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“…and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham’s son in his old age.”  Genesis 21:1,2

“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all the Lord had said…”  Joshua 12:1

” But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.  Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”  Luke 24:2,3

“Then those who gladly received this word were baptized and that day about three thousand souls were added…”  Acts 2:41

Whew!  Everywhere one turns today, we are confronted with and confounded by failure.  We hear that our institutions like government, schools, police forces, military are failing.  We witness people’s failures of lying, cheating, stealing, killing.  We watch as our worldly society fails to care for those who are in desperate need and fails to keep peace within and amongst nations.  The world would even have us look at ourselves; we are not slim enough, educated enough, rich enough, popular enough, in short we are failures.  Sadly, even our churches are weighed down with the sense of failure.  Where is one to turn to find hope?  Where is one to turn to be certain of success?

Sarah felt like a failure.  She so wanted to give Abraham a child but year after year she failed.  Yet God had told her very plainly that she would conceive and bear a son.  In faith she followed Abraham as God called them to move to a new land.  Sarah did laugh at the thought of having a child such an advanced stage.  Scripture tells us that Abraham was 100 years old when success came.  Sarah conceived and Issac was born.

The people of Israel had been slaves for 400 years.  Then Moses came and by great acts of God, the people of Israel were freed and led toward a promised land.  Yet when it came time initially for them to enter the land they were too afraid.  So for 40 years they wandered in the wilderness until the generation that had feared had now passed away.  Moses has died and a new leader, Joshua, takes his place to lead the people.  There were over 40 kings and kingdoms arrayed against Joshua.  The people of Israel were not the physically strongest, they did not have the best weapons, they did not have the largest numbers.  What they had, who they called on, was God.  After seven years of conquest, the land promised to Israel if they would be faithful to God, belonged to them.

It had been a hard frustrating fight.  The Jewish leaders had tried ignoring Him.  They had tried arguing with Him.  They had tried threatening Him, but nothing seemed to work.  Jesus kept thwarting them at every turn and seemingly growing more powerful with more followers all the time claiming He was the Son of God.  Yet the leaders knew better.  The leaders were smarter.  And finally, finally, they were able to get the people to turn on Jesus, they got the Romans to judge Jesus and the problem was over.  Jesus had been crucified and three days ago He was buried.  However, now the tomb is empty.  The curtain in the temple has been rendered in two.  Prophets have risen from their grave and have been seen in the city.  And there is word that Jesus has been seen.  Jesus has been seen, not as a ghost or phantom apparition, but in flesh and blood. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  The Jewish leaders are defeated.  Satan has lost.

The word is out from the Jewish leaders; do not preach Jesus Christ.  The word is out, do not believe what His rabble rousing followers are saying about Him rising from the dead and ascending to heaven as God’s risen son.  Do not join this heretic movement or you will be banished from the temple and much worse.  The Jewish leaders have imprisoned His followers.  They have publicly beaten them.  Surely this fad of Jesus Christ will pass.  Yet that man Peter keeps preaching and not just a few, not 20 or 30, not even a couple of hundred, but thousands, thousands!; are joining those followers of Jesus Christ every day!

The aforementioned examples are just a very few of Our Heavenly Father’s successes.  Successes that seemed so improbable.  Successes that appeared to be failures at one point.  Successes on personal levels and on societal levels.  Indeed, there is no record of God’s failure.  Why?  Because it can’t happen.  God can’t fail.

It’s not a glass half full, half empty type of argument.  It is a cup runeth over reality.  Dear sisters and brothers, please, please do not let us buy into the world’s words and judgements of failure.  Let us not become mired in the mud of hopelessness and despair.  Yes indeed their is failure.  The world that only relies on the worldly will fail.

Yet you and I belong to God.  Through the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ we have been made clean so that we can come into the presence of God Almighty.  Because we belong to God, we are a part of God’s plan and again I state God will not fail; He has never, is not now, nor will ever, fail.  So rejoice.  Rejoice in Him.  Rejoice in the knowledge of His triumph certain to come.  Rejoice in the hope that is testified within us by the Holy Spirit.  Rejoice in the blessings promised by Jesus Christ.  Let us make our petitions to God Almighty, not in doubt or uncertainty, but in faithful confidence of His Loving Power.  Let us read and rejoice in His Word which holds such promise and examples of His faithfulness.

God will not fail.  Staying faithful to Him, repenting of our sins, loving Him and His creation, studying His word, we will not fail either.  That in our triumph we will humbly give praise to Him should be our response.  All hail His triumph in us and our triumph in Him!

