Episode 1. A New Way of Living
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Many who call themselves “Christians” are not, in fact, living the life of victory that Jesus came to give them. Somehow, the promise of victory isn’t happening in their lives. Something …. …
Many of those who call themselves “Christians” are not, in fact, living the life of victory that Jesus came to give them. Somehow, the promise of victory isn’t happening in their lives. Something …. something has to change. Not next year, not next month, not next week … now!!!
Last week on the program we were talking about the reality that Jesus came to purchase a special kind of victory for each one of us. The sort of victory in life that lifts us up above temptations, that lifts us up above the devastating impact of our sin that lifts us up above the power of the devil to destroy our lives.
The sort of victory that brings a sense of God’s abundance into our world so that no matter who or what attacks us, no matter who or what tries to rob you and me of the joy and the peace and the gladness in our hearts, we can have victory of that who or what and still have the joy and the peace and the gladness in our hearts.
That’s what I call victory and that abundance is precisely what Jesus came to give to you and me. A pivotal passage of Scripture that I come back to again and again in my life when the ravages of the devil and of circumstances are tearing away at my flesh is what Jesus said to His disciples in John chapter 10 verse 10:
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I came that you may have life and have it abundantly.
I sometimes ask people, ‘What sort of life do you think that God wants you to live?’ A boring life, an ordinary life or a stunning life. Come on, on a scale of zero to ten what sort of life do you think that God wants you to live? This God who sent Jesus to die and rise again for you. Zero – a rotten life, five – well an okay kind of life I guess, seven and a half – a pretty good life or ten – a stunning life.
Remember Jesus said that He came so that we might have life and have it abundantly and that anything less than that was from the devil. The original Greek word that sits aback of our English translation literally means ‘super abundantly’. That super abundant life isn’t always a comfortable life or a wealthy life, no often it’s not that at all but it is a life that weighs in and counts for Jesus, a life that bears fruit super abundantly. That’s the life that Jesus has planned for you.
The question is, how do you and I grab hold of that life because let’s be honest, of the millions of people who will listen to this message today in over a hundred and sixty countries around the world, the vast majority, eighty, ninety percent aren’t living that sort of a life?
It seems as though in the Kingdom of God today there are the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have not’s’ when it comes to this abundant victory. Which one are you? A have or a have not? Something has to change right? And I believe, in fact I know that the biggest con out there robbing God’s people of His abundant victory is this, that life is all about being happy, us being happy, me being happy, you being happy.
This big con, the reason that so many people are so unhappy in this world, is that we’re told happiness comes from self-gratification, from buying and having everything we want, that new dress or that new pair of shoes, that new camera, that new car, that new house, that new whatever it is, that’s why most people often think to themselves, ‘If only, if only I just earned a little bit more, just maybe ten percent more then I’d be happy’.
From bitter experience I can tell you that’s simply not true. In fact the biggest shock I had when I became a Christian back in 1995 was that once I started using my God-given gifts and resources to do things for other people, something frankly I had never done much of before, all of a sudden I discovered the satisfaction and the contentment I’d been looking for, for all those years.
That’s exactly what God tells us through His Word, Philippians chapter 2 verses 3 to 8:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ who, though he was in the form of God, didn’t regard equality with God as something to be exploited but he emptied himself, humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
These days I bless other people, not because I’m a good guy because I’m not but because it makes me feel good because it brings me the peace, the joy and the contentment that I was always looking for but was forever unable to find so long as I was trying to make myself happy. Why did it take me so long to figure this out?
Probably because right from the beginning, right from when we’re little we’re taught that the aim of the game is to succeed, it’s about winning, it’s about coming first, it’s about me feeling good about myself. It doesn’t matter what game you’re playing the aim, the only acceptable outcome is to win.
Well winning is all well and good, it’s great to be successful and yet so many Christians think that success is the name of the game that they’ve completely lost sight of Jesus. I even had one Christian tell me once that his aim was to have the latest BMW SUV sitting in his driveway. Really? Is that really what’s going to make you happy, success?
John chapter 19 verses 28 to 30:
After this when Jesus knew that all was now finished he said in order to fulfil the Scripture, ‘I am thirsty’. A jar full of sour wine was standing there so they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it up to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine he said, ‘It is finished’ then he bowed his head and he gave up his spirit.
When Jesus died on that cross He didn’t even have the clothes on His back. He was beaten, crucified, this miracle working Jesus who had promised so much looked like the biggest loser of all time. They scoffed at Him, they spat at Him, they mocked Him, ‘Save yourself’ they shouted.
And yet through His suffering He purchased eternal life for you and me. It’s fine to succeed but that’s not the aim of the game. Now He wasn’t a loser Jesus, when He gave up His life for you and me, far from it, He did it willingly, John chapter 10 verses 17 and 18.
For this reason the Father loves me because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.
In the world’s economy losing makes you a loser, losing the argument, missing out on the promotion, not being as beautiful as the beautiful people, all that makes you a loser but that’s not the way it is in God’s economy. In my life and I know this has happened in yours too, many things have come against me.
I set out each day with faith in Jesus and the joy of the Lord in my heart and like a pack of wolves people and situations and circumstances and things come to tear away at my flesh, to attack my faith, to drag me down and our natural reaction to that is, well God what’s going on here? What have I done to deserve this? Can’t you make it stop?
We behave as though something is wrong when the truth is the moment we step onto the spiritual battle of life with Jesus in our hearts the devil is going to come after us with a pick axe, with all the powers of hell unleashed against us but no matter how bad it gets remember this powerful truth from God’s Word, Romans chapter 8 verses 37 to 39.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us for I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor rulers nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In this world there are winners and there are losers but in God’s Kingdom there are only winners, victors, conquerors. No sorry, that’s not quite true – more than conquerors, there … that’s better.