Play Offense (Isaiah 41:13)

Isaiah 41 13

Today’s verse is just a few verses past yesterday’s verse in context. The Israelites are in exile, foreign lands, under foreign powers, and they are afraid of what is to come. They wonder if God can help them and if he wants to help them. Here, God reminds them – rather, promises them – that he will help them.

Up to this point in the passage God has been content with telling them how he will protect them and keep them safe. Shortly after our verse, however, the tone shifts to offense. God is not only going to protect his people, he is also going to fight for them.

It’s incredibly encouraging to know that the God of the universe protects us and is with us at all times. Just as it is comforting for a child to know his parent is going to do whatever possible to protect him in times of distress. But in addition to protection, God is also going to fight on behalf of his people.

There is an enemy out there who is hellbent on destruction. He wants to destroy the world, and he particularly wants to destroy the faith of the followers of Christ. The enemy wants to plant seeds of doubt in your mind about who God is and what God can do for you. And when those seeds are planted, watered, and allowed to grow, loss of faith is the result.

What God is telling you today is that he will protect you from the enemy, yes, but he will also fight the enemy on your behalf. In fact, God enlists you to his army to fight the enemy with him! Paul talks about putting on the armor of God so that you can fight the battles that life throws at you. Jesus talks about the gates of hell no prevailing over you. In His Spirit you are powerful!

You have within you, by the grace and love of Jesus, the power to defeat the enemy and fight for truth. I encourage you today to claim this powerful truth and suit up! The battle is raging all around us and with God YOU have the promise of victory! Don’t just sit around waiting for the enemy to attack – read Scripture, spend time in study and prayer, and be ready to take the fight wherever God may lead.

The Fake Apology & the Garden of Eden

Children misbehave.

It’s an undisputed fact.

And adults then react (or overreact) to those poor choices.

One thing that I can remember seeing over and over growing up is that when two kids got into a fight of some kind, the adult in charge would often make them apologize to one another and then give each other a hug. As you can imagine, and have probably seen, this doesn’t generally work well.

The first obstacle is generally the perceived authenticity of the apology. “No, Johnny. Say it like you mean it.” The second is similar to the first, as the hug is genuinely quick, with the two barely touching, or on the other end of the spectrum, the two turn it into a mini-wrestling match to who can squeeze the hardest.

Neither of these outcomes is generally what the well-intentioned adult wants, but if done with just enough sincerity, it passes the sniff test and all goes back to normal.

Just a few days ago, someone asked me the question, “Why did God place the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden in the first place?” For him, it would have been better if human beings just didn’t have the option to sin in the first place. Then we’d all be with God for eternity, no one would be separated from God, and there would be no sin in the world. Pretty great, right?

The answer to the question, however, goes back to those fighting kids I talked about in the beginning. In order to actually love someone, one must make a choice to do so. There has to be a conscious act of the will to make the decision, “I love you.” That can’t happen when it is forced. Just like when Johnny is forced to apologize and hug his enemy, though he’s saying the right words and doing the right actions, his heart really isn’t in it. There’s not a choice to love at that point.

When God created humankind, he gave each of us a choice to love him and worship him in return. Yes, he could have created us to be like robots – or the stubborn child – who would simply reply that we loved him, but that would not have been true love, would it? True love requires choice.

So God provided us with the choice – will we follow him or not? Will we love him or not? Will we choose to put him first in our lives? Without that choice, our love for him is just as meaningless as the child’s forced apology and hug.

God has created us in his image, and has given us the choice whether to love him or not. This choice to love is only possible because he first loved us. Without God we would not know what true love looked like. And the ultimate example of love was Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

Kids, next time you’re forced to give that fake apology or fake hug, take a minute and remember that God did not give you a fake apology or fake love – he showed his true love by sending his Son to die on the cross for you. It’s up to each of us to choose how to respond.