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For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. I was reading a devotional from Crosswalk on March 7, 2019 about why God has not answered and come to our rescue. It states, “The New King James translation of this verse uses the painfully descriptive phrase “hard pressed” to describe Paul’s trials. “We were hard pressed on every side.” Hard pressed– the practice of squeezing a fruit or vegetable (grapes, olives) to extract its juice. Some days (weeks, months, seasons, years) do you sometimes feel hard-pressed. You’ve heard of between a rock and a hard place.  You struggle, angry and crying and cannot find relief. The intense pressure doesn’t stop.  You wonder why and when the stress will end.  And you wonder “Why doesn’t God step in right now and change things. It seems the more I try to exercise my faith the more the turmoil and can’t understand “Why?” The author presents 9 different reasons. Can you relate?

1.We don’t believe he can. God works in response to faithHebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please him. For God to answer our prayers, we “must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” I believe in God and Jesus his son and quite frankly the only because of my faith I’m holding it together. I can attest that in the past he’s been faithful and always brought me out.  But will he do it for me in this situation. Is he saying NO. 2 Cor 1:20 says, For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. What promises do we know of in his word other than salvation? Deliverance (Ps 34:19, Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.), comfort (Is 43:2, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you, healing (Ps 41:3, The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.) In Matt 17:23, He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”) All it takes is the faith of a mustard seed to invite God to work in our lives. It’s not how much faith we have, but how we use it. BELIEVE

2. We all know we have sin in our lives. But as I said last Sunday, its all about repentance. We can say as David in Psalms 41, Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Even when we still commit sin when Jesus was on the cross and said, “it is finished, we are forgiven. (Romans 8:1-3) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. We are not under the law that would condemn us (thou shall not) but empowered by the holy spirit to live for Christ. Even temptation—Jesus was tempted by satan but never yielded.  (1 Cor 10:13) No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor 15:17) But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. So We need to learn to trust him. Isaiah 26:3 – Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusts in thee. Sometimes its hard to have peace of mind when turmoil is all around.  You have faith but do you have trust.  Faith is confident belief that does not require proof or material evidence. Trust is complete, dependence with no doubt.  Prov 3:5 says, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.  I can believe that God can deliver but will I completely rely or trust him to do it for me. Just trust in God, he will never fail. Sometimes it may seem that he’s forgotten you but he’ll step in on time.  Ps 118:8 says, it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.  Have you ever put your trust in someone or something that failed. If you trust in God, he will never fail. Ps 32:20, “Many sorrows shall be the wicked but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.  I think about his mercy for me. Mercy, mercy, mercy.  His compassion, His love in spite of our failures.  Unmerited or earned favor, just given. My bible tells me that his mercy is renewed every morning.  Have you had some yesterdays that left you reeling and rocking.  When I’m feeling all alone, his mercy up hold me. When I do wrong, his mercy will forgive me, When I go astray, His mercy will lead me back the right way. When I begin to waiver, His mercy will surround me. That’s the anchor; something to hold on to.  When it seems hard to hold on, remember His word that never fails, his word you can depend on. His word is his will.  Trust in God, you will abide (live) forever.  Learn to trust him in spite of situations, thoughts and even other people? We sometimes put trust in things, people, ability, education, promises only to be disillusioned.  But if we put our trust in Jesus, God’s son, we shall never be disappointed.  He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 93:1 “He that dwells”. Dwell means “abide”, reside, emphasize. Do you ever dwell on something, couldn’t get it out of your mind. Dwell in his word; dwell in his spirit, dwell in his love. Psalm 32:7 states – “You are my hiding place: you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” I read that mosquito repellants don’t actually “repel” at all? They hide you. The spray blocks the mosquito’s sensors so they don’t know where you are. In much the same way God doesn’t always keep trouble away but he takes away the devil’s sting.

4. He knows that a rescue wouldn’t be best. So often we just want OUT of a difficult situation. We’re not interested in what’s best in the long term, we want relief now. Like this generation—now, instantaneous.  If we broke our leg, doctor says 3 months, we want it off in 2 months because we think its enough even though it would not be completely healed. If some won lots of money, would be broke in 6 months—wouldn’t know how to handle it and even be less committed in service for God, less prayer, less praise—gone fishing. The apostle Paul knew this when he wrote, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). We are being molded and remade according to the Master’s design. Isaiah 64:8 says, But now Oh Lord, you are our father, we are the clay and you are the potter and we are the work of your hand.  The finished product depends on the maker, his vision and his ability.  He says that God is the potter our maker who made heaven and earth, the Kings of Kings and the Lord of Lords and he made all things beautiful. The potter’s wheel in that day and time was actually two wheels linked together by a pedestal. The potter would spin the bottom wheel with his feet to control speed, while the clay spun on the upper wheel to be shaped by his hands. Jeremiah was in awe as he watched the potter fashion and mold a piece of clay. He saw the potter’s fingers glide along the slippery clay, shaping and molding it. The potter only had to touch the tip of his finger against the clay, and its shape would be forever changed. Jeremiah said that the clay was marred in the potter’s hand and he made it again into another vessel that pleased him. If a potter is displeased with the shape of the clay he is molding, all he has to do is squash it flat and start over again. Sometimes we feel squashed, squeezed, flattened but God is shaping us for his good pleasure—HIS GOOD PLEASURE.

5. There’s sometimes a lesson we need to learn that needs to develop through this situation. When we encounter difficulty, what if we asked, What can I learn from this situation, to make my life conform to his will? 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 states: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” Because of valleys we experience we are a testimony that God can and will be there and bring us out to a better place, a higher place of praise. Experiencing God’s faithfulness during difficult times has caused us to know and believe “God is real.” Every time your mind tells me how bad something is, remind yourself how good God is.  Every time you look at your circumstances, tell yourself God is still in control.  If I let my feelings control my mind, I’ll have a pity party; but if my renewed mind controls my feelings, I’ll have a praise party.  Praise him for what he has done, for what he is doing and what he has promised. The devil does not want us to stand on the word and speak the word. II Cor 4:7 tells us we have a treasure (the spirit of the living God in earthen vessels (vessels of clay) that allows us to trust and know that we shall not be consumed, torn down and cast away. Hard pressed but not crushed – many are the afflictions of the righteous but God delivers us out of all. Perplexed (don’t know which way to go, but not in despair. Holy Spirit will guide to all paths of righteousness. Persecuted but not forsaken. When you pass thru the water I will be with you, through the rivers, they will not overflow you. Struck down but not destroyed—all things work together for good to them that love God and are called, according to his purpose.

7. God is doing something amazing. You can’t see it right now, but he is working out his purpose in your situation, behind the scenes. God doesn’t give up on marred clay. He doesn’t see us as we are at this moment but our final portrait. Nothing can stop God’s good purposes for his children. Psalms 84:11. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. That’s a promise. GOOD THINGS.–There’s some good gifts, great relationships, plenty promised, healing waters and love beyond compare. Everything that can go wrong sometimes seem to go wrong but promised—good Gifts, the desire of your heart in righteousness, abundant life. GOOD GIFTS

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