What a powerful statement the prophet makes in Hosea 2:15 “Our God will transform the Valley of Achor (or trouble) into a door of hope”.
When men try to fix it, by leaving God out, they just mess it up…. On the cover of one edition of Time Magazine, titled “America’s Forever War” it said “One of thousands training for a war that started before he was born”… In October, 1940, Presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt promised, (quote) “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” (We know how that turned out) Kennedy promised us Camelot, and proposed an alternative to war, and move away from Eisenhower’s battle centered approach.He chose to negotiate with foreign enemies which made him seem weak especially after the “Bay of Pigs” fluke, while the nightmare of Vietnam was escalating. Then Lyndon Johnson promised,(quote) “We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves” (We know how that turned out) This information comes from the book, “No Matter How Thin You Slice It, It’s Still Baloney” Our trust in politicians to keep their campaign promises has been so undermined, that we have a saying, “If their lips are moving, then they are lying”.
It bothers us greatly when someone we love and trust fails to keep promises that go much deeper than “pinky promises”…. like the one that says. “I promise to love you in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and to keep myself ever and only for you, till death do us part.” That’s not a “pinky promise”….When those kinds of promises are broken, it leaves a trail of grief and pain.Lives are scarred and generations are affected. There was one family who were leaving on a long trip and they trusted someone with their rare and valuable family treasures, which that person promised to keep safe for their return. They were stunned and greatly distressed to return and find that they had sold it all and disappeared with the cash. We’re hurt when people fail to keep promises about things that are important to us.
Trust and hope become the casualties of broken promises…and lawyers and psychologists make a fortune … The question is asked, “How many Psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer… “Only one, but the bulb must really WANT to change”. How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer… “How many can you afford”? Q: How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb? Answer… “We don’t know because they haven’t decided which denomination should be allowed to do it.”
I think it’s amazing that we trust the government to send us a 1,400.00 stimulus check that ended up costing all of us 1.9 trillion dollars, but we have doubts about God who gave His only Son to be rejected, abused, beaten and crucified, to redeem us and set us free! The tragedy is that folks are constantly doubting and sayingno to the promises of God, while they say yes to the multitude ofthings that bring them only heartbreak, destruction, turmoil, pain and suffering.
Healthy Boundaries become the victim when trust is violated. Doubt and unbelief bring confusion into our spirit. Hope and trust are crushed. The first cousin of doubt is logic, Fear is it’s brother, Worry is it’s nephew, and shame is it’s uncle.
Jackie Robinson was the first black person to play major league baseball. Many resented that he was upsetting baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. Opposing players would stomp on his feet and push and kick him. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he made an error. The fans began to ridicule him and call him every kind of name. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd with his feet planted. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career because he was at the point of quitting. When you constantly criticize others, it’s not just you they don’t like, even worse, they stop liking themselves… and that has a domino effect. David said in Psalm 119:90 “Your word Oh Lord, is eternal, Your faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Paul stated in Acts 13:26 “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled His promise to us, our children (and their children) in that He raised up Jesus, as it also is written” … The people of Paul’s day had been let down before, by politicians, by religious leaders, by their friends and the community… but when Jesus appeared following the resurrection… hope, faith and trust were restored and a spiritual healing began to take place and belief was renewed that God would prevail when everything and everyone in life had let them down! Hope was reborn, and if there is hope, anything is possible!
Paul is assuring us that GOD IS SOVEREIGNLY MOVING IN ALL OF HISTORY ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE, IN ORDER TO FULFILL HIS PROMISES.
God set key people in key places at critical times…. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, the prophets, the patriarchs, Paul, the disciples and on into our very day. It was not so much, their choice of God, but God’s choice of them, that is significant. He chose a rebellious nation to be stewards of His covenant which He passed down to us. Scripture says that “God carried them in His arms and nursed them in the wilderness.” He chose America, with all it’s greed, it’s pride and it’s short comings, to be a leader of nations, because it’s foundation was rooted in the Judeo/ Christian faith. I believe Ezekiel 19:2 was a prophecy that included America “What a lioness was your mother (England) among lions! She crouched in a pride of young lions. Her cubs grew large. She reared one of her cubs to maturity, a robust young lion. He learned to hunt. He preyed upon men. The nations sounded the alarm”. America’s God ordained mission was to share the Christian faith with all who had lost faith, hope and trust in the God of the bible. He is choosing His instruments to be His voice and His demonstration to each generation….
