How do we achieve new victories in our relationship with Christ? In this episode Jesse will walk you through the importance of having a mentor, what it means to be different, and how you can make room for God in your life. He’ll dig into the story of Joshua. You’ll be encouraged to set yourself apart for God and trust in his promises. Let’s step into new victories together and share stories of how God is working!
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- Find a mentor.
- Being different- past generations.
- Breaking negative cycles- Different in purity. Different in morality. Different habits.
- The inner life.
- Meditation. Scripture. Cultivate habits.
- Consecration. Devotion. Commitment.
- Culture and scripture.
- God leads. Battles ahead. Find one person Caleb. Jericho unusual. What has not been done before. Peter walk on water. Humble and hungry. Honor and abide.
- Listening to God. Promised in the word. Faith not sight. Give God the glory. Tell your story.
Welcome to The Bonfire, my name’s Jesse Bradley. So glad you’re joining us today. God is love, God is light, God is a consuming fire, and this podcast is about experiencing and encountering God, the living God, personal relationship with God. God has no greater gift to us than His presence. Enjoy His presence, draw near to God, He’ll draw near to you. In today’s theme, we’re talking about new victories. And as a former professional athlete, I love that theme of victories, it resonates with me deeply. In terms of your relationship with God and in terms of living out your faith, there’s going to be victories.
And some of those victories, God is going to grace you, and He’s simply going to bring it to you from heaven. You’re not going to do anything, and you’re going to step into that, thank Him for it, receive it. There’s other victories where it’s linked to your choices, it’s linked to your habits, to what you cultivate. It’s linked to behavior, your mindset. There’s a lot that we do, then it’s conditional, and God blesses us. And this dynamic relationship with God, it’s not a formula, but faithfulness and obedience? There’s blessings.
And I want to break it down today, how to step into some of those victories. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy; Jesus comes to give us abundant life. What is that abundance, and how do we say yes to God? We’re going to look at the life of Joshua, and as you look through the Bible, Joshua’s one of those people that’s so inspiring, and there’s a lot of breakthrough in his life, there’s a lot of victory in his life. I want to highlight some key components, because I think it’s relevant for us, it’s stuff we can apply today, and we learn from Joshua.
We’re always learning, and stories are important. Around a bonfire, stories are important. The Bonfire is a place where we gather, there’s stories, there’s celebrating, there’s also refining, there’s growing, there’s learning. And we come together, you might be watching and thinking all this is new, and you’re discovering. That’s awesome. For some of you, you’ve been distracted, and you’re getting your focus back. And for others, you’ve been extremely devoted, but now, fanning the flame. And when the embers come together, the bonfire grows. So let’s step into new victories and let’s see what the Lord has for us as we walk by faith.
Here’s the first thing I want to highlight with Joshua’s life, is that he had a mentor. Moses was his mentor, and Moses was intentional. Joshua shadowed Moses, he learned from him. It’s great to have a mentor that you can spend time with, ask questions, watch how they do it, then you do it and they watch you, and they give you feedback and you learn. Maybe you’ve had an internship before, and you’ve had that experience where you’re growing so much because you have a mentor. Don’t ever think you’ve arrived; it’s always good to have people in the room who ask the hard questions, who don’t just say yes to every idea, who you go to when you’re in a crisis, you spend time with. Get some mentors in your life. Joshua had Moses, Moses blessed him. He was a mentor that set Joshua up for success. That’s what mentors do, they guide, they empower, they encourage. And he prayed for Joshua, he let the people know Joshua is the next leader. There was a succession that was smooth because, again, unselfishness. Humility is key.
And in this mentoring relationship, there was mutual respect. Joshua would spend extra time in the tent of meeting, lingering in God’s presence. He watched Moses lead, and he was taking notes, and he was patient. If you have a mentor, be patient, because God is developing your character. Make sure it’s God’s timing. Some people rush to leadership and they haven’t done the deep work, they don’t have the deep foundation. You’re not going to take people deeper than how deep you go. Go deep with Jesus, and then you can lead other people out of that depth.
