Spoiler Alert!

 

spoiler alert text bufferedI enjoy watching a good movie. I remember watching movies in the past with someone who had seen the movie before. I was getting uptight that the hero or heroine was about to die. They knew the ending and were not worried. I remember a few years ago recording a Kentucky basketball game and somehow, I found out they lost, so I didn’t watch the game. If I knew they had won, I would have watched it just to revel in the victory.

This past Sunday I heard this phrase “Spoiler Alert” used in reference to how this life ends. I love the connection because we know Who wins in the end. I came across one of these spoiler alerts this morning in my journey through Revelation. The imagery is again pretty wild and crazy as John tries to describe these wild creatures he’s seeing for the first time. Check this out…

12 The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they will receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. 13 These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:12-14 CSB)

If I’m indifferent to the outcome of a sporting event, I will usually choose sides. In fact, I often choose the underdog. In this case, I already know Who wins. He is also an incredibly Honorable Winner. He’s given the opposition multiple chances to repent and join Him. He has forgiven me multiple times. He’s extended grace to me when I deserved punishment. He is so patient with me as I stumble over the stupid and simple choices.  I don’t deserve to be welcomed to the Lord’s army, but He welcomes me aboard. He gives me the equipment and the courage to battle the enemy.

My life here on earth is preparatory for eternal life with the Lord. He wins in the end. He has already won.  He has already conquered death. He is flexing His muscle as Creator. I’m going to walk out my faith here on earth with my faith and trust firmly rooted in Him. I’ve known about this “spoiler alert” since I first read His Word.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Victory

Happy young latin womanI am reading a biography of Winston Churchill called, “The Last Lion – Keeper of The Realm” and Prime Minister Churchill is known for flashing the “V” with his hand for victory! He was a leader of leaders and he possessed a “never give up, never give in” spirit. He believed in his soul that the Allies must conquer the Nazi’s of Germany to have freedom and life.

I’m not a huge football fan, but I love it when the team I’m pulling for wins. I enjoy seeing them celebrate. If my team loses, then I change the channel to avoid watching the victory celebration. (I guess I’m a sore loser.)

As I finished John’s first epistle this am, he reminded me that victory comes through obedience. It’s very simple – follow the Lord’s commands. Check this out…

1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of him. This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. (1 John 5:1-4 CSB)

Obedience is not flashy but important. Obedience reveals trust. Obedience reveals faith. I don’t always understand what the Lord is speaking into my heart, but I’ve learned to trust Him. I’m learning that I reveal my faith through my obedience to His call upon my life. He calls me to love others. He calls me to serve others. He calls me to forgive. He calls me to be humble. Jesus’ life serves as an example of humble obedience to the Father. He doesn’t call me to go to the cross, but He does call me to follow Him with my whole heart. My life follows my heart. I must lay down some of the things I want, because they are not what is best. He provides for my needs. He instills deep hope in Him.

I can live a victorious life here on earth as a prelude to the big prize – eternal life.  My victorious life begins with simple obedience to His commands – the first is to love.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Crushed In Spirit

Beauty girl cryI can vividly remember the feeling of being crushed in spirit even when I was young as some fellow classmates were killed in a car accident. I remember the finality of their deaths and thinking about how life is a vapor. I can also remember being crushed in spirit 23 years ago spending my first Christmas away from my kids. It was devastating. I look back on moments when my spirit was crushed – I felt my only option was turning to the Lord. He lifted me up. He helped me walk through the waves of discouragement and struggle.

Job is being lectured a bit by his friends whom he’s looking to for a bit of encouragement. He pushes back yet again on them, but this time he reveals his crushed spirit a bit differently. Check this out…

16 My face is red with weeping,

    dark shadows ring my eyes;

17 yet my hands have been free of violence

    and my prayer is pure.

18 ‘Earth, do not cover my blood;

    may my cry never be laid to rest!

19 Even now my witness is in heaven;

    my advocate is on high.

20 My intercessor is my friend

    as my eyes pour out tears to God;

21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God

    as one pleads for a friend.

22 ‘Only a few years will pass

    before I take the path of no return. (Job 16:16-22 NIV)

I can almost feel the wetness of his cheeks from tears. It is clear at this point that Job is passing the test because his heart is still pursuing God’s heart. Even in the midst of this mind-numbing suffering he is humbled before the Lord.

I think there is truth in this for me as I journey through times of being crushed in spirit. I needed reminding that the Lord is still in charge of my life. My one goal should be to glorify and honor Him. I really often try to honor myself with my life instead of honoring Him. I am often very self-centered instead of God-centered. He will lift me up properly when I have Him in His proper place. The Lord, Whom I seek to glorify, is also the one Who lifts me up when my spirit is crushed and weak. He gives me strength to push through the pain.

He gives me joy to celebrate the journey.

He gives me victory over struggle and pain.

His reward is far greater than I can imagine here on earth.

