Tag Archives: victory

21 Day Experiment-Day 11

Believe. To believe means to accept something as true.  What you believe impacts your thoughts, feelings, actions—and ultimately, the course of your life.  “What do you believe?” just might be the most important question you’ll ever answer.

In John 11, the word believe” is used eight times.  Here we find two of Jesus’ dearest friends, Mary and Martha, grief-stricken over the death of their beloved brother Lazarus.

Can you imagine their hurt and confusion?  They knew Jesus could have saved Lazarus if He’d just gotten there sooner. They’d had seen Him heal many times. The disciples were also perplexed—especially when Jesus told them, “Lazarus is dead and I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14).

When Jesus finally arrives—four days late—Martha cries out, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!” Jesus reminds her that her brother will rise again. “I know he will rise again at the resurrection,” replies Martha. I can just imagine her blurting out, “But what about now…I am hurting now!”

“I am the resurrection,” Jesus says. “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” He asks her.  “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:25-27).

Wow. Martha presses through her grief and testifies that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah! Jesus knew the big picture—the ultimate story of redemption. But He was also moved by their present grief. The text tell us He was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”  The word translated as “troubled” is tarasso. It implies great agony of soul and is the same word used to describe Jesus as he contemplated the cross (John 12:27).

Jesus agonizes over the death of his friend and weeps intensely. “I know that you always hear me,” He prays to the Father, “but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

Then in a loud voice that must have shaken all of creation He shouts, “Lazarus, come forth!”  And out walks the man who came back to life. No wonder many onlookers put their faith in Jesus.

Maybe you’re facing a huge disappointment. You know Jesus could fix it, so why hasn’t He shown up yet?  Maybe your faith has been shaken to its core.

I’m reminded of what Jesus said when He learned of Lazarus’ sickness. It’s my watchword:

This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it (John 11:4).

Jesus knew the end of the story. He knows the end of yours.  Would you entrust that heartbreaking situation to Him, believing that your pain may be the raw material for a miracle? Dare to pray that those who see His work in your life may truly believe He is the Son of God.


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 25

Whether it’s a daunting trial you’re facing or an impossible dream you hold close to your heart, there are times you need to strengthen your hope.  Renew your grip. Strengthen your “feeble arms and weak knees” (Hebrews 12:12).  Hope can be an uphill climb.  That’s why I’m doing 30 Days of Hopeful.  Sometimes, we need encouragement  to “keep on keeping on.”  Agree?

Even the mighty warrior King David  knew what it meant to hit bottom and lose hope.  He and his men experienced a violent raid on their village while they were away at battle.  The vicious Amalakites burned their homes and kidnapped all the wives and children.  (Sounds a lot like Boko Haram’s rampage through rural Nigeria).

The Bible says that when David and his men returned, they found their wives, sons and daughters taken captive. The Bible paints a gripping picture of their trauma:  “Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.  And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters” (1 Samuel 30:4, 5 ESV).

Look at what he did next:  “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6 ESV).   The first response of this seasoned warrior was not to organize a counterattack, but to go to God for help.  And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?”

Here’s what the Lord advised:  “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue”  (verses 8, 9). So David  set out with his men.  They overtook and conquered the enemy.  The text tells us that “nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken” (verse 19).

David had learned over the years–through countless dangers and trials–to strengthen himself in the Lord.  He had trained his heart to hear God’s voice.  This wasn’t something he tried for the first time in the middle of a terrible crisis.  We know from reading the Psalms, that David would seek God often.  Seeking God was his “go to” response.  He knew how to abide in the light, so that when the dark times hit,  he was prepared to respond.

What’s your “go to” response?  Have you learned to strengthen yourself in the Lord?  Perhaps there are some practical ways you could refresh your commitment to seek Him daily.

30 Days of Thankful: Day 30

I once saw an old Tarzan movie in which the famed ape man was peering at a droplet of water through a microscope. The instrument had been brought to Africa by Jane’s father, Professor Porter. Tarzan was quite shaken to see that the water he drank daily was teeming with all kinds of organisms, invisible to the naked eye.

