Secrets of the Overcoming Life: Knowing Where Your Hope Lies (Part 2)

It is said that a drowning man will clutch at a straw. I like the Collins Dictionary definition of this idiom:

when hope of success is fading, people will try anything, no matter how unlikely it is that it will provide a solution.

Sometimes we find ourselves drowning in the sea of life and immediately we clutch at the first thing we see even though it is the proverbial straw. A straw is not stable. A straw is light and can be blown away easily. There are some people who are drowning in loneliness and they hold onto the first person that comes their way. They place their trust in the first person that shows any interest in their life. As time goes by that lonely person recognizes that they were actually holding a straw.

They are some who are drowning in debt and they hold onto the first sign of hope that comes their way of paying off that debt. Maybe it was a ‘get rich quick’ scheme or some new investment deal with a high payout. In the end they find themselves in the same place or in an even worse position because they placed their hope in something which could not give them deliverance.

I know what it feels like to be drowning in debt but I also know what it feels like to be delivered from debt. In those moments when the issues of life are strangling us and burying us we need to know where our hope lies. We need to know where our deliverance will come from. The Bible records that Peter found himself sinking in the water in the midst of a storm. Even though he was faithfully walking towards Jesus he allowed the circumstances around him to disrupt his faith and he began to sink. Even though he did not have the faith to continue walking on the water; even though he was sinking in the water, he did not clutch at a straw. In that moment of despair Peter knew where his hope lied:

But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. (Matthew 14:30 NLT)

Peter shouted three words “Save me, Lord”. Peter knew his hope did not lie in the boat with the other disciples. He knew his hope was in Jesus. Jesus is our hope. He is not only our hope of eternal life. He is our hope of salvation in this life. Jesus is our hope in the darkness. He is our hope in the storm. He is our hope when we are depressed. He is our hope when we are stressed. When there is nothing in our life that we can hold onto and receive salvation, Jesus is always standing there waiting for us to call on Him for help.

The Bible also records that as soon as Peter shouted for Jesus to save him, Jesus “immediately reached out and grabbed him…” (Matthew 14:31 NLT). Jesus did not hesitate. Jesus saved Peter as soon as the words left Peter’s mouth.

We have a Saviour that is “always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NLT).

We have a Saviour that has promised: “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT)

We have a Saviour who said “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

OUR HOPE LIES IN JESUS CHRIST!

Secrets of the Overcoming Life: Knowing God (Part 2)

It is impossible to know God without trusting Him. Sounds strange? It is impossible to know God as your Healer without trusting Him to heal your body. It is impossible to know God as your Financial Provider without trusting Him to provide you with finances.  It is impossible to know God as a Deliverer without trusting Him to deliver you or your household. A very close look into the lives those men and women in the Bible who overcame obstacles, trouble and afflictions would reveal one thing:

THEY ALL TRUSTED GOD

Lets look into the life of Abram (later called Abraham). Abram lived with his family in Haran. The name ‘Abram’ meant “exalted father” but Abram had no children because his wife was barren. He had no land to call his own. He was not famous and he was not rich according to the standards of the world at the time. One day Abram heard the voice of God. God told him to leave his country, his family and his father’s house and go to another land. God said what He would do for Abram if he obeyed:

And I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 

I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you. (Gen.12:2-3 NLT)

Abram heard the voice of God but he did not know God until he decided to trust the Word of God. Abram obeyed God and left his family, his father’s house and started to travel towards the land that God would show him. Abram was on his own in a dangerous world but he trusted God with his life, family and possessions. Towards the end of his “sojourn” God had “blessed him in every way”. (Gen.24:1 NLT)

  1. A man who left his family without children was blessed with many children and became the “father of many nations” (Gen.17:4-5).
  2. A man who left his family with few possessions was blessed with an abundance of gold, silver and cattle (Gen.13:1).
  3. A man whose name was unknown to the world when he left his family was blessed to the point where his name was known by the Kings of Egypt, Babylon, Gerar and all of the wealthy men of the region. (Gen. 12, 14, 20, 23)
  4. A man who came from a heathen family inherited the Kingdom of God. (Matt.8:11)

Abraham knew God because he trusted God in everything. Anyone can live an overcoming life but they must learn to trust God in everything. David was a young shepherd but he overcame a lion and a bear because he trusted God with his life and his father’s sheep. When the giant, Goliath, showed up dressed in armor from head to toe with a spear, sword and a shield David knew that God would deliver the giant into his hands because he knew the God of Deliverance.

