Faithlife Sermons

Soar like an Eagle

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Transcript

EPIPHANY 05

Isaiah 40:21-31 Year B

Soar like an eagle”

Isaiah 40:21-31 (NIV)

21     Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?

Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

22     He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,

and its people are like grasshoppers.

He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,

and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

23     He brings princes to naught

and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

24     No sooner are they planted,

no sooner are they sown,

no sooner do they take root in the ground,

than he blows on them and they wither,

and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25     “To whom will you compare me?

Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

26     Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one,

and calls them each by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength,

not one of them is missing.

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”?

28     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.

29     He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.

30     Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

31     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.


What comments and expressions do you have trouble accepting in life?  You know, these are the sorts of comments, attitudes or actions of others that you find particularly challenging. 

For me, it’s when people, whilst in the midst of suffering and anguish say that God must think they either ‘need this lesson’ or ‘that this has happened because God must think they can handle it’. 

Briefly here is the setting for Isaiah.  Isaiah wrote this during the stormy period marking the expansion of the Assyrian empire and the decline of Israel.  Under King Tiglath-Pilseer III (745-727BC) the Assyrians swept westward into Aram (Syria) and Canaan.  About 733 the kings of Aram and Israel tried to pressure Ahaz, king of Judah into joining a coalition again Assyria.  Ahaz chose instead to ask Tiglath-Pilseer for help, a decision condemned by Isaiah.  Assyria did assist Judah and conquered the northern kingdom  (Israel) in 722-721BC.  This made Judah even more vulnerable, and in 701 King Sennacherib of Assyria threatened Jerusalem itself[1].  The godly King Hezekiah prayed earnestly, and Isaiah predicted that God would force the Assyrians to withdraw from the city[2]. 

Into the midst of this situation God sends Isaiah to give them a message.  It’s a message of hope.  He tells them that God has not deserted them – even if their current situation would seem to dictate otherwise.  Even now they are told, God is preparing to deliver His people.  He cares for them – they have not been forgotten.  God will bring them back home – all they need to do is “wait on the Lord” and they will be brought back on ‘eagle’s wings’.  God did as He promised – but for those in the midst of waiting it can be tough. 

Maybe today you are feeling the same way as these people?  Maybe you are feeling exhausted, weak and ready to give up?  Maybe there are things happening or have happened in your life that you cannot understand, and you wonder why.  The message here today for you is to “wait for the Lord.” 

Rightly so, you will ask, “So what does it mean to ‘wait for the Lord’?”  Just how are we supposed to do this?  Isn’t waiting something that tries our very patience to the limit and is something that not too many of us are very good at?  What kind of ‘waiting’ are we being called to do here? 

Are we being called to simply be passive in our situation and just sit wringing our hands in frustration and anxiety and simply hoping against hope that things will change?  Maybe the best illustration I can use is if one was sitting waiting for our Lotto numbers to come up because we really needed the money to pay the bills and believed that if we hoped enough – it would happen.  Is this the type of passivity we are being called to? 

Or is our ‘waiting for the Lord’ to be framed in the context of an eager expectation, waiting, anticipating that God is really going to touch us?  That He is going to step into time and space and touch us.  That He is going to show us a way forward and a path to follow in whatever situation we are in. 

These questions are answered in our Bible readings today.

We are called to trust in God[3].  That means we are to have a total and unconditional trust in Him notwithstanding how the situations we are facing present themselves.  God still cares for us and wants the best in life for us[4].  To wait for the Lord is to place our trust, our faith and our well being into God’s hands each and every day.  No matter what is happening in our lives and indeed how we feel about, it we are to claim the promises of God and hold on to them.  God loves us.  God knows us.  He promises that nothing will ever befall us that cannot be overcome with Him at our side[5].  We are to believe that God will act in His time and while we may have definite thoughts about when and how God should act, we are called to trust and be patient. 

