blood for all. Faith in Jesus Christ does away with religious doctrine but there are many religious spirits in the modern church today. Guidelines, rules, restrictions and mandates not set forth in the New Covenant but outlined to appease man’s need for control and inability to fully accept grace. Grace is all that matters. The full acceptance of God’s Grace that makes us fall in love with Jesus and desire His Presence.

Matthew 16:22-24 (NLT) But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I have to chuckle when I read this verse again. Peter told Jesus to prove who He was and how to do it. Jesus has told us to “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.Are you willing to spend the next 30 days praying this prayer without adding your own list to it? Faith in God is faith in His Word, His Way and His Will. Like Peter, we ask God to move in us and then tell Him exactly how to do it.

Peter requested of Jesus, “tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I’m still laughing because this is the desired mode of transportation for all people. Remember Moses calling out to God on behalf of the Children of Israel, the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army bearing down from the rear. What did God say? “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.” Maybe that is what the Lord is telling you today. Stop crying out to me and get moving. Peter wanted to get out of the boat but he didn’t want to get wet. He wanted to be dry and comfortable. The slaves of Egypt did not want to pay the price of freedom to become Servants of God. What if the thing keeping you in dissatisfaction, disappointment and disbelief is your inability to get your feet wet? Change is marked by the removal of comfort and confidence to embark on a new journey. If you desire change to move from failure to victory – you are going to be uncomfortable. It will be a challenge because human nature does not like change. It doesn’t care for the uncomfortable. It would rather remain in the known than take a chance on the unknown. Where are you today? Is it time to get moving?

Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT) Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Peter was challenged by grace. Forgiveness is huge in this journey of faith. It is removing expectation from all humans and focusing it on Jesus Christ. It means no matter how many people knock you down, talk about you, offend you, hurt you, betray you, or do the most heinous thing to you – you must forgive them simply because Christ has forgiven us. This eliminates the cause of rightness to replace it with righteousness. If your faith is landlocked, the cement shoes might be unforgiveness. Is it really worth it?

John 13:6-9 (NLT) When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

Peter had a pride problem. Pride is the backbone of every religious spirit haunting the church today. The idea that there is something we can do or be outside of the Word of God hawked as the Word but only manmade rules and regulations. We must shatter every bone of pride and selfishness in us to fully accept God’s Grace and answer His Call.

Luke 18:24-29 (NLT) When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God…”

Peter desired a natural return on a spiritual investment. If our motive for entering His Presence is His Hand, faith is not necessary for such endeavors. Faith makes the impossible possible. I can have earthly wealth simply by applying sowing and reaping principles to my life. If my desire is full satisfaction and completion in Jesus Christ, I must give up my desire for this world and the things of this world to be filled with more of Him. My desire must be for Christ alone. He must be that which I pursue in each step. When an earthly element restricts my ability to step out on faith, it is evidence of doubt and disbelief that God is able to supply my needs so that I will be complete lacking no good thing. It reveals dependency and trust in this world and not the God of the Universe.

Matthew 26:36-40 (NLT) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?

Peter was weak. It is in our weakness that His Power is made perfect. The moment that I realize I cannot be who God called me to be apart from Christ. Grace is for the weak not the strong. Peter was weak soon after his nap. He would do what he said he would never do. He would betray Jesus not once but three times to save his own skin. In one account, it says that on the third time his eyes met the Lord’s as he sat before his accusers being interrogated and tortured. I am pretty certain at that moment, Peter felt like a failure who was completely unworthy of God’s Grace and Salvation.

John 21:3-7 (NLT) Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 

Peter had fallen. Peter had failed. Peter was certain his future was now dead and gone. Peter went back to the only thing that he knew how to do a broken man. When he heard the Lord call to him from the shore, he knew His Voice. He knew that it was time to sink or swim. He wasn’t going to fall again. He would not miss this moment. Live or die – nothing would separate him from the Presence of His Savior again. So he didn’t ask the Lord, is it you? No now Peter knew the Voice of God. He didn’t ask him to help him walk on the water. Peter didn’t care if he got wet so he jumped in over his head. He put all his energy and effort in swimming to shore. Forget the boat? Forget the huge net full of fish? Peter finally understood that everything he wanted, needed, desired and hoped for was in Jesus Christ and nothing no inconvenience or discomfort would keep him from reaching him. Like Greg Louganis, he was going to win. He would triumph over fear. Peter decided that he would not miss this moment. He made it to shore. He found Jesus. Peter’s faith was established.

What about you? Where are you today? On the boat or in the storm. In the water, but holding on to the dock. You know what is in your heart and hands weighting you down. What is keeping you from letting go to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly? He knows exactly what it is and is doing His Part to reveal it to you, but if you are not willing to let go of all the things Peter did to acquire faith – you will not ever experience the soul satisfaction of those who finally do. The inexpressible joy of faith in action. The triumphant victory for those who overcome ever fear and failure holding tightly to faith without wavering secured by the anchor called hope. Are you sinking or swimming today? It is really up to you. The champions are those who face their fears and overcome failures. Jesus is our Champion and in Him our victory secure. You cannot experience His Power outside of weakness that relies on His Grace. Humbly bowing our life and its contents to Him fully and completely. In fact, we only find faith and trust in Jesus at the end of self. Are you willing to go there? Will you be a history maker? A risk taker? Faith will never be comfortable, fashionable or logical on the earth. But when it comes to Eternity and fulling one’s purpose, our calling in Christ – it will be worth it every time. Come on in! The water is fine!

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Be Victorious

Be Victorious

I John 5:3-5 (NIV) In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Come in close. I need to whisper this as not to get everyone riled up. Closer. There are just 64 days until football season kicks off. Hallelujah! This will be the first game of the regular college season and our family gets pumped for it every year. We love our home team. It’s a fun rivalry with other state teams. A little healthy competition is fun, right? We live in a competitive world. There are many things vying for our time, attention and energy. To have a favorite hobby or pastime is good, right? It is! God did not put us here to hate life. We are not designed or predestined to leave in agony nor defeat. When God put people on the planet, His Purpose was for them to have dominion and power. To walk in His Authority and oversee all. What happened? Somehow we lost it.

I love college football. It really is the only sport I watch or follow very closely at all. The other day our son came over to watch some soccer. I am not a soccer fan but he is a huge one. During the game, naturally I was cheering for his team. It was in the final minutes. He was complaining about the score and declaring it a loss. There were a couple minutes left just enough time for a come from behind victory which is exactly what happened. There is no worse feeling then leaving the stadium in defeat only to hear your team comeback and win on the radio driving away. What if you had stayed? What if you had waiting until the end? You would be celebrating with them. Do we give up too soon? Is that the problem? How many times have we been on the verge of breakthrough about to cross the finish line of faith and claim victory when we just gave up?

