Saturday, April 14, 2018

Living in Victory, Week 4 - Humility On the Inside

So I don’t know about you, but I have had a hard week. Not physically hard, but relationally and spiritually hard. And this usually happens as we talk about spiritually things. This week I have had victories in the Jesus, and I have put on the chains of sin as well. I have sought Jesus to be my victory in times, and I have given up and allowed sin to have control of my life.
And I want to share that with you, because we can easily think that once we become a Christian, or if we can do all the right steps, then we will not have trouble, or we will not succumb to sin. But that is a lie. The idea that we will never struggle with sin again is one of those fantasies that we talked about last week.
The reality is this, Jesus says, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
I don’t want us to leave here thinking, “If I just follow the Pastor’s challenges, or the steps he gives us, then I will never face trouble, I will never wrestle with sin, I will never succumb to my sinful desires again.” Because that is a fantasy. You know how I know that, because Jesus says it in his word “…you will have trouble.” Paul tells us that he struggled with sin, even though he was one of the great apostles of the Church.
But what I can say, without any doubt in my mind is this: if we continue forward in our trusting of Jesus. If we put ourselves into positions where he can transform us, then sin’s power and control in our lives will lessen over time. And we will begin to see ourselves as God sees us through Jesus: perfect and blameless. 

And it all starts in the victory that Jesus won on the cross. The victory that he gives to us freely if we put our trust in him as our Savior. And that’s what we’ve been talking about these past three weeks. How do we live in the victory that Jesus won on the cross?
In the first two weeks we talked about what that victory was. First we talked about how it was won through suffering. We tend to want to just have a victory with the least amount of resistance, but Jesus shows us that his way to victory is through struggle and strife. That’s why we fall to our sin, because the victory comes through suffering, and is all the sweeter because of it. Then on Easter, we talked about how Jesus’ victory was a reversal of mockery. How the world looks at Jesus and says, we got ‘em. Jesus then raises from the dead and puts the mockery back on the world saying, gotcha. So when we fail, and the world looks at us saying, I thought you were a Christian? We can respond with what we talked about last week. I am a sinner, and that’s why I need Jesus. This is the greatest thing we can hold onto in living victoriously. When we recognize that it is Jesus who not only won our victory, but we must rely on him moment by moment for that victory to become the reality in our lives. That it is not us that defeats sin, but Jesus living in us who defeated sin on the cross, and who can defeat it every time it comes crawling back.

And now that we have spent three weeks focusing on how Jesus is the victor, and how we must rely on him, we’re going to spend the next two weeks putting all of this to the concrete. Because Jesus has given us a lot of ways for us to have victory in this life.
Now, like I said in the past, we must understand that we have to rely on Jesus for the victory, because if we rely on what we’re going to discuss in the next two weeks as our avenue to victory, what will end up happening is we will become legalistic and hypocritical. It will also make us fall into the trap of thinking that we win the victory a part from from Jesus. But that’s just one more fantasy to add to the many we tend to live by.
And as we get into these two weeks we’re going to separate them into the inside and the outside. This week we will be dealing with the inside. Now you might ask the question, why? Why would we deal with the inside, when all our actions are what get us into trouble? Let me share with you two passages of Scripture. Both from the Gospel of Matthew.

The first is Matthew chapter 15 verses 11,17-20, “11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them…17 Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

The second comes from Matthew chapter 23 verses 27-28, “27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Jesus was very blunt on where sin takes root. The sin we see that impacts our relationships, comes from the sin that is boiling inside of us. It’s the sin that has been rooted in our heart that we need to take care of, because if we just try to clean up our actions, all we’re doing is putting a bandaid over that problem. And allowing the sore underneath to fester and spread.

So we must start with the inside. But how? This is where we return to the book of Romans where we started in a few weeks ago, but this time we are going to fast forward to chapter 12, and start in verse 1. Now Romans 12:1 is a common passage that is recited in the Church. But it’s the verses after it that I want us to focus on today. But let’s start in verse 1 of chapter 12 of the book of Romans.

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I want to break down these two passages really fast. First Paul says, “in view of God’s mercy.” We can think about this is terms of the victory we’ve been talking about. We can say it like this, “In view of God’s victory that we have been brought into when we trusted in him as our Savior.” Paul says it more succinctly, but now we can move forward. Because Jesus won the victory, Paul’s telling us that this should move us forward in offering our whole bodies back to him, which as Paul notes at the end of the first verse is our “true and proper worship.”
Another way of looking at this would be like this: when we rely on Jesus with both our inner and outer struggle against sin, we are worshiping him. When we say, “I am a sinner, Jesus I need you to live through me.” What we’re doing is worshiping him. How? By going to God and saying I am yours.
But what I find interesting about these two verses is that Paul says, “offer your bodies as living sacrifices,”  and that seems like he would be talking about our outside, even saying in the first phrase of verse 2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world…” But how does Paul not want us to conform to the patterns of the world? Is it through our outward actions? No, it’s through the renewing of our mind. Paul is saying, that for us to not conform, we must have an inner change. The outward change, comes from the inner transformation.

Now, Paul will get to the outer actions next week, but today Paul follows up these words in verses 1 and 2 with something that seems out of place. Let’s read starting in verse 3.

