Sermon May 16, 2004 : The attitude of a conqueror (Mark 7:24)
- Presenter: Oscar Garcia | Translator: Dr. Roberto Miranda
- Length: 42:11
- Date: May 16, 2004
- Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA
Is God great? Is He great? Can’t hear you. Is He really great? I’m pleased to be here in the midst of God’s people. It’s a pleasant time.
Jesus said: “When there are two or three gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.” I believe that when we gather in the name of Jesus the presence of Jesus is erected before us in a very special way because Jesus likes to be in the midst of his people.
And he has great things for each of us. Each time that Jesus is in a particular place always marvelous things take place. Because he always has something good for his people. His will is good, pleasant and perfect. It is pleasant to be in the presence of the Lord. I’ve enjoyed myself with all of you.
Before I had spoken with your pastor that I would like to visit this church and it took place in an interesting sort of way. Because we came to give a couple of presentations it wasn’t planned with a lot of anticipation as we have already said but it happened, it took place in this particular church.
And it’s been really a pleasure to be in your midst. The atmosphere feels pleasant. And when you go to a particular place you can feel the environment. It’s good to see the decoration of the place; it’s good to see the order as well, the lights, the instruments as well; but there’s something else that needs to be taken into account: That’s the spiritual ambience; it’s the welcoming environment of the Lord.
Gods is a God that reveals himself. He reveals his love in a very special way. As a father towards his son or daughter Jesus reveals his grace in a very special way. In the cross, he revealed that he loved us through an action in the history of mankind. In the Holy Spirit he reveals himself to us as a consolation, as an empowerment.
Today the Lord brings a word to all of us and we’ll find it in Mark, Chapter VII. We’ll be reading beginning with verse 24.
Let us pray for a moment. We give you the honor and glory, Lord. We recognize your presence in this place. We know you’re in control of everything, and we know that your heart wants to bless us. You want to reveal to reveal yourself to us and, above all things, shape in us a special attitude that might make of us your people - people that are capable of living at the level of your purpose.
You have a purpose for each one of us, an individual purpos, a purpose for our families, a purpose in this congregation. In this city, you have a purpose in this state, even in this nation. Lord, today we submit to your purpose and receive this word, this challenge in our life. We say: “Yes, Lord, we believe in it.” We yearn for you to speak to us. We desire that you show yourself among us. We receive what you have. We are ready and willing to abandon whatever is wrong in us.
We’re willing to extend our tent. We are willing to leave the comfort zone, because we are your people, because You have redeemed us, because you have a purpose for us.
Lord, today we say: “Yes, we accept your word.” We renounce any spiritual opposition, whatever may impede that your word may flow in our life. Now we tell to the enemy of our souls to you Satan that you have nothing to do here. Jesus is our Lord and He is the owner of my will. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen. Amen
Today we want to speak about a theme that I have entitled “The attitude of a conqueror, of an over comer.” What is the name of the theme? Tell someone that’s next to you: I want to have an attitude of an over comer.
Whenever I have people doing this kind of exercises I like to observe how they carry them out. I like to read the people’s attitude. At first is sounds a bit of a joke, funny. I’m doing it because I’ve been told to do it, and I have to. But I’m really shy. I prefer to concentrate on what they’re telling me up there.
But you know your conquest represents the victory of your fellow parishioner, believer. The victory of this church represents the victory for the entire neighborhood. When neighborhoods and communities conquer that represents a victory for the whole city. And when cities become conquering cities we can also conquer states.
I know that you have struggles. I know that you have challenges in your lives. And it’s possible that this message God might be bringing it for you. He’s seeing you with special eyes. He’s seeing you as people who are capable, like people with potential who can make a difference.
Not only as people who are merely listening to something but also as people who are listening with a sense of purpose. God is shaping in each of you an attitude. I want to motivate you.
What you tell the person beside you - say it with conviction: “God is shaping an over comer attitude in me.” Look him in the eyes: “God is shaping an over comer attitude in me.” How many say ‘Alleluia’, how many say ‘Amen’? How many say: “I’m a conqueror. I’m a conqueror. I’m a conqueror in the name of Jesus.” An attitude begins through faith. When I am capable of believing I’m on my way of having an attitude.
