Why is the Christian life so tough at times? I admit asking that question frequently regarding myself and others. Whether sensing the ominous pressures of an increasingly secular society confronting Christian beliefs and believers, or the major life circumstances and disappointments that many are going through, or simply the personal battles to live for Jesus and to know God’s will and purposes for us. We must be honest – it can be extremely tough and debilitating.
So how can I best encourage you, in a way that encourages me also? We don’t want or appreciate platitudes; we need to know the secret of encouragement with a framework of liberating truths which will impact our thinking and lives for the New Year ahead.
Jesus said: ‘In this world you will have trouble [trials/problems/pressures]. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ (John 16.33). It is that word ‘overcome’ which is especially significant for us at Cambray in these difficult days. The Greek word Jesus used is ‘nikao’, meaning overcomer or victor. The word contained the connotations of the Greek goddess for success – in sport, war and even over death, as the personification of victory. So, not surprisingly, a certain sports company recognised this and utilised the image depicting the ‘swoosh’ of the goddess Nike’s wing, as the emblem of victory!
Dear friends at Cambray, in that sense we are to be Nike Christian men and women! Overcomers…
Let’s grab hold of the fact that Jesus personified this victory to himself. HE HAS overcome the world, and conquered every enemy or obstacle which would hold us back from a full experience of God’s peace and purposes. Jesus is our overcomer.
Therefore, it is with a sense of excited anticipation that as a staff team we have sensed the Lord leading us towards a specific focus for the New Year. The verse for the year (which is available on cards or digitally if you would like to use this as a screen saver!) points us to the fact that ‘The LORD is the everlasting God… He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no-one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’ (Isaiah 40. 28-31)
Think of many people in the Bible, who found themselves in difficulty and in trouble against all odds, these two for example:
1) Nehemiah springs to mind as one whose face was sad, his heart broken by the situation all around (Nehemiah 1&2), and as he sat down, wept, mourned, confessed, fasted and prayed … and then, in amid all the angst, Nehemiah regained a new vision of God, and out of that renewal emerged new work, projects and God’s blessing on His people.
2) David had celebrated great victories, God’s Spirit was upon him, and he was walking with the Lord. Yet by 1 Samuel 30, David faced a desperate set of circumstances, which broke him and his men ‘until they had no strength left to weep’ (1 Sam. 30.4). Those around him were ‘bitter in spirit’, but we read ‘David found strength in the LORD his God’ (v6). David did not seek this bad run of situations, but they became the means of him becoming a Nike man of God, as he shifted reliance from himself, to His God who helped him overcome.
Living this side of the Cross of Christ, how we need a new vision of Jesus as our overcomer! Therefore, our Sunday morning series will work through Isaiah chapters 40 – 55, which has been described as the Old Testament equivalent of Romans in the New. God’s promise of deliverance in the form of an Overcoming Servant provides so much comfort, hope and the prospect of renewal.
On Sunday evenings we will work through the letter of Hebrews, hopefully gaining a renewed vision of the superiority and excellence of Jesus: ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure’ (Hebrews 6.19). Exciting and liberating truths from God’s Word helping us to hold on to Jesus.
One last matter, we must not give up the habit of praying together either. So to follow up the impact of our recent Day of Prayer, we are proposing a Day each month to be set aside to pray and seek the Lord for all He wants to do with us personally, as a local church family, and in the wider world. Tuesday 15 January 2013 is the first of these, (8am – 9am; 8pm – 9pm; or any other prayer group /time/ place to suit you and others).
With love in our Lord Jesus, in the assurance of HIS overcoming power,