A sad Christian is no witness for God. Ezra read the Book of the Law to the Jewish remnant, and when they heard God’s words, “all the people chanted, ‘Amen! Amen!’ as they lifted their hands toward heaven. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6).
Why should church services and times of preaching be times of sadness and boredom? When the people wept after hearing God’s words, Nehemiah told them, “Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared” (v. 10). The Israelites obeyed and celebrated “with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them” (v. 12)
Later that month, in celebrating a major festival that had been unobserved for many years, the people lived in booths for seven days, and “everyone was filled with great joy” (v. 17). Another observance followed, and this time for six hours at a time the Levites led in worship, saying, “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!” Then they continued, “Praise his glorious name! It is far greater than we can think or say” (9:5).
Why should Christians ever lose their joy? Someone has said that if the devil can’t steal your joy, he can’t spoil your goods. Even in your most difficult moments, look to eternity, where you will forever rejoice, world without end. Take a drink today from the joy of heaven, for it is your strength!
David tells us three things we must do to emerge victorious from troubles. First, he tells us to praise the Lord (Psalm 34:1). When we bless the Lord for all His benefits, boast in the Lord concerning His attributes, and exalt Him for His goodness, we are focusing on Him instead of our troubles. How easy it is, though, to let trouble take over our thinking to the point that we forget how great God is!
Second, David tells us to seek the Lord (v. 4 KJV). To seek means “to inquire diligently,” or “to reach a place of desperation.” David knew this kind of desperate crying out to God and the results it brought: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (v. 6 KJV). Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, Moses stretched out his rod, Peter put on his sandals . . . and God delivered from sickness, danger, and imprisonment!
Finally, David said to reverence the Lord (v. 9). We must examine every area of our lives to be certain our giving, our words, and our relationships are in order. In this way, we honor God.
When we praise the Lord, seek the Lord, and reverence the Lord, we will be delivered from all our troubles!
So often when we walk through a crushing experience, we feel like God is a million miles away. The enemy tells us that God does not care and is not interested in our problems. David reminds us, however, that God is nearest to us when we are broken in heart.
When the earth was dark and without form, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:2). Never forget: Whenever your life seems dark and no solution is in sight, the Spirit of God is actually hovering over you, guarding you in the midst of trial.
Someone once said, “When you have a broken heart, you must give God the broken part.” David gave God his broken heart in repentance after his sin with Bathsheba and reminded God that “the sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). God responded by healing David’s broken heart and restoring his soul.
You must bring your broken heart to God and let Him heal it, for a “broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17:22). Go to Jesus with your broken heart, for He was anointed to “comfort the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1). Why not reach out and ask the Holy Spirit to touch you where no human surgeon can? He is near. Let Him do His work right now.
How quickly the enemy tries to sneak back into areas we have removed him from in the past! In the first chapters of Nehemiah, we see a man named Tobiah causing Nehemiah great problems. Nehemiah defeated him, yet sometime later we find Tobiah living in the temple where the tithes and offerings were kept!
We should never lose our vigilance in fighting the devil. If we relax after a victory, he will try to sneak in the back door and continue his wickedness. Peter instructed us to be on guard against the devil because “he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Any house left vacant gradually falls into ruin. When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he found that the tithes had not been paid, and the duties of the priesthood had been neglected. In addition, the people had failed to keep the Sabbath and had even intermarried with the heathen (Nehemiah 13:9-25).
Because Satan always returns to a house that is unoccupied even though cleansed (Matthew 12:44), we must guard our souls against his counterattacks. He is like a crocodile stalking its prey, probing for an opportunity to attack and waiting for the relaxation of vigilance. Let’s stand our ground and watch carefully, throwing him out at the slightest sign of reentry!
Society’s hatred for the Jews has always been extreme and inexplicable. The magnitude of their suffering defies reason. The fact remains, however, that Satan knew salvation (Jesus) would come from the Jews, and thus he sought at every turn to destroy the Jewish people.
The Jews’ worship of the true God and their rejection of idolatry led Mordecai to refuse to worship any human being (Esther 3:5). Haman’s well-conceived plot looked foolproof, but God had been engineering a rescue operation about which Haman knew nothing. Working her way up to the right hand of the king was a little orphan (Esther), who would ultimately be the tool of deliverance in the hand of God.
