Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Isaiah 46

There are times in life when we are hit with unexpected and unpleasant events and circumstances. Isaiah 46 is a wonderful passage to read when we are facing a crisis or an uncertain future.  In this chapter in Isaiah God is talking to His special Old Testament people, the Israelites.  We can apply these same words to our own lives as His children today.  This chapter in Isaiah tells us that God is the only true God.  The chapter also demonstrates the foolishness of relying on anything or anyone but the Lord in facing life's challenges.

Babylon was Israels's enemy in Old Testament times.  Isaiah told Israel at the time of the writing of this book that some day Babylon's false deities were going to be carried off into captivity. These false deities would fall and fail.  Not so the Lord!  In Isaiah 46:3 the Lord told Israel that He had carried Israel since her birth.  He has also carried us, His children today, since our birth!  Our Lord will never fail us!

The Lord said to Israel and the Lord says to us today, "Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (John 46:4)  The writer of  this devotional is old enough to have a few gray hairs. Looking back on her life she can see that the Lord has indeed always sustained her and carried her through both difficult and pleasant times.  He has always rescued her in times of crisis.  When one is a bit older one begins to gain some perspective on the Lord's faithfulness.  One has seen His faithfulness in the past.  Hence, it is a bit easier to begin to have greater trust in His faithfulness in the future.

In verse five of Isaiah 46 the Lord goes on to say, "To whom will you compare Me or count Me equal?  To whom will you liken Me that we may be compared?"  These are rhetorical questions on the Lord's part.  There is no God, but our true God.  No one or no other resource can be compared to to Him in terms of His power, glory, sovereignty, mercy, or love.  If we trust in anyone or any resource in this life other the Lord for our ultimate protection and well-being, we are sinning.  We are then making that person or resource our idol.  The Lord God alone must be our first love and passion. He alone must be the One to whom we turn for protection and help.  He alone is our help, our salvation, and our hope in this life and for eternity.

Read verses eight through eleven of Isaiah 46, and let the words flow through your spirit.  Revel and find joy in their words of comfort to you.  The Lord says to you, "Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart---I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like Me.  I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please---What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do."

Our sovereign God is in control of the seeming uncertainties in this world.  He is in sovereign control of our lives as His children.  He is watching over us and protecting us in His goodness. He has every detail of our lives in His sovereign will and plan.  He knows our beginning from our end on this earth and has an eternal future for us with Him.  His purpose for us will stand.  When we truly believe and begin to comprehend the glory of that concept there is no room for fear, worry, or panic even in times of crisis!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Isaiah 43

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One---, your Savior;---you are precious and honored in my sight." Isaiah 43:1b-4

One can find wonderful promises in God's Word where one least expects it. Isaiah 43 is one example of this.  In this passage God is making some wonderful promises to the people of Israel. We can apply these same promises to our lives as His people today!  This chapter of Isaiah tells us that the Lord formed us, created us, and redeemed us; so as His children we need not fear! We need to ask the Lord's help to never fear but to always trust Him.  He chose us to serve Him as His children!

Isaiah 43 tells us that the Lord calls us and knows us each by name!  We can replace all of our fears with the Lord's joy and peace, because He gives us the right to a personal relationship with Him!  He says to you and to all His children, "I have summoned you by name; you are Mine." (Isaiah 43:1b) What is even more wonderful is that He gives us His name!  We are part of His family!  As His children we belong to the Lord!

The Lord also promises that He will always be with us.  When we "pass through the rivers" of life's difficulties they will not sweep over us.  When we "walk through the fire" we "will not be burned." (Isaiah 43:2)  We will always have difficulties in this life.  That is inevitable.  But the Lord will be with us protecting us and guiding us all the way!  As His children we are "precious and honored" in His sight, and He loves us! (Isaiah 43:4)  We need not be afraid of anything, because He is always with us.  In fact, His command to us in Isaiah 43:5 is "Do not be afraid, for I am with you."

When you or I are feeling overwhelmed with life's struggles we can cry to the Lord, and He will see us through those troubles!  The waters of life and the fires of life can not overwhelm us as His children!  The waters of life and the fires of life are under His control, so we need not fear.  He will be with us and give us His strength, as we pass through them.  The Lord will not give us His extra strength ahead of time, but He will give us His extra sustaining strength at just the right time when we are going through our deepest trials.

He called us by name and created us for a purpose.  God's purpose for us is that we live for His glory! We are His servants, whom He has chosen to serve Him! We have been chosen to know the Lord, believe on Him, and understand that He is God!  Most of the world does not understand this; but as His children He is our Savior, our God, and our hope forever! No one can change what He has determined!  No one can deliver us out of His hand!  He is our Redeemer, Lord, Creator, and King!

He has done great things for us in the past, and He will do great things for us in the future.  He does new things for us each day!  The longer the writer of this devotional walks with the Lord the more she sees how he is always faithful.  He is always faithful to us even when we can't understand what is going on in our lives.  He makes a way in the deserts of life.  He does this, because He formed you and I Himself that we might bring glory to His name!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Isaiah 40:27-31

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:29-31

Do you ever feel discouraged and want to give up?  Do you ever feel that a task or trial that the Lord has given you is too much to handle?  Do you ever wrongly feel as if you are all alone in handling a challenge in your life?  God's Old Testament people in Isaiah's day felt that way. God's people at that time were saying, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God." (Isaiah 40:27b)

When we begin to feel this way in our lives we must recall God's promises in His Holy Word to always be with us and to always strengthen us.  Isaiah 40:28 says, "Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom."  The Lord is a great and powerful God; and this great God of the universe chooses to give His enabling strength to us, His children! Isaiah 40:29 says, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

The key to endurance in this life is not our own strength, for "even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall." (Isaiah 40:30)  The key to endurance in this life is the Lord's strength in our lives.  His supply of strength for us is limitless and is always readily available!  The way we avail ourselves of the Lord's strength is by putting our total trust expectantly in the Lord. We must not seek to run ahead of the Lord or try to seek out our own fallible resources.  We need to wait on the Lord for His strength with the absolute confidence that He will give His strength to us.

We might go into the Lord's presence in prayer weary, tired, and discouraged.  We can leave the Lord's presence in prayer strengthened and refreshed!  Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  As we wait on the Lord and trust Him, our strength for facing life's challenges are renewed and invigorated!  This happens when we begin exchanging our finite weaknesses for the Lord's infinite strength.  Then like the eagles, who are known for their vigor, we will be able to fly or rise above the challenges of this life.  This kind of strength is found only in the Lord, but in the Lord's strength we can "run and not grow weary." The Lord is our strength!