Genesis 32: 22-30 

Psalm 121 

2 Timothy 3:14- 4:5 

St. Luke 18: 1-8 

“Don’t Stop Believing” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

When I worked in a cancer ward in Pittsburgh there was one  man I visited every day. He was a very faithful person who  understood the fear of the Lord, but he had trouble with the  Gospel. His fear paralyzed him, and though he would ask me  often to pray for him, he himself never prayed. He once told me  about how he believed he did not deserve to go to Heaven and  how he had done horrible things in his life. He was so weighted  down by his own guilt that he wondered why God would ever listen to his prayers. It was better off that he punted the act of  prayer to someone nobler than he. His insistence was born out of  a desire to be heard by God hindered by his belief that God would not hear him. He looked up to the Lord God with reverent fear and  seeing the Son upon the cross his fear of retribution for his sins  overshadowed the blessed redemption of Christ. He looked up,  and saw no help. 

Additionally in college, I had seen so many people get so  swept up by the charismatic movement that they lifted up their  hands in praise as they worshiped this amazing God with a new  fervor of emotional highs. These people who were once agnostic  were made Christian through the power of loud music and  theatrics which confused their hearts and the brains as ramped up  endorphins disguised themselves as the Holy Spirit. Some 

eventually went on to be incredibly faithful Christians, but all too  often I saw these pleasure seekers crumble under the weight of  the world. For some, their faith was proven to be worthless as  they were put to the test through trials of fire. As the beating sun  pummeled them with reality and the veracity of evil attacked their  fragile conviction, the hell fire that Satan threatens Christians with  in this world burned what little elation they had and these young  Christian pups came out of the blazing furnace as not precious  gold but charcoal that disintegrates with a light puff of wind. When  they were in desperate need of help, instead of being made  strong in complete patience through faith, they caved to the world  and swiftly abandon faith. 

Both examples, though seemingly different, are more similar  than what meets the eye. The first is of a man who knows that he  deserves to go to Hell but knows not that the grace of Jesus  Christ overcomes all sin. The second is an example of those  whose faith fades the moment it is put to the test. What they both  lack is the peace of knowing that the Lord is our helper. What they  both lack is not faith per se, but high quality faith. The faith of the  first does not trust the complete forgiveness of sins which comes  from Jesus Christ. The faith of the second does not trust the rock  of Christ of which they stand on. Both have a picture of what the  Catholic faith looks like, but their pictures are but a fragment of  what true trust in the Lord looks like. 

When the Lord extents His hand to these two examples  asking, “Do you trust me?” both, though they do want to trust, do  not grab on to the hand. 

There will always be opportunity to test our faith. We  shouldn’t will it, nor does God the Father will it, but that does not  mean that it doesn’t happen. So long as there is sin and the world  is subject to Satan, then our faith will be tested. Sometimes it’s  our own demons that haunt us at night and causes our hearts to  ache in agony. Sometimes it’s our friends and family, used by the  Devil, who cause us to squirm as our own faith in the Lord above  is being used against us. Sometimes we tempt ourselves,  sometimes it’s the world, and sometimes it’s the Devil himself.  Either way, there will be plenty of opportunity to test our faith. 

Now, when you are thrust into the furnace and the heat is  kicked up to new heights what then will happen? Will the fire to  you be purifying or will it be putrid? Will you come out with all  impurities burned out or will you come out of the flames burnt?  Will you overcome the Devil or will you wither away? The  difference between the outcomes start with one question. Did you  lift up your eyes to the Lord for help? 

Know this, the Lord your God is a present help. He does  indeed listen to your prayers. And He desires only the best for  you. The Father does not want to see His children in pain; in fact  it troubles Him greatly to see us suffer. Though there is a Hell that  does not mean He desire us to go to Hell; no, for He has always  desired us to live eternally without sin. So if you in faith look up to  the Lord for help will he tarry? 

