Converted to Conquer (2)

The example of David’s victory over Goliath (1 Sam 17) is a great encouragement to us, giving us strategies for how to become more than a conqueror. David was only a young man and Goliath a 9′ 9″ ‘giant’ (bigger than Schwarzenegger!), yet David teaches us much about conquering our giants.

  1. He received God’s anointing (1 Sam 16:13), even though Jesse did not consider him worth bringing in from the fields to meet Samuel. The anointing from God via Samuel became the transforming factor in David’s life, filling him with power and confidence. Jesus too received God’s anointing (see Luke 4:18) and promised we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us (Acts 1:8). We need to be like Paul, seeking to know more of Christ’s resurrection life (Phil 3:10) and seeking the anointing that breaks all yokes of slavery.
  2. He recognised his opportunity. Sent on a lunch mission by his father, David seized the moment (1 Sam 17:26), not being intimidated by Goliath, Saul or the disdain of his brothers. He had confidence in God and pressed his case (1 Sam 17:36). Smith Wigglesworth once said, ‘we miss the grandeur because we lack the audacity.’ Like Bartimaeus, we need to press on, even when discouraged by others, and speak out when God gives us opportunity.
  3. He relied entirely upon God. Saul offered him his kingly armour (a real honour), but David was wise enough to distinguish between hindrances and helps and knew that he had to be himself, relying entirely on God. What God had done for him in the past (delivering him from the paw of the lion and of the bear) gave him confidence that deliverance would come now (1 Sam 17:37). We need to resist the temptation and pressure to please others and determine to rely on God alone.
  4. He refused to listen to the enemy’s threats. Often, we find it easier to believe what the devil says than what God says, but we must refuse to listen to the voice of fear. Goliath taunted David, predicting disaster and cursing him (1 Sam 17:43-44), but David chose not to be intimidated by fear (see 2 Tim 1:7). Fear is not just an emotion; it has a profound effect on our bodies, as Dr Caroline Leaf, a Christian neuroscientist, reminds us (‘fear marinates the body in toxic chemicals.’) We need to learn to listen to the ‘Voice of Truth’ as Casting Crowns remind us, for Prov 28:1 tells us that ‘the righteous are as bold as a lion’ – confident, unashamed and fully aware of who is King!
  5. He raised his voice to prophesy Goliath’s destruction. We need to speak out with the voice of faith, as David did (1 Sam 17:45-47). As we speak out God’s promises, He is able to make these promises come to pass. Prov 18:21 reminds us that the power of life and death is in the tongue. We need to be like Caleb and Joshua, speaking out the truth of God’s Word so that we see the destruction of every enemy.
  6. He ran quickly to the battle. In David, we see no fear, no reluctance, but an eagerness and enthusiasm to do God’s will. We can do this when we have a revelation of how much God loves us. After  all, we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us (Rom 8:37).  Perfect love drives out fear (1 Jn 4:18), for we are not saved by performance, but by paternity. (Rom 8:32) When we are secure in God’s lavish love, we can do what God says we can do with alacrity and determination.

Converted To Conquer

Guest speaker Yan Hadley spoke on Rom 8:37 tonight, reminding us that ‘we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us.’ We are not converted simply to cling to Christ in grim desperation, but belong to a victorious Saviour who always causes us to triumph (see 2 Cor 2:14). We are called not simply to overcome (as the message to the churches in the book of Revelation indicates) but to be ‘more than conquerors’, walking as Christ walked (1 Jn 2:6).

‘Trouble will never triumph over you’ is the phrase we must remember, for life is not easy and there will always be trials and troubles to overcome. If we are to triumph, we have to adopt a new mindset, which is done primarily through the transformation and renewing of our thinking. (Rom 12:1-2) We are called to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18); when we adopt this attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude, we are in God’s will and are strengthened by the positive attitude which thanksgiving cultivates. We must also have high expectations, based on Phil 4:13 (‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’) So often, we have negative attitudes and low expectations, but these hinder us; miracles come in cans, as Joyce Meyer says, for we must learn to encourage ourselves and confess and believe the word of God to trust that we can be all that God says we can be and can do all that He says we can do.

Rend Collective remind us:

‘We are more than conquerors through Christ

You have overcome this world, this life.

We will not bow to sin or to shame;

We are defiant in Your name.

You are the fire that cannot be tamed.

