2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. — Isaiah 43:2 NLT
These are not idle words with no meaning or no power to back them up. In fact, in the past, the Israelis walked through the Red Sea and across the Jordan without even getting their feet wet. Elijah and Elisha would one day cross the Jordan on dry ground and Elisha would cross back over the Jordan on dry ground.
2 Kings 2:7-13
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would one day walk in a fiery furnace and come out alive, un-burned and without even the smell of the smoke on their clothes.
Anything that our God promises, He is able to bring to pass. Just because we know the stories of these miracles and the miracles in the New Testament well, they should not become so familiar to us that they lose their meaning. Every time we read them or hear them, it should be a reminder that we serve a loving and a faithful God. The One and Only God who is able to do exactly what He says He will do in His own timing. He has proved His love for us over and over with the ultimate proof being that He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins. He has proven over and over that anytime He asks anyone to do something for the Kingdom, He supplies everything they need to accomplish the task. The next time and every time that we feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit asking us to speak or act, our hearts should jump with joy that God has chosen us. Our minds and our bodies should jump to the task. If we are obedient in taking the first step of faith, we can be assured that God will finish the work. He has never failed and He never will. No other human or so-called god has predicted, promised or performed without failing.
The Lord, our God, is one God and He alone is worthy to be praised!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. – 2 Cor.1:11 NLT
When we read these verses, we need to consider our brothers and sisters who live in places where persecution and imprisonment are still common practice today. They need our prayers and our encouragement on a daily basis. There are numerous testimonies from these Christians about being able to endure their harsh treatment because they received cards and/or knew that other Christians were praying for them daily. They, as Paul, have learned to rely on God to deliver them from deadly perils. Until recently we, in the free world, have not been subject to such unfair and brutal treatment. That time has passed and we are being tested here in America, as well as other so called free countries. Christians are being ridiculed, beaten to death and imprisoned for refusing to deny their faith and their beliefs. We need to pray and encourage each other daily. Our hope is still in Jesus Christ. He is our Redeemer, our Savior and our Lord. There is no other God that is capable of loving their followers and delivering them from every situation. We need to understand that some times that deliverance includes physical death. But we need to count it all joy and say along with Paul:
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. — Phil. 1:20, 21 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke! — Daniel 3:27 NLT
Shadrach, Meschah and Abednego had refused to bow to the ninety foot statue of Nebuchadnezzar. They, instead, chose to remain faithful to their God. They told the king that whether God chose to deliver them or not, they would always remain faithful. For their faithfulness, they were thrown into a fiery furnace that burned so hot, the soldiers throwing them into the furnace were killed. Rather quickly, Nebuchadnezzar learned that his plan to destroy the three men did not work. God joined them in the furnace and delivered them so completely that their clothes did not even have the smell of smoke on them. An amazing miracle! So, amazing that even the king gave the praise to the God of these three men. He also quickly promoted them to a higher position in the government. They were saved from the fire because they had more work to do here on earth. Contrast this to the deaths of the apostles whom God chose to deliver in a totally different way. He allowed them to die and to come on home to heaven. Their work here on earth was finished. I wonder which of the two methods of deliverance the three men in the furnace would have chosen, if the decision had been left up to them. Paul might have wondered the same thing.
6 In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done. — 1 Kings 11:6 NLT
Just in case, we should think that we are capable of handling great wealth easily, look at what happened to Solomon in his old age. The wisest man in the world turned from the God who had blessed him abundantly with worldly goods, wisdom, power and fame. If he couldn’t handle it, then we need to be very careful in our walk in this world. Sure, Solomon still had plenty of money, after all, what was there to buy or to do with all that cash? Even with all of his wisdom, he was still, somehow, not fulfilled. We can’t imagine his abundance but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can see that his failure was due to the desires of the flesh. Notice that in verse 4, it reads “they turned his heart to worship other gods”. Solomon came to the point that pleasing his wives was more important to him than being obedient to the God of Israel. In all of his wisdom, Solomon forgot that God had said that the king must not take many wives or buy many horses. And the king must not accumulate large amounts of wealth for himself. But, the king must copy the scriptures and study them daily.
We have to wonder if Solomon had kept up the practice of reading God’s Word daily. It is only when we keep the Word of God first in our lives that we can overcome the desires of the flesh. His Word must be our light, our guide and our advisor. Without His Word as a constant reminder of who He is and who we are, the flesh will dominate and we will end up in the same situation in which Solomon found himself in his old age. Daily, diligent meditation on His Word is our only hope for deliverance from evil.
Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[a]
He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord
has helped us!” — 1 Samuel 7:12 NLT
When the Philistines were attacking Israel, they were defeating them in every battle. The people called for Samuel and asked him to sacrifice to the Lord and pray for their deliverance. Samuel told the leaders to gather all the people and meet him at Mizpah. The people met Samuel there where they fasted all day and confessed their sins before God. Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. Because of their fasting and praying, God relented and caused the Philistines to be so completely confused that the Israelites were able to defeat them and chase them away. To show their appreciation for the deliverance and the answer to their prayers, Samuel raised up a stone in that location and called it Ebenezer which means “a stone of help”. Each evening, we should look back over our lives and recognize those areas where God has given us victory over satan and his dominions. Then, we should take the time to symbolically “raise our Ebenezer” by taking time to praise God and thank Him for his great mercies. We should bow our heads and our knees in honor of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords because it is only by His help that we have come this far and only by His help will we make it home to spend eternity with Him. There is victory and joy in Jesus and there is failure and defeat without Him. Give Him the glory that He so richly deserves for all of our victories. Sing praises to His Name and marinate yourself in His goodness.
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. — 1 Peter 1:6-9 NIV
As God brings us through each trial that He allows in our life, we should bookmark that time in our lives. Each time we find ourselves facing another trial or temptation, we need to rehearse each of those bookmarks one by one, remembering and thanking God for HIs deliverance. As we rehearse these times in our lives, we will come to the same conclusion that Peter did here in these verses. God’s faithfulness to deliver on each promise He has made to us is worth more than gold. Money cannot buy the peace that God gives us freely. In those times when no earthly words can comfort us and no human can help us, God is there in all His glory delivering those who depend solely and fully on Him. This deliverance from earthly trials and temptations causes us to love Him whom we have not seen, believe in Him completely and fills us with “unexpressible and glorious joy”. It also reassures us that we will receive the end result of our faith, the complete and eternal salvation of our souls. That should cause hallelujahs to ring in our hearts and be shouted to the highest heavens.
11 the voice of the singers at the watering places.
They recite the victories of the Lord,
the victories of his villagers in Israel. — Judges 5:11 NIV
27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them — Acts 14:27a – KJV
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea..—1 Cor. 10:1-2 NIV
The children of Israel were shaded from the sun in the daytime by a cloud that also led them in the direction God wanted them to go, so they “were all under the cloud”. They all passed through the sea which is a form of baptism, Because Moses was their leader and led them out of bondage in Egypt, just as Christ has freed us from the bondage of sin, they were “baptized” into” Moses, just as we are baptized into Christ. The waters did not roll back of their own accord but were held back by the power of the Holy Spirit. Once the Israelites had passed over to the other side, the waters returned to their normal level and destroyed the enemy. The deliverance from their enemies is a shadow of our deliverance from the forces of evil. It was not a baptism of an individual because that person had believed on Jesus, it was a baptism of a nation, a washing away of the old lifestyle, to prepare that nation for total dependence on God through the leadership of Moses. Just as we are “washed by the water of the Word” to prepare us to live a life of Holiness completely dependent on God through Jesus Christ as we are led by the Holy Spirit.
26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.—Eph. 5:26,27 NASB