It’s interesting how we learn in an clear and concise way from this woman. Maybe of all the passages that I’ve read this one is the one that most clearly shows an attitude that is somewhat aggressive and rough on the part of Jesus towards the human being. Many people who comment on this passage ask themselves how could it be possible that Jesus could have spoken to this woman in this way. How is it possible that being Jesus such a compassionate being reacted in this way with this woman? And many times we ourselves can lose the sense of what God is trying to do when we focus too much on some particular detail, because God keeps the big picture in mind always, the great image of things.
Our God is a God of processes. Even though he also focuses on small details. He likes to take small steps. But also he is going towards something big. He is leading us towards something big. He has great things for each of us. He has great things for me. And these big things must be conquered through small steps. But if we lose our minds in just those little steps and focus too much on them we forget that we have a whole trajectory. We can lose that sense of ultimate purpose
So this passage has to be read in the sight of the purpose of God in which the Lord helps a particular woman to develop, to form an attitude that was going to take her much further than to merely ask for the spiritual healing of her daughter. Many of us come to Christian churches so that a particular situation be resolved in our lives. “Pastor I need you to pray for my finances. I need a job. I need it right away. I know I’ve been away from the Lord for a long time but I need to go to church, so I’ll be there on Sunday. Oh, Pastor look my daughter is sick. So I need help. So I’ll be there on Sunday to see you. You know I’m having problems with my wife. She doesn’t want to cook for me any more. When I ask her for some food she shows me the pot in her hand. I’m even afraid of asking her for food. I need that she be changed. So I’m taking her to church with me.”
Many of us come to church to resolve a particular area of our lives. And what happens is that sometimes perhaps God helps us to solve that particular area of our lives. And we grow comfortable again until some other problem comes along. And it stimulates us again to seek for the Lord. And this is what God wants to avoid because this is not equivalent to have the attitude of an over comer. The attitude of an over comer is characterized by certain steps that need to be taken.
There are some characteristics that are very clear in the attitude of an over comer. I want you to observe this passage with me, verse 25 “There was a woman who had a daughter with an evil spirit who came to him. After she heard about Him came and through herself at his feet”
The first thing we see about an over coming attitude is that this type of person is not comfortable with the problem that he has. They don’t allow the problem to neutralize them. An over comer is a person who is actually moved by the problem to do something, to take action, is a person who does not allow for that problem to be greater than the desire to overcome it. The desire to go forward is greater than any depression, than any sickness, than any crisis,than any problem they might have in their marriage, than anything that might be preventing them from reaching the purpose of God. Problems actually stimulate them. They get them out of their comfort. This is the first thing that we need to know about an over comer.
The second characteristic of an over comer is that they surround themselves of people who are superior to them. Let’s watch what this woman did. She went and sought for Jesus. What did she do? What do you need to do when you have a problem? Whom must you seek? We must seek Jesus out. Jesus is the superior being to all of us. She surrounded herself with people who were superior. Jesus supposedly in this passage was on vacation. He was trying to have some private time for himself, seeking to recover himself physically.
Here we have an example that we also need to seek time to rest, to recover ourselves. But this woman had a need, and this need pointed towards someone who could help her, and that name was: Jesús. He is the only one who can help us in many situations in our lives. So you are in the right place. This is the right time. This is the right atmosphere. This is the right place for you and for me. So we see this woman seeking for Jesus urgently at a time when Jesus was seeking to be relaxed, to have a private time. This reveals something interesting about the character of God. When there is a need God does not hide. God is always there when we need him. Jesus was there for her. And she sought him out until she found him.
What is your attitude when you have difficulties in your life? You begin to search and you say, sort of: “Well, maybe I’ll go to church. If they say something that is of help to me, maybe I’ll come back. If not, I’ll just go. Because I really don’t have too much time to waist. I know I have problems. I know I have difficulties. I know I have a life full of crisis and difficulties. But I don’t really have too much time to go around seeking in the different churches.”