Satan is enraged by anyone who refuses to bow down and worship him, and he will do whatever he can to destroy such a person. Satan’s best plans, however, are no match for God, who knows the end from the beginning and the “way out” of the problem before the “way in” even existed!
Stand still and wait on God, for He has known the solution to your problem since before it came into existence!
Paul shows us that we are a totally interrelated body, not just independent parts thrown together. No part of the human body can continue to function normally when one part is in pain. The whole body focuses its attention on the area afflicted. In the same way, Mordecai sent word to Esther not to think that just because she lived in the palace she would escape the sentence of death imposed on the Jews (Esther 4:13). If she did not help, she would be destroyed, too.
Our influences and gifts are given to us by God to help others for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Let us take inventory of the positions, finances, and grace of God in our lives and see whom those gifts were intended to help. If we keep them for ourselves and do not identify with those in need, we will cry for help one day and no one will respond.
Because Esther was obedient, the words of David’s psalm came true in the case of Haman: “Look! They have fallen! They have been thrown down, never to rise again” (Psalm 36:12).
In looking back on his long life, David could highlight five attitudes that helped him not to worry, or “fret not,” as the King James Version reads (Psalm 37:1). In common language, we might say “sweat not” because the original word used means “to be under heat or pressure.” When you are walking through a fiery trial, it is imperative that you learn how to “fret” or “sweat” not!
The first thing you’ve got to do is “trust in the Lord” (v. 3), or have an inward confidence that God is going to bring you through to the other side. With a conviction in your heart that God is on your side and wants to do you good, you can face anything.
Second, you must “delight in the Lord” (v. 4), or make the Lord “delicious” to you. Just as a son enjoys his father’s company, so you must enjoy your heavenly Father’s company. Are you truly delighted to spend time with Him, “tasting” of His goodness?
Third, you must “commit everything you do to the Lord” (v. 5), or roll your problem onto Him, acknowledging Him as the only One who can carry your heavy burden. If you commit your problem to Him, you don’t have the option of taking it back! It is too heavy for you; you cannot carry it in your own strength.
Fourth, you must “be still in the presence of the Lord” (v. 7). This implies rest, not continually magnifying Satan’s attack through your speech.
Finally, you must “wait patiently for Him to act” (v. 7), keeping a constant sense of expectation that your miracle is right around the corner. It’s never easy or pleasant to simply wait, but it is the key to seeing God move on your behalf.
Trust, delight, commit, be still, and wait. Your fretting will disappear, and God will bring the victory!
How furious Satan was at Job, a man who was “blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil” (Job 1:1). Satan continually plotted, planned, and accused Job before God until God finally gave him permission to breach the protective hedge (vv. 10-12).
How could God do such a thing? He had confidence that Job would continue to serve Him, regardless of circumstances, and that Job would prevail over the enemy.
“The wicked plot against the godly . . . but the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming” (Psalm 37:12-13). How can God laugh when we are under such attack by the wicked? The Bible records that God laughs only when someone threatens Him: “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from this slavery.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:3-4).
God has no problem with confidence, and He also has confidence in you, or He would not allow you to encounter trials. When you laugh at the enemy’s attack, you are simply treating Satan the way God treats him. Pass on through your trial with the laughter of God in your mouth. He is not threatened, and neither should you be!
The local church exists for two reasons: the edification of the believer and the evangelization of the unbeliever. All the gifts of the Spirit are intended to edify, or build up, both the person who is releasing the gift and those who are receiving it.
When we go to church, we should be thinking of what God has given us that day that we can share with the other believers. Do we have a song to sing, a testimony to share, money to give, or words of prophecy to speak? If we share our gifts in love, “everyone will learn and be encouraged” (1 Corinthians 14:31). And perhaps even more importantly, unbelievers present with us will be touched in their hearts and say, “God is really here among you” (v. 25).
It is imperative that we, as members of the Body of Christ, understand our gifts and move in them in love. When we release the gifts of the Spirit that are within us, we grow in grace, other believers profit, and unbelievers repent.
Which gift do you bring to your church?
The cry of man throughout the ages has been for someone who could act as an umpire in the game of life. Job envisioned a mediator who could be on equal terms with both God and man and could reconcile us to the Father.
