We have been dealing with victory over sin, Satan and self. But there is another area of victory we must know if we are to live a consistent life of conquering and continuing.
There are two kinds of circumstances:
1. Those I can change: these present little or no problem.
2. Those I can’t change but I wish I could: these present the problem.
The Key: I want to change ONE word in the statement, and it changes everything. It is not Victory OVER Circumstances……Most of us look upon contrary circumstances as intruders into our life, obstacles in the path blocking our progress and we must somehow conquer them, remove them, get them out of the way.
It is Victory THROUGH Our Circumstances. They are the MEANS God uses to bring us to the place of victory.
Isaiah 49:11 “I will turn all my mountains into roads…” the obstacles become the means….they contribute to our deliverance.
The Mountains ARE the path. We couldn’t get there without them.
Imagine the outline of a triangle. The three points of the triangle are the three points I want to make.
I. THE PURPOSE OF GOD: – This is the top of the triangle. “Conformed to the Image of His Son”…..Williams translation: “He marked them off to be like His Son.”
1. That image is our capacity to know, fellowship with and worship God. 2. God’s image in man has been marred, like the shell of a bombed-out building. There is still a semblance left but it has been crippled.. 3. The purpose of Salvation is the restoration of that image. II Corinthians 3:28; I John3:1-3; Phil. 1:6 4. God is working on Two Levels.
(1) A Promise For the Future.: I’m going to be like Him! In the twinkling of an eye.
(2) A Process in the Present. It is something going on right now. II Corinthians 3:18 “From glory unto glory”…degree by degree…not by one cataclysmic experience.
For some it won’t e a rapture, it will be a rupture!!! We’re supposed to be growing more like Him so the change won’t be so traumatic. a. Changed in appearance. b. Changed in essence, actuality.
II. THE PREDESTINATION OF GOD – This is the next point in the triangle.
1. Predestined: – To mark off beforehand, to choose beforehand.
Don’t try to understand or reconcile the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD and THE WILL OF MAN. Paul couldn’t in Romans 9-11. Eph. 1 :33 “IN CHRIST” we are chosen.
2. The Predestination of God assures, guarantees the Purpose of God. God knows if He leaves it up to us to become like Jesus we’ll never make it. Thus God chose me in eternity to be like Jesus….John 6 – all that God gives comes to Jesus and will raise up in the last day. “Father, all here and accounted for.”
Someday we will be exactly like Jesus.. ..GOD GUARANTEES IT!
Romans 8:30 “Glorified” – Isaiah 53 is in past tense….prophetic past. Can’t change what has already happened.
III. THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD This is the third point of the triangle.
1. The providence of God ACCOMPLISHES THE PURPOSE OF GOD. vs. 28: Things working together–that’s providence. ALL THINGS are being worked together to accomplish God’s purpose. Like a jigsaw puzzle, all the pieces fit together.
2. Definition of PROVIDENCE “To see before…” “TO SEE BEFOREHAND AND PLAN ACCORDINGLY.” God saw beforehand everything that would happen to me, every circumstance, situation… and planned accordingly…. made provision for every incident.
3. Greatest Illustration in Bible of This Truth: Genesis 45, 50 (Joseph) “It was not you, but God.” “It was not evil but Good.”
This is not predestination for God did not make his brothers hate Joseph and sell him. This is the PROVIDENCE OF GOD….God saw what would happen and planned accordingly.
Three times he says, “It was not you, but God.” He didn’t want his brothers taking credit for something God did.
(1) The Providence of God PROVIDES FOR EVERY EVENT IN MY LIFE. It causes things to happen that are beyond my power to accomplish.
(a) They were going to kill him but a caravan passes by and his life is spared.
(b) In Egypt, where a Hebrew was treated as an abomination by the Egyptians, he just happens to fall into the hands of the one man in Egypt who would recognize his worth.
(c) In prison, there happens to be a baker and a butler…dreams and famine. JOSEPH COULD NEVER HAVE ARRANGED ANY OF THOSE THINGS…
He was made Prime Minister of Egypt! – God causes things to happen that are beyond our power to accomplish.
(2) The Providence of God PROTECTS FROM EVERY ENEMY IN MY LIFE. – Causes things not to happen that are beyond my power to avoid.
His brothers wanted to kill him, they couldn’t; they thought they had gotten rid of him, they hadn’t; Potiphar’s wife sought to destroy him but through her he was delivered. THE PRISON BECAME THE PATH TO THE PALACE!
HOW DOES HE PROTECT? By making servants out of your enemies Joseph’s brothers actually made him Lord.