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

This is a strange follow up to Paul’s statement of being transformed by the renewing of our mind. Don’t you think? Shouldn’t Paul have said, you need to pray more. Or shouldn’t he have said to read your Bible more? Shouldn’t Paul have said think before you speak? Or a whole host of things we tend to say when we talk about God transforming our minds?
But he doesn’t. Instead of saying any of that, Paul tells us to be humble about who we are, and to use the gifts God has given us for the betterment of the Church.

Now how in the world does that transform our mind? How does that overcome sin in our lives? 

We talk a lot about the book of Mark, chapter 12, verse 29-31 in this church. The reason is, is because it is one of the passages that our Love, Lift, Locate, Life vision is based on. I want to read those three verses to you right now, and I want to see if you can see why Paul follows up his transforming mind statement with humility.

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Just like Paul was more succinct than I was, Jesus was more succinct than Paul was. Jesus is saying, to love God and to love people as ourselves are the two greatest commandments that are interwoven with each other. You can’t love God and not love people. You can’t love people without loving God.
Paul is saying that the transformation of our minds that is only possible because of Jesus’ victory, is done through the humbleness of ourselves and the service we provide to others. 
The two are interlocked with each other. Jesus says of our love towards people is based on the love we have for ourselves. We must make our desire of wanting the best for ourselves equal to wanting the best for other people. How do we do this? By being humble, and through this humility, being truthful about our limitations, our sin, our strengths. It’s here that transformation begins. Praying, Bible reading, meditation, study, these are all good things. But if we are not humbling ourselves to be wiling to be transformed and used by God, then all of that is worthless. Because all of it, is just going through the motions of trying to make transformation happen.

Paul moves from transformation of the mind, to the humbleness of the spirit, so that we would realize that we must start here. We must humble ourselves to the work of Jesus in us, so that our inner life can be victorious over sin.

Because what is sin at it’s core? A desire to be greater than we are. The serpent told Eve, God doesn’t want you to be like him. He’s holding back godhood from you. So she decided she wanted to be like God, greater than she was, so she ate. The sin in our lives wants us to think of ourselves greater than we are, so Paul’s remedy for that is to be humble. To be truthful with our sin, with our shortcomings, and with our strengths.

And how do we become humble in our lives? As a challenge, I want to give you four activities you can do this week to move yourself into a place of humility. Ready?

First, let’s be truthful about who we want to be. Make a list of all the things you want. Be as honest as you can. If you want to be an astronaut, write it down. If you want to make a million dollars, write it down. Do not hold back. Be as honest as possible.
Second, write down three, what you consider, major sins in your life that hurt you and the people around you the most. Be as honest as possible.
Third, write down the strengths that you see, or other people see in your life, that God has given you.
Finally, take your strengths and your wants and ask yourself, “Are the strengths God has given me able to achieve the things I want?” If you want to be an astronaut, but don’t like confined spaces, well it might not be a good fit. So throw that out. Throw out any desire you have that doesn’t not match the strength God has given you. And when you are left with those things that you can accomplish through the gifts God has given you; then take the sins, bring them before God, sin in one had, and your gifts and achievements in the other, and ask God to humble you in your gifts so that your sins can’t corrupt the work God plans through you life.

This is how humility starts, by bringing everything we have before God and saying these are my sins, these are my strengths, I give them to you God who won the victory. As Paul would say, “this is your true and proper worship.

Let us become a humble people, seeing where we fail and where God has given us strength, so that we can be transformed for greater victories and worship of God. Amen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Living in Victory, Week 3 - We're All Mad Down Here

Have you ever read, or have seen the movie adaptation of Alice in Wonderland? A very interesting, if not very bizarre story. A little girl follows a white rabbit down the rabbit hole, into a wonderland of insanity. One of my favorite interactions is between Alice and Cheshire Cat. Alice is trying to find her way, and the Cat tells her you can go this way, be those people are mad, or you can go that way, in which case, those people are mad too. 
Take a listen to their conversation. 
“'But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
“'Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’
"How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.
"You must be,’ said the Cat, 'or you wouldn’t have come here.’”

I love this interaction, because it summons up the plight of humanity. We’re all mad down here. Or to put in a modern way, we’re all insane. Many of you have heard the quote attributed to Albert Einstein about insanity. Where the quote goes as, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Today, I want to share with you the legal definition of insanity. To be legally insane is to have, “mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.”

That is the legal definition of insanity, and I have to tell you that if you have ever had children, you know what it means to be both around insanity, and to enter into yourself. Uncontrollable impulsive behavior? That’s just life with kids. One kid says, “He hit me!” The other kid responds, “No I didn’t” And then you as the parent say, “I saw you hit your sister. Why did you do that?” “I don’t know,” he shrugs. 
And the insanity goes on, and on, and on. We’re all mad down here is right.

We see the madness, the insanity of our world all around us. Why do we spend money when we don’t have? Why do we hurt the people that love us the most? Why are wars waged with people thousands of miles away from each other? 
It’s because we’re all mad, we’re all insane. 
And why is this? Why are we insane? Why do we do insane things, like hurt ourselves and the people around us? Especially when that hurt doesn’t bring us any long term peace and joy?
Listen to what Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing (Romans 7:15, 18b-19).”
Doesn’t that sound a little insane? And this is us, right? Why do I keep hurting the people I love? Why do I keep falling back into the same bad habits? It’s because you and I are mad, just like everyone else in this world. But the madness doesn’t have to continue. It does not have to over take us, because as we’ll discover today, the victory that Jesus achieved through the cross and resurrection can break the madness of our lives.
So if you have your Bibles we’re going to be going through three chapters of the Book of Romans. Starting where we left off from last week in Roman’s sixth chapter, and the fifth verse. Last week we ended Easter Sunday with this passage from Romans chapter 6 verse 5, where Paul says, “5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
This is extremely important to understand, because we’ll becoming back to this idea again and again this morning. Because the escape from the madness is rooted in these words: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Now, we’re not going to read every part of these three chapters, because I want us to get an overall understanding of what is being said here.

Let’s start with the victory that Paul is talking about in verse 8.

“8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
“11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

Jesus’ victory has two results that come out of it. First, death no longer has power. In verse 9 Pauls says, “death no longer has mastery over him.” The power of death has been broken. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church he grabs a Scripture verse from the book of Hosea and says this, “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ 56 The sting of death is sin…”
Our sin holds death over us. Death is the unnatural ending to our lives. This is why is scares so many people. This is why throughout human history people tried to appease death. This is why we have sought to live longer, by any means we could. 
Death is a constant, that’s why it’s so hard to lose a loved one, and that feeling of loss increases exponentially when there is no hope of an afterlife. 
Death holds power over us, and the reason it does, is because of our own sin. But what happens when the power of death is broken? When sin has been defeated on the cross?
Sin and death no longer have mastery, they no longer hold power. I have watched many Christians face death with the attitude of, let’s get it over with, I want to be with my Jesus. One lady I knew named Mary, told her family to stop praying for her so that she could go to heaven.

Jesus beat sin on the cross, and when he raised from the dead, he beat death as well.

But we can know this and still struggle with insanity. In fact, that insane quote from Paul that I read to you earlier comes in chapter 7 verse 15 of Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Then in the second half of verse 18 and into 19 he says, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

Even though sin was defeated on the cross, even though death was defeated at the resurrection, you and I still return again and again to sin’s chains. Paul says in chapter 6 verse 16, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
So the first result of Jesus’ victory, is that death and sin no longer has power, because Jesus broke it through the cross and resurrection. But, we give it back power in our lives by returning to the sinful things. We can put ourselves back into the chains of sin, but even when we do, it still has no power because of what Jesus did.

The second result of Jesus’ victory is this, we are free from sin’s power today. in verse 11 of chapter 6, Paul states, “11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

And it’s here that we tend to miss something in our Christian walk, we tend to focus on heaven, on the here-after. We sing songs like, I’ll Fly Away, and When We All Get to Heaven. None of which are bad, but they speak to our tendency to think that this defeat of sin and death happens when we pass into the next life. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. 
“11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

Jesus’ victory broke the power of sin and death in your life today. If you accept that you’re a sinner. Meaning, you recognize that you have failed to meet God’s perfect standard. That you have broken his perfect rule. If you have recognized that by breaking God’s perfection, even in the smallest spot, by telling a lie, or holding onto anger towards someone. If you recognize that, then you have accept that you’re a sinner. Then, you have to accept what Jesus’ did on your behalf on the cross. If you’re a sinner, then death can take you. Your death’s because a sinner cannot enter into heaven. A sinner cannot be with God. So God himself came to earth, and died in the place of every sinner. That’s why we started in verse 5 of chapter 6. Because, as Paul says, “5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
By accepting what Jesus did on our behalf on the cross, we are united with him there. All the sin in our lives. The past sin we did, the sin we are doing now, and the sin we will commit in the future, every last one was defeated on the cross. And the power and the control it has on us was broken right there and then.
And when we accept these two realities, the victory that Jesus won on the cross and through the resurrection, is our victory too.

And that victory is in the here and now. That’s why Paul says in verse 12 of chapter 6, “12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”
And in a few verse down from that in verse 17, Paul states this, “17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

And this is where we come back to our insanity definition. Remember, insanity is: “mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.”

The fantasy that we return to is that sin still has power over us. That’s untrue, sin’s power was broken on the cross. The reality is that Jesus’ victory over sin, is ours as well. And we no longer have to be out of control and impulsive in our behavior, meaning we no longer haver to sin, because Jesus now has the control. 
But how, how do we stop being mad? How do we stop living by the sin that we have known for so long? That’s the question. How can we live in Jesus’ victory daily, and not have sin hold power over us?

In the next two weeks we’re going to cover both the inner struggle of thoughts and feelings, and the outer struggle of interacting with this world.

But I’m not going to leave you on a cliff hanger. Because I believe that there is one thing that we need to do before we get into dealing with the inner and outer struggles, and that’s what Paul writes starting in chapter 7 verse 24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

This is what we need to be able to say every time sin wants to take back control. “I am a sinner, but it is Jesus who broke sin’s control. So sin no longer controls me, Jesus does.”

We need to be able to internalize the victory that Jesus won. Recognizing that we do not hold the power over sin, Jesus does. We need to begin to start recognizing that, I need Jesus, not just to save me, but to live through me. This is why Paul ends his thoughts like this in verse 12 of chapter 8, “12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

We need to realize we cannot beat sin. We did not beat it on the cross apart from Jesus, and we cannot overcome it in our daily lives apart from Jesus.

When we recognize and begin to live this reality out, the madness lesses, because Jesus is returning sanity to us, by his Spirit living through us.

