Encouragement for the Journey

As you begin a new week, I hope that these words from scripture will prepare and encourage you for whatever circumstances you will encounter. None of us knows what the future holds and often we are afraid of things we can’t control. It is during these times that we must remind ourselves that we serve and worship a God who walks with us and before us. God is ready and more than capable of bearing our burdens and worries. Trust in God, let go of your anxiety and believe that God is ready to shower you with His peace that transcends all understanding.

Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 55:22: Cast you cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

Psalm 56:3-4: When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The Lord prepares a way for us, a path that ascends and descends. Remain on that path and God will be with you through the blessings of the week and also during the difficulties that you will surely face. As believers, we are not promised an easy, problem free life but we do have the assurance that Christ is present with us. He walks alongside us and carries us when the road that we are traveling on is too grueling for our weary souls.

Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 14:1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Are you tired? It could be your job that is wearing you down. Maybe you have the responsibility to care for family members that are aging or ill. Just being a parent these days is a difficult job and it seems that problems just continue to multiply. You do so many things for others. Often it feels like no one seems to appreciate it and as a result you feel weary and burdened. Turn to the one who has already conquered this world and can take away the weight of the world.

John 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Philippians 4:6-7:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 6:25-27:  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Remember that God the Father and Christ the Savior loves you and wants all things to work out for your own good. Nothing in this world can come between us and the saving grace of Christ our Lord. Remember that Christ has already conquered the world and nothing can separate us from His love.

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:37-39: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Be blessed this week and know that you are a beloved child of God. May the peace of Christ be with you and your family in the days ahead.

 

To Whom Shall I Go?

John 6: 61-69: Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

These words from Simon Peter have been with me all week, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” For me, God has seemed so far away and unattainable these past few days. This “world” has brought to me some challenging and difficult obstacles this week. And during all of this I have cried out to God for some relief and answers. However, God has remained silent. So these words of the disciple Peter have lingered in my mind all week, “Lord, to whom shall I (we) go? You have the words of eternal life.”

I have tried everything I know to get closer to God this week. I have prayed many times during the day, begging and pleading with God for some answers. My Bible has been open all week as I try to find some comfort and reassurance for my sense of distance from God. Many times this week, I read the parable of the persistent widow from Luke 18 to remind myself that we learn how to persevere through our many trials. I’m not really sure how comforting that is however, when the trials just keep coming and coming. Then I find comfort in the words of Jesus when Luke writes, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). Jesus wants us to know that God has our best interests in mind and through persistent prayer, God will answer.

 I have repeatedly prayed the promises of Jesus from scripture in order to find some relief. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). However, the door remains closed and I fear that it will not open anytime soon. Many of you know the feeling, you pray about something for a long period of time and you do not have a sense that an answer is forthcoming. When we suspect that an answer to our prayers is not imminent, we have to ask if what we are praying is God’s will for us. Again, those words from Peter continue to replay over and over in my mind. There is no one or nowhere to turn to, except you God. The words of eternal life are found only through Christ our savior. I will continue to trust and believe.

Richard J. Foster, the author of, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, writes “I want you to know that to be faced with the ‘withering winds of God’s hiddenness’ does not mean that God is displeased with you, or that you are insensitive to the work of God’s Spirit, or that you have committed some horrendous offense against heaven, or that there is something wrong with you, or anything. Darkness is a definite experience of prayer. It is to be expected, even embraced.”[1] It is comforting to know that many other Christians have this same struggle with hearing from God during times of difficulty and trials. There is hope to be found, but we must endure the sometimes long period of waiting on God.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22). This doesn’t mean that if we ask for a new car or a new house that those material things will magically appear. Our prayers will be answered in accordance with God’s will. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him” ( 1 John 5:14-15). Still, I have not found any answers this week as I plead with God to be present with me. Yet again, the words of Simon Peter keep me believing and focused upon God, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Peter’s theology may not have always been sound; he often spoke impulsively and emotionally. However, on this occasion when Jesus asked a question, Peter got it right. Jesus said to his twelve disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” And Simon Peter answered that there is no one else to turn to, only Jesus has the words of eternal life. Peter then declares, “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:69). Peter has misspoken and failed to grasp the truth on many previous occasions, but this time he nailed it. Peter’s words encouraged me this week to focus my faith on Christ who alone has the words of eternal life.

Leaving Jesus and following the ways of the world is not an option for those of us who believe. The road of faith is filled with many dangers and distractions and we are tempted to take the easy route and give in to the ways of this world. As a believer, we know that following the world and not Jesus would only bring a temporary solution to our problems. Only Jesus offers a permanent way out of our “flesh” and sin filled bodies. “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). To whom shall I go? For me, I will continue to follow and trust in Jesus.

1 John 3:21-24: Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.


[1] Richard J. Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, (San Francisco: Harper & Row), p.19

Heavenly Worship

We all come to worship with a myriad of purposes or intentions. As we encounter God in the worship service, we usually have many self-centered thoughts going through our minds. For many, the work week has been stressful and difficult and we strive to find some peace and reassurance in the house of the Lord. We don’t intend for this time of worship to be about ourselves, but the feelings of being overwhelmed with the everyday aspects of life are just too great to suppress. We attempt to block out these worries and concerns but we fail to do so. Worship should be about God and not ourselves, we know that. The question then would be: How do we make worship all about God and not about ourselves? Let me take you on a journey to the throne room of heaven to explain.

John, the writer of Revelation has a vision and he is taken up to the throne room of heaven. He saw someone seated on the throne whose appearance was almost indescribable. At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne (Revelation 4:2-3). This image of God on his throne is the predominant image in the Old Testament. Paul, writing in 2 Timothy, also gives us a related image of God: God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen (2 Timothy 6:15b-16).

You are probably thinking, “What does this have to do with how to worship God?” Bear with me for another description from John of heaven and I think you will understand where I am going with this. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back (Revelation 4:4-6).

The book of Revelation is all about symbols. The audience to whom this was written would have easily understood the meaning of these symbols. This writing would stand as encouragement to them during their time of persecution by Rome. The four living creatures are positioned on each side of the throne and their primary purpose is to protect and proclaim the holiness of God. These four living creatures are most likely “cherubim,” and they are perhaps the highest order of angels who continuously serve and praise God.

Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy

Is the Lord God Almighty,

Who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they were created

and have their being.”

(Revelation 4:8b-11)

The twenty-four elders represent the people of God under both the old and new covenants. The twelve patriarchs of Israel and the twelve apostles of the church make up the twenty-four elders. Their primary purpose in this vision is to worship God. In fact, each time the twenty-four elders are mentioned in Revelation, they fall down in worship before God on the throne or before the Lamb, which is Christ.

Revelation 5:11-12: Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength

and honor and glory and praise!”

This image from Revelation, of this assembled congregation in heaven, gives us some understanding about how we should approach worship. Instead of coming to worship with our own self-centered needs in mind, we should come prepared to give glory and praise to the one who is worthy of our praise. Rather than viewing worship in terms of meeting our own individual needs and expectations, we should  be prepared to burst forth in praise to the one who is worthy of our worship and praise. This vision from John, reveals to us that true worship is entirely about devoting our complete attention and praise to our creator God and our Redeemer Christ. That is what worship in heaven will be like and we should strive for that ideal here on earth as well.

At Home in Heaven

Revelation 21:3-4: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Today, March 17th would have been my mother’s 86th birthday. She passed away in December of 2011 following complications from a fall in August of that same year. Those four months after her fall were difficult because of the physical pain and also her desire to return home. She had lived with her sister since shortly after my father passed away in 1987. They had a very close bond and were basically inseparable. Most people couldn’t imagine seeing one without the other. Unfortunately, her failing health did not allow her to go back to her home and that was extremely disappointing to her and her sister.

I have thought about my mom and missed her every day since she departed for her heavenly home. Knowing that she is in the presence of God and that her suffering is over makes her absence much easier to bear. My many recollections of her kind and loving nature help to keep alive her memory and the many important life lessons that she taught me. She worshipped God, believed in Christ, and loved her church.  And she passed those same beliefs and values on to her family.