IV. VICTORY THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCES COMES WHEN WE CAN SAY TWO THINGS ABOUT THEM:
(1) God did it. God controls every circumstance of my life. To complain is to accuse God of mismanaging my life.
(2) God used it. God uses every circumstance of my life. They are the tools God uses to carve out His purpose. Illustration of Ruth.
a. To perfect His purpose. God is not interested in changing your circumstances, but your character. When the circumstances have changed your character, then he may change your circumstances but if He doesn’t it won’t matter because your character will be so changed you will be able to live victoriously in them.
b. To become the source of life to others. Joseph saved his brothers.
THEIR SIN BECAME THEIR SALVATION.
V. HOW TO ENTER INTO THIS VICTORY. I Thess. 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1) Make a list of every bum deal in your life.
(2) Make a list of every present situation you would change if you could but you can’t.
Start at the top and thank God for everyone….not FEEL thankful, but BE thankful.
The only alternative to Thanksgiving is Bitterness.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002
Intro: There is a man running down the road and a bear is chasing him. He jumps into a well to escape, sees a rattlesnake coiled at the bottom, ready to strike, frantically grabs hold of a branch, hangs there, notices two mice chewing on the branch, a white mouse and a black mouse; notices two drops of honey on a leaf, licks off the two drops of honey.
Interpretation: The bear is our past from which we all seek to escape; snake is the judgment of God; well is reality; branch is number of days we have yet to live; white mouse is day, black mouse is night; two drops of honey is all the things of this world. ANYONE WHO SAYS THAT LIFE IS A COUPLE OF DROPS OF HONEY IS A FOOL.
In this passage Paul reveals three universal principles by which every person will be judged.
1. According to the Truth, vs 2.
2. According to Works, vs 6.
3. According to Gospel, vs 16. The cross is exhibit “A” in the case against us.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2001
I. It is a Divine Gospel. vs. 1-5
1. Divine in its source: v1. “the gospel of God.” 2. Divine in its subject: v. 3, “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1) Made human, v. 3 (2) Manifested Divine, v. 4
II. It is a Dynamic Gospel v. 16
1. Its object is salvation 2. Its operation is by faith 3. Its outreach is to everyone
III. It is a Demanding Gospel
1. Submission to the Sovereignty of Christ, vv, 3,5 2. Separation to the Service of Christ, vv. 1, 9-16
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2001
Text: Ephesians 4:7-13; Romans 12:3-8; I Peter 4:10,11; I Corinthians 12:1-31
When the Holy Spirit enters the believer, He doesn’t come empty-handed! He comes bearing gifts. These gifts are God-given abilities to perform certain tasks necessary to the body of Christ. It is the existence and exercise of these Spirit-Gifts that lifts the Church out of the ordinary into the extraordinary, out of the natural into the supernatural.
If the ministry of the Church isn’t supernatural, it’s superficial.
Spiritual Gifts is one of the most marvelous and, at the same time, one of the most misunderstood truths of the Bible. Paul said he didn’t want us to be ignorant concerning spiritual gifts — but most of us are! We are engaged in a warfare against the spiritual powers of darkness and nothing less than supernatural weapons will suffice, therefore it is imperative we understand this vital truth.
When Paul says, “Now concerning spiritual gifts. .(I Corinthians 12:1), he uses a Greek word that signifies that which comes fromi the Spirit. So these gifts are from the Spirit.
I. THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT ARE SALVATION GIFTS
At the moment of salvation the believer receives one or more gifts. There is no exception —every Christian has a gift.
This means that gifts are bestowed regardless of the spiritual condition of the recipient. One of the gravest errors surrounding the Spirit-Gifts is the idea that they are given as rewards of spirituality or as visible proof one has been filled with the Spirit. Such an idea is built upon the sands of speculation rather than the rock of revelation. The Bible simply doesn’t teach it. To the contrary, the Bible teaches that even a carnal Christian can exercise spiritual gifts.
For example, look again at the Corinthian Christians. They had every gift in the book. “So that you are not lacking in any gift. . .“ (I Corinthians 1:7), yet Paul says to them, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh (carnal). For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly (carnal), and are you not walking like mere men (acting like lost people)? (I Corinthians 3:1-3).
The proof of the Spirit’s fullness is His fruit, not His gifts. You may speak in tongues, work miracles, win hundreds to Christ, but if you are rude, critical, selfish, touchy, irritable, unable to control your temper — you’re not filled with the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22,23).
If you’re saved, you have a spiritual gift. Why don’t you bow your head right now and thank God for it — even if you don’t know what it is
The Gifts of the Spirit differ. “And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. .(Romans 12:6). In I Corinthians 12, we read, “For to one is given . . . and to another . . .“ Just as there are different members in the same body, so within the Body of Christ there are a variety of gifts.
