Archive for December, 2023

Victory in Jesus – Part Three

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 15: 57, 58

It is Jesus who ”keeps on” us the victory. In the Greek that is present participle, meaning ours is a continual victory.

He is alive to meet us everyday. In this is found new power to stand firm amid the pressures of life — and they are many.

You need an awareness of His presence and power if you attempt to claim your victory daily in a world crowded with frustrating mean-spirited people who say cruel twisted things about people in an attempt to mask their own unhappiness. This even happens among Christians who hate Christians in the name of Jesus.

Christ did not give us the victory over the world in order that we might fight among ourselves.

He doesn’t give us blessings and advantages to use against each other, but for His cause.

Doing the work of the Lord does not give us permission to act like everybody else. In saving us He never gave us permission to breathe fire in a world of dragons.

As co-victors He would have us go into a world where most folks live with “their dukes up” with our arms outstretched in love.

The world might well call such a venturous spirit a failure, but the Bible calls such a one a victor. In the physical world potential winners have often been classified as losers.

In 1902, The Atlantic Monthly’s poetry editor returned a collection of poems to a 28-year-old would-be poet with a caustic note reading: “Our magazine has no room for your vigorous verses.” The name of the poet was Robert Frost.

In 1905, the University of Bern failed a PhD dissertation because it was considered fanciful and irrelevant. The young candidate for his PhD was Albert Einstein.

In 1894, the rhetorical teacher at Harrow in England wrote on a 16-year-old’s grade card: “A conspicuous lack of success.” That student was the young Winston Churchill.

As these persons overcame physical losses, so you can daily overcome would-be spiritual defeats through Jesus.

Amid adversity remember “… in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” Romans 8:37.

Victory in Jesus – Part Two

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 15: 57, 58

On January 8, 1815 Major General Andrew Jackson and 5,000 men consisting of rag-tag regiments from Kentucky and Tennessee along with pirates of the sea under the command of Jean Laffite defended the city of New Orleans. They were opposed by 8,000 crack British forces; considered the best army in the world.

Seven of Jackson’s men were killed, and over 700 British were killed. Jackson had six men wounded, and the British had over 1,400 wounded along with 500 captured. It was a remarkable victory for the forces led by Andrew Jackson and propelled him into national prominence.

The outcome of the battle did not have influence on the outcome of that war, the War of 1812, because a peace treaty had been signed two weeks earlier. News traveled so slowly the word had not been received in New Orleans. Even though the victory was assured they fought as though the outcome of the war depended upon them.

A loss by Jackson would have been nullified by the winning of the war that had already occurred.

Our beloved Lord Jesus Christ won for us the ultimate victory on Calvary many years ago. However, we must engage in the spiritual warfare of our day as though the outcome is dependent upon us.

In reality we do not fight for victory, but from victory. It is His victory in which we share.

“Victory in Jesus” was the final song that E. M. Bartlett wrote. The hymn also became his best known and most embraced song. The song is an optimistic reminder of our daily victory and of the hope of heaven. The chorus reminds us of the victory.

“O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

Don’t just sing it  – – – live it.

Victory in Jesus – Part One

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15: 57, 58

Jesus wants you to be a winner. All you have to do is become His team mate. Often in a team victory there are members of the team who have little to do with the actual victory. The team may be carried by a superior player. That only hints of the victory we enjoy as members of Jesus’ team. He is solely responsible for our victory. He, and He alone, won our victory.  Yet, it can be your victory.

Our victory is “through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  That is, by the instrumentality of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is based on His victory.

In the award winning novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee one of the main characters is a little girl named Jean Louise Finch. Her dad, Atticus Finch, calls her Scout. Her dad, a lawyer, is a man of character and integrity. One day Scout comes home and shares some problems she is having with a teacher and some students. In an effort to help her understand and get along her dad gives this advice. “First of all, if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

That is exactly what Jesus Christ did. He left His celestial body and crawled into a terrestrial body composed of human skin to become Immanuel, God with us. As God with us, He was in reality God for us. His birth, life, death, and resurrection was as our proxy.

In the Old Testament is the story of a young lad named David, representing the nation of Israel in battle against the Philistine giant, Goliath. David defeated Goliath. He was the only one on that battlefield that day facing the giant. Yet, it was a victory for all Israelites.