Similarly, the Bible reveals that our spiritual atmosphere is filled with unseen enemies—the real source of our spiritual battles. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).

I wonder how we’d react if we could catch a glimpse into the invisible heavenly places. Like Tarzan, I imagine we’d be shocked by the creatures we saw. The Bible doesn’t spend a lot of time describing this spiritual realm. It does, however, give us instructions on how to do battle. We’re given a detailed list of spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:10-20.  James 4:2 encourages us to “submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee.”

But one of the most powerful weapons against the powers of darkness is the weapon of praise. Giving thanks helps us fight our spiritual foes—something worth emphasizing again as we bring our 30 Days of Thankful to a close.

The New Testament is filled with examples of the power of thanksgiving. We see Paul and Silas singing and praising God in a Philippian jail—their chains fell off, the jailer accepted Jesus, and his whole family became believers.

The Old Testament, too, tells stories of the power of praise:  “After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: ‘Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!’ At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves” (2 Chronicles 20:21-22).

Perhaps you’re facing a spiritual battle today. You’ve resisted, and prayed, and fought the good fight. But you’re weary. This may be your strategic moment to simply thank God and praise Him for His goodness. Let Him fight this battle for you. Rest in His power—even if you don’t fully understand how He works.  Just remember: the devil and his minions hate praise. So if you can stand firm and continue to thank God, I believe you will notice that the devil flees. After all, he is allergic to praise.

Are you dangerous to the devil?

“Fasting is a little scary,” remarked a friend during our recent 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed.  She’s right.  Whether it’s food, a favorite treat, social media or shopping, giving up something we depend upon leaves us longing. Empty. Thirsty.

Maybe that’s why fasting is so powerful.  I’m forced to switch my lifeline from food (or whatever) to God Himself.  I find myself hungrier for His Word and more receptive to His voice.  Even Jesus chose to fast before in His duel in the desert with the devil.  He had just been  baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit.  Afterwards, God spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  What an amazing spiritual mountaintop!  But notice what happened next:

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry (Matthew 4:1,2 NLT).   It was the Holy Spirit himself who led Jesus into the desert.  A place of vulnerability and isolation.  On top of that,  Jesus fasted for forty days and nights!  Not exactly the breakfast of champions.  So why would He physically weaken Himself in preparation for the fight of His life?

Let’s read further to find our answerThe tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3, 4 NIV).  The devil’s first of three temptations hit Jesus right in the gut, so to speak.  He tempts him to turn stones into bread.  What could be wrong with that?  Jesus could simply try out His divine power.  Turning stones into bread wouldn’t cost Him any money or cause a scandal.  And hunger after forty days with no food seems like a legitimate need.

But Jesus, weak in body yet mighty Spirit, knew the fight with the devil was not over.  His counterattack came straight from the Bible, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’.”  With each successive temptation, Jesus fired back at the devil with Scripture until the evil one finally slinked away in defeat.

For forty days, Jesus had prepared for this time of testing by fasting, praying, pouring over God’s Word.  He was armed and ready.  Power to contend with the devil didn’t come from His human strength or logic,  but from the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

Dear friends, I wonder if we hunger for the true bread of the Spirit?   We nourish our bodies with food.  We keep our cars fueled up.   We recharge our smart phones and laptops.   But are we humble enough to admit that we can’t win our spiritual battles without God’s Word?  Jesus showed us how.  We don’t live by the “bread” of this world alone, but by every Word from the mouth of God.  That’s how we stay armed and dangerous to the devil.




my heroes of hope

Have you ever faced a trial so painful you couldn’t endure the weight of it? The enemy taunts you with lies whispered in the dark:  God is not even listening to your prayers.  Why else would He seem so silent?  When all seems hopeless, I find encouragement from believers who have passed through the furnace and come forth with faith shining.  Their stories inspire me to hold onto my hope. I want to share one such story with you.

I met Ange during one of my first missions trips to Rwanda and Burundi. Most everyone I encountered was a genocide survivor with a hard story to tell. But it was Ange’s journey of agony-turned-into-hope that gripped my soul. Continue reading