The last couple of weeks we have been talking about holding fast and pressing on no matter what we see before us. This is faith, believing even when we don’t see. Even when all hope looks lost, the enemies stands before us, around us and behind us, we hear God say Exodus 14:13 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” Our perseverance develops this kind of faith. When the odds are stacked heavily against us, we stand firm on the word of God. Romans 4:18 “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” This unwavering faith is what our journey is all about. Galatians 3:26 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” So we too must trust and obey God’s commands. We were told to wait, so we wait. We were told to seek so we sought. Living by faith means trusting God’s word. Yes when you read the bible God is speaking to you. He will answer you in His time, not ours but we must trust him. When all around us seem to have gone their own way, we continue to follow God’s path of which he makes straight for us. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” If we refuse to submit to him by not trusting him, how can we say we are wholehearted followers?
                By trusting God he will make our paths straight even though they a difficult and it appears to be foolishness to those around us but as Moses said in Numbers 16:28 “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea” and Elijah prayed 1 Kings 18:36 “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” David said, 2 Samuel 7:25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.” Isaiah said Isaiah 64:1 “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! 2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! 3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. 4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. 5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways.” This means we trust him even though we cannot see the path in front of us. Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. 112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.” We trust even when surrounded by chaos. We trust even though we may be under fire. We trust even when all seems lost; we do not give up. King Asa was told in 2 Chronicles 15:7 “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
                Last week we looked at Queen Athaliah and her demise. Yes it looked like the kingdom of David was defeated even though God said it would not be. In the seventh year God’s word proved true. It looked as though Job had lost everything but in the end Job 42:12 “, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.” David was hunted yet he became king. We must trust God’s word. We must persevere while waiting on God’s promises. Job said, Job 42:4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” God said I know the plans I have for you, so he knows the plans so don't give up. There is no room for doubt. Many people say they depend on the word of God but when tested they fall away. If we persevere we will see God’s promises. David said in Psalm 27:13 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” We do not want to miss out on the fulfillment of those promises because we refuse to wait.
                Another example of believing while under fire or siege is from 2 Kings 6:4 “Some time later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. 25 There was a great famine in the city.” I will let you read about how severe this famine was. The King of Israel was furious with Elisha and wanted to kill him. They were on their way but then God spoke. “The king said, “This disaster is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” 2 Kings 7:1 “Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” 2 The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”  Elisha answered, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” So the officer did not believe Elisha the man of God. His lack of faith was his downfall. The Lord had terrified the army and they fled leaving plunder behind. They wanted to find out what was going on. 13 “One of his officers answered, “Have some men take five of the horses that are left in the city. Their plight will be like that of all the Israelites left here—yes, they will only be like all these Israelites who are doomed. So let us send them to find out what happened.” 14 So they selected two chariots with their horses, and the king sent them after the Aramean army. He commanded the drivers, “Go and find out what has happened.” 15 They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king. 16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of the finest flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as the Lord had said. 17 Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate, and the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had foretold when the king came down to his house. 18 It happened as the man of God had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” 19 The officer had said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” 20 And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.”
                When life is hard and it feels like God has abandoned us, will we still trust and wait upon him to open the floodgates as he said he would? When God speaks we must listen and obey. James 1:3 “you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” So until God fulfills His promises to us, we continue in His word knowing that he is faithful.
                This journey does not end with the fulfillment of the promises we must live them out till we die, we never stop running the race. When we cross the Jordon into the land God has promised to give us, we trust even though there stands in front of us massive walls and giants and vast armies. We know that God said no man will stand against you and everywhere you step will be yours. Once in the land we are told not to forget.  Deuteronomy 8:1 “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors.” Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” We already saw that the land vomited out the Israelites when they sinned against God. Make a covenant with God today that says I will not turn away when you bless me in the land of milk and honey. We will hold each other to this even though we live in a church that has forgotten. Like Judges 2:10 said they “knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”
                So here we are on the edge of the Jordon getting ready to cross and return to the Promised Land. Yes we are but a remnant but God will bring us back and turn his face to us once again. The church will once again rise up and be and do what it is supposed to be and do. Numbers 33:50 “On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the Lord said to Moses, 51 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess.” Once again the power of the Holy Spirit will flow and we will be clothed with power and go to the ends of the earth. God will empower us was again just like at Pentecost and we will go out in power. Once again the devil’s work will be destroyed. (1 John 3:8 )There was only a few who believed enough to wait but the word of God was proved true and the world was turned upside down. Once again this word to Paul will be fulfilled. Acts 26:17 “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
                Once in the land we too can say Deuteronomy 26:5 “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. 7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey;” This will also be our testimony. When it seemed hopeless, the enemy had closed in, it felt like God had forsaken us, God heard our cry and in His perfect timing will take us to that place of milk and honey. If we want to go to heaven we better get this right. Matthew 24:24 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” This verse has already come true and many have been deceived. This deception is so great that the elect don’t even know they have been deceived, they think they are the elect. Many have turned to follow false gospels with no hope of defeating the enemy, as they stand defeated already. But because of the great promise to David, the remnant will stand and be victorious once again. So even though the church lies in desolation and in great trouble and disgrace. The walls are broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” We have been called to rebuild them. Nehemiah 2:17 “Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.”  We know that God will always keep his promise to David. Yes the sun will rise and set and like tomorrow may even be darkened but the Psalm 33:10 “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Proverbs 10:25 “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.”
                Our tendency is to blame God and turn from him. The results of this is desolation and delusion as we now see. Deuteronomy 9:7 “Remember this and never forget how you aroused the anger of the Lord your God in the wilderness. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord.” When things don’t go our way, we tend to become rebellious against God. Those who have gone before have not kept the word of the Lord and have angered Him. They chose an empty way over God’s way. They were stiff-necked and rebelled. 2 Kings 17:40 “They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.” Yet many still call themselves christians and in their deception refuse to repent. So we are paying for our own disobedience and the disobedience of those who have gone before us but unlike those who went before us, we have turned from our wicked ways and sought God wholeheartedly. But in spite of the desolation we see in the church, we stand firm and persevere knowing that God will fulfill all his promises to us. We are warned in Hebrews 3:12 “See to it, that none of you has a sinful, un-believing heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed. 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” So yes it may be hard for now. We may not even be sure exactly what God has planned but we know that nothing will thwart that plan. The enemy has us in captivity but we stand firm on the word of God. They were in captivity because they failed to listen. 2 Kings 17:7 All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 13 The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.” 14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God.  1 Chronicles 9:1 “They were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness. 2 Now the first to resettle on their own property in their own towns were some Israelites, priests, Levites and temple servants.
                This is good news as the remnant did return from captivity to the land. We too have this hope. The bible tells us the good news. The question is do we believe it enough to stand on it and have hope even though we do not see. The officer had said, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” We must believe just as it did then that God will keep his promises. Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
    8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.”
                We have been told to obey no matter what. Our faith is not based on what we can see but on the God’s word. No plan of God’s can be thwarted. If we obey God’s word wholeheartedly we have these promises. Psalm 144:12 “Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. 13 Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; 14 our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets. 15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true; blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.”  Deuteronomy 28:1 “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: 3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. 4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. 5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. 6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. 7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. 8 The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. 9 The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. 11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.
                Joshua 1:2 “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”