There’s a lot of people that have some gifts and talents, but they don’t have the character, and if you have the competence without the character, it’s going to show up. You’ve seen, a number of times, where the house of cards comes crashing down because the character and the depth isn’t there. Take time, go deep with God, learn from your mentor, trust God’s timing. He’s going to give you the platform, He’s going to give you the opportunities to lead, but take that time to be intentionally learning and from your mentor, soak everything up. A mentor is a gift from God. Joshua has a good one, and he has that season where he’s being mentored.
Moses dies, and now Joshua’s turn to step up. And God’s called him to do some incredible things. And one thing you notice about Joshua, he’s different than the people around him. If you’re going to step into victories, there’s going to be a call in your life to be different. And 12 spies were sent out to look at the Promised Land. God had already given them the land, but they sent out the spies to get a report, and they were battling with fear. 10 came back and they were scared, but Joshua and Caleb had a different spirit. A lot of people give into fear. You’re going to have to overcome fear, faith over fear. You might still feel scared, but you got to choose faith. God will give you courage and boldness greater than your fears.
Maybe you’ve seen people just going in circles, not making any progress. They’re stuck, the status quo. They’re kind of complaining, and they’re not really trusting God to move forward. They’re not really living out their faith. Don’t fall into that trap. There’s a lot of negative cycles and patterns. You might have some in your family, there might be some generations of sin patterns that have continued, or attitudes, or a lack of faith, or not really going for it with God. There might be things in your family that you don’t want to continue, and you’re going to break that pattern. And to do that, you’re going to need to be different. You’re going to need to be different.
It doesn’t mean you’re better, but you’re going to be different than what you saw in your family and you received, and you’re going to have some breakthroughs. It could be in your career, emotionally, relationally, it could be financially, it could be spiritually, but there’s going to be some areas where you do things different. Maybe you’re more generous, maybe you’re more kind, maybe you’re a better listener. Maybe you go to new places. But you’re not going to stay in that little comfort zone, or just repeat, or hit repeat from what you’ve received. You’re going to be different.
I want to emphasize that. You’re going to be different than the people around you. Don’t conform to the patterns of this world. There’s a lot of patterns in this world that don’t line up with God. God’s thoughts, God’s ways. That’s the Bible, that’s scripture. It’s God’s thoughts and God’s ways. The culture? That’s people’s thoughts and people’s ways. Go with God, His thoughts and ways are higher, and be different. If you’re younger, you might not be drinking or sleeping around like your peers in high school or college. If you’re working, you might have integrity that your peers don’t have. You might have a sense of, “We got to do this right, and we’re not going to walk all over people, we’re not going to take advantage of people.” You’re going to have ethics and morals that might be different. They line up with heaven, but they’re not popular.
Don’t expect everyone to applaud you when you honor God. Don’t expect everyone to applaud you when you live out the Bible. In fact, there’s going to be opposition, persecution, people might try to undermine you, slander; just keep rising above that. God is with you, that’s the most important thing. His presence is more important than anything else. Be different. There’s a lot of people who are stuck because they want to keep everyone happy. There’s a lot of people who are stuck because they want to fit in. If Joshua and Caleb wanted to fit in, they would be doing circles in the wilderness for another 40 years. The call on your life, with the new victories, there’s a call to be different, and you can’t have it both ways. Stand with conviction, move forward.
And part of that for Joshua and Caleb, it means being different. Find someone else who has the same passion and commitment. Joshua and Caleb had each other. It’s really important. Find one other person, and then lock arms with that person. Who else shares your passion and your vision, and who else is willing to be different? They had a different spirit. I’m talking about your inner life right now. You know when you meet people? You get a sense of what they’re like. Some people just have a different spirit. It’s like they carry themselves different, they have a different faith, they have a different attitude. Be different. Joshua and Caleb were not going to settle for the junk that the previous generation had settled for.
I remember thinking, in my family, there’s some alcoholism in my family. And that was something I didn’t want to continue. You might have some patterns of abuse, pride, there might be hidden junk in your family, that that’s just passive-aggressive, or people have double lives in your family, and you’re not going to keep going with that. Have a different spirit. And I want to talk about how to cultivate a different spirit, because it’s not something you can fake or manufacture. This comes out of God’s presence. I want to say it again, there’s no greater gift from God than His presence. And God’s presence, as you abide with Jesus, that’s going to give you a different spirit.
