Summary: This message focuses on our being encouraged because of God's protection of us and when we need it His strengthening us.
Be Encouraged Part 2
I began this series a couple of weeks ago with Jesus teaching His final lesson to His disciples during the last supper. John 14:1-3 will serve as the foundational Scriptural reference for this series. In these verses Jesus told His disciples “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. In these words Jesus encouraged His disciples knowing that their faith would be tested greatly for the next few days.
As I shared last week, when Jesus rose from the dead He forever changed the course of history and the lives of all of those who serve Him. It is through our knowledge of the truth of His resurrection that we are encouraged during the most difficult times that we will experience. Jesus made this point to the disciples when He taught them on that last night and after He visited with them after his resurrection. He wanted them (and each of us) to know that the sum of the circumstances we experience in this life does not compare to what we will experience after we leave here. But that was not enough; He wanted them to have what they needed to walk in faith while they evangelized the world. This morning we will examine the following two reasons why we should be encouraged even during our worst circumstances: 1) God will protect us; and 2) he will strengthen us. Let’s begin with Isaiah 41:2-13. As I read verses ten through thirteen I want you to imagine that God is speaking directly to you and to your circumstances. Hear the word of God.
I. God’s Word to Isaiah
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them; those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent. For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, do not fear, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:10-13)
What we just read is what God told the Children of Israel in a prophecy. I want you to know that the God of Israel, who does not change, will do the same for us if we allow Him. If you read these words as if the prophecy was for you, would that understanding change how you feel when you read them? Now that you heard what God said to the Children of Israel through the prophet Isaiah, let me tell you the circumstances. This was a prophecy that was given to Isaiah more than 150 years before it happened. Isaiah did not live to see it, but the prophecy remained before the people until it came to pass. God, in His fulfillment of His promise to take care of the people, showed Isaiah what was going to happen when Cyrus (the one from the east) began his conquest of the world (vs. 2). God promised the Children of Israel protection and even challenged the gods of the other nations to predict the future (Vss. 21-24). From this example I want you to know that God does not just protect us from the things we are currently dealing with, but in His divine decision rights, He is protecting us from things we will face years from now. Today God is trying to influence some of our decisions so that He can protect us down the road as He already knows what we will face and what will lead to those circumstances. He goes back to the root cause and if He can get us to change that, we will never experience those things. The beautiful part of this is that because we make decisions based on what He tells us to do we never even realize that those “other possibilities” were ever in our future.
This is what played out in the movie series “Back To The Future”. In the first movie, Marty McFly’s parents were not in the best situation. His father was what we would call a wimp who hated any type of confrontation. His mother on the other hand was an alcoholic. His brother and sister were not much better. Marty goes back in time and changes one incident that totally changes the course of his parents’ (and ultimately his) life. After changing this one event, when he returns to the future his father is now an author and his mother is not an alcoholic. His brother who was working at a hamburger place now had an office job where he was required to wear a suit. When Marty saw all of this he was amazed as he knew what their life was like before. Now here is the point I want you to see, Marty was the only one who knew the changes that had taken place and why those changes had happened. His family was living what they believed was their only life with no clue that their lives had been on a totally different path prior to Marty changing something in the past. This is the God that is protecting us if we are willing to listen. He knows many years down the road what we will face based on the decisions we are making now and He is trying to get us to make decisions that will allow us to be in the best position later.