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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Isaiah 40:29

"When Your Grip Slips"

Message summary: When you feel like you are you losing your grip. Here's encouragement!

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"He (God) gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak" (Isaiah 40:29). "Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble" (Hebrews 12:12).

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

Today we have a young father on our hearts who is going through a very difficult time. He has been beset with a variety of serious health crises during the last two weeks and doctors are struggling to find the answers. He needs to experience healing of course, but also spiritual strength and power and an assurance of God's steadfast love and care. He needs his grip strengthened.

Yesterday we wrote a message about "holding on with a tight grip", using the illustration of the ropes I climbed in my high school PE class over 50 years ago. I stressed the importance of having a tight grip on the rope and drew an application to having a tight grip in the Christian life.

Pete, a PE teacher who retired this last June responded to the message and shared how "the kids get real excited when they see the ropes (grades k-5) until they have to actually get on the ropes and climb. I would say only 20% can actually climb halfway to three quarters of the way up. Our youth were out of shape before covid and now it is just a runaway train!" (Sad but not surprising)

God in His grace provides a "rope" for each of us. When we choose to follow Christ by faith we take hold of the rope and begin our climbing journey of Biblical instruction, faith, obedience and perseverance. The children's song, "Climb, climb up sunshine mountain", comes to mind although they're climbing a mountain rather than a rope!

Climbing a rope is not easy and the ascent will challenge even the best of climbers whose duty it is, with just the grip of his or her hands and arm strength, to pull one's entire body weight in one motion. Or in my case shimmying up the rope using my legs as well was still quite a chore even in my prime!

Calloused handsBut today we consider what happens if your grip slips. Climbing over the long haul has consequences. Perspiration, due to holding tightly to the rope may even cause one's grip to lose traction. Over time callouses will form and when inflamed the rope will burn. Weakness or the seeming impossibility of getting to the top can easily discourage even an experienced climber. Distractions below may beckon us back down, but our call is to keep on climbing!

New GripWe may lose our grip and start to slip down a bit. Perhaps the writer of Hebrews had this in mind when he challenged his readers to, "strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble" (Hebrews 12:12, 13a). The New Living Translation states here, "So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs" The exhortation implies that the readers are acting as though spiritually paralyzed. This means to restore to straightness ... to reinvigorate. The command to ‘strengthen’ comes from the word from which we derive our English word orthopedic." (Precept Austin commentary)

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

Stephen Escedy, a longtime friend who is now with the Lord, was a part of the church we pastored in upstate Pennsylvania over 30 years ago. Stephen was an alcoholic prior to his commitment to Christ and had a lot of hurts due to the many poor choices he made in his past. He once told me, "I am hanging on a rope and at times slide down it a little but at the end of the rope Jesus has placed a strong knot."

Are your hands weak or your knees feeble today? Are you dealing with setbacks that weary you along the way? Strengthen and lift up your hands today in faith and praise toward God. This must primarily be an act of willful obedience rather than an emotional response.

As you lift them up in obedience I believe you will experience the uplifting spiritual, physical and mental revitalization that Isaiah writes about in 40:29, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak".

In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on
To press on

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the journey is long, the obstacles are many, and the endurance needed to live by faith is the challenge given to every believer. In ourselves we are ill-equipped physically, mentally, and emotionally to endure to the end. But You give supernatural strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak. You also give us brothers and sisters to help strengthen our weak hands and our feeble knees. With the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus we find the strength to press onward and upward in Jesus' name and so we press on. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Press On"  Video  Selah

"Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me"  Video  CityAlight 

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

Brooksyne's Note: "So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs"  As I was editing the message today the most vivid memory I have in all my years was the time I was so discouraged I not only felt spiritual paralysis but physical paralysis as well.

In 1992 Ester was three years old we began paper work on adopting a second child from Guatemala. Juan was about six months old at the time and we had been working with a Guatemalan attorney over a period of six months or so in our adoption process. During that time we had moved from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts and gone through a great deal of legal documents, each that came with a hefty price tag as any adoptive parent would know.

In the mail we received a notification that our attorney had a nervous breakdown and would no longer pursue our adoption. Everything fell through and we were given no recourse. We were both very saddened but I was devastated. I couldn't sleep through the night and wept uncontrollably.

Early the next morning I went for my aerobics class in the lower level of our church. I was working out with my friend, Lorna, who was a school teacher so we met early at 5:30 am. It was a short trip for me since I simply walked out the side door of our parsonage and the church was only a few feet beyond our deck.

The aerobics CD with an energetic praise theme started and I tried to exercise but my arms and legs felt like lead. I wanted to keep my situation private at the time so I tried to hide my emotions but after about three songs I could hardly move a muscle. Lorna caught on as she must have been observing me and came right up to me and asked, "What's wrong?" Of course, it all spilled out and Lorna began calling on the name of the Lord in prayer. The words I remember most about her passionate prayer was this, "Lord, help Brooksyne not to see what the devil wants her to see, but help her to see what You want her to see." It wasn't necessarily a profound statement but it seeped deep into my heart and changed my mindset so that I came out of my "spiritual and physical paralysis" I was trapped in and very intentionally invited God to show me that His way is best and "all things work together for good to those called according to His purpose". The circumstances did not change but my heart did.

Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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