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, this world and the prince of this world is full of lies, deceits and words of doom and failure.  Pour out Your Spirit that we might stand strong against those words.  We also ask Your forgiveness when we forget that we are Yours and find ourselves living in dark despair.  Lift us up Dear Father.  Shelter us with Your Love.  Show us Your Divine Will that we might be partakers with You in Your ultimate triumph to the praise of Your most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“Withdraw from me and I will pay you whatever you demand of me”  2 Kings 18:14

“This is what the Lord of Israel says: ‘ I have heard your prayer…..I will defend this city and save it'”.  1 Kings 18:20, 34

Hezekiah is King of Judah.  Scripture tells us that he is a good king, following in the steps of King David.  And at that time God knows Judah needed a good king.  Hezekiah tore down the offering sites that kings of Judah before him had built to false gods of the local people.  He held fast to the commandments of God and lead the people of Judah in worshipping only Him.

Yet for King Hezekiah, as there is today, there were many who did not worship, did not believe in, who felt more powerful than God the Father Almighty.  One of those people, back then, was the King of Assyria.  He was very powerful and had crushed many of the nations of his time including Egypt.  So he comes and attacks and occupies several cities of Judah.

Now it appears that King Hezekiah’s first attempt to deal with the King of Assyria is done on his own, without consulting or relying on the Lord, God of Judah and Israel.  For Hezekiah sends a message to the Assyrian King saying that he, King Hezekiah that is, has “done wrong” and offers to pay the king of Assyria a tribute, basically a bribe or ransom, of whatever amount the king wants, to get him to leave.  The King of Assyria takes King Hezekiah up on his offer and demands a very hefty sum to leave.  The king demands 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold (according to Google, that would be equivalent of 2 million dollars for the silver and 2 million dollars for the gold or 4 million dollars total).  In fact the price was so exorbitant that Hezekiah has to raid both his own treasury plus the treasury of the temple for the silver and take the gold off the temple doors to have enough gold.  The King of Assyria accepts the payment of silver and gold.  Now if you were to think that the King of Assyria now turns away and goes home, you would be sadly mistaken, as I’m sure King Hezekiah was.  For you see no sooner had the King of Assyria accepted the money, then he rode straight on to Jerusalem and threatens to invade it.

So King Hezekiah is between a rock and a hard place.  He has already plundered the treasury to pay the first “tribute” to the Assyrian King, thus he has no more money to bargain with.  As he looks around, King Hezekiah sees that the meager troops he has available to him are no match for the battle hardened, successful troops that are arrayed against him.  Now where does King Hezekiah turn?  To the very place that he should have in the first place.  To the Lord God Almighty.

Now two things happen almost simultaneously.  First, King Hezekiah humbles himself; scripture tells us he took off his kingly garments, put on sack cloth, a very uncomfortable material to wear so that he could show his humility to God.  He knows that he has sinned by not going to God, so he goes to the temple and petitions God for His Mercy and His Help.  About this same time, Sennacherib, King of Assyria, boasts and blasphemes, God the Lord Almighty.  He shouts out for all to hear that the God of Israel has not power to deliver Jerusalem from his hands.  That if all the other countries’ gods were not powerful enough to stop him, then the people of Jerusalem are fools to believe their God can prevail against the King of Assyria (we’ll see in a moment who the fool really was).

As you can probably guess, God does not stand for Sennacherib’s taunts and disbelief.  God tells Hezekiah not to fear, that the King of Assyria will be utterly defeated.  The Lord goes into the Assyrian camp and in one evening kills 185,000 soldiers!  When the Assyrian King awakes the next morning and see’s the carnage and devastation, he turned and went home.  It gets even worse for the Assyrian King.  For while he is in his temple worshiping his false god; Sennacherib’s two sons come in and murder him.

So what is our lesson in all of this?  First to realize that the easy solution, the earthly solution is the one that often presents itself first when we are faced with a difficult or tragically overwhelming circumstance.  Second we must realize that should we find ourselves successful in life, that success is a direct result of the Grace, Mercy and Power of God the Father Almighty.  If we lose sight of God in our life we may find ourselves tempted to rely on what we think based on our own past successes, our own wisdom and, like King Hezekiah, turn to the earthly solution to solve our problem.  And more than likely, like Hezekiah’s solution to pay off the King of Assyria, it will not work.  God does not want, nor reward self-reliance.  To rely on one’s self is to rely on the imperfect.  No God wants you to choose God-reliance; that is to rely on the All Powerful, All Perfect, All Knowing Father.  Yes that does mean we will have to humble ourselves, knowing and confessing our weakness.  It also means that we have to be ready and willing to pray and praise God for the assistance and blessings that will come.  Note I didn’t say “if” they come.  For they will surely come; just as they did for the people of Judah.  Dear Sisters and Brothers may it be ,whether we find ourselves in dire circumstances, searching for a solution or launching forth on some great blessed adventure; that we turn to the only one who can truly bring about a successful conclusion; God the Father Almighty.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we completely acknowledge your total sufficiency to bring us through any trial or difficulty that we are facing.  Yet we also confess, that often we fail to call upon You, Most Merciful Father, and try to take matters into our own hands.  Forgive us Dear Father when we neglect to call upon You.  Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us that we would come back to You in prayer and supplication knowing that You will be with us always.  That through Your Mercy and Love for us, we would see the triumph of Your Will and sing praises to Your Most Holy Name forever.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

 

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