In Christ’s resurrection, Paul presents a picture of the man Job was looking for. “So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:21). Only a “God-man” could come to earth, die for our sin, and be resurrected as the Son of God.
Jesus, the second Adam, is the Umpire, the One who can stand between God and man to reconcile us. His resurrection has assured us that in the end, He will humble “all his enemies beneath his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). Let us look to Jesus as our Hope, both now and forever!
In an illustration of a tree stump, Job saw a revelation of the resurrection. He envisioned a decaying tree stump with old roots suddenly reviving at the “scent of water” (Job 14:9). Out of the apparent deadness came tender shoots. New life sprang forth from seeming death.
Then Job asked the question of all ages: “If mortals die, can they live again? This thought would give me hope, and through my struggle I would eagerly wait for release” (v. 14). Job received the revelation that in death the physical body simply waits for its renewal to come. In the resurrection day, at the “scent of water,” our dead, lifeless bodies will be quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit and made immortal like Jesus.
Need encouragement? “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Corinthians 15:58). The resurrection is coming!
Through all Job’s struggles, two things brought him hope: there was Someone in heaven who would represent his cause, and even if he died, he would be resurrected. Job longed for an unseen intercessor, who would “mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends” (Job 16:21). John tells us that we do indeed have Someone to act as a mediator for us, and “He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely” (1 John 2:1).
Through all the false accusations leveled by his “friends,” Job clung to one central thought: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last” (Job 19:25). That reality led him to a second conclusion: “And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God” (Job 19:26). This is the clearest statement of Job’s belief in the resurrection. He knew that even after his body was destroyed, he would see God in his own flesh.
Hold to these two great truths for encouragement: Your Advocate is praying for you, and one day, in a glorified body just like His own, you will see Him face-to-face.
In his depression, David had obviously reached a point of such despair that he was sure his troubles numbered more than the hairs of his head. Paul was in a similar position in the battles he faced in Asia.
“I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
Even in that kind of pressure, Paul found a secret that sustained him. He discovered God as the “source of every mercy and the God who comforts us” (2 Corinthians 1:3). When God comforts us and shows us His mercy, it has a double effect: we learn to rely more on Him, and others learn from our deliverance. We can never totally identify with others until we have walked their paths, and God will use our troubles to become a testimony to others in need.
Lift up your head and let the God of all comfort minister to you right now. Then “many will give thanks” (2 Corinthians 1:11) to God on your behalf, and God will be glorified in it all.
David’s words relate how important it is to know that your conscience is clear when you go through a trial. Satan, the accuser, is quick to send others to question your motives, character, and conduct. But even if all three areas are pure, you still can come under attack from the enemy.
No amount of accusation from Job’s friends could sway his conscience. He declared, “I will never concede that you are right; until I die, I will defend my innocence. I will maintain my innocence without wavering. My conscience is clear for as long as I live” (Job 27:5-6).
Paul, also an object of accusation, wrote to the Corinthian church, “We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have been honest and sincere in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom. This is how we have acted toward everyone, and especially toward you” (2 Corinthians 1:12).
Of course, neither Job nor David nor Paul was claiming perfection, only godly sincerity of heart. Never let the devil slander your conscience if you have walked in integrity. A weak or wounded conscience will destroy you. Stand up to the accuser, and wait for the vindication of the Lord!
How easy it is in a trial to live life looking through the rearview mirror! Job could not help but remember the times of total peace and prosperity when nothing was wrong and he felt the continual presence of God.
Such rear reflection is destructive, however, because it brings a deep sense of regret and remorse instead of hope for the future. The sons of Korah wrote, “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks—it was the sound of a great celebration!” (Psalm 42:4). The effect of such backward gazing is depression. “Why am I discouraged? Why so sad?” (v. 5).
Paul learned to no longer look at the past but to consider the future as one long triumphal procession in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14). You cannot relive the past—you can only walk with Jesus into the future. Put your past under His blood. Take His hand today and let that relationship give off the aroma of Christ to a watching, waiting world.
What a comfort it is to know that in our hour of darkness, the Lord will remember those things which we have done in secret for the poor and will reward us openly (Matthew 6:4)!