So this is my challenge for you this week, to make the follow words a prayer: “I am a sinner, but Jesus broke sin’s control. Jesus live through me.”

Write it down on a piece of paper and keep that paper with you, and when sin comes to take control, take the paper out, repeat the words, and then go to God in prayer asking him for the strength to over come sin in your life.

And next week, we’ll continue looking into Romans, to see some concrete applications to overcome sin.

Now when sin coms knocking at your mind, and your heart, may you recognize your inability to be the victor, and trust God to bring victory into your life. Amen

Monday, April 2, 2018

Remembering the Past to Trust for Today

Have you heard the saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?” That was written by philosopher George Santayana around 1905. The younger someone is, the less this statement seems to apply. Children have no concept of time, relegating a week ago to yesterday. Our littlest one does this a lot. Thinking something that happened last week, happened yesterday, or a little while ago. To which our oldest very clearly corrects her that it was in fact last week.
But as we get older we either learn this lesson of learning from our past, or as the axiom goes, we repeat it. And it seems like our society is doing just that at the moment. Repainting old failed ideas for a modern setting, and on track to repeat the same disasters. After I became a Christian this is one area of my life that I wanted to not fail in. It was an area that I spent many hours in prayer, and still do today, asking God to teach me from where I fail so I do not repeat the same failures again. Another quote, most often attributed to Einstein says, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

These sayings are invaluable if we want to better understand what God’s word has for us today. We are going to be diving into Mark chapter 5 starting in verse 21. And as we do, I want to give us a little recap on what has led us to this point.
Starting in chapter 4 of Mark we began to see a shift in Jesus’ teaching ministry. Up until that point Jesus was pretty straightforward with his teachings, with him focusing on who he was and why he came. In chapter 4 we saw the disciples begin to understand what Jesus required of them, and they began to take an active role in his work. It’s at this time that Jesus began to teach heavily with parables. These stories with contrasting points were meant to hide truth from people. The reason for this was to either encourage people to seek out the truth by getting more teaching, or discourage people that were just there for the miracles Jesus provided.
Then we read four parables that were to help the disciples understand their roles within the Kingdom of God. The disciples were to understand that they needed to be good soil, so the word could grow in their lives. Then they needed to understand that their job was to share what God had done in their life with others, and through that they would grow more. Next, their job was to share, and it was God’s job to take that seed planted and grow it. We simply plant, and need to allow God to do his work in people’s lives. Finally, It doesn’t matter how small that seed we plant is, God can grow it into something enormous.
With these four teachings relayed to the disciples, we see these disciples challenged in their faith. With a storm that they knew could kill them, they learned that Jesus was not who they thought he was. In fact, their realization that they didn’t actually know who Jesus, terrified them. That leads us into another group who was terrified of Jesus. This happened after Jesus exorcised a demon out of a man that was a plague of the country side. And instead of embracing Jesus as a Savior, the people dismissed him because of his power. But what we saw was that the man, who had been freed of the demon, was sent out as a missionary to his people. The disciples were still learning, what this man had come to realize, Jesus was the Savior.
This brings us to where we are in Mark chapter 5 verse 21. So if you have your Bibles, we’ll be picking up in verse 21 today.

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

That was a lot of verses to read, but what we’re trying to do on Sunday mornings is to understand the overarching teaching of Scripture and how one event influences the next. And these two stories are combine for a purpose.

This whole situation starts off with a desperate father coming to Jesus, seeking his help for his dying daughter. This man is not just any person, he is the administrator of the local synagogue, a prominent figure in his town. This man, probably wasn’t rich, but he was well respected and was probably well off for his area. But coming to Jesus, someone who is at the very least not on good terms with the religious ruling party, could send all of that respect, all of that prominence out the window. But this man doesn’t care, his little girl is on her death bed and he is desperate.
And I think any of us would throw everything we had away for our child’s life, wouldn’t we? And this man was at the point were his only option was to trust in the rumors he had heard of Jesus. Rumors that had spread hundreds of miles away, and the man who everyone was talking about had entered his town, what else could he do, but desperately seek this healer?
Jesus accepts Jairus’ plea and goes to meet the little girl. Along the way, Jesus became inundated with people clamoring for him. To heal them, and to fix their problems. And as Jesus is pushed and pulled in so many ways, a diseased women makes her way through the crowd, thinking all she needs is a mere touch of Jesus’ clothes to be healed. She is not seeking anything, but an indirect contact with the healer. 
Now we don’t know what type of disease she had, possibly a tumor. But from the physician Luke in his account of this situation, he know that it was an incurable ailment. But low and behold, that indirect contact with Jesus did heal her, but what happened next was not what she expected.
Jesus knew that the healing had occurred. Jesus knew that something was different. With the crowd swarming him, being pushed and pulled in every direction. People yelling and calling out to each other. In the midst of this chaotic scene, something had happened. But only two people knew about. Everyone else was oblivious to the miracle.
And this is how I picture it. Jesus starts looking around for the person, asking a question to which he already knew the answer. Then people start backing away. Is he angry? They might be thinking. Could he call his great power down on us? Then the women presents herself in fear and trembling before Jesus. Not knowing if she had taken what did not belong to her. Her fear gripping her, maybe the thought of, will he take back my healing, crossed her mind. I could see the disciple recognizing her fear, because it was that same fear that gripped them in the boat. It was that same fear that gripped the people when they saw the possessed man healed.
Then Jesus looks at her, the crowd feeling her pain, and fear. And he says these words to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

These words speaks to the women understanding who Jesus was. Just like the demon possessed man understood who Jesus was. Jesus told her that she had placed her faith in the correct place. And because of that, not only was she healed, but she had gained something even greater. Jesus tells her your faith has healed you, this word healed, means to save. It is the same word that is used elsewhere to talk about salvation. This women put her trust into Jesus as her Savior, both of her physical body, and her spiritual life. And now she was truly free from her suffering, with no condemnation from Jesus, only blessing.
Can you imagine her fear leaving her in that moment? To know that you are no longer bound to suffering, both in this life and in the one to come?

