I’m not sure what the last year has looked like for you, but despite what any of us may have gone through, we are now in a new year, a new day, a new beginning.
I know that each and every one of us knows what it’s like to have challenges; it’s a fact of life that difficult circumstances come up against us. But…‘Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed…’ (Lamentations 3:22).
For many of us we may through our whole lives encountering situations about which, perhaps, we weren’t too sure if we would make it through to see another year or another day.
Champions, not victims!
We’ve all been in bad situations – yet – here we are: it’s 2016 and we’re still standing, we’re looking better than ever. It’s a new day, a new beginning!
Everything which has tried to destroy you and bring you down, (not just this last year but throughout your life) whether it was financial struggles, relationship issues, addictions, marriage breakups, medical conditions, emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically, whatever….
‘Whatever’ may have come against you furiously – but, guess what? It hasn’t succeeded! You’re still standing – you’re a champion, an overcomer, a victor and not a victim.
Sure you all have battle scars – Jesus warned that we’d have tribulations in this world but you are not defeated. We’ve all gone through those times, medically or whatever.
It’s amazing to stand in our local church, look around at other Christians and think, ‘Wow! Each of these awesome people has had their fair shares of battles and yet I’m seeing nothing but champions, not just conquerors but more than conquerors, victorious people, winners, people who are still standing!’
And you’re still standing too. That thing, that whatever, has not defeated you, has not had the victory over your situation and for you it’s a new day.
Scripture confirms that we have strength and victory through our loving, caring God –
• Lamentations 3:22-24: ‘Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in him!”’
• 1 Corinthians 15:57-58: ‘But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.’
Victory through Jesus
God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. You are immovable and steadfast. Things may have knocked you around and left you wounded but here you are standing steadfast and unmoved – you are victors and not victims.
1 John 5: 4-5 tells us why our faith wins the day…’For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.’
The Good News Bible puts it this way: ‘Every child of God is able to defeat the world. And we win the victory over the world by means of our faith.’
This is the victory that overcomes those worldly circumstances – our simple child-like faith in Jesus and our trusting God as our heavenly Father!
The stuff of the world comes against you even though you’re a Christian. But because you’re born of God, a child of the kingdom – you’re an overcomer, you’re not defeated, you’re still standing, you’re a survivor!
As a well-known English singer once sang: ‘Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did – Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid.’ That’s you!
Conquerors – with purpose
Paul asks in Romans 8: 35-36: ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”’
His response in verses 37-39 is very strong, very positive: ‘Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
That means there is more to your life than you may think! There is a great purpose with meaning…you are still breathing, you haven’t been defeated.
We have all gone through our fair share of tribulation and distress, and challenges and temptations and addictions, and relationship issues – the list goes on and on. Everyone in every church is challenged at some point.
No one who loves God has had an easy ride! Going through something at the moment? You are not alone – we all need to support and encourage one another.
You may not understand what your purpose is as you go through stuff – you may feel that you are just a little drop in a big ocean. But the ripple that drop creates slowly spreads and affects a great deal of water.
You’re important – God has a purpose for you in 2016! I encourage you to seek God and find it.
It’s a new day!
Lamentations 3: 17-20Mge negatively recalls ‘bad stuff times’ – ‘I gave up on life altogether. I’ve forgotten what the good life is like. I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished. God is a lost cause.” I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom.’
But then in verses 21-27, the author quickly switches to positive truths – ‘But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing … to stick it out through the hard times.’
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because his compassions fail not…even when you and I mess up, we never exhaust his mercy!
2016 is new, new, new for you! On January 1, you awakened up to a new day! You woke up to…
- A new year
- A new day
- New opportunities
- New challenges
- New beginnings
- New blessings!
It’s now February and you’re still standing despite the challenges and circumstances which may have tried to bring you down.
Don’t give in because you fall, get up to fight again!
You may feel like, ‘But I have fallen so many times’, ‘I have let God down so many times’, ‘I have failed so many times…..’
But that doesn’t change who you are in Christ Jesus! A fighter doesn’t win because he doesn’t get knocked down, he wins because he gets up again!
By faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross you are who God says you are: ‘You have been made the righteousness of God in him.’
In Colossians 1:21-23, Paul strongly declared: ‘And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in his sight – if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel…’
As I always say, ‘Right doing doesn’t lead to right believing but right believing leads to living right’. We must believe God’s word and fully trust him. You are not righteous by your own efforts but by faith in Christ’s righteousness, we are to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, not ours.
Despite how many times you may have fallen what’s the contrast between a righteous person and the wicked? Proverbs 24:16(NKJV) tells us: ‘For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.’
No matter how many times anything (or anyone) trips them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet. Not so the unrighteous!
Remember what became an iconic moment 40 years ago in the movie Rocky when Sylvester Stallone ran up the 72-stone-step entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and raised his hands triumphantly in the air.
At first Rocky couldn’t make it – but with renewed determination he kept trying until he finally succeeded! The effort needed was repeated in Creed.
• Psalm 34: 17-19 (AMP): ‘When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent. Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.’
• Psalm 37:23-24(TLB): ‘The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with his hand.’
• Micah 7:8(NLT): ‘Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.’
We can thank Jesus that his mercies and blessings are new every morning… it was he would said to the paralysed man, ‘Get up, take up your mat and walk…’ (Mark 2:9).
Although life may not always make sense or work out the way we hoped, it’s great to be able to hold on to the one who has it all under control. We just need to trust him as we embrace all that 2016 unfolds!
Hang onto that Lamentations 3:22 scripture and also Proverbs 3:5-6: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’
Sandro Schietroma is Campus Pastor Kardinia Christian Church, Warrnambool. Links: Sandro.firstname.lastname@example.org / 042 576 5105