“But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)
God has made so many promises to us through His Word. Sometimes it is difficult to know if they are promises specifically to the Israelites or if they are promises for all of us. This promise in Isaiah is one we can all cling to, and I have, on many occasions. At first, it would appear to be directed at the Israelites with reference to Israel and Jacob, but “you descendants of Abraham my friend” is referring to the believers in Christ as well. Galatians 3:29 addresses this: “And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (NLT) This is a promise for all of us.
I love that God calls Abraham his friend. A true friend is someone you confide in, laugh with, and enjoy their company. You feel safe with them, bare your soul, and share your life. You spend time together and a deep affection for one another. This is the kind of relationship God wants to have with us.
Jesus calls himself our friend. In John 15:13 he tells us “greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” He revealed to us everything he learned from the Father. He did not keep secrets from us. He willingly sacrificed his life on our behalf.
How comforting it is to take his promise to heart! God is with us ALWAYS. He strengthens us, He helps us, and He upholds us! No matter what we are going through, He is part of it. We never have to face anything alone. He never rejects us or abandons us. He has given us His Word! Therefore:
1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! 2Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy. 3Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his.[a] We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. (NLT)
He is faithful, his promises are true, and his word is trustworthy—he deserves our praise. Why is praising God so difficult for us? We don’t seem to have a problem praising athletes or celebrities. Their feats are nothing compared to those of our LORD. When I praise Him, I find I have taken the focus off of ME and put it on HIM where it belongs. My burdens seem lighter—even though I may have tears streaming down my face as I lift my hands or fall to my knees. His presence is more keenly felt. I know I can talk about anything, I can complain, grapple issues, and share my joys. Praise puts God in His Kingdom. There have been times when I’ve felt so immersed in praise that it was almost as if I were standing before His throne—just me and Him. I don’t understand why I don’t praise more often.
Father, when life is going good it is easy to praise you. But I want to be able to praise you no matter what is happening. I know you alone are God whether life is calm or stormy. Forgive me for the times I doubt and for the times I question your goodness. While you are my friend, you are still God. Your power is greater than anything. I thank you for your strength in times of my weakness. Thank you for being my ever-present help in time of need. Thank you for upholding me above my enemies. You alone are good. Amen