December 1

Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV) 29He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

In this awesome chapter about the incomparable greatness of God, Isaiah, closes with how God can impact the lives of men. Though He is the high and Holy One, He gives His strength to those who are weary and weak. This is a theme that runs throughout Scripture. God does not help the self-reliant. Contrary to the popular expression, He does not help those who help themselves. He helps those who trust in Him. We must realize how helpless and needy man is. Then we can call out to God with our whole heart, without some man empowered backup plan. Our hope must be in God alone. Then He will meet us with the strength we need to endure.

Time and time again, God's people have come to the end of themselves, and then God has done some great thing through them. It was when the body of Jesus was nailed to the cross and laid in a tomb that God brought about the greatest victory and greatest display of His strength in Jesus. It was when Elijah thought he was finished that God began to use him for the majority of his ministry. It was when Hezekiah had nowhere else to turn that God defeated the Assyrian army. We could go on to some of the modern missionaries. Many of them came to the end of themselves and some even to death before the ministry exploded with fruitfulness.

Whatever you situation or season in life, look to God. Look to His strength. Don't rely on your own wisdom or energy but on the life and strength of Christ.

Consider: When you think you can't go on, and the need is there before you, hope in the LORD, and ask for a renewal of His strength. Then get ready to soar.

December 1

James 5:14-16 (NIV) 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

What should someone do when they are ill? James tells them to call the elders of the church to pray over them. It is such a clear and simple instruction, yet I find so few that are willing to follow it. We claim that we believe the Bible to be inspired by God, yet when we are in this situation, we do not follow this clear and simple instruction.

He did not tell the elders to chase them down and insist. The person who is sick is to express faith in the Word and the anointing upon the elders. They should be elders because of their strong faith in God. If there is sin in the sick person's life, they should confess it. The elders need to be men who can keep it confidential.

Once these prerequisites are met, the elders can pray a prayer of faith, anointing the person with oil. The oil is symbolic of the presence of the Holy Spirit at work. The prayer of faith from the elders is a prayer that believes God hears and will act. They expect the Lord to forgive and heal them.

Consider: When you find yourself battling an illness, humble yourself before God, and search your heart. Call your elders together (the men you recognize as men of faith), and confess your sins. Ask them to anoint you with oil and pray for you in accordance with this passage. Then you will have done all that God has directed. If you remain ill, there must be a special purpose for that affliction in your life as there was with the Apostle Paul's thorn.