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Key words to look at in these statements include “everyone” which includes you, “faith” is needed to establish victory in our life overcoming the world and finally, you must “believe” that Jesus is the Son of God and overcomes the world. We must believe that victory belongs to us enough to have faith and believe that we will always overcome.

Matthew 16:17-19 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

There is a team from a neighboring city who are constant rivals. Due to the close proximity of campuses, there is a mix of fans in both cities. You can tell who their team is by the mascots and emblems on cars, clothes, and displayed proudly in many ways. There are special chants for each team. We have hand gestures that go along with it. A lot of time, energy and money is invested in supporting these college teams. I have to be very careful not to get too wrapped up in the hype because it creates emotional tension in me. Close your ears honey, but football is just a game. After the stadium is empty, the lights go off, the concessions close and the last car leaves – the win is forgotten moving on to the next engagement. In the grand scope of life, football is a hobby just entertainment.

 

The knowledge of who Jesus is coupled with the understanding that He is not only Savior but our Lord gives way to a life of victory after victory as we overcome the world. Not by might or by power but by God’s Spirit invested in us because we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and made Him our Lord. Jesus told Peter in that moment that He would be the foundation of His Church, the gates of Hell could overtake it. He was handing Peter the Keys to His Kingdom. He empowered Peter to bind and loose things. We have the same power living in us. Why are we not victorious? Do we know Jesus as Savior? Most reading this would probably say, “Yes.” Okay well, have you made Jesus Lord of your life? What if we invested the time, energy and resources in following Jesus that we do our favorite sport, hobby or even television show? The world offers many distractions and detours to steal our time, talent and treasure wasting it on lesser things that are meaningless. Jesus is simply inviting us to win. Not once in a while or by a fluke but to walk in victory.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is love. He is full of compassion and unfailing love for you and I no matter how we perform in life. His Love is unconditional. He cuts no one from His Team but offers endless abounding grace to us all through His Son, Jesus. The first key word “everyone” is important because God intends to make every single person who He created victorious. Our life and choices do not exempt us from victory. We are not the reason it is given. It is simply God’s Love being shared with us. He is all-powerful. No one can overcome Him or His Love for us. We must believe that there is nothing and no one who can separate us from the Love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Bible says that Jesus overcame the world. (John 16:33) We belong to Jesus. When we make Him the Lord of our life living a life of respect for His Authority and Power – He gives it to us. You cannot have His Power until you accept it. By grace are we saved through faith and not of ourselves, you cannot earn God’s Love or deserve it so stop trying and learn to accept it and live it. Things will begin to change. You will find little wins popping up unexpectedly as He begins to release His Power as we begin to surrender our life to His Love.

Hebrews 11:1 and 6 (NLT)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith is our life investment. It is when we decide to operate in the Love of God for our life so we put our faith and hope in what we cannot see. We put our faith in the Promises of God offered through the Sacrifice of Jesus and sealed in our heart by His Spirit. No one likes to lose. Athletes do not pour their blood, sweat and tears into training and playing without the thought of victory. We will invest our life in the things we deem most important to our happiness and fulfillment. Too often we choose comfort and compromise over confidence and commitment in Christ and wonder why we live dissatisfied and defeated lives. We must evaluate the things that we give our life especially our time to. Are they worthy of our faith and trust?

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (I Corinthians 9:25-27) I am not an athlete, but a few years back my husband and I began working out together at the local gym. I am a cardio girl. I generally work out on one of the machines like elliptical or treadmill. Again, I am not a trainer or instructor but I do know this in my careful observation. You cannot possibly be giving your all to your workout or fitness routine, if you are talking on your cellphone the whole time. The breath given in your conversation could add to that workout. Your focus is divided and void of concentration. I am a “leave it all on the field” kind of person who is fiercely competitive in all things good and bad. Maybe this is why we are not living victoriously lives. We are not invested in God but everything else all at one time. Could it be that we are not giving it our all but rather living double lives? Doing halfhearted things? Looking at too many things but not focused on one? Could it be that faith is a tiny seed so we must choose where to put it?

I must have faith that in Jesus Christ that I overcome in all things. I must live my life committed to this cause willing to endure to the end even if it is in the final seconds. I must give my all to Jesus every day. If I do, I will be victorious. It begins with Jesus and ends with Jesus everything else is meaningless according to Paul. I am beginning to agree as seeds of faith are beginning to manifest in victory. How about you? Are you due for a win?

I John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Do you believe that the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world? We must believe that God is Greater than any other adversary or opponent in our life vying for out time and attention. We must believe with our whole heart in order to walk from victory to victory. How do I know when I am success? His Glory fills my life. After all isn’t that what comes in worldly victory? The victor is glorified. My Victor is Jesus Christ and when I win He gets the glory! Because I live in Him and He lives in me that means I get to experience His Glory, too.

God will always be our source of victory. (Deuteronomy 20:4) He always has been and always will be. There is victory in His Name alone. His Victory was given to us when Jesus paid the price for all sin to extend God’s Grace becoming our Savior. Salvation frees us from our indebtedness so that we can live a life of victory. Victory is established in Jesus Christ. To share in His Glory – we must make Jesus Lord of our life. No one will invest their life in something or someone they do not believe in…would you?

Legendary football coach, Bobby Bowden, said, “Faith is the most important thing in the world to me. It’s the greatest strength I’ve had. It’s helped me through the hard times. You’re not going to win every one of your football games. I’ve always said I’m not going to make football my god. A lot of coaches put so much into coaching football games that they have nothing left.” Good advice. We invest our life in something. Why not faith? We need God’s Strength just to get through each day let alone win once in a while. Jesus overcame the world. Greater is He who lives in me. Through His Love, I have the potential to overcome the world and walk victorious through life based simply on the fact Jesus lives and He lives in me. What are you giving your life to? Those precious minutes that comprise each day. Is there anything left for Jesus? It is easy to make our passions and pursuits into tiny gods that demand our full attention. It is a choice to make Jesus our Lord and live in victory.

Philippians 3:14 (NIV) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Be Greater

Be Greater

I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

 

Need a pep talk today? Me too. Sometimes as believers who are constantly challenged to have greater faith and confident hope, our humanity becomes overwhelmed in the reality of the endeavor or gravity of the problem. Climbing the mountain, praying it will move, but not looking down leads us to a place greater than our courage. It is higher than our hope. It is massive compared to our motivation. If just for a moment we choose to look down, it is overwhelming. Paralyzing fear overtakes us. What if we fall? Oh, my dear but what if you fly?

