When I worked in the area of childcare, I remember how we would walk with the children. There would always be an adult leading the way and there would always be an adult at the end of the line. Having an adult at the front of the line would not only provide leadership but also protection. The leading adult could be sure to watch out for danger lurking ahead. The adult at the back of the line had the job of making sure all the children were in the line and no one was left behind. The adult in the back also provided protection for the children because he or she had a different perspective.
Isaiah wrote that the Lord went ahead of the people and that the Lord protected the people from behind. There was protection all around, almost as if the people were in a giant protective bubble. But this bubble is real. God goes before us and he goes behind us. We are always under his protection.
Knowing that the Lord is with us always, that he is always before us and behind us and with us, can help us all to press forward with confidence. We can walk in faith, knowing that he is in control and that we are always under his protection.
“You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.” – Isaiah 52:12 [NLT]
Twice this week I have seen a young man walking his son down the middle of the street. I often see runners and walkers alike walking on the street at the side of the road. Many of them have florescent clothing and typical exercise attire. All of them are looking forward to be aware of any oncoming traffic while walking on the proper side of the street to be as safe as possible. This man with the small child; however, rarely looks up as he walks his child. He has his face looking downward at his “Smart Phone,” keeping his attention there for blocks at a time.
If you have a child, God has blessed you with that child. You have been entrusted to care for the child and to raise the child in the way of the Lord. Numerous passages speak of teaching our children the Lord’s Word. Numerous passages mention training up a child. Sadly, there are many parents who are lost themselves, walking hap hazardously through life. This can be not only dangerous for the parents but can also be hurtful to the children. Other parents, even those who know the Lord, have been engrossed with other things in life, that their children do not get much of their attention.
Today, if you have a child—thank God for such a great blessing and seek Him for guidance. Rely on His Word to help you train up the child as the way to go in life. Ask yourself—are you active in your child’s life? Do you know what is going on at your son’s school? Are you interested in what your daughter is interested in? Get interested. Pay attention. Hug. Show love. Show support. Share wisdom. Share Jesus. They need it.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” – Psalm 127:3 [ESV]
During Hannah’s Prayer of Thanksgiving, there is a verse that always sticks out to me—“No one will succeed by strength alone” (2:9b NLT). I think that is something we need to remind ourselves of daily because we are often quick to attempt to do things by our own strength. I know there are moments when I consider if I could do something by my own strength without even considering God. It is too easy to slip into doing things considering our own strength.
No one will succeed by strength alone. The Psalmist wrote: “The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior” (33:16 NLT). We need to remember the first part of today’s verse, “He will protect his faithful ones.” His faithful ones are those who keep their eyes on Him. No one will succeed alone, but God has promised that those who are faithful He will protect. What a great promise!
Today remember that success cannot be by strength alone. The only true success in life is found is Christ Jesus. God has promised to protect His faithful ones. There is no need to struggle by your own strength when you can instead surrender to God and see things much differently.
“He will protect his faithful ones, but the wicked will disappear in darkness. No one will succeed by strength alone.” – 1 Samuel 2:9 [NLT]
I love to read about the parting of the Red Sea. As the Israelites were traveling, it must have been awesome to have this presence of God in the form of the pillar of cloud. That pillar of cloud and pillar of fire went before them and led them all the way. I think that’s so awesome to consider—God’s presence in those forms leading the way of the people.
When the Egyptians approached the Israelites after Pharaoh decided he no longer wished to allow the Israelite slaves to leave, something happened which I see happening again and again in my own life. In today’s key verse, we read that the angel of God as well as the pillar of cloud moved from the front of Israel’s army and went to the back to stand between Egypt and Israel’s armies. The presence of God right there, blocking the enemy from attacking. Amazing.
Sometimes we expect that God will be leading us in a particular way, but He is repositioning to fully do what only He can do to bring about His plan. Sometimes we cannot see what God is doing in our lives, even to the point that we wonder if He is doing anything at all, when He is actually repositioning to do something great. Don’t ever forget that He is always there—He’s always at work seeing His great plan fully achieved.
“Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them.” – Exodus 14:19 [NLT]
This weekend I had the opportunity to teach two classes, one on trusting God and another on the power of God. These two topics are so vital to each of our lives, and yet we all have some difficulties in these areas. Recently, the husband of a friend of mine was in dire need of a liver transplant. With a congenital liver disease weakening his body, many people would have considered that hope was lost. Family and friends joined together in prayer. The Bible says that we must ask and believe, and then we will receive (Mark 11:24, James 1:6). The family organized a group, continued to stand firm in their faith, and clung to God during the storm. As family and friends trusted God, uniting together in prayer, they were able to see the power of God at work. He received a new liver and doctors were amazed at the miraculous transition they witnessed, something that couldn’t be explained except as the power of God.
These people trusted God to provide, but we all have moments when we have a problem with trusting God. To trust God, it means that we abide and rest in His goodness—that we trust that He protects, embraces, and surrounds us with His compassion and His favor. It is important to understand that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). It is important to remember the many promises of God—promises we can only know about if we read His Word. Psalm 34:10 says that those who seek God will “lack no good thing.” Yet, why are we so tempted to seek elsewhere, to try our own methods, to think that we could have something better doing things another way?
In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted three times. Each of these temptations represents temptations that we each face, temptations of: power, prestige, and possessions. Each time, He responded to the devil by saying, “It is written.” It is so clear to see the power of God’s Word at work. In Ephesians 6, we are told to stand firm and put on our spiritual armor, which includes the “sword of the Spirit, which is word of God” (v. 17). Do you have your armor on? Are you daily arming yourself with this sword? See each of us has the ability to tap into the power of God. We have His Word. We as believers have His Spirit. Yet it is apparent that so many people do not use what is right before them.
Is it a trust issue? Do we not trust the character and promises of God? Do we think we know better? Do we not have the time to read God’s Word? Do we believe we are fine as we are? There are so many possibilities, but each answer is simply an excuse—an excuse to not accept the love, grace, mercy, protection, favor, direction, comfort, and will of God. As we make these excuses, complaints and grumbling follow. When will we get it? When will we reach forward to the hand that God extends to us?
I told my students this weekend that we must not simply remember “it is written,” but we must also remember another short and powerful statement made by our Lord and Savior. We must remember “it is finished.” We have victory thru Christ, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). We need to live right now as if we have this victory. We need to stop allowing the world to get the best of us, and cling to this victory that we already have in Christ. We need to trust Him and trust in this victory. In doing so, we would live very differently. We need to learn not only to trust God’s character and the promises in His Word, but also to live by them each day of our lives. As Burl Ives sang, “O victory in Jesus, My Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.” The song goes on to speak of singing a song of victory one day in heaven, but I think we should start singing this song today, as we trust God, as we cling to Him and His Word, as we hold tight to the power of God. Surely, we have victory. Let us trust in Him and open our eyes to His power which is at work even today.