Secrets of the Overcoming Life: Knowing God (Part 1)

There are many secrets to living an overcoming life. One of those secrets is ‘knowing God’. Let me explain. A problem is not really a problem if you know someone who can fix it. A broken pipe in your home is frustrating but if you know a competent, reliable, trustworthy plumber, your frustrations will eventually disappear. The Bible is full of men and women who were afflicted and plagued with problems. Some were fearful because of their problems. Some were confused because of their problems. However, their fear and confusion eventually disappeared. They eventually disappeared because these men and women knew Someone Who could fix the source of their fear and confusion:

THEY KNEW GOD

King Jehoshaphat had a great problem. A large army was marching towards Jerusalem and they were coming to steal, kill and destroy. The armies of Moab, Ammon and others were coming to fight against Jerusalem. It seemed as though all hell had broken loose against Jehoshaphat. When Jehoshaphat heard the troubling news he was afraid but the Bible records something amazing. In the midst of his fear, Jehoshaphat:

“…set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3 ESV)

Jehoshaphat knew God. Knowing God does not mean knowing that God exists. Knowing God means knowing:

  1. The Identity of God (Who God is: His character, His attributes…)
  2. The Ability of God (What God can do: His power, His authority…)
  3. The Word of God (What God has said: His promises, His covenants…)

Jehoshaphat’s knowledge of God is seen in his prayer to God in 2 Chronicles 20:5-9 :

Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the LORD. He prayed, “O LORD, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven.  (The Identity of God)

You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? (The Ability of God)

And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war,plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’ (The Word of God) 

Jehoshaphat knew God’s identity, His ability and His Word. He knew that God was all-powerful. He knew the promises God made to Abraham concerning the Promised Land. He knew that God promised to answer any prayer for help that was made in the Temple or towards the Temple that Solomon had built. Therefore, Jehoshaphat prayed and God heard him and helped him and all Judah.

God delivered Judah from that large army. God won a great victory for Judah because their king knew God. Jehoshaphat overcame fear because he knew God. Those who believe in Jesus Christ can be victorious even though there is a large problem coming to steal, kill and destroy. Jehoshaphat knew the problem. He knew the problem was big. He knew the problem was too big for him and his army to handle. But Jehoshaphat knew the problem was not too big for His God to handle.

Are you facing a problem that is too big for you to handle? No problem. There is no problem which is too big for God. Remember the Identity of God, the Ability of God and the Word of God. Learn Who God is. Learn what God can do. Learn what God has said. You will overcome!

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10 NLT)

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)

 

 

The key to Understanding the Parable of the Mustard Tree

Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19 NLT)

The key that we will use to unlock understanding of this parable is:

The Bible is One Book

This means we must ask this question:

Is there something which was recorded in another part of the Bible that can help us understand this parable?

When we examine the Book of Daniel we see a similar parable. This parable was revealed through a dream God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Here is the first part of the dream:

“‘While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree. (Daniel 4:10-12 NLT)

Here is Daniel’s interpretation:

That tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth. (Daniel 4:22 NLT)

Nebuchadnezzar saw birds nesting in the branches of that tree. Daniel said that meant that Nebuchadnezzar’s rule reached “to the ends of the earth”. In other words, Nebuchadnezzar’s power and authority had spread so far throughout the entire world that everyone in the world had to live under his power and authority.

Jesus referred to birds making nests in the branches of the mustard tree. When we use Daniel’s interpretation to interpret Jesus’ parable we discover that:

The Kingdom of God will become so great and spread so far that it will rule the entire earth and every living person will have to live under its authority.

