In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

(John 16:33)

There is no overcoming without the Overcomer. The natural man has no hope of overcoming the world, the flesh, and the devil in his own strength. Victory is beyond his reach, leaving him a mere victim. Only the supernatural man, who has been raised from death to life by the Spirit of God, has the power to be a victor. And that victory is won by the one true Overcomer, He who has made a way for His people to be overcomers too.

When Jesus said He had overcome the world (John 16:33), He was telling us that He could not be derailed by the world’s popularity, discouraged by its personality, or defeated by its power. The omnipotent Overcomer overcame everything the world sent against Him, and we can do the same . . . if we will live according to His plan and in alignment to His will.

Titus explained it this way:

The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)

It is only by grace through faith that we will be able to become the overcomers Jesus has called us to be. Only the grace of God causes us to say “NO” to the world and “YES” to the Word. And the more we say “YES” to the Word, the more we live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. We must remember that the world came after our Lord, and when the world could not control or contain Him, the world crucified Him. But crucifixion was God’s predetermined means for accomplishing His final end of overcoming when Jesus Christ walked out of His grave three days later. The Resurrection is proof positive that Jesus overcame every obstacle the world set in His path—including the last enemy, death—and He has promised His followers that we too shall overcome every obstacle, including death.

Now, that certainly doesn’t mean that we won’t experience difficulty, loss, and heartache in this lifetime. Jesus assured us that we will. But for those who are in Christ, He has granted them the ultimate victory. We will overcome!

  • We may suffer financial loss . . . but He has promised to meet our every need (Philippians 4:19).
  • We may be stricken with disease . . . but He has promised that we will live without pain forever (Revelation 21:4).
  • We may be weighed down by our sin . . . but He has promised that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9).
  • We may be grieving lost loved ones . . . but He has promised that “God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
  • We may be facing death . . . but He has promised that the moment we close our eyes on this earth, we will live forever with Him in Paradise (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Have you been struggling to overcome some kind of obstacle that has been set before you? Perhaps you have forgotten that your Overcomer has made a way for you to overcome through Him. But please remember that you will only overcome in the strength of your Lord, not your own. You must cling to and call on the name of the One who has overcome all things, and then you will know from personal experience that “no weapon formed against you shall prevail” (Isaiah 54:17). Your Overcomer has made you an overcomer too!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

(Proverbs 15:33)

The term humble pie is used in association with someone who has been compelled to acknowledge their deficiencies or errors—to act submissively and apologetically—and thus is forced to “eat humble pie.” Now, no one wants to be forced to eat humble pie, so how do we keep it away from our plate? We live lives marked by humility. Read on and be encouraged!

The key to keeping humble pie off of your plate is to keep a heaping portion of humility on it. Where humble pie is a mark of dishonor, humility is a badge of honor. Here is one of the best definitions I have ever seen for humility: Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. The key to humility is to remove self from the throne of our lives and allow our Savior to occupy His rightful place.

There are a number of descriptions of humility in the Bible, from lowliness to meekness, but I submit that the description that is most helpful is the absence of self. John the Baptist exemplified this biblical truth when he said of Jesus Christ, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John’s great desire was to magnify the Savior, not the self.

One of the keys to living a life of humility is to remember what God in Christ did for us “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). When we were still enemies of God (Colossians 1:21), our Lord Jesus went to a cross and paid the penalty for our all our sins, opening the doorway into relationship with Him in our everyday lives and eternal life on the other side of the grave. Jesus made it clear that if we are to be His disciples we must be willing to die to self and live for the Savior . . . and this can only be done in humility.

Over the years I have had to eat some well-deserved portions of “humble pie.” But God is bringing me to the end of myself, and I can only say, “The sooner the better!” I have learned that the more time I spend in the Word of God, the less time I spend trying to elbow my way onto the throne of my life. Why? Because “the word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), and Scripture does its best work from the inside out.