It stood out in the Bible. They were ordinary guys. Jesus picked everyday people. He didn’t pick the most learned, He didn’t pick the rabbis, He didn’t pick the ones who knew all the scripture. He picked fishermen, He picked everyday people. And you know what stood out to the crowd? They’ve been with Jesus. They’ve got courage, they’ve got a different spirit. So, time with Jesus is going to change things, and I want to talk about cultivating that.
When you think about Joshua’s life, there’s one piece that God brings to him, it’s Joshua 1 in the Bible. And God says, “Meditate on my Word day and night.” And this is so important to new victories, because they start between your ears, they start with your mind. And what are you thinking about? You have thousands of thoughts every day. And then you get to choose, the first thought that comes in, you don’t have to believe, harbor, entertain. You intentionally choose the second thought, the power of the second thought. With that second thought, what are you going to focus on during the day? And how are you using scripture? Jesus was tempted three times, and every time He said, “It is written.” He quoted scripture. How many people are quoting scripture when they’re tempted? A lot of people are given into temptation. Scripture is a sword, it’s offensive, it’s powerful. When you have it in your mind, it renews your mind. I’m talking about renewing your mind so that your right thoughts are going to lead to right actions and a right attitude. It starts with the thoughts.
“Joshua, meditate, think about my Word, day and night. And then whatever you do, it’s going to be prosperous, going to be successful, because your mind’s in the right place.” There’s nothing greater for your mind than God’s Word, God’s voice, God’s wisdom. And when you focus on that, you’re going to be in alignment with God. Everyone else was shrinking back from God’s promise, but Joshua knew God’s promise, and he moved towards it. He lived it, he believed it and he went into the Promised Land. God gives you promises, thousands of promises, so many promises in your life that are powerful. Do you know what they are? Because when you know what His promises are, it reassures you, it gives you a sense of rest, there’s peace in your soul, because you know what God’s going to deliver, both today and also ultimately. You know how the story ends, you’ve got His promises.
But then you’ve got His Word, and His Word is living and active, and it builds you up. I’m highlighting this habit, meditating, because I think it’s one that gets overlooked. And when you meditate, or even memorize scripture, it’s powerfully spiritually and also relationally. Now, what is meditation? Meditation is choosing something to focus on, there’s nothing better than God’s Word, and then you fill your mind. You’re going to hear a lot about meditation in the culture, and they’re going to say the goal is to be empty, to have an empty mind, to clear everything out and just be empty. The goal, as you look at God’s Word, is not emptiness; it’s a fullness. And a fullness of God’s presence in your life, and a fullness of His Word. There’s a fullness that’s overflowing.
And then you can’t help but do it, talk about it. That’s your attitude that’s shaped and it all aligns with heaven. That fullness comes through meditation. It’s kind of like if you have a food you really like. Pick your favorite food, maybe it’s brownies and ice cream, but you just savor that, and in your mouth you enjoy that taste. That’s what it’s like when you meditate on God’s Word. It’s not a quick read, it’s not just like, “Okay, I got the concept, moving on.” It’s like, “I’m going to stay there. The Lord is my shepherd. The Lord.” And you start thinking about God, He’s all powerful, He’s holy, He’s our creator, He is right now. He is, right now, the Lord is, my, personal, that’s relationship, shepherd. Shepherds, they lay down their life, they protect, they lead, they guide, they love, they carry. “The Lord is my shepherd.”
See, when I meditate on that, now I know I’m not alone, I’m loved, I’m secure, I’ve got an identity. The Lord Almighty is with me. And He’s going to walk me through this, even if it’s the valley of shadow of death, He’s going to walk me through this. See, meditation, it just keeps sinking in deeper and deeper and deeper. You can’t rush it, there’s no microwave. It’s not just like glance at a verse and move on and just tackle the day. No, I’m meditating. I’m thinking about God’s Word during the day.
