Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Secret to Greater Strength

I shared with a group from our church today. The thoughts motivated me so much that I wanted to share them with those few who may read this blog.

Isaiah 40:31- But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I want to show you one of the secrets to finishing well. I think this is one thing that may occupy the minds of all present. I know it is in my mind almost every week. I want to finish well. I want stay the course, to keep the right focus, and finish well.

I think we can apply this to three parts of the Christian life:

1. Spring – mount up with wings as eagles. These are the warrior years. We have the passion of the greatest of the birds. We soar high and far. No challenge is too great. We are ready to charge forward in the strength of the Lord.

2. Summer – run, and not be weary. These are the working years. As we look forward we realize not much is left. As we look backward, we see where God has brought us. And we want to take advantage of every single day while we can. So we set a pace that lets us work hard and steady in the kingdom of God.

3. Winter – walk, and not faint. These are the wisdom years. We have learned to pace ourselves. We measure each step carefully, but do not fail in it. We see the Great City not far ahead and we want to reach it without growing tired of the life Christ has given us to live.

The operative promise is to renew our strength. The Hebrew word for “renew” means, “To replace with something better.” God takes away one kind of strength and replaces it with another.

The Lord has a lot to say about strength. Let me remind you of a text I preached in 2008 while furloughing here: Ps. 84:7 - They go from strength to strength, appearing in Zion before God. God wonderfully and miraculously gives you the kind of strength you need for each day and each situation and each stage of your life.

One kind of strength is praise – God inhabits the praises of his people.

Another kind of strength is grace – Be strong in the grace that is in the Lord Jesus.

Another kind of strength is God’s word itself (compared to meat, manna, and milk).

This is all conditional. There is a process. I want to show you the secret: you have to wait upon the Lord. For these things to happen, we must wait on the Lord. How do you wait on the Lord?

You look for him. I don’t mean necessarily “search for him,” though sometimes you have to do that, too. I mean you keep an eye peeled for him. I was given lookout detail more than once when I we went to sea. I would stand on the wing of the bridge on the ship with binoculars and look for small craft that may escape radar as we put out to sea. Sometimes we would scan the skies for low-flying spy planes while out at sea. The thing that both had in common was that we had to keep our eyes open. Waiting on the Lord implies you keep your eyes open, looking for him.

Waiting on the Lord means to wait eagerly. How excited are you about meeting with the Lord? You should be waiting eagerly.

Waiting on the Lord means to wait expectantly. It means to hope for his coming. Now I am not speaking about the second coming, though I wait for that. I am speaking about when I pray I expect that God will show up. When I come here to worship on Sundays and Wednesdays, I expect God to show up. If you don’t come here expecting God to show up, you will probably miss him when he does.

Do you remember Elisha’s waiting for Elijah to be taken? Elijah told Elisha he would have that double portion of strength (spirit) if he saw Elijah being taken away from him. So Elisha looked expectantly. He looked eagerly. They tried to distract him on the one side. They tried to distract him on the other. But Elisha persevered. They tried discouragement when distraction did not work. But Elisha persevered. Soon Elisha saw the chariot of fire, drawn by horses of fire. Behind it was a whirlwind. Before anyone knew it, Elijah was gone. But there stood Elisha, watching the whole thing. He saw it because he looked for it. He waited for it.

You and I will be renewed if we wait eagerly and expectantly. That, good friend, is the secret to greater strength.

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