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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Strength Renewed
Text:Isaiah 40:27-31 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Running the race
 
Preached:06/28/2015
Added:2015-07-17
Updated:2015-07-17
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


 
Pastor Ted Gray
06/28/2015 – p.m.
 
Strength Renewed”
Isaiah 40:27-31

I am sure this has happened to you: you get out of bed in the morning and as you begin your day, you already feel tired. That’s one of the worst feelings we can have! A new day is set before us, we have things that must be accomplished in that day, whether it’s work or school, or even those who are retired tell me that they have never been busier before in their lives than in retirement, yet we feel exhausted even before setting out on the first task of the day! But that happens to everyone. Verse 30, even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall.

Often the weariness that we feel causes us to feel weak, forsaken, and even abandoned by God. At times we may feel as weak and forsaken as the people of Judah who were in captivity. They felt abandoned by God. Verse 27: Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”?

We have no reason for complaint, just as the people of Judah had no reason to complain. The Lord had not abandoned them and the Lord will not abandon us. When we feel weak and forsaken we are to recall, first of all, God’s never ending strength. And secondly, we are to grasp the promise that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

God’s Strength

Verse 28 describes the Lord’s strength: Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.

If the Lord kept all that strength for Himself we would have no encouragement from His omnipotence. If the Lord kept all that strength for Himself, we might feel like the people in Haiti, who after a devastating storm knew that wonderful provisions of food had been sent to them from other countries. But the common people could not get that food. Because of corruption in the government, the privileged received food and the common people went hungry even though there was a great storehouse of food. But God does not give His strength just to a privileged few. Rather He gives His strength to all those who put their hope in Him.

The strength He gives us is not necessarily in a physical sense. But rather His strength is given spiritually. How often do you and I grow weary spiritually? We know that the Bible is full of wonderful promises, “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” But isn’t it often true that we don’t experience that strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow because of our own spiritual weakness?

Most of us can relate to the experience of a Christian woman who was living in France during World War II. As a young girl she had been taught to keep a “promise box.” As she read her Bible, or heard it read by her parents around the table, she had been instructed to write down verses that were especially meaningful to her, verses such as the ones before us promising strength to the weary. She was to fold the paper with those verses and to put them into a box. The box was to be kept in a visible spot on a counter or end table with the edges of each paper pointing up out of the promise box. Then throughout the day, when she passed by the box, she could pick up an edge of the paper and read one of the many promises of God that would strengthen and encourage her in her walk with the Lord.

This woman had kept the promise box up as a child, but as the years went by the promise box ended up in a dresser drawer. Life had become hard. Life had become dreary and worrisome. More than that, life had become very dangerous in France in World War II. The woman was disturbed by what she heard on the news and by what she saw going on all around her. One day, in her spiritual weakness, she remembered the promise box that her parents had told her to keep. She removed it from the drawer where it was underneath some clothes, neglected and un-used. She had a prayer in her heart, “Lord, give me one promise from Your word that will strengthen me and give encouragement amid all the sorrows that have wearied my life.”

She took the box from the drawer and was moving toward the light of the window to look at one of the verses when she tripped and almost fell down. The promise box flew from her hand, and the whole floor was covered with the promises of God written on all those little pieces of paper that she had written down years before as her godly parents had instructed her.

Her prayer changed from a from a prayer asking for strength to a prayer asking for forgiveness. She said, “Lord, forgive me that I look for one promise from Your word when you have given me innumerable promises to strengthen me and encourage me, despite the war, despite all the other things going on in my life.” God does indeed give strength to the weary, but in the weariness of life we need to turn to Him in prayer with faithful reliance on His Word for that strength.

Increased Power for the Weak

Verse 29 also assures us that God increases the power of the weak. God gives us the power to do things that we could never do in our own strength.

Moses knew his own weakness and said to the Lord, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? …What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?”…Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 3:11; 4:1, 10-12)

God gave Moses the power to do what was impossible for Moses to do on his own. Was it any different for any other of God’s people? Could Noah have built the ark in his own strength? Or was it by the strength of God who waited patiently for Noah, even as God strengthened Noah for the task? Or what about Elijah in his weakness, when he thought he was the only one left who was faithful to the Lord? Or jumping ahead to the New Testament time, imagine how weak the apostles felt when God gave them the Great Commission to go into all the earth. But what was the promise that God gave them? Acts 1:8 records this promise from Jesus to them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

It is always by God’s power that we are able to accomplish anything. In ourselves we are so weak, but by His grace we are strengthened. As Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

The Apostle Paul wrote eloquently about the strength and power of the Lord in sustaining him in all his weakness. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about that thorn that was in his flesh, whatever it may have been, and he tells how he prayed repeatedly that the thorn would be removed. Yet the Lord did not remove the thorn. But He gave this promise: He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Paul responded by writing: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

The Apostle Paul came to recognize that he lived, not on his strength, but on the strength that God provides to His people. No wonder he would write to the Philippians, “I  can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

It is through faith in Christ alone that we have salvation. But it is also through faith in Christ that we gain strength for each new day.

