Undefeated~ Based on a Sermon by Pastor Kevin Dudley 6.23.13

June 29, 2013

We often hear through song and sermon that we as Christians have the victory through Christ Jesus. It is a true statement, but can easily become one of those cliché Christian chants that we express without fully understanding or even believing for ourselves. I believe that the reason for that is because we often confuse God’s definition for the word “victory” with the worldly definition. On this past Sunday, Pastor Dudley delivered a sermon titled “Undefeated” and noted early that the reason we don’t always feel so victorious is because victory may not feel like the victory we expected. When we think of being victorious we often relate it to an event that celebrates who we are, but as Christian men and women, our victories do not celebrate us, but celebrate our Lord. We mistake our trials and tribulations for failure rather than embracing them and preparing for the victory that God has promised and understanding that when He brings us through that tribulation, we will be given an opportunity to celebrate who He is in our lives. We were reminded on Sunday that because God is still on the Throne, nothing that ever happens to us can defeat us or take our victory. Living in our victory, regardless of what we are going through brings Glory to God’s name and His abilities. Through our victory we have the opportunity to grow closer to God; we know who He is and what He is capable of each time He brings us through a storm and into victory. This closeness and relationship is what ensures our protection; as long as we allow our lives to be in His hand and under His control, nothing that comes against us can hurt us. In fact, God can and will take what has come against us with intent to cause us harm and turn it for our good and His glory. Our victory does not exempt us from struggle; on the contrary, I believe that knowing we have won the battle ensures that there will be a battle.  Those of us who belong to the Body of Christ are connected through him and so even when we don’t recognize a struggle within our own walls, we must be reminded that when one of us is suffering we are all suffering. Pastor also reminded us that we need to be aware of the different types of struggle we may experience in this life. So often we identify with the common issues of this world, health, finances, career and violence. We forget that God has given us victory over EVERYTHING that comes against us. Anything that afflicts you and gets in the way of your relationship with God is a storm, a battle, a struggle –but take joy in knowing you have ultimately won and, as we were told last week, know that it’s not about the examination, it’s about the experience. This battle has not defeated you but will be used for your good when you focus on the God who sees and is with you, and allow the experience to draw you nearer to Him.

On the first Sunday of the year, during his sermon Pastor Dudley said that this year is about a matter of trust in God. When we fully trust God with every part of our lives, we can rest in the understanding that although we have the victory, God may not always rescue us in the middle of the battle, but certainly will always protect us in the midst of our fight. “The fight is fixed, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get punched in the face” Pastor Dudley noted on Sunday.

There are three key points we should recognize and understand so that we always remember that we have the victory:

First, down is the way up. The first four chapters of 1 Peter, the author explains how to live as a Christians. He is talking to followers of Christ who have been persecuted and oppressed, yet in 5:6 says, “…therefore, humble yourselves…” (Emphasis mine). After all that you have been through, and all that I have said, be humble. So often we, just as I am sure those Peter spoke directly to back then , assume that we are humble. We assume that because of the neighborhood we grew up in, or the hand-me-downs we’ve had to wear, or because of the overall struggles we’ve experienced in our lives, we are humble. But I think that humility goes way beyond that. I believe it is a learning and growth process that begins by admitting to what you don’t know. When hard times fall upon us we typically will react in one of two ways: we will run from it or ignore it. I imagine the truly humble man or woman can confidently admit and accept what they do not know because their confidence is in the Lord and not in their own capabilities. If we would submit to God’s way and God’s timing we give Him room to work on us but when we fail to humble ourselves and accept the things we do not know and cannot fix (which is in fact any and everything aside from God) we stand in His way trying to be our own god and not allowing Him to be God. Submission and humility are the keys to beginning a truly trusting relationship with God. We get in His way by assuming that we know and that we can when in reality we need Him for everything. We too easily become high on ourselves, on our sense of comfort, convenience and ideas on how life should be –we can easily fall into a place where we are our god and no longer have room for God. We try to elevate things according to our own understanding rather than putting in the work that is required for us to become humble. Peter’s call is that we humble ourselves rather than causing God to have to do it for us. Our struggles can be a gift and an opportunity to fall at His feet. When we humble ourselves we give God room to exalt us according to His will and timing.

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Secondly, Pastor explained that letting go is holding on. In verse 6, Peter urges us to humble ourselves and follows it up in verse 7 by saying that this can be accomplished by “casting all your care upon Him…” As I mentioned above, when we get in the habit of trying to handle things for ourselves we are basically telling God that we have no need for His intervention. We hold onto to our problems and concerns when we need to let go so that God can be God. We allow our problems to become unnecessary distractions. We have a God who wants us to give our problems to Him so that we aren’t distracted from forming a meaningful and honest relationship with Him. When we spend our days and nights obsessing over our problems, we are taking our focus off of the one who have us life and putting it into that which kills us. The time we spend staying awake at night mulling over a worry or concern is evidence that we have not yet let go of our problem and are not holding on to our promised victory. Any struggle that comes our way should move us closer to God if we let go and reach for Him. We need to stop allowing our distractions to claim our lives. God will step in and tell us that we need His strength, proving that He knows what we are up against and that He has already started working. Now all we need to do is let go of the problem and hold on to the promise.

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And lastly, going through it is getting over it. The New International Version records verse 8 of the selected reading as, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” reminding us that we should recognize present danger as opportunity. Romans 8:28 says,” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). As the enemy applies pressure, God is work, turning things around for our good and ultimately for His glory. During the attack, the Lord is making us stronger. He will allow for a refining period where He can transform us and remove all of the impurities…self-doubt, low self-esteem, pride, dishonesty, greed, lust, envy, the list could continue for a lifetime. Just as coal is transformed into a diamond, after long periods of high temperatures and extreme pressure, that illuminates light, we too are being transformed so that we may reflect the greatest Light of all.      

“But may the God of all grace, who called usto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”       ~1 Peter 5:10 NKJV

Emphasize the word after in our moments of doubt; the times where we are sure that life has defeated us and we are tempted to throw in the white towel of defeat. Repeat the word after and be reminded that the fight is fixed and we have already won, and that after we have suffered little while, He will perfect, establish, strengthen and settle us, and that the only way that we can see after, is to go through.

We are fighting with an unfair advantage which is meant to bring us joy when life tries to get the best of us. We are truly undefeated and can avoid the desire to forfeit or give in by being reminded that God has gone before us, has our back, is to our right and to our left. There is no chance of failure or defeat when we are in His hands. Be reminded that our ego can get in the way of His glory by telling yourself daily that down is the way up. Release your problems, worries and concerns to God and instead reach for Him because letting go is holding on. And don’t let the fight discourage you –God is working out a good thing in all of us so be reminded that going through it is getting over it

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