Never. Give. Up.

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Isaiah 26:1 On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; he sets up victory like walls and bulwarks. 2 Open the gates, so that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. 3 Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace — in peace because they trust in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.

At the time the prophet Isaiah was writing this prophecy, things were bad for God’s people and getting worse. They’d had generations of weak leadership during which they pursued other gods rather than the one true God. They embraced idolotrous practices that offended God. And as God withdrew his protection of the people Israel, their kingdom was in decline. They would soon lose everything and suffer complete defeat.

What I find remarkable this morning is how, in the midst of this epic fail on the part of God’s people, God sent the prophet Isaiah to offer a word of hope.

“Yes, things are bad – and getting worse – but redemption is on the way!” 

Though the people messed up big time, over and over, God NEVER gave up on them. Some of us need to hear this message today.

Yes, I am a pastor, but I am also human with normal human foibles and shortcomings. They may not be the same ones as you, but I most certainly have my share. I just had another birthday – turning 49 years old. I often take time to reflect on my birthday.

How have I progressed – or regressed – in the last year?

I’m getting older so my physical body is not what it once was. I can’t do some of the things I used to, which can be discouraging. And there are character dimensions that still need work. But I am happy to say, there are far fewer character flaws than there used to be. God has been so patient with me.

Specifically, in the last couple of years, the Lord has given me grace to bring more structure and discipline into my life. The fact that I’m writing this blog post is evidence of this. Over the years I tried many times to cultivate a consistent devotional life – and failed. I’d do it for a time, but then fall away. But this time has been different.

I realized that if I were to be consistent in this discipline, the best time to do it is early in the morning. So the Lord has trained me to go to bed early on a consistent basis so that I can get up early – and write this blog. Linking these two things – getting up early and reading/writing early – was the key. It took decades for me to figure this out, but I’m grateful to God nonetheless.

If you’re like most people, there are areas of your life that need work. And, like most people, you’ve probably tried to address these areas over and over. Without success. I feel you. I really do.

But this morning God has a word for you. Don’t give up on yourself. Because he has not given up on you. Thank you God for your incredible patience with us. Give us grace – to never give up. Amen.

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