Job rehearsed his heart for the poor as a statement of his genuine consistency before God. He looked at his servants as his equals because he believed that “God created both me and my servants. He created us both” (Job 31:15). He ministered to the needs of those less fortunate by helping widows and caring for the fatherless (v. 18).
James said, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us” (James 1:27). David observed, “Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor. The Lord rescues them in times of trouble” (Psalm 41:1).
Rather than seeing it as a burden, we must look upon helping someone in need as an opportunity from God to show love. Our concern for the less fortunate may one day be revisited upon us!
What a powerful witness it is to walk in the light! Paul actually states that a clean, pure walk with the Lord is what helps us to commend ourselves to others. The process is actually very simple. The Holy Spirit shines the light of Christ upon our lives, changing us “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV). That unveiled glory is then reflected from our faces to a darkened, oppressed world whose eyes have been blinded by the “god of this evil world” (4:4).
“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ” (4:6). From within these “perishable containers” (v. 7) shines out the very glory of the Creator God who spoke a billion suns into existence in one moment!
We are “full of light from the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8), and as we walk in the purity of Jesus’ face, a lost world will behold Him. We walk through pressure, perplexity, and persecution with victory, so that the “life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:10).
Our greatest witness? Our radiant shine!
In this verse God patiently explains to Job the limitations He has set for the waves of the sea. Sometimes we think evil has no bounds— that it has free reign to wreak havoc in our lives without any restrictions. However, God Almighty sets the stopping point for the attacks of the devil against us.
In Job’s life God had a predetermined time when He would suddenly throw the whole process into reverse, thus ending the greatest test endured by any human being other than Christ. Job’s patience in trial became the most significant witness of patience in biblical history: “We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy” (James 5:11).
The proud waters of evil may be threatening to overwhelm you, but God knows the moment when they will hit their predetermined limit. On that day your enemy will be like a wild dog at the end of a long chain, and you will be able to rest peacefully as God says to the enemy, “This far and no farther!”
Want to know why you should be a witness for Jesus Christ? Because He died for all, and therefore, all died. Because you died with Christ, you should no longer live for yourself (2 Corinthians 5:15). Because you no longer live for yourself, you are no longer the same person you were. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun” (v. 17)!
God has given you, as a “new creation” believer, the task of reconciling people to Him (v. 18). Your message of reconciliation is this:
“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others” (v. 19). Legally, the world has already been forgiven in Christ; thus, your job is to be His ambassador, imploring people on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God (v. 20).
The conclusion? You are dead to your former life and thus unconcerned about public opinion. You live only to inform the lost that Jesus reconciled them to God. Some will receive, some will reject, but all must be told. That, dear ambassador, is your mission!
The psalmist envisioned a beautiful river that flows through the city of God, a place in which God has no enemies and where peace abounds. Right now you may be in the midst of tremendous struggle and difficulty, but inwardly that river can continue to flow. In spite of violent earthquakes, crumbling mountains, or roaring oceans (Psalm
46: 2-3), you can still enjoy perfect peace. “Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (v. 10).
Paul experienced the continual trouble of the outward man, but he never lost the inward flow of life. He said, “We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything” (2 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Check your “river” today. Has it become choked and clogged by outward pressures, or is it still flowing freely? God lives in the city where the river flows. That city cannot be destroyed (Psalm 46:5), and neither can you if you remain in “the sacred home of the Most High” (v. 4).
Unity is a God-given tool that enables us to attain common goals and to encourage one another during difficult times. Solomon saw that two people working together could help each other if one of them fell, grew cold, or was overpowered in an attack (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12). If we are in a spiritual battle, the best thing we can do is to find a prayer partner who will come into instant agreement with us against the enemy’s attack.
The opposite of this beautiful expression of unity is the disunity experienced by Christians who unwisely join with unbelievers. Verses 14-16 of 2 Corinthians emphatically state that there can be no union between Christians and unbelievers. What a tragedy it is to see believers ignore this admonition and lean upon unbelievers in marriage or business! Far too many times, they trip each other up and both fall when encountering moral and spiritual pressure.
Choose your close friends, marriage partner, and business associates carefully, knowing that God ordained your partnerships to be a source of protection, not destruction.
