How to Be an Overcomer

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How to Be an Overcomer

Philippians 4:4-9

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Oct. 7, 2012

*Pastor Steve Brown tells about a car he saw one day on the way home. It was the ugliest car he had ever seen. Steve said this car wasn't just ugly. It was ugly on top of ugly. That car had a big gash on one side and one door was held together with wire. Several other body parts were almost completely rusted out. The car's muffler was so loose that it hit the street with every bump, sending sparks flying in every direction. Steve couldn’t tell the original color, because the rust was so bad, and so much of the car had been painted over with different colors.

*But the most interesting thing about the car was the bumper sticker. It said: “This is not an abandoned car.” (1)

*Christians: Sometimes we may feel just about as junked up as that car. But God has not abandoned us. He wants us to be overcomers.

*In John 10:10, Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” And in Romans 8:35-37, Paul said:

35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36. As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.''

37. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

*Christians: God wants us to live in victory.

-And in these verses, God gives us 4 ways to be overcomers.

1. First: Direct your delight to the Lord.

*Or as Paul said in vs. 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

*Now when you think about who Jesus Christ is, and all that He has done for us, it’s mind-boggling that we have to be reminded to rejoice in the Lord. But Paul stressed rejoicing 7 times in this short letter.

*We can’t always rejoice in our health or our looks.

-We can’t always rejoice in our finances, our family, our jobs, or our grades.

-We can’t always rejoice in our houses, our cars, our toys, or our accomplishments.

-But we can always rejoice in the Lord!

*Jesus wants to be our source of constant joy.

-God wants us to have a nonstop celebration of the Lord in our lives.

-And it’s important to remember that when Paul wrote these words he had been a prisoner of Rome, -- bound in chains possibly as long as 4 years.

*Paul’s only crime was telling the truth about Jesus Christ. And in Phil 2:27, Paul tells us that he almost had sorrow on top of sorrow. Paul could have been filled with bitterness. But he overflowed with the joy of the Lord. And we can too!

*Our hands are not in chains today. And we are blessed far more than most people in the world. But if all of that was taken away, we would still have grace, we would still have Heaven, and we would still have Jesus!

*I really like this story about Professor William Phelps. He taught English Literature at Yale from 1892-1933. One year Dr. Phelps was grading tests shortly before Christmas, and he saw a note that a student had written next to a tough question on the test. The student had said, “Only God knows the answer to this question. Merry Christmas.”

*The professor returned the test with his own note under the student’s comment. Dr. Phelps wrote, “God gets an A. -- You get an F. Happy New Year.” (2)

*I like that statement: “God gets an A.” When your world is falling apart and nothing seems to be going your way, God gets an A! Forever and always, God gets an A! He is wonderful all the time, so we can rejoice all the time in His goodness, love and grace.

*One of the best ways to overcome is direct your delight to the Lord.

2. But also take your troubles to the Lord.

*This is God’s message to us in vs. 6&7, where Paul said:

6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

*Here God gives us 6 great ways to pray:

[1] First, pray confidently: Paul said “Be anxious for nothing.”

[2] Also pray consistently: Paul said to pray “in everything.”

[3] And pray earnestly: Paul mentioned both “prayer and supplication.”

*That word “prayer” means “asking.” -- But this word was only used to describe asking God for help. So it includes the dimensions of worship and reverence, plus the understanding that there are some needs that only God can supply.

*“Supplication” also means asking for help, but the root word is “to bind”. So, there is a great strength here, like binding ourselves with chains to our purpose in prayer. But also binding ourselves to God and His perfect will, no matter how He may choose to answer.

*Supplication takes prayer into high gear. It is praying with urgency.

-Pray earnestly.

[4] But also pray thankfully: Paul says to pray with “thanksgiving.”

[5] And pray simply: “Let your requests be made known unto God.” We don’t have to use fancy language. -- Just ask.

[6] And pray expectantly, because God promises to do great things when we pray. He will even give us His peace that passes all understanding.

*I have seen this countless times over the years. And again this past week, when Miss Thelma told me they could feel themselves being lifted up by our prayers

*God has given countless people His peace that passes understanding, and He will give it to us. So, tell Him what’s on your heart. Tell Him with a trusting, thankful heart.

6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

*One of the best ways to overcome is take your troubles to the Lord.

3. But also turn your thoughts to the good things of God.

*As Paul said in vs. 8: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things.”

*“Meditate on.” That means “keep thinking on” these good things.

-Paul is telling us here that we have to be intentional.

-We have to keep giving attention to the good and Godly things in life.

*Paul knew that our tendency is to focus on the negative things in life.

-And he knew that focusing on the positive is good for us.

-Focusing on the positive things in life helps us to keep the right perspective.

*And as Christians, we have so much good to focus on! -- Paul gives us 8 examples in this one verse.

[1] Focus on things that are true. This world is full of lies, but we have the truth right here in the Word of God. And if Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, we have the truth living in our hearts, the truth that sets us free!

[2] Also focus on things that are honest or noble. The root word picture is “holy.” This means we are moving our thoughts away from worldly things, and moving them toward Godly things.

