Hyper-conquerors

God’s love is so amazing. It is constant and unfailing. And, amazingly, it is also triumphant. Not only will it endure all circumstance, it will overcome all circumstances: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). We are not merely conquerors; we are more than conquerors. What can this mean?

The Greek word for “conquer” is hypernikao, a compound word made up of ‘hyper’ (“more, above, beyond”) and niko (“to conquer or prevail”). The term is a unique one, occurring nowhere in the Bible but this particular verse. It has no single-word counterpart in English, so we must cobble together two or three words to get the sense of what it means. Scholars have tried such phrases as “overwhelmingly conquerors” and “beyond conquering,” but my favourite by far is “more than conquerors.” Many of the more recent translations contain that familiar phrase. 

But let’s try another one: “hyper-conquerors.” If has a modern ring to it and suggests the idea of a new league of superheroes — “The Hyper-Conquerors”! I think I like it. Let’s try it out on what Paul is telling us:

    • In the midst of all these things that try to bring us down (tribulation, distress, persecution, you name it), we are hyper-conquerors.
    • When facing any problems that life can dish out — you are a hyper-conqueror.
    • In struggling with that problem you’re worrying about this very day, which is ____________ (fill in the blank), you are a hyper-conqueror.

The very term lifts our spirits and seems to infuse us with a ray of hope. But there’s more to being a hyper-conqueror than just emotional hype. If we were merely conquerors, we would have nothing to complain about. We would neutralize the forces that opposed us. We would prevail. But as more than conquerors, whatever comes against us actually ends up working in our favour. Every difficulty that challenges us finally serves to prove the love of God, from which nothing can separate us. When those evils lie in chaotic rubble, God’s love stands high and unfazed like an immoveable monolith.

How does this work in real life? Here’s a story that gives us the answer.

During his reign of terror, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini turned his war machine on Ethiopia and expelled all the Christian missionary there. Christians everywhere began praying immediately. The answer came in two waves: first, in the protection of the expelled missionaries; and second, in reopening the doors of Ethiopia to the Gospel after the military pride of Italy lay broken in the dust and Mussolini was executed by his own countrymen. 

But during the missionaries’ absence, the Word of God multiplied in Ethiopia, and the returning missionaries found a larger, stronger church than the one they left. One group, the United Presbyterian Mission, had only sixty believers when the missionaries were expelled. On their return, the sixty had grown to thirty churches with a membership of sixteen hundred! These believers were more than conquerors.

With God’s love holding us when evils attack, we don’t merely prevail; we turn every dramatic event to our advantage. We feed on adversity and grow stronger. The greater the problem, the more we gain wisdom, spiritual power, and maturity. That’s what it means to be a hyper-conqueror. 

Nothing is meaningless in the world of the believer. Everything has a purpose; and in a world ruled by a loving God, the purpose is always to use every encounter to shape us into the perfect image of our Lord. Every difficulty will be turned to our favour and help us to become “perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4). Or, in Paul’s words, to become more than conquerors. 

God Is At Work In Us and Sometimes It Hurts

Our loving Father’s ultimate goal for us is that we share in His holiness. This is not just holiness, mind you; this is God’s holiness. The Lord wants us to “be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). As the apostle Paul said, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (I Thessalonians 4:7). The writer of the book of Hebrews states, “That we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). 

To be holy means to be set apart for a special purpose. The story goes that Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo chose a block of marble and set it aside to sculpt an angel from it. His hammer and chisel pounded and scraped away until out of that dull cube of rock emerged a beautiful angel for the tomb of the pope. “My task,” he told his admirers, “is to look at a block of stone and see an angel. Then I carve away everything that is not the angel.”

That’s what God does with us. Since we are not insentient stone, the hammering and chiseling may hurt. But we are in the hands of the Master Artist, and we are His masterpiece. If we submit to His sculpting, we will see holiness emerge from the dullness of ordinary living as we are transformed chip by chip into the image of Christ.

