What will we do with this Victory?
March 24, 2016
Dear Valley Methodist Friends,
Easter is the time we remember that God’s grace was set free to roam around, to do all the good it can on planet earth, because of the victory of Jesus Christ on Calvary and his resurrection from the dead. The Holy Spirit brings this grace to us every day. Victorious grace. Life-affirming, loving, freeing, healing grace. What will we do with this victory? The victory of Jesus Christ over sin, death, and the devil? The answer has to be: we will employ it. Put it to good use. Believe in it. Allow it to set our voices, our feet and hands, and our prayers in many good directions.
“VICTORY” is an interesting topic. According to Webster’s it is: “the overcoming of an enemy in battle or of an antagonist in a contest; the gaining of superiority or success in any struggle or endeavor; a moral or spiritual triumph of any kind.” We fight plenty of battles as individuals. God’s people always have and always will. Just read the Psalms if you want a refresher. Try being out of a job and needing a job, and not being able to find a job. You know you’re in a battle. The church also faces struggles and endeavors. The journey toward a prosperous future is never easy for churches. But when we think of our goals – what kinds of impacts we want to make upon our world, and how will we bless individuals and families for years to come – what comes to mind is how much we rely on Christ’s victory to accomplish these goals.
The key is walking forward knowing victory is always with us, ready to be employed. If you were in church on Palm Sunday, wasn’t it great to celebrate the many victories we’ve had in recent years? We have a lot to celebrate. New members, an incredible and generous result from our three-year capital campaign “Expanding the Worship of God for All” and a new sanctuary altar dedicated in loving memory of Bob Swehla.
You also heard the announcement that there will be a new three-year capital campaign beginning soon. In May. Lots more coming about that in a few weeks, but I want you to hear the campaign title: “Fulfilling the Vison” . . . based on a Scripture, a theme verse from the Book of Acts. Acts 11, verse 23: “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” (NIV) (Please memorize that verse this month.)
Our vision is very simple. More “evidence” of the grace of God. We’ll fulfill the vision by remaining “true to the Lord” with all our hearts. All made possible by our Easter faith in the victorious love and power of Jesus. This theme verse will teach us that the heartbeat of a vital congregation – like ours – is the grace of God. We see “evidence” of God’s grace because of what God is doing in our lives, our world, and in our church: the breakthroughs, the blessings, the healings, the saving words, the mission and service, the answered prayers, the uplifting music, the joyful fellowship – victories all.
This victory of Christ needs to be employed by us, put to good use by us. Grace will always do a million more things than we’re aware of. But what do we hope and pray God’s grace will do – that we might see and touch with our own hands? Pray about that with me, won’t you? And together we’ll see more evidence than we even hoped for. I believe it!
Grateful to be,
PS: I commend to you these astonishing Easter verses of victory from the Apostle Paul’s Resurrection Chapter, 1st Corinthians 15. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know, to be sure – that Christ’s victory was there to undergird everything their little church – and every church – was asked to do, called to do. It’s breath-taking ...
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” 1st Corinthians 15.20-28