I join the writer of Hebrews:

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. (Heb.11:32-35 NLT)

Knowing God is our armor against the troubles of life. All of those men and women overcame obstacles, troubles and afflictions because they knew God and they knew God because they decided to trust God in the face of their obstacles, troubles and afflictions. We can decide to do the same because with God:

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IF A PERSON BELIEVES (Mark 9:23 NLT)

 

 

Faith is Where the Heart Is! (Part 2)

Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” (Luke 8:25 NLT)

In the midst of the storm we saw Jesus responding in a manner that was totally opposite to the manner in which His disciples responded. In fact, one could say that Jesus’ response was unbelievable or impossible by human standards. How could God expect human beings to be at peace in the presence of strong winds and raging seas when we know the destruction that they can cause? Yet that is exactly what God expects of His children. Jesus expected His disciples to respond to the storm in the same way He responded. Jesus even seemed surprised that His disciples were so fearful. Was Jesus unreasonable? The answer is no.

Jesus was not the only man Who responded with faith in the midst of fear. The Bible records that one day the Army of Israel faced the Army of the Philistines. However, on this particular day, a nine foot, 9 inches man came out of the camp of the Philistines and challenged Israel to a duel. This man was not only a giant but he was a champion. This giant had plenty of experience with fighting and winning battles. This was Israel’s response to that challenge:

When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken. (1 Samuel 17:11 NLT)

The camp of the Israelites was filled with fear. Then a boy entered the camp. This was boy heard the words of the giant. This boy saw the stature of the giant. This boy saw the armor and weapon of the giant but this boy responded to what he heard and saw in a manner that was totally different to the King of Israel and his army:

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”…“I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 

I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:32-37 NLT)

David was in the same camp as King Saul and his army. David saw and heard the same giant that they saw and heard but David did not respond in fear. David’s heart was in a place called faith. David was in a place where those who trust in God live.

The Apostle Paul was in a ship in the midst of a furious storm. There were about 276 men in that ship. The storm was so fierce that they had to throw things out of the ship to lighten it. The storm battered the ship and the sky was filled with darkness. The men saw and heard everything that was happening because of the storm and they gave up hope.

Paul had a totally different response:

Finally, Paul called the crew together and said…take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.” (Acts 27:22-26 NLT)

Paul was in the same ship with those men. He experienced the same things that those men experienced. Paul was no experienced sailor but he had an experience with God in the midst of the storm. This experience caused Paul’s heart to enter into the place of faith while the others remained in the place of fear.

Jesus was in the place of faith when he was on that boat in the storm. Jesus wants His disciples to live in that same place no matter what happens. Jesus wants us to live in the place of faith. Jesus wants our hearts to be rooted and grounded in the ever-abiding presence of God and the exceeding abundant ability of God. We may be human beings but through the grace of God we can enter into that confident place of faith. We can do that because:

FAITH IS WHERE THE HEART IS!

 

 

Faith is Where the Heart is! (Part 1)

Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” (Luke 8:25 New Living Translation)

Home is where the heart is! We can travel all around the globe and experience the best that other nations have to offer but our home will always be the place where our deepest affections are. It may sound strange but our physical bodies can live one place and our hearts can live somewhere else.

The disciples of Jesus were in a boat on the sea in a storm. Jesus was on the same boat in the same storm. However, Jesus and His disciples were in two different places. Luke tells us where the disciples were:

As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.

The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (Luke 8:23-24a NLT)

The disciples were in the same boat with Jesus but their hearts were in a place called fear. They saw the fierceness of the storm and the water in the boat and they became fearful of drowning.

Jesus was in a different place:

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. (Luke 8:24b NLT)

Jesus was in the same boat with his disciples but Jesus’ heart was in a place called faith. When Jesus woke up He saw the fierceness of the wind and the waves but He did not respond to them in the same way as His disciples. Jesus faced the wind and the waves and He commanded them to stop.