It’s more than history, it is His Story!
Proverbs 16:33 We make our own decisions, but the LORD alone determines what happens.
Another version says “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD”.
Still another version says “People cast lots to learn God's will, but the LORD determines every outcome”.
For 450 years God never forgot His promise… For 400 years of Egyptian captivity, for forty years journeying to the promised land, and for ten years conquering enemies in Canaan, He never forgot. And that should remind us that the distance with God is always worth the difference!
It should also remind us that….
We need to hold onto the vision and trust the process God is using to bring it to pass….
Habakkuk 2:3 says “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come to pass, it will not tarry” (it will be right on time). When it looks like no way…. You can shout “YES WAY”…. When you ask “Can it ever be”… You can shout “It shall come to pass”…. When Satan whispers it’s not possible… You can shout “All things are possible”…. At a weekly home Bible study, the leader asked an elderly gentleman, to open the meeting with prayer. He was praying in a quite, soft voice. Another man, straining to hear, shouted, “I can’t hear you!” The man praying replied back, “Carl, I wasn’t talking to you.” There are always other voices trying to get our attention, but there is only one voice that truly matters… and that voice is telling us in…
Luke 18:27 “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” The same power that cancelled the grip of sin in our lives, can also break the patterns which sin has woven into our lives…the old song says “He breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the captives free!!!
Is it possible that God could ever make a mountain so big that He could not move it? Is it possible that He could ever make a river so wide, He could not cross it? Is it possible that God could ever make a wall so high that He could not get over it or through it?
Having done all to stand, stand therefore and see the glory of the Lord!!!
Excuses are the biggest destroyers of Divine opportunity. Because once commitment is made, the will must be surrendered and it must bow, before any significant life change is ever made. Excuses are always “Me” centered, not God centered, and not what’s best for you!
Excuses are like arm pits, everyone has them and if you’re not careful they really start to stink! George Washington Carver, said that ninety-nine percent of failure comes from people who make excuses. Henry Ford’s motto was….If YOU think you can’t, then you’re right!!
He also said, If YOU think you can, you’re right too!! Walter Wintel said “If you think you’re beaten, you are, If you don’t think you’ll win, then you won’t. If you think that you’ll lose you’ve already lost. For out in the world we soon find, that success will begin in your own state of mind”. A young man came up to his pastor after the service, and said “Man, this Christian living is really hard!” The Pastor surprised him when he said, “No, son. It’s not hard, it’s impossible.” We cannot do it in our power, but in the strength and power that comes from the Lord, we can and will. 1 Corinthians 3:7 “So then neither is he that plants is anything, nor he who waters, for it is God that gives the increase”.
So, we cling to every promise, God has given us, because every promise is anointed and embedded with overcoming power that will take us through it, get us over it, around it, under it or cause it like the walls of Jericho to crumble before us!!
Your loved one can be saved. Your trouble can be overcome. Your confusion can be answered. Your heartbreak can be healed. Your mountain can be moved, Your strength can be renewed, Your body can be healed, Your second chance will come, and Your promise from God will be fulfilled…. Don’t you let go…. Hold on… The battle is the Lords!!
Live as if God will do what He has promised! Joshua 1:9 He promised to be with you wherever you go…
Psalm 37:4 He promised that though you may stumble, you will not fall,
for He would uphold you with his hand. -
.Proverbs 3:6 He promised to make the crooked way straight before you.
Isaiah 30:21 He promised that Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you would hear his voice saying “This is the way; walk ye in it.”
Isaiah 58:11 He promised that He would guide you always, and satisfy your needs and strengthen and establish you. Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet his faithfulness will not be shaken nor his covenant of peace be removed,”
Listen, they didn’t move the great stone from the entrance of the tomb, but God did. He didn’t just move the stone to let Jesus out, but to allow us to come in and see that death is not the final word. He got up to show that Failure is not the final word… The impossible situation is not the final word!!
He will not be imprisoned in the grave of the impossible, He got up, so the impossible could now be possible….and the unbelievable could be the new reality….
