18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”—John 21:18-19 (NLT)
Jesus is prophesying to Peter about how he would die. Peter was led to the cross by others and was crucified upside down at his request. Peter felt unworthy to be executed in the same method that Jesus was executed. At least eight of the twelve apostles died as martyrs with two, Peter and Andrew, being crucified. There are some leaders that teach that life as a Christian is free of stress and problems. This is not validated by a study of the Scriptures. In fact, just the opposite is taught.
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”–John 16:33 (NLT)
Jesus tells us in this verse that we will have trials and sorrows. Not just the normal troubles of those in the world, but more because we love and obey Him. But He also tells us that we can have total peace in Him. His peace is not a lack of trouble or violence, it is peace that we can access in the midst of all that. Jesus has overcome the world and we are overcomers through Him. We can’t be conquerors and overcomers if there are no problems to overcome or no mountains to conquer.
11 Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. — Psalm 86:11 NLT Psalm 86:8-13 NLT
Our purpose while we are here on earth is to honor and glorify God. As sinners, we had neither the knowledge, ability or desire to do that. It was only after we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior that we came to realize how weak and foolish we were. As Christians, our knowledge and ability are still limited. That is why we must daily call upon the Holy Spirit to teach us God’s ways. Our flesh will rebel, so we need the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome those desires and to change the desires of our hearts. He is waiting to guide us into all truth and to give us pure hearts that yearn for fellowship with Jesus. There is an old hymn with these words that we should make a daily prayer: “Just a closer walk with thee, grant it, Jesus, let it be.” Our hearts should long for Jesus more than anything else in this world. Any day spent without a conversation with Jesus is a dark, lonely and misspent day. Just as the sun rises in the east every morning to dispel the darkness, so must we allow the Son to arise in us each morning to dispel the darkness of evil that surrounds us. “Open wide the gates and let the King of glory come in”.
God did not promise us that the way would always be smooth. In fact, Jesus told us just the opposite that we will have troubles in this world. He also told us that in Him we could have peace in the middle of all the troubles.
33 “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 NIV
We have our God living inside of us to assure us that we can never be alone, He is always with us. God is faithful to fulfill every promise He has ever made. As Christians, we have a hope that no other belief system has. All the other so called gods and leaders are dead. Our God is a living God who has eyes to see, hears to ear and hands to touch and heal. Even more than that, He has a heart overflowing with love for His children. Because He has this incomprehensible love for us, He watches over us constantly. He speaks to us and carries us through the hard times. He doesn’t always deliver us from trouble as quickly as we would like but, He always delivers. Don’t talk to God today, talk with Him. After you have praised and prayed, listen for His words to you. He wants to hold you, love you and shelter you under His wings.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday. — Psalm 91:4-6 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
As Jesus spoke plainly to His disciples, they found it easier to understand the things He was telling them. Now they understood and believed that Jesus was the
Son of God. Now Jesus tells them that each one of them will abandon Him in His time of suffering. But He assures them that He will not be alone, even when they all leave Him. Jesus explains to them that they will have trials and sorrows in this world, but they can still have peace because He has overcome the world. We will have our times of trials as well. But we have someone now that the disciples didn’t have until later. When Jesus left, the Holy Spirit came to take His place. The Holy Spirit is not another god, He is the same God in a different form to perform a different function. We should not fear the trials and temptations that will come our way, because we have someone inside us who is more powerful than anything in the world. 4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.—1 John 4:4 (NLT)
How can we be called “over-comers” and “more than conquerors”, if we never have any problems to overcome or battles to win?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Salvation does not come with a magic wand. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, all our problems and situations do not magically disappear in a puff of smoke. There are many references we can find in the Bible where Jesus tells us that in this world, we will be offended. Jesus tells His disciples here in John 16:33 that here on earth, “you will have many trials and sorrows.”. In verse 32, Jesus says that He will be left alone by His disciples but that He won’t really be alone because the Father is always with Him. We have that same assurance. Living a Holy lifestyle is not fantasy, it is reality and it comes with its own set of problems. But we are assured over 300 times in the Bible that we will never be alone or forsaken. God’s Holy Spirit is with us, in us, and around us. We are in Christ Jesus. It isn’t magic, smoke, or mirrors. but it is the greatest peace and joy that we can experience here on earth because we are never alone.
