A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
In everything we do there is always preparation. Preparation to start a new job, preparation to getting married, preparation to having kids. You get the picture. And there is also another kind of preparation that God is calling us to do. This kind of prep is ongoing, it’s not only for a season of our lives but everyday.
There are obstacles that we can put before God, and those obstacles can be a hinderance to our relationship. What we might think is good for us on the other hand isn’t pleasant in the eyes of God. God can do anything, right? His power is limitless, we all know that. But it’s up to us, as obedient children of God to surrender those obstacles to Him. I like the prayer that David prayed in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”
I don’t need to give examples of the obstacles that can get in the way, we all know those obstacles that we need to make flat. It’s all in the prep work to make every “mountain and hill low; the uneven ground shall become level…”
Right now, where you’re at ask the Lord to reveal those obstacles in your life, ask Him to make a way in the wilderness. Ask for help in preparing your heart for His soon return.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
— 1 Peter 1:3-7
Before I can even start telling you about the Living Hope in Jesus, we first must realize that it was mercy that sent us Hope.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) …”Ephesians 2:4-5.
WHAT DOES THIS LIVING HOPE MEAN FOR THE BELIEVER?
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN WE HAVE A LIVING HOPE THAT IS LIVING INSIDE OF US!
DESPITE WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND US
INTO WHATEVER STORM WE MAY ENCOUNTER
INTO WHATEVER BATTLE WE MAY FACE
WE HAVE THIS GREAT HOPE IN THE MIDST OF THE WAR
OUR ONLY HOPE BELONGS IN NO OTHER PERSON BUT IN HIM
Remember our hope is not in a pastor, it’s not in America, it’s not in ourselves or anything this world has to offer.
How can we remain steadfast in a storm when the waves come up against me?
HEBREWS 6:19 “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,…”
HE IS OUR ANCHOR
“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”
a. Let us cross over to the other side: Jesus made a promise to His disciples. He didn’t say, “Let us perish in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.”
He promised His disciples that they would cross over to the other side.
We are not promised a fair life
We are not promised to a life without struggles
We are not promised to not go through the fire
We are not promised tomorrow!
Many times we don’t understand the “why’s” of life. It’s in those moments that when the seas become choppy and everything is against us that we truly know how strong the anchor holds.
BUT WHAT HE DID PROMISE IS THAT HE’LL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU!
DEUT. 31:6 “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. DO NOT BE AFRAID OR TERRIFIED BECAUSE OF THEM, FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU; HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.”
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.“
Many believe the lies that they will never see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s always going to be this way, it’s over my head. We may have these thoughts but what He promised the disciples and to us…He will meet us on the other side.
HE DIDN’T SAY I’LL MEET YOU HALF WAY AND YOU FIGURE IT OUT.
WHAT DOES THIS Living Hope mean for the Believer?
GOD IS FOR US — Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
When we are faced with the impossible, we forget what is possible with Him. We may ask, “Where is God in all of this?”
Mark 4:38 “And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
IN THAT MOMENT OF ASKING QUESTIONS…WE WANT ANSWERS…WE DON’t WANT TO WAIT ANY LONGER…I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE…
Even though words can’t express the chaos and confusion and questions we may have. We serve a God who knows and feels our infirmities
But let me assure you that God doesn’t always have to speak to you to know that He is with you.
In the midst of the storm there is a presence. WE MUST Believe in the power of the presence of God KNOWING THAT HE IS FOR US.
The DISCIPLES DIDN’T TAKE JESUS AT HIS WORDS
A. ARE WE TAKING HIM AT HIS WORD?
ISAIAH 55:11 “ SO SHALL MY WORD THAT GOES OUT OF MY MOUTH; IT SHALL NOT RETURN TO ME EMPTY, BUT IT SHALL ACCOMPLISH THAT WHICH I PURPOSE, AND SHALL SUCCEED IN THE THING FOR WHICH I SENT.
IF HE SAID IT HE WILL DO IT!
How many times has God said a word to you and in order to fulfill a purpose. And all the sudden the storm comes in your life and when you get through that storm you look back and think if I had not went through that storm I would not have made it to where I am right now.
If HE LED YOU TO IT, HE WILL LEAD YOU THROUGH IT.
He won’t leave you hanging!
Mark 4:39-40 “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. “But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!””
— It is possible to have peace in a crisis.
— It is possible to have joy in a crisis
He WANTS US TO HAVE AN UNMOVABLE — UNSHAKABLE— UN WAVERING FAITH.
WHAT DOES THIS Living Hope mean for the Believer?
