Isaiah 41:8-10 ESV
“But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, ‘You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’.”
We who are followers of Jesus Christ are Israel, the offspring of Abraham. For, the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed, that is Christ Jesus, our Lord. And if we are believing in him, we are his offspring. We are the children of promise, not those who are merely physically descended from Abraham. For, all who do not believe in Jesus do not belong to God.
[Gal 3:16, 26-29; Rom 9:4-8; Gal 4:22-31; Eph 2:14-18; 1 Jn 2:22]
We are his friends if we do what he says (Jn 15:14), and he is our God if we keep his commandments (1 Jn 2:3-6), and we are the children of God if we die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, and if sin is not what we practice, but righteousness is what we practice (1 Pet 2:24; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8).
So, today this is speaking to us who are trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. We are the Lord’s servants. We are his friends. We are the chosen and the called of God. We alone are God’s children. We are not to fear anyone or anything, for He is with us. And He will strengthen, and He will help us. And he will uphold us with his righteous right hand.
Now, we need to do what is right. We need to be those who are walking in obedience to our Lord, doing what he says to do, and being responsible citizens of our nations to obey the laws of the land (with biblical exceptions) and to take care of ourselves and our families. We can’t live irresponsibly and then expect God to bail us out, in other words.
But, if we are living righteously, we don’t have to fear what other humans may do to us, or how something in our lives is going to work out. For God is working all things together for good for us who love him (who obey him) and who have been called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28). And his purpose is that we die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.
Those who War against You
Isaiah 41:11-13 ESV
“Behold, all who are incensed against you
shall be put to shame and confounded;
those who strive against you
shall be as nothing and shall perish.
You shall seek those who contend with you,
but you shall not find them;
those who war against you
shall be as nothing at all.
For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, ’Fear not,
I am the one who helps you’.”
Jesus said that if we follow him that we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted, so we should anticipate that this is how we will be treated if we are his true followers, doing and saying the kinds of things that he did and said, following him in his ways and in his truth.
And this is because he called us out of the world, to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made into the likeness of Christ Jesus, our Lord. We are called to be holy as he is holy, to be pure, upright, righteous, moral, unadulterated, faithful, and honest in all things.
And he said that if he did not call us out of the world, and thus we are still part of the world, that the world will love us as its own. But if we come out of the world, and we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, and if we are walking in obedience to his ways, we will be hated and rejected.
Therefore, when we are walking in the ways of righteousness we are going to have people who are incensed against us, and some of them may even be others who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Or, they may be pastors or elders of local church fellowships (or of businesses of men falsely called “church”).
Our enemies may be members of our own families, or they may be our neighbors, our co-workers, people on social media, even others who profess faith in Jesus Christ. And they may strive against us because they think we are too serious about God, or that we are “hyper-religious” because we take God and his word seriously, and because we are walking in that truth.
They may be incensed against us, and strive against us, and contend with us, and war against us because we are doing what they know they ought to be doing, but that they are not doing, and so they are not comfortable being around us because it makes them feel guilty about their own sins.
Or it may be because we are speaking the truth in love, and we are teaching the truths of the Scriptures, and we are stepping on toes, and confronting people (in general) in their sins, and we are calling sin what it is, and we are sharing Scriptures which teach about sin and righteousness and the consequences of habitual and deliberate sinning against God.
We are not to fear them. We are not to be afraid of their criticisms or their rejections of us or what they might do to us or say about us. But we are to put our lives in the hands of the Lord, keeping on in doing what he has called us to do, and letting him work it all out according to his purposes.
And we need to love our enemies, pray for them, do good to them, and keep on saying what they need to hear. No matter what happens to us, we need to keep trusting the Lord in all things, letting him lead, believing that we are in the palm of his hands, and that good is going to come out of it all for the glory and praise of God, and for the salvation of human lives.
Living by Faith
Lyrics by James Wells, 1918
v. 4 by Robert E. Winsett, 1918
Music by J. L. Heath, 1918
I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
Obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—
The Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
If Jesus walks close to my side.
Our Lord will return for His loved ones someday,
Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore.
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