Here’s another point that is often misunderstood. Some pick out a certain gift and claim that all believers must have it. Nowhere is this taught in Scripture. Diversity is the mark of God. There are no two fingerprints alike, no two snowflakes alike, no two blades of grass alike.
That’s the way the Creator planned it.
Look at your own body, Paul suggests, as an illustration of this. What if all your members were alike, or had the same function? What if you were all thumbs? Chaos and confusion would reign. What if your toes were eyes? All they would see is the inside of a sock!
God isn’t the author of confusion and He’s planned and gifted everyone of us to bring the greatest glory to Himself and the greatest good to the Body of Christ. To covet another’s gift is to grumble against the goodness of God.
II. THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT ARE SUPERNATURAL GIFTS
The Gifts of the Spirit are not natural talents or abilities. A beautiful singing voice, for example, is not a gift of the Spirit. To be sure, it is a gift of God, but it doesn’t fit into the category of Spirit-Gifts.
The abundance of ability doesn’t qualify us, nor does the absence of ability disqualify us! This eliminates boasting and assures God of getting all the glory — and all the credit.
Don’t measure your effectiveness for Christ by your own resources. Whatever you have isn’t enough. God is saying, “I’d rather do it myself. . . through the Spirit- Gifts I have given you.”
No matter who or what you are, you are a gifted person! You are a SUPERHUMAN with a SUPERNATURAL ABILITY!
These gifts are sovereignty bestowed. “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as he wills.” (I Corinthians 12:11). Our part isn’t to seek or pray for a specific gift but to discover what gift we have and exercise it in the power of the Spirit.
We are neither commanded nor encouraged to seek a certain gift. The only thing we’re ever commanded to seek is “the Lord.” When a believer surrenders his will to seek an “experience” or a certain gift, he is giving Satan an engraved invitation to deceive and enslave with a false spiritual experience.
What about I Corinthians 12:31, where Paul says to covet the best gifts? There Paul is speaking to the church as a body, not to Christians as individuals. The Corinthians had magnified a minor gift to the neglect of others. Paul admonishes them, “But you must earnestly continue to cultivate your higher spiritual gifts, ‘ (I Corinthians 12:31 Williams) and every New Testament Church should do just that.
God doesn’t bestow His gifts in response to our desires or prayers. Hebrews 2:4 makes this clear: “God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
“God always gives the best to those who leave the choice with Him.”
III. THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT ARE SERVICE GIFTS
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:7).
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (I Peter 4:10).
These gifts are for practical service, not personal satisfaction. They are never given for self-glory or self-seeking, but for the profit of the Body of Christ.
Jesus Christ intended that His Church be self-contained — by that I mean the church need never look to the financial world or the entertainment world or any other world in order to get along and stay in business. With the gifts of the Spirit operating, every local church has all it needs to fulfill the commission of its Lord.
Money? If every member with the gift of giving recognizes and exercises that gift, there’ll always be enough to do what God wants done.
Conversions? If every member with the gift of evangelism recognizes and exercises that gift, the Lord will add daily those who are being saved.
Miracles? If those with the gift of faith recognize and exercise that gift, the world will stand open-mouthed and wide-eyed before a power they can no longer ignore or explain away.
At His return, Jesus will judge and reward believers according to their faithful stewardship of God’s grace. Peter tells us the Gifts of the Spirit are a part of this stewardship. That means that God is going to hold each of us accountable for the use of our gifts. What a challenge for us to recognize that God has given us a spiritual gift and to exercise it in the power of the Spirit.
HOW MAY I KNOW WHAT MY GIFT IS?
1. By Personal Inclination. Simply by “doing what comes supernaturally.” Your desire will lie in the direction of your gift. A Christian with the gift of evangelism will want to witness and win people to Jesus. The gift of teaching will create within you a desire to share with others the truths you’ve discovered in the Word of God.
What do you want to do for God? Your personal inclination is the first clue to discovering your spiritual gift — but not the conclusive one. Your personal inclination may be nothing more than a carnal desire God has not yet refined and purified.
2. Public Recognition. This involves two things: the church will use it and God will bless it. God will see to it that you have an opportunity to exercise your gift.
The important thing is this: don’t worry if you don’t know what your gift is. Don’t sit down and say, “Well, I don’t know what my gift is, so I’m going to do nothing till God shows me.”
Just make yourself available to God, take whatever opportunities He sends, and in the midst of serving you will come to recognize your spiritual gift.
Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003