We have this hope as an anchor
We have this hope knowing that He is for us
WE KNOW WE HAVE A FUTURE HOPE –
1 Peter 1:3-4
“He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
WE MAY NOT KNOW THE PLANS or what’s next, “I don’t need to know ‘why,’ as long as I know the One who knows “why.’”
YOU’VE GOT TO LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING BUT LEAN ON THE ANCHOR FOR NOTHING WILL MOVE HIM
Hope itself is like a star — not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. — Charles Spurgeon
— To realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the storm.
When we feel the stress of the storm, we learn the strength of the anchor.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
In these trying times, it seems that darkness is overtaking light. We can look at our economy, the violence that we may hear of terrible things happening, or even the fear of getting sick. At times it seems that darkness is taking over and so we ask, where is God in all of this?
As God heard the cries of deliverance from His people in Egypt who had been in bondage for over 400 years; God responded. He found a man named Moses to free His people. A man who claims to have stuttered and not speak eloquently found a side kick to go with him, Aaron.
After many attempts to free His people, God told Moses to “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” — this ninth plague would make Pharaoh’s heart even harder.
(A darkness that had a supernatural element in which it could be felt.)
“So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived.”
In all of the darkness that was there for three days, God supplied the needs of His people, He provided His light so that they would not be in darkness.
In this season that we are in, we may feel fear, discouragement, anxiety, the darkness that at times feels like its sucking the very life out of you. But remember this, that every time you ask “God, where are You in all of this?”
Remember, He is right where you are. He is still being a provider, supplying all of your needs according to His riches in Glory. He is the light, a light that darkness cannot, will not overcome.
Jesus said that He has overcome the World. He has overcome the fear, the depression, the anxiety, any darkness. Come to the light which is Jesus and find the freedom that you need!
Like others, I have too had to adapt to this “quarantine” “Stay at Home” or “Lose Your Mind” kind of lifestyle. It’s like life halted all at once, because it has. Everything was comfortable, normal, we were in control of when and where we wanted to go and BAM! We were left with the economy spiraling downwards, millions of unemployment within three weeks and our lives would be changed. But for the better?
We ask ourselves, what was the point in all of this?
It’s like we have been scattered in a wilderness of isolation, desolate, uninhabited and deserted by others. Let’s face it, isolation is a wilderness!
But I want to point out that the “wilderness” is an invitation. How is that?
God may be shaking us, wanting us to re-prioritize our lives and re-align ourselves for the better. He may be showing you areas in your life where you need to repent, areas that you are lacking. For some, it is a hard thing to do. But it’s been done before.
The Israelites: When they were in their “wilderness” God provided; not for days ahead but each day He made provision. – Exodus 16
Hagar: When she fled into her “wilderness” a promise was revealed to her by an angel of the Lord about her son who was Ishmael. – Genesis 16
Jesus: After being baptized in water by John, Jesus was led into His “wilderness” where he was tempted for forty days and forty nights by the enemy, preparing Him for His ministry. – Matthew 4
The Wilderness is an invitation into dependence.
Sometimes invitations from God are not wrapped in a pretty bow. Most times it’s going to cause discomfort and loneliness. But remember that we never graduate from being dependent on God to being independent from God.
//QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF\\
WILL YOU ALLOW THE WILDERNESS TO HARDEN YOUR HEART?
Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire 2 and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. 3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. 5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
We read David had a choice to seek God for strength or to go on his own strength.
WHEN NO ONE IS THERE TO ENCOURAGE YOU,
WHEN ALL YOUR FRIENDS HAVE TURNED AWAY
THERE IS ONE! THAT STICKS CLOSER THAN A BROTHER
ABLE TO EMPATHIZE WITH OUR WEAKNESSES
He IS AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER INTERCEDING ON OUR BEHALF
WHEN ALL HOPE IS GONE AND HIS WORD IS ALL YOU HAVE, YOU’VE COME TO THE PLACE WHERE HE WANTS YOU! WHEN YOU COME TO THE END OF YOURSELF BUT ALL YOU HAVE IS HIS WORD, YOU’VE COME TO THE PLACE WHERE HE WANTS YOU!
WHEN YOU TAKE THE SPIRITS LEADING INSTEAD OF YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING AND ALL YOU HAVE IS HIS WORD TO LIGHT UP THE PATH, YOU’RE GOING TO THE PLACE WHERE HE WANTS YOU!
“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God”
“It’s the Word of God that is sharper than any two edged sword.” – Hebrews 4:12
It cuts through sin
It cuts off addictions
It is living!
THINGS BEGIN TO CHANGE WHEN YOU FIND STRENGTH IN HIS WORD!