For fallen creatures bent on going their our own way, hardship and holiness are inextricably linked. There are no shortcuts; it’s a slow and painful process. God chips and chips until an unworthy attitude crumbles away. He scrapes incessantly until a bad habit disappears. All the while He sees beyond these imperfections to the beauty He intends for us.

Not only do we see the old, sorry attributes falling away, we begin to know God as only discipline can reveal Him. You see, sculpting is a close, detailed, intimate process through which we can develop a fellowship with Him that makes any conceivable discomfort more than worth it. 

What is God chipping away in your life right now? 

Are you fighting Him and refusing to change and alter a part of your lifestyle (attitude, action, thought, approach to life) or are you submitting and allowing to do what only God can do regardless of the discomfort?

The Gospel in 25 Simple English Words

John 3:16 has long been regarded as our greatest, most direct, and most concise statement of the Gospel. With almost miraculous precision, it places the good news of the love of God in the smallest and simplest of packages. When you say “John 3:16,” even many unbelievers either know what it means or know the verse itself. It is the most famous book-chapter-verse reference in the entire Bible. You’ll see it on a banner at a sporting event, emblazoned on a T-shirt, or scrawled in graffiti on an underpass. It’s a shorthand way of saying, “God loves us all.”

Tim Tebow famously placed the reference on his eye black (the tape strip beneath a football player’s eyes) before a national championship game in college, and the broadcasters frequently identified it as his favourite verse. Immediately afterward Google received more than thirty million hits from people looking up John 3:16. And that was only the beginning. Three years later, after leading the Denver Broncos to a rousing playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, someone noticed he had thrown for precisely 316 yards. The Associated Press reported that he also averaged 31.6 yards per completion. Those who didn’t “get it” again went to the internet, and by Monday afternoon John 3:16 was once again the most searched item on the internet.

It’s often been said that the Lord moves in mysterious ways. Some may think that finding significance in a quarterback’s passing yardage borders on superstition, but it may show us that God will use almost any means to tell us how deeply He loves us. When was the last time any of our efforts succeeded in getting ninety million people to hurry to the Internet and look up the Gospel?

Throughout history, millions of words have been written about John 3:16. Yet none of them are necessary to grasp the meaning of the verse. God communicated the heart and meaning of the Gospel — the most profound, far-reaching message of all time — in only twenty-five simply words of English text. When translated into any language, this verse is supremely easy to understand.

All we need in life is packed into those twenty-five words. Your Bible is the essential library of life, and every verse is profitable for wise living. But if worse came to worst, and we could only retain one of its 31,103 verses, this would be the one we could not let slip from our grasp.

I have many ways of sharing this verse but recently read of a new way to experience the truth of John 3:16. It is interesting to note that not only is the entire Gospel contained in the message of the verse, but there word gospel is embedded in the verse itself. 

                                For God so loved the word

That He gave His Only

                      Begotten Son, that whosoever believes

In Him should not Perish 

                     But have Everlasting

                                      Life

John 3:16 is thoroughly and essentially the Gospel in one verse. A statement of the Gospel so simple that a child can understand it and so profound that a scholar can never fathom its depth. It needs to be inscribed permanently on every heart.

John 3:16 is preached, studied, and cited more often than any other biblical passage, yet it never becomes yesterday’s news, never loses its majesty or its freshness, never loses one microvolt of emotional power. It is so inexhaustible that over a period of many years, one obsessive preacher compiled from it more than six hundred preaching outlines. Talk about a month of Sundays! That’s enough sermons to keep a church fed for almost twelve years.

The Gospel is found in this verse … “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

There are two things you need to KNOW

1> God loves

2> Like all people in love, God gives gifts

There are two things you need to DO

1> Believe (means to totally trust in)

2> Receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life

As I said, simple but profound. And a message that is seriously life changing. 

Sometimes I Get Angry

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-get-angry/

 

Let’s look at the rather dangerous issue of anger:

“Sometimes I Get Angry” – “Rage Rash” 

Mark Twain once said: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

So, we want to look at this commonly occurring issue and see if we can find out what the Bible says about … “Neutralizing the Acid of Anger”

Now I have a few things that make me angry … that makes my blood boil Read more

People Are Watching

People are watching, and they watch more closely when they know we are people of faith. It has been said that we are the only Bible some people will ever study. They have the right to expect our walk to reasonably match our talk even though consistent love and compassion don’t come easily.

