Victory

Numbers 24:17
“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.”

Unknown-1.jpegThe final prophecy from Balaam, regarding Israel, declares God will defeat all their enemies. The nations that surrounded Israel, as well as those who lived within its borders, would be brought under the mighty hand of the Lord.

As believers we should take great comfort in this. We all face constant attacks from without and within. Not only do we struggle through the difficulties of life, but we are also faced with inward temptation and trial. It is good to know that the enemy will be defeated. As we continue to walk with Christ, we will find that He carries us through the trials of life, and gives us victory over the struggles of our flesh. Even if you are struggling to keep your head above water, you can look back at the faithfulness of God and rejoice in the things from which He has already delivered you. This should give you a deeper desire to allow Him to set you free from whatever struggle you might currently be enduring.

God is faithful and will always be victorious. Pauls declare we are more than conquerors because of the work of Christ (Romans 8:37).

Pastor Jim

 

I Haven’t Been This Way 

Colossians 3:1
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”

Sin is a killer. It is guilty of taking the spiritual life from all of us. God warned Adam that if he disobeyed the command of God and partook of what was forbidden, he would die. While many years transpired before his physical death, the moment Adam sinned, he experienced spiritual death, or separation from God. Since we are sons and daughters of Adam, we have all joined him in his sin and its consequences. The remedy for that condition is faith in Christ. The moment we put our trust in the work of Christ on the cross, our sins are forgiven, and we who were dead in sin, come alive to God. Jesus called that being “born again.” Paul calls it being raised with Christ. Since this is such a miraculous event, it should have tremendous impact on the way we live our lives. Paul goes on to give a series of exhortations, all predicated on the fact that, we who were dead have been made alive.

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

While it is necessary to be earthly minded in the sense of meeting our responsibilities, caring for the needs of others, and impacting our world for the kingdom of heaven, it is completely unnecessary for us to be carnally minded. No more, should our thoughts be filled with the pursuits of the flesh. Instead, we should set our minds to think of ways to live righteously and love others.

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth . . . ” Colossians 3:5

Paul is echoing the words of Jesus when He said, “if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out” Sometimes, we must take radical action against those traits that lead us to sin. If we are having a problem with one particular sin, we must take radical action to ensure we make it more and more difficult to fail.

“But now you yourselves are to put off all these . . .” Colossians 3:8

Paul lists the things that were part of our lives before coming to Christ; things we must eradicate from our lives now. While those things might have been acceptable before you came to Christ, they have no part in your life now.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on…” Colossians 3:12

Paul never reduced Christianity to what we don’t do. To him, meeting Christ meant a total transformation of our life. Old habits and actions would be replaced with new ones. After all, we are new creations in Christ, the old has passed away and all things have become new. The way I look at God, and the way I treat others, should be transformed since coming to Christ.

“Wives… Husbands… Children… Bondservants…”

A transformed life results in transformed relationships. Many of us grew up with poor relationship examples. Perhaps your parents divorced, or you had a particularly cruel father or distant mother. Often, those examples impact the way we treat our spouse and children. Without even knowing it, we are following the patterns set for us. The remedy for that is to look at each relationship in light of Christ. Paul gives us fresh insight into how a husband and wife are to relate to one another, how parents and children should treat each other, and what we should be doing at work. Our Christianity should radically affect the life we live.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, . . ” Colossians 3:23

Before coming to Christ, my life was consumed with pleasing me. Now that I have been born again, my desires should be to please God, above all things. Paul exhorts us to look at life through the lens of pleasing God. Whatever we are doing, we should do it as unto the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Moving Forward 

Galatians 4:8-9
But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?”