Jesus Christ committed the greatest act of humility the world has ever seen by stepping down from His throne in heaven to enter into this world, take on human flesh, and die on a Roman cross in order to defeat sin, Satan, and death and ultimately to redeem you and me. Keeping that truth before us will keep humble pie behind us, and that is a very good place for it to be.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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. . . His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

On Wednesday, we saw that Christ’s victory at Calvary came through the Garden of Gethsemane. We must all learn to echo the cry of our Lord: “Yet not my will, but yours be done.”” But to reach the deepest depth of devotion that our Lord experienced, we must go beyond “Your will be done” to “Your will be loved!” Jesus loved the will of His Father in heaven, and this must be the confession of our lives as well.

Now, it’s certainly a very good start to resign ourselves to submitting to the will of our God, but we must not be satisfied at this level of living. Because we know that our God is good and that He is working all things together for our good, we must rise above simply receiving the will of our Father in heaven and advance to absolutely loving it as He does His work in our lives. Why? Because, like Paul, we know that the will of our God is graciously good, powerfully pleasing, and providentially perfect.

It was the devil who made the first attack on the will of God back in the Garden of Eden with the words, “Did God really say . . .?” (Genesis 3:1). Adam and Eve had absolutely no reason to question the goodness of their God and His will for their lives. But Satan’s evil insinuations caused them to wonder if there might be something better than the will of God for their lives—namely their own will. Adam and Eve decided that they had a better plan for their lives than God did, and they chose to turn away from Him. The results were ruinous.

It’s the same for each one of us when we begin to wonder, “Did God really say . . .?” We must never allow ourselves to give ear to the devil, but rather we are to echo the psalmist, who exulted, “O how I love your law!” (Psalm 119:97).

So, Christian, how do you see God’s will in your life right now? Do you see it as good? Do you see it as pleasing? Do you see it as perfect? Regardless of whether God’s will brings you pleasure or pain, it is designed to conform you to the likeness of Christ and to bless you beyond all human comprehension. God knows exactly what you need and when you need it, and He will deliver it to you in the way that He determined is best from eternity past.

The committed Christian can say, “Your will be done,” regardless of what God’s will brings. But it is only the deepest depth of devotion that can say, “Your will be loved!” We are not only to welcome with open arms whatever our Lord sends our way, but we are to love it, knowing it is bringing us to the end of ourselves—and that is an end that cannot come soon enough!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Before our Lord went to Calvary’s hill, He spent some much-needed time praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was in Gethsemane where our Lord was strengthened for the cross that awaited Him, the cross from which He would ultimately cry, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) to declare His victory over sin, Satan, and death.

We see in today’s verse that Jesus began His prayer by saying, in essence, “I really don’t want to do this!” And why would He want to go to Calvary? Jesus knew what was about to happen. As terrible as the physical torment would be (Isaiah 52:14 tells us that Jesus was beaten so badly that He was no longer recognizable as a man), that was not what caused Jesus to sweat drops of blood during His prayer in Gethsemane. It was the knowledge that He, God’s only Son, would—for the first and only time in all eternity—be separated from God and would actually experience God’s righteous wrath . . . for sins He had never committed. He who knew no sin would become sin for us and would receive the full measure of God’s holy hatred for our sin. He knew He would be forsaken by God the Father throughout those terrible hours when darkness covered the land and the light of God’s love was hidden from His sight.

I have said before that if it had been you or I crouched in prayer in the Garden, knowing what Jesus knew, we most likely would have gone violently insane. He knew He was about to endure something that no human being ever could or would experience. But look how Jesus’s prayer progressed. He submitted to His Father’s will: “Not my will, but yours be done.” Hallelujah!

To be sure, no Christian will face the Calvary of Christ; we simply benefit from His encounter with the worst torment that both man and God could inflict. However, we will spend a lifetime facing smaller “Calvarys”—trials that challenge our faith and compress our focus—and we must remember that the Garden of Gethsemane was where our Savior sowed the seeds of supernatural strength for the unimaginable challenge that lay before Him. He confronted that trial in prayer . . . and submitted fully to the will of God.

