There’s an expression used in our culture that says, “It’s all in your mind.” For example, someone says to you, “I think someone has it in for me.” You respond, “Don’t be paranoid! It’s all in your mind.” But actually, there is a measure of truth in that statement. Our mind is the Construction Zone for victory or defeat. If we continually manufacture negative, despondent thoughts our lives will create a house of straw that will eventually implode! But if we manufacture positive, Christ-centered, faith-filled thoughts we will build a fortress that no enemy can destroy.
It’s why Isaiah 26:3 says God will, “Keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
It’s also why James 1:8 says “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Many years ago, when I entered the fulltime ministry a fellow minister asked me where I thought Satan most attacked people. With hardly a hesitation I responded: “In their mind!” It’s been over 35 years since that pastor interrogated me and I have never deviated from my answer. The mind remains Satan’s center of assault. That’s why we must do everything possible to surrender our thinking to Christ. The mind that’s surrendered to Christ is a citadel that Satan cannot crush!
Notice what Paul said in Romans 8:5-6. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (6) For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
(Transition) Since this is a message about the Christians’ “mind,” I want to offer some principles of thinking that help establish a triumphant life and make us “more than conquerors.” The first principle you should embrace is: Know Who You Are.
One of the basic principles of life is self-awareness. Self-awareness identifies who you are! It’s what energizes your desires. And it reveals why you exist. The discovery of our individuality becomes evident when we are about 18 months old. That’s when we realize we are a separate entity with impulses, needs, and desires. And naturally, it develops throughout life as well it should.
There is no question about it! If you want to advance in life it is vital to understand who you are. Once you understand this it keeps you on the path of advancement and helps you reach your potential. People that understand who they are know how to prioritize what is important and ignore what is unnecessary. They have learned how to control their activities and behavior.
Other than Jesus, Moses has always been my favorite character for Bible study. Born in a basket, raised by a Princess, tutored by wise men, forsaken by his brethren, expatriated to Midian, conqueror of Egypt, and liberator of Israel. Do you realize that Moses didn’t accept the call of God to deliver Israel until God had totally confirmed his Call with signs and wonders?
When he asked God how to initiate the process God told Moses to throw down his staff. When Moses obeyed God turned it into a serpent. When he grabbed it by the tail the serpent turned back into his staff.
Then God instructed Moses to shove his hand inside his cloak. As it removed it Moses discovered his hand was filled with leprosy. When Moses repeated the action his hand was normal.
What did all this mean? It was God way of showing Moses who he was. Despite having to flee for his life 40 earlier as a murderer and then work as a shepherd for his father-in-law, God wanted Moses to know he was no ordinary man. God gave Moses these signs to convince him that he would deliver Israel from Egypt. And they worked!
I know the Lord doesn’t confirm His Call today with the drama that Moses witnessed, but he does confirm His Call upon people! The Word of God tells us who we are and what our mission is:
He lets us know through his servant Abraham that we are a “friend of God.”
When we accept Christ as Savior through His Blood that makes us part of a royal family.
The Apostle Peter tells us we are a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”
The Bible tells us we are “kings and priests of God” and that means every Christian has an assignment to minister to others.
You see, when we know who we are it gives us a sense of satisfaction and worth. The ultimate blessing of self-awareness tells us that we matter to God. He wants to work in us and through us.
(Transition) Secondly, it’s not only important to know who you are, it’s also important to know whose you are.
In plain and simple terms, this involves knowing who you belong to. And for Christians, we know whose we are! We belong to the Almighty God of the Universe.
It’s not coincidental that the Apostles made known their apostolic identity. They made certain those that read their Epistles knew who they were. They were glad to furnish their Apostolic credentials as they wrote the Epistles in the New Testament Believers:
2 Peter 1:1 says: “Simon Peter, a servant and an Apostle of Jesus of Christ.”
It’s important to know and confess who we are and who we belong to just as these ancient Apostles did. This is imperative because our emotional wellbeing and fundamental development are largely affected by our sense of belonging. In fact, the social sciences discovered years ago mans’ need for “connectivity.” And what’s remarkable is, this need for belonging begins at a very young age. It can even start in an infant’s crib!
1. Knowing whose you are helps instill a victorious attitude.
Back in the 1940s child development research had investigated a disease that prevailed in orphanages that sprang up after WWII. The illness was called “anaclitic depression” or “marasmus.” Anaclitic depression explains why some babies became ill and even died. And it wasn’t due to lack of food. It had everything to do with not being touched, coddled, and playfully engaged! Thus, we understand that the youngest of babies need touch and attention. They need a sense of “connection” with another source of life in order to grow, develop, and mature.
And adults need a sense of connectivity too! Everyone needs a connection to another source of life! And the “connection” I’m talking about now is not with another human life; it’s a connection with the One who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). This Connection is what makes us “more than conquerors.”
There is a wonderful story in Act 27 that shows us the power of “connectivity.” Paul had boarded a ship that was doomed to sink. He had warned the Captain not to set sail but the Captain didn’t listen. (What would a prisoner of Rome know anyway?) At first, the voyage seemed fine. There were soft winds, mild waters, and everyone was at ease. But then the tempest arose and the ship was ripped apart. Everyone was in distress except Paul. What made Paul different? He knew whose he was! Listen to his words beginning in verse 23. “For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, (24) and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ (25) So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.”
People like Paul know whose they are, and their “connectivity” with God makes them available to a vision in the night, a strong arm during the day, and victory in the end! And by the way, even if your journey ends tragically on earth, the angels will usher you safely to Heaven’s shores. That’s why we are “more than conquerors”!