 

I belong to God. I am His Child. I have already won the victory in every engagement I encounter. The Spirit of the Living God lives in me confirming these things. His Spirit is greater than any other spirit in the world today. My desire is to be greater to live in the realm of hope and never look back or peer down. I am only human so on those days that I am disobedient or rebel. You know those times that rather than looking at Jesus, my eyes are fixed on the wind and waves, I must choose to be greater. I am an overcomer hidden in a broken human form. God is alive and well inside of me looking for ways to manifest in my life. He pursues me with goodness and unfailing love just waiting for an opportunity to release it in my life. I must be greater. Isn’t this a contradiction? Not really.

 

John 3:30-31 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.

 

Does being greater contradict these verses? Not at all, it is confirmation of the transforming power of God and wonderworking power of the Jesus’ Blood. It implies that in laying down my pride and power over my existence that Christ in me will become greater which means every promise and purpose for my life can now be fulfilled just like He promised because I am no longer at enmity with God. Through right standing through the Grace of Jesus, I am free to become like Him. It is in the yielding of our life to the Lord that His Power is perfected in us and magnified through us. As I become less and less, Jesus becomes greater in my life.

 

The potter will always be greater than the clay. (Isaiah 29:16) Pride tells us otherwise as we decide to mold and shape our life into what we want it to be with a touch of Christ here and there. What happens is a misshapen, dysfunctional and non-useful life that cannot do what it sets out to do because of conflict. His Ways are not like mine. His Thoughts always higher. I can be greater but it begins by being less.

 

Luke 6:39-40 (NLT) Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.

 

I will never be greater than Jesus. The student cannot be greater than the teacher. But through understanding and knowledge turned to wisdom, the student can become like the teacher. There is a fine line here to be observed. Any time we think or believe that we can “do” something for God, we fall into the trap of self-perceived greatness which is called pride. If you think God needs you – you are wrong. The only power that you have over sin is Jesus Christ. He is the One who establishes our right-standing with God that allows us to enter the Kingdom. We cannot earn it in any way, shape or form. We must simply believe that He is greater in all things and seek to do His Will. God is greater than my feelings. (I John 3:20) It doesn’t matter how great I think I am. There is always that moment when I realize the error and folly in my thinking and come to the realization that I am nothing without Jesus.

 

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He did many things that Jesus would do. He said many of the same things. He even baptized like the Lord would do but only with water. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, of all who ever lived none is greater than John the Baptist.” Jesus admired John. But wait there is more, “Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!” Simply put, John had not made Heaven yet. According to the Matthew Henry Commentary, Jesus was simply pointing out that John was still just a man though he possessed the Power of God. His perfection would come in his acceptance to Heaven because only then could he worship, serve and love God as he should. We must advance the Kingdom of Heaven forcefully. Evil advances many ways. Pride is the root that claims victim inside the church and within congregations. Those who do not need, desire and pursue God’s Grace every single day are worthless to the Kingdom and live apart from it.

 

John 15:12-14 (NLT) This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. I must lay down my life to Jesus Christ to become greater than I am today. It is in the total sacrifice and surrender of self that His Grace becomes sufficient for me and His Power can work in me and through me every single day. It is not me exalting myself but in the exaltation of Christ that others see something of worth that they value and need. Laying down my life will never ever be comfortable. It is how we take up our cross and follow Jesus. To decide that this world holds nothing of worth for me but Kingdom has it all requires transformation and transportation to greater heights of faith and more deeper presence to secure our hope.

 

Psalm 71:20-21 (NLT) You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

 

Are you struggling today? Did you dare to look down or around and not you are scared that your faith has taken you too far? Is hope becoming a bit shaky and unstable? Good! It is in those times of God’s Gentle or Not-So-Gentle Undoing that we find more grace and become greater. His Power works best in our weakness. We must become weak to be made strong. It is when we come to the end of ourselves yet still manage to take one more step that our faith grows a little more and hope secures itself to Christ again.

 

2 Corinthians 2:7-8 (NLT)  Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life?

 

The Lord is inviting us to seek the greater glory that was promised to us. Knowledge of the Greatness of God calls us to do greater things. Solomon built a greater temple in the revelation of Greater God. (2 Chronicles 2:5-6) Haggai prophesied of an even greater temple that was coming. (Haggai 2:9) The greater temple is comprised of living stones attached to the Cornerstone who is Jesus Christ. To know the Greatness of God and choose to live in it is a harrowing task that yields the biggest reward. I must know that God is greater than any other god in order to operate in the fullness of such a revelation. (Psalm 135:5) Nathanael knew that Jesus was the Messiah instantly when Jesus told him that He saw the man sitting by the tree. Jesus went on to challenge Nathanael to take this little bit of faith and be greater. (John 1:50-51) What will it take for you to become greater today?

 

Hebrews 3:1-3 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house. But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

 

God’s Greatness lives in us and is looking for a way out. Jesus said that those who believe in Him would do greater things. Are you doing greater things? Are miracles happening around you? Do you find sin less enticing? Do you feel a tug in your gut when you fail or fall short? We belong to God. We are partners with Him for life. Jesus is our Bridegroom. We are to remain in Him and He will live in us. The Holy Spirit represents God’s Holy Inhabitation of His People. As we live to honor this partnership and glorify the Greatness of God something happens to us. Building a life based on the Greatness of God makes the Holy Spirit at home in us. As we continue to defy the enemy choosing to build rather than abandon or teardown, His Greatness is manifested in our life. It is then we discover that decreasing is not a bad thing because His Greatness is better than life. Jesus deserves all the glory and in exchange He makes us great.

 

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

 

To be greater, my life must consistently point to Jesus Christ. Glorying God alone releases His Power in my life so that it can reach the lost, dying, broken and hurting. I can do nothing apart from Him. As I renew my commitment to walk by faith and not by sight, it is with the profound desire to go deeper within God’s Inner Sanctuary to the place where His People dwell. I want to know Him more to day. My desire is that my life effectively represent Jesus Christ and not myself. As I continue to decrease, His Greatness will continue to increase in my life. I will influence others to know the Greater God that I have hidden in my heart. My hope will become stronger and less willing to stop waiting or give way under pressure. I desire nothing more than a total manifestation of God’s Power in my life to transform the lives of others by His Goodness and Love. I can only do that by pressing into His Presence. Establishing His Greatness over every feeling I possess. Jesus, I ask you to make us greater today. Move me out of the way, so that You can have Your Way in my life today, tomorrow and always. Nothing is worth losing my soul. I forfeit mediocrity for the miraculous today. King Jesus, I declare that You are Lord of my life and greater than any challenge, problem or battle I may face. You have overcome. I will overcome by the Greatness of who lives in me. I ask you to seal my heart and mind with the Greatness of Your Name! Holy Spirit give me confidence and boldness in all things that I may glorify the Father and Son in all things! I have total and absolute victory today just because You are greater

 

Hebrews 6:16-19 (NLT) Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Better Life or Eternal Life?