For the Christian, a Gethsemane experience is much like a greenhouse is for a plant—a place where we grow and mature in our strength. It is only when we submit and surrender to the will of God that we will be able to get to the other side of our “Calvarys” and cry, “It is finished” . . .  rather than “I am finished!”

Jesus knew the key that unlocked the door leading to continual victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil was His constant communion with His Father in heaven, which fortified Jesus to sustain all of the slings and arrows that the evil one would launch at Him. Never once did Jesus choose to do His will over the Father’s will. He was fully surrendered to His Father’s leading, because He knew that, despite Calvary’s hill and the cruel cross of crucifixion, there was a reward of eternal joy that lay just ahead.

We cannot avoid our “Calvarys,” which will bring us both crosses and losses; these are a part of life in this broken, sinful world. Therefore, we must not ignore the power of Gethsemane. Gethsemane promises the peace that passes all understanding and the supernatural strength to overcome any obstacle or opponent that comes against us, regardless of the trial we are facing.

To avoid Gethsemane is to face our trials unaided by omnipotence. Who among us is able to stand up against the world, the flesh, and the devil in our natural strength? May God forbid it! The glorious victory that is won on Calvary must be preceded by gut-wrenching Gethsemane.

When was the last time you were on your face before your God in your own Gethsemane? May your prayer end as our Lord’s did: with a heartfelt “Not my will, but Your will be done.” His will for our lives is always righteous and true and for our ultimate good. May we readily submit to His will in faithfulness and love for the One who submitted to the wrath of God on our behalf.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

Those who fear God fear nothing else. To be sure, we can expect difficulties in this life. Jesus warned us that “In this world you will have trouble” and “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 16:33, 15:20). But what is there to fear from those who are under the complete control of the only One we must fear— God Himself?

Carried along by the Holy Spirit, David gave God-fearers this assurance in one of his psalms:

My enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me. . . . [I]n God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:9, 11)

God-fearers fear nothing and no one but God. Now, I have said here before that “the fear of God” I am speaking of is not some kind of slavish fear that keeps us from drawing near to Him. Rather, it is awe and reverence for the majesty and holiness of the God who created and sustains all things and who welcomes us into His presence.

Those who have not trusted in Jesus often find this world a fearful place, so terrifying that “the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight” (Leviticus 26:36). Believing that he has come from the dust and is ultimately heading back to the dust to be worm food, feeling no specific purpose in this life other than satisfying self, the unbeliever is held captive to the dread produced by the religion of this world: survival of the fittest. When “fitness” fails, fear results.

God-fearers fear nothing but God. Having been chosen in Christ before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), having been bought with the precious blood of the Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19), what is there to fear from mere mortals? The world can only do to us what God allows it to do. And we know that whatever God allows it is for two reasons: our good and His glory.

Have you been feeling any fear lately? Maybe you’re worried about the future. Perhaps fear has touched you through an unwelcome doctor’s report or a financial reversal. Regardless, always remember that the Lord is your helper and He has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. He is with you every step of the way as you progress on your pilgrimage to the Celestial City . . . and He will be with you for all eternity after that!

You may recall that Jesus told His disciples to get into a boat and “go over to the other side of the lake.” However, when fierce storm winds began to blow, the disciples quickly forgot the Lord’s promise that they would reach the other side. They were gripped with fear and cried, “Master, we’re going to drown!” (Luke 8:22-24). They took their eyes off their Savior and focused on the size of the storm, which is always a formula for producing man-centered fear.

