Be a Victor, Not a Victim

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37 NIV)

Victim mentality may get us pity, but it won’t give us power. After listing all of the terrible things that could possibly happen but can’t separate us from God’s love, such as trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword, the apostle Paul went on to say, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37). Paul spoke from experience. He’d gone through difficult times because of his stand for the Gospel, yet he didn’t sit there and feel sorry for himself and he didn’t expect his readers to (see 2 Corinthians 11:16-33). Instead, he wrote as one who is “more than a conqueror,” and encouraged us to adopt a similar attitude.

The more I read the Bible and grow in my relationship with God, the more I am convinced that we’re meant to live as victors, not victims. Yes, unpleasant things happen to all of us at some point in our lives. But instead of dwelling in self-pity, we’re encouraged to get back up and fight. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately is how someone out there may really have it worse than me. This mentality doesn’t take away my problems, but it does help me to count my blessings more. The more we focus on how blessed we are, the more empowered we will be. Let’s rise up!

Seeing is Believing

 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. (Acts 20:12 NIV)

There’s an interesting resurrection miracle recorded in Acts 20:7-12. After listening to the apostle Paul talk for hours – because he was leaving Troas the next day – a young man by the name of Eutychus falls from the third floor window where he was sitting and dies. “Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted” (vv.10-12). While we don’t know the particular message Paul was delivering that day, we can assume from his previous messages that he was preaching about Jesus’ death and resurrection. After all, they were meeting on the first day of the week when Jesus rose from the dead. Imagine the impact his words would have had on his listeners when a young man dies in their midst and is brought back to life again. Seeing is believing! God is able to restore whatever has died in your life right before your eyes. Let this hope fill your heart not just at Easter season, but all year long.

Women Who Rise

 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. (John 20:1 NIV)

A careful reading of the resurrection account reveals why women, in particular Mary Magdalene, were the first to discover the empty tomb and encounter the risen Christ. In John’s Gospel, we’re told that “while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb” (John 20:1). This woman, along with other courageous women, rose up early to go to the tomb while the male disciples were hiding behind closed doors (v.19). In fact, after Peter and John, the only male disciples, checked the tomb and left, she was the only one who stayed there (v.11). It was then that she had the vision of the two angels and Jesus eventually appeared to her, commissioning her to go and tell the others (vv.11-18). It was her determination and perseverance that led to her testimony. “Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her” (v.18).

The women who rise with the Son are the ones who are not afraid to risk their lives and reputations for His sake. They’re the ones who continue to seek Him in the midst of the darkness and uncertainty of life. It is they who get to encounter Him, experience the power of His resurrection and share the good news with the world.

You’ve Got a Friend in Jesus

Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. (Mark 14:50 NIV)

When Jesus needed His disciples during the most crucial time in His life and ministry, they all “deserted Him and ran away.” Not to mention that one denied Him after promising that he would never do that even if all of the others did (Matthew 26:33-35), and the other betrayed Him (Matthew 26:14-16)! But see, Jesus knew that that was going to happen. In fact, He predicted it. That is why He never put His trust in people, but in God who would stand by and deliver Him.

It’s great to have friends, but since they’re human, they’ll fail us at some point. Jesus is the one friend we can count on to always be there for us. The disciples eventually realized that He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He is the kind of friend they needed then and the friend we need now. You’ve got a friend in Jesus!

Go and Tell Them

 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:5-10 NIV)

Having just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection ourselves, what are we going to do with the truth that we’ve believed and heard? Are we going to bury it deep inside and let it benefit us, or let it rise up and help the people around us who are dying physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally? When the women at the tomb discovered that Jesus had risen, they were commissioned twice by the angels and Jesus Himself to go and tell the disciples who were then told to go and tell others. Good news is meant to be shared, not hidden. If you know the risen Jesus and the power of His resurrection, don’t keep it to yourself. Go and tell the others because they need Him too.

As a woman who has witnessed the power of Jesus’ resurrection in my own life and of those around me, I felt led to write about it in the second book in the RISE SERIES, Rise Again. I pray that it ministers to your life as it has in mine and of those who have been privileged to read it.