Better Life or Eternal Life

Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

 

On the days when I am fortunate enough to keep my head above water, my heart from wandering, my thoughts from worthless things, and intent on following Jesus completely, I see things from a perspective of faith and hope that calms all fear and provides great peace. It is a challenge. A battle fought daily with mind, body and spirit. If anyone were to tell you differently, it is only a lie. The truth is many have stopped fighting. Giving up on God’s Glory and all that goes with it because they have not experienced it for themselves so it must not be true. Getting wrapped in today with total disregard for tomorrow much less forever, it is human nature to live for today because it is all we have left. Are you discouraged today? Are you a bit confused? Are the outcomes in your life not adding up to the Word you hold on to? Where are His Promises? Where is hope? If the intention of our heart is to know Him, the enemy will give us every opportunity to give up. See he wants our heart, mind, soul and desires to twist them, turn them and pervert them so we will be overtaken. Today, the Lord is reminding us to take a step up. Look at life from His Vantage Point taking on His Perspective. God has a plan with a future and hope. Jesus is definitely coming back and there will be a Day of Judgment. Whether or not we believe is inconsequential.

 

For those who call themselves believers, the return of Jesus Christ is a day that is longed for. For those who follow the Lord, it will be a great relief like coming home after years apart. It will be a time of celebration. We not know when it will happen, or exactly what it will be like yet still we can prepare. The Bible does not tell us when Jesus will come back just simply to be ready. When an evangelist, pastor, preacher, apostle or prophet gives a specific day, I am pretty certain you can rule that day out completely because only He knows the day and hour. What I do know is this? According to this passage in Luke, there will be atmospheric changes precipitating the Return of Jesus. Can we all agree that there is definitely changes in the weather, more frequent earthquakes, and other things that are not normal? Men’s hearts will fail them with fear. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, from 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants increased from 6.8% to 13% nearly doubling. A report released in 2011 by the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (ages 12 and older) increased almost 400% between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. The federal government’s health statistician’s figure that one in every ten Americans are takes an antidepressant. Yes, I would say that the human heart is filled and failing in fear. Heaven and earth are being shaken. The Lord is moving as if pacing back and forth. He sees the condition of the earth and the plight of His People. He is ready to move. But are we?

 

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I do not share these viewpoints or statistics to beat anyone down or produce more fear than already looming, but to say this…we are about to see God’s Glory. The first three checklist items are already happening. The church is crying out and calling out for revival. There is a generation that is sparking a renewal in the previous one for Jesus. I desire, passion and longing is stirring. It says right here, “then they will see”. I believe that the Glory of God precedes His Arrival. It is coming. Are we ready?

 

Psalm 85:9-13 (NKJV) Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.

 

You haven’t missed it. It doesn’t matter what we have done but what we do now with this knowledge that Jesus is coming back. Do you believe it? Our chosen lifestyle tells more than our lips ever will as it reveals what we believe in our heart. When God waits, it is on us. When He tarries, it is by His Grace for us. He rumbles the world around us upsetting the environment as if saying, “Ready or not, here I come!” He allows are heart to be pressed so that the innermost contents are expressed so we know where we stand and have the opportunity to repent and turn back to Him. The Heavens and earth shake as His Glory begins to pour out. We are crying out for revival because though our brain may not comprehend, His Glory is coming to pour out on all mankind because right after than Jesus comes back. A call to righteousness proceeds His Arrival. It is here. It is now.

 

Matthew 24:5-13 (NKJV) “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

 

When I was a teenager, our church would go through the Book of Revelation at least once a year along with the Book of Hebrews. It’s a good combination don’t you think? Now, they would show us films depicting what it would be like in the “end times”. One of the things it showed was the mark of the beast. How creepy, right? We would all watch slowly shaking our head vowing never to get the mark. One of those movies showed it to be a branding of some sort with the numbers “666”. Not to make fun of anyone, but do you really think the enemy is dumb enough to come right at us? Seriously. Didn’t think much more about it until more recently. First, the AMA now requires that all health information be entered into a world system so that no matter where a human being is in the world that their medical records can be accessed. This new innovation is introduced as public safety. Fair enough. The next step is to inject tiny chips in our hands so that it can be scanned to obtain the information. Coincidence? The banks and financial institutions caught the drift and feel this would be a wonderful way to increase security and stop identity theft, etc. So to begin with a chip is now on credit cards. When you receive your new card, it will have the chip. The long-term goal is to “allow” users to have a microscopic chip implanted for ease of use and security. This is all in the news.

 

We hear wars and rumors of wars. There are famines, violence and even earthquakes all over the world. Just because it does not affect you, doesn’t mean it is not happening. Christians are facing tribulation and persecution. Who do you think ISIS hates? They are at war against Christianity. People are offended just ask someone what they think about Target’s new bathroom rule and be prepared. Betrayal is everywhere even the church. People hate one another. False prophets…there are more than a few touting Jesus is not the only way and grace requires nothing from us so do what feels good. P.S. God still hates sin but loves the sinner. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. We must endure all these things to be saved. We must not be consumed by the things going on in the world around us or become distracted trying to change the world for the better. We are not called to change the world but to be the Light in the Darkness showing others the love and grace given to us by Jesus.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 10:35-37 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

 

The word “therefore” means in consequence of that, as a result, or consequently. The Lord has told us what it would be like and equipped us to make it to the end. It is important that we do not give up or cast away our confidence in the midst of the circumstances of life and daily pressure around us. We must not be overcome by the challenges of life but keep our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. You don’t have to go it alone but so many times we do. Religion tells us to do things for the Lord. He only wants a relationship with us. He wants to welcome us home to be with Him forever. The enemy wages war to keep us from that day. We have a great reward. We must endure. We need faith and confident hope to do that. It says, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I believe with all my heart that revival is coming as His Righteousness proceeds His Return and a final outpouring of His Spirit and dispensation of His Glory like never before. Do not be discouraged today but look up and life up your head. He is coming closer than ever before. Jesus loves you. He wants you. His Grace is for you.

 

John 17:20-24 (NKJV)

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

 

Jesus prayed for us. He knew these would be tough times. He desires to be one with us just like He is one with the Father. It is very easy for the stress and worries of this life to overtake us. Matthew 6:25-30 tells of overwhelming worry and fear driven by survival. We do not have to survive but can thrive in a life surrendered to Jesus as He completes and gives us a rich and satisfying life. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The Lord offers to carry our burden as we “yoke” our life to Him walking His Way, and allowing His Will to take over. The need for control is a fear response. In fact, worry, fear, and anxiety are all born of doubt and disbelief which disqualify faith. We must daily turn every single one over to the Lord in order to walk with Him. Freedom is given to those who by faith put their trust in Jesus. How about you? Is it time to unload? Are there some things weighing you down that you have chosen to carry rather than trusting the Lord with them? They will keep you from His Glory if you do not let them go!