Soaring Like an Eagle

As God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak He enables His people,  spiritually speaking, to walk, to run, and even to soar. We have perhaps all known people who could not walk physically, much less run, yet they were people who could truly soar in a spiritual sense.

I knew one of those people who, although crippled physically, could truly walk, run and soar spiritually. He and his wife lived some 40 miles away from the church, but every Sunday evening they were there like clockwork. They were always early because he was crippled. His wife would help him out of the car under the carport that was by the front door of the church. And then he would painstakingly come into the sanctuary, step by painful step. It was a good thing that they came early, because it took him a long time to get to one of the pews toward the back where they would sit. To look at that man, you would never think of him as soaring like an eagle. He looked like an old cripple on his last legs.

There was a hymn sing every Sunday evening in that church. One of the elders would lead the hymn sing and anyone from the congregation could raise their hand and give a request. In the same way that this man was always at church at the same time like clockwork, you also knew that his hand was going to go up during the hymn sing. He always had a favorite, most often, Standing on the Promises of God. Although that man could not walk very well, he sure could sing! His voice filled the sanctuary! He probably should have been the song leader instead of one of the elders!

One thing was certain, although he was crippled, he could walk the Christian walk, he could run the race of the righteous, he could truly soar like an eagle, spiritually. He soared not just with his singing, but in his love for the Scriptures, his faithful prayer life, and his cheerful disposition despite his handicap. It was obvious that the brother in the Lord soared like an eagle.

Although he was crippled he could also run the race described in Hebrews 12. It is a spiritual race described in the opening three verses: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

That man, although crippled, was strengthened by God to walk with the Lord, to run the race set before each one of us, and, by God’s strengthening power, the man could do more than walk or run; spiritually speaking, he soared like an eagle.

The Key

Maybe soaring like an eagle, especially amid the troubles of life, seems like an impossibility to some of us. How is it possible? What is the key to this renewal of strength? The key is in the first line of verse 31. Our hope and trust must be in the Lord. It says, Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

If your hope is in other people, invariably your hope will be dashed. Even the most faithful Christian friend you have is still a sinner saved by grace and will let you down at times. If your hope is in your finances or in your employment or in any other supposedly secure thing in this life, you will also be let down.

It is only when your hope is focused in saving faith on Jesus Christ that you will not be disappointed. Through a living, vibrant faith in Jesus Christ, as you faithfully immerse yourself in His word and go to Him in prayer you will find that He will never disappoint you. He will never let you down. Instead, He will give strength to you when you are weary and He will increase your power when you feel weak. When you place your hope in Him alone He will renew your strength and allow you to soar on wings like an eagle.

So long ago the people in captivity needed to hear these words of encouragement. They were weak. They were in bondage. It seemed as though God had forgotten about them. Their homes in Jerusalem were ruined. How could they ever rebuild?  Was it possible that the false gods of other nations, like the Babylonian gods, really were stronger than the God revealed in Scripture?

But the Lord used this passage of His holy Word to assure the people of that day that their Lord is immeasurably great. He is Sovereign over all things; He is above every nation. He is without comparison; no false god measures up to Him in any way. He is omniscient; He knows us completely. He  never grows weary or weak, and He imparts His strength to all who trust in Him.

What comfort that was to the captives in Babylon long before the birth of Christ! And what comfort it should be also to us today!  Although we are not in captivity and enjoy great freedom in this land of liberty, yet we can all relate to feeling weak and discouraged. We all have various thorns in our lives, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual thorns. Or, more likely, we have a combination of all three thorns imbedded at once.

But this passage reminds us He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. ...Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Do you know that strength? Is your hope fixed upon the Lord through saving faith in His Son, Jesus Christ? It is only through saving faith that we have salvation, and then the God-given strength to walk with the Lord, to run with perseverance the race marked out for us, and even the strength to soar like an eagle, spiritually.

May you and I always focus in saving faith on Him who is immeasurably great, the Sovereign Lord over all things, the One who has given us His Son for our salvation, and gives us His strength for each new day.  Amen.

 

- bulletin outline -

 

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:30-31
 
“Strength Renewed”
Isaiah 40:27-31
 
I.  At times we may feel as weak and tired as the people of Judah when they were held in captivity (27, 30)
 
 
 
 
 
 
II. The remedy is to recall God’s never ending strength and understanding (28) as He:
       1) Gives strength to the weary (29a)
 
    
 
 
 
        2) Increases the power of the weak (29b)
 
 
 
 
 
        3) Enables His people to soar, to run, and to walk – spiritually (31)
  
 
 
      
 
 
III. The key to the renewal of strength: Our hope and trust must be in the Lord (31a)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
06/28/2015 – p.m.

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 06/2, Rev. Ted Gray

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