In just about every situation you face in life, sports or in the spiritual realm, to be an overcomer, you’re going to need the keys to victory. One of the first keys to victory is to have a plan or strategy you can execute on. Do you know hat you will do in certain situations before you’re in them? The second key to victory is to be well conditioned. Paul said physical exercise is good, but to be spiritual fit is even more important. Are you exercising your faith daily? Another key to victory is to go on the offensive. Are you advancing or are you always in a state of retreat?
You and I are in the Army of the Lord and we need to understand that victory is not just given to us. The people you know who walk in victory are the ones who put in the time behind the scenes to grow their walk with the Lord. They study the Bible and pray daily as well. God made us to be victorious and has given us authority over the enemy. We need to know what our keys to victory are and then do them consistently.
Here are some Bible verses on victory.
1. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].
ROMANS 8:37 AMP
2. I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.
Psalms 62:1 NLT
3. Do your best, prepare for the worst— then trust GOD to bring victory.
Proverbs 21:31 MSG
4. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
1 Corinthians 15:57 GNT
5. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.
1 John 5:4 NLT
Have you ever been in a situation where you were pouring your heart out to someone and then noticed they weren’t listening? I’ve learned from experience that it’s pretty hurtful and rude. I’ve been accused of not listening on more than one occasion. I even went to a training once to teach me how to be an active listener. They taught me that I need to make eye contact, lean in to the conversation, nod my head and make some noises to suggest that I agree. It turns out that it takes a lot of work to listen.
What I’ve found out is that when people think you’re not listening to them, they quit telling you things. They quit having deep discussions, and sometimes they quit talking to you all together. Imagine if you had those feelings toward God. There are times where we are in a deep struggle, and we’re pouring out our heart to Him, but it feels like He’s not listening. Our prayers seem to fall flat and never get past the ceiling. It happens to all of us.
David was one who constantly cried out to God for help and told Him everything on his mind. In Psalm 116:2 he reminds us, “Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (NLT) He found out that God is an active listener who leans into our prayers to listen. He gives us His undivided attention when we cry out to Him. We no longer have to worry that He isn’t listening or doesn’t hear us.
When you pour out your heart to God, He’s actively listening to you. He doesn’t get distracted or zone out. Even if it doesn’t feel your prayers are going past the ceiling, God is there in the room with you. As the Psalmist wrote, He bends down to hear you. He leans into the space where you are so you can feel His presence and know He’s there hearing every word. Where man fails to pay attention, God never does. You can pray as long as you have breath knowing that God hears every word and intent of the heart.
We’ve all got that friend who we get into trouble with. We’ve also got that friend who’s got our back no matter what. But do you have that friend who will seek you out and encourage you while you’re down? In my darkest times, when most friends deserted me, I had a handful of people who wouldn’t let me give up. I had a brother who called every day, a coworker who made me go to work each day and another friend who would just hang out so I’d have company.
It’s good to have friends, but we all need those friends who won’t leave us when the going gets tough. We need a friend like Jonathon was to David. Jonathon’s dad, Saul, was out to kill David, so he was hiding in the wilderness with about 600 warriors. Not one of those 600 did for David what Jonathon did. They would have given their life for him, but they weren’t able to encourage him when he needed it most.
In I Samuel 23:16 it says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God” (NLT). Jonathon risked his own life to encourage his friend and to help him stay strong in his faith. That’s the kind of friend we all need. There aren’t just times when we need encouragement. There are times when we all struggle in our faith. When our world is crashing and we don’t see how God will keep His promise, we need that friend who will remind us of all God has done for us.
Not only do we need that friend in our life, we need to be that friend to others. We need to get attentive to the needs of those around us. We need to be the ones who go to them in their hour of need. It’s not their responsibility to come to you when they need encouragement. Often they don’t have the strength or their pride holds them back. We each need to be the friend that we will need at some point in our life. We need to be a friend that encourages.
One of the most popular and well known hymns of all time has to be “Amazing Grace”. Each of us has heard it at least once in our lives. Even my sins year old son knows it. He was singing it recently when he stopped mid verse. He asked, “What does that mean? ‘Was blind, but now I see’?” I explained that the man who wrote it had been very bad in his life, and he couldn’t see how what he had been doing (slave trading) was wrong. When he became a Christian, his spiritual eyes were opened and he could see right from wrong.”
