If you find yourself between a rock and a hard place, remember that god does not give us what we want but what we need in order to grow and develop into a whole, full and complete life in jesus christ, the anointed one.
We need those challenging places to remind us that the Source of strength and hope is Christ alone not the works of mere flesh and blood. For flesh and blood can not inherit the Kingdom of God. We must be born again of incorruptible, imperishable Seed which is the Word of God who is Jesus the Christ the Son of the Living God, who is the Father Almighty.
It is in the hard places that we are given opportunity to learn and grow from adversity and affliction
so that we can say as did Joseph of old, “the LORD has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction!”
It is in the LORD that we make our boast not in puny natural man but in the Eternal Almighty Sovereign Lord.
Stories of faith and faithfulness are central to the First Testament.
The writer of Hebrews recalls some of the most memorable examples of how people of faith lived their lives.
But what is faith?
Faith is more than belief; it is trust, assurance, and firm conviction.
Ironically most of those who lived by faith never fully realized the promises God had made.
Like us they journeyed as strangers and exiles, longing for another country.
We should remember their patient faith when we face prolonged hardships and allow the trials we face to strengthen our faith rather than destroy it.
If we are comfortable here and don’t face suffering for our faith, perhaps we aren’t fully living by faith and looking forward to a future hope.
God took the first step to rescue us from this corrupt world. He has granted us His power, revealed to us true knowledge, and spoken to us great promises. He has done all this for a reason: that we might participate in His own nature and reflect His own life. But we are not passive observers of God’s saving actions. We must receive His grace, grow in knowledge, and join Him in this work of redemption.
walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers.
They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it?
The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you?
What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matthew 6:29-34)
During the time of Jesus, John the Baptist wanders around Israel in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets warning the people that they need to correct their attitudes and behaviors, to bring them better in line with what God expects and desires. He declares (warns, actually) that God is coming and will set things right.
During the circumstances of exile, the people don’t fully understand who or what this voice in the wilderness will be; centuries later, as the early Christian community looks back over the life of Jesus and John, they recognize the anonymous voice.
A voice says, “Declare!”
But what shall I declare?
All life is like the grass.
All of its grace and beauty fades like the wild flowers in a field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
as the breath of the Eternal One blows away.
People are no different from grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
nothing lasts except the Word of our God.
It will stand forever.
Bloom in the Midst of Doom and Gloom!
The message is not just doom and gloom. God determines that His people may return home to rebuild their lives!
He makes the deserts between the present place of exile and their home burst with sweet water and bloom with beauty and good things to eat. Treacherous roads and threatening beasts yield to God’s desire that they return safely.
The message is one of comfort and encouragement to God’s downtrodden and discouraged people.
Why, then, do you, Jacob, inheritors of God’s promise,you, Israel, chosen of God—
Why do you say, “My troubled path is hidden from the Eternal;God has lost all interest in My cause”?
Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Eternal, the Everlasting God,
The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary.His wisdom is beyond understanding.
God strengthens the wearyand gives vitality to those worn down by age and care.
Young people will get tired;strapping young men will stumble and fall.
But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.They will walk—never tired, never faint.
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth.
I ask Him to strengthen you by His Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in. And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
For though we walk in the world, we do not fight according to this world’s rules of warfare.
The weapons of the war we’re fighting are not of this world but are powered by God and effective at tearing down the strongholds erected against His truth. We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One. As soon as you choose obedience, we stand ready to punish every act of disobedience. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen. It was by faith that our forebears were approved.
Through faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God;
everything we now see was fashioned from that which is invisible.
Faith begins as hope and indeed is unseen; so many doubt that it is real.
What follows is the proof that faith is a reality that can be trusted.
Faith does not rest upon cleverly devised fables invented by creative minds;
it rests upon the testimonies of eyewitnesses
who faithfully pass down what they see and hear to others.
There Were Many More Who Had Faith in God
What more should I say? There is not enough time to tell of Gideon and of Barak and of Samson and of Jephthah and of David and of Samuel and of the early preachers. It was because these people had faith that they won wars over other countries. They were good leaders. They received what God promised to them. They closed the mouths of lions and stopped fire that was burning. They got away from being killed with swords. They were made strong again after they had been weak and sick. They were strong in war. They made fighting men from other countries run home. It was because some women had faith that they received their dead back to life.
Others chose to be beaten instead of being set free, because they would not turn against God.
In this way, they would be raised to a better life.
Others were talked against. Some were beaten. Some were put in chains and in prison.
They were killed by stones being thrown at them. People were cut in pieces. They were tested. They were killed with swords. They wore skins of sheep and goats and had nothing they could call their own. They were hungry and sick.
Everyone was bad to them.
They walked around in deserts and in mountains. They looked for caves and holes in the earth to live in.
They were too good for this world.
It was because of their faith that God was pleased with them. But they did not receive what God had promised.
God had planned something better for us. These men could not be made perfect without us. (Hebrews 11:32-40)
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.
For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. (Hebrews 11:39-40)
Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them]. (Hebrews 11:40)
It is said that when an eagle molts, it is exchanging its old feathers for new ones.
The way to a new and much more fulfilling life–
the everlasting abundance of life that Christ offers is the way of the cross where our selfish prideful meaning-less
natural lives are exchanged for Christ’s freedom to really live in God’s forever family! The battle has already been won,
Jesus Victorious Christ was manifest for this purpose–to destroy the works of the devil. God sent His Word (Jesus) to
heal and deliver from destruction. He takes our cares when we take and give ourselves to Him and what He gives in return is much more than a sum of all the parts and parcels. He takes ownership again of all that we are as we continually turn to Him confessing our great need of Him. This is the victory that overcomes the world–trust in and obedience to God’s Word no matter what we endure to the end for we know that the end of the world, there’s a new beginning for those who are Christ’s seed.
In 2 Chronicles 20 and throughout the Holy Scriptures we are told not to worry or become seized with panic because the battle is not ours but belongs to the LORD. He will fight for us if we are standing steadfast fully reliant on His Word.
And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground. (Ephesians 6:13)
Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God. Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes. We’re not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places.
And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground. Yes, stand—truth banded around your waist, righteousness as your chest plate, and feet protected in preparation to proclaim the good news of peace. Don’t forget to raise the shield of faith above all else, so you will be able to extinguish flaming spears hurled at you from the wicked one. Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6: -17)
Paul knows that the real battles and dangers we face are not against flesh and blood.
The enemies we see are real enough, but they are animated by spiritual forces of darkness that stay strategically hidden from view. These powers often reveal themselves in institutional evils—genocide, terror, tyranny, and oppression—but the weapons needed to combat them are not earthly weapons at all. What is needed, Paul advises, is to stand firm in God’s power and to suit up in the full armor of God. Although the devil and his demon armies are destined for destruction, they are serious threats now and must be resisted and beaten back. For Paul, the best offensive weapons we have are the Word of God and prayer.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
So Paul found himself alone for some time in Athens. He would walk through the city, feeling deeply frustrated about the abundance of idols there. As in the previous cities, he went to the synagogue. Once again, he engaged in debate about Jesus with both ethnic Jews and devout Greek-born converts to Judaism. He would even wander around in the marketplace, speaking with anyone he happened to meet. Eventually he got into a debate with some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Some were dismissive from the start.
Philosophers: What’s this fast-talker trying to pitch?
Others: He seems to be advocating the gods of distant lands.
They said this because of what Paul had been preaching about Jesus and the resurrection.
The philosophers misunderstand Paul’s message. They think he is talking about two deities: Jesus and Anastasis (the Greek word for “resurrection”).
This stirred their curiosity, because the favorite pastime of Athenians (including foreigners who had settled there) was conversation about new and unusual ideas. So they brought him to the rock outcropping known as the Areopagus, where Athens’ intellectuals regularly gathered for debate, and they invited him to speak.
Athenians: May we understand this new teaching of yours? It is intriguingly unusual. We would love to know its meaning.
Paul: Athenians, as I have walked your streets, I have observed your strong and diverse religious ethos. You truly are a religious people. I have stopped again and again to examine carefully the religious statues and inscriptions that fill your city. On one such altar, I read this inscription: “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” I am not here to tell you about a strange foreign deity, but about this One whom you already worship, though without full knowledge. This is the God who made the universe and all it contains, the God who is the King of all heaven and all earth. It would be illogical to assume that a God of this magnitude could possibly be contained in any man-made structure, no matter how majestic. Nor would it be logical to think that this God would need human beings to provide Him with food and shelter—after all, He Himself would have given to humans everything they need—life, breath, food, shelter, and so on.
This is the only universal God, the One who makes all people whatever their nationality or culture or religion.
This God made us in all our diversity from one original person, allowing each culture to have its own time to develop, giving each its own place to live and thrive in its distinct ways. His purpose in all this was that people of every culture and religion would search for this ultimate God, grope for Him in the darkness, as it were, hoping to find Him. Yet, in truth, God is not far from any of us. For you know the saying, “We live in God; we move in God; we exist in God.” And still another said, “We are indeed God’s children.” Since this is true, since we are indeed offspring of God’s creative act, we shouldn’t think of the Deity as our own artifact, something made by our own hands—as if this great, universal, ultimate Creator were simply a combination of elements like gold, silver, and stone. No, God has patiently tolerated this kind of ignorance in the past, but now God says it is time to rethink our lives and reject these unenlightened assumptions.
He has fixed a day of accountability, when the whole world will be justly evaluated by a new, higher standard: not by a statue, but by a living man. God selected this man and made Him credible to all by raising Him from the dead.
When they heard that last phrase about resurrection from the dead, some shook their heads and scoffed, but others were even more curious. (Acts 17: -32)
Recently, the Lord led me to speak His Word to a rather religious minded yet dead wrong person. In obedient trust to
the One who sent me, I simply sowed and watered His Seed. That man was wandering away from the beautiful simplicity of the Gospel, thinking that seeing is believing. Yet Jesus Christ had to reprimand and rebuke His inner circle of disciples
and even after His resurrection, had this to say to Thomas, “…do not be unbelieving, be believing.” Doubt, unbelief
fear and worry inhibit and hinder the life of God seeking to abort its growth in your heart. When you see a weed choking
the life from a plant, you remove it. You don’t want them to cohabit because the weed robs the plant of vital nutrition
It is for this reason that I bow my knees before the Father, after whom all families in heaven above and on earth below receive their names, and pray:
Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root.
May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings.
This is a doxology of praise to the One with power that is beyond understanding.
Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:10-21)