VIDEO Strength to Overcome

I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one. 1 John 2:14

There is no end to the many ways of becoming strong: food, supplements, workouts, personal trainers, discipline in training. What you won’t find in advertisements for gaining strength is a recommendation for memorizing and meditating on the Word of God. Scripture won’t necessarily make you physically stronger, but it will make you stronger in the most important of ways: spiritually.

The greatest challenge we face is overcoming “the wicked one.” Satan not only puts obstacles in our path to believing in Christ, he puts temptations in our path to keep us from following Christ. And that is where the Word of God comes in. Because Satan uses lies and counterfeits as his chief weapons, the “word of truth” (2 Corinthians 6:7) gives us victory over him. Just as Christ defeated Satan’s temptations in the wilderness with the Word of God (Matthew 4:1-11), so can we. But only if the Word of God “abides in you.”

For the Word to abide in us, we must put it there by reading, meditating, memorizing, and studying it. That’s how we become spiritually strong.

Holiness is not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome temptation. G. Campbell Morgan


The Secret of Overcoming, 1 John 2:13-14 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

The Perfect Name

The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

On a hot and humid day one August, my wife gave birth to our second son. But he remained nameless as we struggled to settle on a given name. After spending many hours in ice cream shops and taking long car rides, we still couldn’t decide. He was simply “Baby Williams” for three days before finally being named Micah.

Choosing the right name can be a little frustrating. Well, unless you’re God, who came up with the perfect name for the One who would change things forever. Through the prophet Isaiah, God directed King Ahaz to ask Him “for a sign” to strengthen his faith (Isaiah 7:10–11). Though the king refused to ask for a sign, God gave him one anyway: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (v. 14). God named the child, and He would be a sign of hope to people going through despair. The name stuck and Matthew breathed new meaning into it when he wrote the narrative of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:23). Jesus would be “Immanuel.” He wouldn’t just be a representative of God, but He would be God in the flesh, coming to rescue His people from the despair of sin.

God gave us a sign. The sign is a Son. The Son’s name is Immanuel—God with us. It’s a name that reflects His presence and love. Today, He invites us to embrace Immanuel and know that He’s with us.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

What keeps you from believing that God can breathe new life into your dark times and desperate circumstances? How will you embrace Jesus as Immanuel this week?

Heavenly Father, thank You for Immanuel—Jesus, Your Son. May I rejoice in His presence and love today.

Ending Well

Paul encourages us to live our lives fully focused on Christ and complete life by “ending well.”

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Have you ever thought about what God will say to you after you’ve finished the course of your earthly life? The apostle Paul was imprisoned when he wrote the epistle known as Second Timothy, and he knew his life would soon be over. Since this letter contains his last words to the young man he mentored, we can assume that Paul was writing about matters he considered of highest priority.

What a blessing, not just for Timothy but for also for us, that Paul took the opportunity to instruct fellow believers and pray for them. He understood that the Christian life is full of struggles, obstacles, and suffering, and through the ages his letter has encouraged Christians to persevere faithfully. And that is possible only if we do what he himself did throughout his ministry—rely on the grace of Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1). 

In addition, Paul urges us to cling to the truth of God’s Word and handle it accurately (2 Tim. 2:15). He also tells us to cleanse ourselves from sin and flee sinful lusts so we can be sanctified and useful to our Master (2 Tim. 2:20-22). 

Later in that same letter, Paul confidently writes about the crown of righteousness awaiting him (2 Tim. 4:7-8). If we’ll follow his advice to Timothy, we too can expect to finish life well

The Christian’s Prosperity

“God and Father…who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)

Given our high position in Christ, it follows that God would provide whatever is necessary to accomplish His purposes in and for us.

The Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-12 provide a good illustration. Each blessing is designed to meet a need or fulfill a desire of God’s chosen (Ephesians 1:4). The poor, meek, and persecuted are given ownership in the Kingdom. The mournful are given God’s special comfort. Those who hunger for righteousness are filled. The merciful will obtain mercy, the pure in heart will see God, and the peacemakers are identified as God’s children. The longings of our souls and characters are all met by God.

The practical needs of “wisdom and prudence” are met, too (v. 8). Wisdom is knowledge focused toward useful application, and prudence is the ability to develop successful activities based on wisdom. The Word of God is the source of wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:1-6; Proverbs 1:1-6) and is inspired of God to be “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Furthermore, He has “made known unto us the mystery of his will” (Ephesians 1:9). “Kept secret” in the days of the Old Testament prophets (Romans 16:25-26), it is now made clear to us so that we can show “unto the principalities and powers…by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10). These spiritual resources are available for every believer “to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:7). We must pray that we do not waste these resources like the “wicked and slothful” servant in the parables of the talents and the pounds (Matthew 25:26; Luke 19:22). HMM III

They Are Too Strong For Me

I cry to You, Lord; I say, “You are my shelter, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am very weak. Rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Free me from prison so that I can praise Your name. The righteous will gather around me because You deal generously with me (Psalm 142 vv. 5-7).

