Friday, July 31, 2015

Sermon: Victory in Jesus

Jesus Cross on my wall

I am pleased to share with the readers of my blog the audio of a church service I led on July 26, 2015.  It was an amazing blessing to share what God had placed on my heart. 

It is my prayer that my message will feed your faith in what God provided for us through Jesus.  Our God is so very big and powerful!  He loves us so very much.  He is still alive, living, and active today!  Jesus can change us in a variety of ways.  When we invite Jesus into our hearts, He does not leave us where He found us.  He changes us for the better.

God is amazing, wonderful, holy, powerful, mighty…He really is beyond description—beyond what our finite minds can begin to grasp.  Our words fall short of conveying all God is and how amazing, powerful, and holy He is.  God’s Word is clear, He never changes (we see that in both the Old and New Testaments).  We are the ones who change; the ones who get too smart for our own good.  Left to our own devices, we can wander into behaviors that will cause us and others harm.  Living a life with Jesus front and center and in control will take us places we never dreamed were possible.  And we will do things we never dreamed of doing.  Yes, we can experience victory Jesus each day.

Jesus Cross on my wall with light

Below is the description I provided for the video on YouTube, including Scriptures.

This is an audio (with still photos) that I was blessed to lead on July 26, 2015, at Trinity United Methodist Church--Albia, Iowa. (I'm one of several lay members who are called by the Lord to lead in worship and preach the Word of God when our pastor is away.)

Currently, I'm a lay speaker in United Methodist Church; my status is such that I can preach in my church and others when called.

Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
                    Colossians 1:12-14; 3:1-17

Trinity UMC cross in sanctuary 

May each one of us experience Victory in Jesus!

Here’s the link to the video: Sermon: Victory in Jesus

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, July 24, 2015

Worship Time!



God desires our worship.  Ideally, our worship should occur more frequently than on Sundays; we are to worship throughout the week.  Worshiping God can be beneficial to our well-being, reducing stress and anxiety—refocusing our thoughts on One greater than all of our troubles.

This week, for a change of pace, let us worship the Lord!

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 
(Psalm 100:2 KJV)

Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:2 KJV)

Come, Now is the Time to Worship

I Will Enter His Gates

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100:4 KJV)

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalm 118:24 KJV)

This is the Day

How do you worship the Lord throughout the week?

What is your favorite worship song?

Please join with me in prayer:

Precious Lord, intellectually know that we are to worship You always.  It is so easy in the hustle and bustle of every day life to forget to give You the time and honor You deserve. Heighten our awareness of Your presence all around us every moment of every day.  Open our eyes and help us to see Your creation with new eyes and worship You as Creator God.  Thank You Lord, for the gift of worship and for those who compose songs based on Scripture that help us to worship You in refreshing ways.  In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, July 17, 2015

Victory in Jesus: Part 2

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
(1 Corinthians 15:57 KJV)

This week’s post continues where I left off last week.  Now we will consider some of the verses and the chorus of Victory in Jesus.  For the first post in this series, please see Victory in Jesus.

I’ve heard an old, old story, how a Saviour came from glory,

From the opening pages of the Bible in Genesis to the closing pages in Revelation, we read of God’s redeeming love and His plan to redeem us from our sins through sending His Son, Jesus. God’s love is a costly love, yet He gave so freely—by accepting Jesus as our Savior we can win the victory!  Jesus willingly left so much in heaven to become one of us—He understands us and cares about us.

How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me.

Have you considered how willingly Jesus gave up His life for people, for sinners like you and me? He didn’t have to do this; however, His love for us was so great and strong that He gave His life as a ransom for you and me.  It is in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone that we are saved! It is in Jesus that we have the victory!

I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning. Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.

While on the cross, Jesus groaned, He cried out—feeling the full weight of each one of our sins and our diseases.  It was through His precious blood and its atoning power that each person can receive forgiveness of sins—it’s a personal decision—a decision no one can make for us. What is your decision?  Have you repented of your sins? It seems to be a process of sorts—a process of fully surrendering to God the whole of our life.

Until about ten or eleven years ago, I had religion, (even though I had asked Jesus into my heart at age six or seven) but I did not have a living, vital relationship with the Lord, and I certainly did not understand a thing about the Holy Spirit.  (And I grew up in a Bible believing church!) Just because my church believed the Bible that did not mean we knew the Bible.  Once I understood the need for relationship and learned the truth and accepted the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, living a Christian life became so much easier. It became less an effort of the flesh, instead it was relying on the Lord’s empowerment through the Holy Spirit.