“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
WHEN WE WAIT ON HIM, HE WILL RENEW OUR STRENGTH, IT’S ONLY IN HIS WORD THAT ARE STRENGTH IS FOUND.
so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5
We are living in strange times, who would’ve thought that some virus could devastate the economy? It has shaken every part of our world as we know it. Our jobs, our families and more than that it has shaken the economy. And for some it has shaken a lot of things that you would’ve never thought possible. What will you be left with when all of this goes away? Will you have more money than before? Will you have your job? What will remain when the dust settles? or more importantly, will you be moved by this storm? Or will you take refuge in the Lord?
Paul reminds us in Hebrews 12:27 “This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken — that is, things that have been made — in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.”
Every distraction that has been the priority, our careers, our lives has been shut down. And we have been driven back to the basics of family and faith. I believe that God sometimes has to shake our world to re-focus our priorities in order to wake us up and for us to realize that He is our priority.
So where is your faith? Is it in man, money, possessions?
Or is it in Christ alone?
God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power – to overcome the obstacles and love – to help others and sound mind – ability to not panic, make wise choices, to choose faith over fear. – 2 Timothy 1:7
Have you ever thought that there was something too hard for God? Have you ever thought to yourself, “why am I even praying this prayer”? My hand is raised. I’ve been guilty of limiting the power of God in my life. Just think about it. You have an impossible situation in front of you and what is the first thought that comes to mind? Are we casting “that” in the sea and pursuing, believing for the impossible? Or are we casting that thought down and choosing to believe that it’s too hard?
What God is asking Jeremiah is the same question that He is asking you and I. Is there anything too hard for Him? Is there a family member, someone you may know of too far to save? What about the drug addict? too far gone to deliver? The diseased? Sickness is too far gone? Your situation too far gone that God cannot still show up and show off? Of course not, He is the same today and forever and hasn’t changed. The only one that has changed is YOU!
Our vision changes when we don’t believe in God for the impossibles.
Our Vision – Without the vision of seeing it come to pass, we will never walk into what He has for us. Do you have 20/20 vision?
GENESIS 15:1-6 < A VISION IS GIVEN >
15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Abram was questioning God, “Offspring? I’m too old.”
When a vision is given by God, we need to nurture that vision. God has pregnated each one of us with a mission, His will in our lives. Even though it may sound strange or down right crazy. Will you believe the Lord?
GENESIS 17:15-19 < A PROMISE IS GIVEN >
Abram was ninety nine years old when God told him that he and Sarai would have a son. Genesis 17:15-19 . We learn in the previous chapter Sarai said to Abram " Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Genesis 16:1-6
We know by now that the Lord promised Abram a child. But he listened to his wife instead of waiting for the promise. What would you have done?
I have looked past over the years the friends and people that God has put in my life. Some have stayed but most have gone. Not on bad terms, we have just grown in different ways. It’s important to be around people with the same mindset, who not only cares just as much as you do for the vision that God has impregnated you with, but a friend who you can trust to give you Godly advice
In the book of John 11 we read the story of Lazarus.
It wasn’t Lazarus TIME TO DIE JUST YET.
SO MANY TIMES WE LOOK AT THINGS IN THE NATURAL AND NOT THE SPIRITUAL.
WHAT WE THINK IS DEAD TO US CAN COME ALIVE AGAIN IN HIM.
IF WE LET THE ENEMY PUT OUR DREAMS,
OUR PROMISES FROM GOD IN A BOX BECAUSE WE HAVE LIMITED THE POWER OF GOD IN OUR LIFE BY REFUSING TO BELIEVE.
THAT BOX WILL BECOME A COFFIN.
THE ENEMY WOULD LOVE TO SHUT US UP! AND PUT THE LID ON IT.
LET GOD OUT OF THE BOX!
AND LET HIM BE GOD!
BELIEVE FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE
21 “Lord if you had been here…he would not have died.” …Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.
JESUS waited 2 more days after he died, why? It was jewish superstition that the soul could return to the body within 3 days of it being dead but on the fourth day there would be no hope for resuscitation.
There is still a rescusitator
There is still a redeemer
THERE IS ONE WHO IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER WHO IS INTERCEDING FOR YOU AND I THIS MORNING.
HE KNOWS WHATS AHEAD,
HE KNOWS MORE ABOUT US THAN WE KNOW of OURSELVES,
HE HAS THE PROVISION FOR OUR LIVES EVERYDAY!
Sometimes we may think He is delaying
THE BREAKTHROUGH but in reality He knows the hour to visit you in your state of hopelessness.
Martha said “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
Before Jesus raised Lazarus
She was expecting a miracle because the one who performs miracles was in her presence.
“WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED IN MY NAME, THERE AM I WITH THEM.”