This might be a new habit for you. That’s okay. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just start with one verse, pick one verse, and then let that be your verse for the day. And you just keep going back to it. You can write it on a three-by-five card. You can write it down if you want a sticky note. You can memorize it. You just spend some time, meditate on the Word, and then the more you do it, the more that habit grows. It’s like any habit. They say it often takes a couple of weeks to get a habit. So start doing that, pick a verse for the day, meditate on it, and then watch how many times during the day that verse is going to help you, in how you see things, how you respond, how you treat someone. That’s the meditation that God gives to Joshua. He knows that Joshua’s mind can go astray. So your mind’s got to be right, be focused, and that’s going to lead to new victories.
Before we continue with today’s episode, I want to tell you about my friends at World Concern. The fact is for generations, children and families have struggled to find clean water, food, and a chance for a brighter future, and this includes the world’s poorest places. But this can all change in this generation, and you can be a part of the transformation, including villages that are far beyond where the road ends. Visit worldconcern.org today, and find out how you can bring change, and the love of Christ, to children and families that are forgotten by most of the world. To learn more, and to get involved, go to worldconcern.org.
Again, Joshua’s life. What are we talking about here? He’s got a mentor, he’s a learner. He’s a lifelong learner. That’s important. And then, in addition to that, he’s going to have the courage to be different. You’ve got to have the courage to be different. The victories come when you do what’s right consistently. Most people do what’s excellent occasionally. But when you start to cultivate, and do what’s right consistently, and you have those habits, you start to cultivate those things, that’s when God’s power, you’re making room for God in your life. When you start to meditate, you’re making room for God in your life. These habits simply make room for God in your life. You’re opening up doors that have been closed, gates that have been closed, and you’re going to be different.
Jesus was different. He was countercultural. And when you follow God, you’re going to be different, it’s going to be countercultural. And it’s going to be some leadership. You’re going to lead people, you’re going to inspire people, you’re going to encourage people, and you’re going to do it in a lot of ways; through your actions, you’re going to do it through your example, your attitude, you’re going to do it through your words. You’re going to lead people to God. There’s going to be a lot that you’re going to do. And as you cultivate those habits, God’s going to move.
That’s what happens with Joshua, and here’s what’s exciting. For Joshua, going into the Promised Land, God says, “I’m about to do something incredible.” Wouldn’t that be good to hear from God? You need to know, God’s about to do some amazing things in your life. And He goes ahead of us, He’s already planned them. Ephesians 2:10. We walk in that path. We just pick up and walk through those amazing experiences, because God’s already put them there. And for Joshua, his experience was going to be crossing the Jordan River. God told him, “Consecrate yourself.” Consecration means to set apart, set apart from sin, set apart from all the junk, so that you can enter in.
Here’s something that’s really powerful when you talk about victories; the inner life. And the victories God brings, so often, it starts on the inside, and then there’s something to do. When you hear victory you might think, “What am I going to do?” But it’s the inner life. And consecration means this. This is an incredibly powerful spot to be in. And you can call it surrender, you can call it trust, but you say, “God? Take over in my life. I turn from all sin.” There’s a wide range of stuff, it’s easy for all of us to get off track every day. But when you come to God and you say, “God, I confess all my sins, there’s nothing in my life that I’m going to hold onto in terms of rebellion right now, there’s nothing in my life where I’m going to call the shots.”
See, here’s the key. Consecration means God leads and we follow. Otherwise, we like to lead and ask God to follow, and, “God, please bless me from back there.” That’s not how consecration works. Consecration is, “Lord, I’m yours.” Worship is, “God, I’m yours.” Worship is not one day, one hour, a couple songs, showing up at church. You can worship there and that’s great, you should, that’s awesome, enjoy that. But worship is 24/7. It’s an abiding relationship where we live, work, learn, and play. And part of that worship is to say, “God, here I am, send me. God, here I am, take over today. You made me, you know me. God, lead me and guide me, I’m yours, I’m all in.”
And Joshua’s in that spot. That’s the posture that says yes to God, makes room for God. In God’s presence we’ll do what we could never do. And that means the Jordan River’s at flood stage. And you would look at that and think, “How are we ever going to cross that?” God parts the Jordan River. First, consecrate yourself. Then there’s a manifestation, there’s a victory that God brings, and the Jordan River’s parted. Consecration, don’t skip by that. A lot of people want to dive to the blessings and the task, but they haven’t really been prepared.
