Victorious Living

Victorious Living

By Pat Knight

I have always known that as a child of God, I have the ability to lead a victorious life. When I was young, I naively believed spiritual victory was instinctive. Now I understand that in order for victory to be won, a battle must be overcome. How will any of us achieve triumph without previously encountering conflict? How else do we experience trust unless we practice the art? During hardships, we are commanded to persevere, but we are incapable of acquiring perseverance without habitually practicing it. There is no healing without sickness; no power without weakness; no success without failure. Trials offer the opportunity to grow in faith, and as a result, we mature in our walk with Christ himself.

Few believers have been tested by God more intensely than Abraham. The patriarchs’ only son was a direct gift from God, through whom God would complete His promise to Abraham, with “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky or sand on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17).

Abraham, commanded by God to sacrifice his covenant son as a burnt offering, was poised with knife in hand, ready to plunge it into Isaac, who was strapped to the sacrificial altar. On their three-day journey to the mountaintop, Isaac questioned his father as to where they would find the lamb for the altar. Abraham answered, “‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son’” (v. 8).

God was testing Abraham’s obedience. The best Abraham hoped for was that God might raise his son from the dead. He never questioned God, nor did his resolve falter. Just as the father was positioned to slay his son, “the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham, Abraham! … Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’”

“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son” (vv. 11-13).

As we know, obedience is a difficult discipline, especially when the investment is so costly. However, our Lord accepts full responsibility for the consequence of our obedience. Not only did Abraham experience God’s faithfulness, but he also learned the measure of his own trust—the extent to which he followed and obeyed his heavenly Father.

Words are easily dispensed and often insignificant, but submissive actions require commitment, determination, and tenacious faith. Abraham could hardly have understood God’s reasons for providing a son in his old age, only to take him away. In spite of his lack of comprehension, Abraham believed in God so passionately, that His faith overwhelmed his doubt. He was willing to place all of his confidence in the Lord’s plans, for Abraham had witnessed His glory and faithfulness previously. He believed in Almighty God without reservation.

God already knew Abraham would react courageously that day, for He is omniscient (all-knowing). God tested Abraham so he would learn about His God and himself. Abraham’s personal, adamant faith and steadfast obedience were reinforced in the face of huge consequences. Most importantly, Abraham ascertained the unlimited extent to which he could trust the living God; His faithfulness, loving kindness, protection, and promises; God’s desire and ability to provide all of his needs (Philippians 4:19).

Abraham’s test of faith is included in God’s Word to stimulate in believers’ hearts a similar love of our heavenly Father. Satan tempts us to fail. God never tempts; He tests us to illustrate His love and mercy. It is important for every believer to acquire knowledge of self-motivation and priorities; any limits that might inhibit our growth in faith. Obedience is evidence of genuine faith. Questions are raised during a test of faith. To what extent do my actions reflect my love for God? Am I willing to yield to His will? How much of my life am I capable of surrendering in light of Jesus’ humiliating, heinous suffering on the cross to secure my redemption? Like Jesus, may we pray that God’s will be accomplished in all of life’s circumstances.

There can be no victory when there is no submission to the will of God. ─J. Vernon McGee

Some of our most important lessons are mastered while struggling with unrelenting trials. The apostle, Paul, admitted, “‘that is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Paul accessed God’s power, transforming his afflictions into spiritual victory. Hardships of any kind are best approached with confidence, acknowledging that God’s perfect plans, in His precise timing, are sovereign components to victory.

To navigate adversity, call on your heavenly Father, for “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). God is always in control of His creation. We need never fear when He is directing our lives, a comforting declaration of his mighty, sustaining presence.

The apostle James instructs us how to react to the variety of adversities that assail us: “‘Consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything’” (James 1:2-4). Joy results from recognizing that God has included our welfare in His plans, for He loves and cares for His own.

Christian maturity is an impossible journey without God’s abiding presence and assistance. When faced with hardship or grief, we learn to run straight into the arms of Jesus, trading our weakness for His incredible power, trusting Him unconditionally. The happy outcome is that we draw closer to our Lord, producing Christlikeness in our lives.

Experiencing joy amidst trials is an avenue to spiritual victory. We gain Christian maturity by navigating life’s trials with perseverance and steadfastness, obeying God in all situations. Our Lord’s mercy, grace, and compassion encourage us to navigate afflictions as we resolve to develop wholehearted faith. We are commanded to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). There are no exceptions to God’s directive. His plans for our lives are perfectly designed and authenticated, with higher purposes than we fully understand. Our responsibility, then, is to acknowledge that God has chosen wisely for each of His followers. Such knowledge produces joy. Therein is the victory!

Independence Day: One Nation Under God

Independence Day, also referred to simply as July 4th, is a federal holiday here in the United States. On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed, declaring our independence from Great Britain.

