You Are An Overcomer!

We all have a past that we need to overcome. If we dwell on our past, our insecurities, our
inadequacies, and our failures and sins, we will sell ourselves short and hinder what God
wants to do in us. There are many people in the Bible that we can identify with that also
had a past to overcome. Even the Apostle Paul had a past to overcome, and he wrote two-
thirds of the New Testament.

Paul writes in Philippians 3:12-16, “ 12  Not that I have already attained, or am already
perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold
of me. 13  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting
those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  14  I
press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think
otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  16  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have
already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. (NKJV)

I really like the way it reads in the Peterson Translation, The Message. It’s pretty
straightforward and easy to under stand.

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made.
But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has
so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong:
By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got
my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.
I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 15-16  So let’s keep
focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.
If any of you have something else in mind, something less than
total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet!
Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.” (Phil 4:12-16 MSG)

You don’t have to have it all figured out to start moving out in what God is calling you to do.
You don’t have to know everything and be an expert on all biblical subjects. Your testimony
alone is very powerful! By sharing what God has done in your life can tremendously impact
another person. Even sharing the simple story of how Jesus died for our sins and that God
loves us and wants to have a relationship with us is a great place to start! We can all do
that.

Paul goes on to say in Philippians 4:11-13, “ 11  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have
learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  12  I know how to be abased, and I know how
to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry,
both to abound and to suffer need.  13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens
me.”

It doesn’t matter where you are or what station of life you are in life, you can do all things
through Christ who strengthens you! Remember, before Paul came to Christ he persecuted
the church relentlessly. He had quite the past as Saul of Tarsus! Saul even consented to the
stoning of Stephen.

In Acts 8:1-3 it says, “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great
persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered
throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  2  And devout men carried
Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3  As for Saul, he made havoc of
the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”

It also says in Acts 9:1-2, “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the
disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest  2  and asked letters from him to the synagogues
of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he
might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

Paul was persecuting the Christians because he thought they were heretics or some
religious cult trying to destroy Judaism. Paul thought he was doing God a favor. He was
very sincere about stamping out this “new religion,” but he was sincerely wrong! That’s
why Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Saul had such an encounter with
Christ that it changed his life forever!

No matter what practices you’ve been involved in in the past, you can be untangled from it
through the blood of Jesus Christ! Whatever your background is, you can start afresh and
new in Jesus Christ! Maybe you were entangled in the occult. Maybe you were involved in
gangs. Maybe you’ve made a pact or covenant with the devil. Maybe you’ve been entangled
with tarot cards and Curanderos or witchcraft. Whatever it’s been, the powerful blood of
Jesus Christ can set you free and transform your life!

It says in Colossians 2:13-15, “ 13  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the
uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all
trespasses, 14  having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which
was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the
cross.  15  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them,
triumphing over them in it.

All of your pass mistakes and sins, and all your failures have been nailed to the cross when
Jesus died for you. It even says Isaiah 28:18 that “Your covenant with death will be
annulled, And your agreement with Sheol will not stand.” Whatever covenant you think
you’ve made with the devil, it can be annulled by the blood of Jesus!

When Paul first came to Christ he had some skeptics in his life. The Jews didn’t want to
have anything to do with him now that he was a follower of “The Way.” The Christians
weren’t too sure about him either. They were afraid of him thinking he might just be using
this “Christianity thing” as a way to get close to them to be able to arrest them.

In Acts 9:26-27 it states “when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples;
but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.  27  But Barnabas
took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the
Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at
Damascus in the name of Jesus.

I’m sure Paul felt at times he didn’t fit anywhere. Maybe you feel the same way…. Your old
friends don’t want to be around you because you’re different now, and you don’t fully feel
accepted or comfortable around Christians yet…. But know, right now, you are accepted in
Christ!!!! You’ve been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ! Know that you have been
chosen by Christ Himself! Ephesians 1:3-7 says, “ 3  Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in
Christ,  4  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be
holy and without blame before Him in love,  5  having predestined us to adoption as sons by
Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,  6  to the praise of the glory
of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. 7  In Him we have redemption
through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace….

We cannot continue to dwell on our past. We can no longer allow our past to dictate our
future! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I could go through the Bible this morning from the Old Testament to the New Testament
and extract example after example of God’s men and women who had a checkered past, or
had a hard life, or those who grew up with terrible circumstances who overcame with
God’s help!

Take Moses for example: At age 40 he murdered an Egyptian who was beating one of the
Hebrew slaves and took matters into his own hands. It says in Exodus 2:11-15, “ 11  Now it
came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and
looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his
brethren.  12  So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the
Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13  And when he went out the second day, behold, two
Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you
striking your companion?” 14  Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do
you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this
thing is known!”  15  When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses
fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.”

Moses stayed in the desert for 40 more years and at age 80 God called him to deliver His
people. Moses almost didn’t go. He felt like a failure. He was fearful. He thought no one
would listen to him. He didn’t think he could speak well…. He had a lot of excuses, but
Moses had to put his trust in God and overcome his past to move forward.

And how about the woman at the well. This woman had been divorced 5 times and now
was just living with a man. I’m sure this woman was beat down emotionally from all of
these failed relationships. She probably had a lot of baggage to overcome. But when she
received the Living Water of Christ through salvation, she immediately went out and
brought others to Christ! I’m sure this woman had a bad reputation around town, but
through Christ she was able to overcome.
It says of her in John 4:28-29, “ 28  The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the
city, and said to the men,  29  “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could
this be the Christ?”  30  Then they went out of the city and came to Him. And it goes on to say
in John 4:39-41, “ 39  And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the
word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”  40  So when the Samaritans
had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.  41  And
many more believed because of His own word.

What about Joseph? This kid had the worst teenage years you could imagine! He was hated
by his older brothers and they sold him into slavery! Potiphar bought him as a house slave
and then Potiphar’s wife came on to him and he refused to be seduced by her. So in
retaliation she claimed he made advances toward her. So her husband Potiphar through
him in prison! If anyone had a right to be bitter and full of hate, it would have been Joseph.
But because he remained faithful to God he was promoted to second in command over all
Egypt! (Gen 39-45)

Maybe you had a terrible upbringing. Maybe you’ve suffered injustice. Maybe you went to
jail unfairly or maybe you did break the law and you had to pay the price, but that does not
have to define who you are! It’s never too late to start over! God is merciful and very
gracious!

When we come to Christ, we got to let the past go! If we don’t, the past will hang on us like
a ball and chain. Remember, you are a new creation in Christ! So what if people don’t want
to accept the new you, they didn’t accept Paul at first either. It took a little time, but he
didn’t quit and give up! We cannot allow our old mindsets to hold us back any longer. We
must release the past and move forward laying it all aside! We must crucify the victim
mentality! We must press on toward the high calling of God!

If you think God can’t use you, think about this:

Noah got drunk, Abraham and Sarah were too old, Jacob was a liar, Leah was unloved, Joseph
was abused, Moses stuttered, Gideon was afraid, Samson was a womanizer, Rehab was a
prostitute, Tamar was raped, Timothy was too young, David had an affair and committed
murder, Elijah was suicidal, Jonah ran from God, Naomi was a widow, Job lost everything,
Peter denied Christ, the Disciples fell asleep while praying, Martha was a worrier, The
Samaritan woman was divorced 5 times, Zacchaeus was too short, Paul was imprisoned, and
Mary Magdalene had 7 demons!

These were all imperfect people that God used for his honor and glory! If God can use them,
He can use YOU!

 

Be Encouraged,
Pastor Joanna

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