Take Heart! Jesus Has Overcome The World
"…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world"(John 16:33). Why do we have such a difficult time taking God at His word when it comes to facing adversity? When the tough times come, God’s people are to stand firm…and yet so many of us cave in under the pressure of danger, hardship or difficulties.
Jesus did not hide the fact that Christians will be persecuted, or face trouble: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you" (John 15:18-19). Defeated Christians cannot be witnesses to the ends of the earth. Believers who are overcome by their circumstances are incapable of showing a dark, dying culture that Jesus has the ultimate victory!
Instead of being surprised by the adversity we find in the world, we should be well-prepared to live the peaceful lives of those who know with certainty that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God – the One who has overcome and defeated death. God has called us to live in the world, but not to be of the world. It is when we dwell confidently in the light of His presence that our families will victoriously navigate the darkness of our depraved culture, and trust Him when circumstances would seem the most hopeless. When we live within His divine presence, we know that His plan is always best and always perfect (Jeremiah 29:11). Paul is an excellent example for times we walk through difficulty, pain, frustration, uncertainty and helplessness: "But the Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
What kind of witness are we to this world when we collapse in the midst of the hard times? How can we persevere and emerge victorious when the storms come? Is there a way to prepare our children to stand upon the ultimate victory of Christ Jesus each and every day of their lives so that the mountains are merely bumps in the road rather than insurmountable obstacles that spell our defeat?
The answer, of course, is a resounding, "Yes!" By teaching our families to dwell continually in the presence of the Lord, we can become the victors when we are weak and when all seems lost; we can have the strength to face the hardness that life holds; and, we can defeat the powers of darkness that would seek to destroy our homes.
God’s Presence from Old Testament to New
Probably no one else in Old Testament history understood the presence of God with more richness than Moses, the man who met face to face with the Divine. When Moses entered the Lord’s presence to speak with Him, he removed the veil he had put over his face until he came out… "they [the Israelites] saw that his face was radiant" (Exodus 34:33-35). Moses understood that the place God chose to dwell was the place where all worship was to take place. In Moses’ time, this place was called the Tent of Meeting. He told the people, "There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you" (Deuteronomy 12:7).
Samuel grew up ministering in the presence of the Lord from the time he was a child (1 Samuel 2:21). Young children are especially tender toward living in God’s presence, if we will train them to hear His voice at very young ages. Your children can absorb deep things from God…don’t think they must wait until they are mature to do so! If you will help them to live victorious lives in the midst of trials because they know that the presence of Jesus Christ is within them, they will live powerful and fruitful lives for the kingdom!
When the temple was built in Jerusalem, God’s people connected with His presence there. Read Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple: "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built! Yet give attention to Your servant’s prayer and His plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that Your servant is praying in Your presence this day" (1 Kings 8:27-28).
God still has a temple today, but its location was changed on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church. The Shekinah glory of God that originally came to rest upon the temple, had now come to hover over the heads of the believers. It is amazing to realize that He now dwells, not in a building, but in us! We, His people, are His temple. This is indeed a great mystery, but should fill us with awe and reverence toward the Father, who has brought His very presence to dwell in us. It is a fact that should fill us with confidence, strength and boldness! Jesus Christ lives in us, and His presence fills His temple – us! Yet, how easy it is for God’s people to forget the power of that Presence when life turns difficult! Teach your children to continually live in the awareness of the presence of God, who will never leave nor forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6). There is nowhere we can go from His Spirit or flee from His presence because He is always…always… always with us (Psalm 139:7).
Yet, there is one thing that can separate us from God’s presence for a time or a season – sin! Teach your family the importance of confession and repentance so that they might stand before God with clean hands and pure hearts. As Christians, we need to understand completely that we cannot stand in His presence with unconfessed sin in our lives. The God who created us also knows everything about us, including every secret sin: "You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence" (Psalm 90:8). "No one who practices deceit will dwell in My house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in My presence" (Psalm 101:7). Fortunately, Jesus is able to set us free from sin: "Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:34-36).
What Will God Do When We Desire to Be in His Presence?
The Lord’s Word indicates that God is pleased when His children choose to spend time in His presence. Here are just a few of the things He offers to us:
• He will give us His protection: "In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from the intrigues of men; in Your dwelling You keep them safe from accusing tongues" (Psalm 31:20).
• He will give the promise of His presence to our children: "The children of Your servants will live in Your presence; their descendants will be established before You" (Psalm 102:28).
• He will fill us with joy: "You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand" (Psalm 16:11). "Surely You have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of Your presence" (Psalm 21:6, Acts 2:28). "…I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence, rejoicing in His whole world and delighting in mankind" (Proverbs 8:30-31).
• He will strengthen our hearts: "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones" (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).
How Should God’s People Respond in His Presence?
• We should be in awe: "Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob…" (Psalm 114:7); "The mountains quake before Him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at His presence, the world and all who live in it" (Nahum 1:5). Teach your family to be amazed at God’s creation, His power, and His wisdom.
• We should pray: "Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street" (Lamentations 2:19). Teach your family to boldly go before the throne of God to seek His heart.
• We should listen to what He has to say: "Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us" (Acts 10:33b). The family of Cornelius was anxious to spend time in God’s presence to learn all that they could about Him.
• We should have integrity: "In my integrity You uphold me and set me in Your presence forever" (Psalm 41:12). Teach your family that God desires His people to walk in truthfulness.
Great Will Be Your Children’s PeaceAs you teach your family to dwell in the presence of God, they will reap many blessings, and they will gain the strength to withstand the storms of life. Parents who will be faithful to usher their children into the Presence will see them grow into confident, loving, passionate believers, in touch with their Heavenly Father, because they will know that He has indeed "overcome the world"!
"‘All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you…no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from Me,’ declares the LORD" (Isaiah 54:13-14,17).
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday…If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the LORD, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone… ‘Because he loves Me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation’" (Psalm 91:1-6, 9-12, 14-16).