We Have Overcome

“I was always getting mad,” confessed the conference speaker, “I would try to overcome my tendency toward anger . . . I’d grit my teeth, clench my fists and resolve, ‘I’m really going to do it this time!’ And I’d be faithful—for two whole days.” He felt so discouraged, so defeated. “Then while on vacation with my family one summer,” he continued, “I got away by myself for a couple of hours and poured out my heart to God: ‘Why can’t I change, Lord? I’ve tried so hard!’” Can you relate? Are there desires and temptations that seem to get the best of you more often than not? Maybe for some of us anger is not our vulnerability; maybe it’s envy—being discontent in what we have, seeing someone else with more. Or maybe it’s lingering where our eyes and thoughts ought not go, our actions naively tagging along behind. Perhaps we tend to criticize the flaws in others, slow to extend to them the grace we seek for ourselves. This world has its enticements—“wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important”1—temptations that easily overpower our natural selves.

As the man prayed that day, God showed him two Bible verses that changed everything for him. The first was from Paul’s letter to the Romans; it provides reliable guidance when encountering temptation, a moment-by-moment “how to” resource for the believer. We will feast on that verse next week, but in today’s post, let’s consume the second verse in which Paul summarized the unassailable reality in which we live: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”2 John further explains, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.”3 Therein lies our victory, for Jesus who said, “I have overcome the world,”4 now lives in us. He is our strength, He is our confidence, He is our life; His victory over sin is our victory over sin. “For whoever has been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”5 We win when we entrust ourselves entirely to Him who has won. We conquer when, forsaking all else, we take Him at His word—gratefully believing His promises of love and joyfully walking His paths of life. We overcome by faith.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.—Colossians 2:6-7 NIV  

Father, this I confess: Jesus has overcome the world, and living in Him by faith, I too have overcome. Grace me to live and thrive in this marvelous truth. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 1 John 2:16 The Message
2 Colossians 1:27 NIV
3 1 John 4:15 NIV
4 John 16:33 NASB
5 1 John 5:4-5 NASB


What You Do Every Day

“You bless people,” I used to tell our son throughout his growing-up years. Matthew often responded with a quizzical smile, not rejecting what I said, yet wondering how this could be. He was an unassuming, do-the-right-thing kind of kid, and I could see genuine warmth in people’s smiles as they engaged him. Of course, he brought me pleasure, and in blessing others, even more so. As the Bible says, “The father of godly children has cause for joy.”1 Years later and with two little blessings of his own, Matthew reflected back on our earlier conversations, now with the benefit of his own fatherly perspective: “I finally understand what you meant,” he said.

Did you know our faith actually brings glory to God? Of Abraham the patriarch, Paul wrote, “he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.”2 The apostle also explained that through Jesus—and all who trust in Him—God’s wisdom is displayed not only before the citizenry of this world, but also “to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”3 And when we accept in faith that all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ, “our ‘Amen’ … ascends to God for his glory.”4 In Christ and through our faith in Him, God is glorified before the entirety of His creation—both that which we see and that which we don’t. Our faith shouts His glory.

How can this possibly be? To everything that exists, faith proclaims that God alone is worthy of our trust—“Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true.”5 Though Satan points to our troubles in plain view and tempts us to doubt God’s power and love, faith looks at the One we cannot see and declares His honor and praise. In fact, faith is in itself “proof” of the existence of what we do not see.6 When we help others “by the strength which God supplies,” then God is “glorified through Jesus Christ,”7 and when we “let [our] light shine before others, they … see [our] good deeds, and glorify [our] Father in heaven.8 Even in our “confession of the gospel of Christ,” and perhaps especially so, others “will glorify God for [our] obedience.”9

What do we do every day? We bring God glory. How humbling this honor! One day we’ll finally understand what this means; for now, we accept it in faith, and in doing so, we glorify God yet again.

To this end also we pray … that our God will … fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in [us], and [us] in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. — 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NASB

1 Proverbs 23:24 NLT
2 Romans 4:20 NASB
3 Ephesians 3:11-12 NASB
4 2 Corinthians 1:18 NLT
5 Romans 3:4 NLT
6 Hebrews 11:1 NASB
7 1 Peter 4:11 NASB
8 Matthew 5:16 NIV
9 2 Corinthians 9:13 NASB


Comfort Zone Confines

The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.—Acts 8:29-31

Have you ever felt spontaneously called to escape the confines of your comfort zone and engage another for the sake of the Kingdom? How did it feel? Did you ever “just go with it” and follow the Spirit’s lead, as Philip did? Sometimes yes; sometimes no? True confession: these God-calling moments often intimidate me, sneaking up and catching me unprepared and flat-footed. And to be completely honest, my sin nature would rather bask privately in the acceptance of God than to risk publicly my own rejection for His name. Yet Biblical faith does not stop at believing God’s promises; it heeds God’s call and obeys His commands. Real faith acts. As Jesus said to His disciples, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”1 Faith leads to obedience, and blessing follows doing.

Then how do we turn from our natural inclinations of reluctance and doubt and set a new paradigm of “Yes, Lord”? Or better yet, how might our feeling of Kingdom obligation mature into our desire for Kingdom opportunity? A few things come to mind. Know your identity, and thrive in the freedom of God’s love: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”2 Recognize you’ve been divinely gifted to serve: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”3 Remember people are asking, seeking and knocking4 to know the life-giving gospel we carry inside—“How can I [understand] unless someone explains it to me?”5 And I think above all is this: “in humility value others above yourselves,”6 as did Jesus, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”7 For when we live and serve in true humility, rejection from others loses its power over us. We are free to love and to serve them in “the obedience that comes from faith.”8 And who knows, maybe we too will be invited to come up and sit with them for a while. Wouldn’t that be great?

Father, You have shown me Your love through countless people and in innumerable ways. Grace and strengthen me, that my faith also would overflow abundantly in joyful obedience to You. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 John 13:17
2 1 John 3:1
3 1 Peter 4:10
4 Matthew 7:7
5 Acts 8:31
6 Philippians 2:3
7 Philippians 2:8
8 Romans 1:5