The hearts of the disciples were in turmoil. Their hearts were as unsteady as the boat they were in. Even as the boat was filling with water, their hearts were filling with fear. The heart of Jesus was in peace and calm. Jesus was sleeping in faith and He woke up in faith. His heart was unaffected by the wind and the waves. His heart was unaffected by the water in the boat.

After He brought the wind and the waves to a calm. Jesus the question:

Where is your faith?

Where is your faith today? You may be in a place of fierce winds and raging waves but the Word of God reminds us that faith is where the heart is. Even in the midst of the storm your heart can be filled with peace and calm. Even though the world is crumbling around you, your heart can remain intact. Even though this world is unpredictable and circumstances change at any moment, your heart can remain steadfast and unmovable in Jesus Christ.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.

Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! (Psalm 46:1-3 NLT)

 

 

Day 28: God Will Give You Grace to Endure

Believers in Jesus Christ are not hidden from the challenges and obstacles of this world. As long as we are living in this world we will face challenges and obstacles. We may face sickness and disease. We may face financial difficulties. We may face problems in our families. In fact, the Apostle Paul reminded the Church at Corinth that:

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

Believers in Jesus Christ may experience the same things non-believers experience because we live in the same world. However, it is not the will of God for us to fall under the pressure of the challenges and obstacles of this world. It is God’s will for us to keep standing. It is God’s will for us to overcome every challenge and obstacle. God is so serious about this that He looks at every specific challenge and obstacle we face in our lives and formulates a specific plan of escape so we can endure.

  • Joseph was sold as a slave into Potiphar’s house but God blessed Joseph can caused Potiphar to “put [Joseph] in charge of his entire household and everything he owned” (Genesis 39:4 NLT)
  • Joseph was wrongfully accused of rape and placed in prison but God gave Joseph favour and the keeper of the prison “put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison” (Genesis 39:21-22 NLT).
  • Jesus was wrongfully convicted, sentenced to death, beaten and forced to carry His cross to Calvary but God caused the soldiers to force another man (Simon of Cyrene) to carry the cross. (Mark 15:21)

Can you see it?

  1. Even though Joseph experienced betrayal by his brothers, the life of a slave and a prisoner, Joseph was able to endure until he got to the Palace. God gave Joseph the grace to endure and in the end Joseph was able to save his family and Egypt from seven years of famine.
  2. Even though Jesus was betrayed by his own disciple (Judas), was wrongfully convicted, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, Jesus was able to endure until He got to Calvary. God gave Jesus the grace to endure and in the end Jesus was able to save the entire world from a lifetime of sin.

God gave Jesus the grace to endure. In other words, God ensured that Jesus had enough energy to make it to Calvary. God will do the same for us. God will not allow the challenges and obstacles we face to overcome us. God will give us grace to endure them and overcome them.

Day 27: Earth’s Mightiest Hero is Alive

The Avengers (created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) are referred to as “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”. These heroes are not mighty only because they have superior strength, skills and power. They are mighty because of the great battles they have won and the great challenges they have overcame. The Bible is also filled with mighty heroes.

Moses delivered the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt:

Moses was a man “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was MIGHTY in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22 KJV)

With MIGHTY power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:12 NLT)

Samson delivered the children of Israel from the oppression of the Philistines:

And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his MIGHT; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. (Judges 16:30 KJV)

Jesus delivered the children of Israel from sickness, disease and demonic oppression:

And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him–the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and MIGHT, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2 NLT)

And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet MIGHTY in deed and word before God and all the people: (Luke 24:19 KJV)

All of these mighty heroes died and were buried. However, one of them defeated death. Jesus was crucified and was buried but God raised Him from the dead:

…and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.  (Ephesians 1:20-22 NLT)

Jesus Christ is Earth’s Mightiest Hero and He is alive and well. There is no man, no leader, no angel, no power or authority which is greater than Jesus. In times of trouble it is comforting to know that there is someone with great authority and power that can help us. Jesus is our Mighty Hero. He delivered us from sin. He is able to deliver us from evil and help us in temptation. With the help of Jesus Christ, (Earth’s Mightiest Hero) we can overcome every obstacle:

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. (Hebrews 2:18 NLT)