Contemporary Christians are suffering from spiritual anorexia. Ignoring the Lord’s bountiful feast spread out in his Word, were literally starving ourselves to death! And instead of being strong and robust in the faith, were weaklings, cowering in the face of real conflict and adversity. Like David, we look at the opposition and say, “They are too strong for me!” (v. 6).

How is it that a beautiful and gifted young woman like Karen Carpenter could literally starve herself to death? How could this skinny person look at herself in the mirror and think, I’m too fat? Why did she try to control her life through diet and exercise instead of turning to the Lord for answers to her problems? Psychology may provide some insights regarding the dynamics of this disease, but God’s Word penetrates the mysteries of human existence and provides final resolution in Jesus Christ.

David did have the good sense to turn to the Lord. His consuming desire was to be able to praise the Lord and thus present a strong witness to other believers.

We don’t have to fear the strength of our “enemies”—pride, out-of-control ambition, destructive use of sexuality, craving for status and things. The Lord has given us every resource needed to grow healthy, to build up our sin-immune system. We need to move from milk to meat! Everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant.

But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil” (Heb, 5:13-14).

As we continue to eat heartily from God’s Word, well be filled with his goodness and Spirit. Seeing the change, the righteous will “gather about” in open-mouthed wonder and praise to God!

Personal Prayer

O Lord, when there is so much rich food available for our spirits, why do we starve ourselves? Lead me to the banquet table and let me feast on your Word so my brothers and sisters in Christ may be fed and encouraged.

Demandingness in Action

We want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up. Daniel 3:18

How does demandingness manifest itself? One way is by an insistence that God answer our prayers in the way we think He should. I talked with a woman whose husband had abandoned her and their three small children. As she talked, I grew uncomfortable, for she told me: “I know God is going to bring him back. If He doesn’t, then He is not as faithful as He says He is. That can’t be, so my husband will come back.”

Can you hear the spirit of demandingness in these words? I sympathized with her hurt to such a degree that it was painful for me to have to explain this: that faith is one thing but demandingness is another. Her “faith” in God was based not on unconditional confidence in His character and sovereign purposes, but rather in the hope that He would relieve her suffering in the way she thought best.

Deep hurt is a most suitable environment in which we can wrongfully nourish a demanding spirit. Nothing convinces us more that God must answer our prayers in the way we think He should than when we are experiencing continued heartache. And the line between legitimate desiring and illegitimate demanding is a thin one which is easily crossed.

How can we be sure our desiring does not turn into demanding? When we are willing to say: “If God does not grant what I desire, then I can still go on because I know that He will never abandon me, and in His love I have all the strength I need to handle whatever comes.”

Prayer

O God, save me from an insistent and demanding spirit. You who are always reaching out to me in love and awakening me, help me to recognize the difference between a desire and a demand. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Mt 26:36-46; Ps 40:8; Eph 6:6; Php 1:1

How did Jesus express desire without demandingness?

How did Paul express it?

God’s Goal for Believers

1 Peter 1:15-16

The work of sanctification, of making holy, actually commences when a person repents and turns from sin, and is “born of the Spirit” by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The new birth, therefore, is the gateway to spiritual growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

A careful reading of the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that holiness, which has to do with the dedication, cleansing and disciplining of human nature, is the goal toward which God calls all believers. “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy'” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

As defined in Scripture, holiness of life depends upon deliverance from the moral corruption and pride that infect heart and mind when the lower nature is cleansed and filled with the fullness of God’s love. “The standard by which all requirements are measured,” states The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine, “is not left in uncertainty: it is the standard of Christlikeness.”

The Christlike life of holiness does not depend on the approval of others, but yearns for the approval of God. The holy life grows from within by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the heart, not by externally imposed rules, laws and disciplines.

If you examine a needle through a microscope of high magnifying power it will appear as rough as a piece of metal ore. But if you look at a thorn its surface will appear as polished and smooth under magnification as it does to the natural eye. The needle has been fashioned from without, the thorn from within. The needle was produced by man’s ingenuity and skill, the thorn by the operation of God’s natural laws. The life of holiness is the supernatural fruit of the sanctifying power of the God of peace Himself, working by His Spirit from within outward.

God is eager to bestow the blessing of full salvation on His children. Through His death on the cross, Jesus made this possible, for He purchased “our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). God never commands what He cannot perform. Therefore, the rich, victorious, blessing-filled experience of the Spirit-filled life may be claimed by faith the moment you are willing to meet the Lord’s conditions.

Clarence D. Wiseman, The Desert Road To Glory