The Faith to be Victorious, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, December 24, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Have you ever been in a situation where you were losing badly and it was going to take a miracle to bounce back and win? If you’re a sports fan like me, your mind might automatically move toward a number of miraculous finishes, especially from college and professional football. I can think of half a dozen that I either witnessed myself or heard about from years gone by. The one that most quickly comes to mind is one that happened well before I was born. Because I grew up in a family of fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I learned about the play known as the Immaculate Reception at a very young age. The Steelers got a very lucky bounce on the play and came away with an absolutely unthinkable 60-yard touchdown reception in the final half-minute to win a playoff game that would have belonged to the Raiders. NFL Films chose the play as the greatest play of all time. Without that miracle, the Steelers’ season was over.

But let’s be honest, some of you reading this are in danger of losing a whole lot more than a meaningless football game. As big of a miracle as that was for Pittsburgh Steelers fans like my family members, it meant NOTHING in the long run. They lost the very next week to the Dolphins and their season was just as over as it would’ve been a week earlier. All this miracle did was delay the inevitable for a week. Some of you need a miracle to keep you from losing your job, your marriage, your children, your mind, or even your faith in God.

The good news is that those who need a miracle are in the same company as the nation of Israel, and truthfully the whole world, which was losing big-time and in desperate need of a miracle 2,000 years ago. They had been promised an anointed Messiah who would come and save them from their misery. The ancient prophets had been speaking about God’s truth and his promises for centuries. But then, all of a sudden, the prophecies ended with Malachi, and a period of 400-500 years that became known as “the silent years” ensued. During that time, there were no known prophets, no direct prophecies about the Messiah, and frankly, not much hope. The Jews were ruled by the Persians at the start of those years and the Romans by the end of them. Those ruling nations were not exactly caring and compassionate. It was a brutal time for the Jews, and they had to wonder if God had ever been real, if he was good, and if he would do what he promised.

As Christians remember and celebrate every year at this time, and especially tonight as the clock strikes midnight, the last-second miracle that saved the Jews and a dark, hurting world came in the form of a baby born to a virgin named Mary. This truly was an “immaculate conception," and it brought a much bigger victory than an NFL playoff game. Before anyone accuses me of heresy, I understand that the official doctrine of Immaculate Conception has to do with the birth of Mary, not Jesus. But those of us who believe God’s Word, which says in Luke 1:31-37 that Mary would conceive and gift birth to a son by the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowing her, can establish that Jesus’ birth was truly miraculous.

We are told in Matthew 1:21 that Jesus’ parents were commanded to name him as such because he would “save the people from their sins." “Jesus” is the English form of the Greek Iesous, which comes from the Hebrew Yehoshua or Yeshua, which is also where we get the English “Joshua." All of these names, along with several other Old Testament names, can be translated to mean “the Lord saves." Even his very name is there to remind us that he alone holds the keys to victory, but we have to be willing to put our trust in him even when time is almost running out and we are desperately in need of a miracle to keep us from losing everything. If you have been waiting for God to bring you a miracle to save you but you’re losing hope fast, I urge you to stand firm in your waiting and to find comfort in the final words the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary in the traditional Christmas passage I quoted above. Luke 1:37 tells us that he said, “For no word from God will ever fail." That’s an ironclad guarantee, no matter the circumstances.

I’ll get into the story more next week, but a man with basically the same name as Jesus was able to lead the Israelites to a great and miraculous victory over Jericho in the land of Canaan, which was the land promised to the Israelites, by simply believing that God’s commands would never fail. Joshua, son of Nun, had been Moses’ longtime servant, but when Moses was prohibited from entering the Promised Land as a consequence for his sin, God called Joshua to be the one to take the Israelites the rest of the way. But it wasn’t going to be easy. In fact, the odds would be stacked against them just as they had been ever since God rescued them from Egypt. Then again, it depends on how you view odds. With both Joshua in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament, the WORLDLY odds were stacked against them. Joshua and the Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness looking for a home while they could still be routed by anyone who sought to defeat them. Jesus came as a baby, to a very poor young woman and her husband-to-be, in a dirty manger outside of Bethlehem. But when you add the power of the One who made the universe out of what we can’t even see (Hebrews 11:3), the odds are greatly shifted. In fact, the enemies have NO SHOT!

Jesus was God in the flesh, but for those who only believed what they could see and had been waiting for a mighty warrior to ride in and conquer their enemies, he was a less-than-ordinary baby who wasn’t all that impressive. Only if he truly was “the Lord saves” could he bring a victory to a losing world. Joshua was a courageous leader, but it’s not like he had access to all the chariots and horses he would need to kick butt and take names in Canaan. He and the people of Israel could only be victorious if they trusted in something far beyond themselves, the unfailing word of the Lord who had promised them that victory. When the odds seemed to be against them and they desperately needed a miracle, would they try to take control or surrender fully to the One who could save them? Hebrews 11:30 tells us that the walls of the city of Jericho fell only AFTER they followed the Lord’s seemingly ridiculous command to march around the city for seven days. We’ll dig more into the Old Testament description of that event and the things that led up to it next week. For now, rest in knowing that it is the Lord who saves and brings the victory in all situations. The birth of Jesus is the best reminder and the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho is a close second. For whatever miraculous victory you desperately need in your life, believe that the Word of God will NEVER fail!

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