The author wasn’t describing a physical healing and having his physical sight restored. The song is about how he came to know Jesus. It resonates with us because we were once spiritually blind ourselves. We once were blind to the sins in our lives, but when we gave our heart to Jesus, our spiritual eyes were opened.
In John 9, there was a physically and spiritually blind man looking for money. Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud, put it on the man’s eyes and told him. “Go and wash your face in the Pool of Siloam” (GNT). The man went to the pool, washed his face and came back seeing. Everyone was amazed that a man who had been born blind could see. They took him to the religious leaders who asked him how he could see. They didn’t like his answer that Jesus healed him.
After questioning his parents, they brought him back and asked again. In verse 25, He said, “One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I see.” He was talking about his physical sight, but when he went back to meet Jesus, he found out that Jesus wanted to heal his spiritual eyes too. He came into this world that you and I could truly see. The amazing part of God’s grace isn’t that it just covers our sins. It’s also that it opens our blind eyes to truly see for the first time. We need to look at our life with those eyes so we can see where we’re wrong, and dive deeper into that amazing grace.
One of my biggest pet peeves while driving is people who cross the double white line to get into the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane. Every time I see someone do it, I say, “Where is a cop when you need one?” Or I yell out, “That’s illegal! You’re breaking the law!” There is a place to get on and off of the HOV lane every few miles, and people who don’t do it right deserve tickets.
I tell you that because as I was stewing over it one day, I was reminded of the story in John 8. There was a woman caught breaking the law, and the religious police brought her to Jesus. They said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (NLT) He began drawing in the sand until they demanded an answer. Jesus finally answered them by saying, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” One by one they dropped their stones and walked away.
What I didn’t tell you about my story with people crossing the double white line was that I’m usually driving around 80 mph in a 65 zone. I’m just as guilty of breaking the law as they are and just as deserving of a ticket. However, I find it easy to justify my speeding by saying, “I’m just keeping up with traffic.” We’re all pretty good at justifying our own sins and throwing stones at people who sin differently than we do. These people had stones in their hands ready to throw. They were just waiting for Jesus to give them permission.
There’s been a lot of debate and speculation as to what Jesus drew in the sand that day. I like to think he wrote out the word, “Grace”. Each of them, like each of us, had needed God’s grace for something they had done that deserved the penalty of sin. It’s time we offered grace instead of stones to people who sin differently than we do. It’s easy to condemn, but Christlike to offer grace. Those double white lines on the freeway have become a self righteous check for me. I’m learning to drop the stones in my hands, and I hope that you are too.
I was recently training a sales psychology class, and I got to the point where I revealed to the class their individual psychological reluctances. I explained that some were gained through heredity, some medically, and others through watching others. I challenged them to go back to the root of the issue in order to deal with it. One person immediately said, “I know were this one came from! I can pinpoint the moment.”
He told me he had Role Rejection, which is the struggle to admit to others you work in sales. He said, “Several years ago, my mom said, “When are you going to get a real job? You have a degree. Go use it.” Those words cut straight to his core and he buried them there. Even if he made close to $100,000 a year and his degree would earn about half that, he would feel inferior because of what his mom told him.
I said to him, “Isn’t it incredible how powerful words are? One sentence your mom said years ago has affected how your career and how you see yourself. We have to be careful when choosing our words. We never know which ones will stick in someone’s life and hold them back.” We have to learn to use our words to encourage and build others up. Proverbs 15:4 says, “A soothing tongue [speaking words that build up and encourage] is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue [speaking words that overwhelm and depress] crushes the spirit” (AMP).
We all need to add in a filter into our brain that asks, “Will these words become a tree of life in them or will they crush their spirit?” When talking to our children, spouse, family or friends, we need to make sure we are planting life. There’s enough words out there spoken to them each day that can crush their spirit. Let’s be purposeful and make it a habit to have a soothing tongue that speaks life.
