1 Peter 1:6-9, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith–the salvation of your souls.”
Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
1 Peter 5:10, “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
You turn on the radio in your car on the way to work; you’re bombarded with all the craziness going on in the nation and the world around you. You gather around the water-cooler at work, or the picnic bench on your break and you swap stories of all the craziness going on in the nation and the world around you. You finish your work day and go home to relax after a hard day, and you turn on the television; now you’re bombarded with pictures AND stories with all the craziness going on in the nation and the world around you.
It is a constant bombardment of what appears after a while to be nothing but NOISE attacking your senses from all sides! There was a term that was coined just before the Iraq War of 2003 describing what our country wanted to do in that conflict; it was termed “shock and awe!” It was meant to be an onslaught of attacks aimed at disabling and petrifying the assumed enemy.
Shock and Awe! What a term. It could probably be described as what most people feel today in the beginning of fall, 2019 with all the negative onslaught of news, stupidity and insanity attacking and enveloping us and especially aimed at Christians from almost every avenue!
Followers of Christ are not immune to trials, persecutions and tribulations and if you as an individual have been trying to follow after the footsteps of the Lord Jesus for some time, you are very much aware that this is pretty much expected. The difference it seems today is, the attacks, what I like to call the bombardments, seem to be coming at a continual rate and even if it doesn’t seem to touch you specifically or individually, as a part of the Body of Christ, you feel or sense the attacks. It isn’t make-believe or fantasy either, what you sense as a born-again Christian is real, they are spiritual attacks brought on by forces that want to destroy or at the very least wound a child of God into paralysis or the inability to stand and fight or at the very least to withstand the enemy.
We ALL, as disciples, following in the footsteps of Christ know that the battle is not carnal, it is not being fought in the flesh, though it may appear to be. The Apostle Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit forewarned not just those following after Christ in his time, but also in the times to come.
2 Corinthians 10:
3-6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
7, “Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.”
And again to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote this well-known line:
Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
So being forewarned and being armed with this knowledge, what as Christians are we to do? When I ask this question, I’m asking in a practical way; not in some hypothetical way; how do we cope, how do we assimilate as it were, the information AND the events that come at us on an everyday basis? Well, I HAVE some answers and though they may not be new ones, they are answers that we NEED to be reminded of and in truth, need to constantly remind ourselves of!
First, we have been forewarned and ARMED with this knowledge of what is going on around us, from the Word of God, the Bible. It is a LIVING Word and that is not some cliché that I spout now and again. It is as living as Christ Jesus breathing life and spirit into each of us! If you believe the warnings and the knowledge, then you HAVE to believe in the truth of the LIVING Word!
If you believe in the truth of the warnings and the knowledge given of the times we are living in, then you MUST believe and trust in the solutions of how to deal with events we are talking about. You cannot have one without the other; you cannot believe in the information and yet doubt the solutions to the problems we face!
So, you MUST immerse yourself into the Word of God. I have heard too many people state they just can’t get into reading the Bible, let alone trying to study it. Yet today, there are so many ways to get the Word of God. We have so many translations that make the reading easy and understandable and they still point us to a relationship with God Almighty, as our Heavenly Father, through Christ Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit! Despite many of the differences and controversies surrounding the most popular translations, they ALL show us, what the main reason for the Bible being written is, to come to a KNOWLEDGE of God as our Father through Jesus Christ!
There are audio versions available where the Word is being spoken word for word, verse by verse so that a person can HEAR the Word of God come alive without having to read it themselves. This is what the Apostle Paul wrote in relation to HEARING the Word of God:
Romans 10:14-18, How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”
There is a lot of teaching and preaching online today that can be accessed from trusted sources. The only thing I say to that is that individually we are all responsible for what we ACCEPT as the truth in the Word of God and if you do NOT have a grounding in the Word of God, how will you know if you are being misled? We will not stand before the Lord on Judgement Day and give the excuse that Pastor/Preacher so and so, said this and I believed him! Our Lord and Redeemer wants a PERSONAL, an intimate relationship with each of us individually and if you do not know what He has inspired the Holy Spirit to put down through the pens of various men, then how can you know what words are of His or a “false teacher?”
Remember this warning that Jesus gave, found in Matthew 7, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” – Matthew 7:21-23. The key in this Scripture is found in verse 23, “I never knew you!” These people did all these things USING His name, but evidently they were either not listening to Him for direction, or as the disciples did a couple of times themselves, they tried to do things without the spiritual authority of being TOLD to do them, which would have come to them through prayer and fasting! (Matthew 17:19-21).
