He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.(Rev. 21:8)Adverse circumstances can actually lead a Christian away from the faith. We must, therefore, think beyond the grave like the bible heroes with their winning attitude, and live in light of eternity, as we keep following Jesus. We should also remember that we are not alone with life's problems and tests. Many other godly people have gone through the same kinds of experiences, and probably much worse, than we are or will be in. Their winning attitude is most commendable for us to learn from.
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Rev 2:9-11)
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Pet 4:12,13)
Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8)
I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! (Job 16:2)Besides these accusers who came to visit Job, Job's own wife spoke for the devil and suggested that he curse God and die. Imagine that! Job was being hit spiritually and physically from various angles and even his wife was speaking for the devil. In his misery, he wanted to die and even cursed the day of his birth, yet he was still trusting God. Job said in the midst of it all:
How long will you torment me and crush me with words? Ten times now you have reproached me; shamelessly you attack me. (Job 19:2,3)
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him .... (Job 13:15)Perplexed Job didn't know if God was going to kill him or not, but he knew he was going to continue to hope (or trust) in God. This is the kind of winning attitude that endures to the end. Dear reader, when the bottom falls out for you -- NOT if -- remember Job and his words in the midst of his fiery, bewildering trials. Don't buckle under the pressure and pain. Remain true to God. Also remember Job the next time the devil tempts you to have a pity party.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Dan 3:16-18)Those men of courage and bible heroes were ready and willing to go to their death to avoid the sin of idolatry, even one time. That is the winning attitude. God miraculously delivered them from the blazing furnace they were thrown into. That is exciting, but the greater point to ponder was their fidelity to God even when their lives were on the line. May we all remember such examples as wickedness increases and the love of most grows cold (Mt. 24:12) which must first happen to pave the way for the coming antichrist.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. (Dan 6:10,11)It has been estimated that Daniel was in his eighties when this occurred. Part of the lesson for us to remember is, as long as you draw breath into your lungs, regardless how long you have been faithful to God, you will be tested and tried, even to this degree which landed Daniel in the lion's den! God miraculously rescued him after a night in the lion's den. God's judgment came on Daniel's enemies and they were killed by the same lions that wouldn't touch Daniel. Prayer is essential in our spiritual battle against the forces of darkness. Daniel certainly knew this and prayed three times a day, even if his life would be endangered by such. He had the winning attitude and was one of the heroes of the faith!
Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:29)This occurred after they had already been warned to stop teaching about Jesus. This same type of steadfastness and endurance, even when placed in this kind of situation, is what is sometimes needed to enter God's Kingdom and especially to bear much fruit here and now. Remember the Apostles' answer and obey God. Those bible heroes in Acts had that winning attitude.
David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands." (1 Sam 17:45-47)Though we will never face a physical Goliath like David did, we will all face many giant obstacles in this life. We must continue to trust God as we continue to run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Heb. 12:1). Remember David's faith-filled words. Christian life, including self-sacrifice and faithful dedication. He surely was NOT the worst of sinners like some think. He was one of the foremost bible heroes. Notice his commendable winning attitude about not protecting his own natural life at the expense of irresponsibility in ministry:
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24)Paul knew he could possibly not complete the task God gave him, even though it was God's will for him. That was something he surely dreaded and he did everything he could to prevent. Furthermore, he took his ministry responsibilities seriously, unlike the vast majority seem to be doing in ministry today. Instead of spending long hours on the golf course or watching defiling television, today's ministers need to get serious about proclaiming the true gospel of God's grace to as many as they can. What a need, especially when the prevalent version of grace in our day is the dangerous, counterfeit version called once saved always saved. Paul was willing to risk his life to do what God called him to do. We need more like Paul in our day. He certainly had the winning attitude. Any commitment less than this will result in much less than what could be otherwise for God's eternal kingdom. In turn, precious souls will also be adversely affected.