Your Resurrection is Coming!

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

(Matthew 27:62-66 NIV)

It’s interesting how even after having Jesus killed, the religious leaders could not be at peace and still asked Pilate to have His tomb sealed and guarded to prevent Him from rising again. But despite their best efforts, they could not keep Him buried forever. By God’s Spirit, Jesus was raised back to life!

Here’s where I derive my greatest comfort: People may try to break you when God chooses you until it seems as though they’ve succeeded in crushing you. They’ll try to bury you in the tomb of “you will not” and “you cannot,” but I can promise you this. Just when they think you will “never” rise again, when all hope seems lost to them, God is going to surprise them. You will walk out of that tomb much stronger and braver than before. Your destiny is sealed by God, not people. Your resurrection is coming!! The best is yet to come!

When Jesus calls you out of the grave by name, the devil is not going to be able to keep you buried there forever.

Saturday Was Silent

But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. (Luke 23:56 NIV)

Saturday was silent. Not much is recorded in Scripture about what happened after Jesus died on Friday, except that it was a traditional day of rest. In this instance, it was rest for those who were grieving the death of their best friend and rest for the devil who thought he had won. Little did everyone know that God’s silence didn’t mean He was finished…yet. He was preparing them – and us – for the greatest miracle ever: the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, His victory over death and the devil.

I’ve witnessed it countless times in my own life. Every time I thought God was silent, I watched Him come through for me in some mighty way. So I’ve learned to rest in His unconditional love and perfect peace because I know that although He may seem silent, He is actually at work on my behalf. Saturday may be silent, but Sunday is coming! God is going to exceed your expectations, proving to you once again, that He is the God of the impossible.

Good Friday

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:15 NIV)

Every Good Friday, we celebrate Jesus’ triumph and Satan’s defeat. Boy, the devil must really hate this day! Imagine the humiliation he goes through every year when he is reminded of that first Good Friday. Not only did it change history, but it forever stripped the devil of all power. Satan was exposed for the weakling that he is. All of hell must sure be silent at this time. But this is our opportunity to shout and remind the devil and his demons of their defeat and ultimate destruction. Not just at Easter, but every day of the year. The devil can go ahead and cover his ears in frustration and anger, but nothing is going to stop me from reminding him of his defeat and terrible doom. Believer, go ahead and celebrate because your Saviour has won! The Light has overcome the darkness and Life has triumphed over death. It’s a Good Friday indeed!

Embrace Don’t Excuse

When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. (Matthew 28:12-15 NIV)

When people can’t explain or embrace miracles, they excuse them. That’s exactly what the religious leaders did when Jesus rose from the dead. They paid the soldiers, who were guarding the tomb and had witnessed the miracle, a large sum of money, telling them to say that the disciples came at night and stole the body of Jesus. The problem with excusing this particular miracle was that 1) the disciples had hidden out of fear of what could happen to them as Jesus’ followers and 2) they wouldn’t have been able to roll the large and heavy stone away from the tomb. The disciples were certainly not brave or strong enough for such a task.

Miracles are the things we can’t explain, but which make us realize that it was God all along. I often say that miracles are not meant to be explained, they’re meant to be experienced. I’ll also add, they’re meant to be embraced. This Easter, embrace the truth of Christ’s resurrection instead of trying to explain it because His resurrection power lives in every person who believes.

Jehovah Jireh: The Lord Will Provide

And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided. (Genesis 22:14 ASV)

Instead of sacrificing his only son, Abraham was given a ram to offer instead. So Abraham named that place, “Jehovah-Jireh,” meaning, “the Lord will provide.” Thousands of years later, God indeed provided a Lamb that would take away our sins – His only Son, Jesus. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2 NIV). He continues to provide for us because Jehovah Jireh is who He is!

There’s a beautiful song by Maverick City Music called “Jireh.” At a time when my mind was preoccupied with my own needs, the song came on the radio. It was a wonderful reminder of who God is – our Provider. That same day He met my needs much better than I could. Just like in Abraham’s story, God doesn’t expect us to give up anything because providing for us is what He does best. I’m thankful for Jehovah Jireh. Without Him, I could never make it on my own.