 

Matthew 19:27-30 (NKJV) Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

 

“See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” I can only imagine in the days leading to the Cross that the disciples were perplexed. What do you want from the Lord today? Is it a temporary fix? What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? (Mark 8:36-38) Are we really seeking Jesus for eternal life or a better life? Don’t answer that…just yet. If our mindset is not forever, we are bound to today. Hope is for the future and found in Jesus Christ. If we can see it, we can have it. If we can touch it, we can do it. I think about the rich young man who came to Jesus. He was really confident in what He was doing by following the letter of the Law and “doing” all the right things. But then Jesus took it up a notch requiring him to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Him. What did the young man do? He turned away because he had a pretty good life here on earth with many possessions. He could not give up now for forever. What’s holding you back? What is keeping you from entering the Presence of God? What is keeping you from His Glory? It is always a “me” thing because His Offer always stands, “Whosoever will let him come.” (Mark 8:34) As we deny ourselves – our comfort, convenience, complacency and control – God’s Glory will resonate in our life and we will see the greatest revival of all time. It will be the one that proceeds Christ’s Return.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Do not lose heart today. Friend, Jesus is closer than you think or feel. He is pressing in and drawing near to your broken heart and ravaged soul that has been severely taken advantage of by the loveless and brutal world. Circumstances and conditions may not change in the earth, but the Lord will make peace in your heart. He will cause that measure of faith that you were born with to begin to grow and seek to connect with the eternity in your heart. This is not the life you were created to live. You have purpose. Your life has real meaning that is not found in what you do here but who you are in Christ. The Lord promises to renew our inward man day by day. He is ready to release a far exceeding and eternal weight of glory in our life. If we will just set aside the weight that holds us back, release the worries and cares that keep us bondage and step into His Glory. The Lord loves you today. He desires you. He calls you His Beloved. If you will just wait a little longer, go a little farther and press in a little deeper – there will be a happily ever after. The King is most definitely among us. His Glory surrounds us. We are victorious. Revival is rising in His Name. Will you take part in it? Or will you allow it to pass you by caught up in these temporary things? It’s up to you. I say lift your head up and look – Jesus is closer than every before.

 

Psalm 119:33-38 (NKJV) Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.

War and Peace

War and Peace

Psalm 34:11-14 (NKJV)

Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Chaos. Utter chaos. Seriously, just when I think life couldn’t get any crazier, it seems to find a way. I am not alone. I get texts constantly from friends and family requesting prayer followed by their need which usually culminates in a call and desire for peace in the storm, relief from the pain and strength to go on. So I pray for them. I love to pray for them. I feel power when I take their need, plea or longing to the Lord. Lately as I have prayed, I have noticed a shift in my request for them. It begins with a specific need but ends in an outcry of peace. People need God’s Peace to survive this world and reach eternity. Christians must find peace in the Lord to come together as the Body. Believers need the Peace of God to be steadfast and endure individually to the end as is required. How do we pursue peace and perfect it in life under the current circumstances and conditions? Well, our peace is not dependent on such things. Our peace is in the Authority and Power of Jesus Christ alone.

To pursue a life of peace is to follow Jesus. However, do not be misled by modern day teaching and compromised grace. You cannot come to Christ continuing in your own way and immersed in willful disobedience yet still have a peaceful heart. Peace of mind comes from godly knowledge and understanding applied to our life as wisdom. It means that when all hell breaks loose around us, our heart is confident that the Kingdom remains strong. When nothing makes sense, a made up mind will remain steadfast in Jesus. Trust me. The enemy has tried to strip me of peace. He violently attacked my heart and mind with relentless chaos and concerns. It would be a battle to the end of me when all I had left was a mustard seed of faith clenched deep inside my heart. Yet, in all things, I overcame in Jesus Christ. His Grace is always enough for me. His Strength is made perfect in my weakness. I must pursue peace.

Ephesians 2:14-18 (NKJV)

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 

Jesus Christ is our peace. He perfects peace in us. He died to reestablish our peaceful right standing with God. It is our unity with Christ that begins the peace process in life. He reconciles our life with God as we grow in faith and confident hope leaving our old life behind to engage with Jesus.

Isaiah proclaimed the arrival of Jesus and called Him Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father AND Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His Government and Peace there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7) Jesus is the Prince of Peace. So why? Why all the chaos? Why is life so crazy? Why is sin rampant? Why has love grown cold? Why is everyone at odds? Why the stress? Why the anxiety? Why the fear? Why? If Jesus is our peace, why are we not at peace? I know this is a lot of “whys” but let’s be real for a moment – we have all asked the question. I am saved. I love Jesus. I trust the Lord. I have given Him my whole heart. I strive to live according to His Word, His Will and His Ways. Yeah me, right? One would think my life would be perfect. Without pain, problems and the like. Well it’s not. In fact, most of my biggest battles have been fought after I came to know Jesus as Savior and made Him the Lord of my life. Where is the peace that He promised? If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, why doesn’t peace reign in my life?

Matthew 10:34-36 (NKJV)

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’

What? I thought Jesus was our peace. I thought that was His Mission to bring peace on earth. Well, not exactly. Jesus came to be our peace. His Presence interrupts worldly order. It makes the natural atmosphere quake in His Presence. I regret to inform you that you might be the problem. The “Jesus” in you is stirring up things around you. The enemy hates you just because you are a Child of God. It doesn’t matter how good we are or how peaceful we attempt to be. If he cannot touch you, he is going to stir up everybody and anybody accessible around you. Work gets crazy. People go nuts. Circumstances become ridiculous. Believers begin to experience surreal conditions not because Christ is not present in their life but because He lives in us! We are the problem so now what?

John 16:33 (NKJV)

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 14:25-27 (NKJV)

“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The Peace of God that Jesus bestows on His People is not an outward presence by a holy inhabitation. It is personal. It is for you and I not the world around us. Jesus was honest. He said you will have tribulation. I have overcome the world. He had to leave us in the natural so that His Spirit could come inside us to develop peace of heart and mind that will get us past what we see and experience to what we know about the Lord. The God of Peace will crush satan under whose feet? Spoiler alert – He crushes satan under YOUR FEET. We will overcome the enemy with peace of mind, peace of heart and a peace-filled spirit. No matter what the weapon is – we win. The Lord is reminding us today that peace is not an outer circumstance but inward confidence. It is when our faith becomes hope that will not disappoint no matter how disappointing life seems. It is total trust and dependency in the Kingdom of God maintained by His Presence.