And I know from playing sports, there’s a jump that happens. When I was playing middle school ball, there’s a jump to high school, and there was a jump to college sports, and there was a jump to professional. And each level, this is what happens, there’s a higher level of commitment, there’s a different mental game. And then the training and the habits you cultivate, the pace of the game is different. So, the dedication’s different, the commitment’s different, the habits are different, the mental game is different. And in the mental game, you can’t wallow. And as a goalkeeper, if I let in a goal, I can’t sit there in self-pity, and, “Made a mistake”, and “Bad goal”, and “Shame”. It’s like, “I have to bounce back.”
And when we sin, we turn to God, we get forgiveness. And then let’s go back, let’s learn, let’s consecrate ourselves. There’s a consecration, and God moves where there’s a hunger. God moves where He’s honored. And you honor God, you’re hungry for God, you’re basically expressing that you trust God with consecration. God, I love you more than I love my sin. God, I love you more than I love control. God, I love you more than my family traditions. God, I love you more than the people around me. God, I love you more than money. I love you more than career. God, no one leads me better than you. You lead me better than I lead myself. God, I consecrate myself to you, I make room for you, I say come in, open up the gates, let the king of glory come in. And then the Jordan gets parted.
And it was very clear, God’s presence would lead. It was symbolic through the ark, then the leaders, and the people follow, and it’s all in alignment. There’s a culture there. Wherever you are, there’s a culture. And you’re an important part of setting and changing cultures, and the culture that’s set as they cross the Jordan is that we are going to follow God, we are going to walk by faith, we are going to venture into new areas, new territories. There’s going to be new victories. We’re going to do it united. We’re trusting, and we’re seeing God move, and we’re saying yes to God.
I’m highlighting in this time today about victories the inner life, meditation, what’s going on in terms of making room for God in your life, consecration, because it’s exciting to talk about the Promised Land, it’s exciting to talk about crossing the Jordan River. That’s a milestone, that’s a marker. But a lot of people skip over the deeper work, and they go together. You see, God’s presence is where it all flows from. And the more of God’s presence, the more victories. I’m not saying that if you’re a Christian, you’re going to be wealthy. That’s not the Bible. I’m not saying if you’re a Christian, life’s going to be easy. That’s not the Bible. I’m not saying if you’re a Christian, you’re going to necessarily live a long life. Look at Jesus, He was homeless. He wasn’t chasing worldly success. He died in His thirties.
So, what you’re going to have is an abundance in terms of this richness with God, and God’s presence, love, peace, joy, purpose, passion like fire. Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. God has designed you to be on fire, live with purpose and passion every day. God’s going to ignite you and then reignite you. When people try to put out that fire, get with other people who are on fire. Again, when those embers come together, we die out alone, but come together, there’s a bonfire.
And what you see as they cross the Jordan and head in the Promised Land, it’s so different than the wilderness. It’s so different than the wilderness. The culture is so different, the faith is so different, and they are trusting God and they’re moving forward. I want to encourage you, in terms of a breakthrough, to keep moving forward with God, even if you’ve never been there before. When I decided to follow Jesus, and this was in college, because I looked at the evidence of the Bible and the resurrection, and then also that emptiness inside of me. Jesus has living water to satisfy thirsty souls, and there’s just nothing else that could fill it, nothing in creation.
And out of that joy, it was new in my family. I come from a family kind of like Baskin-Robbins, 31 flavors. When I decided to follow Jesus, I didn’t know anyone in my family, over 50 people, who were born again. But then you know what happened? Things started to change and shift. My uncle came to know Jesus. He was a comedian, professional comedian, and he had a lifestyle of drinking and drugs. He opened up a Gideons Bible in a hotel in Iowa, read the Gospel of Mark, and said, “Jesus is king, not Elvis.” So, he put his trust in the Lord. And then in addition to that, my grandpa, in his seventies, decided to follow Jesus.
And then his health was deteriorating, he was having strokes. And my grandma didn’t believe yet. But I spent time, traveled to visit my grandpa in the hospital, spent time with grandma, late at night, at 2:00 in the morning. She said, “Jesse, I believe what you believe.” It’s grace, you can’t earn it. It’s a gift, it’s a relationship with Jesus, and she knows she’s going to heaven. So, things started to shift in our family, but it was all new. It was all new. And you might read your Bible more than other people in your family. You might pray more. Not that you’re better, but you’re starting to break out of some molds.
