Tag Archives: overcomers

The Real Argument ~

It is interesting what Christians fight over—what it is that divides God’s people into different groups and denominations. I can’t imagine that Jesus intended his followers be divided over anything, but here we are 2,000 years later with approximately 41,000 Christian denominations, according to Wikipedia.

 

One of the areas of dispute is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Some groups believe that the presence of Christ’s Spirit—known as the Holy Spirit—comes into an individual at the time of conversion. Others believe it comes with an experience known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with many other opinions landing somewhere in between. There is also a great deal of controversy on how much of this Spirit is granted to the believer.

 

Personally, I believe the real argument is not if He comes, how He comes, or when He comes. The scripture is clear on the issue that He does come! The real argument is more clearly found in our capacity to recognize His presence and the ability to draw upon that source of power once He is within us.

 

The fact is that if we are full of the world, we have little capacity for the presence of God. If we are consumed and controlled by “self” (the fleshly nature we inherited from the fall), we have little ability to access the Spirit within. Therefore, our faith is small, our strength is small, and our results will be small.

 

If that describes us, we will not know the power of His Spirit even though He dwells inside us. We will not be able to utilize this power when we need it, but will be overpowered by our fleshly nature. This applies to even those who have a great experience when being filled with the Spirit. It’s what we do with the Indwelling Christ that matters.

 

Jesus clearly said, “To Him that overcomes, I will give to eat of the tree of life.”1 Ever wonder what He meant by this? Overcome what? Could it be those who overcome their “self” –Satan’s representative in every human being? Those who deny their “self”? Those who crucify their “self” and put “self” to death? Those who overcome the power of “self” and allow Christ to reign in their lives? Could that be the overcomers Jesus is talking about? If so, then am I an overcomer?

 

I fully believe that it is this “self” we must overcome—and not the devil, his works, or even the world. Jesus did that!2 We have one thing to overcome in our individual lives and that is the “self” that sits on the throne of our hearts and rules what we do, what we say, how we act and react, how we spend our time, what we love, and what appeals to us. But Christ will not unseat my “self”—I must do it!

 

It is time the truth about “self” be revealed to our own hearts. We yield to its persuasion over us; we act as if it has some right to exert its ugly behavior as some honorable entity that doesn’t have to please God or adhere to His commands. After all, it’s “me” and I can’t help being “me!” Did I mention that “self” comes directly from the “father of lies?”3

 

We have been lied to long enough. Unless we face this truth, we will be deceived about who “self” is. Self is our enemy. Self is God’s enemy. We must not protect our self, not if we want to eat of the tree of life.

 

This might be a good time for a “self” test. Do my actions, words, thoughts, behaviors, desires, and loves line up with that taught and modeled by Jesus, or am I mostly doing my own thing? I can explain it away all I want, rationalize all I must, justify myself, my rights over and over, but when I stand before the Lord will my arguments hold up?

 

I do not want to wait until that day to figure out that I might be of the world and not really a follower of Christ at all.  Like it or not, I best get on with doing what Jesus said to do: deny my “self.”4

 

Whatever you do, don’t forget this all-important fact: He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell inside me to help me do that very thing. Come on, Jesus Followers, let’s figure out this mystery of the gospel—Christ in me, the hope of glory.5 ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Revelation 2:7; 2John 16:33; 3John 8:44; 4Matthew 16:24; 5Colossians 1:27

Out of the Wreck I Rise

It has been a painful week in Oklahoma—loss of life, property, and peace of mind. News reporters search for words to describe the devastation wreaked by tornados across our State. We all seek to get our hearts and minds around what it might feel like to be personally affected by such a disaster.

Clearly, it is larger than any of us can individually cope with, but not larger than what we can face together. Relief organizations, churches, sister cities, governments and individuals move in to help. As I drove through several towns in Oklahoma yesterday, I saw signs along the way “Drop off relief supplies here.” That is what neighbors do—fellow Oklahomans and fellow Americans—when tragedy strikes.

A famous quote by Robert Browning caught my attention this morning—“Out of the wreck I rise.” It is a fact that there are times when life’s circumstances feel as if a train wreck, a ship wreck, and yes, even a tornado, has just occurred smack-dab in the middle of our lives. Have you ever felt that you were at the bottom of the wreckage, trying to peek out and catch a glimpse of light? I know that I have.

What is it about out-of-control circumstances that leave us feeling wrecked? You know what I mean: It is too painful to look back; the monotonous why questions race through our minds; and those pesky “if only” thoughts taunt us as though we might have prevented the crash.

But we can’t live that way. Even if we wallow in the wreckage for weeks, months or years, our sheer endurance there won’t change anything. We can ask questions until we are blue in the face, but we probably won’t find an answer. We can “what if” for the rest our lives, but we’ll never actually know if any one of them would have yielded a different result.

So, what are we to do with our wrecks? How do we find the positive amongst the rubble, pull ourselves together, and start again? As I watched the TV coverage of the tornado damage, I prayed for those who even now must find that starting place.

Oswald Chambers made a good addition to Browning’s quote when he wrote: “Out of the wreck I rise, every time.” 1

We may not ever be able to prevent wrecks—this wreck, the next wreck, or any wreck for that matter—but as children of the Most High God, we not only can, but we must rise up out of it every time.

How? We focus on the important, not the trivial. We focus on the positive, not the negative. We focus on what we have been given, not on what has been lost. We focus on what we have, not on what we don’t have. We focus on the eternal, not the temporal.

We are intended to be overcomers—overcomers of wrecks—if you will. Life is full of wrecks, both large and small, and the world is watching to see how we face them, and how we rise up out of the ruins and recover from them.

Philippians 2:14-16 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life….” (NIV)

Instead of smothering beneath our wreckage, we must dig out from under it. If need be, we embrace the help of others, as is the case in Moore, Oklahoma. We all have our own personal wrecks to deal with. How we handle them matters. We must latch hold of a positive word of God, a promise that will help us get a firm grip, and start shining like stars. You see, the world is watching.

My prayers and thoughts to the many precious and resilient people in Oklahoma who are suffering even now ~ Janie Kellogg

1 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 19