February 5, 2023

Over the last several weeks as we have talking about being AWAKE… We have looked at the Magi and their wake-up call. We were called to Rise and Shine our light by Isaiah and through Jesus’ baptism and ours. Then to be wide awake with Samuel and to speak “Lord your servant is listening.” And last week we were called to Move with God through the story of Jonah thanks to Jeff for leading us.

Now it is time focus on God. The prophecy of Isaiah in chapter 40 is during a very dark time in the nation of Judah. God had delivered them from the Assyrian Army decades ago, but Judah has continued in sin and been judged. Isaiah had prophesied and it is now happening that Babylon has come to destroy them and  taking everything of value and beauty from them. 

But, in this passage God is telling them that they have sinned in trusting in their own strength and in their political alliances instead of trusting in Him. And out of the darkest of times in the life of Judah, God’s Word comes as a message of hope to them through Isaiah. Are you in your own dark place right now? You’re struggling under a load that is killing you. You’ve tried everything you know to do, but still you feel there is no hope. You don’t know what to do! You can’t seem to focus. If this describes your situation, hold on and listen, God has a Word for you and all of us.

In today’s scripture from Isaiah the prophet in a string of rhetorical questions, reminds his hearers that:

1. The word of our God will not fail (Isaiah 40:8) 

2. The LORD God will come with a strong hand, vs 10  and feed His flock like a shepherd (Isaiah 40:11).

3. Our God ALONE is the Creator of the Universe (Isaiah 40:12-14)

4. The nations are no threat to Him (Isaiah 40:15-17);

Then as we come to today’s passage:

1. the prophet scolds the fearful for not understanding (Isaiah 40:21); And the same God who has brought out the host of heaven, calling stars and constellations into existence so that not one is missing (Isaiah 40:26),

2. has never stopped watching over His own people (Isaiah 40:27-28).

Then Isaiah says Is 40:28a Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Isaiah is excited about something good. He wants to share some awesome news. Have you ever wanted to share some great news?  A proposal of marriage. A pregnancy. Good news about your health. You want to tell everybody. Isaiah’s news is much better. His news is that there is hope for those who are living in defeat. Broken-hearted. Weary of the struggle. Those that feel there is no hope and no use to even try again. Those whose problems and burdens are to big to solve. What is this news? 

First thatOUR GOD IS POWERFULLY ABLE when we focus on God.

Is 40:28b The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn’t grow tired or weary. 

What are God’s attributes that Isaiah mentions?

1. Everlasting God- the only God there’s ever been or will be!

2. The Lord- He is Supreme and everything is under His authority.

3. The Creator- if He created it, He owns it. 

4. All Powerful- never tires. Always able.

Then we also learn that Our God wants to share His Power with us.

Is 40:29 giving power to the tired and reviving the exhausted. God is not content to merely hold onto His power within Himself. He takes great delight in empowering His children to do the works of God. He took Moses, a weak man unable to even speak well, and gave him the power to part the waters so Israel could walk across on dry land. He empowered a normal man, Samson, to destroy thousands of His enemies single handedly. He transformed the teenage boy, David, into a killer of giants and King. God takes great pleasure in empowering the ordinary to do the extraordinary. What is this news?

Second OUR FLESH IS MISERABLY WEAK when we don’t focus on God.

Is 40:30 Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, In vs 29, Isaiah told us God offers His strength to us. But verse 30 tells us we often fail God in 2 ways when we operate in own power. We give out. We can only do things in our own strength for so long before we grow weary and tired. We Stumble badly. We fall into sin because of pride, discouragement. Not focusing. What is this news?

Third when we focus on God we FIND NEW STRENGTH IN THE LORD.

Is 40:31 but those who hope ( who wait) in the Lord will renew their strength God is promising us God’s power at work in our lives, but it comes with a single condition: that we “wait on the Lord.”What does this mean? not merely sitting around waiting and doing nothing. “Waiting on the Lord” means we have an attitude and practice of living in complete dependence on the Lord and a willingness to allow Him to determine our path in life. We have to focus on what God wants. You have a choice in life. You can do it your own way or God’s way. Look at your life up to now. Has it always been smooth sailing doing it your own way? Why not try God’s way for a change? What kind of strength does God promise those that “wait on the Lord”? They will fly up (mount up) with wings like eagles God promises spiritual renewal. The Word Eagle or Eagles appear many times throughout the Word of God. For example, God is compared to an eagle training its young to fly in Exodus 19:4. You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you  (bared you) up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me.. Eagles teach their young to fly by creating an air current which lifts the trailing eaglet – That is the eagle which carries its young upon its back.  “and brought you unto myself.” God is intimate in relationship with his children. Eagles are often used as an allegory to the spiritual condition of God’s people, and the call for us to examine our current spiritual status as opposed to where God would have us be.

