“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward’.” (Exodus 14:15).
The people of God were facing a time of extreme crisis as they stood with the waters of the Red Sea in front of them and the vast Egyptian army breathing down their necks from the back. They had no means of crossing over the sea and saving themselves.
It was at that time that God gave the command to Moses for them to Go Forward. The command is clear, but the means of fulfilling the command is unknown until God speaks to Moses in the next verse and tells him to stretch out his rod, making the waters part and allowing the people to cross over.
Moses’ faith never wavered, even though he himself didn’t know how the people would be saved until God revealed it. He left us a great example of total faith that God’s will would be accomplished.
God doesn’t promise miracles to help us achieve His wishes in our day, but we need to have the faith to use the resources we have at our disposal in Going Forward and carrying out whatever He has commanded in His word. Through answers to our prayers and His providence, His desires will be carried out. That assurance is all we need.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).
Nearing the close of this, one of Paul’s most positive epistles, and having accomplished his purpose of admonition and encouragement, the apostle begins his conclusion with a terse but important instruction: “be strong.”
Not only does this self-defining word communicate the idea of strength but also it can be translated as “empowered.” Since these people have already reached a level of faith and commitment not seen in many of the other churches, Paul calls them to bind themselves so closely to Jesus that they allow His power to work through them.
As disciples of Jesus, we can internalize a great lesson from this instruction. We can allow Jesus to work through us by intensifying our knowledge of His word, by listening to Him intently, by performing according to His instruction and example, and by committing our lives in service to His Cause.
“Who among you fears the Lord?
“Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
“Who walks in darkness And has no light?
“Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God” (Isaiah 50:10).
Even though this prophecy could have been pointing to a particular time in Old Testament history, it strongly appears to be a prophecy about the time of the Messiah. In fact, the overriding message could apply to any generation of God’s people: trust in the Lord and rely on God.
Every generation desiring to please God has had the obligation to “fear the Lord,” “obey the voice of His Servant,” and “trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.” As well, every generation walked in darkness until Jesus came and brought light.
So, for those of us in the Christian Age, we can easily see the prophecy’s application today. We live in the time when people the world over have every opportunity to be brought out of spiritual darkness into the marvelous light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since this light is available to us, there is no reason for us to walk in darkness. We can see the message of salvation clearly, and we can certainly rely upon God.
“For You have armed me with strength for the battle;
You have subdued under me those who rose up against me” (Psalm 18:39).
David is retrospective as he recalls the abundant blessings God has bestowed on him, giving him encouragement when he is down and victory when he feels he can’t win. And He gives God the glory for all of his successes.
While the battles David speaks of here involve physical conflict with other nations, the battles we are involved in—at least, for the most part—are of a more personal nature: hurts, personal conflicts, relationship problems, professional difficulties, financial woes, serious health issues, tragedy—the list could go on.
Just as David received strength in his day, we today also receive strength, although it is in quite a different format. God does not provide direct, miraculous strength today, but He has given us everything we need to cope with whatever life throws in our pathway.
We have His word as a constant, readily available source of encouragement; and through it, we can develop the faith we need to rely upon God and to deal with life.
A Study of the Fruit of the Spirit
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22).
The word “faithfulness,” as used in this passage, can have two shades of meaning. It can refer to our devotion to God and to our complete trust in Him. Or it can refer to our own trustworthiness in our relationship with each other—that is, to our fidelity to be honest and keep our word.
Both meanings come out of our allowing the Spirit to teach us, through the inspired Word. It is through the Word that we know God and that we know the kind of disposition God wants us to have and the kind of life-style He wants us to live.
Faithfulness to God will lead us to the eternal home that He has prepared for those who love Him enough to obey Him. Trustworthiness in our dealings with each other will allow us happiness and peace in our everyday lives.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
All Christians need encouragement as they deal with life with all of its disappointments and troubles, but the encouragement this verse provides would have been especially meaningful to Hebrew Christians.
These Jews who had accepted Jesus evidently were expecting life to be quite different after they obeyed the gospel. When persecutions persisted, some of them were really disappointed and discouraged to the point they were considering returning to worship under the Law of Moses.
The writer strongly urges them not to do so; rather they were to cling to the hope that came with their coming to Jesus—that is, the hope of salvation. And they were to remember God who gave them that hope and who is always faithful to keep His promises.
The reassuring message of hope these Jewish Christians had received is the same message we receive today: it keeps us strong in times of temptation and it keeps us going when life gets tough. And holding fast our hope will be worth it all when we receive the benefit of God’s promises in eternity.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16).
Paul has been giving some closing instructions to his Ephesian brethren when he pens these words. He has exhorted them to put on the whole armor of God and to stand strong in their convictions about the Lord.
A shield for a Roman soldier was a large, oblong object that could protect almost his entire body, and the fiery darts were weapons with flammable materials on their tips—actually, firebrands—with the capability of starting a fire. This metaphor gives dramatic impact to this wonderful teaching about the power of Satan and the place a strong faith has in the Christian’s arsenal.
No Christian has ever lived who has not suffered the intensity of Satan’s temptations in his attempt to draw us away from God. The power we need to withstand such is a powerful, scripturally based conviction that God does exist and that Jesus Christ is His Son. Paul says we need this kind of faith “above all”—that is, above anything else he could name to keep a child of God faithful.
Second in a series of studies in Psalm 1
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:2-3).
Continuing his description of the man who wants to be blessed (verse 1), the psalmist moves from his description of what this person is not to a description of what he is. Key words here are “delight” and “meditates.”
Delighting in something means we take extreme pleasure in it. So, delighting in the law of the lord means it is the center of our lives—and, actually, we know it is God’s law that keeps us out of the way of the wicked and fortifies us against their temptations.
Meditating is giving deep thought to something. Not only do we delight in God’s law but we give serious consideration to what it teaches.
The person who has this kind of attitude and behavior is “like” a tree. A tree that is planted in the appropriate place has plenty of water and nutrients to cause it to be covered with leaves and to produce fruit as it is supposed to. The person living in the way described here will be successful in his quest to find God.
“But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe” (John 5:38).
Jesus rebukes the Jews severely in this passage because they have refused to believe Him—they have refused to accept the truths He has been teaching them and they have refused to give up their former ways and to change their lives to conform to His new doctrine. Thus, He says, the word does not abide in them.
Even though they are refusing to obey Him, His greater condemnation is that they do not believe Him, thus indicating that when a person doesn’t obey the teachings of the inspired message, he is, first and foremost, showing a lack of belief.
This thought should give us pause, causing us to stop and think seriously before we make a decision about any action we take either in our everyday physical lives or more especially about actions we take in our spiritual lives.
Third and final in a series of studies in Isaiah 54
“For a mere moment
I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies
I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer” (Isaiah 54:7-8).
Israel was in Babylonian captivity for about seventy years, but that time was but a moment to God, especially when compared to all of the time God had watched over her and nurtured her. God had been angry, briefly, but now His mercy will hold sway again.
Actually, God has put Israel through His school of correction in Babylon because of her continual rebellion against Him. Israel, no doubt, felt God had left her forever as she endured the hardships of captivity. God assures her that relief will come. Now is the time for blessing.
Even though God doesn’t work directly and miraculously with us today, we may feel He has turned His back on us when we undergo difficult times. God allows us to experience life, but He doesn’t send calamities on us as He did on Israel.
More importantly, God has made provision in the Christian Age that those living under the Law of Moses never had. We have constant access to the greatest blessing His grace and mercy could ever extend: the opportunity for salvation through obedience to the gospel of His precious son, Jesus Christ, whose blood bought our redemption.