This interpretation is confirmed by several scriptures:

For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'” (Romans 14:11 NLT)

By Myself I have sworn; truth has gone out from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow before Me, every tongue will confess allegiance. (Isaiah 45:23 NLT)

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NLT)

The Kingdom of Babylon had become so powerful that all nations and tongues had to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar and serve him. Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God will become so great that all nations and tongues will have to bow down and serve God. When we view the Bible as One Book we start to see connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Prayer Point:

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

 

Biblical Understanding Key #1: The Bible is One Book

The first key to understanding the Bible is accepting that the Bible is one Book. The Bible is one Book divided into two main sections:

  1. The Old Testament
  2. The New Testament

Many people hear the word ‘new’ and automatically reject the ‘old’. However, Jesus never rejected the Old Testament. The Apostles never rejected the Old Testament. In fact, the writings of the Old Testament were the only writings they used. Jesus referred to the writings of the Old Testament when He preached and taught:

For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:40 NLT)

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ (Matthew 19:4 NLT)

Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. (Luke 17:32-33 NLT)

The Apostles referred to the writings of the Old Testament when they preached and taught:

These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: (Acts 2:15-16 NLT)

And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. (2 Peter 2:5 NLT)

Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.  As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. (Romans 3:9-11 NLT)

The Old Testament contains information which can help us understand the New Testament. The New Testament contains information which can help us understand the Old Testament. When we sit down to study any Book of the Bible we must keep in mind that the Bible is one Book. It is one Book inspired by One God. I will discuss this in more detail in the next post God willing.

For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 NLT)

Day 30: The Secret to Living an Overcoming Life

The secret to living an overcoming life is found throughout the entire Bible. Enoch learned this secret. Noah learned this secret. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob learned this secret. David learned this secret. All of the great men and women of the Bible learnt to do this one thing:

FOLLOW GOD

  • After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. (Genesis 5:22 NLT)
  • This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. (Genesis 6:9 NLT)
  • When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. (Genesis 17:1 NIV)
  • But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 3:22 NLT)

Jesus knew this secret and He practiced it on earth:

So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. (John 5:19 NLT)

The first instruction Jesus gave when He called His disciples was:

FOLLOW ME

The disciples of Jesus Christ walked in close fellowship with Jesus. They followed Jesus and:

They received the power and authority to do what Jesus did. (Matthew 10:1)

They received a commission to teach what Jesus taught. (Matthew 28:19-20)

They received the same Spirit that Jesus had. (John 20:22)

The disciples of Jesus Christ had these experiences because they followed Jesus wholeheartedly. They wanted to go where Jesus went. They wanted to do what Jesus did. They wanted to be Who Jesus is. Following Jesus allowed the disciples to overcome sin, doubt, weakness and fear. Following Jesus allowed them to endure persecution, imprisonment, and other bad experiences. Following Jesus will allow us to do the same in every area of our lives. When we follow Jesus we will receive the power and authority to live an overcoming life.

The Overcoming Life is within the reach of every believer in Jesus Christ. The Overcoming Life is within the reach of every person who hears the good news about Jesus Christ. God has revealed the secret to us:

FOLLOW HIM

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)

Day 26: God is Thinking About You

God is thinking about you! In fact, God is thinking about you every day. God was thinking about you from the foundation of this world. God was thinking about you before you appeared in your mother’s belly. We think about those we are in love with every day. Sometimes we think about them every minute. Sometimes we think about them even while we are sleeping.

GOD IS IN LOVE WITH YOU

God is thinking about your physical health:

He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I AM THE LORD WHO HEALS YOU.” (Exodus 15:26 NLT)

HE SENT OUT HIS WORD AND HEALED THEM, snatching them from the door of death. (Psalm 107:20 NLT)

God is thinking about your mental health:

The God of peace (The God Who gives peace of mind) will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20 NLT)

God is thinking about your future:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, THOUGHTS OF PEACE, AND NOT OF EVIL, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

The New Living Translation states:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, TO GIVE YOU A FUTURE AND A HOPE. (Jeremiah 29:11)

God loves you so much. You are His child. God said this about His Son Jesus Christ:

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5 NLT)

God wants the best His children. God is always thinking about His children.

  • You may be trapped in between the Red Sea and the Egyptian Army but God is thinking about you. He wants to open the Red Sea so you can escape from your enemies.
  • You may be in the wilderness but He is thinking about you. God wants to lead you into the Promised Land.
  • You may be in a boat during a storm but He is thinking about you. He wants to calm the storm and bring you safely to shore.

In those moments of hopelessness and despair remember that ‘God is thinking about you’.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. (Ephesians 1:4-6 NLT)