Our 2017 Lenten journey comes to an end but I believe this is just the beginning of God’s plans for us. Jeremiah 29:10 “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Our theme has been God turning the tables on our enemies who rage against us. As we learn to fear God again, we have nothing to fear. In order for us to live a fearless life, must learn to fear God. I Samuel 12:23 “I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.” We see from Jeremiah that Israel did not do this they and their kings were defeated. In order for God to defeat our enemies we must commit ourselves to him.
                If you try to defeat your enemies on your own, you will be unsuccessful but if you wait for the Lord God Almighty to respond you will be victorious. Isaiah 41:11 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.” When Sennacherib went against Israel he found out who the living God was. Isaiah 37:22 “Virgin Daughter Zion despises and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. 23 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel! 24 By your messengers you have ridiculed the Lord. 28 But I know where you are and when you come and go and how you rage against me. 29 Because you rage against me and because your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came.” Psalm 44:7 “You give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.” Psalm 6:10 “All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.” Psalm 86:17 “Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.”
                God will take care of our enemies; do not fear. Isaiah 45:24 “All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame.” Psalm 7:6 “Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice.” Ezekiel 38:23 “I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” As we saw in Esther 9:1 “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.” Just as God orchestrated victory for the Jews, he will turn the tables on our enemies. God has a plan and it will not be thwarted but we must wait on Him to carry out that plan. Saul lost the Kingdom for not doing what he was told. We are told to wait and be clothed with power, so we wait. We wait no matter how many obstacles come before us. We wait no matter if the enemies’ rage against us. We obey and do what we are commanded as by the word of the Lord and we do not turn away from them. God knows the plans he has for us, so we wait on Him. Yes those who do not fear the Lord will not support this and they will oppose you. Moses said 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.” 1 Kings 18:36 “At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “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.” So if you are waiting on God to fulfil His promise to you, wait and in due time He will lift you up. 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 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.”
                This journey is a continuation of our commitment to obedience. Colossians 1:3 “if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” We are not supposed to be going our own way as those who have gone before us have. We are supposed to follow the whole word of God not the empty way of life handed down from our fathers. This has not been 46 days and then we are finished. We have covered a lot of topics but don’t stop studying. Go back and look deeper into His word. I trust you are anticipating the defeat of you your enemies. This will happen if you remain in Him. John 15:4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
                Our enemies are not flesh and blood but having said that, satan will use those who are willing and use them to tear you down but don’t give in as this battle that rages, can only be won by God. 1 Chronicles 5:20 “They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him, the battle was God’s.” Even though this battle looks like flesh and blood Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” So be strong and courageous and do not turn away from God. God is looking to strengthen you. 2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”  2 Chronicles 20:20 “Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”
                Yes the enemy will rage against us but His love endures forever and we will be victorious, so stand firm on the word of God and do not waiver. The more you stand the greater the fight but 2 Kings 6:16 “don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” 1 Kings 18:21 “Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.” Don’t be a wavering people and be silent. Say right now and do not wait, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
                We are called to believe and not give up hope. The Lord’s plans for us as Jeremiah said are “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 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. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
                After Peter and John were brought before the rulers, elders, teachers and high priest, they questioned them about the power they had healed the lame man with. Acts 4:8 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:4 “many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.” Then Peter and John went back and reported “all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.” Psalm 2:1 “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” 7 I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. 8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” 10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. 12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Acts 4:24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.” 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
                 We continue to pray that the Lord will hear our cry and Lamentations 5:21 “Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” We also pray that He once again will pour out His Spirit upon us just as He did at Pentecost and once again the Mark 16:20 “Lord will work with us and confirm His word by signs that accompanied it.”