Paul is reminding the Galatians that many of the behaviors and activities they were involved in, before coming to Christ, are no longer fitting. Before accepting Christ, much of our existence is spent trying to find the meaning of life, or at least some semblance of meaning. We realize something is missing, and continually search for it. We may party for while, thinking that will make us happy, or get involved in a relationship or multiple relationships, all in pursuit of filling a void or adding something to life. Some are able to realize the inability of these cravings to satisfy, and move on to something else. However, many become addicted and find themselves in bondage to the very pursuits that falsely promised freedom. Whatever your story is, you will not find life’s missing puzzle piece until you come to Christ. It is in Christ that we are made complete. “. . .and you are complete in Him, . . .” Colossians 2 :10

Paul wrote, when we come to Christ we are redeemed with the blood of God, adopted as sons of God, filled with the Spirit of God and we become the heirs of God. Those are amazing benefits, especially when we consider all we did to receive them was believe Jesus Christ is the Savior, and invite Him to rule our lives. The moment you received Christ, those things became true of you. If you felt like a different person it was because you were. We might say, you are now a complete person.

Now that you have been so dramatically changed by Christ, the things you once sought in life are no longer necessary. Returning to those trappings, would be like an idol worshipper meeting the true and living God, then returning to bow before his little clay image. We would say to that man, “You don’t need those things any more.” In the same way, you don’t need to go partying, live in an ungodly relationship, or use sin as a stimulus in life any longer. YOU KNOW GOD and you can experience the life that is found in Jesus.

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12

Pastor Jim

 

Free From Sin’s Control

Romans 8:
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

As we read through the Word, it is important to remember the chapter breaks were added later to make it easier to find specific passages. At times, they can create a break in thought not intended by the author. This often causes us to miss something vital in the text. The thoughts of Romans 8 are an obvious conclusion of what Paul declared in Chapter 7. He referred to himself as carnal, a word meaning worldly; and wretched, meaning deeply afflicted, or extremely bad. The reason for his dire view is that he found himself incapable of living a proper Christian life. The Word of God clearly expresses the kind of life which pleases God, and the particular behaviors, thoughts, desires and actions that are regarded as sinful. By his own admission, Paul knew what was right, but lacked the power to accomplish these things. He writes,

“For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Romans 7:19

Have you ever been sitting in a church service, hearing a particularly convicting message, knowing that you come short, desiring with all your heart to live up to it, yet walking out the door and failing again? Understand, you are not alone in this, even Paul faced the same struggles. While it is encouraging to know we are not alone in this battle, Paul did not write about his experience in order to make us feel better when we fail. Instead, he is writing his story to offer us help. He goes on to give the secret of his success; “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” While Chapter 7 describes the struggle Paul faced attempting to live for Christ, Chapter 8 gives the secret behind his victory.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

The life of victory over sin, results in a life filled with the fruit of the spirit, has impact upon others, and produces treasures stored up in Heaven; this is the life empowered by the Spirit of God. The Christian life was never meant to be lived in the energy of human strength. God requires that we learn to depend upon His Spirit for our strength. It is the one who sits daily before the throne of grace who will be filled with the Spirit of Christ. He will find himself with an increased ability to conquer personal sin and live well pleasing to the Lord. STOP trying to win the battle against the flesh with will power and human strategy. Instead, sit daily at the feet of Jesus, in the Word of God, and ask Him, nay, plead with Him, to fill you beyond capacity, with the Spirit of holiness that raised Christ from the dead.

Take a few minutes to ask God to baptize you with His Spirit. Ask Him to give you power to set down the sins you keep picking up, and to give you spiritual gifts that you might be useful for His Kingdom purposes. Then, read through the rest of Romans 8 to find insights into how to walk in the Spirit. Especially note what Paul says about the mind.

Pastor Jim

 

Battle Plan 

2 Samuel 22:35
“He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”

As the sun begins to set on David’s life, he begins to recall how faithful the Lord has been. As king of a nation surrounded by hostile adversaries, he was faced with constant battles. With the poetic expression he became known for, he attributes his success to the Lord.  It was never his strength that led to victory, but the enabling work of God.

Our situation is quite different than David’s. Few of us are facing armed adversaries attempting to take our kingdom and our life. That does not mean we are not engaged in continual warfare. Each of us faces constant attacks from within that attempt to keep us from growing in Christ, or serving Him. It is important that we allow God to “teach our hands to make war.”

