Thoughts to Ponder

Do you have victory?

About a month ago I felt led my the Holy Spirit to place a page concerning suicide on my website. I called it "Contemplating Suicide?" I gave people who might be thinking of suicide some questions to answer to themselves, such as what happens after they die.

Once again God had a surprise in store for me. I did not think that I would get much response from the page, but out of obedience I posted it anyway. Soon after it was posted I started getting e-mails from people, sometimes as many as two or three per day. These are people who for one reason or another are contemplating ending their lives. What a sad state our society is in that so many people would want to end their lives.

I try to answer every message I get. I won't address anything the person said until I address their spiritual state. I give them a quick overview of salvation and then address the points that they made in their message to me. I do this because I believe that all problems start with sin and end with the cross of Christ. Without Christ a person will never be free of the sin and pain of this world.

To my amazement approximately 50% of those who write me back tell me that they are Christians! How can this be? How can Christians in such great numbers be contemplating suicide?

As we all know many people call themselves Christians without any real understanding of who Jesus Christ is, much less ever placing any faith in Him and asking Him to be their Savior. However, when I write back and address this point, these people who claim to be Christians tell me that they have placed their faith in Jesus. What in the world is going on?

That is not all of the story. In some of my past devotionals, I have addressed 'ministries' which I feel are unbiblical. For instance the casting out of demons from believers; Theophostic prayer, where the person is lead back in their memory looking for pain and denouncing that pain, etc... These kinds of ministries are so prevalent today in the church that I would be surprised if your church or at least someone in your church is not involved with them. Or classes like "Search for Significance," where the person is told their problem is the lies they have been told all their lives. They are told that they can't trust God and really understand His love for them, until they start to love themselves. They are told as Christians that their problems are due to old standing lies that Satan has planted in their minds, some going all the way back to the womb.

I know I will step on feet with this devotional, but I must speak what God puts on my heart. I have many friends who live a defeated life. They (now remember I am speaking of Christians) walk around bemoaning the sad state of their lives. They have 'issues' that they need to deal with. They have past hurts that keep them from living a victorious life in Christ. Their faces are almost always downcast.

I have to wonder, am I the only one to whom they appear miserable? What about the non-believers they work with? What about the non-believing family members they are praying will accept Christ as their savior? What kind of witness are these people presenting to the unbelieving world? Who wants to be a Christian if this is the life Christians live?

Many non-believers think they are doing just fine. They enjoy their lifestyle. Oh, they know there is something missing, but maybe it is just that they need more money to buy more toys. Maybe they don't have enough of what the world has to offer. Then they see a Christian who tells them that what they need is Jesus Christ. So they watch that Christian and what do they see but a person with a long face and more troubles then that guy Job in the Bible.

So what is going on? Doesn't the Bible teach that we as Christians have overcome the world? (1 John 5:3-5 NIV) This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, {4} for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. {5} Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. "Everyone born of God overcomes the world!"

What is the one thing that all humans fear more then anything else? Death: (1 Corinthians 15:55-58 NIV) "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" {56} The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. {57} But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. {58} Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

So again I ask, what is going on? Why are Christians today, so feeble? Could it be that for one we are too self centered? Everything is about us. We even preach the gospel so that it appeals to self. We preach what Jesus will do for the person. We preach how much God loves everyone. There is nothing wrong with teaching about God's love. He does love everyone, or He would not have sent Jesus to die for us, however, if we don't also teach that we as sinners are under the holy wrath of a just and holy God, then we are missing half the story. It is not only the good things that God will do for us, it is the only way for us to avoid punishment for our sins. We should not be salesmen selling a new and improved gospel. We should be warning people that no matter how bad their lives are here on earth they will be inconceivably worse for eternity if they don't ask God to forgive them and wash them with the Blood of the Lamb.

I think we are often downcast about the minor problems in this life because we forget the 'good news,' that we have had our death sentence commuted, another has been put to death in our place! If we remembered that maybe all those terrible problems we face everyday would seem more like what they are, minor inconveniences. Do you realize that most problems will go away without you doing anything? Without prayer, without action, without even thinking about them, most problems will work themselves out. I am not trying to say that people don't have real problems, even problems of life and death, because I know they do, but I am saying that most of our problems are minor.

It is amazing to watch a Christian who is dying of cancer or other disease. Often their faith will strengthen and they will start living day by day in God's grace. I have a close friend who was diagnosed with cancer. I try to encourage her, but I find that most times I am the one who walks away encouraged. She is not ready to go to heaven quite yet. She wants to watch her children and her grandchildren grow. She wants what we all want. The difference is that she has placed her life and her trust in God. He is in control of her life. If you did not know that she had cancer, you would not be able to tell by looking at her actions or her face. She has victory! She knows that she has already crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24 NIV) "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. Could it be that when our lives are on the line we finally begin to see what our salvation was really about? It was not about making us comfortable and happy in this life. It was about securing a place with God in the next life.

We all have things in our past which come back to our minds. We have all sinned, and been sinned against in our past (although in reality all sin is an offense against God). We have all been treated unfairly at least in our own minds. Many people have not had wonderful, fulfilling childhoods. We were all born into a fallen, evil world. Yet we all also have another thing in common, if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are new creatures. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! That old life, those old hurts and pains were left with the old dead self at the foot of the cross. Or at least they should have been left there. That does not mean that you won't have to face some of those things. For instance, I was surprised how vivid my memories were of my time on the Sheriff's Department while dealing with the people who are contemplating suicide. One emotion that flooded over me momentarily was the feeling of utter despair and hopelessness. I have felt those emotions in the past. As I tried to answer several of the e-mails I received, I felt those emotions welling up in me, but it was different. They were distant memories of a time gone by. They were vivid memories and they helped me have compassion on the people I was writing because I knew what they were going through, however, those emotions no longer had any claim or hold on me. There was nothing that I needed to go back and relive or deal with. In fact those emotions brought a joy to my heart and thanks to my lips because I had freedom from them by the Blood of Jesus Christ!

Notice what the Bible tells us: (Romans 6:4-7 NIV) We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. {5} If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. {6} For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--{7} because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. We are free and should no longer be slaves to sin. If as Christians we are still bound in chains by the sins of the past whether they are our sins or the sins of others, then we have not gotten what Jesus paid for!! We have cheapened His work on the cross! He said: (John 19:30 NIV) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. It was finished!

How can a Christian say they don't understand how much God loves them because they have low self-esteem? No matter how low a persons self-esteem is they can understand what it means for someone to die for them. We can all read the story of a father who dies saving his child's life and we understand that. We can understand how much that father must have loved that child to give up his life. That is on a human level. Then add to that the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts showing us the love of Christ. Yet we have the audacity to claim we can't understand God's love for us, even though we say we understand that He sent His only Son to die for us? We say we have to feel better about ourselves before we can understand God's love! Or that we need to forgive God first and get that off our chests so we feel good about ourselves, then we can understand God's love for us! Oh how the angels must wonder why God extends grace to us!!

If you have issues that you need to deal with, take them to the foot of the cross and let Jesus take them from you. If you deal with them yourself, then you are saying that Christ did not free you. It takes trust to allow God to take those old pains and hurts and not look back at them anymore. It takes denying self also, because you will have to quit being a victim and start being a victor. We all claim we don't want to be victims, but that is a lie. We often enjoy being the victim, it give us an excuse for our actions: "Well you know I was abused when I was young..." "I wasn't loved as a child, so I have trouble loving..." "I have always had low self-esteem so I made up for it by doing bad things..." "I have had such a bad life, I just don't want to live anymore..."

Do you have victory? If not go back to the cross and pick it up!

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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