prophet Isaiah

Pressing On

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“Life is hard but God is good” is a statement I heard many years ago that rings true of life’s journey. Jesus warned us that:

“…In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The beauty and strength in Jesus’ perspective is that He knew the depth of sufficiency and power that would be provided through Him to overcome the world. It also means that Jesus followers have to know that their approach to overcoming tribulation will be different from the worlds approach. And we need to know what we’re fighting for.

In the movie Cinderella Man, the history making boxer (Jim Braddock) who is experiencing an incredible comeback after loosing everything is asked to explain his sudden success. His response resonates a new-found purpose that was birthed through his tribulation:

“This time around I know what I’m fighting for.”

Do you know what you’re fighting for in life? Knowing begins with discovering God and His purpose for your life. Jesus lived to please God. He accomplished the work that He was sent to accomplish on earth amidst great tribulation. He knew what He was fighting for, to bring the light of salvation to the world. We see His determination and focus through the prophet Isaiah;

“But the Lord God helps Me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7)

God has a good plan for your life and it takes a fierce focus on Him to discover and fulfill it against the tribulations of living in this world. Know what you’re fighting for. How you spend eternity is weighing in the balance.

“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

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Firm in Faith

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When you find yourself in what seems like ‘the trial of your life’ with personal resources exhausted and it looks like the enemy of your soul is about to throw the crushing blow, how do you respond?

In the days of the prophet Isaiah, Ahaz the King of Judah found himself in such a situation. They were facing the real threat of a crushing blow from the King of Israel who had allied himself with Syria to attack Judah. It goes on to say that “the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.” (Isaiah 7:2)

The Lord instructed Isaiah to go speak to Ahaz a word. He also instructed Isaiah to take his son with him. I love this small detail about his son, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son.” (Isaiah 7:3) Isaiah’s son was a sign from God for Judah that “a remnant shall return.” God was letting the people know that their sin would be judged but with mercy, they would not suffer total loss, that a remnant would be left to rebuild and restore the nation.

What looks like ‘the trial of your life’ may be the refining tool that God has allowed to purge out sinful attitudes and lifestyle choices that hinder and sabotage God’s good plan for your life. The words that God instructed Isaiah to speak to King Ahaz and the people gave them the opportunity to see this trial through His perspective of faith and trust:

“Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint…” (Isaiah 7:4)

God went on to put the enemy in the proper perspective; “two smoldering stumps” in His eyes and in which we are to see any enemy coming against us. Now that their eyes have been opened by God’s perspective they can see that this is a test of faith and trust in God to not only deliver but to bring them through this trial. They are left with this gentle rebuke from God:

“…If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)

If you truly desire to glorify God there comes a time when we must decide to stand firm in our faith, trusting in God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us, no matter what trial is allowed into our lives. If we refuse to embrace His instruction our destiny in Christ will be plagued with instability, doubt and immaturity, failing to live the abundant life that Christ died to give us.

“…until we all attain…to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ…” (Ephesians 4:13-15)

Be firm in faith!

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