And I want to encourage you to step into what’s new. Joshua, they were going into this new area. There was going to be battles. There were lots of kings who wanted to take them out. It wasn’t going to be easy. Listen, we can’t do it alone. We need God’s help with every victory, and it’s too much for us alone. But with God, we can do new things. God is doing new things. When they marched into the Promised Land, in this place called Jericho, you know what they did? They walked around. Why? Because God told them to. That’s never been a battle plan before; just walk around the walls of a city, and then do it again the next day, and then do it again the next day, and the seventh day you walk a little more, you shout a little more, you praise God a little more and then the walls come down. See, they had to listen to God.
And in your new victories, it’s not going to be a formula. It’s going to need to be fresh listening to God. It’s not something that you’re just going to manufacture or fake. But in this close, abiding relationship, where you’re listening to God, and you’re saying yes, God is going to take down walls. God is going to do a work that you couldn’t even plan. And it’s going to be not only what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it. And you’ve got to hold loosely on the “how”. I like to say plan in pencil midcourse redirections. You got to be listening to God and just keep moving where He moves. The Israelites, they had a cloud, you got to move with the cloud. All that to say new victories, it’s going to be done. New breakthroughs, they’re going to happen, and they’re going to stretch you. They’re going to stretch you. That’s the place where God moves.
Peter saw Jesus out on the water. No one’s been walking on the water. And I used to think, “Oh yeah, Jesus told Peter, walk on the water.” Actually, there’s this dynamic between the two of them where Jesus, seen by Peter, Peter says, “I want to come out on the water.” Peter had some desire, but, of course, God knows everything, and God puts desires in our heart, and Jesus had things planned, and Peter starts to walk on the water. Some victories, a couple more steps. He takes his eyes off Jesus, he starts to sink. A lot of guys are still in the boat, they didn’t even take those steps. Take the steps, God’s in the courage, God’s in the risk. Not foolish risk, not risk because we just want risk. But it’s going to feel risky, it’s going to stretch you. You’re not going to feel comfortable. That’s where God moves.
Over and over again, the Bible, the new victories don’t happen with just, “Yeah, this is the safe zone.” The greatest victories in the Bible? They’re out on a limb of faith. And when you’re there, you might feel like it’s a little crazy. Did we really hear God? You got to go back to His Word and say yes, this is what God’s all about. And then keep moving forward. And those feelings inside are going to be there because it’s new. But these are new victories that God’s bringing to you.
So, let’s wrap this up and recap. Again, find the mentor. Then, in addition to just having someone that you’re watching, you’ve got to step up and start to do some things. And as you do that, the mental game, meditation, “meditate on my Word, day and night”. Be different than others. There’s a consecration where you offer yourself to God and you say, “God, take over, I’m yours.” And then the Holy Spirit’s going to fill you, lead you, guide you, and empower you. And as you do that, you’re going to step into some new victories, and you’re going to do it with a group of people. And there’s going to be a culture there of some new victories. And as God shows up, give God the glory, tell the story. These amazing things God’s doing in your life, provision, protection, tell people the story about what God’s done, and they will be inspired. And you’ll see that your new victories are attached to other new victories for other people, and God’s already lined it all up. So, the pressure’s not on you.
It’s a faith walk, trust God. This is the bonfire. This is where we gather; God’s presence. God is love, God is light, God is a consuming fire, and God is blazing new trails, and there’s new victories, and we can trust Him to do it. Go back and read Joshua 1-3. Those chapters stand out, and then just come back. Let’s hear your stories. Comment, please, rate. Anything you can do along those lines, sharing the podcast, we appreciate it. Because a bonfire? We want it to grow. And ultimately, we want everyone to experience God. That’s what this podcast is about, experiencing God, and there’s no greater gift than God’s presence. The new victories? Don’t just chase the victories, it’s relational. Start with God’s presence, and then God will lead you into the new victories. Thanks again for the comments, rate, subscribe, and let’s keep growing in our faith together. So glad you’re here. The Bonfire is a place where God brings new victories.