But while all this was happening, these moments had taken their toll, because even as Jesus was speaking these words of freedom to this women, people had arrived to give the heart-breaking news about the girl.
In my mind, I wonder what thoughts passed through the mind of the father. I would have been thinking, “if Jesus didn’t take his time with this women, my daughter would have been saved.” And it’s almost as if Jesus understood the thoughts that could be creeping into the father’s mind, because Jesus turns and says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
The fear the disciples felt in the boat, the fear that the people felt after seeing Jesus cleans a man of a demon, and the fear of the woman after Jesus asked who touched him, all these fears were unfounded, because Jesus was there. And now, Jesus was relaying to this father, to not fear, but to trust. Trust that his faith in Jesus was not unfounded, just as the women’s faith was not unfounded.
They arrive at the house, with people already mourning the death of the little girl. These people knew what death was like. They had seen it time and time again. They knew the coldness that came upon a person after life had left their body. But Jesus would have none of it. The Creator was walking among them, and he understood what could and could not be done. So he shuts all the mocking people out. He brings three of his closest disciples in, with the mother and the father.
Taking the girl’s hand Jesus gives a command. In ancient times healers would come and say things like, "Arise from your disease”, which better translated would be more like, ”I wish you would arise.” But Jesus says two words, “Talitha koum!” “Child arise.” It was a command from the Creator to his creation. And the creation responded. The girl got up, walked around, and ate. She was not merely back from the dead, but her health was fully restored.

Two stories of full restoration. Two stories of fear being swept away for joy. Two stories of trust in Jesus tested.

I can imagine the woman, twelve years of suffering possibly falling into depression believing that she would die from her disease.
I can imagine the father, looking at his twelve year old girl dying before his eyes, with no ability to stop it.
Both had sought the doctors of their time, both finding that no one could help them.
Then both hearing of Jesus and his mighty power. One sought Jesus to come and heal his daughter, the other sought to merely have an indirect touch of Jesus. While Jesus was dealing with the lady, the girl died.
Fear had overtaken the woman, her healing on the line. Fear had overtaken the father, his daughter had died.
But it was trust, trust in Jesus that both had. And because of this trust, both experienced Jesus’ saving work that day. And all the while the disciples were watching all of it unfold. From a storm, to a demon, to an incurable disease, to a life restored, they were watching all of it unfold. And they were learning who this Jesus was. They were learning from each experience that Jesus wasn’t just another Rabbi, another teacher, or healer. He was much, much more.

Our experience of God today, can sometimes be stunted by our not trusting in his previous acts. The father could have given up on Jesus, when he heard the news of his daughter’s death. I mean, there had only been one other resurrection recorded in the Scriptures prior to this. And that was hundreds of years prior. But Jesus’ words, “Don’t be afraid; just believe,” spoke of the fear that the woman had, that was unfounded, and her trust in Jesus. And that trust is what the father needed now, trust that he had put his faith in the right person.
We must be like the father, we must be like Jairus. Watching the work of Jesus, learning what he is capable of doing. We need to open our eyes and see what God has done throughout the centuries, and what he is doing right now around us. If we are unwilling to trust what God has done in the past, then we are in a position where we might not be able to see his work in us today.  If we are not willing to see the history of God’s working, how can we expect to see it when it happens to us?

Instead, God wants us to trust him in the present by remembering the past. We must take inventory of God’s works throughout history, throughout other’s lives, and throughout our own, so that we can better trust Jesus today, because of what he did yesterday.

Jairus’ daughter would have stayed dead, if he had not trusted Jesus in that moment. The woman was not merely there for her own benefit, but for the benefit of Jairus. More than likely, Jesus would not have reached the girl in time either way, but the interaction with this women gave Jairus an opportunity to learn that his trust in Jesus was not unfounded.
One of the parts I struggled with in this passage, had nothing to do with anything theological, but rather I kept asking the question, why is the age of the girl brought up? And I believe it is to help us connect the women with the girl. The interaction with the woman, being a part of the healing of the girl. Without the woman, it’s possible that Jairus doesn’t go through with his trust in Jesus. This woman suffered twelve years, the same amount of time as the little girl was alive.
This woman happens to get her healing at the same time, when Jesus is off to heal another. This interaction happens mere seconds before Jairus gets the news of his daughter’s death. All of it compiled together lets Jairus know, God is here, God is working, and all you need to do is trust Jesus.

And that’s what God is calling us to do. Look at all that God has done in the past. In history, in other’s people’s lives, and in our own. And he is calling us to trust. Trust him with what we’re going through now, because of what he has done before. 