Dionysius, a second-century bishop in the city of Corinth, wrote letters describing how Christians behaved in the grip of a rampant plague:

Most of our brethren showed love and loyalty in not sparing themselves while helping one another, tending to the sick with no thought of danger and gladly departing this life with them after becoming infected with their disease. Many who nursed others to health died themselves, thus transferring their death to themselves … The heathen were the exact opposite. They pushed away those with the first signs of the disease and fled from the dearest. They even threw them half dead into the roads and treated unburied corpses like refuse in hopes of avoiding the plague of death, which, for all their efforts, was difficult to escape.

The world is watching how we treat each other. Will they see a difference?

The biblical standard for love is simply to love one another. But now we come to the difficult part. If we stayed with the basic standard to love each other, our faith would be little different than any belief system in this world. But there is a higher standard of love, and Jesus came to give us the definitive expression through His life and teachings. In the words of Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, He said, “If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody, can do that” (Matthew 5:46 MSG). Paul builds on this and tells us we are to love everyone when he uses the phrase “one another” and the the higher standard when he adds, “and to all.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12 “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all”

Loving loved ones is a good start. If we can’t do that, we definitely have a problem. The higher standard, on the other hand, sends a strong, clear message that we, the people of Christ, are not your average, everyday human beings. Those who are watching us don’t weigh the size of the Bibles we carry. They don’t keep a calendar for totalling the number of Bible study meetings we attend, nor do they give us a test on mastery of biblical trivia. But they watch with intense interest to see how we treat others; first, those close to us and then – the championship round – everyone else. Paul writes “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and to all” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Those final three words are the tricky part.

For the Thessalonians, ALL was a difficult word. ALL constituted certain people who were abusing and persecuting them. “As you abound and increase in love,” Paul is saying, “Don’t forget these!” We don’t like that at first because we know we can’r individually get it done. Just as Jesus said, we can love our families, our buddies, and our friendlier neighbours all by ourselves. So can those who don’t know God. But if we are going to love beyond those comfortable boundaries, if we’re going to advance this love into hostile territory — well, we’re going to need to rely on a greater source. We’re going to need the power of the Holy Spirit. And of course, once we realize that, He has us right where He wants us. We need to call upon the love that He deposited in us (Romans 5:5) when we were first born again. We need to love others like He loved us – unconditionally. And, we can, with His help and His love.

C.S. Lewis helps us with this in one of his writings. He says that an unbeliever makes his choice as to whom he will show kindness, but a Christian has a different secret. He writes that we shouldn’t waste our time worrying about whether we love our neighbour — just act as if we did. The difference between worldly people and Christians is that the worldly treat people kindly when they like them; Christians try treating everyone kindly and thus find themselves liking more people — including some they’d never have expected to like!”

Christians, in other words, let their actions lead and their feelings follow. Human nature feels its way into acting (which can be a long wait). Christ-centered faith acts its way into feeling (which is quick, powerful, and liberating). To put it simply, we followers of Christ are realists. We understand that, naturally speaking, we are never going to like certain people. We know we’re not prone to doing the right thing when left to our own devices. But for the sake of Christ, we’re going to walk in the Spirit and treat others well because it’s the very nature of who Jesus is. Therefore (if we’re living as we ought to), we treat our enemies as benevolently as our friends and soon enough discover we have no enemies anymore. 

 

First and Second Coming of Jesus

It is an historical fact that Jesus came and was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Galilee, ministered in Israel, died on a Roman cross, and rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to be with us.

It is a prophetic fact that He will be coming again.

