“He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:8 (NIV)
Our verse today is a promise from the first letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth. The Christians at Corinth had become God’s children when they listened to Paul’s preaching to them and believed in Jesus as a result. Paul knew that as he traveled he would leave believers behind and he knew that they would face trails and temptations and that God would take care of them. None of us can live our Christian lives by ourselves in our own strength but we can trust in God to help us stand firm in the face of testing. His promise is that He will keep us firm and He will keep us that way until the very end when because of Him we will be counted blameless. No matter what the situations are that we face today our Lord knows our needs. He knows when we feel weak and we can receive strength when we remember that God has promised to keep us firm in our faith to the end – and He will do it.
“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10 (NASB)
These words were spoken by Nehemiah, governor of Judah during the time when the people of Israel rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. It was time for a holy day of remembrance. The people were weeping in much sorrow because of their sins. “For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.” (v.9) When they heard and understood God’s law, they understood their violations of it. Not tears of joy, but penitent sorrow came forth as they were grieved by conviction. Nehemiah encourages them the same as we can be encouraged when we have grief over our failings before God, our family, friends and others. Strength come from the Joy of the Lord. How does it come? It comes through the grace and mercy of God who wants more to draw us into repentance and confession than to punish or discipline us harshly – even when we deserve that. What we do not deserve is the Joy of the Lord but He gives it to us just as he gave it to these children of Israel. That Joy which comes only from the Lord is what infuses strength into our spirit to do the right things.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,” Psalm 105:4-5 (NIV)
Memorial Day is a special day for remembering. We know that this day has been observed in the United States of America for more than one hundred years. It began after the Civil War and was at first called Decoration Day. But the idea of a special day for remembering is much older than that. We know that God prescribed memorials at several times in Bible days because He did not want His people to forget what He had done for them. Our verse today is one such reminder to remember. So today when we remember other important things like those who have given their lives while serving our country in wars, let’s be sure to remember also our God and the wonders He has done for us. What He has done is recorded in the Bible and is for all people. Let’s think too of how He has helped us in the past. All this will help us look to the Lord as we are reminded in our verse. Remember today and every day that God is with us helping us with every step we take.
Notes on Memorial Day in USA
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11 (ESV)
In the first century and today Christians need to defend the faith. The apostle Paul wrote these words in his letter to the assembly of Christians who were in Ephesians. This is a familiar passage for many and it is an encouragement for all at any time. He knew that the believers were facing difficult times as were most Christians in the Roman world at that time. As Christians in the world today, we too are facing greater hostility from a world that continues to reject Jesus and His message of Salvation for all. We have this promise just as the Ephesians had it that God makes us strong in His might. Taking on the “whole armor” means to accept and choose to believe and live according to the way God has planned and designed for us. In this passage we learn that our battle is actually against spiritual forces of wickedness. But Paul tells us to take up what God has given us and live accordingly in defense of the battle. Truth, Righteousness, Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, Word of God, and Prayer is our armor against anything the enemy might throw at us. That is our promise.
“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.” 2 Timothy 4:17 (NASB)
This is the testimony of the Apostle Paul, imprisoned a second time and on trial in Rome. Paul tells Timothy how the Lord helped him in that court appearance. All had deserted him so when Paul was summoned to testify before a Roman tribunal no other person was there to help him. But Paul did not stand alone. He said the Lord stood at his side and gave him strength. The Lord fulfills His promise never to “leave or forsake” His children. That must have been comforting for Paul. He knew that though alone with no friends he was conscious that the Lord stood right there at his side. Jesus promises this to be our experience too. He assures us that whatever we face, even if it is the ultimate sacrifice, the Lord is with us. Paul knew his time on earth would soon be done, “the time of my departure has come.” v. 6 Remember each morning God’s promise to be with us always, especially when we need Him as He was with Paul. Paul said, “…the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…” He will give you strength also.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 (NASB)
Our verse today is perhaps a familiar and frequently quoted verse from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It offers a powerful truth we can live by no matter what circumstances of life surround us. However, an application of this verse that is often used shades its true meaning. This is a promise indeed but not a promise that we will be able to accomplish anything we wish for. It does not promise a win in any competition. It does not promise excellence in performances to reach a desired goal. It does promise we can face and sustain all circumstances which challenge our faith. Prosperity? It comes with temptation of pride and leads to depending upon ourselves more than on God. Poverty? It leads to doubts and fear and temptations to cheat because our life expectations are not met. God promises to help us have strength to withstand all challenges, helping us to not succumb to defeating doubts. Because we are in Christ, He infuses us with His strength to sustain us through all things that come our way and teaches us how to thrive in plenty or in want.