Joe Louis, one of the best boxer of all time, had a spotless record of 27–0 going into his fight with the German Max Schmeling. It was 1936, when Nazi-ism was at its height, and Germany was the face of evil. So, the fight between the American and the German took place at a sold-out Yankee Stadium.
Everyone expected Louis to win. But twelve rounds into a fifteen-round bout, Schmeling knocked Louis to the mat. Louis remained there—out cold. The hero had fallen. This was not a fight just between two men. It had been a battle between democracy and fascism. Right and wrong. Good versus evil.
And it appeared that evil had won. It was reported that, throughout the country, people cried when they heard the news of Joe Louis’ defeat. All across the country that night when the news came that Joe was knocked out, people wept in despair. But Louis got up, and refused to stay down in defeat!
A second fight was scheduled between Lewis and Schmeling. The location was the same: a sold-out Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. But this time, in just under a minute, Schmeling went down for the third and final time. Louis had won the match with a knockout. Schmeling didn’t know it but before the fight had begun, he had lost to an inspired Lewis whose faith had been restored and hope had been rekindle…. Lewis showed us that you can lose without being a loser and fail without being a failure….
God has scheduled your come back, and this time it’s going to be different… This time the sick are healed, the dead are raised, the lost are found, the provision will come, the finances come through, the barriers come down, victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat!
BECAUSE JESUS GOT UP, YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET UP ALSO!!
The stone was rolled away so all could see that evil had lost and the victory was theirs because Jesus had defeated death, hell and the grave
He got up so we could follow Him into an upper room where the church was endued with a dimension of power that was not of this earth. You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me….
That power was for the work place, for the family room, for the neighborhood and for living an overcoming life everywhere they went. It’s not how much of the Holy Spirit you have but how much of you the Holy Spirit has!!.....If your Holy Ghost only makes you jump around, shake, feel good, and get goose bumps. That isn’t the Holy Ghost, that’s ADHD! The Holy Ghost of the scripture makes you repent, forgive, let go of your sin, draw closer to God, give your tithe, honor your commitments, and change your life. The Holy Spirit will make you cry out for more!!!
He got up so we could know the same spirit that raised Him from the dead, present and living in us!
He got up so we could be the instruments through which spiritual gifts could be given to our world.
If following Jesus does not compel me to love God more and lovepeople better, then I am no more than a 21st century Pharisee! If following Jesus is not a constant process of asking myself “What would Jesus do” in every situation, then I am only fooling myself.
Christianity is not about what happens in the church building, it’s about what happens where the rubber meets the road. When we have opposition, where things didn’t go the way we planned, when we just lost a family member, or when we just got our health report…. Believe me, it will be worth it all, Jesus said to the disciples what He says to us today… Follow me….There was no turning back…..If you look at the road behind Jesus’ disciples after the resurrection, you will find all kinds of things that were left behind…
— there were fishing nets left behind
— there were boats that were left behind
— there were family members and friends left behind
— there was a family business and occupations left behind
— there was money and worldly opportunity left behind
— there were sins and old life patterns left behind
— there were sinful partners and relationships who had to be left behind
— there was ego and selfishness and self-centeredness left behind
— there were personal ambitions and desires left behind
Paul said, “I count it all as dung, that I may follow Christ!!
If they were going to follow Jesus, there would be no place for these…. What have we left behind for Jesus?
Are there some things we no longer do because we are following Jesus? Are there dreams we no longer pursue because we are now following Jesus? Are there people and activities we can no longerbe involved with because we are following Jesus?
Are there still things which we SHOULD be leaving behind, as wefollow Jesus?
Jesus got up so we could receive His nature and character, which we know as the fruit of the Spirit, which come to grow us up and mature us in the image of Christ.
He got up so we could raise up many others who would follow Him through our example in word and deed.
He got up so we could one day welcome Him back, as we shed these earthly trappings once and for all and put on glorified, new bodies, in His resurrection likeness.
He got up so we could enjoy the heaven He went to prepare for us, then come back to a new heaven and earth to reign and rule with Him for all the ages of eternity…Whatever you have to leave behind, it will be worth it compared to all that you will gain by following Christ…
I close with the prayer of Paul….Ephesians 3:16 “I pray that according to His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, v17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in His love, v18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, v19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—and be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. v20 Now unto Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, v21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”. (One Song says) It will be worth it all when we see Jesus, life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase. So bravely run the race, till we see Christ….