Our World – Four Steps to Triumph

By Karen Polich

Fear suits you for failure. Faith suits you for triumph. – Michael M. Cook

Are you seeking triumph in your life? Pastor Michael Cook’s message gave us four steps to a triumphant life. Listen to the Our World sermon series here. To be triumphant, we must guard ourselves against spiritual defeat. Unexpected temptation, undetected weakness and an unprotected life will destroy triumph. Discernment and focus on God matters.

Four Steps to Triumph
1. Vision. We must meet with God. Triumph never comes when we are focused on the enemy. If we spend all of our time watching the enemy, what time is left for God? When we turn to God and spend time alone with Him, we can go out with courage and face whatever the day brings.
2. Valor. We must step into a courageous position. Paralyzed with fear? God won’t use you. Fear and faith cannot coexist. Faith brings triumph. Is there anything you are not doing because of fear? God did not give us a spirit of timidity.
3. Vigilance. We need shrewd awareness. Are we paying attention? God will thin the ranks. Don’t live in fear, but don’t be careless. Be aware. God won’t use cowards or the careless. Discernment is critical. God will test us on the little things when no one is looking.
4. Vitality. We need inner strength. It is not who you are, but Whose you are. We forget God uses the broken that we would throw away. God’s call often comes in the moment of brokenness. Look back on life. Has God ever broken you? What have you broken in someone else’s life?

Pastor Michael Cook took us into the story of Gideon in Judges 6-7 to demonstrate how we can triumph. Listen to the message here to go deeper into God’s Word. God’s people cried out and God used Gideon to save them.

God uses the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary so He can get the glory. – Michael M. Cook

Our World – Star Wars

By Karen Polich

Our Lord would much rather deliver those who cry out to Him than judge them. – Michael M. Cook

Pastor Michael Cook’s sermon series, Our World, continued with the story of God’s people and Deborah in Judges 4-5. Listen to the Our World sermon series here.

The Israelites never seem to learn. We find them back in the cycle crying out to God for deliverance. Once again, their sin has brought them into bondage.

God is always working for us. We find a woman, a warrior and a Wonder. Deborah, a prophetess was the moral compass of God’s people at this time. She sent for Barak to lead the army, but he would not go into battle without her. They faced a mighty opponent, Sisera who had nine hundred chariots.

God’s people could not win on their own, but had faith. Faith sees the way. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. Judges 5:20 God was with them. Even the stars were fighting for God’s people. They were victorious.

God is more than capable. He is at work in our lives even when we cannot see it. The one we fight against is sailing a doomed ship. Despite the crashing waves, seeming to ensure defeat, God’s tide is sure to win. In struggles, remember the worst cannot defeat you with God on your side. Have faith. He is working to deliver you.

Wrong cannot win. Faithfulness will not fail.  – Michael M. Cook

Fond Memories of an Old Story

By Karen Polich

Easter Sunday celebrates the story that knits Christians together. Everything rests on this story. God’s promise was fulfilled. His Son gave the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. God’s Word gives us the perspective of the disciple John near the end of his life. (John 19:20-20:8)

How often do we look at this story with the idea that Jesus was a victim? The death of Jesus was a victorious death that fulfilled prophecy. Jesus a victim? No, not for a moment. Jesus is the eternal victor. God’s mighty hand was displayed through the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb. Our hope lies within the story of all stories. On Sunday, Pastor Michael Cook shared three features of how God demonstrated His power. (Listen here.)

Jesus controlled His death. The unknown of death can hold us in bondage, but death did not hold anything over Jesus. Satan tried to kill Jesus time and again, even at birth. Jesus taught repeatedly about His control over life and death. Death had no power over Him. (John 10:17-18)

Jesus orchestrated His burial. Jesus should have been sent to the open grave of thieves. Instead He was buried in a new tomb nearby. Joseph and Nicodemus were secret followers of Jesus. After His death, Joseph asked for His body so he and Nicodemus could prepare it for burial. With the Passover Sabbath approaching, it was critical that no bodies were left hanging so they were given permission easily. (John 19:38-41)

Jesus fulfilled His resurrection. The disciples looked upon Him and believed. (John 20:1-8) You and I are called to make a choice just like the disciples did. We have the full account in God’s Word.

Do you see the VICTORY in Jesus’ death?

A Perspective on Victory

By Kristi Sullins

One of my favorite parts of being a pastor’s wife has been the opportunity to build friendships with people from all over. 15 years of ministry has given us scattered “family” that we stay connected to through email and social media.

It was one of these connections that God used to take me on a journey of understanding.  At the beginning of the year I was introduced to a blog about a little boy named Ben.  His mom Mindy had started a blog to journal their journey through Ben’s battle with cancer, specifically, a brain tumor.  As a mom, my soul became caught up in their journey, and I found myself praying for this little boy often.

In the beginning, the prayers came as a claim of the healing I knew that God could bring.

Surely, He would bring victory and healing to this four- year old boy.  I would watch for her blogpost with confidence that there would be signs of healing.  Month after month, post after post, this is not the story she shared.  Each post revealed a reality much different than what I had claimed.  As thousands around the country joined in prayer, I held onto the fact that God’s power would be clearly revealed if He would just heal Ben.  His grace and sufficiency was on full display in the life of this sweet family, but we did not see the power and healing we were all praying for.

The reality of God’s plan came into full view recently when God brought Ben home.  Local papers in Buffalo, NY, posted that Ben had lost his battle with cancer. My mind agreed.

It was while in the shower, I questioned God.  I laid out what I thought would have been best and pointed out all the times He had worked miracles.  It was then that God had what my dad always called “a come to Jesus meeting” with me.  What did I define as a victory?  Had my human heart lost perspective on what a God victory really was?  He walked me through the realities in my life.

Were the struggles of the church that I love failures?  Could I see victory in a church that had walked hard roads for so long that they would not dare move without God? Could I see it in a job loss and unplanned move that dropped us right in the will of God?  Could I see victory in the death of a beloved saint of our church as evidence that there are still those who live their lives serving God?

Was I willing to hand over the black and white definition of my world to see that in the death of a four- year old boy an entire city was impacted by the life of this boy and his family who constantly pointed to God?

Our human hearts tend to take on the world’s definition of wins and losses, victories and failures.

We hold God to that tainted standard and then suffer defeat when His perfect plan does not match up with our sightless one.  The clearest example of failure and victory is in the death of our Christ.  On the day of His death the Jews were clear that this Messiah was a failure.  Three days later it became clear for those who knew Him that by His death and resurrection there was VICTORY.

Oh, that my heart will be softened to God’s definition of victory, and that my eyes will search for His victories in all parts of this journey.