August 17, 2016

Isaiah 12:2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.

I have loved this short chapter for a long time, and every bit of it is underlined in my Bible. The overall theme of these readings is prayer, speaking to God, but this verse is something to say to yourself. We need reminders, sometimes frequently, and it is interestingly true that we can give those reminders to ourselves. This is what is called a faith declaration, that is, speaking out the things we believe. As Paul pointed out, faith comes by hearing, (Romans 10:17) and as odd as it might sound, that can be true even when we are the one speaking what we are hearing. Taken too far, this can lead to all sorts of absurdity, with people unable to talk rationally about their circumstances because they think that would be confessing unbelief. True faith acknowledges circumstances, but then says that God is far greater than those circumstances, and He is perfectly capable of transforming them. A perfect example of that is found in Daniel. When Daniel’s three friends, whom we know by their Persian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were confronted with the options of either idolatry or being throne alive into a blazing furnace, their response was classic. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18) They were declaring their faith both to the king and to themselves. We do well to declare our faith to those around us and to ourselves as well.

I first heard teaching on faith declarations almost 40 years ago, and after prayer, came up with a set that I still use at least weekly. I based each one on specific Scriptures, because declaring our imaginations becomes “name it and claim it,” and that is a trap indeed. I preface each declaration with, “By the grace of God,” because I am at times painfully aware that I can accomplish nothing good by myself. (John 15:5) I try to be specific, without dictating to God how He is going to do what He has said. I have found this to be very effective in strengthening my faith and keeping me on the right track. That said, I haven’t communicated this very effective tool to the believers here, at least not recently and certainly not very well. I am not to hide the good things God has given me, but rather share them so that others may enjoy God’s grace with me.

Father, I had wondered what I was to speak on this Sunday, and You have made it abundantly clear. Thank You. I was surprised yesterday to realize how ignorant some of the believers are of the great stories in the Bible, and just recently I had been telling someone that the story of the fiery furnace was a favorite, and now this. I ask for clear guidance as I lay out the notes, so that it will be Your message indeed, to work Your will in the hearts and lives of my hearers, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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