Fear God, and Him only, and you need never fear anything else in this life. God-fearers know that the One they fear will sustain them in both sunshine and storm. Remember, Jesus has promised safe passage into our promised land—He has promised to get us to the other side of the lake—but He never promised that the journey would be without storms along the way. Nevertheless, God-fearers echo the writer of Hebrews and “say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’”

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. (Hosea 6:1)

Oh, beloved, the Supernatural Surgeon has work to do in our lives! His unwavering love for us will not let us stay as we are. No, His love demands that He wield the surgical scalpel of sanctification until we are perfectly conformed to the likeness of His beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • He must bruise before He binds
  • He must hurt before He heals
  • He must remove before He rebuilds
  • He must cut before He closes

No surgeon will set his scalpel to work and leave the wound open, allowing the patient bleed to death on the operating table. So how much more skillfully will the Great Physician open us up in order to cut away all that is diseased and malignant and unholy and then restore us to a healthy state where new, godly growth can take place? Fear not your current condition, Christian, for in due time the only One who can help and heal you will indeed do so.

Remember, the Law must always come before the Gospel. Without a sense of need, we will not look to the only One who will not only meet our need, but surpass it to overflowing. Regardless of where this message finds you today, be encouraged! Bring your wounds and weakness to your God, who stands ready to perform supernatural surgery and has promised not to stop until the work is done.

Perhaps you are wondering if He still stands ready to restore because you have strayed from Him. Do you not remember the parable of the prodigal son, which is recounted in Luke 15? While the repentant rebel was still far off, his father ran to him and restored him to his position as a member of the household.

Return at once to the One who waits for you with open arms! Let Him perform supernatural surgery on your wounds with a loving kindness that will heal you completely from the inside out.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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At once they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:18)

Two brothers, Simon and Andrew, were casting their net into the sea when they heard the call of Christ, telling them to “Come, follow Me.” Scripture tells us that they left their nets “at once,” and this, to be sure, is the right response for all disciples of Christ when we hear His call: we are to respond at once!

There was no delay in their decision-making. Simon and Andrew did not think about the fish or about the net. They did not ask Jesus if there might be a more favorable time for them to follow wherever He intended to lead them. No, the two brothers responded resolutely—not with words of promise that they might one day fulfill, but rather with a witness that they put into practice at once.

Oh, how the sweet sound of “at once” echoes in eternity! The Lord’s lesson is clear: Never should we leave until tomorrow what our Lord has called us to do today. If I have learned anything during my years as a pastor, it is this: No one has ever served Jesus tomorrow.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “That fatal tomorrow is blood-red with the murder of fair resolutions; it is the slaughter-house of the innocents.” Far too many in the church today have made shipwreck of their lives by waiting to respond to the call of Christ tomorrow. They have become snared in their own nets without ever realizing that the devil is in their delay.

Where does this message find you today? Have you been waiting for just the right time to answer the call of Christ in your life? Have you been putting it off until tomorrow? If your answer is, “Well . . . yes,” you are tangled in your own net of “Not yet.”

Personal experience has taught me that the time will never seem “just right.” Regardless of how long you’ve been planning and preparing, it is incredibly easy to convince yourself that it is not enough. I vividly remember the night before we launched the Cross Community Church plant in March of 2012. After years of study and prayer and planning and preparation, we were about to answer the call of our Lord. But suddenly, on the night before the launch, I was gripped by the certainty that we were not ready. I was caught in my own net!

Panicked and virtually paralyzed, I called my best friend and told him what I was feeling. I said that I didn’t believe we were ready to launch and that I wanted to delay it.

“Tommy,” my friend said firmly, “now you finally are ready, because you know you cannot do this! Only Jesus can accomplish this through you and Kim and your family.” The next day, with renewed resolve, we left our nets and followed Jesus into the joyful journey of church planting, which has continued for the past six years . . . and still counting!

Are you sensing God’s call on your life? Maybe you’re just like me, feeling fearful about “the great unknown” that lies ahead? Let me encourage you to leave your nets at once and follow Jesus. I can’t promise that the journey will always be comfortable, but it most certainly will be glorious!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!        

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