Saturday March 27 – Day 39 – I HAVE OVERCOME
Saturday March 27 – Day 39 – I HAVE OVERCOME
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NIV)
I can’t believe that 39 days (well actually, a little MORE than 39 days for me) have already passed since deciding to write this series of daily devotions. I hope they have been a source of encouragement to you during Lent and that it has helped you to draw closer to Jesus.
One of my favourite songs to worship to is Charlie Hall’s “I Have Overcome”. At the time when I first heard the album, I had just started working at James Street in my position as worship pastor. As an album, “On the Road to Beautiful” didn’t really grab me on the first listen. However, as I gave it a few more spins and I began to focus on the words, the album became a source of inspiration and fuel for my personal worship times. One of my most cherished moments was putting the CD on in a very very large American SUV (first time driving one ever) tackling the rush hour multi lane Atlanta highways. I was traveling from the airport to the hotel, getting lost in the process (I don’t believe in 2003 I had access to a GPS – how things have changed!). Putting on the CD and hearing that opening piano ostinato that begins this song, I began to breathe and to relax as Charlie sung these words:
“And I can see that my hands are trembling, I can see that my legs are weak
I can see that my head is spinning, but I will overcome
And I know that my heart is hurting, And I know that my soul it aches
And I know that it seems I’m failing, but I will overcome, yeah”
I was in a city called Alpharetta just outside Atlanta for the very first LIFT worship conference led by the Passion team. It was my first time hearing Louie Giglio and met both Matt Redman and Charlie Hall on that trip. It was also the trip where the majority of the songs from the Surrendering…Everything album were started or written completely. It was a real time of renewal and healing from a time that I did my best to live my life and ignore God in the process.
Throughout this entire season of Lent, we have been tested and blessed. We have been agitated and we have been calmed. We have been frustrated and we have been enlightened. And though it all, God has been in the details. He has walked with us, cried with us, carried us when our anxieties began to shut us down. That is why it is so important to read this passage at the end of the book of John to remind us the importance of Lent:
If Jesus had never said yes to God, we would be without hope and without peace.
If Jesus had never said yes to God, we would await punishment and death for our sins.
Jesus tells his disciples prior to verse 33 that they will all be scattered and although they will leave Jesus alone, He has the Father and the Father is with Him. He then continues and shares with the disciples that this truth (Jesus being with the Father) would bring peace to the followers. It meant that what God said He would do has been completed perfectly. Mission accomplished. Sin has been defeated. We no longer have to live in fear or to await our punishment. Jesus has taken all of this on His shoulders because He said yes to the Father.
In saying yes, we can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world!
Jesus has overcome every obstacle He faced for us because He loves us. He lived in obedience to His Father, which He calls every single one of us to do. He reminds us that God is not the stereotypical judgemental figure with grey hair and a long beard that likes to torture us from above. God is not the sadistic ruler who would rather see us suffer.
In fact, quite the opposite.
Who would give up their own son to a violent and humiliating death if they wanted the human race to suffer? God, in His infinite wisdom, wanted to show us just how much He loves us. He showed us what it means to surrender everything in order to do what is right. He models that for us. And although God could have simply said “I’m done with these people” and allowed us to die without a chance of everlasting life, He said, “I Am”.
In doing so, Jesus was able to overcome the world.
Jesus overcame death and the natural order of the world to rise again. His transformational resurrection from death to life has overcome everything we know about our natural world. And for this, we need to take heart!
Some translations use the term “cheer up”, “be of good cheer”, “be of good comfort”, “courageous/courage”, “encouraged”, “trust ye”, “brave” “take hope”, “be glad”, “you need not fear”, and “never lose heart”.
Of all of those terms, I love “never lose heart” (Phillips). I love this because it sums up the road we have traveled these 39 days: in the wilderness that we face in this lifetime, we are to never lose heart, because Jesus has saved us.
We are to never lose heart, because Jesus knows what we are facing, He understands, and makes a way for us in all situations EVEN during our own end of life journey.
We are to never lose heart because God has not abandoned or forsaken us. He is here, in this Lenten journey, desiring that we walk this road with Jesus from the triumphal entry to the empty tomb. Now that we have taken almost 40 days to prepare our hearts, now Jesus’ gift to us actually means something to us.
We have taken His gift to heart and it has changed us.
Jesus’ gift is not meant to be hidden but rather we are called to share this gift with the world around us. By showing the fruits of the Spirit in your daily lives, the world begins to see how amazing Jesus truly is and that He has overcome the world for everyone.
Jesus loves us, so we too, shall overcome any circumstance in our lives.
The song “I Will Overcome” ends as a prayer from Charlie to God:
“God listen to me shout, I’m so far from anywhere and I’m calling out
Lead me, lead me to the rock that is higher than I
You’re my breath, You’re my breath, You’re my very life
Infinite, Holy King meets weak and frail Christ in me
And I will overcome not by my strength but by Your grace and love”
The truth of the Lenten journey is this: we will overcome not by our strength but by the grace and love of God alone. When we begin to TRUST these words, as we imprint them on our hearts and begin to live out what it means to overcome, we are ready for what comes next. We are ready for the moment that Jesus is betrayed by Judas. We are ready for the moment that He is denied by Peter. We are ready for the centurion to see Jesus for who He really is. We are ready to deal with the pain and suffering Jesus endured on our behalf and it leads us to the promise of the empty tomb.
You are ready for Easter because He has overcome the world. He has overcome YOUR world and you are ready to enter in.
Church, never lose heart. Jesus has overcome so that you might live an amazing and spirit filled life serving others and sharing His grace and love to all.
Tomorrow will be our last prayer in the series and then I will have a daily devotional based on the events of the week leading to Calvary. Thank you for joining me in this journey and I pray that you will overcome all the obstacles you face by leaning on God’s grace and love. Join us tomorrow for our Palm Sunday online gathering at 10:30 a.m. See you tomorrow!