While in the Green status and following PA state-mandated COVID 19 cautions - Current Weekly Schedule: Adult Sunday School at 9:45 AM; Sunday Morning Worship at 11:00 AM;                                                                                                                       Agape Fellowship Lunch at 12:15 PM (bring-your-own-lunch); "In One Accord" Prayer Time at 1:15 PM and Wednesday MidWeek Prayer time at 7:00 PM. 

Escape Artistry: God Shows His Power to Deliver (copied)

Escape Artistry: God Shows His Power to Delive

by Clint Archer (copied, from one of my favorite web sites)

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING WITH DISCERNMENT, INCLUSION OF THE FOLLOWING DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN ENDORSEMENT OF THEIR WEB SITE, OTHER WRITINGS, AND THEIR ASSOCIATIONS. I HAVE INCLUDED THIS, BECAUSE I THOUGHT THAT THEY MIGHT BE USEFUL OR ENCOURAGING TO YOU.

The famous escape artist, Harry Houdini, was a master showman who started out as little more than a glorified locksmith. He would set up lethally dangerous circumstances in which to display his skill. The more impossible the incarceration and the more perilous the circumstance, the more miraculous the escape would seem and the more skillful he would appear. Each time his reputation and his life was put at risk.

Each of his escapes escalated in danger and difficulty, so that his skill was increasingly admired. Some well-known stunts included: escaping from handcuffs, to escaping from handcuffs while inside a giant milk can, to escaping from handcuffs while inside a giant milk can inside a crate nailed and chained with him in leg irons and dropped into a river weighed down by 2000 pounds of lead. In less than a minute Houdini would emerge from the water, free from all chains, and the box would be lifted up by a crane and found unbroken, still locked shut, with the leg-irons left inside. The guy was truly amazing.

Houdini was not, however, invincible.

One of his claims was that he could endure any blow to the stomach, no matter how hard. He regularly challenged professional boxers to punch him in the gut, and he absorbed their blows resolutely. But one day, after a tiring show, Houdini was recovering in his dressing room when a university student asked him if it was true that he could withstand any blow. He affirmed the claim and the young man suddenly pounded Houdini in the stomach several times. What no one knew was that Houdini had been suffering from appendicitis but had refused treatment because it would interfere with his performance schedule. The sucker-punch ruptured his appendix, and he died shortly afterwards, on October 31, 1926.

In Micah chapter 4 we see an Escape Artist who regularly arranges circumstances in order to prove his ability to rescue his reputation and his people from harm. But this Escape Artist truly is invincible.

GOD ALLOWS TRIALS SO THAT HE CAN DISPLAY HIS POWER TO SAVE

Micah 4:8, "And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem. 9Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor? 10Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued; there the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies."

1. HOW THAT APPLIED TO JUDAH

If you remember your Old Testament history you will recall that, after much warning, God allowed Judah to be defeated and exiled to Babylon, The deportation began in 586 BC when Jerusalem was sacked and Nebuchadnezzar brought the Jews into captivity in successive phases, starting with the wealthy, powerful families, and then coming back for the poorer, peasant families.

The Babylonian captivity was harsh. Young men, like the teenage Daniel and his friends, were taken from their families, given new names, new clothes and indoctrinated into the Chaldean ways. There was no way for the Jews to return to Jerusalem— they had no army, no way of resisting the mighty Babylon.

Eventually they would all become Babylonian and the Jewish nation would be no more. Unless a miracle happened, and God helped them to escape. But how?

Micah doesn’t say how, but he promises it will happen.

Micah 4:10, "There you shall be rescued; there the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies."

We know that it began happening only 70 years after the deportation when God worked in King Cyrus’ heart to return the Jews and their wealth back to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

But why do we need to know this?

2. WHAT IT TEACHES US ABOUT GOD

God allowed this to happen to Israel, among other reasons, to teach us what he is like. We see him do this over and over again with Israel: he rescued them from Egypt, he helped them defeat Jericho, he rescued the Jews from Haman’s evil plan. We see him rescue individuals too, for example, Daniel and his friends; think of Peter and John, Paul and Silas.

These events tell us what God was like in the past and, since we know God doesn’t change, they tell us what he is like now.

Sure, you are not the nation of Israel in Babylon, nor are you one of the Apostles, but your individual circumstance is just as important to God as it is to you. And he lets you get into the straitjacket of a situation so that you will turn to him to help you escape. He is the only one we can turn to in a trial.

Peter tells us, if God could rescue Lot – we know that he knows how to rescue his people.

2 Pet 2: 7, "and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked … 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials . . ."

When a Christian encounters a difficult trial it isn’t as if God is saying “Boy, I wish he had stuck to something simple. Lions dens and Egyptian armies are my specialty, but a tight financial month, a relationship difficulty, a cruel boss, a dreaded disease like the Coronavirus …not sure what to do with that.” God can rescue you from any situation.

But we need to understand that to be rescued does not always mean avoiding the trial, but rather avoiding the sin the trial tempts us with.

You might be thinking, “But I have asked God to help me escape this trial and he has left me in it. I am still sick, still lonely, still unemployed, still poor. Isn’t there a verse that says God always gives you the way of escape?”

This is the verse you are thinking about…

1 Cor 10: 13, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

Our challenges are there for a reason. God allows them, God helps us through them. Sometimes he lifts us out of them, sometimes he carries us through them, he enables us to endure them – without sin. Remember Paul and his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12)? God would not remove this because he was more concerned with Paul’s godliness than his comfort. The deportation was an uncomfortable time for the Jews, but God was more concerned with their faithfulness than their comfort.

God brings trials into our lives for a reason – to make us more godly, to prove our faith – that is God’s greatest concern, our holiness, not our happiness.

So, trust God in your trials, read his word, learn about his character, pray to him and ask him to keep you faithful through this trial. And if you are not a child of God, then turn to him in repentance, accept Jesus’ death on the cross for you and know this, no matter how terrifying the trial… God will enable you to endure it to his glory. He is the invincible Escape Artist.

copied, by Clint Archer