(Transition) When we know whose we are it creates a sense of victory! But, it does more:
2. Knowing whose you are helps instill a sense of purpose.
(Quote) I love the story of the professional athlete that shared his personal testimony. Here are his words: “Many of you may know me as a famous football player. You know my name and even the number on my jersey. Some of you have memorized my career statistics and accomplishments. While I am grateful for your admiration, I will not let this sport write the final word on my life. I am a child of God and belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. I worship Him as my Lord and Savior and it is Christ alone that gives me meaning and purpose.”
Praise God! That’s the way Christians are supposed to think of themselves. And when do, it enriches and blesses our lives in so many ways:
When we know whose we are we understand that Christ is never more than a whisper away because His pledge is, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Loneliness cannot partner with the person that walks with Christ.
When we know whose we are we understand that we have the strongest, truest, greatest, and most loving Father in the world. “For God is love and everyone that is born of God overcomes the world.”
When we know whose we are we can say with King David, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear” (Psalm 27)?
When we know whose we are we know Ephesians 2:19 is ours. Listen to Paul’s words: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” As “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ” we have access to hundreds of promises in God’s Word that can turn defeat into victory and make us “more than conquerors.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, (20) for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
(Transition) It’s not only important to know who you are and whose you are it’s also important to know who won.
When I was in college an acquaintance signed my Annual. He wrote something like this: “Stay faithful God because I’ve read the end of the Book; We win!” Perhaps you have heard that statement too. However, there’s something better than reading to the end of the Book and discovering that Christians win. The Bible reveals who won this Match of Life far before the end of the Book! Let me show you:
In Genesis 2 God created man.
In Genesis 3 man disobeyed and fell into sin.
And before you can turn to Genesis 4 God promises to crush the head of the devil (3:15) and provide victory for the “sons of man.”
Thus, it’s Genesis 3 that proclaims ‘We win!’ And that theme continues throughout the Bible. God has repeatedly decreed victory over the life of every Believer:
Notice what Jesus said in John 16:33. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
1 John 5:4 says “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Turn to Romans 8:35-39. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (36) As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” (37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (38) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, (39) nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What a wonderful passage of Scripture! Christ defeated the enemy of our soul on the Cross and gave us the victory 2000 years ago.
(Transition) I especially like verse 37 of the last passage of Scripture I quoted. That’s why I entitled this message, “More than Conquerors.” Let’s investigate that statement.
(Illustration) Years ago, a British speaker came to America and preached a sermon I’ll always remember. He was careful to enunciate each vowel and articulate each consonant with masterful command of the English language. At one point in his sermon he quoted Romans 8:37 where Paul said: “we are more than conquerors.” He then asked the audience the following question: “What do think Paul meant when he said Christians were “more than conquerors”? Isn’t it enough to be a conqueror? I think it’s great to be a conqueror! But Paul said, “we are more than conquerors.” What does it mean to be “more than” . . . “a conqueror”? Then he proceeded to explain. He said: “Before a sporting match begins and before the two opposing teams take the field; there is always the chance that one team will lose! At the end of the contest there will be one victor. One team will eventually conquer even though they entered the contest with a chance of being defeated. But when Paul said Christians are “more than conquerors” he meant with Christ on our side, even before the contest against Satan begins, “We are more than conquerors!” We aren’t waiting for the final buzzer to sound or the last out to be made. Christ has already conquered the enemy of our soul. Amen!
Saints of God, this is what it means to live victoriously in Christ Jesus. And we should know and stand firm in this realization!
(Transition) And that’s the next point I want to make. If we know who we are; if we know whose we are; and if we know who won the battle; then it makes sense to Take Courage and Expect Victory in our lives!
David said in Psalm 27:13, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Is that how you live? Do you expect to see the goodness of the Lord to operate in your behalf? Or, are you trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?
I want you to turn to a familiar passage of Scripture in Numbers 13. It deals with Israel’s spying out of the land of Canaan not too long after they left Egypt and passed through the Red Sea. Moses sent 12 of the choicest men of Israel to investigate the land of Canaan and bring back a report. Let’s read beginning in verse 17:
Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan and said to them, “Go up into the Negeb and go up into the hill country, (18) and see what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, (19) and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds, (20) and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes. [Skip to] (25) At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. (26) And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. (27) And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. (28) However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. (29) The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.” (30) But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” (31) Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” (32) So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. (33) And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”
What a sad commentary on these leaders of Israel! Did you notice that all 12 men were sent to the same place? They were all sent with the same commission. They were all sent with the same exhortation to “be of good courage.” But all did not return with the same report! Ten of the 12 men returned with a “bad” report of the land they spied out.” I want you to notice that they did not return with a “false” report because what these 10 men reported was true! The land of Canaan was infested with giants; the inhabitants were strong; its cities were fortresses. It’s what these 10 men reported next was “bad.” They said in verse 31, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”
Isn’t that just like some people? God had promised them victory, split the Red Sea, and drowned Pharaoh’s army in it and they still confessed defeat! And subsequently, because the Israelites accepted the report of the 10 spies, it took Moses 40 years to get them back to the edge of the Promised Land. God cursed Israel 1 year for every day the spies were in Canaan and no one 20 years of age and older made it out of the wilderness. They died short of the Promised Land.
Folks, you and I don’t have to live that way. We can live in victory! We can have the victory that Joshua and Caleb had back then. They were the only 2 adults that made it into Canaan alive once this “bad” report was given to Moses and Israel. Why were they the only ones to make it? It’s because they believed God was greater than their foes. They believed God was greater than the giants and all that the enemy could throw at them.
Don’t ever let Satan conquer the domain of your mind! Fill it with the Word of God. Fill your soul with trust. Fill your heart with faith. Fill your life with courage. You are “more than a conqueror.”
Jan 04, 2017 Comments Off on DOES HELL OFFEND YOU?
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