“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 (NASB)
Yesterday we learned from God’s Word through His prophet Isaiah that perfect peace is available to those whose mind is steadfast and unwavering in their trust in God. Today’s promise gives us the attitude of fearlessness. The idea of ‘No Fear’ is presented to us in many different ways: the No FEAR Act of 2002; as a brand for lifestyle clothing; and even as a translation of old English literature such as Shakespeare into modern English. God knows we all are tempted to be afraid and desire to have no fear. He has given us this guide – the Bible – which promises what He will do for us in these times. We can affirm that God is our salvation. When we can confirm that our salvation from the wages of sin (Romans 6:23) is ours by faith in God, we can trust Him without fear. Isaiah confirms his own standing – he trusts because the Lord God provides strength to do so. It is a strength that calms our spirit and gives us a song of praise. We have this promise: when we trust in God, He becomes our salvation and we abide in Him for the rest of time and beyond.
“My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26 (ESV)
Can’t we all agree that we have a weakness when it comes to holding the line on what we know and believe faithfully? Literally the verb in this verse is simply “fail,” not “may fail.” Asaph was enraptured by God. His testimony is, “I have failed! I am despairing! I am dejected! I am overcome with depression!” Then he fires a broadside against all this despondency: “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” This is our promise for when the blues attack. Refuse to yield to their effects. Instead, battle our unbelief; respond with a strategic counterattack. It comes down to this if we trust the promises of God: when in ourselves we feel weak and unable to cope; when we are physically spent and have lost heart, that is the time to not yield to whatever the reason is for our despondency. We trust God and not ourselves. We have hope because God is our strength and our portion forever. These testimonies in the Bible are for our use to fight the unbelief of despondency. And, we fight with the blast of faith in God’s promises.
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,,,” Isaiah 30:15 (ESV)
Our verse is part of a prophecy God sent to His people Israel through Isaiah His prophet. Isaiah delivered this important message to His people. It is a promise for all but in this instance it was a promise that the people rejected and were unwilling to submit to it. By not accepting the promise Israel missed the blessing of it. God wanted to them to learn this truth, and it is still effective even today. You and I will do well to listen to this promise. God wants us today to know the secret to salvation and strength. Rest, or relax, and trust in Him. If we have been trying to live right by our own effort, we need to realize that God offers to help us to live right and also to accomplish lasting results. The kind of rest promised comes from trusting the words of God. We can rest by believing and following God’s instructions. Let’s believe His words and quit trying in our own strength. Let’s remember these words, “In quietness and trust is your strength.” It’s a promise and a blessing for us if we will have it.
Isaiah, rest, salvation, strength, trust
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” Psalm 46:1-3 (KJV)
It was just a few days ago that we considered the promises from God’s Word found in the book of Isaiah. The promise was that even if mountains may depart and the hills be removed, God’s love would never fail to be here for us. Today we consider again a comparison of God’s attributes with mountains being moved, this time into the sea. God promises to be our refuge (shelter) from storms and danger. Such threats are around us all the time and we may not even know every time we are in such peril. Think of those who were on that jet that lost most of an engine. Disasters happen and we are not always protected from them happening but God here promises that He is still our refuge and strength. Strong enough even to bring us into His presence or see us safely home. Floods and earthquakes are uncontrollable and nearly unpredictable as are the crises and circumstances that might knock us off our feet. But God is and will be with us protecting us from fear and trouble. Let’s hold tightly to these promises today and next time disaster threatens, no matter what kind it is.