Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Be Strong

This past week, I experienced yet another medical setback and was hospitalized for a week. It has been a very challenging 2018 and my faith has been challenged every single minute of every day. There are problems that pop up from out of the blue. Situations that just seem to get worse over time. Other problems are those that just seem insurmountable. Yes, 2018, for my family and myself, has been more than just a minor series of bumps. We are truly walking through the darkest valley. It seems that Satan himself is taking great delight in challenging my family's and my faith from one moment to the next. There are times when we cry and ask God, "Why have you forsaken us?" We do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. All we see is darkness all around. There are times when we wonder even if God is listening. If someone were to ask me, "Where is your God now?" I would find it very difficult to answer that question like I should.

Everyone goes through these moments and situations where there seems to be no end to them or that they continue to pile one on top of the other. Holding on to your faith becomes more and more difficult and you just feel that you cannot go on any longer. You know the promises of God and what He is able to do, but it seems that He has forgotten you.

As I write this message, I write it with tears in my eyes and know that it seems that I am almost to the point of giving up. But, I write this message as a message of hope not only for you but also for myself. Darkness is all around us. Evil sometimes seems like it is winning. But, that cannot be further from the truth. God is listening and He has a plan for each of you. When it seems like Satan has won, he hasn't. You need to declare out loud that you remain in your faith and, like Jesus casting out demons, you must have the faith and courage to do the same. Cast out Satan from your life and declare the victory that God has given to you through His son, Christ Jesus. 

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul writes in chapter 2, "Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus." Later he tells him, "Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." Just as Timothy is to be a good soldier, we must also be the same. We must continue the mission and understand that there will be challenges and obstacles all along the way. There will be pitfalls and the enemy will strike at us from all sides. The enemy will set snares and traps to trip us up and cause us to fall. We cannot and should not act like victims and wonder where God is. 

We, as Christians, know where our God is. In Psalm 115, which is my favorite Psalm, the psalmist tells us where our God is and that He is a living God. Starting with verse 3. "Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. 4 But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. 6 They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. 7 They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 8 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them."

Our God is truly an awesome God and He reigns forever on His throne on high. He loves and listens to His children. When they face those toils and snares, He will provide the grace to get through each of them and a path out of the valley of darkness. Life will never be easy and sometimes it does get harder and harder as the years go by. We must, however, endure as good soldiers in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reminds them in chapter 5, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance." Instead of breaking down in tears of fear, uncertainty and doubt, we should rejoice in the victory that we have already achieved through the blood of Jesus. That wonderful salvation that God has provided even when we were still sinners.

I remember the words of an old, old hymn from my childhood, "There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins; And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains." Yes, we have the blood of Christ Jesus that has washed away the stains of guilt and sin. When we immerse ourselves into that crimson flow, we are clean as the driven snow. Once you have received that gift of salvation, you now have the power by and through the name of our Savior Jesus Christ to cast out Satan from your lives. You can rejoice even when times are tough and know that God gives us the grace that is sufficient to meet our needs. 

But, for us to do these things, we must be strong in our faith. We must suffer just as the saints of old. By doing these things we develop endurance and the strength to go on through the valley of darkness. As we go through that valley, we must rejoice in knowing that our God is in Heaven and that He reigns supremely over all things. He will give us the grace that we need to make it through all of the traps, pitfalls and obstacles that the enemy has set before us. We may feel the slings and arrows of the enemy's assault, but rest assured that we can stand firm His grace which will see us through everything.

May God richly bless each of you and may His face shine upon you.

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