When in agony, lift up your eyes for help, and know this, the  Lord is there. The Lord who made heaven and earth is indeed  your help and nothing can prevent the Lord from protecting and 

preserving you if you allow Him to. If you place your faith in He  who is so powerful that He is the creator of everything, do you  think anything would have the ability to block His aid? And if you  look to the Lord for help in a righteous manner do you think the  Lord will turn a blind eye? 

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will not turn a blind eye  nor will anything get in His way. What does Scripture say? Ask  and it shall be given? So too when help is needed, do not give up  the faith but turn to the Lord for help. 

Yet again, I stress that there will be many opportunities to  test out your faith. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance that  you continue to have faith. Do not loosen your grip on the Lord,  for if you do the Devil will surely snatch you away. Persevere and  hold in your heart all of Scripture. Do all that the Lord commanded  of you, you who are already saved, and swiftly ask for forgiveness  and help when you falter. Use the Word of God and all the  training you have received in righteousness to stiffen your spines  and grow in wisdom. When evil rears its ugly head, face it without  fear for the Lord your God, Jesus Christ, is the Lord of Lords and  has already vanquished the gates of Hell. 

The Devil is like a shadowy lion who lurks in the darkness  always hungry, never satisfied; he is constantly circling you in the  outer darkness waiting to pounce. However, the Word of God  pains him and causes him to take a step back. When you pray,  invoking the name of God, the Devil suffers. He wants you to rely  on your own abilities, because against his demonic might, you are  powerless. You rely on yourself and the light of God withers away 

as the darkness creeps closer to you. As faith in God becomes  absent, the ears become itchy, and the teeth of the lion get ever  closer. Eventually, he gets you, and the faith you once had  vanishes. The Devil has won yet another victim. 

However, even the tiniest spark terrifies the Devil. One small  flame of hope buffets the lion with fear as the might of the Lord  reigns supreme. He who goes to church regularly, who takes  communion as often as he or she can, who prays daily, whose  faith endures long suffering while being spiritually sober-minded – the Devil will never overcome. Not on account of the works done  by these, but because of the patient faith they have which is  strengthened by prayer, communion, and worship. He who does  not go to church, the devilish lion creeps closer. He who does not  take in the Body and Blood of our Savior, the devilish lion creeps  closer. He who does not pray, invoking the Name of the Lord  which Satan fears above all else, the devilish lion creeps closer.  But He whose faith is strengthened in prayer, worship, and  communion, the Devil will never overcome. 

So do not turn your hearts away from the Lord. Do not allow  itchy ears to guide you to politically-correct-but-oh-so-biblically incorrect preachers. Do not be guided by passion. Let myths  remain myths. Suffer the consequences of being a religiously  conservative Christian, knowing that no amount of suffering will  ever separate you from God. Let the Word guide your tongue as  you courageously preach the Good News most especially to  those who will hate you for doing such. Always be ready to have  your faith be put to the test. Be willing to reprove, rebuke, and 

exhort those who sin, for their own sake. Do all of this and know  that the Lord will be with you during every step. 

And if it seems that any one of these steps might sound  difficult don’t turn tail and run away. It’s going to be okay. Do not  lose heart; maintain your trust in Jesus and pray. Pray for help.  Pray for courage. Pray for healing. Pray for discipline. Pray for  forgiveness. Pray for the words that your stumbling tongue has trouble uttering. Pray that no amount of political manipulation will  cause you to believe in unbiblical lunacy. Pray for patience. Pray  for an at ease mind that never seeks worldly pleasure. Pray for  stability. Pray. 

And if you believe you are not being heard, do you stop  praying? No, keep praying. Keep asking for help. You may not get  what you want, but that does not mean that the Lord God does  not want to help you. Regardless, still pray. For the Lord does  hear you and will give justice speedily. 

Let us pray. 

 

Heavenly Father, we know that in our weakness we cannot  overcome the Devil, so when he attacks us we pray for your  defense. Shine your face upon us when we lift our eyes in agony  so that we don’t need to search long for help. Strengthen our trust  in you so that we look toward you for help. And remind us that  though we can’t overcome the Devil, you have already overcome  him. In your most holy name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy  Spirit. Amen.

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