This woman persisted, continually until she found Jesus. Something interesting happens now. We begin to notice the different barriers that she had to overcome. Once she found Jesus we become aware of this harsh word on the part of Jesus. Jesus tells her: “Hey, before I take care of you, I have to take care of the children. Before anybody, children must be taken care of.” And then he mentions this word which we translate into Spanish as “little dogs”. It is a word with a cultural signification, with a cultural meaning. It really refers to those human beings that did not belong to the people of Israel, the Jewish people. So Jesus used this word.
But something very interesting happened with that woman. Because she had to overcome certain barriers. First, she was Greek by birth. Her nationality was against the practices of this particular Rabbi. Jesus had come to his own. He was de Rabbi sent to the Jews. So she goes towards Him. Knowing that the Jewish Rabbis and teachers normally would not accept someone such as her.
The second barrier that she had to overcome was the Jewish law. It wasn’t just her nationality but the whole Jewish legal system. Because it was this system that sought to avoid any kind of service to those who were not part of the Jewish people.
The third element is Jesus himself. In his capacity as a Rabbi, as a teacher of the law. He represented something like a highway patrol. He had to enforce the law.
So she was very aware of the barriers, of her obstacles. She knew what she was confronting. This is a characteristic of an over comer. They must know the true nature of their problem. What is this problem that they’re facing in particular? Why am I going through this particular problem? If we want to come ahead in our lives we have to learn to analyze the situations that we are facing. We must learn to penetrate into the nature of each crisis.
It’s very interesting that one of the most outstanding athletes in the whole world -he’s one of my favorite athletes actually - is Lance Amstrong. I’m a cyclist. So we have something in common. Lance Amstrong became really famous after recovering from cancer and winning 5 Tours de France.
In some phrases that we see in his last book “Each second counts” he says: “if I had the choice between cancer and winning the Tour de France I will take cancer. Let me explain what he means by that. Cancer taught him what were the true priorities in his life, what was the true value of life, what was the future that was ahead for him in life.
That he had to dedicate himself to a life of service to humanity, that he had to learn to appreciate certain people and certain relatives that he had. He had to learn to appreciate the gift of the physical body. He learned much, specially about the attitude that victory is not found in comfort. He was able to recover. There was only a 40% chance only that he would live and 60% that we would die.
So he started to assume an attitude. He started reading about cancer. He got the best doctors. For him the best doctors were not those who simply told him: “Well, you have cancer” but rather those doctors who knew well about cancer and the problems; who also contemplated the possibility of overcoming it. He surrounded himself with those people. And he began to analyze all the details that pertained to cancer. And he began to believe that he could overcome it.
And each day he would get up. And after a chemotherapy session he would feel very bad. Instead of concentrating in his physical condition he would rather concentrate on the fact to go forward. And he began to see this painful condition as a possibility of issuing from there to a stronger position. So in the end he was able to overcome it.
And then when he returns to competition something miraculous takes place. His physical condition after cancer was so much stronger than before cancer. And to this day he has won 5 Tours de France. In July he’s going to go for the sixth. Nobody has ever won 6 Tours de France and never ever a survivor of cancer has won even one single Tour de France.
It is important to know and analyze our problem. It’s important to surround ourselves with positive looking people. It’s important to seek the correct help. And this woman understood this.
Another thing that we see here ts that a person with an over coming attitude is irrationally insistent. Even though everything seems to say it’s not possible, even though the obstacles tell you: “No, it will not happen.” the over comer says: “I am going to make this happen. It’s going to happen, I’m going to go forward.” Even though people might say: “No, this marriage has no solution, there’s no more hope, there’s no exit left.” one says to oneself: “No, there has to be a way to conquer this.” That is believing in the Lord. This is just knowing God is with me. And this woman was in the process of knowing how to assume that correct attitude.
