Conquerors Through Christ

Romans 8:35-39: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I was jolted awake this morning by a phone call at 4:30am. Thankfully it was not an emergency situation as is usually the case when receiving a call in the middle of the night. As I tried to go back to sleep my mind kept going over the challenges that I would be facing on this Monday morning. Does that ever happen to you? Do you somehow become so focused on your problems, your worries, or just your lack of control that you allow anxiety and fear to settle in your mind? We all do that from time to time because we are human and that’s what many of us do best, we tend to worry.

This morning as I could not fall back asleep, I got up and read my Bible and I prayed. And as I began to pray, I noticed that those same thoughts of what the day ahead would bring continued to race through my mind. I was allowing these thoughts of apprehension to take control over my day before it even commenced. And as I became aware of this distraction, God led me to His word so that I could grasp the awesome and might power of God that dwells inside of me. The following scripture helped me to get back on track this morning and I hope that it helps someone else today also.

Psalm 5:1-3 (A psalm of David): Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. This morning prayer of King David is the first passage that I was led to and it helped me to grasp that God is still in control in the midst of worry, fear, and the turmoil of this world that we live in. As believers, we wait expectantly for God to still our hearts and answer our prayers.

King David also shows us another way to approach God in prayer when faced with fear and worry. The psalmist points to the only one in whom we can place our hope and trust when faced with the pain and suffering of this world. Psalm 4:6-8: Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

And finally, God led me to this passage from Roman chapter 8 in which Paul writes about God’s powerful love that we as followers of Christ cannot be separated from. We all experience pain and suffering from time to time. There are many followers of Christ throughout the world today that experience this on a much deeper level than the rest of us. This passage from Romans offers us encouragement and it exclaims to us that this suffering will not and cannot separate us from the love of Christ. It is in our suffering that Christ is there along with us, leading us along or even carrying us at times, even though we may not realize it.

 Thank you God for your promise, that amidst all of the fear and pain that we encounter, nothing can separate us from you, or your great and wonderful love.

 

The Responsibility of a Believer

Our calling as followers of the Risen Christ is to do our part in leading good lives so that others will take note and will turn to faith in God. 1 Peter 2:11-12: Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Non-believers are watching how we live our lives. They are observing our actions more so than the words that we speak. If we “talk” about our belief in Christ but fail to translate that “talk” into how we actually live our lives – then we can do great harm to our witness as Christians. You can quote all of the scripture that you know, but if you don’t actually do what it says, then you have not lived out your calling as a believer. James 1:22: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. I have always wondered why there is not an exclamation point after that last sentence: Do what it says!

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Non-believers are watching and it is up to us as followers of Christ to do our duty in showing them the way to God. Think about how great and powerful a witness the church today would be if we all followed the advice that Paul gave to the believers in the region of Ephesus.

Those who believe in Christ should also be careful about judging others. Many unbelievers often say that the judgmental nature of professing Christians is what turns them off to religion in general. Again we must realize that others are observing how we as believers live out our lives and we must do so in such a way that brings glory to God. The words of Jesus from Luke 6:37: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

And how do we respond when asked about our faith? I often refer to a passage from 1 Peter to guide me in how I respond to someone who asks me about my faith. 1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. So we must always be ready to respond and we should always do so in such a way that our answer is given in a humble and loving way so that others will recognize how different we as believers are from the “world.”

 

Do Not Conform to the World

1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

James tells the Jewish Christians that were “scattered among the nations” (James 1:1) to “keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).

People are constantly searching; they are seeking some “thing” or object that will lead them to fulfillment. Often that search involves material things and while that may offer temporary satisfaction, that feeling soon fades and the search begins again for something else. The Bible teaches us that the things of this world are temporary or fleeting.

Only God offers something that is both fulfilling and permanent. God offers something that this world cannot give and that is the promise of an eternity spent in the presence of God in our heavenly home. Placing our trust and faith in the things of this world leads to destruction and separation from God. Giving our whole self and our lives over to God, leads to eternal life.

The challenge that we face as believers is to not be “polluted” by the things of this world that entice us and lure us away from God. The world that we live in constantly bombards us with so much information and noise that we can’t help but be distracted. Instead of turning to the Bible or a daily conversation with God in prayer, we allow television and the internet to take control and offer a temporary escape from our daily worries and problems.

While most of us don’t like to acknowledge the presence of evil in our lives or in our world, it is a reality if you believe in the Bible. The problem that most believers face today is the unbelief that Satan plays an active role in our daily lives. I see on a daily basis the many ways that the evil one tries to draw me away from God so that I will fail in my duty to be an effective witness to Christ and my faith. It is only by the power of God that I am able to resist the harm that the evil one desires to send my way. It becomes a daily necessity to stop and pray in the name of God for protection from the harm that Satan wants to inflict upon me and upon God’s kingdom. Only then am I able to live in the presence of God and begin to focus my thought process on living a life that is pleasing to God.

James 4:7-8a: Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.

Prayer: God, come into my life today and help me to focus my thoughts and desires upon you. Lead me out of the dark places in life that threaten to undermine your kingdom and your love for this fallen world. Use me to show the love and peace of Christ to everyone I meet, especially those children of yours who are hurting and lost. Help me to seek you God and to come near to you as I try to live out this day by being Christ like so that all honor, praise, and glory will be given to your Holy name. Amen.