The key is an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus, not just KNOWING about Him. I have used this analogy a number of times before; I may know of a very prominent attorney at law, but just because I know OF him, doesn’t give me the authority to march into court before a judge, use the attorney’s name and try and practice law! That authority has to be given individually and intimately. So it is with a relationship with Christ Jesus. Remember this; our authority comes from God the Father THROUGH Christ Jesus. When we KNOW Christ, we KNOW and HEAR the Father!
So, we must know the Word of God. Second, as stated above we MUST know from Whom we get the authority to battle the enemy. Remember, when it comes to spiritual warfare, the war itself is a foregone conclusion. Yes we may have battles and skirmishes but, the enemy, the devil WILL be thrown into the Lake of Fire at the end. God has told us this will be so and believing this and truly KNOWING it, gives us immense power over him. That old saying, “knowledge is power” is so very true and especially in the realm of the spiritual. So our authority to do battle is in the hands of our Heavenly Father and we get that “go ahead” to do battle from Him through Christ Jesus.
The Father sent the Son to earth that mankind might have the opportunity to be Redeemed. To be Saved. But what is it about Salvation that is in actuality, saving? God created mankind because of His, God’s capacity to love and be loved. He wanted a creation that COULD choose to love Him, unconditionally without having to be forced or in essence created to only do what he is created to do. God Almighty created man sinless in the beginning, with the ability to choose, and God KNEW in His Omniscience (All-Knowledge) that man WOULD sin, and yet, in God’s infinite Love, He also had a plan that would allow mankind to come back to Him, without spot or wrinkle, as a matter of his own choosing.
Sin caused mankind to move away from the intimacy with God that they had in the Garden of Eden. God’s whole purpose was to allow mankind the ability to choose on his own whether to again be intimate with God as Heavenly Father or reject His Sovereignty. God made man to have a choice. When you think about it, when you truly meditate on it, then it is the perfect plan, because how much greater is unconditional love when it is offered just for the sake of Whom the recipient is and not for what a person can get for loving? Man can give his love willingly to the Lord without condition, or he can go about his short, temporary life, getting what he wants out of it with no consideration for others. It is totally his choice.
The problem with the payment for mankind’s sinfulness was taken care of by God Himself by willingly coming down to earth as a sinless man, the same flesh and blood as you and I, and remaining sinless and paying the ultimate price, His Blood, for a covering, a payment in whole for man’s sinfulness. This way, if man chooses to accept this payment, this gift free of charge, he then has a way, through the Redeemer to once again, establish the intimate relationship with the Father that was lost through the initial sin. Through the Blood of Christ, through Christ Himself, now, we can KNOW the Father as it was meant to be all along and only those willing to want that intimacy will have it. Those who choose NOT to have that intimacy will not be forced to accept it. God then intimately KNOWS who love Him and those who choose NOT to love Him!
You might be asking what this has to do with being either a victor or a victim? After all, isn’t that what the lesson is ultimately about? Think about that and think about the Scriptures I gave in the beginning. Life is full of tribulations and trials. There is NO escaping that fact, as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 5:45b, “for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
EVERYONE has tribulations and trials in life. That is what life is about. The beauty of it is that as a Christian, a follower of Christ Jesus, thus a child of God Almighty as our Father, we have certain advantages. Just like the majority of earthy fathers would do anything within their power to help their children grow and overcome painful circumstances, so our Heavenly Father does with us. BUT, no earthly father is able to compare to our Heavenly Father in His Love AND His ability to help us to learn and grow the way He truly desires for us!
Though we aren’t immune to trials and tribulations, to heart-breaking circumstances, His Love NEVER leaves us or abandons us. In fact, He is able too, in His wisdom, His Omnipotence (All-Power) and His Omniscience (All-Knowledge) to help us to learn from those situations so that we become stronger, wiser, more loving to others and more and more like His Son Christ Jesus Himself. The world can’t become more and more like Christ Jesus because they don’t know the Father through Him. Because we DO, thus, the Father can use situations to mold and shape us into the image and likeness He desired for us from the very beginning! (Genesis 1:27, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13-16, Ephesians 1:4).
I know the following is a Scripture I use often and yet, it is so full of TRUTH and so full of LIFE that in this lesson I cannot ignore it:
Romans 8:28-31, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
You want or NEED a definition of what a victor is? Paul summed it up in this statement, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” What more could I or anyone else add? The God of Creation, who desires to be our Heavenly Father WANTS to be FOR us! With that in mind, who or even what, could ever be against us.
You want or need a description then of what a victim is? Especially in the light of the bombardment of spiritual forces surrounding us every day AND getting worse by the day, I might add; it is everything BUT what I described a victor to be above! Plain and simple. If you are NOT a victor, you are and can only be a victim!