These chapters begin some of the greatest of the Bible, in my view. Isaiah has gone through some very dire prophesies concerning the nations and their futures. Now comes the good part.
In chapter 40 Isaiah starts by saying, “Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God.” Wonderful days are coming – days of rejoicing and peace. Days of deliverance from all of the oppression around. Great days which only God Himself can bring to the earth.
When I read these thrilling words, I always read them on two levels. On the first level, He is talking to Israel, His great nation. On another level, He is speaking spiritually to us in our time. When Isaiah tells the Israelites to repent, I see it also as a word for me – and our generation. We need to repent and reap the rewards of loyalty to our God. And indeed there are rewards!
There have been times in my walk when I would feel very weary from the trek. The warfare may have been rougher than usual, or the workload have been heavier. Whatever the cause, I would feel weak and inadequate for the tasks at hand.
During those times, I would often turn to Isaiah 40:28-31 and read. Just in reading of those words, I would sense a return of energy to my deepest being. My spirit was being refreshed as only our God could do it.
“Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will rise up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (40:31)
Refreshment. Energy. New hope. New vision.
I can do this! And so can you!
I Thessalonians 1
In Acts 17, we saw where Paul had to escape Thessalonica by night because of the mobs. “Those who have upset the world have come here also,” was the cry of the Jews who were out to get the apostle.
Yet there were some who believed and Paul’s letters are to those. He commends them for “their work, their labor of love, and their steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (V. 3)
These new believers have proven themselves because of their own testimonies to the cities around them. Their faith has reached to Macedonia and Achaia, among other places.
They have become imitators of Paul – and of the Lord as they have been persistent in their faith.
That’s what I would like to have said of us. Of you and me. I would like to be called steadfast in the spreading of the gospel. And I would like to be called an imitator of Jesus.
During the days this letter was written, persecution of Christians was rampant. If Paul himself had to be sent away for his safety, think about what awaited those who lived there and became followers. Their lives were on the line every time they proclaimed Jesus. Yet they did it anyway.
I pray that you and I will have the same boldness for the Lord. As we share the truth of the gospel at work – or with our friends, we may encounter some mocking. Yet let’s not let that stop us.
It takes courage and determination to live for Him. I pray that we have the strength to do it!