“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.
“By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10 (ESV)
Grace is not only God’s unmerited favor to do good for us when we don’t deserve it. It is also enabling power, an actual power from God that acts and makes good things happen in us and for us. God’s grace is God acting in us to make us work hard, to make us keep our commitments and resolutions (if they are appropriate). Apostle Paul says he worked hard: “By the grace of God…I worked harder than any of them.” Paul says, “Work out your own salvation,” and adds, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13). Grace is power from God to do good things in us and for us. This grace is promised to us. It was applied in our past and it will be applied in our future. If you have ever watched water go over a water fall and wondered why it seems endless – think Niagara Falls – that is what grace is like. It’s ever flowing over the waterfall of the present, from an inexhaustible river of grace from the future, into the ever-increasing reservoir of grace in the past.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: For the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation..” Isaiah 12:2 (KJV)
Looking for a good reason to trust a sure thing? So much has be uncertain in the past. Maybe our lives have been turned upside down because of the turmoil that rolled over us and flattened us. There is one who we can trust and cling to the promises He has given to us. Yes, there is. We can trust without fear because our strength comes to us from our LORD JEHOVAH. This means the LORD our God is our strength where we have none. And it is true we have no strength of our own that will carry us through the year ahead so if we do not trust in the strength we have from God, we have no strength at all. We will end up on a heap of depression and despondency. We will be lost in the woods and sinking in the sea. Who will save us? The LORD JEHOVAH will. If we step out in faith, and put our trust in His word and guidance, we will not fear but we will stand up on a high place singing our song of salvation and praise to the LORD OUR LORD. It’s a sure thing.
“Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him.” Isaiah 45:24 (ESV)
Today’s verse is an example of God giving to His prophet the very words that He wanted written down and delivered to His people. This is why it is correct to call the Bible the Word of God. We know that its teachings come from our creator. Sometimes God gave his prophets the words to say in various methods. One of those methods was to instruct the prophet to copy verbatim His words and deliver them as a message in God’s words. In this instance Isaiah received the Word of God directly from God. God predicted here what people would say about Him. If we are walking close to the Lord in our Christian life we can say what God predicted we would say. Yes, as we walk with the Lord we find that He is the source of our ability to live right. We find His righteousness keeps us in the straight way. It is how we find strengths that we need to do what we’ve been given to do. Walking close to the source of the promised strength, let’s commit to doing that today.
“ The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:29-30 (ESV)
Many claim the existence of gods other than the one God we worship. These other gods are created in someone’s mind and sold to many who do not know the true God. A created god is not the God of the Bible. Our God is not the same as the god worshiped in a false religion. The commandments in these verses came to us first from God through Moses in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). It is a foundational truth that we need to believe and hold dear and defend that God is One. There are no other gods in existence. Famous and influential people today, celebrities will tell you that there is more than one god and there is more than one way to “what you call God.” But there is not. The Lord is one. It does not take our belief to make that true. It is true because God said it and those who choose to believe it is no mistake. God has made Himself available, findable, knowable to those who seek him in faith believing. God promises that those who seek Him will find Him and those who ask for Him will receive Him.