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Mar14SatMarch 14, 2020This blog today is a looking back at what we have already discussed and a looking forward to what we will discuss. Our theme for this Lenten Journey is “The Joy of the Redeemed.” Our look into the book of Esther shows us that God will defeat our enemies and the remnant will be saved. Esther 9:1 “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them, 22 the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.” As you continue to read know that you will celebrate with joy because of God’s redemption.Like the blog on vindication a few days ago, God will punish our enemies. Retribution means “a justly deserved penalty.” We can be joyful because our God will stand against our enemies. Our joy comes because God will redeem his people from captivity and our enemies. Even though we talk of our enemies, (those led by satan) being defeated, we have great hope that joy will return. We must make sure we are not on satan’s side but on God’s. James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” We do not want God fighting against us. Jeremiah 21:5 “I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.” When you serve God wholeheartedly and stand for God, God will fight for you. When Jeroboam king of Israel was fighting against Abijah king of Judah with an army twice as big as Judah, God fought for Judah and they won. 2 Chronicles 13:10 “As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We are observing the requirements of the Lord our God. But you have forsaken him. 12 God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.”Today the church remains in captivity because they have not adhered to the word of God and our enemies have prevailed. That is not how it was supposed to be as Jesus said to Peter Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” The rock is Peter saying, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” The rock is God. 1 Samuel 2:2 “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” Psalm 62:2 “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Because the church has followed other gospels, they no longer can say you are the Messiah because they refuse to follow his words. The church has been shaken as God has allowed our enemies to take over. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”Because we serve an amazing and merciful God we know that our joy can be restored and God will bring retribution on His enemies and save us. He will restore the church to its original beauty and purpose. Psalm 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”As we wait on God to act in His great mercy, we have hope. Psalm 33:20 “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” Isaiah 40:31 “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” So I leave you with Isaiah giving us hope in the retribution that will bring everlasting joy. Isaiah 35:1 “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. 3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. 8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. 9 No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, 10 and those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”