Jesus Christ as the “only begotten Son of God” died alone on the cross of Calvary. Three days later He alone arose from the grave. It was His victory over sin, death, and the grave, just as David”s victory was his conquest of Goliath. Likewise, as with David, so Christ’s victory is a shared victory. His victory is our victory. God gives us the victory through Jesus Christ. The moment we invest our faith in Christ as our personal Savior the victory is won.

If you are a member of Jesus’ team, that is, you have made a life transforming commitment to Him you work not for victory, but from victory.

Arrested Spiritual Growth

In company with a friend who had recently acquired a vast ranch in Colorado we gathered around an iron cross the ranch manager had made. It was a significant moment of dedication of the ranch by the owner. I have a photo of that moment and looking at it again recently I was amazed at our facial expressions. It was an admirable moment of dedication of ourselves, not just the ranch. It was a spiritual growth marker. We have all had such. However, no matter how deep the dedication is, if we stop growing at any point we have reached arrested spiritual growth.

In one Peanuts comic strip Sally was struggling with her memory verse for Sunday. She was absorbed in her thoughts trying to figure it out when she remembered, “Maybe it was something from the book of Reevaluation.”

Christianity isn’t a static faith. We all need to reevaluate. We are told to “grow in faith and in knowledge.” Our faith is fed by facts, knowledge. They grow together like hands in gloves.

Doctors are required by the profession to attend conferences periodically certain they continue to grow and develop. Other professions require practitioners in their trade to maintain continuing training lest they reach a point of arrested development.

Conference, retreat, and courses are aids to spiritual growth, but not even they are adequate to prevent arrested spiritual growth. Only daily Bible study and prayer coupled with applying what is learned can avoid that. It is expedient to “be doers of the word and not hearers only.”

You and you alone are responsible for your spiritual growth. Why are so many not developing?  “…it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again” Hebrews 5: 11.

It was said of the church in Berea “…they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”Acts 17: 11. That is the regimen needed by all Christians. Daily devotion is fundamental for there to be spiritual growth. Be a Berean.

Are you more spiritually mature than at any time in your life? If not, it is likely you have regressed. It used to be called back-slidden.

Make a strategic plan for how you can grow to be more spiritually mature one month from now than you are now.

A group of tourists visiting a picturesque village walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked him, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”

No one has ever been born spiritually mature, only babies, and that is good.

However, spiritual growth results in fulfillment, and thereby God’s glory is revealed.

Is It Transformation Time?

Everything can change in the blink of an eye – but God never blinks.

What peace it brings to the Christian’s heart to realize that our Heavenly Father never differs from Himself. In coming to Him at any time, we need not wonder whether we shall find Him in a receptive mood. He is always receptive to misery and need, as well as to love and faith. He does not keep office hours nor set aside periods when He will see no one. Neither does He change His mind regarding anything.

It is said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13: 8). He is our much needed constant.

Fortunately He has accorded us the capacity to change. It can be used either constructively or destructively.

William James, noted American philosopher and psychologist, summarily said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that men can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind!” That is, it is as simple as changing your mind.

That is good news. If you have a bad habit or generally a bad lifestyle you can change it.

Often on a device it stops acting like it formerly did. To correct this there is a “Reset” button. Ranked among those needing a change of mind are individuals who were living by the right set of values but drifted away and need a reset. It has long been called a rededication.

A passage associated with salvation is I John 1: 9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The first half of the verse offers the forgiveness of sin if we confess it. This confession means to agree with God about it and ask His forgiveness. That is the launch point for salvation. For the person who has never done this, now is a marvelous time to experience that transformative miracle of forgiveness by confessing and asking for the forgiveness of sin. Transformative means to cause an important and lasting change.

It is always improper for a Christian to sin, but lamentably it happens. That is where the last part of the verse comes into play. The Christian who sins and confesses is cleansed from all “unrighteousness.” The prefix “un” before righteousness means negative righteousness, sin. Confession by the Christian results in “cleansing,” forgiveness. Candidly, most Christians need to do this more often than imagined.

Sin breaks our communion, but not our union with God. Confession by the believer restores the communion, fellowship with the Lord. That is the spiritual posture that brings fulfillment and joy.