You are the power in our veins.

Our Lord, our God, our conqueror.’ (‘More Than Conquerors’, Rend Collective)

Practical help

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:31-46) reminds us that practical help can be profoundly spiritual: the people commended by God were not aware that in helping the poor, needy and in prison they had actually been serving the King, but this was His conclusion: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:40)

There are so many ways we can help people in the next few weeks, practical things that may not seem particularly spiritual in our eyes, but which, when offered to God, can be used in ways we can only begin to imagine.

In preparation for the Winter Wonderland outreach (18th November) and the Christmas Market (24th November), we need small items for the goody bags such as wrapped sweets and chocolates (e.g. lollipops) and gifts to include in the bags. We also need tombola prizes and raffle prizes for the Christmas Market.

The Salvation Army is holding a ‘Winter Warmer Day’ on 10th November when they will be giving out items to help the needy and homeless stay warm over Christmas. If you have any hats, scarves, gloves, or coats which could be given out on that day, please bring them to church as soon as possible. We will also be contributing hot water bottles and flasks to help with this as we have done in previous years.

The most practical gift we can offer to God is our time. If you are able to actually help at either of the Christmas outreaches (we will be doing Advent activities and giving out goody bags at Winter Wonderland and serving refreshments and fund-raising for the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal at the Christmas market), even for just an hour, that would be a great help. Helping by baking goodies, serving drinks, washing up, manning stalls, wrapping presents and supervising activities are all examples of how we can give God our time to serve our local community – and in doing so, we serve Him. Before the events, we are preparing the goody bags on Wednesday 8th November (10.30 a.m. at the Salvation Army), another way you can help, even if you are unable to attend the events. There is so much we can do to serve our community. Please pray for all the outreach events and know that by your prayers, you too are offering God your time and energies for His service.


One Touch, Three Blessings

Mark spoke this morning from Luke 8:40-56, reminding us that one touch from Jesus can make all the difference in our lives. This passage talks of two miracles: healing for a woman who had suffered bleeding for twelve years and the raising from the dead of Jairus’s daughter. Jesus had been having a very busy time; immediately prior to these healings, He had calmed a raging storm and healed a naked madman. The fact that He had time to reach out to others in healing demonstrates His compassion and love for people.

Jairus, a synagogue leader, must have been desperate when Jesus stopped en route to his home to ask who had touched Him. (Luke 8:45) His daughter was dying and he needed the help of Jesus immediately. Jesus knew that power had left Him and wanted to give the woman who had reached out to touch the hem of His garment the opportunity to receive even more than the physical healing she had already experienced.

For a woman to suffer for so long would have left her alone, poor, isolated and perhaps wrestling with the idea of being under God’s condemnation since she was officially declared ‘unclean’. Jesus’s words to her reminded her of her status (‘daughter’, in a personal relationship with God, not cursed, but loved, precious and valuable) and gave her peace. She received not only physical healing, but her mind and spiritual life were all put right by His words.

It’s so easy when we suffer to believe the enemy’s lies that this is because we are under God’s wrath. God treats us as sons and daughters, however,  and always has time for us. Jesus had time for both the woman and for Jairus’s daughter: both received healing and life from Jesus. We can be sure when He touches us that our lives will be irrevocably changed for the better.

The Cure For Corrosion

Corrosion occurs when metals are gradually destroyed by chemical and/or electrochemical reactions with their environment. Perhaps the most common form is rusting, the formation of iron oxides, which results in a distinctive orange colour on the normally silver-coloured metal, typically caused when iron is corroded by water or air moisture.

Given sufficient time, oxygen and water, any iron mass will eventually rust to the point of distintegration, as the image above demonstrates. Clearly, such a problem has led to many working to prevent corrosion (by creating, for example, rust-resistant alloys such as stainless steel or by galvanisation, protecting the metal with a layer of zinc.)

In the spiritual realm, corrosion is just as destructive to spiritual health as rust is in the natural world. It is not caused by exposure to water or oxygen, however; it is caused by bitterness and resentment, by holding on to a grudge, and by an unwillingness to forgive others.

Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel, and Jesus calls us to pass on all we have received from Him freely. The command to forgive is unequivocal and without limits (see, for example, Matt 6:12, 14-15; Matt 18:21-35; Mk 11:25; Luke 17:3-4; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13) and is the only known cure for spiritual corrosion. Without forgiveness, we hold on to bitter roots which destroy us and defile others (Heb 12:15). Only as we forgive do we find freedom from anger, bitterness and resentment, and the joy and peace which God promises to His children.