1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. — Gal. 6:1 NLT
When we see others doing things that appear to be sinful in our eyes, what is our response? Are we quick to think the wrong thoughts or do we remember that we have made mistakes as well? Do we criticize or do we correct? Criticism is most often a knee-jerk reaction and usually destroys. If it destroys, then it mus have come from the destroyer (satan) himself. Our reaction should be to pray and then humbly help that person back to the narrow path. To do that requires us to be a channel of God’s love to those around us. This helps us to understand that when we feel condemnation, it comes from satan, but when we feel conviction, it comes from God’s Holy Spirit. God doesn’t condemn Christians for their failures, but He doesn’t wink at sin, either.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — James 1:2-4 NIV
We love reading those verses that make us feel good, like Romans 8:28, Phil 4:13, John 10:10 and John 3:16. Those are great verses that encourage us by letting us know that God is good and everything is going to be okay. But those verses can seem pretty hollow when we feel like God has deserted us and we are all alone in this evil world. It is hard for us to understand how God, who is love, can allow bad things to happen to His children. When these times come, we need to remember that all we can see is “now”, but God sees and knows all about the future. He allows testing so that we can know where we are on our journey. He already knows but we need to know so that we do not become puffed up and prideful. Jesus warned us that in this world we would be offended and tested, so, it should come as no surprise when we are. Our Lord and Savior was tested and tempted in every way possible. He understands our pain better than we do. We should never deny that we are in pain or that we are sick and hurting. We need to admit our weaknesses and ask God to bring us through this time of testing. We need to persevere so that we can become mature and complete, fulfilled in Christ Jesus. We don’t want to hear “count it all joy” while we are in the process, but after the test is concluded, we can look back on the experience and see that Jesus carried us through the whole process. The joy comes from knowing who we serve and that He loves us so much that He will allow nothing in our lives that He doesn’t give us strength to overcome. We are to “count it all joy”, not because of the situation, but in spite of the situation. We can’t be overcomers and conquerors if we never face situations that require us to overcome or conquer.
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delightin weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Cor. 12:9, 10 NIV
1 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain. — 1 Thess. 3:1-5 NIV
Paul continues to show his love and concern for the new converts in all the places he has been preaching and teaching. He does this not only by sending letters to several of the churches with instructions to share them with others, but also, by sending Timothy and others back to encourage them and check on their welfare. It seems to have become a tendency for us to only talk about the love of God for us. Unlike Paul, we do not stress the fact that the road is not always smooth. In our lives as Christians, we will experience difficulties of various sorts and we will be offended, We need to be sure that new converts understand this while assuring them of the love of Jesus. We will be tempted over and over but God always provides a way out. Jesus promised us that we would have troubles, but at the same time, He reminded us that He had overcome the world.
33 “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
Not only did Jesus overcome the world, but he made it possible for us to be conquerors and overcomers as well.
4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. — 1 John 4:4
After we have taught new converts John 3:16, let us not forget to also teach them another verse, so when duty calls they will be ready to answer.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. — Luke 9:23, 24 NIV
18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”—John 21:18,19 (NLT)
Jesus is prophesying to Peter about how he would die. Peter was led to the cross by others and was crucified upside down at his request. Peter felt unworthy to be executed in the same method that Jesus was executed. At least eight of the twelve apostles died as martyrs with two, Peter and Andrew, being crucified. There are some leaders that teach that life as a Christian is free of stress and problems. This is not validated by a study of the Scriptures. In fact, just the opposite is taught. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”–John 16:33 (NLT)
Jesus tells us in this verse that we will have trials and sorrows. Not just the normal troubles of those in the world, but more because we love and obey Him. But He also tells us that we can have total peace in Him. His peace is not a lack of trouble or violence, it is peace that we can access in the midst of all that. Jesus has overcome the world and we are over-comers through Him. We can’t be conquerors and over-comers if there are no problems to overcome or no mountains to conquer.
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.–1 John 4:7-11 (NLT)
God revealed His love for us when He sent Jesus, His only Son, into the world to live as a human. Jesus revealed His love for the Father and for us by being obedient, even to a cruel death on a cross. We can never attain to that kind of perfect love, but we can allow God to show His love to others through us. We are instructed to love and pray for our enemies and those that persecute us. As humans, we are not capable of such love, we must be willing to allow God to love through us. No matter, what we have to go through, we have the hope and faith that His love will sustain us and we can live victorious lives. Through Jesus Christ, we can be overcomers and conquerors.