Let us remember God’s past works, so that we are not condemned to missing out on his work for today.

My question today is will you trust Jesus with your current situation? With whatever you are going through, with whatever your family is going through, with whatever our country is going through, with whatever our world is going through, will you trust Jesus with it?

Here is my challenge for you this week. Come up with five things God has done. They can be in history, in other people’s lives, in your own life. Today, I gave you four things Jesus has done. Think of your own, write them down on a piece of paper, and every day this week I challenge you to go back to that paper and pray a simple prayer, “God keep me remembering what you have done, so I may trust you today.”
A simple prayer, for a day-to-day trust in Jesus.

Now may the Lord of yesterday’s victory, bring those victories to mind today, so that your trust in him continues to grow tomorrow. Amen.

Living in Victory, Week 2 - The Great Reversal

Check out this video before reading the rest of the blog:

Well I have to tell you, that is one heart pumping prank. Just imagine what it must have felt like to be that guy. Not knowing what is going on and being put in to a situation where you’re completely out of control, and there’s a guy that you think is completely out of control.
Well it’s April’s fools day, and I’m sure a lot of pranks are happening around the world right now. Some real benign, like a parent who asked their two daughters to go into the Auto Parts store and get them a quart of blinker fluid. Some are pretty scary at first, like the one we saw, but end in laughter. And then there’s also those that are just mean and end friendships.
But no matter what the prank, no matter what happens at the end, laughter at someone else’s expense is always the goal. But when you start a pranking war, you better be ready to be pranked yourself.
Back when my wife and I were first dating, she tried to play a prank on me with the help of her roommates. It didn’t work, but I told her that I would get her back. And for the next few years, she lived in constant fear of the moment when I would prank her. I never did. What I did was simply hold over her head the possibility of the prank, which in itself was the prank.
And to me, the best pranks are the ones that reverse the initial prank. I mean, how funny it would have been if the guy that Jeff Gordon pranked, pranked him back by having a fake police officer seemingly arrest the whole film crew?
That would have added to the hilariousnesses, because that would give the people mocking the original target, their comeuppance.

And to me, that’s what Easter represents, the ultimate prank reversal. Jesus’ response to the mockers. I want to take you through the crucifixion and the resurrection and look at it from the perspective of mocking, and reversal.
If you have a Bible, we’re going to be in the book of Matthew, chapter 27, starting in verse 27.
Before we jump into the book of Matthew’s 27th chapter, and it’s 27th verse though, I want to share with you the lead up. Jesus is being accused of in sighting riots. He’s accused of trying to make himself a king. In fact, at his interrogation, Jesus is asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” to which he replies, “Yes, it is as you say.”
Before that happen, Jesus had claimed to be from heaven. Jesus claimed to be God come down. Jesus claimed to be the Savior of the world. And all these claims are about to be mocked.
And it’s at the mocking of Jesus’ claims that we pick up in the book of Matthew, chapter 27, verse 27. 

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium (pray-you-tor-e-um) and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
These soldiers took Jesus’ words of being the King of Israel, and mocked him for it. The robe, the crown of thorns, the staff, the proclamation of “Hail, king of the Jews!” All symbols of a king, but then they beat him. Something you would never do to a king.
But it doesn’t stop there, the mocking continues. A little ways down in verse 37 a sign was put above Jesus’ cross that read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Mocking him further.
But it wan’t just the Roman soldiers who got a laugh out of mocking Jesus, the Jewish people joined in too. In verse 38 it says, “Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”

Up until the final moments of Jesus’ death, all he heard was ridicule and insults. And then he died. The priests who had started this whole thing in motion were ecstatic. They had won, they had beaten this Rabbi from Nazareth who had challenged them so many times. They finally had the upper hand, and put Jesus in his place. They wouldn’t have to worry about him any longer. Jesus was dead, and they had won. They had their laugh at Jesus’ expense.

But then, the reversal. Three days later by Jewish understanding, the tomb where Jesus was buried opened, the soldiers that were guarding it, were frighten to the point of collapse.  
And then, Jesus started to appear to people. Over 500 people saw him after his death.
Now we can easily respond to this by saying, Jesus’ disciples are the greatest pranksters in history, claiming that Jesus rose from the dead, but really he didn’t.
In fact, this is exactly what the Jewish leadership told everyone. They told people that Jesus’ disciples stole the body. And anyone that believes the Jesus actually rose from the grave, is playing into the prank.
But let’s step back for a moment, have you ever committed a prank you would be willing to die for? At the mention of the police being called on Jeff Gordon, be began to plead with the man that was just a prank. He was quick to disclose the cameras, the fake prosthetics, everything. 
But the disciples died telling people that Jesus rose from the grave. Everyone of Jesus’ original twelve followers died. Eleven of them after the resurrection, believing and standing firm that he had rose from the grave and that they had seen it.
A former agnostic once said, “People will not die for their religious beliefs if they know that their religious beliefs are false.”
None of us would die for a prank, none of us would die for something we know is not true or real. But each of the original eleven did die. Five by crucifixion, two by being pelted by rocks, one by decapitation, one be hacked to pieces, one by a spear. The final one died of old age, after being boiled in oil and when that didn’t kill him, he was exiled to an island.
And that’s just the twelve. 
But Jesus didn’t just appear to his followers. Skeptics like James who became the head of the Jerusalem Church, reported seeing Jesus, and eventually died for that belief.

Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest reversal of mockery that has ever occurred in history. Those that killed him thought they had won, but he arose, reversing their victory and triumphing over them. Winning not only over the people that were out to get him, but over death itself.
And that victory over death, is a victory that Jesus doesn’t keep for himself. From Jesus’ own words, he says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10a).”

One of Jesus’ greatest mockers, who became a follower after seeing him after he rose from the dead, said this, “4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

And Jesus offers his victory to each of us right now. And that victory is not just over death when we leave this world, that victory is in this life. A life that can face down any mockery and say my Jesus beat you, and there is nothing that can stand against me now.

Now, I don’t know where you’re at. I don’t know if you believe that Jesus is raised from the dead, or not. But what I do know is that Jesus is calling to you right now to respond to him. To respond to his victory, and to his life.
In the coming weeks we are going to be talking about how we can live Jesus’ victorious life everyday, and how it can change and overcome everything that wants to defeat us.
But today, we must respond to this Jesus who reversed the mockery of the cross, and won the victory. 
We remember this through what is called communion, which basically means a time of connecting with God. I want to challenge you, that before you are done reading this take some bread, and some grape juice (or wine if that’s your thing), and read the following:
The bread represents Jesus’ body one the cross: beaten and broke.
Jesus went to the cross willingly, so that you may have victory in this life and the next.
By taking the bread, you connect with Jesus on the cross, accepting his broken body so that your body is not broken.

The drink represents Jesus’ blood spilt to cover sin. 
In Jewish law, God stated that for sin (the things we do that are not inline with God’s standard) to be forgive, someone’s blood had to be spilled. Usually this was an animal’s.
But for humans to be fully forgiven, another human who had kept God’s law perfectly, had to die. This was Jesus.
In taking the drink, you connect with Jesus on the cross, accepting his spilt blood as a covering for your sin.

Take and eat. Take and drink.
By taking the communion whether this be your first time, or your thousandth time, by taking the bread and the drink you are saying, I want the victory Jesus has won. I want the life he gives for free.

And the life he gives is truly free to us, nothing we can do earns it. It’s all because he endured the mockery for us, so that we could experience all of the good that comes from it.
Would you come and take the life and the victory that Jesus offers you today?
Now may the God who reversed the mockery of the cross, bring you into the victory of the resurrection. That you may live his full life today, and be brought into his life for eternity. Amen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Living in Victory, Week 1 - Following God's Victory

So last year I had a heart wrenching experience. An old friend of mine was dealt a tragic blow. This friend had been a family friend even before I was born. I had heard of the many great things my dad experienced with our family friend. But as I grew up, our friend really didn’t do much. I saw them every year, but every year, they seemed to be getting worse and worse. But something amazing happened, in the last couple of years our friend seemed to be getting better. Almost like they were in their hay-day. They seemed strong as ever, but then last year hit.
My dad and I both felt it. Our dear friend, was so close to coming back strong, but within seven days they fell apart. At the critical moment, when there seemed to be a glimmer of hope, they fell, and for the last five months I have been waiting to see them again. I am of course talking about the Los Angles Dodgers, who, in October 2017 lost in game seven of the world series.
And at that moment, I felt what it was like to be a fan from Chicago. I don’t know if you are a sports fan, I know that there are a lot of intense people that love sports. I’m one that likes sports. I like keeping up on it, in an overall manner. I like following my team during baseball. I like going and seeing my team play when I have the opportunity. But I have never been one of those guys that knows ever stat. I’ve never been one of those guys that follows every team. I like to see what’s going on, but that’s about it. But being a baseball fan, I do something that is completely unbiblical. I have rituals. And here is my biggest one. If I miss a game, and my team starts winning, I can’t watch them, until they lose. When they lose and can start watching them again, and if they win, I keep watching them until they lose.
It’s kind of strange, but they did make it to the world series last year, so there’s that. But I bring this up, because even though in reality it doesn’t matter if I watch the Dodgers or not, they are going to perform the way they will with me or without me. But when they win, I win. When they lose, I lose. And when they lose in game seven of the world series, I mourn with the other fans that just watch their season end in heartbreak.
If you’re a sports fan of any kind, you know the exhilaration of victory, and the sorrow of defeat. In those moments of victory or defeat, we connect ourselves to the players and teams, and as I have thought about Palm Sunday, I have asked myself this question, do we do the same with Jesus?
Do we recognize the victory that he has accomplished, and do we connect ourselves with it in our daily lives? We might sing songs like Victory in Jesus, where it says, “Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever! He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood. He loved me ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him, He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.”
But does it effect our lives moment by moment? Today I want us to take a look at, what is called Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and I want us to see how Jesus’ viewed this as more than just his victory march. So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to be going into the book of John, chapter 12, starting in verse 12. And as we go into the 12th chapter of John, verse 12, I want to set up what is happening.

Jesus had been preaching and teaching for about three years. Now in the book of John that we’re looking at today, there are twenty-one chapters. The first eleven talk about the first one-hundred and fifty five weeks of these three years. Whereas nine of the last ten chapters focus’ on one week. And this is where we begin to read in John chapter 12, verse 12.

