In my last few messages I have spoken of the victories that are ours through faith in Christ (1 Cor 15:17). I want to take an opportunity to clarify the connection between faith and victory because some are tempted to fall away when they do not see the ‘victorious’ results they thought would come.
While it is true we can exercise faith to move mountains, and even have ‘walk-on-water’ experiences, it is equally true that God may let us be cast into the midst of the sea or be unfairly treated by our enemies. Recall the experiences of Paul as recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:22-29…. “Stripes above measure, in prisons, three times beaten with rods, stoned thrice, shipwrecked three times, in perils of journeys, robbers, enemies”, and the list goes on. Did Paul lack faith to receive victory over these trails? Not in the least! In fact, Paul understood in great measure that faith doesn’t just give us victories in trials, but faith brings us victory in the “midst” of trials.
James also says: “The testing of our faith” brings us patience. I believe God isn’t as interested to see us comfortable as He is in bringing us into communion with Him.
It may seem like a contradiction to what we have been taught about faith, but my counsel is to study the cases mentioned in Hebrews 11. You will see some victorious in battle (Jericho), but you also read of those who accepted torture, scourging, stoning, and imprisonment. You see, their victory came through enduring to the end and still found walking with Christ. Yes, sometimes the greatest victories are those found when we ‘endure’ to the end.
It is encouraging to know that Jesus loves His children. His grace and mercies lift us to heights of praise and thanksgiving that only the saved can understand, but remember the greatest lessons that He showed to us. When Jesus endured the slander, beatings, scourging and crucifixion, He won the victory over sin. When He rose from the dead, He achieved victory over death. All who know Him as Savior have also won the victory over the power of sin and the grim hold of death.
Remember that faith is a process of trust, and maturity. Don’t look at encountering trials and tribulations as a lack of your faith, nor take them as an opportunity to quit in your walk with Him. Instead, find in them great opportunities to discover power in prayer, and fellowship with Jesus that will enable you to grow and mature in magnificent ways. Be strong in the Lord!
Keep your church in prayer, be faithful, give of your resources and love one another.
May God richly bless you,
Dr. Michael Pope, Pastor