It is important to keep in mind who the enemy really is. Christians are notorious for engaging in the wrong battles. We rally the troops to fight on the wrong fronts, and as a result, end up giving away vital territory. The greatest enemy of the Christian is our own self-centered desires, that drive us to disobedience. The battle plan for such an enemy is self-denial. Jesus declared that following Him required denying ourself. Our passions, desires, and emotions must be held in check by the word and Spirit of God. We need to pray that He would “teach our hands to make war.”

Pastor Jim

 

Victorious 

Psalm 44:3
For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them.”

Even a casual reading of the Old Testament will lead to the conclusion that Israel did not win their battles on their own. When armies are overthrown by the rushing waters of the Red Sea, walls toppled with rams horns, and a shepherd defeats a warrior with a sling and stone, it is clear that the hand of God is behind the victories. There are times when Israel went to battle in their strength, but those are the times of failure, not of triumph. It is hard to forget the Battle of Ai. Joshua sent the troops into battle without first seeking guidance from the Lord, only to see his army retreat and many soldiers lose their lives (Joshua 7:2-6). Clearly, the strength behind the success of the nation of Israel was the leading and empowering hand of God.

There are many differences between our relationship with God through Christ, and Israel’s relationship under the first covenant. We are not a nation that has been given a land, and promised victory in physical battles. That does not mean the battles we face are any less difficult. Every Christian knows what it is to face spiritual battles with an enemy as real as Goliath.

Paul described this battle to the Christians in Galatia, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:17).

The battle we face is a battle within. It is between our desire to do what is right and pleasing to God, and our desire for what is unholy, sinful and destructive. Just as Israel’s success was not found in bigger armies, more advanced weaponry, or treatise with other nations, so our victories will not be won with determination or increased will power. To win the battle against the flesh, we need to apply God’s battle tactics.

Again the words of Paul instruct us: “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:8).

In other words, if we spend our time feeding the flesh, the flesh will become stronger; and in battle, the flesh will win. We will find ourselves defeated again and again. On the other hand, if we spend our time feeding the spirit with a healthy diet of God’s Word, prayer, fellowship and service, we will find greater and greater victory in the times of spiritual battle. I believe what we do in times of peace, determines who will win in the times of heated conflict. Too many Christians spend little time making daily spiritual investments in their lives, and wonder why they find themselves defeated over and over every time temptation rises.

The ways of God will never change. His victories are always accomplished in His strength. When we take the time to sow to the Spirit, we will have victory over the lusts of the flesh. If we don’t, we will continue to struggle, fail, fall, and be constantly riddled with guilt and weakness. You don’t have to live like that any longer. His arm will be your strength.

Pastor Jim

 

Courage 

2 Samuel 10:12
“Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.

It is easy to become weary in the service of the Lord. This is especially true when it seems we have failed. David sent a group of men as ambassadors of Israel to King Hanun of Ammon. He desired to show kindness to the king after the loss of his father, Nahash. What seemed to be a relatively easy mission, turned out to be an embarrassing failure. Instead of being met with kindness, these men were treated with contempt. King Hanun’s men shaved off half their beards, and cut their robes so that their buttocks hung out, then sent them home in shame. Ammon’s actions were such as to incite war and Joab led the charge. As the battle was about to begin, Joab encouraged the men, by reminding them what they were fighting for.

“Let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God.”

When things become difficult in our walk with the Lord, it is important to remember why we are in the battle. Although our battle is not against flesh and blood, it is no less of a battle. We are fighting for the furtherance of God’s kingdom, and for the sake of our family. Each time we resist temptation, or speak out on behalf of the Gospel, we are doing it for the Kingdom and for our family. Each time we overcome the works of the flesh, we are one step closer to having a positive impact upon others.

If you are weary of resisting the flesh, remember you are not fighting for yourself alone. Do it for your spouse, your children, your church, and His kingdom.

Pastor Jim