Friday, September 16, 2011

OVERCOMERS

To overcome is a process.  Dictionary.com defines it as "to get the better of in a struggle or conflict".  This reinforces the idea that "there is not a crown, without a cross" (Michael English song).  


Overcoming is good for personal growth.  If we do not tackle a problem then and there, the likelihood of it haunting you is great.  Better to at lest start making a dent in the situation.  Overcoming is a great way to be so challenged we change.  If we are open to God's control of our life the transformation could include a name-change - "Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." (Genesis 32:28).  Another struggle we might gain victory over, documented in The Bible, is unbelief.  "Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!' " (Mark 9:24)  These are just two instances of overcoming among many in the Bible.  Anybody who has lived a "healthy" number of years can witness to this growing, sometimes painful, but character-shaping process.  

The world is full of opportunities to overcome.  There are problems, issues, and challenges every day that we must make decisions concerning.  Within the process of overcoming, the believer's success is rooted in Jesus - The Overcomer.  Our "overcomingness" as believers in Christ comes from being birthed into God's family, through faith in Jesus and His victory by His life, death, and resurrection. (1 John 5:4)  The only reason we move from overcoming in one instance in our life to the next is that we believe Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:5).  Jesus Himself tells us, 1) we can find peace in Him, 2) we will have trouble in this world, "BUT 3) take heart I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

With Jesus as The Overcomer of everything, problematic or not, we as the believer have a firm foundation and a constant help as He charges us to go and overcome.  Jesus instructs us in Romans 12:21 "to not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good".  Similarly, Jesus promises the believer "to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." (Luke 10:19)  I can hear God saying, "If I am for you, who can be against you?" (Romans 8:31)

Not only are we promised overcoming opportunities in this world and a chance to be molded and developed by God into what He wants us to be, BUT Jesus promises awesome rewards "to him who overcomes".
  • The "right to eat from the tree of life" (Revelation 2:7)
  • "will not be hurt at all by the second death." (Rev. 2:11)
  • "will give some of the hidden manna" (Rev. 2:17)
  • "white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." (Rev. 2:17)
  • "authority over the nations" (Rev. 2:26) [and does my will to the end]
  • "dressed in white" (Rev. 3:5)
  • name never blotted out from Book of Life (Rev. 3:5)
  • will be acknowledged before God the Father and His angels (Rev. 3:5)
  • will be a pillar in the temple of our God. (Rev.3:12)
  • Name of God will be written on him (Rev. 3:12)
  • Name of New Jerusalem will be written on him (Rev. 3:12)
  • Jesus' new name will be written on him (Rev. 3:12)
  • a throne to sit upon (Rev. 3:21) 
What a title have - Overcomer In Jesus!  Because He overcame I can overcome.  (Hebrews 4:15)  "Because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone, because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives" (and overcame!). 


-Chad Pritchard

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

SIGNS (BIBLICAL TOPIC REVIEW)

Biblically speaking, Signs are miraculous events or physical manifestations performed directly by God or by God through one of His humble, available servants, helping to prove God's Sovereignty. (my definition)
After performing a word search on crosswalk.com of Signs, the following is how I found the word to be used.

In Genesis 1:14 there is the use of signs that refers to the mark of the seasons.
"And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,"

Most of the book of Exodus uses signs as proof of God's miracles by using Moses to force pharoh to let His people go.

In 1 Sam 10:7, the word signs is used as proof of fulfilled prophecy.
"Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, "Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?  When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel's tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, 'The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, "What shall I do about my son?" '  "Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine.  They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.  "After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying.  The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.  Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you."

One can find literal signs/banners to signify occupation of the land in Psalms 74:4.
"Your foes roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs."

There is a lack of miraculous signs concerning deliverance from enemies just five verses later in Psalms 74:9.
 "We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be."

Isaiah 8:18 labels the people of Israel as a sign. 
"Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion."  

So we have signs as a group of people that God miraculously works through.  However, He works through individuals as well and calls them signs, like Mary and the baby Jesus in Isaiah 7:14.  "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."  

Signs were requested of and expected of God in prayer by Peter, John, and the believers in Acts 4:23-30.  "On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.  When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.  You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: " 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. '  Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.  They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.  Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.  Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."  

The apostles are listed in Acts 5:12 as involved in delivering miraculous signs. 
"The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade."  

Stephen, (Acts 6:8)  Phillip (Acts 8:6), plus, Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:3) displayed the power of God in their lives through miraculous signs.  So, individuals got in on the "act" (get it, most of these examples came from the book of Acts-hahaha). 
"Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people."
"When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said."
"So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders."

Signs can be a way to determine the times we live in.  They can point where we have come from, where we are, and most importantly where we are headed (Matthew 16:3).
"...and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

Signs are also proofs that believers of the faith are true believers (Mark 16:17).
"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;"  

Signs in Luke 1:22 simply meant hand motions or some kind of communication that Zechariah used because Gabriel pronounced him mute until John was born.
"When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak."

Astronomical events, like the ones found in Luke 21:25 are another use of the word signs.
"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea."

You can misuse signs.  Signs can be used as a "crutch" (John 4:48).
"Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe."

There are and will be conterfeit signs according to 2 Thessalonians 2:9.
"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,"

Signs can also be found within heaven and I mean the spiritual domain where angels can be seen and considered signs for those who see them (Revelation 15:1).
 "I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues--last, because with them God's wrath is completed."

Signs can be mysterious symbols that require research to reveal their identity (Revelation12:3)
"Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads."

So, the next time you speak of a sign to anyone, make sure you are clear, the usage is varied greatly.