Do Not Fear

Isaiah 43:1-5 (NIV)

Israel’s Only Savior

43 But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, 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 of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.

This passage is both encouraging and disturbing. Many times I’ve heard verse 2. God will be with me no matter the trial. That’s good. Verse 3 and especially verse 4 are the disturbing one for me.  “I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.”  I don’t know the complete context of this section of Isaiah. Nonetheless, I’m scratching my head asking what does this really mean and how does it apply to me?!?!?!

Any rate verse 5 brings it home God is with me there is no need to be afraid.

 

The scriptures this month are based on Sweet Blessing’s November Theme Writing plan.

Soar on Wings Like Eagles

Isaiah 33:2 (NIV)

Lord, be gracious to us;
    we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
    our salvation in time of distress.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

28 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.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 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.

The past several days I’ve been struggling with fatigue, bone-crushing fatigue. So this passage is so timely. I especially like verse 2, “Be our strength in the morning…”

So I continue to hope in the Lord and trust that He will renew my strength. Below is my favorite song from Isaiah 40. (though they sing it a little slower than we usually do.)

 

Who is the fight with?

Ephesians 6:10- KJV

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

I learned this passage in the King James Version and that version still speaks the loudest to me when I think about this passage. Paul reminds us that we have everything we need and he puts into a great analogy. I tend to think of it this way:

I put on the breastplate of righteousness, the breastplate protects my heart. I don’t think I have to say that when are not living as God has called us to live our heart is damaged.

Then I put on the belt of truth, not only that I speak the truth but I hear and discern the truth.

Now it’s time to put on my shoes. Shoes that allow me to walk in peace.

To protect my head I put on the helmet of salvation. What we think can be as critical as what we do.

I pick up my shield of faith that is able to stop the fiery arrows that shot my way. It is important for me to care for my shield so that it is ready to stop the attacks of the enemy.

Finally, I pick up my only weapon, the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word. It can be both a defensive tool and when necessary an offensive tool.

Fully dressed I’m ready to face the day.

Deuteronomy 31:6-8 (NIV)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Chapter 31 is where Moses passes the baton to Joshua as the leader of Israel.  He encourages Joshua with these words, “Be strong and courageous” “The Lord Himself goes before you” “He will never leave you nor forsake you” “Do not be afraid” “Do not be discourage”

I do believe these are words that are spoken to us today as well. God will not leave us, we have no need to be afraid nor do we need to be discouraged, the Lord HIMSELF goes before us.

Be strong and courageous!

2 Samuel 22:1-4; 31-33 (NLT)

22 David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
    my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
    and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my savior,
    the one who saves me from violence.
I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and he saved me from my enemies.

31 “God’s way is perfect.
    All the Lord’s promises prove true.
    He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
32 For who is God except the Lord?
    Who but our God is a solid rock?
33 God is my strong fortress,
    and he makes my way perfect.

As I read this images of Yosemite came to mind especially “my God is my rock” and “Who but our God is a solid rock?”  When you look at El Capitan or Half Dome it’s amazing to think about how strong those rocks are. Yet, God is stronger.

When I’m walking around Yosemite Valley soaking in the sights this song plays over and over in my head. For me, it captures how I feel about God as I look at the beauty.

 

The scriptures this month are based on Sweet Blessing’s November Theme Writing plan.

I am Weak

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The context of this passage is Paul speaking about his “thorn in the flesh.” And although we do not know exactly what that was, we know Paul prayed, actually he used the word pleaded, three times asking God to take it. Verse 9 was God’s response.

We live in a world where women are told they have to be strong, they have to be self-sufficient, they don’t need a man to help them. Maybe not just women, I think men have the same pressure if not more to be “strong.” Yet here God reminds us that His grace is all we need. That when we are weak His power can rest on us.

I’m not sure I know how to delight in my weaknesses let alone hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. I do know I need to wrap my brain around the idea that it’s okay to be weak and to let God’s strength take over.

Strength

1 Chronicles 16:11 (NLT)

11 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 (NLT)

David’s Prayer of Praise

10 Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly:

“O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel,[a] may you be praised forever and ever! 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. 12 Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

13 “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!

Search for the Lord and for His strength. I think that’s a good command as we head toward the holidays. So many things that demand our attention and wear us down.

Verse 12b  “at your discretion people are made great and given strength” caused me to pause, but as I look at the context this is at the end of David’s rule over Israel and in the following verses Solomon is named king.

Like many of our own prayers we pray and ask God for something, yet we know it is going to be according to HIs will or discretion.

The scriptures this month are based on Sweet Blessing’s November Theme Writing plan.

Keep On Praying

Romans 12:2;12

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

Romans 12 is one of my favorites from the opening verse where Paul begs us to give our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. (Which on a side note is why we keep crawling off the altar. ) To the final verse that reminds us to not let evil conquer us, but to conquer evil by doing good.

That starts by giving ourselves to God, allowing Him to transform us by changing the way we think. For the topic of this month, prayer, the key verse comes in verse 12:

Rejoice in our confident hope. (even when we’re not super confident)

Be patient in trouble (patience being the HARDEST part when you’re in trouble and you’re trying to be confident)

Keep on praying – especially when hope seems to be failing and the trouble seems to be hanging on. Keep on praying!

Next month’s themed scripture writing devotion is on the topic of Strength.  Learn more

When you don’t know what to pray

Romans 8:26-27 NIV

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

So many times God has laid a person on my heart, I don’t know why, but I’ve learned to pray. (Unfortunately, the hard way)  And even though I may never know why I was prompted to pray, I want to be faithful. I want to lift that person to our Heavenly Father. All I can do is trust that God will work.

Sometimes we do know why. One night at choir a fellow choir member asked for prayer. She didn’t go into details; I offered to pray for her. I prayed what I believed the Spirit laid on my heart. After rehearsal, she came to me, hugged me, and said, “You were right on with your prayer.”

Take this passage to heart. When someone pops into your mind, stop and say a quick prayer. It doesn’t have to be much, just ask God to meet them where they need to be met.  You may never know the impact of your prayer this side of heaven, but that doesn’t matter.

Will You Listen?

Psalm 5:1-3 (NLT)

Lord, hear me as I pray;
    pay attention to my groaning.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
    for I pray to no one but you.
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
    Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

Some days I really wonder, “Is God listening?” The writer of this Psalm felt that way as well.  But in verse 3 there is a turning point, “I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”  I wish I could turn the corner that quickly, sometimes it takes me a little longer.

If you read the entire Psalm you read the ups and downs of the writer. Reminding himself that God doesn’t take pleasure in wicked and that they will be destroyed.

He also rejoices in the unfailing love of God and that he can enter into God’s house.

I love this Psalm. It reminds me that it’s okay to ask God to declare the wicked guilty and to pray that they are caught in their own trap. But we shouldn’t dwell there. We can rejoice and sing joyful praise forever.