Matthew 11:12 (NKJV)

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

“Si vis pacem, para bellum” is a Latin adage that means “If you want peace, prepare for war.” This is true statement. This is true even when it comes to the Kingdom of God. God is all powerful. He is the strongest force in all of the universe. That doesn’t mean that other kingdoms will not challenge His Power and Authority. The devil has been trying ever since his fall from Heaven to overtake God’s Kingdom one heart at a time. To have the Peace of God in our life will not only require pursing it, but we must fight for it.

Sin puts us in enmity with God and His Kingdom. Righteousness turns the table and now we are considered hostile to this world and its rulers. When Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord, He fills us with His Spirit. As we travel through life pursuing peace and sharing His Love, the principalities and rulers of darkness get all riled up. They are hostile toward the Spirit of the Living God because they know the end. Jesus told us exactly what to expect, but many preachers and teachers today tell of something entirely different. The “prosperity” gospel that doesn’t consider the price paid on the Cross or the Cost to take up our own cross and follow Jesus will never prepare us for the battle ahead. God doesn’t always change our circumstances, but He changes us. He doesn’t remove the consequences but rather works to eliminate the sin which produces them. If someone told you following Christ would be all sunshine and roses, they lied to you. It is pure deception that has plagued the church and tries to quench the end day’s revival that is stirring. If I want peace, I am going to have to prepare for war. If you desire the Peace of God to rule and reign in your life, you must do the same.

Romans 8:5-7 (NKJV)

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

The first step in claiming the Peace of God designated for your life is to decide that you will be spiritually minded from this day forward. To look for God, His Love, His Goodness, His Favor, His Presence, and His Victory in every single moment. To make it your mission to remain faithful when all hell breaks loose, the lie of the enemy fills your ear with venomous threats, and if chaos rattles ever door and window that it will be barred with peace. The enemy cannot have you. But he will work to take away your confidence in the Lord and smother your faith with fear. That’s really all he is capable of. We have the power to restrict him in our life and live in the Power and Presence of God which is our peace. He gives us peace of heart and mind when we choose righteousness over sin. We must make up our mind that we desire peace.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” (Amplified Bible)  I have added verses 6 and 7 in the Amplified version for those of you who are like me who although we know what it says refuse to stop worrying and becoming anxious. It is human nature. I am working diligently to crucify that part of me at enmity with God. The part of my being that demands its own way. Tries to regain control. Chooses to be anxious, worry and stress even though the Lord is fully in control. They part of me that forgets or choose not to take every circumstance and situation before the Throne of God. The part of me that lapses into episodes of forgetfulness and is not filled with thankfulness. The Peace of God is available to me, but I must make up my mind that is for me. I must not rely on my own perception or understanding but totally immerse myself in truth, knowledge and godly understanding.

 

Think on these things. There is a whole list of them surely enough to fill up my mind. I must consciously choose to meditate on such things filling my heart and mind with God’s Promises and pursing His Peace even at the cost of my own pleasure.  Peace is what binds us together as we battle for His Kingdom together and keeps us from turning against ourselves. (Ephesians 4:1-6) If only we keep our minds “stayed” on the Lord, this is the place where we find “perfect peace.” (Isaiah 26:3-4) Right standing with God allows His Peace to permeate our life and overflow from it. (Psalm 119:165)

James 3:17-18 (NKJV)

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Faith makes all things possible in our life. To totally trust the Lord with our life and every detail will both wreak havoc and release peace. I do not understand it. I have just experienced it. The battles waged around you is nothing more than the enemy flexing his muscles, puffing out his chest and shouting worthless taunts. He cannot overcome you. The devil has no right to your peace. The only ground that he gains is that which is given over to him. If you want a peaceful mind and heart, it is yours today in Jesus Name. He gave you His Spirit so you would be at peace from now until He comes. You must decide that peace is worth fighting for and prepare for the battle every day. The enemy is relentless but so is God’s Love. His Love beat death and the grave so what do we have to fear? We overcome. We win. He provides perfect peace. It does not necessarily change our position in life. His Love changes us so we can live in perfect peace no matter where we are or what is present in our life – greater is He who is in us! We can live in peace every day, but only if we are willing to passionately pursue it and fight for it! My pastor said last night that if we are only after a reward in Christ, then we are in this for ourselves. It’s true. We must live for a relationship of peace with God and allow His Peace to be our completion. Fight for your peace today. Don’t let the enemy have it. It belongs to you!

Colossians 3:14-16 (NKJV)

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Re-Mission

Re-Mission

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Remission. I keep saying it but still cannot fathom that we have reached such a place. The doctors have confirmed it. The tests show it. His body is living proof that there is a Healer and He is faithful in delivering us from sickness and disease, yet I still have a wariness in my spirit that is undeniable. Oh don’t get me wrong, I am celebrating our son’s victory over cancer. He has triumphed over death and the grave be carried in the Arms of Jesus. God is faithful. His Word is true. It will not return void if we will just hang on. Why this trepidation? The need to maintain this stance. We have won this battle but we have not won the war.

What is remission? In Biblical terms, it means pardon, forgiveness as of sins or offense. Through the Blood of Jesus Christ, we are given these precious gifts in salvation. He renews and restores us so that death no longer can put a claim on our life and the grave is not our future. In medical terms, remission is a temporary or permanent decrease or subsidence of manifestations of disease. There is no guarantee according to the medical world when it comes to this conclusion. As I try to make this word sink in, I think that the two means are converging in my life to form a sound platform on which I stand. We have celebrations, victories and may triumph in every single day. But we will never be free of adversarial opposition until Jesus returns one day or we have the privilege of standing before Him.

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Despite all these things, it is plural. We don’t want to think about such “things” once we come to Jesus. He is supposed to fix it all. Christians don’t have problems. Faithful people do not encounter opposition. They thrive and flourish in the Love of God without a care in the world, right? “No, despite all these things…” Remission is simply a re-mission in life. It is foolish to surrender our sword, put down our shield and live blissfully in ignorance. A battle is coming. Warfare is real. There are giants in the land. How do I know? Look at the list of things that cannot separate us from the Love of God, these apply to believers and nonbelievers. Just because you enlist in the Lord’s Army does not exempt you from battle, it only changes your cause. Soldiers rest between engagements but they are ready to go when the order comes. A lot of preachers don’t preach about this anymore because it is not what people want to hear. The good news is that those who read it and believe it will overcome in every situation that is faced because nothing can separate us from the Love of God that is revealed to us in Christ Jesus.

