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Summary: Deals with the difference between what’s happening to me and what’s happening in me, and victory over circumstances as compared to victory over self.

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SERMON TITLE: Real Victory

SERMON TEXT: Philippians 4:11-13

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Date: August 8, 2004

Written By: Louis Bartet

Email: lou2247@bayou.com

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11 I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

12 I know how to get along with humble means.

12 I know how to live in prosperity.

12 I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry.

12 I have learned the secret of having abundance and suffering need.

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

It’s Wednesday night, time for prayer requests and it goes something like this…

• Please ask God to heal me. My doctor says I have severe emphysema.

• Please pray that God will help us with a financial miracle so we can purchase much needed school supplies and clothes for our children.

• Please agree with me that God will help me get the promotion I’m up for.

• Please pray that I make a good grade on my history exam tomorrow.

I don’t think any of those requests would make the members of a Charismatic/Pentecostal congregation uncomfortable. If there’s any place where we can turn for answers to such needs, it is to God. He can heal

• emphysema,

• provide finances for school supplies and clothes,

• help us get the promotion and

• enable us to remember the information we studied in preparation for the history exam.

The issue isn’t a matter of what is said, rather it deals with what is unstated and with what that implies.

In a room of 20 people, we are more likely to hear prayer requests in which someone admits a need for healing or asks for help with a financial need, than we are to hear someone admit a need for help with

• poor eating habits,

• illicit desires or

• poor stewardship?

One category of needs deals with what’s happening to me, while the other deals with what’s happening in me. You can be sure that both categories exist in each of our lives.

It is unlikely that the person making an open appeal for financial assistance, will also make a public confession that their financial problems are the result of poor financial practices. These same people will become and angry if someone suggests that the problem isn’t lack of money but improper money management. Insufficient funds is about what’s happening to me, but poor stewardship is about who I am and I don’t want to talk about my irresponsible behavior or my greed or my poor judgment.

Admitting one’s need for healing or a financial miracle doesn’t deal with who we are. We don’t risk much when we ask people to pray with us about a job promotion or a passing grade on a mid-term exam. Even Christ like people experience physical and financial needs.

Public prayer requests that deal with…

• addiction to pornography or

• poor stewardship or

• alcohol abuse or

• unforgiveness or

• bitterness or

• a violent temper

…expose something about who we are. Admitting that we are struggling with desires for the forbidden makes us vulnerable to being judged and rejected by our hearers. Who wants to risk that?

Public testimonies tend to major on victories over external circumstances to the neglect of much needed victories over our carnal self. We talk about physical healings, financial blessings or positional advancements, but we rarely hear testimonies that reveal the transformation of flawed character.

• I was caught in the bondage of homosexuality, but God set me free.

• I was fired for stealing money from my company, but God forgave me and gave me my job back.

• I was a habitual liar, but God delivered me from my need to build my image by stretching the truth.

We seem to be more interested in maintaining our image and eliminating inconvenience and discomfort than we are in searching out and eliminating those flaws in us that are causing our problem.

We resist exposure and the agent designed to bring it about, because we fail to realize that our transformation is dependent upon our vulnerability and malleability. Our primary goal is to triumph over the storm, to make it go away, but God’s primary objective is to use the storm to transform us.

• Our eyes are on our financial need, but God is focused on changing us in the area where the financial need was created.

• Our primary desire is to be healed, but God wants to deal with the beliefs, attitudes and practices that may be causing our physical problem.

What good are riches if we are void of true riches? What good is the healing of our body if our soul is left sick, emaciated and weak?

When Paul sought God for the removal of his much debated “thorn in the flesh,” God’s answer was “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2Cor. 12:9).

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