There is still a struggle; there is still the need to take off the old man.  I am not the same and I do not want to go back to the way things were.  What I watch on TV has changed and what I read has changed—that is what a true, vital relationship with Jesus has done for me.  I do not miss my old life!  My desire is to be more like Jesus each day.  What about you; have you experienced the life saving and life changing impact of a relationship with Jesus?  It is not too late, why not invite Jesus into your heart and receive forgiveness of your sins? 

Let me ask you to search your heart—have you gone to the cross and poured out everything that needs to come out—the sin, the burdens that we cannot bear and are not meant to bear?  Leaving all the old sin, the “yuck” of our lives at the cross when we surrender all to Jesus and ask Him to be our Savior and Lord; it changes everything.  Victory is won! Jesus won the victory for us!

What victory is won?  In Jesus we are set free from being enslaved to sin—we can have victory over sin.  We also have victory over death and the grave, because Jesus gained victory over death and the grave.  Death for those of us in Christ is not something to fear.  We have a glorious future awaiting us!

I’ve heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory, And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea;

In John 14 Jesus comforted His disciples and all believers with the assurance that He was going to prepare a place for us in heaven and then would return for us.  There are many mansions in heaven being prepared for those who are saved.  In Revelation we read of the beauty of heaven. Heaven is beyond anything we can begin to think about or describe.  Streets of gold, a crystal sea, a tree with leaves that heal.  Best of all, we’ll see Jesus, our Savior and Lord!

And some sweet day I’ll sing up there, the song of victory.

Just imagine the glorious reunions we will have in heaven with those who have gone ahead us, as well as meeting Brothers and Sisters from every tribe, every tongue, and every nation.  What an amazing song of victory that will be—singing the song of the victorious in Christ! Beyond meeting family (some I know and some I do not), there are many people that I have “met” through books that I anticipate meeting in heaven.  What a glorious time that will be—to be with our Lord forever—worshiping and serving Him.  O, what a glorious day that will be!


Can you sing the words of the chorus with the assurance they are true for you? What are you waiting for—it is not too late to turn to Jesus and ask Him to forgive your sins.  Today is the day to decide.

Oh, victory in Jesus, my Saviour, forever! He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.  He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him. He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

Victory in Jesus is possible!  In what ways have you experienced victory?

How can you live out your victory in Jesus each day?

How can you share that message with others?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Lord, Thank You for giving us the victory in Jesus.  Encourage us to look to Him as we go through our daily lives.  May we always keep our eyes and heart focused on things above rather than on things on earth—that is where our hope lies.  Deepen our spiritual hunger and thirst for things of You Lord; it is clear that earthly things clearly do not satisfy.  
From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, July 10, 2015

Victory in Jesus

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
(1 Corinthians 15:57 KJV)

A few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of sharing God’s Word in a small church while the pastor was gone; this post is based on part of that sermon.

Victory in Jesus is a beloved hymn of many and is one that has stood the test of time.  Hymns can become more meaningful when we learn the story behind them; in fact, hymns can be useful in our daily worship.  It is with this in mind, that I would like to take some time to explore Eugene Bartlett’s hymn Victory in Jesus.

The composer of Victory in Jesus, Eugene Monroe Bartlett was born in Missouri on December 24, 1885, and grew up in Arkansas. He was musically gifted and used that gift to help others, primarily in the area of worship.  Bartlett was college educated and worked in the business field.  He used the gifts God had given him to benefit those around him.

Eugene Bartlett was a devout Christian—for nearly his entire life.  He wrote several hundred hymns and gave much to the field of music, making it accessible even to those who could not read music (though shape notes).  In at least one of my old hymnals there are some hymns with shape notes instead of the traditionally shaped notes. 

Many times, his hymns took him mere minutes or hours to compose!  Victory in Jesus was his most famous hymn and also his last.

After suffering a stroke Eugene spent the last few years of his life fairly incapacitated and spending most of his time in one room.  Despite not being able to work in his calling, or even speak, he continued to immerse himself in God’s Word and in worship.  From that time, as well as a lifetime of study and relationship, he composed this hymn.  This last hymn, Victory in Jesus, a hymn that took him longer to write than any other, has not been lost to the past.  He saw a lasting victory, a victory that is not a fleshly one—such as winning a game or a war—but a spiritual victory that is ultimately won when we get to heaven. 

Have you experienced this type of victory?    