I Samuel 17:45-47 (NLT)

David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

 

The story of David and Goliath has been read, taught and preached more ways than can be counted. (I Samuel 17:32-51) I was thinking about David yesterday. I have heard at least a dozen messages on the five smooth stones that David selected and their meaning. (Verse 40) But as I began to think about it again, I wondered why five stones. David did not exude a lack of confidence. Did he always pick five when he prepared to protect his father’s sheep? What is the significance of five stones? It is significant enough to be included in the Word of God. I think one reason among many is that there was more than one giant.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, his only real question is how did I get it? What made it choose me? His doctor told him that everyone has something in life they go through and this must be his “thing”. I wish that were true, but it’s not. In our son’s case, a diagnosis of cancer led to four relapses and a bone marrow transplant. He is healed of cancer but his body has taken a toll in the war. Warfare in the life of the believer is inevitable. You have something the enemy wants. He wants to steal, kill and destroy our faith. It is our faith and confident hope in the Love of God and His Power that leads us from victory to victory and glory to glory. It doesn’t mean we won’t experience more of God’s Goodness than ever before because it will pour out into every orifice of a life that is surrendered to God but you will still have giants in the land and an enemy to fight so we can never be without our weapon of warfare, ready for battle and standing on a firm platform of faith.

Saul offered David his armor but wisely the boy said, “No thanks!” He strode out to that giant because his faith in God told him that he would win and that’s exactly what he did. But David’s woes with the giants did not end there. Oh no, they kept coming. (2 Samuel 21; I Chronicles 20) But David defeated the giants every single time. I am with you! I get tired of fighting for my faith. I am weary in well-doing just like the next guy. We just have to keep telling ourselves it’s worth it and keep moving toward Christ. More faith is our mission and confident hope is our cause. Trusting the Lord is the true manifestation of such things in our life. Winning or losing is the issue but overcoming all that stands between us and God’s Glory.

Deuteronomy 1:28-33 (NLT)

Where can we go? Our brothers have demoralized us with their report. They tell us, “The people of the land are taller and more powerful than we are, and their towns are large, with walls rising high into the sky! We even saw giants there—the descendants of Anak!”’ “But I said to you, ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’ “But even after all he did, you refused to trust the Lord your God, who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.

Giants are those things that are bigger than us. The only way that we overcome “giants” in our life is by trusting God. But most people would rather run away, then face the giants. It’s easier, less painful and relieves pressure. Of course, it does. The enemy is not going to fight those who are on his side. He is coming against the Kingdom of God. We have to take it back by force. It might seem in today’s society that he is winning. But need I remind you (and me some days) that GREATER is He that is in us than he that is in the world. The Lord goes before us preparing a way for us leaving everything we need to not just make it but live victoriously and thrive in every situation, but we choose our own way or not to go at all. Refusing to trust God – we give up on faith and try to fight these things in our own strength and power regaining control of our life. Suddenly void of God’s Power we fall face down in the dirt and the enemy tramples us. Thank you God for your mercy each morning that picks me up, dusts me off and starts me back on my way to follow You! No matter how many battles we win with the Lord, faith will always be our struggle. It is human nature. God has equipped us for every battle. He is our Strength!

Psalm 24:7-8 (NLT)

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.

 

Invincible means incapable of being conquered, defeated or subdued. That is the God we serve and His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the One who lives inside of us. Why do we want control when we contain such super powers? No clue but we do all the time. When we decide that the Lord is bigger than any giant that we face, His Power takes over our life because we trust Him. We allow God to fight our battles. Therefore we choose to win!

Isaiah 45:5-8 (NLT)

I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.  “Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the Lord, created them.

Am I reading this right? There tucked between verses of power and might. How can this be? “I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the One who does these things. God sends good times. Yay! God sends bad times…hold on… how can this be true? Of course He does. Righteousness is not something we can achieve outside of Jesus Christ. We sin. Sin produces judgment. Jesus Christ is our Salvation that saves, heals and delivers us from such things. Without salvation, righteousness has to deal with our disobedience otherwise God has changed His Character and we are all headed to hell in a handbasket. The only hope we have is that despite all these “things” we have overwhelming victory in Christ Jesus. Remove sin from the world completely and it would be void of problems. Since that is not the case, we remove ourselves from sinful disobedience to seek and serve God choosing to trust Him above every circumstance and salvation changes the outcome for us from death to life and defeat to victory.

Psalm 144:1-2 (NLT)

Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. He makes the nations submit to me.

 

There is coming a day when every knees will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Until that day, be prepared to fight. There will continue to be giants in the land. There will be problems, trials and troubles along the way. Hold tight to your shield of faith – go nowhere without it. Keep the sword of the Spirit in your other hand and wield it in your life with total trust and confidence that it will make its mark every single time you speak it. Do not let your guard down ever or you will get knocked down every time. If you have chosen to seek the Lord and serve Him with all your heart – you have become prime enemy number one on the enemy’s hit list. Your faith has not only changed you but if allowed to continue will change the world. God has given you everything you need to win. Jesus handed you the victory and power to always overcome. By faith, we stand and deliver no matter what the odds look like to the world. Our confidence is not in us but the fact that Jesus in us is greater than any other power in the world. Do you believe it today? He is training you for war today so pay attention. He is developing the skills in you for your next assignment. His Presence is your refuge so run there as often as you can and despite all these things – you will overcome!

I John 4:4 (NKJV)

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Fight to Win

Fight to Win

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT)

 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

 

What a day! Yesterday was one of those days when it feels like being pecked to death by ducks just one thing after another. Nothing fatal all by itself but combined with everything else quickly it becomes an overwhelming load. Of course it did! We have been celebrating openly our son’s new birthday and one year of remission. Giving God glory and praise as loudly as possible for the miracle that He has accomplished in our boy. The enemy doesn’t like praise it brings the Lord closer. He doesn’t like when we worship God out in the open for everyone to see because it draws men and women to Christ. But what if was your child who lived and did not die, would fear keep you from giving honor to the One who did it? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The warfare was inevitable, and oh so worth it but by Monday it was really beginning to get to me. Our youngest left for camp so I arrived to my husband wandering around our empty home which I immediately began to tidy up which is my stress reliever, I know it’s weird but it works setting my natural world back in order. As I cooked a healthy dinner for two and a loaf of banana bread (comfort food) to make use of some old fruit, I began singing under my breath – “Holy Spirit – you are welcome here. Come fill this place and change the atmosphere. Your Glory God is what our hearts long for to be overcome by Your Presence Lord…” over and over again trying to press through the wall around me. It was just one of those days.

This morning I awoke just before the alarm with my arms in the air and moving like I was lacing on boxing gloves. Odd, I know I thought so too. It was in the dream I was having right before I opened my eyes. There was no boxing ring or fight planned. Just me in a dark empty space lacing up boxing gloves and punching them into my hands to make sure they were tight. The craziest part is that I have never donned a pair of boxing gloves like that so how would I know if they were properly positioned and perfectly laced but in my subconscious I knew. Opening my eyes, I knew today would be a fight, but will it be a good fight? Will I be victorious? Will I bring down another giant?