Making Room For Truth

Jesus said to the religious Jews who opposed Him, ‘I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.’ (Jn 8:37-38)

Having no room for God’s Word is like wearing tight-fitting clothes which are uncomfortable and restrictive. It’s not enough to know what God says about truth. We have to do what He commands us to. (James 1:22)

If we want to have the freedom to change, to move freely in the spacious world of salvation which God has provided for us, we have to make room for God’s word in our lives and hearts. Just as there was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph and Jesus made His appearance as a baby in a stable, we can shut Jesus out of many rooms in our lives, building walls to keep Him out of certain areas of our lives. We might come to church on Sundays, but we don’t want to make room for Him in our everyday lives. We don’t want Him to challenge us on our attitudes; we’d rather continue in our unforgiveness and misery than swallow our pride and forgive. We don’t want Him to challenge us about our money; we’d rather go it alone than give Him everything. We don’t want Him to set us free because we have got used to living in restricted room and there is a certain familiarity to slavery which is less daunting than the wide, open spaces of freedom. We so easily have no room for God’s word, thinking it impractical and illogical and justifying to ourselves why we think that. When we are like this, we turn our backs on the possibility of miracles and transformation, all because we have no room for God’s word.

Making room for God’s Word means being responsive to what He tells us to do – whether that’s to forgive, to speak a word of encouragement, to step out in faith or however He speaks to us and challenges us. This can be very difficult, but Jesus is the One who is full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:14) If we’re struggling with the truth, we can ask for grace to obey and it will be freely given.

Truth is not…

Many of us believe in a wrong definition of truth. Truth is not…

  • simply whatever works (this is pragmatism!)
  • just what we can understand (there are many truths in both the physical and spiritual realms which we don’t understand, but our capacity to understand something is not the arbiter of what is true or false.)
  • simply what the majority of people say is true (sadly, we are often swayed by majority opinion, but history teaches us that opinion by numbers doesn’t necessarily equal truth.)
  • … just what makes people feel good (whilst truth is ultimately liberating and beneficial, in the short-term, it can be very painful, and often we shun truth because of this.)
  • simply what we can prove (though we like to believe we are able to prove everything, this is clearly not true even in the physical realm and definitely isn’t true of the invisible, spiritual realm!)

Truth is ultimately defined by God because He is the ultimate Being in our universe. If we live in a human-centric universe, we will want to define truth for ourselves, but if we accept the Bible’s teaching that God is the centre of everything and we are His creation, we will be content to accept God’s definition of truth.

T Is For Truth

Tonight’s alphabet series on essential ingredients in a life of faith looked at T is for Truth. Absolute truth is not something many people believe in nowadays, the preference being to say things like ‘If that’s true for you, that’s fine, but this is what I believe so this is true for me.’ Truth is, however, ‘that which is in accordance with fact or reality’ and God defines truth by His own character. Jesus said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’ (Jn 14:6) and whilst spiritual truth may not be visible to natural eyesight, God clearly says that there is such a thing as absolute truth and that truth is bound up in Jesus (see also Is 45:19, Jn 1:14, Jn 1:17).

The idea of absolute truth is necessarily intolerant and exclusive and will arouse the opposition of many. Jesus is ‘a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ (1 Pet 2:8, quoting Is 8:14) We do not go out of our way to be contentious, but the recent political furores over politicians who have held to Biblical truth (e.g. Tim Farron and Jacob Rees-Mogg) remind us that there is a cost to holding to truth (see 2 Tim 3:12).

Truth is, however, liberating (see Jn 8:31-36) and brings many benefits. Truth leads us away from the slavery of sin and into the freedom of being called God’s children (see Rom 8:14-16). As we embrace the truth Jesus brings into our lives, we are set free from the kingdom of darkness (whose king, the devil, is the father of lies (Jn 8:44)) and become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17, Gal 4:6-7).

This new life, though, isn’t automatic. We have the choice to offer ourselves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness. God wants us to learn to obey from our hearts the pattern of teaching which He offers us so that we realise we have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Rom 6:16-18) Truth is powerful because it can have an impact on how we live, but we need to allow truth to work in us and through us for it to have this effect.