There are two questions many of us get asked. One is, “Did you hear that?” The other is, “Are you listening to me?” There is a difference between the two. Hearing is an involuntary function. As long as your ears work, you hear things all the time whether your brain takes the time to interpret the sounds. Listening is a voluntary function. It requires that you pay attention. The brain is looking to understand the sounds and to make sense of them. There’s quite a difference between the two.
In I Samuel 3, Samuel was a boy and he was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the altar. He heard someone say his name, so he went to Eli the priest and said, “Here I am. Did you call me?” (NLT). Eli replied, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” When Samuel got back to bed, he heard his name called again. Three times this happened and all three times, Eli sent him back to bed. On the third time though, Eli figured it out.
Eli realized that Samuel had never heard the voice of the Lord before. He instructed the boy to go back and respond should he hear the voice again. Verse 10 says, “And the Lord came and called as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel replied, ‘Speak, your servant is listening.'” He had heard the Lords voice three times, but it wasn’t until he learned to listen that the Lord gave him a message.
I believe God is talking to you and me all the time. Many times we hear His voice involuntarily and we interpret it as a feeling inside of us as to what we should do. I believe it is critical for each one of us pause in our prayer time to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” God doesn’t just want us to hear His voice, He wants us to listen to what He’s saying to us and then to obey. It’s going to require that you listen purposefully and then block out the other sounds your brain involuntarily hears.
In 2002, Verizon was a brand new company and cell phones were still considered somewhat of a luxury. They were trying to grow their customer base, but their slogan “Join in” wasn’t working. They decided to change it by showing continuous network improvement. To show that, they introduced “Test man”, whose tag line was, “Can you hear me now?” They also changed their slogan to, “We never stop working for you.” Their commitment to working constantly working on their network and improving coverage paid off as they have become the largest provider.
Imagine if you were broken down and needed help in the middle of nowhere. You reach for your cell phone to call for help, but it doesn’t work. When you see you have full coverage, you try again. Instead of connecting you to whoever you’re calling, you get a recorded message that says, “We understand you’re trying to make call, but we only work six days a week. Please try again tomorrow.” How would that make you feel?
Imagine if God worked that way. You have an urgent need where your body breaks down and you need immediate prayer, but God won’t do anything until the next day. That’s what the Pharisees were trying to do to Jesus when they told Him he couldn’t heal on the Sabbath. They didn’t care if someone’s life was in danger. They didn’t even want God to heal on the Sabbath in order to keep it holy.
In John 5, they were complaining to Jesus about that. In verse 17, He responded, “My Father is always working, and so am I” (NLT). I’m thankful that whenever you or I need something urgently from God, we do t have to wait. We can call out to Him day or night because He’s always working. He hears our prayers and meets our needs. We don’t have to worry that He’s taking the day off. He never stops working for us and for our good.
What are you willing to pay to accomplish your dreams? The dreams are free, but seeing them come to fruition isn’t. So many of us freely talk about the dreams God puts in our hearts, but so few are willing to endure what it takes to make them happen. When God gives us a dream, He rarely includes the cost. Once the time comes to start paying for it, many of us walk away from it or question if God really gave it to us.
When Joseph was a teenager, God put a dream in his heart that his brothers would one day bow to him. He didn’t have that great of a relationship with them, so he was excited about it. He told them about it, probably in a flaunting way, and they hated him for it. They threw him in a pit, then sold him as a slave where he was carried off to Egypt. From there, he was falsely accused of rape, thrown in prison and forgotten fir over ten years.
Through all of that, he kept believing in the dream. We don’t read where he questioned God for his troubles. I believe it was because he thought of it as the price of his dream, and he was willing to pay it. God knew that as a teenager, he wasn’t ready to be second in command of Egypt. He tested him and developed in him the character he would need to make the dream in him a reality. Joseph paid the price for the dream.
Psalm 105:19 says, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character” (NLT). If God gave you a dream and everything is going wrong, chances are that He’s testing your character. He’s finding out if you’re willing to pay the price and if you’re ready. Don’t give up because the dream seems so far away. Keep working hard. Keep paying the price. Don’t quit. God is getting you ready for the fulfillment of that dream. The cost is worth it.