Every day the enemy battles us to take our faith away. He was to steal, kill or destroy every good thing and the fruit of God’s Spirit cultivated to satisfy our life. It is really up to us whether or not we fight back. Will we take a stand or cower back as he roars like a toothless lion who seeks those he can devour. I am fighting back today. I hope that you will, too. Our new life in Christ is worth having and definitely worth fighting to maintain our inheritance. We fight to keep what is ours. Jesus gave it all to us. It belongs to us.

Joshua 23:9-11 (NLT)

For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God.

Joshua gives us some insight to how this thing works. These words should encourage your heart and boost your spirits today. First, the Lord has gone before you. There are no surprises for the Lord and He has given you the victory and everything you need to maintain the prize resulting from it. It says right here that “each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy”. I bet if we counted our “enemies” or problems or troubles though they may feel like tons of pressure there are just not that many battles going on in our life. The Word of God says that each one of them could put one thousand to flight. I back that up with the statement that greater is He who is in you (and me) than he that is in the world. Jesus fought every bit of opposition in our life handing us victory. So now what…we are to very careful to love the Lord your God. Loving God is how we respond to the struggles of life effectively. Such faith and trust empower us to fight the good fight, endure and win.

Matthew 12:18-21 (NLT)

Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.

We must fight back like Jesus did. He is our example in life. But be warned, you may not like what you are reading because Jesus did not massacre people to secure our salvation. What does that mean? As we fight to keep our faith in this life, we must learn to respond as Jesus did and not as the world suggests. Life is not fair. Love has grown cold. Sin is rampant and justice perverted. There I said it, now we have to get over it because this world is not our home. We are not governed by society but by the Spirit of the Living God. Jesus did not fight, shout, or raise His Voice in public. Oh boy, here we go. He will not crush the weakest reed no matter how hard, stiff necked and unbending that person is. He will preserve the light in another even when they are wrong and hurt Him so we must do the same. He will cause justice to be victorious. We were not put here to change the rules or make this some kind of utopia. No, our mission is to bring the Light of His Love to every single person who we encounter. To show them the love of Jesus Christ even when they are totally unlovable. We are to magnify faith, hope and love to a lost and dying world even when they are fighting back.

2 Samuel 5:18-19 (NLT)

The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.”

 

With my new set of boxing gloves etched in my mind, I decided that I should probably learn the rules of engagement before the fight so I went directly to the Word of God that gives me clear instructions on how to live and what to do in life. The first thing that I discovered is that we have to ask the Lord is this my battle? Do I need to fight back or simply take a stand? David was a might warrior but more than that he was a man after God’s own heart. Rather than being self-confident, David knew his skill and ability as a warrior came from the Lord. So he consulted God before the battle to see whether or not it was something to fight for. What about you? We must be very careful not to develop a warring spirit that chooses to pick a fight with the devil every day even on those days that God called us to stand or to rest. Some challenges are not for us but someone else close by. We have to be sensitive to the Voice of God and obedient to what He says to live victoriously.

Isaiah 1:16-18 (NLT)

“Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

Are we fighting for the right things the right way? Arguments and disagreements do not win people to Jesus Christ, love does. Our ability to quickly forgive others and not take offense to their attack or actions against us will fortify our stance of faith in God. It is to decide that God is bigger than our adversaries in life and that we can count on Him to right the wrongs against us. Fighting with our hands and our words are not the weapons of our warfare. The enemy goads us to attack by telling us we are right. We are righteous. We did not become righteous all on our own but the Spirit of the Living God inside us makes it real. We cannot take credit or become self-righteous so humility must govern our life. God did something for us that we could not do for ourselves. Jesus died to hand us back our life and give us freedom. We choose whether or not we are willing to in turn give our life right back to Him. To do so is enlisting in God’s Army and follow the example of Jesus Christ. Confidence in the Lord allows us to stand tall on our faith with our head held high in confident hope even if no one else believes us.

Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

 

A settled heart, soul and mind that knows the greatness it contains will live in quiet confidence because we know, trust and believe. The Holy Spirit helps us win the biggest battle of all. The one over self. This is the greatest war we fight and it comes on a daily basis. It barges in during our prayers demanding its own right. It interrupts our worship to say, “Are you really gonna take that?” It bursts out during our praise – “what have you done for “me” lately?” This is a constant engagement that demands our focus each day as we nail all our sinful natural desires to the Cross. Even that one that wants to rip somebody’s head off or tell them like it is. The same one that wants to punch someone in the face or cut them with our tongue. Sticks and stones WILL break our bones BUT words WILL also hurt us. I must align my body, soul and spirit using all my strength to align my life with what God has for me and becoming confident in what the Lord is doing in my life.

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT)

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

The enemy does not fight fair. He is ruthless and cunning. He works in areas of our life that he is given access to due to disobedience or sin. We must shut those doors tightly to win the good fight of faith. The devil is more powerful than us. The only hope that we have is the One who lives inside of us. Don’t forget that it is important to know before you charge the devil in your flesh rather than remaining covered in the armor of God. You need to be prayed up, praised up and acting on the Word of God before you go after the enemy. Otherwise, you are going to get your feelings hurt if not more. We win the battle when we endure. That is it. We just have to be the last man standing after the enemy has leveled his attack, raising our hands praising the One who gives us victory over sin, freedom to live in His Power and wins our wars for us.

If the enemy has been wearing you down, it’s time to inspect your armor to be sure it is holding. Gird up with the belt of Truth that is the Word of God. Find your promise and hang on to it no matter how rough things get. Put on righteousness – not by doing the right thing but doing everything you can to live in the Presence of God. Walk in humility, peace and love no matter where you are going or who you encounter. People are not the enemy even some may be manipulated by him. Hold on to your shield of faith. Keep it in front of you at all times. Decide in your mind that God has done exactly what He promised and that Jesus died just for you. Protect your mind in the knowledge of God’s Amazing Love. Start wielding the Sword of the Spirit. Release the Word of God the atmosphere. Say it out loud. Confidence tells a story. Trust keeps going when things look bad. Hope never leads to disappointment so why not embark on the journey despite the giants in the land?

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

 

As I get ready to begin my day, it feels like I am sitting on a bucket in the corner of the ring. My coach is in my face holding both the tightly laced gloves. This is what He is saying, “But you, Lori, are a woman of God so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you!” The bell is ringing and it is time to enter the ring. I know have a battle plan. My objective is clear. I will fight the good fight of faith today and I intend to win!

II Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.