A Word for Today: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Photo by Gabriel Silvério on Unsplash

Dealing with defeat is more than just being discouraged.  Defeat has a way of getting deep down within the spirit of man and making them feel crushed beyond measure.  It’s more than a heavy load.  It’s carrying the weight of disappointment, hopelessness, and pain without seeing any real way of being able to experience the least bit of victory in the end.  Therefore, the shoulders slump forward without the strength to be lifted up.

How does one go one when they think they have no more power for the press of this life?  There is nothing you and I can do to overcome on our own.  A humanistic way of thinking will formulate plans over and over again but they come to nought.  Or, any measure of peace we think to feel becomes fleeting and never lasting.

In Jesus Christ, we have our ultimate source of victory.  He said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  HE IS THE DEFEATER OF DEFEAT.  He is the power that stands aright with no competition to put Him down.  He is our way when there seems to be no way.  Our comfort when the love of people is few and far between.

There is NOBODY like my JESUS!  Ain’t that the truth!  He’s my comfort when I am comfortless.  He’s my fortress when I am surrounded by enemies.  He’s my strength when everything within me feels weak.  He has overcome anything and everything this world has thrown at Him and He stands ready to overcome for you, too.

We are far from defeated.  We are more than conquerors.  Everything that tries to convince us otherwise is a bald-faced lie from the enemy.  We are secured in Christ.  Christ has already won all the competitions of this life.  He has already overwhelmed the enemy.  He has taken this world by storm and we rest in the realm of His power, strength, and love.

To say that Christ has won is an understatement.  He has literally crushed, obliterated, and stands on the head of every adversary we may face today.  The world may think they have won but Jesus will flip the script on them every time and show who He really is.  He has “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross,” (Col. 2:15; NIV).  His enemies are being made a footstool at His feet (Hebrews 10:13; NIV).  He is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords and will conquer everything and everybody that tries to war against Him (Revelation 17:14).

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, WE ARE ON THE WINNING SIDE!  There is no defeat for a child of God.  We have too much victory available to us through the name and the blood of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Victor.

He has already overcome and we will overcome with Him!  Be of good cheer.

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“All seasons don’t look the same!”

“What God starts in you, He’s going to Finish!”

Don’t get discouraged by what you see before you now. Setbacks occur in life but they do not define you if you don’t let them. You ARE NOT a finished product yet. God is STILL molding you and shaping you. You are currently under HOLY CONSTRUCTION and “WHAT GOD STARTS IN YOU, HE’S GOING TO FINISH IT!”
 
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Philippians 1:6

“When we can trust in no other, we can always count on God!”

“The LORD is near…”

“Snuggle in God’s arms. When you are hurting, when you feel lonely, left out. Let Him cradle you, comfort you, reassure you of His all-sufficient power and love.”
– Kay Arthur

“Where My Life is Found!”

Some days my life feels taken.

Overshadowed with fear, my faith feels shaken.

But You told me that I’m not forsaken.

In Your hands, I am molded and shapen.

Failures, mess-ups and disappointments

all try to rob me of my anointing.

Making me feel like the least of all,

but You declared my life has a mighty call.

Walking away is not an option,

I was brought in by Your holy adoption.

To make me more than what I see in self,

to rise me higher in spiritual wealth.

In You, I am rich to do a mighty work,

denying the frustrations that try to steal my worth.

I stand in faith upon that solid ground.

In Jesus Christ, where my life is found!

“And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith,” Philippians 3:9

“There is power in prayer!”

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“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” Acts 12:5 (read Acts 12:1-11)

Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Why is that? Because as breath is with the body, with each inhale and exhale one’s life is sustained; so is the prayer line that fosters that interpersonal relationship between God and man. It is not only life-sustaining, but it’s soul-sustaining keeping that glorious love connection betwixt the two opened and flowing.

Prayer is and of itself a discipline where one places themselves at the feet of the Almighty; to draw near to Him; to get to know Him more. Yet, prayer is often as well a plea of desperation when the times and trials of this life are too hard to bear. When we are at the end of our rope; or, when we just don’t understand what is happening or the road we should take – we pray.

We pray because deep within ourselves we know that try as we might, we can find no better help. Nor, is there any higher intervention than that which comes from God. Therefore, through prayer, we seek the release of His help and power into our problems, our lives, and the lives of those whom we intercede for.

Prayer is, and becomes, that connective key where God and man meet to converse on an intimate level, recognizing His greatness and sovereignty in the midst of our humanness and weaknesses.

