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You know those times when you are battling a feeling or oppressiveness and you don’t really know where it is coming from or what to call it? Well I have been in one of those times in varying levels of intensity for the past couple years. A couple weeks ago I got a lot of help on this, we had a message about the Courage of Faith. How it takes courage to continue on in faith. Ruth was used as the example, leaving her home and going to a new place where she didn’t know what was to happen, but with courage in the faith of Naomi and in Naomi’s God she went. Ruth was facing pain, loss, uncertainty and being disconnected, yet she went by faith with Naomi.

When those 4 things were mentioned, it was like the Pastor was talking about me, in the past 2 years I have been overwhelmed at times with pain, loss, uncertainty and being disconnected, and yet I held on. It was so good to hear that my holding on (for dear life) was courage and not just plodding along. At times I had felt like I was just plodding along, making it, with no thought of turning around, but going through a battle. But to hear that it was my courage in Faith in God that was initiating each step, I could almost feel my spirit with in straighten, stand a little taller and lift it’s head. No the battle hasn’t changed, but being able to call my daily step, a step of courage and not of desperation to hold on to the only thing I have left, has been good.

This last Thursday there was a follow up on Courage in Faith, with Courage to be Alone. This is another feeling that I have had during this time. Feeling alone in the battle, that no one else truly understands, that I don’t have anyone that I can really talk to about it all. But through the message, there was the reminder that it is an awesome thing to be alone with God, that in those times we have to face somethings that we may not want to face, but if we are with God, he gives us the courage to be alone with him. And all along and looking back, I knew that I wasn’t alone, that I had God with me, but those are the feelings that the enemy wants to bring upon us to keep us discouraged. It is a good thing to be alone with God, to hear from and commune with him. And he will bring just what we need.

As I write this now, I think about the blessings that God has given me and how he has provided. I think again of Ruth, she had the courage to go in faith, and look how God used her. She is in the lineage of David and of Christ. Because of her faith all of her needs were met and she was used by God in a mighty way. If we keep Ruth as the example, we will know that if we keep our courage in faith, live with hope when life is hopeless, that God will provide each need (he promised to) and he will be able to use us.

I was reading this morning in Romans 8, a popular passage about what/who can separate us from Christ. It added another layer of encouragement along these same lines.

What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God in on our side?] He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?] Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?

Who shall separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter.

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God with is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 Amplified Bible

I am so thankful to have the assurance that no matter what the Devil will put in my way, who may talk against me, how my life turns out or the needs I may have, I can have victory through Christ. I love how the scripture says “YET amid all these things (In the varying tests and trials of life) we are MORE than conquerors (we have/can overcome each of them) and gain a SURPASSING victory (our victory is above and beyond the trial) through HIM who loved us (all because Christ is our strength.)

In the courage we have in faith and being along, we can take comfort that nothing will sever our relationship with God, we can have the victory in everything, and Christ will never leave us.

Take courage, in faith and in being alone.

Each of us is different. We all have talents that are specific to us. As saints, we can and must have diversities among us. But in all of our differences, our spirit or what motivates us must be the same.

1 Corinthians 12

1. Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

3. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14. For the body is not one member, but many.

Just as diversities in gifts is important, so are we all important to the body. What is your gift? What are you bringing in order to edify the body?

Recently I have had the opportunity to do a lot of weeding. This particular area that I was working in had a lot of stones in the dry ground. It was difficult work, but really rewarding when I saw the area clear of unsightly weeds. God used this time to give me an object lesson. It was good for me and I would like to share…

Weeds that are growing in stony ground are hard to pull. In order for the weeds to be completely eradicated, you have to get the roots out. However their roots get entangled with the rocks and since the ground is dry, it’s hard to get your tools in deep enough to loosen the rocks and get the roots free.

To parallel this with our life, the weeds are the fruit or result of a deeper problem. In order to completely get rid of the outward signs of a problem, the root of the issue must be delt with and removed. If our ground, or heart is hard and filled with stones it will be difficult for the master gardener to gently pull those weeds with their roots out of our lives. If our ground is so hard that we hold on to the roots of the issue, just allowing the plant to be broken and removed, the weeds are sure to return.

