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Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies; for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalm 27: 11-14 …I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Here we have a picture of a man or woman who is surrounded by enemies, problems, obstacles …enough troubles to destroy this person a hundred times over. Now they have a choice. They can look at the situation and faint, or they can believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. This is where we find ourselves every day of our lives as followers of Jesus. And this is where every congre­gation of believers finds itself in every day of its life. We are surrounded by problems ... and this is our choice: - we can look at the situation and faint, or we can believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. "Okay Peter, launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing." Peter is ready to faint and give up, but then he changes his mind. "Nevertheless, at your word I'll let down the nets." He takes a step ... trusts Jesus and takes courage ... and his faith is answered by a sign of the Kingdom. Up comes the net loaded with fish. "Lord, we've got 5000 people on our hands and they've run out of food. Send them away to get food for themselves." "You feed them." "With what?" "How many loaves do you have?" "Five loaves and two fish." "Tell the people to sit down." And soon the multitude is fed. Jesus is leading these wavering disciples on a path of faith. Constantly he is saying to them, "Don't get nervous. Don't faint. Trust me.... trust me." Over and over and over Jesus teaches the disciples to make the choice of faith. "Let's go back to Judea." "Teacher, we've come here because they were trying to kill you over in Judea last week, and now you want to go back?" "Are there not 12 hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day he does not stumble because he sees the light of this world. But if any one walks in the night he stumbles, because the light is not in him." It's your choice whether you walk in the day or the night. - To walk in the day is to walk by faith. - To walk in the night is to walk in the draining fear of unbelief. And when you walk in unbelief you stumble. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I believed .... I took courage and trusted God and he strengthened my heart ... and the door opened. There's a tremendous amount of talk in Christian circles these days about faith. But in spite of all the talk, most of us Christians are afraid to make the choice of faith in our daily living. We keep searching for what we think is a more sure thing. For instance, if I spend the first fifteen minutes of my radio program preaching to you about faith and the last fifteen minutes begging for your money, you know where I'm putting my trust. Or, if we talk about trusting God in our prayers and our testimonies, but forever pursue the safe the comfortable, the isolated, the secure, in our personal lives, in our family life, or even in our congregational life, then it's obvious that our trust is in Mammon instead of God. One of the simplest ways to describe the changes that have been going on in many congregations in recent years is to say that the Lord has been calling us, as congregations, to live by faith ... to live by faith, to make this choice of faith everyday. He is developing us into a people who in our actual living can say, "I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." .....a people whose message to each other, every time we gather is: "Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart." And it comes down to learning to make that choice all the time ... choosing to trust our Lord even when every­thing around us and within us looks shaky. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls. Hebrews 10:35-39 .....I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. The Lord is calling for the choice of faith in three specific areas .... our past, our present, our future. By his grace we can choose.... 1. To let go of the past and trust that Jesus is able to take care of our past sins and totally free us from our bondage to the past. By his grace we can choose.... 2. To wake up to the present moment and trust that Jesus is able to give us sufficient heavenly bread for this day. By his grace we can choose.... 3. To look to the future with courage trusting that Jesus will make us more than conquerors in every battle that remains between here and glory. 1. By God's grace we can choose to let go of our past and trust that Jesus is able to take care of our past sins and totally free us from our bondage to the past. If the Spirit of God ran a video of our past before us now, there are plenty of things in that video that would shame us, and demoralize us and cause us to faint with despair. And some of those wounds and sins and addictions may still be clinging to us. But we can look at that video and say, "I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." We choose to believe! We look to Jesus and we see him on that cross canceling out our sins, draining off our guilt, breaking those chains. We choose to believe when he tells us again today, -"your sins are forgiven, - your past is buried in the blood, - your chains are snapped off by my resurrection, - your blinded eyes are healed by my Holy Spirit." And we trust him, thank him, take courage, walk out of here today praising his name, free from our past. 2. By God's grace we can choose to wake up to this present moment and trust that Jesus is able to give us sufficient heavenly bread for this day. And, by the way, when you have enough heavenly bread, there is always enough earthly bread too ... always. Now this heavenly bread cannot be hoarded or stored. We can't stack it in the basement or stash it in some closet. It has to come a-day-at-a-time ... and it comes a-day-at-a-time by faith. Heavenly bread is a living word from God to take me through this day ... a word from God to nourish my soul for the work I have to do, the problems I may have to face this day. It's like the man going to his friend at midnight. We go to the Lord and ask.... "Unto thee will I cry, 0 Lord my rock. Be not silent to me, lest if thou be silent to me I become like them that go down into the pit." We choose to believe that he will answer, he will speak, he will give us what we need. And behold, the bread comes! It comes! It never fails! 3. By God's grace we can choose to look to the future with courage, trusting that Jesus will make us more than conquerors in every battle that remains be­tween here and glory. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, 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 in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 And when that love of Christ is with us we don't just lie around and bask in it. We go forth and conquer! - We conquer evil. - We conquer lies. - We conquer depression. - We conquer death. - We free the captives. - We bring back the strayed. - We raise up the fallen. - We strengthen the weak. And all this goes on in the midst of a war zone, under the nose of Satan himself. God didn't put us in a rose garden. He put this particular church amid closing factories, crumbling warehouses, bankrupt trucking firms, broken, troubled, thirsting human souls, to conquer, to set them free. We can look out over this mess and faint or we can believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go into Judea again." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him. John 11:7-10 In the days of his flesh Jesus made that choice of faith. Hour by hour he trusted his Father … he walked in the day. Jesus died and rose so that we could make that choice too. Today, by his Spirit we have the power to choose … - to walk in the day of faith, - to believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, - to trust him, - to be of good courage. And when we do, he strengthens us with the strength of heaven, and doors open before us … every time.

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