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A Word from the Lord

with Archbishop Foley Beach
As You “Face Difficult Circumstances” of Pandemic and Civil Discourse, You Are Admonished “that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” Sunday, January 17, 2021
As You “Face Difficult Circumstances” of Pandemic and Civil Discourse, You Are Admonished “that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” MESSAGE SUMMARY: Today, followers of Jesus live in a time of both turmoil and uncertainty with issues like Covid-19, cultural dissonance, and civil discourse providing an overarching context that can lead us to fear, doubt in our faith, and feelings of “hopelessness”. These issues of today, that drive our uncertainties and fears, have impacted America profoundly, including Followers of Jesus. However, as Followers of Jesus, we know that none of these issues are taking God by surprise. Yet so many of us are discouraged, downcast, depressed, and fearful. Too many of us have lost “Hope”. Proverbs 13:12 tells us: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,".  Without “Hope”, we are like ships sailing without a harbor. God wants us to have “Hope” in our everchanging world! “Hope” is the anticipation of a good future; “Hope” is having faith and believing that God is working out His purposes in the World and in my life. Today, the Pandemic, civil disobedience, and cultural dissonance a context for our need to learn about “Living in Difficult Circumstances”. We can both learn a great deal and gain “Hope”, in our current situation, from the situation faced by Christians in Rome who were  “Living in Difficult Circumstances”. Our context for learning is described in the Bible’s book of Hebrews. The book of Hebrew’s writer wanted to give “Hope” to the persecuted Christians in Rome by pointing out the superiority of Jesus the Christ over all the problems they were facing from their persecution by the Emperor Nero. The writer did not want Christians to deviate and leave their Faith in Jesus because the times were bleak and the difficult circumstances they were facing appeared hopeless. In Hebrew’s, the writer wanted Roman Christians to understand that if they turned away from Jesus there was no one else with whom they could face their difficult circumstances. The message to us, in these times, is that without Jesus in our lives and in the life of our country there is no one or no institution, to whom we can turn, for help in “facing our difficult circumstances”. To this end, in Hebrews 1:10-11, we find the culmination of Jesus Divinity along with His humanity that positions His superiority for us: “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”. Also, the writer of Hebrews, in Hebrews 1:2-4, speaks of “in these last days”, to reference the times after Jesus’ birth, death and Resurrection in which God has “acted and spoken” on Earth. God’s actions on Earth were in fulfilment, through Jesus, of those promises He made through the Old Testament Prophets. Now, “in these last days”, is the time, in the First Century and today, in which Jesus and God’s power and superiority on Earth and in the Universe, are unassailable by any person, institution, force, government entity, or nation: “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”. This text from Hebrews 1:2-4 points to Jesus as Lord over all creation and humanity. In Hebrews 2:1-3, Followers of Jesus are warned not to let their faith in Jesus drift away: “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard,". The writer of Hebrews points out both Jesus’ superiority in His Deity and Jesus oneness with the Christians of Rome in His humanity – the Incarnate God-Man. Jesus entered into our world as a human, and He entered into our death as we see in Hebrews 2:9: “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”. Today, many people live terrified of death. Jesus, by entering into our death, made it possible for us not to face the emptiness and isolation of death. Rather, Jesus made it possible for us to experience death as a doorway to an eternal and fuller life with God. Also, in Hebrews 2:10, the writer points out that Jesus entered into our suffering: “For it was fitting that, he for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”. Jesus was perfected in His Incarnate humanity by His suffering like we perfect our humanity in our suffering, especially by “facing difficult circumstances”. Suffering transforms and strengthens us; but, because of Jesus, suffering never has the last word for Followers of Jesus. Because Jesus entered into our death and suffering, we have a Messiah and Lord who faced what we face. Followers of Jesus are made Brothers and Sisters of Jesus and part of God’s family. Jesus entered into our humanity to destroy the works of the Devil (i.e. Jesus death on the cross) and to set free those who are held captive by their fear of death. Additionally, Jesus entered into our temptations, as we see in Hebrews 2:18: “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”. In Hebrews 3:1-3, the writer says: “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.”. Therefore, we can fix our focus on Jesus while “facing difficult circumstances”. When the life difficulties come and life is hard: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12-13) As we live, today, “in these last days”, we should not look to any other person, institution, force, government entity, or nation, other than Jesus. Jesus is our only source of protection and the way out of our “difficult circumstances” which are manifested by the Pandemic, civil disobedience, and cultural dissonance. Once again, Jesus is the only “way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). TODAY’S AFFIRMATION: Today, I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, I AM FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13). SCRIPTURE REFERENCE (ESV): Hebrews 1:10-18; Hebrews 2:1-3; John 14:6; Hebrews 2:5-10; Psalms 8:4-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:10; Psalms 22:22; Isiah 8:17-18; John 1:12-14; Hebrews 4:15; Revelation 5:1-10:  Hebrews 3:1-3,12-13.   WEBSITE LINK TO DR. BEACH’S SERMON VIDEO – “Jesus the Christ Is Our Hope In Life and Death and He Is “Hope” for the Wave of Loneliness and Uncertainty Sweeping Our World Today”:  www.AWFTL.org/watch A WORD FROM THE LORD WEBSITE: www.AWFTL.org. DONATE TO AWFTL: https://mygiving.secure.force.com/GXDonateNow?id=a0Ui000000DglsqEAB

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