And I found the design and characteristics of eagles can give us great insight into several truths about growing as Christians. Have you ever watched an Eagle fly?  Eagles are different from other birds in many respects…especially in the way they fly. Some birds must beat their wings constantly to stay aloft like the hummingbird. Eagles are included in a group of birds that, once aloft, can actually gain altitude without beating their wings. Eagles can fly up to 10,000 feet! Nearly 2 miles! They do this not by frantically beating their wings but by receiving a lift from God’s design. They spread their wings and soar along being kept uplifted by the winds under their wings. 

Their flight is effortless. They ride thermals, rising currents of warm air. They can make the most of these thermals simply by spreading their wings. — How beautiful is this truth? Other types of flight cannot get the eagle to such great heights. And they can reach speeds of over 150 miles per hour and can dive at over 200 miles per hour. That is what it is like when we are focused on God. 

Many people think that spiritual growth must be accompanied by frenzied activity. In fact, getting alone with God is the primer for Christian growth. God is trying to lift us up but we are so frantically beating our wings. We are riding spiritual highs and bottoming out only to work as hard as we can to get back to where we know we should be. 

But even as we are moving higher we must know a second truth about the eagle.  The eagle has powerful vision and focus. And they have 270-degree peripheral vision.  And a clear membrane that protects its eye. They have keen eye sight and acute depth perception – they can focus on a rabbit from 2 miles away. The eagle is the ruler of the sky and nothing escapes its vision or eyesight. It is their eagle eye focus that allows them to do what they do. It is our focus on God that gives us clarity of calling. Isaiah 40 then shifts from the experience of eagles to the experience of humanity…running and walking. they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary. We are running and getting tired; we are walking and becoming weary. See?  But when we place ourselves in the flow of God’s love and instruction daily we find ourselves higher and higher. We find we are gaining new strength. How much time are you spending with the Lord? It is the time with God that spiritually spreads our wings and allows us to catch the lift God supplies.

But there is one last characteristic of eagles that spoke to me the most about our spiritual walk and focus though…The eagle replaces its feathers each year – during a process called molting. But it is said that an Eagle at the age of 30-50,  flies to a high place and there it endures a much harder and harsh trial of endurance and change. Because it’s wellbeing is now at risk. They can live to 70 if they make this hard decision.

By their middle age the eagle’s feathers lose their luster. It can’t fly and soar as high because its feathers are overgrown. So, it plucks all the feathers from its body. The eagle’s claws have become dull. It is now having a hard time catching its prey, its blessings. It plucks its talons from its feet because the talons have grown curled and useless. Its beak has grown too long and curled. The eagle’s beak becomes so dull It can no longer rip through its prey as it once did. When this happens, it affects its meals. So it breaks its beak against a rock. 

Defenseless, it cries out and waits for the time of renewal. Other Eagles hear its cry, and come to aid. They fly overhead, scaring off predators, and they bring food to their incapacitated friend. So it is never alone. 

God made a way for us too. The molting stage is a process of renewal — God has provided for in the eagle. But in order to be renewed, the eagle must be humbled. Our molting stage is a time of prayer and focusing on our what needs to change in our spiritual life.  

Psalm 103:4-5 which also talks about eagles tells us what will happen then…

4 saves your life from the pit, crowns you with faithful love and compassion, and satisfies you with plenty of good things  so that your youth is made fresh like an eagle’s.

Humbled and rededicated the eagle’s vision becomes clear and powerful again. Its beak and claws become sharp again. Its feathers fill in and began to shine again.  He has regained his luster and come spring, he can rise up and soar high with victory and strength. The eagle now looks like he did in days of his youth. The Glory days have returned!

So the question is are you where you should be, not where you want to be and are you focused on God? Don’t settle for spiritual complacency.  Rise up on the wings of eagles…Are you ready to soar?