Summary: How Christians can be more successful in overcoming the tactics of Satan in daily life.
August 1, 2004
Iliff and Saltillo UM
“Secrets of Being an Overcomer”
Joshua 8:1-8, 30-35 and 9:3-15
INTRODUCTION: The book of Joshua describes how God’s people possessed the land He had given them. It tells of victories as well as defeat. It is a book of history, and it is also a book of principles for spiritual victory. The children of Israel crossed the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. They experienced victory over Jericho. They experienced the power of conquering faith when they followed God’s leadership. They faced unexpected defeat at Ai because there was sin in the camp. The next chapters describe more conquest in possessing the land. Several principles of spiritual victory can be seen in these next chapters. These same principles apply to us today.
1. CLAIM VICTORY AND REFOCUS ON GOD: The Israelites confessed their sins and refocused on God. They did not allow the defeat at Ai to destroy them but to strengthen them. In spite of the humiliation, they did not continually beat themselves down with it. How many times do we replay our defeats over and over again in our minds, and we can’t seem to refocus and go on. WE ARE STUCK IN THE DEFEAT MODE. When this happens we have to take authority over the past failures and defeats and claim the victory over the sin which tripped us up. We must refocus on the Lord as these people did. They hadn’t forgotten the defeat overnight, but when they refocused on God, they could rise above it. The Lord was saying to them, "It’s time to go back to Ai and let’s try this again."
Are we willing to try again after we are defeated? People will say, "I’m not willing to trust anyone ever again. My friends betrayed me. I can’t risk it." But if we claim the victory and refocus on God, we can overcome any previous defeat. We can learn to be overcomers as we put these two spiritual principles into practice. How do we do this? You have to know how to take authority over the things that are trying to defeat you. When you pray, say, "I take authority over________ and I claim victory over it in the name of Jesus. Speak to your mountain. I expect to overcome this in the Name of Jesus. We’ve got to lay claim on things as if we are setting our feet down on the ground. That’s what Joshua did and at different times the Lord would say, "every place the sole of your feet steps is yours." This was their way of laying claim on the territory. This is how they possessed it. We’ve got to be bold in putting this spiritual principle into practice. "I claim the victory over this habit, over this depression, this problem in the name of Jesus."
The second principle is to REFOCUS ON GOD. Get your eyes off the defeat and the past situation. How do you want this situation to be?
ILLUSTRATION: Mary Ellen Withrow ,who became Treasurer of the US, said her family had a rough time when she was growing up. Her mother would always tell her to look at a bad situation and say, “How do you want this situation to be?” This was her way of getting past the bad situations.
It doesn’t always have to drag you down over and over again. When you look and focus on past defeat it drags you down all over again. You have laid claim on victory over it--now, Get your eyes off the problem and refocus on God who can bring it to pass. That’s what these people did.
Song: Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
2. LISTEN CAREFULLY: The next thing he told them in verse 4 was "Listen Carefully." (vs 8:4). A different strategy was to be used in taking Ai from what was used for Jericho. Sometimes God changes his methods for doing things. God is creative and He knew exactly what would work in this town. Today God is blessing so many varied ministries. There is a freshness today that we have needed for many years. Many people are finding the Lord through "side door" ministries of the church--not-traditional ministries. They might not come to the tradional Sunday morning worship service, but they are receptive to other ways we present the changeless good news. God gives strategies to those who seek Him and LISTEN to what He is trying to say to us. When we listen and then are willing to attempt them by faith, we will see results. Our goal should be to let the Holy Spirit lead us in the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Let us not be guilty of saying, "It’s always been done this way and we can’t change." This is the only RIGHT way. Let us be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s direction.