Daily Faith Reminders (41-47)

 

Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid;

For the LORD GOD is my strength and song,

And He has become my salvation.

Isaiah 12.2

 

Looking into the (still) future, the prophet Isaiah saw a distant day when, after long judgment for her sin, Israel is restored in a kingdom of peace and plenty, with the ‘root of Jesse’ – the Son of David, the Messiah, reigning on His throne (see Isaiah 11). In that bright day, this would be their song.

 

Centuries before Isaiah wrote these words, another generation sang that song. After God delivered Israel from the Egyptian army at the Red Sea, Moses led the nation in singing, “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation…” (Exodus 15.2)

 

But God’s great works are not just in the distant past, or sometime in the future, they are right now, every day. Consider Jesus’ words, after commissioning His disciples to make disciples of all the nations, were, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.20). The risen Savior, who gave His life to pay the price for our forgiveness of sin, would always be with us. Today, we can trust and not be afraid, because He has become our salvation!

 

While we look forward to that future day when Messiah Jesus reigns, remember: He is with you, today.

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Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:11

 

Do you ever talk to yourself? Sometimes we need to ‘talk some sense into ourselves,’ and that is what we find in psalms 42 and 43, which together form one song of sorrows. In his despair, the psalmist cries out to God: He weeps day and night (42.3), he longs for happier days (42.4), anguish rolls over him like ocean waves (42.6-7), others mock him for pursuing God (42.3, 10).

 

But three times, he stops himself: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? (42.5, 11; 43.5) It’s as though at the depth of his despair, the Spirit reminds Him of who his God is. The realization that God exists and is watching over him transforms his heartbreak into hope, his pain into praise.

 

Living by faith means letting things unseen – like our invisible God – empower us to face what we see. It may be loss, or fears, or uncertainty, or loneliness, or unfulfilled desires: But when we put our hope in God, we find grounds for praise. Like the psalmist, pour out your heart to God, then ‘talk to yourself’ – remind yourself who your God is, and hope in Him.

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And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses,

so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

2 Corinthians 12.9

 

Sufficient. It’s a positive, uplifting word. Webster defines it as ‘enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.’ Paul had a ‘thorn in the flesh’ – he may have suffered from a recurring illness that humbled him. He asked God three times to deliver him from it, but this was God’s answer: My grace is sufficient for you.

 

Our problem often is with how God chooses to meet our needs. God told Paul that His power was perfected in weakness. God didn’t want to remove Paul’s ‘thorn;’ he wanted to reveal His power that would enable Paul to experience the sufficiency of God alone in his life. We often think, If only I could change this or that, my life would be perfect. God’s answer is, “No, I want you to learn the sufficiency of Me in your circumstances!”

 

Paul came to boast (to exult, or rejoice) in his weaknesses, because they magnified the power of God in him. It isn’t a mental game; it’s a spiritual discipline – learning more each day about God’s grace. By grace we have been saved eternally, and by that sufficient grace we can face whatever each day may bring.

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But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Although God judged Israel for her lack of faith in Him, His sure promise was that He would not forsake them. In Isaiah 40, the prophet assures the nation that God both wants to deliver them, and He is able to as well. The passage crescendos to a final stanza: God doesn’t get tired like we do, and He is ready to give strength to those who trust in Him (vv28-29). For a weary nation, languishing in captivity, those words awakened faith and hope.

I go ‘wogging’ in the morning – that’s a mix of walking and jogging. After jogging a little while, I feel my strength waning, so I walk. When my strength returns, I jog some more. How do you get your spiritual strength back when you’re exhausted? You tap into God’s inexhaustible omnipotence.

Hebrew scholar John Oswalt says that to wait on the Lord means to have ‘complete dependence on God and a willingness to allow him to decide the terms.’ As we submit our lives to Him, daily ‘wogging’ with the Lord, He renews our strength as only He can.

So today, ‘wait on the Lord,’ and ‘soar with the eagles,’ ‘run,’ and ‘walk’ (spiritual wogging) – in His strength.

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The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121:7-8

Psalm 121 is one of fifteen psalms with the title “Song of ascents” (Psalms 120–134), sung by pilgrims as they ‘ascended’ up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. There were many dangers on the way. This psalm begins with a question: I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? (v1).

It was an honest appeal: The road into the Judean mountains inspired fear – whether from steep falls, thieves, or wild animals. The psalmist’s response is well-known: My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. Anticipating unknown dangers, he immediately turns to God. His eyes focused on the Lord – and not his problems, the rest of the psalm is a confident expression of trust. The God who preserved Israel can and will watch over us…not just for time, but for eternity.

We are all on a spiritual ‘ascent’ – a journey of faith that leads finally to heaven. Our road is also fraught with dangers: Our enemy seeks to ‘steal and kill and destroy’ (Jn. 10.10), to devour like a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5.8). But listen: Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 Jn. 4.4)! On your journey today, trust in the God who watches over you all the time.

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Sometimes this old world can seem pretty hopeless. Famine, disease, wars, terrorism, violence, greed…that’s what fills the nightly news. If it’s gotten you down, pause and meditate on the words, the God of hope. We are not as those who have no hope; indeed, we have a ‘blessed’ (happy) hope – a future anticipation that is as sure as God’s word!

With our minds fixed on God, hopelessness is replaced by joy and peace: Joy as we look forward expectantly to that future day, and peace because of the absolute assurance that God will do what He has promised. And get this: Hope ‘overflows’ – it permeates our lives, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Living in us, the Spirit takes the spark of hope and fans it into a flame.

So much of the Christian life happens in the ‘unseen realm,’ where the Spirit operates, as you trust in God. And as Scripture reminds us, the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal  (2 Cor. 4.18). Hold on to those things that last, that give joy, peace, and overflowing hope.

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Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,

the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

These Daily Faith Reminders have had one purpose: To excite Christians to focus on God more, and on this world less. Living in a space-time universe, and a world where physical things fill our senses, we sometimes ‘lose sight of’ the unseen, spiritual dimension. And yet, it is far more ‘real’ than anything we can see. While this world is passing away, the Word of God lasts forever. While the plans and aspirations of men all come to nothing, God’s plans will all be fulfilled.

How do we ‘bridge the gap’ between this temporal, mortal plane, and the spiritual experience God wants for us? One word: Faith. The things we hope for, long for, our deepest desires – are realized as we place our faith in God. Indeed, nothing but faith in God can do this for us. Blaise Pascal said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

I pray that as you go through this summer, you will continue to go to the Word of God each day, and start your own collection of Daily Faith Reminders. Let the Word of God give ‘substance’ to your hopes, and become the ‘evidence of things not seen.’

Behold, as for the proud one,

His soul is not right within him;

But the righteous will live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2.4

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