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

This is a moment of great triumph, the Savior of the world is fulling prophecies about him that were written down hundreds of years beforehand. To the people that surrounded Jesus, everything was going to get good now. The oppression of the Roman government was going to be gone, because Jesus was going to usher in a great new kingdom where God would live with his people Israel, and the nations would tremble before them.
The people were exhilarated at the prospect of going to the world series, their team was going to win. But within less than a week, Jesus would be crucified. Killed at the hands of the people he was supposed to overthrow. The bitter taste of defeat was in everyone’s mouths. What was once an assured victory, was gone in the final game. And all of the fans of Jesus fell away at his defeat.

And here’s the thing, in our lives we know how this roller coster of victory and defeat feels like. At one moment you can be on top of the world, with everything going your way, and then circumstances out of our control hit like a tsunami, and the high life of victory comes crashing down in defeat. Financial markets can be up at one moment, and then down the next. You can be driving along having a wonderful car ride, then all of a sudden someone runs a red light and tragedy hits. Victory and defeat, up and down, we all know those feelings. And that is what happens in these last pages of John’s book. Starting on the Sunday of John’s twelfth chapter to the Thursday of John’s seventeenth chapter, the people were riding the victory train, and then Jesus is taken, crucified, and buried. And with his burial, all that victory they had felt when Jesus entered into Jerusalem riding a donkey and fulfilling the prophecies, were shattered.

And I think I know why. Let’s take a look a few verses down from where we left off. In verse 28 a voice from heaven speaks, and in verse 30 Jesus says this, “30 ‘This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.”

Two things happen in these verses: 1) A voice from heaven confirms that Jesus is long awaited Savior of the world. This encourages the people by emphasizing Jesus’ victory. 2) The second part is Jesus’ words, and John’s commentary on them. In verse 33, John says, “He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.”
Jesus is letting people know that his death, is going to happen. But it’s in the death, and eventual resurrection, where the victory is truly fulfilled. See the people are only looking at the triumphal entry. They’re looking at the future with Jesus destroying the Romans, but what Jesus is trying to get across is victory through a different means.
This is why the people reply to Jesus’ words in verses 30-32, with this, “34 The crowd spoke up, ‘We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man”?’”
We see the two views of victory in this instance. On one hand, the people view victory only when Jesus overthrows the Roman government. And on the other hand, Jesus views victory when he is crucified and resurrected.

And when Jesus is killed a few days later, the people lose their victory, because their trust was in the wrong triumph.

And this is were we have the tendency to do the same thing. A lot of the time, when we want a victory, our trust is in the wrong kind of triumph. We want triumph in our retirement. We want triumph in our schools. We want triumph in our families. We want triumph in our nation. We want to overcome the bad things that can steal our victory, and we’re willing to try anything to accomplish it. 
But Jesus’ response to the people is interesting. In verse 35 Jesus says, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”

Later on in verse 46 Jesus says, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
Jesus is saying the victory is not found in what you perceive it to be, but rather what God sees it as. Hear that again: victory is not found in what we perceive it to be, but rather what God sees it as.

The people perceived their victory was in Jesus the conquering king, but God saw their victory in Jesus’ death and resurrection. And this is the key difference between how victory is brought into our lives. If we look for God to come rushing into our lives fixing all of our ills, then we will be devastated when it falls short.
But if we trust God to work out the victory by his own way, by his own plan, then we will experience the victory in our lives, the way that God intends it. 
The two views of victory here, are the same two victories that happen today. The people’s view is the same type of view where we have the idea that if I just say something over and over then God will do it. If I say money be in my pocket enough times, then God will put it there. If I just say this marriage will be restored enough times it will be. What we’re really doing is seeking to make God bring victory into a situation by telling him what needs to happen. 
As if God is not paying attention, or doesn’t wants to heal situations. But instead of trying to force God into our perception of victory, we need to come before God humbly. We need to come to God and recognize he is good, and he wants good in our lives. So we need to seek his victory in our situation. We need to go to him asking him to take care of our needs, to restore our relationships, to right the wrongs. 
When we do this, we are putting ourselves in a position to experience victory as God intends it. And that might mean some hard times. God’s victory over sin, was won by the blood of Jesus. The broken, crucified body of the Savior. 
Victory God’s way usually means a harder road is ahead. But, the victory is true and lasting.

Now when you walked in today, there were palm leafs making a path into the building. They represent the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. How many of you walked around them? That is probably was the safer choice, we don’t want anyone tripping so we have to call the ambulance. But those palm leafs represent a choice that we each of have to made on a daily basis. Do we put our trust in the victory as God sees it, or do we try to find a different way to achieve the victory?
Do we walk on the victory path that Jesus walked, or do we walk our own path. If we chose to try and achieve victory through our own means, the victory will never satisfy. But if we chose to walk the victory path of God, though it will be difficult at the time, the taste of victory will be all the sweeter.

Here is the challenge for this coming week, I want you to make a list of three areas in your life that you want God to bring you victory in your life. Is that family, friends, finances, school, job, vehicle, dealing with the loss of a loved one. Whatever area you’re trying to achieve a victory in right now, I want you to list it. And for the next week, I want you to go to God every time that need arises, where you want to make the victory happen in your own power, and turn it over to God. Ask God to bring the victory in his way, even if that way means some heartache.

We need to realize, God is the God of victory, he overcame our sin on the cross, and if he can do that, then there is nothing that our God can’t do. 

Now may God bring you into victory through his way, so that the victory may be lasting, and glorifying to him. Amen.