Derek finishes this study by exhorting us to grasp these truths from the Word of God: That we are more than conquerors through Christ. That Jesus Christ has overcome evil in every way. That He has given us the keys to reign victoriously in this life. Abide in His Word and be obedient to love others. Suffering may come at times, but with His help and strength we will have the victory.
I love the passage in Psalm 105 that speaks about Joseph. I think I can identify with this to some extent from my own experience. Psalm 105:17 and following:
“God sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, his soul came into irons.”
Somebody said the iron came into his soul, too.
“Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.”
See, that’s a test. The Lord gives you a glorious promise, tremendous. And after that everything goes the opposite way. Instead of becoming the ruler of your brethren you end up in jail in Egypt. And, I can’t think of a worse place to be in jail than Egypt. What was God doing? Testing him. What was the test? Waiting.
And then if you want to look at others, Moses. It says in Numbers 12:3, Moses was the meekest man on earth. How did Moses learn meekness? By waiting forty years.
God will not finish until the test is complete. When Moses first thought he could deliver Israel out of Egypt he was a very arrogant young man. Forty years later he was the meekest man on earth. And, no one except Jesus has ever exercised such authority as Moses exercised. So, if you want to have authority, you know what you need to cultivate? Meekness. God cannot trust His authority to the arrogant, the proud, the self assertive.
You know the condition for promotion in the kingdom of God? It’s very easy. It’s abase yourself. Every one who abases himself will be exalted. But on the other hand, every one who exalts himself will be abased, that’s right. You have the choice. That’s an unalterable law that governs the universe. People talk about breaking God’s laws, that’s not true. We don’t break God’s laws, God’s laws break us if we break them.
And then let’s think about David for a moment, another young man who was given tremendous promises of God. And he spent the next I don’t know how many years, I think probably about fifteen years, living as he said himself, like a dog or a partridge on the mountains, running away from the man he was to succeed as king.
Why does God permit that? In fact, why does God ordain that, what is He looking for? In one word, endurance, that’s right. You cannot bypass endurance and enter into the promises of God. You can come so far but the completeness is only through endurance. And just when it seems impossible to hold up, that’s the time to hold out. Don’t give in. I would like to say that to several of you individually. You’re in the test, you’re doing all right, just hang in there. Don’t back out, don’t give up. God is faithful.
I’ll tell you another thing about waiting. It causes us to realize more and more our dependence on God. I can’t do anything. I can’t make it happen, I don’t know when it’s coming, I just depend on him.
So, waiting causes us to realize in an altogether new measure our dependence on Jesus.
All right. Finally, brethren, and I’ll try to do better than Paul who said finally, brethren, and wrote two more chapters! I think it’s necessary to say this because what I’ve said in many ways has been hard to take. But the fourth recommendation I have is cultivate a positive attitude and expectation.
Romans 12:21 says:
“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil by good.”
So we have two options and only two. We can overcome or we can be overcome, but there’s nothing in between. And when we’re confronted by evil there’s only one thing that’s strong enough to overcome evil and that is good. We cannot take a negative attitude, we cannot simply say it’s not my problem. We have to actively practice that which is good. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil by good.
And Romans 8:35 and following says:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, for your sake we are killed all day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”
That’s pretty negative teaching, isn’t it? Some people object to negative teaching, they say, “Brother, be positive.” But the negative is also true. People who sell phony shares in the stock market are very positive but they’re dishonest. I believe as Christians we have to face the negative. We cannot close our eyes or avert our heads.
There is trouble ahead. I believe there’s much more trouble ahead than most of us can even comprehend at the moment. But that doesn’t mean we have to be pessimistic.
What is Paul’s comment?
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
What is “all these things”? There’s a list. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword. And then Paul says in all these things we are more than conquerors.
I once asked the Lord what it meant to be more than conqueror and I felt the answer He gave me was this. To be more than a conqueror means that you go into a trouble, overcome it and come out of the trouble with more than you went in with. You’ve taken spoil.
1 John 4, I’ve only two more scriptures. 1 John 4:4:
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them [all the forces of evil] because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
Actually, it’s incredibly stupid of the devil ever to think that he could take God on. I mean, we can’t absorb the stupidity. The God who created the whole universe and keeps it in perfect order, and some created being challenges this God. It was an American philosopher who said about the devil, “He’s a consummate ass.” I’m not using empty words, I’m just pointing out it’s the height of stupidity what the devil has done.
But, He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. One other scripture and then we close. Revelation 21:7:
“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.”
I have searched the New Testament, I cannot find any promise there except for those who overcome. And you only have two options: either overcome or be overcome. So we, all of us, each of us, has to make up our mind. I can overcome, greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world, but I have to make my mind up. I have to meet the conditions.
Now I just think I need to apply what I’ve been saying, very briefly. I felt when the Lord gave me this message that there would be some Jonahs here tonight who’ve heard the call of God and refused it. And maybe where you’ve been is down in the sides of the ship fast asleep. But by some act of God’s providence you got here tonight and you’ve listened to the description and you realize that is me. I’m a Jonah. I’m running away from God. And every step I’ve taken since I’ve turned my back on God has been a step downward. But now tonight I want to turn back to God. I want to acknowledge my rebellion and turn back to Him and submit my life to Him.
Christians, will you be praying? If there’s any Jonahs here tonight, we want to tell you that God loves you still. We love you. We want to help you but you’ve got to make a decision. If you want to come back to God tonight, do just one simple thing. Wherever you are in this auditorium, stand to your feet right now and say, “I’m a Jonah. I’ve been running away from the Lord and I want to come back.” Wherever you may be. I am quite sure there’s at least one here tonight.
I just want to tell you that it makes me very happy to see you here tonight. I want you to know God loves you. He’s never given up on you, you understand? You may have given up on Him but He has never given up on you.