And, this is what the church was hoping for when they offered up prayers on behalf of Peter who was now in prison. By this time persecution was not a new thing to the church. Throughout the Book of Acts, there are uprisings against the faith. The idea of the church enduring hardship was not going away anytime soon.

As a matter of fact, James, one of Jesus’s original disciples, was killed in the process by the sword (beheading, some say). Then, seeking, even more, favor among men, Herod proceeded further in attacking the church and imprisoning Peter also.

The Bible tells us, “Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him,” (Acts 12:5). This is the epitome of what it means when the Psalmist declared, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD. . .” (Psalm 121:1-2a).

Pain and suffering were taking place in the church but hope was not lost because their hope was not in the circumstances that surrounded them – their hope was in God who reigned above them.

Therefore, they prayed!

Don’t tell me prayer doesn’t matter; that it doesn’t make a difference. Yes, it does! God will literally make chains fall off and set captives free through the power of prayer (as He does for Peter here).

Unbeknownst to Peter, God heard their prayers and He was working on his case. Peter, shackled and asleep between two soldiers, was about to experience a miraculous breakthrough of a lifetime. He may have been appointed to be kept under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each; but, Peter had just one God that would step in and free him from their midst.

See, it doesn’t matter how bad they have you wrapped up, God can break through it all. It doesn’t matter how many chains and shackles the enemy will try to place on you, prayer to the right Source; to God alone, will free you from their hold.

Peter was getting an up close and personal lesson in this area. God sent an angel to come to Peter in the night. With light filling the prison house the angel stood before Peter and aroused him from his sleep by hitting him on his side.  He spoke, “Arise up quickly,” (Acts 12:7). And, immediately his chains fell off.

Through the initial intervention of prayer, God was literally breaking chains off of Peter to set him free! You have to get happy about that and feel it in your spirit what God wants to do for His people. God will move and instruct His heavenly hosts to work on your behalf as He did for Peter through the power of prayer.  Never underestimate the power of God. He can do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20).

The church was praying corporately and God was listening attentively, and He was working it out. When the shackles fell from his hands, the angel then instructed Peter to get himself together and put his shoes on and to follow him (Acts 12:8).

Acts 12:10 tells us, “When they were past the first, and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.” Amazing!  You have to admire the beauty of it all coming together. God not only freed him, but took him past one enemy, and then another enemy. He took him through the prison and out the huge iron gate unknown to anyone. This blew my mind. None of the enemies had a clue to what God was up to in freeing Peter. I don’t know if they were all in a heavy sleep or not, but God did it. He freed Peter.

Peter’s freedom was spawned through the prayers of the church. Yes, God could most certainly move without the intervention of anyone. But, here in these verses, a special note was made to stand out that when they prayed; when they got together collectively and on one accord to seek for Peter’s freedom, that’s when the miracle happened. God wants us to know the importance and the power of prayer. He said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,” (Psalms 50:15).

Prayer was a huge key at work in the moving and miracles of the first-century church and it should be a huge key at work in our current lives and ministries as well. Paul later teaches, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting,” (1 Timothy 2:8). There is never a wrong time or place to pray. And, when you pray – BELIEVE! Believe that He hears, and believe that He will answer as He sees fit.

Your prayers DO make a difference. There is power in prayer! “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11).

God made the impossible happen for Peter and He can do so in the church today. People can be freed. Chains can be broken. Ministries can flourish through the power of prayer. Prayer never hurts anyone, but it can always help everyone.  We are told, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit,” (James 5:16-18).

What can you do through your prayer life?

Trust and believe that your prayers are never wasted; that there is power in prayer. Prayer can reach where physically we cannot. Prayer can go behind the veil into the throne room of God. Think about that for a second and let it sink in. Didn’t the book of Hebrews tell us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)? This is done through prayer.

We are not alone in this life. Our way of viewing things and situations can become impaired in our day to day struggles. We may feel like we don’t have power to do anything; as if we are in the dark, but prayer offers a light of hope.

Whether falling on our knees or reverently and silently offering up with heart pleas and thanksgivings to God, your prayers matter.

We serve a God who wants to hear from us and invites us to pray.  We will never know all the ins and outs of why God answers some prayers immediately, and why with some He chooses a different course. But, I do know this; prayer is never wasted, nor is it a waste of time. God hears each and every petition. He’s paying attention to the cause of His people. Don’t be discouraged if it seems like it’s not coming through for you like you want it to. God may have a greater course of destination in mind. Just hold on, keep the faith, and never stop praying. There is power in prayer!