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE INTERCEDE?
When you intercede for someone you are declaring truth in that persons life, whether it be healing, deliverance, salvation etc. you are canceling out the enemy’s plan, binding the work of the enemy and declaring the promises of God on that persons life…
Prayer that pleads with God your needs and the needs of others.
1 Timothy 2:1-5
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
[No prayer is too small no prayer is too big that He will not intercede ON OUR BEHALF]
We see throughout all scripture of people coming to Jesus when he was in their town interceding for a person on their behalf and every time that need was met.
Sometimes it was instant other times it required persistence
PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF
LUKE 18 – PERSISTENT WIDOW
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
WE MAY QUESTION GOD, DOES HE REALLY CARE?
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are yet without sin…
QUESTIONS TO ASK OURSELVES:
Are we pressing in for the need that we have been asking?
Are we pressing in for the needs of others
OR we just stop asking
stop pressing and
It’s NOT TIME TO GIVE UP ON GOD — KEEP PRESSING IN
In this particular story of the Canaanite woman we see that she had to press in for God to deliver the promise.
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman –
persistence pays off
21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
JESUS DID NOT SAY A WORD WHEN SHE PLEADED FOR MERCY FOR HER DAUGHTER.
– where most stop praying
– where most give up on the need
In verse 25 “She came and knelt before Him”
Don’t stop pleading, don’t stop kneeling before Him asking for that need in your life or of another to be met!
Studies have shown that being thankful improves our physical and emotional health. Holding on to feelings of thankfulness boosts our immune system and increases blood supply to our heart. Daily guided exercises or the habit of keeping a weekly gratitude journal can increase our alertness, enthusiasm, and energy, and improve our sleep. People who describe themselves as feeling grateful tend to suffer less stress and depression than the rest of the population.
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance.
ITS COMMON TO SEE A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO HAS THE SAME OUTLOOK AND THE SAME ATTITUDE OF A CONDITION HUDDLED TOGETHER.
LIKE NEGATIVE NANCY, DEBBIE DOWNER, PESSIMISTIC PAT, AND A FEW OTHERS WERE THERE.
13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” (DO YOU WANT TO BE HEALED?)
SOMETIMES WE ARE NOT PRESENTED WITH A QUESTION FROM GOD BUT AN ACTION AND THAT ACTION IS THANKFULNESS, PRAISE AND HONOR!
HE WANTS TO SEE OUR HEARTS REACTION TO A MIRACLE OR A BLESSING.
“I will give thanks to you with all my heart, O Lord my God. I will honor you forever because your mercy toward me is great.”
And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;
(STOOD AT DISTANCE) IT WAS LAW THAT THEY HAD TO KEEP A DISTANCE BETWEEN OTHERS. JESUS IS STANDING IN FRONT OF THEM. RELIGION KEEPS US FROM GIVING THANKS, RELIGION KEEPS US FROM BELIEVING THE IMPOSSIBLE.
16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
THE LEPERS WERE WANTING HEALING BUT ONLY ONE CAME BACK WITH A SOUND OF PRAISE!
BE THANKFUL. IF WE ARE NOT CONTENT AND GRATEFUL FOR WHAT WE HAVE AND WHO WE ARE, THEN WE ARE NOT LOVING GOD AS WE SHOULD.
There are many treasures in this world that we can find that has value, that is of worth. But only One treasure chose to find us, He chose to become flesh and dwell among us. There is no other treasure that we must embrace not just in this holiday season but everyday.
For thousands of years, God’s chosen people had waited for the fulfillment of his promises, and for four hundred years, God had, so it seemed, gone silent.
…Until one night in a little town called Bethlehem, Immanuel, God with us was born.
HIS SILENCE IS NOT HIS ABSENCE, HE IS IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US.
This child, the creator of the universe, the almighty God who spoke creation into existence. Came and humbled himself to become a baby. He was not laid in satin sheets, but in rags. He was not laid in a bed of gold befitting a king but in a feeding trough for animals. There he was the greatest gift of all — In simple wrapping.
Luke 2:8-19 In the same region there were shepherds in the field. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were filled with fear. Angel said ‘fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And fthis will be a sign for you: you will find a baby gwrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel ha multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
jand on earth kpeace lamong those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
I like verse 19 when “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”
Are we truly treasuring Christ?
When we treasure the words of what he speaks in our time of difficulty those words will come to mind that will give us the courage the faith to help us get through the battles.
I believe when Mary was kneeling at the cross at the time of His Crucifixion, we could see Mary with tears flowing her down face. She knew the purpose of her Son, but still she felt the pain of a dying loved one. I believe her mind would go back to the night Jesus was born and remembering the words of the what the shepherds spoke to her. “Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When life has taken a turn for the worse always treasure the Word. Always go back to the Word.
