Do you want to be a winner?
Question: "How many people here like/love to win?
-Do you like winning while playing sports, or cards, perhaps bowling, or even winning a friendly argument? Does anyone here like to lose?
This is basically how 'the world' teaches us to think and act from childhood ... 'No one likes a loser!' ... 'Have some pride in yourself!' ... 'Win at all cost! Don't have any mercy on your opponent until you defeat him or her!' 'Look, if she doesn't see it your way, dump her!' Or, 'If he doesn't want to do it your way, get rid of him!' 'It's my way or the highway.' And some people actually live by Frank Sinatra's song: "I did it my way."
-What about illness? Does anyone here enjoy being sick? Flu, strep throat, pneumonia? Does anyone here like to suffer from emotional problems or what I call, 'Spiritual diseases of the heart?': Bitterness, anger, envy, unforgiveness, jealousy, hatred, hypocrisy or anxiety, just to name a few of the spiritual diseases? Does any of this sound familiar?
I have been a Christian for over three decades, but it wasn't until the last few years that I learned to truly win ... God's way. The world's way just doesn't cut it in the long term ... it leads to loss and defeat. Yes, in the eyes of the world, you will win some and lose some. But, in the end, it's all loss. Even for the rich and famous. Even for the ones with tremendous abundance in this life. If they do it their way, they will eventually lose it all ... especially a trip to Heaven.
How many of the world's wealthy say to themselves, "I'm set for life." "I can retire at 50, travel the world, buy fancy cars and a nice big house." But, what did Jesus teach of this kind of talk?
(Luke 12: 13-21) The Parable of the Rich Fool
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And He told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 The man thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then the man said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded (taken) from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
What about the employee who consistently tells his boss he is right and his boss is wrong about how to do things at work? What about the husband or wife who continually criticizes and demands of the other convinced he or she is right regarding a matter and just won't back down? No mercy! The end is usually termination of employment or a bitter divorce with emotional upheaval. Is this a win or a loss for that person? What does the Bible teach us about this type of person who won't back down due to pride?
Prov 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty (proud) spirit before a fall." (In other words, too much pride and arrogance will destroy you.)
Prov 16:25 "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
I Peter 5:5-6 "Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility (not pride), for 'God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." God will NOT help the one who is proud in spirit! God hates pride.
In Luke 18:10-14, who does the Bible tell us God forgave, the religious Pharisee or the tax collector? “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified (forgiven) rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself (prideful) will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is God showing us HIS way to win!!!
The Bible tells us in Isaiah 55:8-10,
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
And in I Cor 2:16 we read, "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?"
My wife and I recently moved into a newly constructed home. Several problems have already surfaced. But, the worst is a continually flowing artesian well that was flooding the front yard dangerously close to the community electrical service. The accumulated water already uprooted a very large tree not too far from our roof. My neighbor and I set up a temporary solution but the guy who installed the well refuses to call me back after three calls to him even though it is turning into an emergency situation. Now how do I fight this? I went to the municipality, the county and the DNR. No one took responsibility for this artesian well. Each told me they have no jurisdiction over a well. It's no one's fault. It's the ground. So, how does God want me to fight given these road blocks? Do I do what the world suggests? Get so angry that I threaten the guy? Get physical? Start a costly lawsuit? Do I go to God in prayer asking God to harm this man for not taking responsibility? The Bible tells us that "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay says the Lord." NO! I have to fight this God's Way so that I will come out the winner:
1) I must go to God in prayer asking God to change the man's heart, so the man will do the right thing and fix the well.
2) I have to CONSCIOUSLY humble myself in spite of the anger I feel towards the man asking God to take my anger away. My anger only hurts me. The well guy could care less as to how upset I am with him.
3) The Bible also instructs us in Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
So, I will NOT give in to any anger or anxiety regarding this situation. I know God will take care of it because it is His promise to me and to all who trust in Him.
The world laughs at how I am fighting this battle after I went through the proper channels. The world tells me to get angry and take vengeance on the well guy! That's because it says in I Cor 2:14,
" But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." So, without God's spirit that dwells in each believer, those of 'the world' cannot understand this way of spiritual battle! The Bible also teaches us in Exodus 14:14,
NIV: "The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."
New Living Translation: "The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."
English Standard Version: "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."
Does this mean God will fight for everyone? NO! God promises to fight for all who obey, who love and who trust in Him.
I finally learned to fight God's Way. How? By 'dying daily to the flesh and to self.'
1) Dying daily to fleshly desires that are contrary to God's Word,
2) Giving my neighbor preferential treatment over me when appropriate,
3) Not keeping company with people who disobey God's commandments,
4) Reading God's instruction manual and praying regularly.
I have a plaque hanging on my den wall with a quote from the Greek philospher, Aristotle: It says, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."
This quote can also be applied to our Christian walk ... pray, read the Bible and walk with God on a daily basis. Then, the Christian walk becomes embedded into our thinking that will renew our mind, our heart, our very soul so that when trouble or adversity comes: "WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED. WE SHALL NOT BE SHAKEN! "