Tag Archives: victory

Can we experience Jesus’ victory now…or do we have to wait till we get to heaven?

24 Aug

What is heaven like?  There is much speculation.  I wish the Bible was much more clear than it is.  Sometimes it talks about a supernatural dwelling place of God.  In the New Testament the word for “heaven” can also mean “sky”.  Is heaven up there somewhere?  But then other times the Bible talks about heaven as a new earth or new Jerusalem.

As we conclude 1 Peter 3:18-22, Peter tells us that Jesus is in heaven, at God’s right hand, with all other beings in submission to him.  Why is Peter bringing up this heavenly image?  Once again, as we have seen all week, Peter wants to encourage people who are feeling defeated that Jesus is clearly the victor, and in him they, too, can have victory.

At the time when Peter wrote, it is likely that they were not feeling all that victorious, considering the persecution they were enduring.

How about you?  You might not be feeling all that victorious either, but Peter wanted those Christians then to know, and by extension we can know, that there is victory in Jesus.

But note that Peter is not just talking about ultimate victory in heaven.  No doubt, he is referring to that.  Jesus wins.  In the end, Jesus wins.  There he is in heaven, the victor over all!

But Peter is writing to Christians feeling defeated and discouraged in their actual lives. He wanted to encourage them in a way that mattered not only in a distant future, but also so that they could experience victory right then and there.  They were not alone.  They had power in Jesus.  Jesus had suffered too.  They were not forgotten.  They were remembered.  And they had access to the same strength Jesus did.

Our oldest son is in the National Guard.  For his extended drill this summer, his unit went to an intense training center in California.  It’s been 118 degrees most days.  He is in full battle gear, there are long, exhausting days and hot nights.  For the past 2 weeks he and many others were out in the desert.  So no access to phones (meaning…no connection to home), faced with rough terrain, practicing difficult intense drills and so much more.  After that two weeks in the desert, they returned to base for at least another week and they got their phones back.  Our son texted us saying those weeks out in training were the toughest things he’s ever done in his life.  Tougher than basic training.  And then he went on to tell us how much he’d grown and how much God had taught him.

That’s victory in Jesus.  That is finding God in the midst of difficult discouraging times.  That is what we have access to, a living God who is making things new in us and in our world.  We get to be a part of that.  A part of His living and breathing victory.  That is what Peter is talking about.

So we need to see that Peter is talking to people about how to live life now.  We can experience victory in Jesus now.  Remember that a major emphasis of Jesus’ death and resurrection is God setting things right.  The power of God that raised Christ from the dead that is available to us, as Paul teaches in Ephesians 1:15-19. Take a moment and read that.  Did you read how God’s power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us?  Amazing!

The big question, then, is how do we access that power?  For our son in the desert, he accessed that power a couple ways.  Prayer and reading about Christians who he looks up to.  He took a couple biographies of Christian athletes and read and was greatly encouraged.  Part of what made prayer and those stories of Christian faith so powerful was that Tyler was right in the middle of something extremely difficult.  And right there found victory in Jesus.

If you are going through a hard time, and even if things are good, how will you reach out to God to access the victorious power of God?  I highly recommend prayer as a starting point.  But also read the truth of God in his word, seek out stories of other Christians and how they placed their faith in God.  Then consider bringing other Christians into your own story.  Share your struggles, allow others to speak truth to you, and practice living out victory in Jesus.

Following Jesus is supposed to be hard? – 1st Corinthians 15:51-57

8 Oct

hardtofollowAfter the sermon this past Sunday, our sermon discussion group had a lively conversation about how hard it is to experience Victory in Jesus.  Some even suggested that it is supposed to be hard!  What do you think about that?

Have you ever felt that it is difficult to be a follower of Jesus?  Why is that?

Jesus said “my yoke is easy, and my burden in light” but it can feel super hard to follow him, to do what he did, to have self-control, to fight temptation, to restrain our lusts, our anger, our indulgent hungers.  When we’re cursed, we want to lash back.  When we feel empty inside, we want to bully others.  We see friends succeed, and our eyes turn green with false injustice.

There are times when it doesn’t seem following Jesus is possible.  When Paul talks about victory in Jesus maybe he was just talking about life after death?

When we feel like this, we need to take into account what Paul has said in all of 1st Corinthians so far.   To do that, we must go back to the first verses of the chapter where he said that receiving the Good News of Jesus is to believe the content and make a lifelong commitment to the Gospel.  When we do that we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. Our bodies will die, yes, but the Lord will raise them again to new life.  That is victory! Jesus won that victory, and now we have hope of eternal life victory with new bodies in heaven! Praise the Lord.

But remember what we talked about last week? That victory isn’t just for heaven. We can experience victory in Jesus now. He wants us to experience what he called his abundant life now! We can experience God’s resurrection power in our lives now.

The question is, are you experiencing the victory of Jesus in your life now? Are you experiencing the life-changing power of God now, such that you are seeing him transform you, seeing him give you victory over sin?

I did a Google image search on the world victory, and what do you think came up the most? People on a mountaintop with their hands raised, Victory motorcycles, victory in sports, victory in war, victory in politics, and of course victory in Jesus.

Not a single picture of Nike shoes, or the Nike swoosh.

Nike? Yes, Nike. The Greek word for “Victory” as well as the name of the Greek goddess of victory. Nee-kay.

But here is victory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ejh_hb15Fc

That boy experienced victory because some other caring guys on his team wanted him to experience victory. And you know what? By giving him the chance to experience victory, they experienced it too.

You might be feeling like life is less than victorious for you lately. Perhaps you need to help some others experience a bit of that victorious life.

Or maybe you are struggling so deeply with the stuff of life, you feel like you just can’t overcome it.

I would encourage you to bring it up. Don’t hold it in. Get together with a trusted friend and talk about it.

Definitely pray about it. Tell God everything. And read through the Psalms. When is the last time you read in the Psalms? They are loaded with people who are struggling with life. King David (the guy who once had victory over Goliath) had lots of victory in his life. But he also struggled quite a bit, and in many of his Psalms, he puts his anguish out there. At times he takes me aback with how blunt he is with God. But, yes, you can be blunt with God. God can handle our pain. Learn from David in the Psalms how to talk with God, how to let it all out, how to hope for victory in the midst of suffering.

Maybe there is a sin in your life that is so difficult you don’t know what to do. Then go to professional counseling. When Michelle and I came home after only a year of church-planting in Jamaica (we planned on a lifetime in missions), feeling less than victorious, actually feeling like failures, we needed help. Admittedly skeptical, we went to professional counseling, which I thought up to that time was never something that I would need. I was wrong. It changed my life.  Through counseling I found victory in Jesus.

If you live near Lancaster or Lebanon Counties in south-central Pennsylvania, and you need professional counseling, even if you are unsure about it, I urge you to check out The Marriage and Family Centers.  They are incredible people who have many others experience victory.

Even at your lowest point, there is hope! Because Jesus won the victory over sin and death and he wants you to experience that victory with him!