by site founder, Connie Rice
It seems that whether we live in victory or not can have less to do with our circumstances and more to do with how we view ourselves and how we respond to life’s inevitable trials. Nobody is perfect, so we all have regrets and are trying to make our way in the world. Life is a mix of trials and celebrations, broken or lost relationships and close relationships, failures and successes, people who have hurt us and people we have hurt (both may be unintentional), misunderstandings between people, and then there are the unexpected detours and challenges that seem to come out of nowhere. This can all be quite difficult and confusing at times. Being grounded in God’s Word provides us with a foundation, a mooring, solid truth to hold onto, and it also provides a corrective lens in which to view God, ourselves, others, and life itself. Otherwise, the tendency is to view ourselves through other ways or in a combination of any or all of them:
- through how others see us, which is limited to their perceptions and opportunities, and misunderstandings can be common. It is better to see ourselves through who God says we are.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ … that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”Ephesians 2:4–7
- through our past or present pain, which can make us angry, bitter, confused, defeated, or depressed, (even to the point of despair). God wants to free us from past pain and never wastes any of it. What we do not understand at the time may be enlightened in the future or maybe it won’t, but we can be assured that God will use it to draw us closer to Himself, to grow or humble us, to build our character and make us more like Christ, or to minister to someone else going through a similar trial.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”Isaiah 61:1-3
- through broken or lost relationships, where there seems to be a tendency for us to either place all the blame on the other person or take all the blame on ourselves, neither one bringing needed healing. It is better to reflect on on our part in the process through the lens of Scripture so we can learn, make amends where necessary, and move forward with greater understanding.
“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”Psalm 34:11-18
- through negative words and being poorly treated – when we read and study God’s Word, we discover who He says we are: beloved and valued, so much so that He made a way to rescue us for eternity.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”Romans 5:8
- through not forgiving others, which is a type of bondage that keeps us from moving forward in freedom. God commands us to forgive in order to be forgiven – thankfully, when we agree with Him and consciously make the choice to forgive, He helps us to do so.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.“Matthew 6:14-15
through our own failures, which can cause us to be discouraged or give up and create false feelings of worthlessness and loss of hope. It is important to not allow our failures to define us, but to seek God’s help in learning from the experience and move forward. God uses others to speak truth and life into our lives. This is timely for me as this week my failures caused me to be humbled and embarrassed and they affected others negatively when my intention was to be helpful. The encouraging words I heard that day were meant for a lot of people, but God used them to minister specifically to me. A heart-felt thank you to Ryan Frank, Sean Sweet, and others at the 2020 Preteen Onference! Words can also take the form of concern or criticism, which may or may not be what we need to hear. Praying about what was said and comparing it to the truth of God’s Word, we will know how to proceed. If the words are strictly negative toward our person, it is not from God and should be rejected. If the words cause us to see mistake(s), then they are restorative and we can ask God to forgive us and help us take responsibility, apologizing if we have wronged anyone.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”Philippians 1:3-6
through our own successes, which can lead to an inflated sense of self and pride (can sneak up on us unaware), causing pain and difficulty to ourselves and others. The Bible warns us that God hates pride and wants us to seek humility, honoring Him first and foremost, and putting others before ourselves. It seems as if those who are self-focused are the most unhappy and many who serve God and others seem to exhibit joy even in the midst of difficult personal circumstances.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”Micah 6:8
through unexpected challenges, which seem to present themselves at the most inopportune times and can create added stress, concern, confusion, fear, and insecurity. Unexpected challenges were at the root of my failures this week. In trying to hurry, I unintentionally created a situation that threatened to wreak havoc for other people who were counting on me and prevent me from fulfilling a commitment. There was no way for me to fix the situation (my attempts were futile). I needed a miracle, for which I frantically prayed. A few minutes later, God answered that prayer – even though I brought the situation on myself (although He did let me sit in the mess of my own making for a while to humble and teach me). He’s so faithful to those who trust in Him. Sometimes the enemy (Satan) works hard to stop or limit what God is doing by tempting us or discouraging us through fear, insecurity, or through our failures.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
Living in victory also requires that we are aware that there is a battle going on between good and evil, God and Satan. We need to be on guard to avoid temptation and to prevent ourselves from being deceived and from believing lies that can lead us astray, drawing us away from God.
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.”James 1:16-18
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
The more we study the Bible, the more we discover that God loves us more than we can imagine and greatly values each of us. It is through a working knowledge of His Word that we develop a right view of ourselves and others and can gain an understanding of how to live in victory while keeping the Lord in first place in our lives, where He rightly belongs – He deserves all honor and glory.
“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”Philippians 2:10-11
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”Ephesians 2:1-10
As many before this have explained, following Christ not about religion – it is about our relationship with our loving Creator and understanding that our response to His love is to obey. He knows better than we do what we need and even gives us the wisdom and power to obey His commands when we seek Him with our whole heart, mind, strength, and soul.
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.“1 John 5:3-5
Nowhere in the Bible does God does promise that our lives will be comfortable, but He does promise that He will be with us always and that the Holy Spirit will help those who are following Christ. This is possible through His sacrifice and resurrection when we accept the free gift of salvation, ask for forgiveness for our shortcomings, and choose to trust the Lord’s plan for our lives. When we obey His commands and allow Him to be on the throne, we experience an amazing freedom. It requires constant effort because our natural bent is use our own wisdom and power, but victory is not found there. Through the power of Scripture, we are able to see ourselves and others as God sees us. God’s Word has the power to transform, giving us the ability to obey Him and allowing us to follow the path He created us for and to live out our lives with purpose and in victory.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Corinthians 15:57
© Constance Rice 2020