I don’t always understand my struggles or the struggles of others, but I know that the Lord is on the scene and available to help all who are crushed in spirit.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Victory

 

God's mercy at the CrossI remember enjoying some great basketball competition over the years. I used to love to play basketball when I was a much younger man. I enjoyed the competition and the game itself. It was always fun to win. I actually have a really competitive spirit in me, but over the years I’ve learned to “season it” some with patience and understanding. I used to think that winning wasn’t everything – it was the only thing!

David, after becoming King of Israel set out to take care of the surrounding nations and keep them from threatening Israel. At one point in the passage I read this morning, the word says: “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.” There is a lot of depth to King David. He was a warrior’s warrior; he was also gentle and kind. He followed the Lord with his whole heart, but he wasn’t afraid to lead out in battle. Check this out…

9 When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer king of Zobah, 10 he sent his son Hadoram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Hadoram brought all kinds of articles of gold, of silver and of bronze.

11 King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold he had taken from all these nations: Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. (1 Chronicles 18:9-11 NIV)

David upon defeating these other nations received a great amount of plunder. I’m assuming that when they became his subjects that he took their valuables as plunder. He also received gifts from the leaders of these nations, I’m sure they were hoping to save their own lives. He dedicated these gifts to the Lord, and I’m pretty confident that this was a great source of material when Solomon began building the Temple.

As I look at my day and week ahead, I’m asking the Lord for victory. I certainly want to defeat the enemy who seeks to destroy me. I want to use the blessings that the Lord pours out on me to help build His Kingdom here. I’m learning that if I can win the day today and then tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, I can win the week. If I can win the weeks ahead, it turns into a month and the months turn to years. I want to be faithful and consistent seeking Him and working hard today and every day. I want the Lord to give me victory everywhere I go!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

I couldn’t help but remember this song that I was introduced to by my son Matthew who was at Passion 2016. The song is by Crowder and is called: “My Victory”

Confidence

Prepared Not UnpreparedThere are times that I can walk into a room with confidence because I have done the work and I’m prepared for this meeting that I’m about to have. I have researched. I have revised. I have discovered options. I have drilled down the info to the bottom line. Then there are other times when an impromptu meeting is called and I don’t feel prepared at all. I don’t have any answers – just a lot of questions. I really hate feeling “caught off guard” but it happens. I can make it through those times gathering information and then making preparations for another opportunity to connect and deliver the details.

Education and preparation can give confidence. The Presence of God in me trumps all the education and preparation that I have. His Spirit can give wisdom and insight that no amount of education can provide.

The people of Israel were about to face 7 nations that were stronger than they were – but the Lord was with them. The Lord’s Presence inspired and motivated them. Moses challenged them to reflect on where they’ve been as they move forward. Check this out…

17 You may say to yourselves, ‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?’ 18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19 You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear.

21 Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. (Deuteronomy 7:17-19,21 NIV)

Sometimes it helps to take a look back at where I’ve been and where I’ve come from to notice God’s hand orchestrating the story of my life. When I’m in the middle of struggle, hardship or deep pain it’s hard to see His Hand or feel His Presence. He is always there with me. As I take a look back and then look forward, I can face today with confidence that confuses people who don’t know Him. The world can be collapsing around me, but I’m holding tight to Him. I have confidence that He will walk me through the darkest valley and dance with me on the highest mountain. He is a GREAT & AWESOME God Whose Presence in me changes everything!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Defeat

tired businessman rubbing his eyesI really hate to admit defeat. There are times that I’ve tried so hard for a victory or an accomplishment and miss the mark and I feel a sense of defeat or failure. This does not need to define me, but I think it needs to prepare me for a journey adjustment.

The people of God were camped near Mount Sinai and Moses had gone with Joshua up to the mountain to meet with God. The Lord had given Moses the two tablets with the 10 Commandments inscribed by His own hand. He told Moses that things were not going well inside the camp, so Moses and Joshua headed back down the mountain. As they arrived, it sounded a bit wild and crazy. Check this out..

17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, ‘There is the sound of war in the camp.’

18 Moses replied:

‘It is not the sound of victory,

              it is not the sound of defeat;

            it is the sound of singing that I hear.’ (Exodus 32:17-18 NIV)

I know what the sound of defeat is like. I have missed the mark many times in my walk with the Lord. It doesn’t matter that I’ve not made a calf. I just know that I’ve failed my Father who wired me and built me to serve and honor Him. I know what the victory sounds like because I’ve experienced that as well. I believe that victory is found when my heart (the very center of who I am) is devoted to the Lord and His will for me. I also believe that defeat sets in when I try to hijack my heart away from Him and do things my own way. My flesh is weak but His Spirit in me is strong. He won’t force me to follow Him. I always have the choice to choose victory. Defeat is my flesh screaming at me and me following that cry, versus the whisper of my heart.

I have heard the music of victory and I’ve heard the music of defeat. They sound way different from one another. I’ve cried the blues in the shadow of my sin. I also know the music of victory because I’ve been set free from the bondage of defeat. The Lord is my Rescuer from sin and defeat. He is the One Who gives me the victory over sin and self destruction. I want Him to help me overcome the grip that sin has on me. His Grace found me and sin no longer defeats me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne