WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
SEPTEMBER 23, 2020
TOPIC: WHEN YOU GO THROUGH THE RIVERS OF DIFFICULTY AND THE FIRE OF OPPRESSION
BY T. O. BANSO
“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2 New Living Translation).
In life, challenges are inevitable. Problems are an integral part of life whether we choose to call them problems or challenges. As you overcome one, you enter face another later. There is no end to problems or challenges as long as one lives. They are no respecter of persons!
Just as a student must pass a promotion examination to move to the next class, so in life, our promotion is sometimes tied to the challenges we overcome. If David had not faced the problem that Goliath posed to the nation of Israel and killed him, he might have died an unsung shepherd (1 Samuel 17).
However, just as life’s challenges are real, God’s promises to be with His children and help them to overcome are even more real. God has not promised His children a life of no trouble, but He has promised them His presence and victory.
Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (New King James Version).
The LORD said in Isaiah 43:2, “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (New Living Translation).
Please take note that this scripture doesn’t say “if you go.” It says when you go. That means it is certain that at one time or the other, we shall experience the deep waters and great trouble, rivers of difficulty, and fire of oppression. Nevertheless, we shall not be victims; we shall be victors. We shall overcome. We shall survive every challenge we go through.
However, what do we do when going through the deep waters – the rivers of difficulty – and walk through the fire of oppression?
1. Do not be afraid. God says this in verses 1 and 5 of Isaiah 43. Verse 1 says, “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine’” (New King James Version).
Fear not! This scripture is comforting. And verse 5 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west” (New King James Version).
Throughout the Bible, God never told His children to be afraid. He told Abram, “Fear not, Abram. I am thy shield, (and) thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1 American Standard Version).
The angel of the LORD told Hagar, “Fear not. For God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is” (Genesis 21:17 American Standard Version). God assured Israel repeatedly to fear not (Isaiah 41: 13, 14; 43:1, 5; 44:2).
He always says fear not. Today, God never tells His children to fear. He always says to fear not. He is saying to you what He said to others in the Bible: fear not! Don’t be afraid.
2. Remind yourself whose you are. God said in verse 1 of Isaiah 43, “I have called you by your name; You are Mine” (New King James Version). Remind yourself that you don’t own yourself; you belong to God.
When Paul was going through the rivers of difficulty and the fire of oppression, which was a near-death situation, one of the things he told those who were with him on the ship in the tempest was that he knew whose he was.
Paul said, “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:23-25 New King James Version).
Paul knew who he was. He knew he belonged to God. Don’t let your condition make you forget you belong to God.
3. Be conscious of God’s presence with you. The God to whom you belong and whom you serve will never forsake you or leave you. “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2a New Living Translation).
Because God is with you, the rivers of difficulty will not drown you and the fire of oppression will not consume you. Jesus said He would be with His followers till the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
4. Recall the miraculous deliverances of God in the past. Forget not His benefits – the good things He has done for you (Psalm 103:2).
God says, “For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba as a ransom for your freedom. Others died that you might live. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:3-4 New Living Translation).
Did you see God bring to remembrance what He did for the Israelites in the past? How good it would be for them to remember this any time they faced a challenge rather than being fearful and failing to demonstrate they had faith in the same God who delivered them in the past?
David recalled the past deliverances God did for him and, therefore, believed he would give him victory over Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:33-37). Just as David had testified of God, He didn’t fail him; He gave him victory over Goliath.
Recall the miraculous deliverances of God in the past. This will help to renew your faith in Him.
5. Have faith in God and obey Him. He is the ONLY God. God says, “You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the LORD” (Isaiah 43:12b New Living Translation). He continues in verse 13, “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse my actions” (New Living Translation).
God can open a way through the waters. He can make a dry path through the sea (verse 16). He did that for the children of Israel when He divided the Red Sea for them to walk on dry ground. Just as He can cause the river to become dry ground, He can also create rivers in the dry wasteland (verse 19). With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27).
Therefore, count it all joy when you fall into various trials (James 1:2). The New Living Translation renders this scripture as “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.” This is faith in God.
Jesus says in Mark 11:22 to have faith in God. Have faith in Him to bring you out of the rivers of difficulty and deliver you from the fire of oppression. Obey His Word and His instructions. If you’re willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19).
6. Pray without ceasing. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing. Verse 18 says in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward. Therefore, pray without ceasing and pray with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2 says to continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. Thank God for answers to your prayers you believe will soon manifest. Never stop praying and thanking God.
Conclusion: No matter the challenges of life you face, be positive. Don’t think of defeat; think of victory. The river will not drown you; the fire will not burn you. The three Hebrews came out of the furnace of fire unharmed. They enjoyed the presence of God in the fire (Daniel 3:20-26).
You will see the end of your affliction; it won’t see your end. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 New King James Version). You’re more than a conqueror; you’re an overcomer.
As Eliphaz the Temanite, Job’s friend, said, “He [God] shall deliver you in six troubles, yes, in seven no evil shall touch you. In famine He shall redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, and you shall not be afraid of destruction when it comes. You shall laugh at destruction and famine, and you shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth” (Job 5:19-22 New King James Version). Amen.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: The rivers of difficulty will not drown me in Jesus’ name. The fire of oppression will not burn me up; the flames will not consume me. The LORD shall deliver me from all troubles; no evil shall overcome me. I shall enjoy the presence of the LORD in all situations. I am coming out of every adverse condition I am in now victorious in Jesus’ name. The LORD shall give me a new song. He will change my story. He will silence my mockers and disgrace my adversaries.
(For over 300 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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