Today is typically celebrated with fireworks, picnics, barbecues and family get-togethers which commemorate probably the most important day in our country’s history. As a nation, the United States of America is very blessed because of the sacrifice of all those who have fought to procure and protect our freedoms.

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God,
then we will be a nation gone under.
—Ronald Reagan

The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
    the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
—Psalm 33:11-12

Let us never forget that we are the United States of America—one nation under God —whose freedom is bought at a great price. We need to keep our country in prayer at all times. The following article was published a few years ago but is still relevant today.

Franklin Graham: How You Can Pray for America

As Americans celebrate July 4 and remember those who fought and died for our freedom, we need to take time to pray for our soldiers.

We should also pray for our national leaders. Regardless of whether we agree with our country’s policies, we have a biblical mandate to do this.

Read the rest here.

My Friend Sammy

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My Friend Sammy

By Pat Knight

Our four-year-old grandson informed his mother he was sure he was a boy because “girls have square heads and mine is round.” And how did he discover this morsel of childhood truth? “Because Sammy told me!” Of course, the logic of childhood has conquered another subject.

In allotting some of my thought to this physical inequity between boy and girl, it did occur to me that a square head might be useful. The brain could occupy the main part of the box-shaped head. Then, tucked away in the corners could be all those important dates and lifelong trivia we long to recall instantly. No longer would I forget birthdays. The dates would be squeezed into a corner, perhaps attached by a sticky note on a permanent brain corkboard. Appointment dates for the entire family at times require a filing system all their own. There would be another head corner available for those remembrances. It is a daunting task to remember clothing sizes for everyone in a growing family. The shoe and sock sizes, shirts and jackets, pants and gloves, hats (square) and boots; all could be neatly catalogued in another corner of the square skull. The remaining corner could be delegated to lists, those aggravating necessities of daily living. What a possibility for superior organization and efficiency, with every thought and job catalogued in corners of our boxy heads!

The square head might be a little top heavy with all of the informative corners assigned.  Perhaps it would be wise if we kept the original mold, after all. God knew how to configure people for optimum function and fulfillment. There are parts of our brain used exclusively for empowering the body with its mechanical prowess. All of our senses are neatly provided a unique section. Reasoning, learning, memorization, problem solving, wisdom; all have been compartmentalized.

God designed us long ago with His plan that has never outdated. The human body and mind must be one of only a few items in this world that have not been altered or improved over time. God alone possesses the pattern for creation of Homo sapiens and He is not likely to release it. We are children of God, made in His image. Who would want to tamper with that relationship? “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Notice the triple repetition of being made in God’s image, a fact He doesn’t want us to take lightly.

With the reasoning minds God constructed, we are capable of grasping the enormous gift of fellowship with Him. God could have built the most palatial residence in heaven for His abiding place. After all, He is the One, Exalted, Supreme God of the universe, mighty in power and riches. God could live anywhere He chooses, but miraculously, He has chosen our hearts! God will reside in each individual heart and mind of the person who invites Him inside.

God not only created us, but He knows every intimate detail of our lives. He didn’t leave us to our own fickle devices. As our heavenly Father, Lord, and Savior, He is deeply involved in our lives and lifestyles. “You preserve my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:2-3).

Adam and Eve tried hiding from God in the Garden of Eden after they deliberately disobeyed His command. They recognized their perilous error which they had been warned was punishable by death. Imagine hearing God’s voice call to you as He did to Adam and Eve after they hid among the trees. They were afraid, embarrassed, and for the first time, guilty. But God was merciful and spared their lives, just as He has saves us from our sins and the required death to atone for them.

God also stands ready to protect us. “‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him. I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him’” (Psalm 91:14-15). God loves His creations, taking personal responsibility for us, as our earthly fathers have learned to do.  God is a loving, sensitive Father who provides for all of our needs.

Many are the times God protects us from harm, times of which we are unaware. When we complain because our plans are interrupted or detained, God may be protecting us from danger. His plans and timing are always perfect. God maintains personal peace in each of our lives.

Our Lord also offers comfort and healing from suffering. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). God cares for our total being, physically and emotionally. He responds to our cries for help. “So we can say with confidence, “‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:6).

In His mercy, God daily pours out His love for us. In place of death, God provides for our eternal life. To adjust for the sins we commit, God continually forgives when we confess. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Who can even speak of God’s eternal and faithful love? It is impossible to comprehend His love completely unless He reveals it in small portions. In faith we accept it; in trust we rely upon it; in obedience we share. “ ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ ” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

 From the beginning God created us in His image. We have evidence from when Jesus’ lived on earth that His physical attributes resemble ours. That tells us something about the square head theory—let boys be boys and let girls have the same shaped head!