 

“When Jesus Cleansed our Temple…”

 

One of the events most etched in people’s minds and history when recalling the events that occurred during this blessed time of the years was the cleansing of the temple (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46).  It is during this time when Jesus had had enough! It was time to get the house of God cleaned up! Unashamedly and without regard for roving eyes and the tsk tsk tsking of the people’s lips, He flips tables over and starts throwing people out to get His Father’s house back in order.  With holy force, He sought to reclaim what was rightfully God’s.

But, can I tell you, His fight didn’t stop there.  He wanted more than a building to reclaim for God, He wanted people that rightfully belong to Him.  He wouldn’t gain that by flipping over tables, rather He flipped over the gates of hell.  He wouldn’t get there by driving people with wrong intents away, but with force, He drove the enemy of our soul away and crushed him under His feet. He wanted to win the temple of people’s heart for His Father and this fight could only be won on the cross.

The whips that were used against Him were nothing in comparison to the sting He was delivering to the enemy.  The ridicule He experienced couldn’t overshadow the words of comfort and the prayers of forgiveness He offered as He hung there.  The thorns that were placed on Him and the sword that pierced His side couldn’t contend with the piercing plea of souls searching for everlasting freedom the cross could provide.  On the cross, He would remain until the victory to reclaim the lost and hurting world to His Father was won.  On the cross, He would stay until the temple of the one who would believe in Him could be cleansed and made new that true worship and true fellowship with the Father could be restored.

When Jesus stepped in the place for us, He cleansed our temples with the only thing that could work: His Blood.  His blood is the only thing that could turn the enemy of our soul upside down.  His blood is the only thing that could deliver from the eternal death to come.  His blood is the only way to reclaim the hearts of the people; the temple of their souls for the Father.

When Jesus cleaned our temple, He did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.  More than a building was rightfully returned to God.  You and I and everyone who believes were won by the cleansing power of the cross.

When Jesus cleansed our temple He did more than flip over tables.  He took who we used to be and made us brand new.  He turned our world upside down and gave us entrance into the kingdom of God, and we are so glad He did.

“Religion says earn your life. Secular society says create your life. Jesus says, ‘My life for your life.” – Timothy Keller

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us, yet if we withhold ourselves from that blood, we will be unclean forever.” – Aiden Wilson Tozer

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5

“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” – Robert Lowry

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

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“Rise Out of the Shadows of What Others Think”

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Shadowing living is not for the people of God unless they are living under His shadow (see Psalms 91:1).  And, constantly living, ordering, and covering your life by what others think is a trap.  It is not up to you to change people’s minds about you or to constantly seek their approval for this or that.  If you are living for Christ, then you are living to be approved by Him and not to win a positive vote from others (see Galatians 1:10).  Recognize that some people will never look at you in a positive light no matter what you do to “prove” yourself worthy to them.  Some people take very long or will never get over your past or your mistakes and will tend to look at you with eyes of suspicion and mistrust and categorize you as such in their thoughts.  At the same time, there are others who will keep their thoughts focused on what they see as lack and short-comings in your life, and to them, you just don’t measure up.

That’s why the Bible tells us, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe,” (Proverbs 29:25).  The job of the Christian, who knows Christ bore the worst part of us and our sins on the cross, and that it is He and His Spirit that is empowering us, is not to live life like cowering dogs with tails tucked in because of people.  It’s not to let oneself continually carry the burden of guilt, shame, or misgivings of your abilities that others try to force on you when Jesus already paid it all, gave it all, and supplied it all.  That kind of life is a trap and it is dangerous because one will always be consumed by what others think.  And, when one is so worried about what others think, they are less focused on what God thinks.

But, God said, “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds,” (Jeremiah 17:10, NASB).  God is the only judge whose standards of living we need to be concerned about because He holds the results and the rewards.  He knows our every move in life and even our innermost thoughts (Psalm 139:2).  He knows the works we do (Isaiah 66:18).  He knows the secrets we hold (Psalm 44:21).  He knows the plans we make (Proverbs 16:9).  He knows everything about us and He also knows that Jesus Christ has freed each one of us, that is found in Him, to rise out of the shadows of the thoughts of others that you might live fully in Him and completely for Him.  Trust more in what God thinks as opposed to what people think and choose to live freely in Him today!

8 Encouraging Bible Verses for Not Quitting

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On your marks.  Get set.  Go!  Once you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Savior you have officially entered the Christian race.  The prize is before you and the contest is around you and the only way to make it to the finish line is by focusing on He who paved the way ahead of you.  The struggle may seem hard at times but Jesus promised, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” (Matthew 24:13).

Quitting is not an option and endurance is the key.  We cannot give up now.  He has brought us too far.  We must continue in our holy pursuit of Him.  May these verses help you to reach the finish line where our only prize is found in Christ.

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9

“Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31