[3] Also focus on things that are just or right: This means our duty.

[4] And focus on things that are pure. Again the root word is “holy.” And Paul is talking here about moral purity.

[5] Focus also on things that are lovely. It’s the word picture of kissing towards someone. One author said, “Lovely is found only here in the NT and has the meaning of being attractive or lovable.”

[6] Also focus on good reports. It’s easy for Christians to find good reports, because God is always at work in His world, and because God’s people so often shine the light of Jesus.

*Randy Aly gave the good report of a mailman who shined the light of Jesus on his route one day. The story starts with lady who was a Christian, but she was very backslidden, and her husband had never come to faith in Christ.

*When they moved to a new community, they were visited a couple of times by members of the local church. But this couple rudely said they wanted to be left alone.

*Then one day the wife was looking out the front window, and she saw the postman delivering mail. As she watched him, he stopped right in front of her mail box, and sat down on the curb to eat his lunch. Then the mailman bowed his head and thanked God for his meal.

*The Holy Spirit used that simple act of faith to melt that woman’s heart. She talked to her husband. They decided to go to church. After hearing the sermon, they both came forward. She joined the church, and her husband trusted in Jesus! The next week they brought their parents and they trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord. (3)

*That’s a great report of how God loves to work through His people, even in the simple things.

[7-8] There are countless good reports, virtues, and praiseworthy things going on. But we have to give attention to the good things of God. We have to be intentional. We have to make a conscious effort.

*To a great extent we can choose what we think about. And it makes a big difference when we focus on the good things of life.

*Author Corrie ten Boom survived a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Here’s what she said about keeping the right focus:

“Keep looking up and kneeling down. Then you can keep looking down from the position of Jesus' victory over your problems. He is willing to make you more than a conqueror.

-Look around and be distressed.

-Look within and be depressed.

-Look at Jesus and be at rest.” (4)

*One of the best ways to overcome is to turn your thoughts to the good things of God.

4. But also follow the footsteps of the faithful.

*This is God’s message to us in vs. 9, where Paul said: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these DO, and the God of peace will be with you.”

*We must focus on DOING. That word “do” means to be busy with something, carry on, accomplish, perform, practice. And the idea is that you do these things repeatedly or habitually.

*God wants us to focus on doing. We must focus on putting the Christian life into practice, following the footsteps of Paul and the other Christians who have been an inspiration to us.

*Paul said: “The things which you learned, received, heard and saw in me do and the God of peace will be with you.”

-So, what have we learned?

-What have we received?

-What have we heard and seen?

*Christians we have learned that we are sinners, -- But that God loves us so much He sent His only Son Jesus Christ into the world to live a perfect life and die on the cross for our sins. We have learned that three days later Jesus rose again to give eternal life to everyone who will receive Him as Savior and Lord.

-So we learn to trust in Him. -- Then we live in trust.

-We learn to obey. -- And we live in obedience.

*We live as people who have learned about:

-God’s Love and Life.

-Salvation and Service.

-Our Work and Our Witness.

-Prayer and Priorities.

-Missions and Ministry.

-Hope and Heaven.

-God’s Presence and Power.

*We receive His love. -- And we give His love.

-That’s what we have learned. -- And now we have to do it.

*One of my all-time favorite teachers was Don Wilton. One day in class, Dr. Wilton told us about getting to serve on Billy Graham’s team for a crusade in Korea. And one night, Dr. Wilton got to sit right next to Billy Graham during the invitation.

*Don couldn’t help but notice that Dr. Graham started looking down at his fingernails. And Don thought, “I can’t believe Dr. Graham is so unconcerned about this invitation that he would be studying his nails!”

*Don was getting a little huffy. But just then, Billy Graham pointed to one of the Korean ladies who had come forward to talk to the counselors. And Billy said, “Do you see that lady? She did my nails today, and I was able to lead her to the Lord.”

*Christians, this wonderful, little story reminds us that we can shine for Jesus anywhere at any time:

-When you are getting your nails done.

-When you are getting a haircut.

-When you are giving a haircut.

*God wants us to be doers of His Word when we wake up in the morning, when we lay down at night, and every moment in between:

-At home, at work, at school and at play.

-With your family, your friends and total strangers.

-Keep following the footsteps of the faithful.

*As Paul said in vs. 9: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these DO, and the God of peace will be with you.”

*The first step is to be saved by turning to Jesus and trusting Him as Savior and Lord. Then be an overcoming Christian in the four ways God shows us here:

-Direct your delight to the Lord.

-Take your troubles to the Lord.

-Turn your thoughts to the good things of God.

-And follow the footsteps of the faithful.

*Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.

1. “Jumping Hurdles, Hitting Glitches, Overcoming Setbacks” by Steve Brown” - Colorado Springs: Navpress Publishing Group, 1992 - p. 62

2. Today in the Word, October, 1990, p. 10. MODIFIED - SermonCentral sermon “What Must I Do to Be Saved” by John Baggett - Acts 16:27-34)

3. SermonCentral illustration contributed by Randy Aly


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