Who and what are you leaning into? That is the question.
26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” – Genesis 32:26
Maybe at times we have wrestled with God about a certain situation. We think of all the why’s. Why hasn’t He fulfilled that promise in my life, why hasn’t He performed this miracle that He said He would do? Our mind could go in a thousand directions off of just one why. But we are told to not lean on our own understanding. So who and what are you leaning on?
When we experience the pain from those “why’s” we have two options.
Lean into God
Lean on self
It took me years, I mean years to learn not to lean, to listen to others, to figure out my understanding of the issue. But to “Be Still and know that I am God” resting in Him will divert your own solution to the issue.
Questions to ask yourself:
Are you leaning on His guidance? The direction of the Holy Spirit?
Or are we leaning on ourselves to figure the why’s of life out?
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4
Jacob didn’t understand in that moment but he still leaned into Him…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Struggle, trial, sickness, temptation,) In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”- Proverbs 3:5
…And whenever God is ready there will be a blessing in the release.
James 1:12 blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.
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Life itself is not a problem to figure it out, it is a gift. And at times that priceless gift that we have received from God is going to come with a fight, a fight for your faith.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ, who loved us.” – Romans 8:37
At times we question of why something is happening, but we need no reasoning but to wait on Him by submitting to Him. But most importantly we must remain steadfast in the struggle/trial.
Genesis 32 tells a story about Jacob who ‘wrestled with God’.
22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone.
And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
WHY WAS JACOB LEFT ALONE? HE WAS AFRAID TO MEET HIS BROTHER ESAU AFTER MANY YEARS OF SEPARATION. HE SENT A PRESENT TO ESAU AHEAD OF HIM HOPING TO APPEASE HIM. ESAU WITH FOUR HUNDRED SOLDIERS, AND JACOB BEING BY HIMSELF.
JACOB WAS NEEDING BREAKTHROUGH TO END THIS FAMILY AFFAIR, HE WAS TIRED OF THE SILENCE, THE BROKEN RELATIONSHIP THAT STARTED FROM A YOUNG AGE. AND GOD SEEN THAT AND MET HIM WHERE HE WAS.
When we pray for breakthrough, sometimes we don’t expect it to happen the way we think it should.
Jacob was not expecting for his hip to be out of place,
God will cause us to limp to increase our faith.
but that pain drove him to stay in the fight, to not give up.
It did not shake his faith, or silence his prayer.
OUR WRESTLE WITH GOD BEGINS IN PRAYER,
EPHESIANS 6:12 “ FOR WE DO NOT WRESTLE AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT AGAINST THE RULERS, AGAINST THE AUTHORITIES, AGAINST THE COSMIC POWERS OVER THIS PRESENT DARKNESS.
However tried or discouraged, we shall prevail; and prevailing with Him in prayer, we shall prevail against all enemies that strive with us. Nothing requires more vigour and unceasing exertion than wrestling.
We are to come boldly before the Throne Room
HEBREWS 4:16 “ LET US THEN WITH CONFIDENCE DRAW NEAR TO THE THRONE OF GRACE, THAT WE MAY RECEIVE MERCY AND FIND GRACE TO HELP IN TIME OF NEED.”
Surrendering is not on our weekly to do list. I know it isn’t on mine. with the hustle and bustle of life, it’s so easy to strive for success than to surrender. But for most we define success as a fulfilling and prosperous career, satisfying relationship, and a happy and productive life.
God though, defines success a lot differently then we do. He isn’t concerned with the amount of money you make, the shoes you wear, the position you hold in a company or a church. He doesn’t measure you on the accomplishments or charitable work that you’ve done.
The question I have to ask ourselves is this. We repent to be forgiven but are we choosing to surrender in order to be changed?
There is always a call to surrender
Everyday of our lives, we are called to surrender our will for His. We are called to lay down our lives for His name sake. Luke 14:27 “And whosoever cannot bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
The beauty of surrender is that in everyday life, we have the choice to lay down our burdens, our ways of doing things and exchanging them for His rest.
When Jesus called the disciples, it meant no going back to the way of life they once knew.
In the book of 1 Kings 19:19-21 after Elisha is called of God to follow Elijah, Elisha went back, not to stay, not to think about it or to throw a “going away party” but he did something very crucial. He destroyed his livelihood, the very means of secure necessities of life. Elisha seen more value in the pursuit of God than his own.
“To step forward in your destiny you have to step away from your security.”
Just like Elisha, we have the choice to follow God or our own agenda.