Friday, August 28, 2015

Faith Is The Victory

This message may just be a word from the Lord for me today, it definitely comes straight from my own personal struggles this week.  The enemy has been working overtime to get me to believe that my life isn’t reflective of the abundant life God’s Word promises, that my faith is weak and useless, and that I have been wasting my time praying for things I will never see come to fruition.  It may be for me, but I believe many struggle with the same thoughts so I am sharing it with you anyway.

I John 5:4 - For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.

I love this old hymn that was taken from I John 5:4:

“Encamped along the hills of light,
ye Christian soldiers, rise,
And press the battle ere the night
shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
that overcomes the world.
Faith is the victory!
Faith is the victory!
Oh, glorious victory,
that overcomes the world.
To him that overcomes the foe,
white raiment shall be giv’n;
Before the angels he shall know
his name confessed in heav’n.
Then onward from the hills of light,
our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
in Jesus’ conqu’ring name.”
Faith is the victory!
Faith is the victory!
Oh, glorious victory,
that overcomes the world.

Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.  That’s what the verse in I John 5 says, what an incredible promise from the Word of God!  God is telling us that faith is a powerful thing! It gives us power that we could not achieve any other way.

Hebrews 11:32-35
“What more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection.”

“Who through faith conquered kingdoms…were made strong out of weakness”

That’s the kind of faith and power I want in my life.

But the author of Hebrews doesn't stop there with the words we just read. He goes on to write:
“Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Hebrews 11:36-38

I can almost guarantee that no Sunday school teacher ever taught children this side of faith. Can you imagine how that might go? ‘Class, today I am going to show you in the Word how trusting God can get thrown in jail, hated by your friends, and will force you to live in a trailer park the rest of your life.’
 It would certainly send a lot of people down the road.  And I can’t say that I would blame them.  

Nobody I know is interested in a faith that would lead to pain, struggling, torment and suffering. Most people want a powerful faith that gives them confidence – not fear.

That’s why so many preachers preach the “prosperity gospel.” They teach their followers that all they need to do is believe and have enough faith… and their faith will fix anything… and everything will be OK.  It’s a very popular message, I have to admit that even I want to believe it when I hear it preached, especially when I’m facing my struggles. It definitely draws the crowds. They sell a god whose power is channeled through visualization, positive thinking, and “Name it and Claim it.”

"Name it and claim it" is all about naming what you want, claiming it before the throne of God, and then being so intense about your faith that you must receive what you've named and claimed, that it will be yours by virtue of the fact that you vocalized your desire with such faith and intensity that God is obligated to give you what you seek.  Preachers like this draw in people by the 1000s because there are people out there who feel helpless in this world and they want a God who will step in and will fix all your problems.

Don't misunderstand me, I believe in a God who can do all those things.  I believe in a God that can part the sea, close the mouth of lions, deliver men from the fire, heal the sick, and give resurrection life to the dead. I believe in a God who can make me strong when I am weak.

But what I don’t believe in are the false teachings of charlatans who sell a fake faith that teaches people that all they need to insist "having it their way" and God will do what they want done. I don't believe in "Burger King Faith." They teach people that all they need do is speak something that they want to occur and they can get God to bend to their will, not the other way around.  And if it doesn't work, well, then it’s your fault not God’s.

If you don’t receive what you prayed for it’s your fault, because you didn't have enough faith.
The whole mindset behind those kinds of preachers and churches is that faith is the tool you can use get what you want. And if the tool doesn’t work… iit was your fault. You obviously didn’t have enough faith.

For these false teachers, faith fixes everything.  True Faith never lets you down. It makes it so we never suffer, we never fail.

But Let me bold enough to say, if that’s true, then the Apostle Paul didn’t have enough faith!  Paul was beaten and stoned and run out of almost every town.  If they’re right, none of the Apostles had enough faith!  Every one of them with the exception of John died a martyr’s death.  

Did Jesus not have enough faith?  He ended up on the cross and died a terrible death.  

Just before he was betrayed Jesus spent a long time at the Garden of Gethsemane praying about His impending crucifixion and death. Do you remember what He prayed?  “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42}

True biblical faith is different than what these preachers preach.  They teach that true faith is when you hand God a sheet of paper with all your requests written on it… and then you believe, expect actually,  God to do what you want.  That’s not Biblical Faith!   Biblical Faith is when you hand God a blank sheet of paper, and then you tell God – not my will, but yours be done. 

Here’s a blank piece of paper. I trust you to fill it in with things You want done in my life. Granted, I’ll still make my requests known to God. I’ll still tell Him what I’d prefer to see done in my life.  But I trust Him to choose what He wills.

Jesus told His followers:
"… In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Jesus never taught us that a life of faith would be filled with sweetness and light.

Jesus never taught that a life of faith would always be painless and comforting.


Listen to me please, I am speaking from experience, misunderstanding that truth can sour your attitude toward God and drive a wedge between you and Him. A wedge that may ultimately drive you completely from His presence.

If you look at the stories in the Bible you find that God’s people sometimes had to wait years to see how God working in their lives.

Joseph waited 15 years
Abraham waited 25 years
Moses waited 40 years
Jesus waited 30
Paul pleaded with the Lord 3 times, and was beheaded still waiting
If God is making you wait – you’re in very good company.

My point is this:
Our faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
Our God does mighty things in response to our faith.
Our God is faithful.

He doesn't do things on our terms, or on our timetable, or in our way.  That’s not how He works!  But let me tell you how He does work: My favorite example of how faith ought to be is the account of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego.

In Daniel 3:1 we’re told that “King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.”

Everybody was commanded to bow down to this image, but Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego refused to do that. They were brought before the King who said they would have one more chance to bow down to his idol - or they’d be thrown into the fiery furnace.

Their response blows my mind every time I read it:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

In other words… our God can deliver us us, but if not - even if He doesn’t remove this persecution, take away this present suffering, deliver us from this pain, or save us from this physical death, we still won’t bow down because He is our God and our faith will ultimately give us the victory over your kingdom when He welcomes us into His.  

And most of you know the rest of the story.

They were saying their faith was the victory that overcame their world.

The King could kill them, but he couldn't kill their faith.

Their God was big enough to rescue them.

But if He did not… they still believed and they would not disobey Him in this matter.

They had no intention of trying to manipulate God to do things their way, in their time.

That’s the kind of faith I want in my life, that’s the type of faith that will lead to victory, and that is the power that comes from the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in your life.

Acts 1:8
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Romans 8:18
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

God has given us everything we need to stand our ground against the discouraging lies of the enemy:

Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,  20 for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Faith is the victory that assures that I will someday be free of the suffering of this life and in the presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  That is the victory which overcomes the world and the truth that I will continue to preach, truth that gives hope to the hopeless, truth that points us to the cross of Jesus, truth that directs us to die daily to our own desires, truth that reminds us of the resurrection power found only in the Son of God and of the fact that if our hope is in this life only we of all people are most miserable, and the truth of a faith that shuts the mouth of that roaring lion who seeks to devour.

Faith is the victory that overcomes this world!

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