However, His second coming will look drastically different from His first…

      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as a baby. When He comes back, He will come as a full-grown king.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came lying in a manger. When He comes back, He will come riding a white horse
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came in weakness and meekness. When He comes back, He will come in power and glory.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came to pay for the sins of the world. When He comes back, He will do away with all sin.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as a suffering servant. When He comes back, He will come as a conquering master.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as a sacrificial lamb. When He comes back, He will come as a roaring lion.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He suffered momentarily on the cross. When He comes back, He will make sure that Satan will suffer for all eternity in hell.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, very few people in a town called Bethlehem knew about it. When He comes back, everyone on earth will know who He is.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, only a few wise men bowed down before Him. When He comes back, every knee will bow down before Him.

There will be a few similarities:

      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came because He loves you. When He comes back, He will come because He loves you.
      • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came because He remembered you. When He comes back, He will come because He remembers you.

Yes, contrary to popular belief, Someone has come and is coming again. He cares. His Name is Jesus.

Assembling Together

Hebrews 12:25 states, “Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together” batteries not included (sorry, couldn’t pass that one up). 

For the writer of Hebrews, attendance at a weekly meeting of believers isn’t an option for true believers. Take a look at the first generation of believers, and you’ll see how strongly they felt about it. According to Acts, the narrative of that era, those first Christians assembled as often as possible in their homes. The early church was truly a ‘house church movement.’ 

Regardless of the stern warning in Hebrews, many believers don’t take church attendance seriously. As a leader, I hear words such as, “Oh, I’m spiritual, but I don’t particularly need the church or ‘institutional religion.’” When someone tells me, “I’ve learned to worship God on the golf course,” I’m tempted to reply, “That’s a good trick, and just as easy as playing golf in the sanctuary.” Indeed I would love to see ordinary people approach sporting events with the same attitude they bring to Christian fellowship. An anonymous wit posted a tongue-in-cheek sampling of what that would be like. Here is his list of reasons for no longer attending professional sports games:

      • Every time I go, they ask me for money
      • The people I sit by aren’t very friendly
      • The seats are too hard and uncomfortable
      • The coach never comes to call on me
      • The referees make decisions I don’t agree with
      • Some games go into overtime, and I’m late getting home
      • My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up
      • My kids need to make their own decisions about which sports to follow

It’s true that some have legitimate reasons for not attending church and that is the reason we post teachings on line in a number of different formats. But, being a member of the church (1 Corinthians 12:28 states every believer is planted as a member of a church by God) is an up-close-and-personal thing. We should accept no substitutes. We must not forsake our assembling together. We need to be connected to a local church and engaged in the live of that church. This means attending the weekly meeting but so much more than that. 

Assembling Together

SOMETIMES I WORRY

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-worry/

Today, let’s look at “worry”

“But what if…”

Pastors and Church leaders are suppose to exercise unwavering faith

No matter how circumstances might appear – pastors should rest confidently in the faithfulness of God

As men and women of faith they should not worry or ever be anxious

When everyone else struggles with worry and the resulting anxiety, the fearless leader is expected to step in with just the right faith-filled words

That’s what we are taught in seminary … and that’s what most Christians think, believe, and expect from their leaders

That’s why when a pastor or Christian leader falls into sin everyone is shocked and dismayed

Yet, when someone at work or in the neighbourhood falls into sin – well, its just being human … I mean, what did you expect  Read more

In the Middle Of Adversity

A certain tribe of Native Americans had a special rite of passage for training young braves. On one boy’s thirteenth birthday he was blindfolded and taken deep into the forest, where he was left to fend off the terrors of the night.

The young man had never been apart from his family until now. He had learned of all the dangerous creatures and of the danger of becoming lost forever in the labyrinth of untamed vegetation. But now it was his role to show his courage.

When he took off his blindfold, he found himself alone under the moon and the stars. The darkness and solitude magnified every sound, infusing every snap of a twig with foreboding possibilities. Could a wolf be stealthily drawing near? Or maybe a poisonous snake, coiling itself in the branches above? He wondered in the privileges of adulthood were worth such a trial.

After a moonlit eternity the first rays of sunlight broke through the thick green canopy above him. He began to see flowers, trees, and finally a forest pathway. Looking a bit farther, he was jolted by the sight of a fierce warrior only a few feet away, bow and arrow at the ready. It was his father. He had silently kept watch through the night.