Victory in Jesus is one of my favorite hymns; it holds some precious memories for me.  This hymn was a favorite of a beloved pastor from my childhood. Although I was young when Blaine was pastor at my church (Free Methodist), I knew he loved Jesus and he loved me.  That in and of itself is a testimony!  This hymn was a favorite of Blaine’s; therefore, we sang it frequently! Even though I missed this as a child, I was told that his face glowed when he sang this song. May the same be said for us!  

Each one of us should search our heart and determine if the words of this beloved hymn are true for us. In 1 Corinthians 15:57 we are reminded that:  “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

For many of us, we have heard the Scripture read and expounded on a nearly weekly basis for years—for some of us that would encompass the whole of our life.  It is so easy to relax and not really hear the truths contained in the Scriptures, because of how well we know them or think we know them. Familiarity can be dangerous.  Think about all the things we do and places we go that become so familiar, so routine that we miss some important sites—sometimes including a turn we need to make.

It is tempting to think we can relax, thinking we are okay because of what we do (or do not do!), because of our church membership/attendance, because of our baptism, or because of our parents/grandparents.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  We cannot get to heaven in any other way than through accepting Jesus—nothing else saves. Jesus and Jesus alone saves!  We are saved, cleansed by the atoning blood of Jesus!

Spending time on our own prayerfully reading through the whole of God’s Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us will show us new insights, as well as point us to our need for Jesus as our Savior—the only way to heaven.  The more we read and study God’s Word and allow it to “read” us, we will see just how well many of the beloved hymns written decades ago really do capture scriptural “nuggets” for our edification.  The same is true of many of the contemporary Christian songs.

Have you experienced victory in Jesus?

What is your favorite hymn?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the victory that is possible in Jesus and His shed blood.  Remind us that we already have the victory.  Cause us to call to mind all that Jesus did for us and continues to do for us as we live on this earth.  Grant us the words we need to share our story of how Jesus came into our lives.  Empower us to live each day, keeping our eyes, heart, and mind focused on You alone.  It is not by our power or might but by Yours that we overcome the one who seeks but to kill, steal, and destroy.  Thank You Jesus for all You did for each one of us to be victorious!  In Jesus’ precious name.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, July 3, 2015

Freedom in Christ

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath set us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”  (Galatians 5:1 KJV)

Tomorrow we (those of us in the United States of America) will be celebrating our freedom, won at a great cost from Great Britain.  On July 4, 1776, many brave men (and women) in an act of defiance stood up against the world power of that day, declaring their independence.  This was an act of war.  Many individuals and families paid a very steep price; because of this, we have the freedoms and independence we now enjoy.  May we never take our freedoms and independence for granted! 

For those of us who are Christians, we are in a war too; a spiritual war, fighting against a spiritual enemy—Satan—who wants our soul.  We do not fight alone.  We fight along side our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, our best and most important help comes from our Savior, Jesus and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever considered that our freedom—freedom from sin and death—eternal separation from a holy God was also won at a great cost?  By dying and arising from the dead, Jesus set us free from bondage to sin—we are liberated!  This freedom is fully paid for by Christ Jesus—He asks for our heart. 

Being set free by Christ sends us on an amazing journey—a journey that is unique to each person.  This journey takes us places we never thought we would go; we will likely do things we never thought we could or would do (for me that is preaching in the form of filling in for pastors who are away).  We will meet many people who will teach us, bless us, and challenge us.  And yes, our hearts will break at times for many reasons.     

To read more about freedom in Christ please read my previous posts: Salvation, A New Creation, and Counting the Cost.

Much like the colonists, who were subjects of Great Britain, we are in bondage to sin, until we see our sin for what it is and that we cannot save or free ourselves from the chains of sin.  It is when we acknowledge the work of Jesus Christ and invite Him into our heart that we are set free.

We are free in Christ—this freedom is not freedom to do as we please; it is freedom from the burden of sin and the burden of the Old Testament laws, rules, and regulations (but not the Ten Commandments).  It is freedom to love (agape) others and to serve others. 

Spend some time in the coming days, reflecting on your freedom in Christ.   

What does it mean to you, personally, to be free in Christ?

What has Jesus set you free from?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear God of Love, thank You for setting us free.  We recognize all that You have done for us.  Thank You for the gift of living in America and for those who have stood up for what is right, so that we can live in freedom.  It is in Jesus and Jesus alone that we are saved and set free; thank You Jesus for Your amazing gift of salvation.  Teach us to walk and live in the freedom that we have in Jesus, the One who set us free from Satan’s grasp.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

From My Heart to Yours,


Happy 4th of July to my readers in the United States of America!