Title: Renewing Ourselves in God’s Greatness
Scripture: Isaiah 40: 27 – 31
Preacher: Mr Yap Chee Kai
1.1 A Holocaust-survivor, Viktor Frankl, testified “hope” in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning–to live beyond the barbed wire is what makes the difference between the living and the dead.
1.2 In The Imitation of Christ, Thomas Kempis says, “it is vanity to seek after, and trust in, the riches that shall perish, for they who follow after their own fleshly lusts, defile the conscience and destroy the grace of God”.
1.3 In today’s passages, Isaiah uncovers three simple steps from turning away our despair towards renewal in hope of God’s greatness.
2.0 OUR DESPAIR (v.27)
2.1 Verse 27 asserted a poignant tone to both the prisoners and the Jews in their captivity.
2.2 Isaiah admonishes us the danger of two kinds of doubt. One is the struggling faith, and the latter is the cynical defiance.
2.3 Isaiah’s explication on the danger of two kinds of doubt; a struggling faith and a cynical defiance.
2.4 God reminded the Jews about their identity and His covenant.
2.5 Reflecting on Jean’s passing of what it truly means by surrendering entirely to the will of God.
2.6 Just like Jean and Job, God’s presence is our complete assurance, which leads us to His greatness.
3.0 GOD’S GREATNESS (vv.28–29)
3.1 Everything that matters in life hinges on who God is. Four things as illustrated by Isaiah in verse 28.
3.2 Firstly, God is eternal, everlasting: He is above both space and time.
3.3 Secondly, God is the Creator of everything.
3.4 Thirdly, God never faints or becomes weary: He is always at work.
3.5 And fourthly, God is wise and his understanding is unsearchable.
3.6 God not only shares his strength with us, but also renews us in our weakness (v.29).
3.7 The words “faint” and “be/grow weary” is the key to these passages–occurring seven times.
3.8 Who are “the faint” (v.29)? They were the complainers (v.27).
3.9 How are these people, faint, weak and weary? They are weak in faith in their spiritual life and in courage.
3.10 Yet, God wants to renew us just like the weak and weary–to give us hope and a future.
3.11 How does the God do this? This leads us to the final point in the last two verses.
4.0 OUR RENEWAL (vv.30–31)
4.1 In verse 30, Isaiah warns us it is folly to depend on our strength. There is power beyond ourselves and we can experience it.
4.2 In the final verse, Isaiah is not merely enabling those who draw strength from his promise, [period]….no, but to do the impossible.
4.3 Our confidence in God is not a matter of willpower but of expectancy.
4.4 The key word is “wait”. To wait for the Lord means to live with tension of promises revealed, but yet to be fulfilled.
4.5 It is waiting with eager longing. It is “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, press on toward the goal…’ (Phil.3:13, 14). It is steady, bumpy progress, yet we are transformed into Christ likeness “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor.3:18).
4.6 The “how” question is answered in this word “wait”.
4.7 The question is: are you willing to wait, to let God set his pace? Or are you such a controller that you can’t live on God’s terms? Does your heart prize him as worth the wait?
4.8 Consider this church; following Christ is not a way to cut a deal with God for an easier life now. Imperatively, it is what renews us to live for our eternal reward in the future.
4.9 How can we experience more of what Isaiah has to offer us today? We need to ask ourselves two critical pastoral questions.
4.10 Firstly, do I believe that God can choose a quitter like me and make him a hero? And secondly, have I deliberately shifted the loyalty of my heart from the false glory of this world to the coming glory of the Lord?
4.11 God has promised Christ’s salvation for us. Is that where we ought to stake our joy and hope?
5.1 Let me close with Jean’s reflection.
5.2 The story offers us a profound pastoral lesson: “when we serve the sick, we are tied to a God who cares about human suffering . . . as a result of my malignancy experience, I have drawn to the world of the sick, forlorn, and terrified. I desire to use my wounds as a source to lead others to healing, to which I imply that I desire to know Christ and His comfort. . .and I can be well simply by diligence in being who I am right then and there”.
5.3 The lesson offers us, we can be simply well when are ill–the wholeness and hope in spite of infirmity.
5.4 If we “will” just like Viktor Frankl and Jean that longing for God and submission to his will, God will not just lift us and renew us but also He will transform us into His greatness.
5.5 What would be your response? Are you willing to live beyond the barbed wire, to set your eyes on things above and allow God to renew your spirit to experience His greatness? Let us pray.
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