Godly sorrow for sin is often confused with regret. Tears and remorse are no true indication that a person has truly repented of sin. He may be crying simply because he got caught, not because he is genuinely repentant! The real test of repentance is evidenced by submission, actions that show one has submitted to the authority of another.
After challenging the Corinthian believers to discipline a brother who had fallen into immorality, Paul commended them on their response to his instructions. He said, “Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish the wrongdoer. You showed that you have done everything you could to make things right” (2 Corinthians 7:11).
Worldly sorrow is simply regret. It produces blaming others, emotional shows, dodging of facts, half-confessions (“If I’ve done anything wrong . . .”), and insincere promises to change. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, assumes responsibility, faces the facts, admits the wrong, and makes it right.
The Corinthians demonstrated true godly sorrow. They were alarmed over their sin, desirous to right the wrong, eager to address the issue, and ready to make things right. In a word, they submitted themselves to Paul’s authority and were willing to take the necessary steps to right their wrong. Such action, not emotional regret, indicates godly sorrow.
Giving is a privilege that God allows us so that we may participate in His blessing. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). When we “so love,” we also will “give.”
Paul challenged the Corinthians to prove the sincerity of their love (2 Corinthians 8:8) with a willingness to give a missionary offering to the poor saints at Jerusalem. By so doing, they literally would be “casting their bread upon the waters,” sending their resources across the Mediterranean to a group of saints in desperate need.
Whenever you purpose to give, the enemy will tell you that you are wasting your money and throwing it away. He will point out to you all your own needs and tell you that you can’t afford to give. In those times, you must remember that God’s Word is true and that whatever you give will one day find its way back to you.
Those you provide for now out of your abundance may one day provide for you out of their abundance (2 Corinthians 8:14). Even if you never see any reward here on earth for your generosity, you will reap in eternity the full return of what you have sown on earth.
The selfish will “die [and] carry nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave” (Psalm 49:17). But those who give will reap a sure reward. Start sowing generously to the needs of others, both here and around the world. The dividends are eternal!
It is so important to remember that God does not need our gifts! We must come to look at every penny we possess as already belonging to God and ourselves as being mere stewards. We can never think that the Almighty has need of our possessions as though He had no other resources from which to draw. God can create what He needs! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and our offerings neither enrich nor diminish Him.
However, there is a special way that God does need us. He has chosen to use the resources of His people to supply the needs of others. The offering Paul received for the poor saints at Jerusalem was not merely a token gesture, but necessary for their very survival.
We have the awesome privilege as God’s human vessels to supply the needs of His people. Our offerings to others are not needed for God, but are needed by God. He will use our gifts to convince others of our love for them and for Him.
No matter how much or how little we have, God owns all our money. Let’s use it to bring glory to His name while we have the chance!
The power of sacrificial giving is revealed in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. First, God will measure back to you with the same measuring device you use when giving to Him (v. 6). Second, God is looking for a heart attitude that is free, spontaneous, and cheerful in giving (v. 7). Third, God has the power to resupply your resources to such a point that you will always have enough to give to any worthy project (v. 8). Fourth, God will remember for eternity what you scatter abroad (v. 9). Fifth, if you have a sower’s heart and are faithful, God will give you more and more seed to plant (v. 10). Finally, God will prosper you financially so you can become a resource for building His kingdom in the earth (v. 11).
How many people fail to start down God’s road of blessing because they sow sparingly? Step through the gate of hilarious, generous, spontaneous giving and watch God supply you with more seed to sow than you ever dreamed possible. He is looking for channels through which He can bless the world!
Boasting is verbalized pride. It is self-commendation, bragging to others of our accomplishments. However, all that actually matters is what God thinks of us, not what others think.
Boasting is the exact opposite of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Paul refused to boast about his personal appearance, power, or accomplishments. Instead, he pointed out that his strength was a hidden force, unnoticed by the world but divinely powerful (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).
Paul used his God-given authority, not for destruction, but for building up (2 Corinthians 10:8). He gave reports about the mission work he had accomplished, not to brag about what he had done, but to show what had been done by the grace of God. Without a doubt, Paul knew that “the person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done” (2 Corinthians 10:17).
Isaiah foresaw a day in which “pride will be brought low and the Lord alone will be exalted” (Isaiah 2:11). Satan’s proud, boasting spirit will one day be brought low, and no one will dare utter a boast against the Lord.