A reminder that when you are having a hard time and traveling through adversity and rough waters that your heavenly Father is right there with you. You might not see Him or even feel His presence but He is there nonetheless. He promised He would never leave us not forsake us. And, I believe that. He is there in the midst of the storm to protect us and see that we get through whatever it is we are facing.

Life can bring us to dark and foreboding places — lonely places in which we feel isolated and maybe desolate. Yet there is always Someone keeping watch. Why doesn’t He speak? Why doesn’t He disclose His presence so that we might relax? He keeps His slience because otherwise we would not learn the lessons we need to learn from the test or trial. And, we would not learn to be courageous. We would not build trust.

The trials and the dark tough times that bring us into maturity are often terrifying or even painful. But who wants to remain a child forever? Not me! I want to be a fully grown, mature disciple of the Lord. I want the traits He wishes to install in me through His perfect love — traits that will be evident only if I trust Him, even when I can neither see Him nor feel His loving hand. 

Knowing the Shepherd

A story is told of a talent show held in a small country church many years ago. Two performers stood out in people’s minds that evening: the first was a visitor from the city. He was a seasoned professional actor, well trained in the Shakespearean tradition. Stepping up front, he cleared his throat, and in a deep, resonant voice, the Twenty-third Psalm echoed throughout the chapel. The actor recited the classic psalm with sweeping gestures, masterful poise, and flattering eloquence. He concluded to the brisk applause of a thrilled audience.

The pastor let a moment pass as a brief afterglow ensued. Then the pastor nodded his head towards a farmer near the back door. “Joseph, would you be next?” The pastor said.

“Aw, shucks,” the farmer replied. “I don’t know nuthin’.”

“Sure you do,” the pastor said. “Come on up, Joseph.”

Others joined in the coaxing until sheer embarrassment forced the farmer forward. Fidgeting from side to side, he half mumbled, “Shucks, I don’t know much; but all I can think to do is quote the same psalm as this other man did. I’m not much one for reading, and it’s the only one I ever learned by heart. I’m afraid this other man beat me to it.”

“Well, share it again, then,” the pastor encouraged, and soon others were echoing the request.

The farmer was in his early sixties. Hard times had fallen on his life and little farm but he remained godly and soft-spoken, a man who never complained. Swallowing hard, he stammered and started with his own paraphrase. “The Lord is my Shepherd and ‘cause of that one thing, I figure I have everything I need.” Detouring on a side route, he continued, “Y’all know that my dear wife died six years ago. When my Helen passed, I didn’t think I could go on without her. But God never left me and He reminded me that I was gonna do just fine. He said He’d be there for the kids and me, and He was.”

The farmer paused to remember which verse he was on, then continued, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still streams. He restores my soul. He leads me …” The farmer paused as his thoughts were interrupted by yet another remembrance. “Y’all know that when the war broke out, my boys felt it right to join up. The day they left was the last day I saw them alive. I run the farm alone now … But the Lord goes before me and prepares my table. I’m never truly alone. Not really. And when I don’t think I have much left, my cup always overflows.”

He concluded the Twenty-third Psalm: “Surely good and mercy will follow me and I look forward to dwelling in the house of the Lord, and I know it will be my home too, and my wife’s and my boys’ … forever.”

Without anyone noticing, a profound silence had filled the room; the kind when a deep respect is the only response you can give. It’s the kind of silence when you don’t know what to do, so you don’t do anything at all.

Joseph sat down, and no one moved. Then, slowly, the professional actor made his way to the front again. Standing for a moment as if to find words appropriate enough to disturb the silence, he spoke: “I many know the Shepherd’s Psalm, but this man —“ he pointed to the farmer — “He knows the Shepherd, and that makes all the difference.”

Knowing about God and knowing Him personally are galaxies apart. One might bring notoriety or even fame, but the other brings depth. Recognize the difference and choose well. That one decision will make all the difference, now and for all eternity.