In Psalms we are cautioned against hardening our hearts. Psalms 95:8-11 reads:

“Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”

If we harden our hearts we won’t be able to have that close relationship with God. He doesn’t want to abide among the thorns of weeds. He wants to work the ground of our heart, making it soft and fertile, ready to grow beautiful plants full of good fruit.

God isn’t pleased with a hard heart, he can’t work it. Stony hearts are independent and not dependent on him. They don’t work well in relationships and they aren’t humble.  They don’t want God to work in their ground, tending their lives taking care of them, pulling weeds and pruning. Yes all those things hurt the flesh when God shows us that we need to give up something, but when we allow the pruning to happen, the bloom is much brighter in its time.

God promises to take our stony heart and give us one of flesh.

“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 11:19-21

If we have a pliable heart, then when issues and attitudes arise, they are more easily gotten rid of. God can quickly help us to see our need and deal with the root of the matter at its inception or shortly after, before the weed grows so big that it takes over our lives. Let us be careful to keep a soft and pliable heart, easily worked and tended. God loves to have humble and tender hearts to work with; they produce the sweetest and most beautiful fruit, all which are a glory to him.

Allow God to get replace your hard stony heart with one of flesh and you will be amazed by the beauty and satisfaction that follows.

The walls of Jerusalem were broken down and Nehemiah was called to rebuild them.

Nehemiah 4:6-18
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.
And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.
Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.
And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work. And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.
For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.

We too are called to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. They may be our own walls of salvation, with in the church or out reach into the community. We can’t be casual builders; we need to be armed builders. The enemy is all around us waiting for us to let down our guard giving them an entrance into the city. The armour of God is listed out in Ephesians 6:
13. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Let us make sure that we are fully prepared to fight the battles of the day. While I was thinking about being armed builders, this song kept running through my head.

Army Of The Lord
Chorus –
Are we walking into the enemy’s camp, laying our weapons down shedding our armor as we go, leaving it on the ground? We’ve gotta be strong in the power of his might and prove to the enemy We are the army of the Lord and we’ve won the victory.

Verse 1 – All around us a war’s going on between the wrong and the right We’ve gotta choose which side we’re on-the darkness or the light Some of the soldiers of the Lord just don’t realize that the captain of the army of darkness has come to blind their eyes

Verse 2 – Can’t you see that we’re in a battle and there’s no place to hide? The shields of faith are full of darts and their shooting from every side Just shake out the darts and run right at em’ and remember who you’re fighting for Don’t fall asleep cuz’ if they catch ya’ they’ll take you prisoner of war

Let us be careful that we aren’t taken unawares while we are building.

Memorial – serving to help people remember some person or event

 

When the world looks at me do they see Jesus?

When the world looks at me what do they see?

Do they see hope?

Do they see love?

Do they see charity?

When the world looks at me what do they see?

 

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. KJV

 

Example – something selected to show the nature or character of the rest

Set an example – to behave so as to be a pattern or model for others to imitate 

1 Peter 2:21  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: KJV

 

Word – a promise, affirmation, assurance; as he kept his word

Matthew 5:37  But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. KJV

“Never swear: for he that swears will lie;

and he that lies will steal;

and, if so, what bad things will he not do!”

 

Conversation – talking together, verbal exchange of ideas or information

Ephesians 4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. KJV

“Minister grace unto the hearers”, but grace is unmerited favor, does that mean I’m to speak gently and kindly to others even when they don’t deserve it? I’m sure that is what it means. 

Proverbs 31:26, She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. KJV

 

Charity – the love of God for man or of man for his fellow man

                        The quality of being kind or lenient in judging others

 

John 3:16-17  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. KJV

 

Spirit – real meaning: true intention, attitude

2 Corinthians 9:7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver KJV

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice evermore.   Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. KJV

 

Faith – complete trust; confidence (steadfast adherence)

Mark 11:22  And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God KJV

John 14:1  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. KJV

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. KJV

 

Purity – free from anything that taints, unmixed, clear

            Free from sin or guilt;

 

1 Peter 1:22-23  Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. KJV

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. KJV

 

When the world looks at me do they see Jesus?

When the world looks at me what do they see?

Do they see hope?

Do they see love?

Do they see charity?

When the world looks at me what do they see?

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