Another thing that touches me about this woman is that she learnt a new language in her life. I refer to it as the “language of success”. In verse 26 it says: “She was a Greek woman and she pled with him.” In verse 28, once Jesus has told her practically no she answered: “Yes, my Lord, but even the small dogs under the table eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s laps.” And this is the language of success that says ‘But’ when people tell you it’s not possible. And she said: but still there’s a possibility. And she struggled with Jesus. She wrestled with the situation. And she conquered it.
And Jesus tells her: “Because of that word you just said, this will become a reality in your life” For that word you’ve just said, because of that language that you have used, that mentality that you are demonstrating, it is going to happen in your life. I want to tell you something, my brother or sister. Christianity is about a language. It’s the language of faith and the language of success. It is not a language that assumes an absence of sufferings or challenges. It is a language that learns to challenge any situation and any problem that might come and that declares: “I have an even greater God, a more powerful God, a God who heals, a God who transforms. My God is greater than my problem.”
And she conquered it. She achieved those results. This is what God wants of us. What is your need? What is your problem? God doesn’t have you here to solve a particular problem. He wants to give you an attitude. He wants to provide you with the capacity, the ability. Say with me:”Ability to conquer and overcome”. What is your particular need? What is your challenge? What is it you need to overcome today? This is something we want to pray .This is the word You have something in your life that you need to conquer because you always can become better than what you are now.
As a church you have great things that you are going to accomplish. We have heard the news of some political event that is going to take place soon. What is your attitude going to be? It’s like, well I knew this was going to happen sooner or later. Or you’re going to stand up and say: “No. Even now we can still overcome. Even now we still have the power. In the name of Jesus. We are going to make the difference. History is still being written.”
There’s still a possibility to overcome because God is in control of our lives. And there is where I want to pray with you. I want you to imagine for a moment, visualize that situation that you’re living. What is that need that if you had Jesus right in front of you, you would tell him: “Lord, I need this done. I need you to work in my house. My relationship with my children is not right. My marriage is not right. I’m not happy. Lord, my financial situation is going from bad to worse. Lord, I’m not satisfied with this life. Lord, I’d like to have a better education. I’m frustrated because I’ve always had dreams and I haven’t been able to realize them. Lord, my immigration situation is not the best. Lord, I need your help. Lord, I need for you to intervene in this state of Massachusetts. Lord, I need a state that is more spiritually whole. Lord we need you to neutralize this loss. What must I do? I’m not conforming to this situation.”
Can you visualize Jesus right now? Telling you: “Let’s work together. I’m going to develop in you an attitude and you will begin to make a difference. Let me work in your attitude and you will make a change. I want to join with you in this situation, and I want to make you an over comer. I want to help you not only to solve an immediate problem but that you become a problem solver. Someone who is capable to confront any situation and go through crisis and emerge on the other side and saying: I have conquered! “
Because God, because Jesus has helped me I want to pray for you right now; right where you are. Raise your hand and keeping your hand raised . Just keep it for a moment there. I’d like to ask you to pray for this people. I trust your Pastor. He loves you. I trust in the prayer of a pastor who loves his people. Just stand right where you are. Your Pastor will be praying for you, and I will be interceding on his behalf. Let’s just pray.
Lord, I know that we don’t overcome problems by ourselves. It’s You within us. It’s your Holy Spirit in us as the sermon implied, Lord, that the comforter, the encourager, the enabler. Father, we stand on your promises, we stand on your faithfulness and we say: ‘Empower us, Lord’. Father we put aside all negative attitudes, all attitudes of defeat. Lord, we refuse to conform ourselves to our situation right now. Father, we declare that I can overcome all things in Christ who strengthens me. Alleluia. Your word says there is nothing impossible for God. Lord, we assume by faith that attitude of a conqueror, of an over comer.
Lord your word says that we are more than conquerors. We are more than conquerors, Father. And this morning, Lord, we focused on that aspect of your word that pulls us towards an attitude of faith and confidence in you. So Lord we renounce to all attitudes of defeat, attitudes of fear, all attitudes of anxiety, Lord. And we dress ourselves with the garment of joy, of peace, of hope We worship you, thank you Lord.
We thank you Lord, Alleluia.