We read in Psalm 147:1-11, 20 (which is listed in the lectionary for today), that we are admonished to ‘praise the Lord’.  When we are suffering and in the midst of pain and trial we certainly may not feel like praising anyone – especially God.  In fact rather than praising God we may feel like lashing out at Him.  What we must understand here is that’s simply satan endeavouring to get into our minds through the circumstances that we are facing.  Remember that satan is the author of all evil, suffering and trial in the world. So rather than blaming God for any situation that we face remember where the blame rightly needs to be directed – right at the evil one.  We need to understand and appreciate that satan is the one who is the author of evil and it was humanity after all who foolishly disobeyed God’s direct command[6] and believed the lie[7].  We cannot blame God for the ills of this world; rather we are called to simply ‘praise the Lord’ – even in the midst of our troubles.  I did not say this will necessarily be easy – but it’s the most freeing thing you can do! 

Have you ever tried really praising the Lord when you are suffering?  Maybe you’ve never thought of praising God in these situations.  Of course it’s always easy to praise the Lord when things are going well in our life, but to praise Him when we are facing trials can be difficult. 

Can I encourage you to try this?  Try praising God in your suffering and I can promise you that you will notice a difference.  Things and circumstances will change as you praise the Lord. 

The Lord

“ … heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds”[8].  His “ … delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.”[9]

In the lectionary based Gospel reading for today we find Jesus’ solution to dealing with life when He was under pressure, had a lot to do or was really up against things. 

This is what Jesus did:

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray[10]

When Jesus was feeling ‘stretched to His limit’, what was His first reaction?  He knew the source of all temptations and He answered them with the Words of Scripture[11].  This is encouragement to each of us that we need to learn more from our Bibles.  We need for our own soul’s sake to be immersed in the words from Scripture so that during times of trial we have the spiritual resources at our finger tips. 

Secondly Jesus did not rail against satan for the problems and issues that He was facing.  Nor did He grumble against God when He was tempted, when He was suffering, when He was in pain.  Rather He turned to God and put His faith in Him.  Certainly He asked the Father to ‘take the cup from Him’[12], in other words, Jesus was asking that if there was a way around having to go to the cross, then that was Jesus’ preferred option. (This clearly shows us His humanity).  But then Jesus immediately followed up with words that showed a trust and a complete assuredness in God’s sovereign will and knowledge; Jesus acknowledged that it was God’s will, not His which should be done[13].  Even if that meant personal cost to redeem the world. 

Can you recall what happened next to Jesus whilst He was in the midst of this anguish? 

An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him[14]

That’s God’s promise to us – promise of strength not only to endure whatever it is that is besetting us, but the ability to grow in it and to emerge the ‘other side’.  And when we do emerge, it is as a stronger person.  Remember that diamonds are created from coal in the core of the earth by heat and pressure. 

It may be that we do not get our answers as quickly as Jesus did.  However I can promise you this.  Waiting in prayer will help us discern what to do. 

When you exercise your God given faith such as has been described; that is a faith that can praise our Lord with confidence in the love that God has for each of us, then by God’s power you are able to lift your eyes from the besetting issues that are surrounding you, and indeed from your pain and gaze into the eyes of the One who knows what pain is and who has already given Himself and promised His presence to each of us. 

Jesus’ words in Scripture powerfully remind us:

But he [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.[15] 

You see it’s like this.  God created you to soar like an eagle rather than live your life defeated and like turkeys.  You were made to soar on eagle’s wings – not scratch around in the dirt like a turkey.  Turkey’s live their lives destined to wind up on a dinner plate somewhere.  You are created in the image of God[16] and are given dominion over all creation[17]. 

Under God we simply claim this gift of His and under Him we live it.  A life lived separately from God is a life condemned to live as a turkey.  It is in the living under God that we do soar like an eagle. 

Amen. 

X The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. X

Information, illustrations, literature and themes, for this sermon are gleaned from a variety of sources.  If I have violated copyright held by an individual, then please contact the writer of the sermon and your source will be acknowledged, or removed at your request.


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[1] Isaiah  36:1

[2] Isaiah 37:6,7

[3] Psalm 37:3 (NIV)

[4] Jeremiah 29:11ff

[5] 1 Corinthians 10:13

[6] Genesis 2:17

[7] Genesis 3:4,5

[8] Psalm 147:3 (NLT)

[9] Psalm 147:11 (NLT)

[10] Mark 1:35 (NLT)

[11] Matthew 4:3-11

[12] Luke 22:42

[13] Luke 22:42

[14] Luke 22:43 (NIV)

[15] 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

[16] Genesis 1:26

[17] Genesis 1:28

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