“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17 NIV).
That is Satan’s motto: “a different Jesus . . . a different Spirit . . . a different gospel”! He disguises himself as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), putting on a religious and holy front while attempting to deceive us.
Paul warned the Corinthians about the subtlety of the one who came to Eve with a slight twist to the commandment of God. Satan tries to take the focus off the cross, the person of Jesus, the reality of sin, the need for repentance, and the certainty of hell. He tries instead to bring us another gospel, one that focuses on man’s goodness, the equality of all religions, the nonessentiality of the blood of Jesus, and the ridiculousness of an eternal hell. All these variations of the Gospel sound good to the natural mind, but Paul recognized them as Satan’s disguise for the true Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Isaiah said, “Destruction is certain for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark; that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). Satan can call it what he likes, but sin is sin, God is pure, and hell is forever!
Stay simple in your sincere and pure devotion to the real Jesus.
King Ahaz learned an important lesson in dealing with an attack of the enemy: you cannot run from the battle! When an army far superior to his own threatened Jerusalem, “the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, just as trees shake in a storm” (Isaiah 7:2). But God in His mercy sent the prophet Isaiah to deliver an encouraging message. Through Isaiah God told Ahaz, “This invasion will never happen” (v. 7), and He further instructed the king, saying, “If you want me to protect you, learn to believe what I say” (v. 9).
The enemy’s primary weapon is fear. When disaster loomed on the horizon, Ahaz was overcome by fear, but the bold word from the Lord enabled him to remain calm, relaxed, and confident.
Paul said, “Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you!” (Hebrews 10:35). And that reward is a “faith that assures our salvation” (v. 39).
When the battle seems overwhelming, what choice do you have but to stand firm? If you turn and run from the enemy, you will not stand at all. Burn the retreat bridge! Your only option is to stand—and when you do, God will fight for you!
God is with us—these four words strike terror in the heart of our enemies! How it must have disturbed hell the day the Lord proclaimed the sign: “The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel—‘God is with us’ ” (Isaiah 7:14).
When the angel announced to Mary that she would conceive a son (Luke 1:31), he referred to Isaiah’s prophecy of the One who would rule with “fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David” (Isaiah 9:7). This special child, as foretold by Isaiah, would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (v. 6). The Messiah’s arrival would mean that “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light—a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow” (v. 2). How perfectly this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus stepped onto the shores of “Galilee of the Gentiles” (v. 1) and began to undo the works of darkness!
Whatever darkness or trouble you are in today, remember that God came in human flesh, born of a virgin, to signal Satan’s defeat and the reign of God’s kingdom. Immanuel— “God with us”— is here to stay, and He is now living in you!
Like the six branches of the lampstand in the tabernacle, there are six facets of the Holy Spirit’s character. First, He is the Spirit of wisdom, revealing to us His future purposes both for ourselves and for His kingdom. Second, He is the Spirit of understanding, giving us revelation about our present situation and how best to be fruitful in it. Third, He is the Spirit of counsel, instructing us in solving hard problems by discerning the root causes. Fourth, He is the Spirit of might, strengthening us with power in our inner man and anointing us with His spiritual gifts. Fifth, He is the Spirit of knowledge, revealing to us the various attributes of Jesus in the Word of God. Finally, He is the Spirit of the fear of the Lord, showing us areas of our lives where sin has a foothold and then changing us into the image of Christ.
Jesus, the “stump of David’s family” (Isaiah 11:1), perfectly portrayed all these characteristics. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you today with these six attributes, and you will walk like Jesus walked!
The prophet Isaiah saw the same picture Jesus described when He said, “I saw Satan falling from heaven as a flash of lightning!” (Luke 10:18). Because of Satan’s pride and arrogance, he was cast out of heaven. He rebelliously and boldly asserted himself with five “I wills”:
“I will ascend to heaven and [I will] set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and [I will] be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14, bold added).
How unthinkable it is for any creature to consider exalting himself above God! There in the veiled and shadowy reality of eternity past, God judged Satan’s rebellion, and he was thrust like lightning from heaven!
Only what is submitted to God can remain with God. May we never be found with pride, exalting ourselves above God. He alone will be exalted in heaven. “Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth” (Psalm 57:11).