Whenever I find myself missing mom I often turn to the above passage in Revelation. Knowing that she is in the presence of God is the most encouraging aspect of that particular scripture for me. My mind cannot possible comprehend just how utterly amazing that will be. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever (Rev. 22:3-5).

Also knowing that she is free from pain and suffering is especially reassuring. My mom shed many tears over her physical condition during her last few days on earth but this scripture gives us the promise that we will shed no more tears in heaven. Death lost its grip upon us when it was defeated and overcome at the cross by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21.4).

Besides talking with her each day, her smile is one of the things that I miss most about mom. Her last months were mostly spent at a rehabilitation facility near her home. She came to be greatly loved by the staff that took care of her. As I read again the hospice card that was signed by many of those who took care of her, I was reminded of her smile and her loving spirit. Here are a few of those comments.

·         “She always had a smile on her face; I loved taking care of her.”

·         “She was an amazing lady; I will always remember her beautiful smile.”

·         “She inspired us with her positive attitude and graciousness.”

·         “She made each day sweet to be here.”

·         “She will always be remembered for being so loving and kind to us; she always had a smile.”

·         “Her positive attitude and kind words were always a perk in our day.”

·         “She was a blessing to me; I am a better person for knowing her.”

·         “She never failed to greet us with a smile and a positive word; this special angel will truly be missed.”

Mom departed her earthly home for her heavenly home and she exchanged her sick and frail body for a new “glorious” body. She gladly gave up her citizenship on earth for her citizenship in heaven. Philippians 3:20-21: But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Although it was difficult to let her go, as a believer I know that one day we will be reunited again in heaven. Christ has gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us if we will only profess our belief in Him. Jesus gave these words of comfort to his disciples and they are words that still bring reassurance to His followers today. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:1-4).

 

Love of Praise or Love of God?

Who knows where they first got the idea to sell their piece of property and hold some of it back for themselves? Maybe Ananias had dreams of putting some money down on a business venture. It’s possible that Sapphira wanted to invest in the stock market and put some money away for their retirement. They were struggling with this specific decision: should they give the church the entire check or should they hold some back?

An apostle by the name of Barnabas had just sold a field that he owned. He took all of the proceeds from the sale and gave the money to the church. He didn’t do it to be noticed, he gave it discreetly. But word soon got out that it was Barnabas who donated the money. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a filed he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:36-37).

Ananias and Sapphira saw how the other church members looked at Barnabas. They admired and respected him because he had just set an example of giving with no strings attached. The deacons had already offered to name a prayer room in the church after him, but Barnabas respectfully declined. He quietly went about the work of the church and did many things that other people never noticed. Barnabas preferred to work quietly in the background without attracting any attention to himself.

It was apparently Ananias who made the decision to sell the property and hold some of the money back. Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet (Acts 5:1-2).

Can you just picture Ananias sitting at his kitchen table, staring at the check from the local realtor for $10,000? He could give the entire check to the church and it would be put to good use, helping those brothers and sisters in need. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt that he and his wife would gain some much deserved recognition for their kind and selfless act. Ananias could visualize in his mind the reception that would be held in their honor and how they would graciously accept everyone’s gratitude for such a generous gift. They would become the new power couple in the church and would be asked to serve on all the important committees. They might even get a parking space reserved just for them in front of the church.

Who in the church would ever know how much the land was sold for? The investor who bought the land was from out of town so their secret would be safe, no one in the church would ever find out. So they decided to write the church a check for $7,000, keeping back a nice tidy sum of $3,000 for themselves. What’s the harm, right? They church will get $7,000 and those in need will be helped. Ananias and Sapphira can set aside some money for retirement and they will be recognized by the church for their gift. After all, they have helped build up the church to where it is today so they deserve some type of recognition for their efforts. Eventually, they decide to go through with their plan to supposedly give the church the entire amount of the sale while holding back 30% for themselves.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3-4). Ah! Lying to the Holy Spirit and to God. That was something that Ananias didn’t consider when devising his plan.

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land” (Acts 5: 5-8a)? This was her moment to come clean and disclose the truth. It was obvious that Peter was aware of their scheme so why not confess and be honest. “Yes, “ she said, “that is the price” (Acts 5:8b).

Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events (Acts 5: 9-11).

Here is the mistake that this couple made – they pretended to give the church the full amount of the sale. They lied to and purposely mislead the church. But they didn’t consider the greater sin of trying to deceive the Holy Spirit, which had just been given to the believers at Pentecost (Acts 2: 1-4). If this fraud had been allowed and gone unpunished, the other believers would come to suppose that the Holy Spirit could be deceived and corruption in the early church would appear profitable. This incident would make it perfectly clear that God does not tolerate this type of deception and deceitfulness. The Holy Spirit cannot be deceived. This was a message that the early church must hear loud and clear, for it was the Holy Spirit that was responsible for their miraculous growth.

There are those in the church today who seek visibility and make a show of their gifts and contributions to the church. They are like those to whom Jesus referred when he said, And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men” (Matthew 6: 5). If your primary motivation for doing a good deed is that it is noticed by others, you are doing it for the wrong reason. Here’s the question that you must ask yourself: If I give a gift to the church and no one ever knows who gave it, would I still give it anyway?

Did you notice who Peter singled out as the tempter of Ananias? It was Satan. The evil one was already trying to destroy the church in its infancy and he is determined to weaken and discredit the church today. We want to be noticed and given credit for our good deeds and Satan preys upon that. In fact, he urges us to seek personal recognition and praise for our many generous gifts. Satan knows that if we make the church more about us and less about God, the church will be weakened.When given praise for your contribution to the church, whether it is monetary or service, be quick to deflect that praise and give the glory instead to God.

We look to Jesus for a final word about right motives. “Be careful not to do your’ acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6: 1-4).

Placing Limits On God

2 Samuel 7:1-7: After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”

But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

I’m reaching back into the Old Testament for today’s devotional theme. This is a story that you may or may not be familiar with, but it has great relevance for us today. King David is now firmly in place as the king of Israel. Those loyal to King Saul have been defeated and David moves to establish Jerusalem as his capital city. He brings the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem and thus brings Israel’s religious, political, and military authority under his control. From lowly shepherd boy to the king of Israel, it’s quite a remarkable run for King David. With his kingdom firmly established, David turns his attention towards building a great house for God.

King David has a grand idea; he wants to build a temple for God where He can be properly worshipped. David may feel guilty that while he is living in such a beautiful palace, God is residing under a tent, in the Ark of the Covenant. Did you notice what David and the prophet Nathan neglected to do in the first couple of verses? They failed to pray and seek God’s guidance and direction. David disclosed to Nathan his plan and Nathan endorsed it without taking into account, God’s thoughts on the matter. It seemed like a good plan to honor God but the king or the prophet should have thought about seeking God’s approval first.

Remember that the Ark contained the two tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written and it was a visible reminder to the Israelites that God was present with them. Ever since the Israelites fled Egypt and wandered through the desert, the Ark of the Covenant had been housed within the tabernacle, which was a portable structure that the Israelites carried as they traveled.  God was accustomed to moving around, free and unrestricted. It seems that God is not pleased with these human plans and He asks them a rhetorical question: “Wherever I have moved with all of the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’” Our plans and God’s plans are not always the same.

Why do you think God so quickly rebuffed David’s building plans? Was it a rejection of the plans or was it David as the builder that God was rejecting? In 1 Chronicles 22:5-8, David explains that God did not want him to build the temple because David had shed much blood and had fought in many wars. God revealed that David’s son, King Solomon, would be the one to build the temple. Like David, God had a plan to build a temple, but God would accomplish it in a different way.

How often in your own life has God said, “No” to your plans in order to grant you success and blessings in a different way? God’s “no” is often difficult to hear and understand. We think that we know what’s best for us but we come to realize that God sees things in a completely different way than we do. God stands above time and we can’t possible comprehend how God works out all things in order to place us exactly where He wants us. Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. So don’t despair or lose hope when you plans don’t correspond to God’s plans. You will likely go through some difficult times to arrive where God wants you to be, but in the end, you will find that God’s way is the only way.

Romans 12:12 (ESV): Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 15:13 (ESV): May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV): But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.