For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." (Mark 6:18)Like other prophets, John declared his message even under risky circumstances. That king was a murderous tyrant, yet John rebuked him because of his sin. Some might say John wasn't very wise to do that, but the Lord gave him the highest endorsement of any person! He certainly was a bible hero.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59, 60)Stephen prayed to Jesus, unlike how a Jehovah's Witness is taught! He also did that at the hour of his death for Jesus to receive his spirit. He did not pray to Mary, the mother of Jesus, like Catholics would have us believe is proper. That is significant, but so is his other prayer to Jesus, that God would not hold the sin of murder against the people who were killing him. Stephen, therefore, is a champion of the faith and example of a public Christian debater and person willing to forgive others who unjustly sinned against him to that degree. Jesus said we must forgive those who sin against us or our sins will not be forgiven (Mt. 6:14,15). What a powerful winning attitude Stephen had, another one of the bible heroes.
After that occurred, the very same brothers who sold him into Egyptian slavery came to him to buy grain needed to survive the severe famine in the land. After Joseph revealed his identity he made a statement that we all need to remember:
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Gen 50:20)It was not apparent when he was sold into slavery, spent time in prison, etc. that all this would precede his being in a position where he could later help save many lives. This is good to ponder when circumstances turn ugly and you are placed in some very undesirable conditions. Maybe God is going to use you where you are or soon will be to help many others. We don't know, but we need to keep trusting God, walk in forgiveness towards others and hold on to the winning attitude.
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. (Gen 22:1-3)Abraham prepared for the trip and the sacrifice. He believed God would raise his son from the dead:
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death (Heb 11:17-19).This is further shown when Abraham told his servants the following, on his way up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac:
On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." (Gen 22:4, 5)Abraham believed he would return with Isaac, whom he had planned to offer as a burnt sacrifice. Remember, at that point in time no one had ever been raised from the dead! Abraham knew God was Almighty and would stand by his unchanging word (promise). He had strong faith and a winning attitude, as did other bible heroes.
Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. (Heb 11:35-39)These are the kinds of people that are in God's Kingdom NOW. They were overcomers. Ponder again the price they paid to keep their salvation and remain faithful to God to the end under those rough circumstances. Pray for this kind of faithfulness to God and never forget it is better to die than to backslide. Finally, don't be misled by those in our day that want you to think that if you have enough faith you'll never be materially poor or physically afflicted in any way, as the Prosperity teachers say.
Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes. (Esther 3:6)Haman was violently angry with Mordecai because he wouldn't kneel before him and honor him. Mordecai, who raised Esther, urged her to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead for the Jewish people. She sent a message back to Mordecai.
All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned by the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. (Est 4:11)Then 5 verses later, we read the noteworthy words of Queen Esther:
Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish. (Est 4:16)Long story short, Esther was used by God to rescue the Jews from destruction, but she had to risk her own life to accomplish that! Esther was willing to DIE PHYSICALLY to do the right thing. That has always been the case, with the WINNERS and overcomers in Christ. We must be committed to God to the point that we love and obey Jesus over our own life. Jesus said:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)BTW, hate in Lk. 14:26 means love less. We have to love Jesus more than our own life to be his disciple. So, does that describe you? Live, plan and set your goals with eternity in mind. This life is only a very tiny bit of our eternal existence! It means nothing except that we please God.
The winning attitude of the bible heros of the faith were people who were just like you and I -- they didn't want to suffer or be hatefully persecuted either. The bible heros wanted to be accepted and appreciated, not hated, rejected and martyred, but they also stood for truth, even when all alone and didn't consider their physical lives as of ultimate importance! They thought of others, as well as themselves, especially in a spiritual way and firmly knew one's soul's salvation was most important. They were firmly committed. Ponder the heros of faith and their winning attitude often for your own spiritual good.
It's NOT too late for you to be a POWERFUL example in your area and with your circle of influence. Be faithful. Go for it and remember Paul's words:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (1 Cor 9:24)Run to get FIRST prize and don't give up. Keep the winning attitude and press on.
Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not (Mal. 3:16-18).Dear follower of Jesus, perseverance to the end is vital to get into the Kingdom of God. The winning attitudes as just shown will help much. Also remember when the roads of life get rough and you are tempted to give up or even compromise:
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)Press on with the same winning attitude these bible heroes had.