As Christians, we live a life of tension, caught between the glorious truths of Scripture whilst living in a broken, sin-tainted and task-driven world. Discovering what it means to be seated with Christ in heavenly places right here, and now has its own challenges, as does the truth that we are full of joy unspeakable. You will have certainly experienced the conflict of heart as you discover in the apostle Paul’s teaching that you died to sin, and don’t need to live in it any more.
These truths, and many more besides are a profound treasure both in our times of trial and moments of delirious joy! The bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, and in it, He is revealing awesome truth of the realities that though we do not necessary ‘feel’ right now, they are nevertheless, stark realities for us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. God has done a work that is beyond our comprehension, and we are learning to live not just in those verisimilitudes, but in the full expression and reality. i
The answer to these things is that expositional preaching opens the word of God to us in a way that topical preaching does not.
I was recently challenged as I read through Isaiah and came across Isaiah 40:30-31. It was the first passage of scripture that I ever preached upon and as I mused over it I placed the verse in the balances. Promise and reality are not the best weights to judge our position with or the deep and wonderful exhortation of scripture, but Isaiah shares God’s remedy for prevailing weakness, and his assertion is felt with every weighty word. These are not words given to excite a ‘give it a go’ mentality, neither are they a ‘mind over matter’ approach. They are simply the remedy, but they are the remedy
Dealing with weariness
If you feel faint, weary or exhausted this is your medicine. Nothing works better – not aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen, a long night’s undisturbed sleep, or a holiday in the sun or the snow.
So what can we learn from this famous Isaiah 40 text?
- 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
– Old people are expected to be frail, or prone to weakness, but Isaiah asserts the truth that at times, even youths and young men will be faint, weary or exhausted. Not what you expect to hear – but God fully and intimately knows His creation. Against how they should be, how He intended, they are not always as fit, strong and persevering as they should be. Stamina is a factor. In prayer and issues of faith we are all on a level playing field. Whilst we are to walk by faith and not by sight, we face hardship or conflict and quickly grow tired, and just give up. Luke’s encouragement is paramount here; “Men ought always to pray and never give up”. And that is where Isaiah is leading us to…
- 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
– One of the things that Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones gave great emphasis to was whenever and wherever you encounter the phrases, “but” or “therefore”, to give due diligence to the context of what was written. Isaiah, under God’s inspiration is saying in the face of weakness, faintheartedness that there is something else afoot, a promise, a premise. But! This is the great contrast. The ones who wait for the Lord are different. They act differently to those who are staggering along in weakness. When we seek the Lord in prayer we find him.
Isaiah knows this as a fact. He’s an authentic prophet, not moved by fanciful quips and quotes and the logic of his own understanding. He knows the inspiration of the Spirit.These verses are loaded with promise and hope. They are promises based on revelation and in Isaiah’s case, experience. If you wait on God things happen.
There is a distinct difference between waiting on God, waiting and waiting and waiting – and pausing. Pausing is what happens in most of our church meetings. God must fit into the time-driven agenda of the church, and then we wonder why God did not ‘do His great and noble work’ in the time allocation we allotted for Him during the short moment we allowed Him. The Creator subject to the creation.
If there was a ‘revolution” I would commend it is this, don’t do things, share things. speak things until you feel that God is doing those things. For too long we have lived the lie of seeker-friendly services, coming to men on their terms, doing things that are more acceptable to them rather than God, or at least acting like middle-men in some kind of negotiation factor where man determines what God can or cannot do before they are happily prepared to accept the life that He alone has purchased by His own blood, and which He gives on His own merit.
No wonder the fool thinks that salvation is on his own merit and works.
Promise and hope
There is promise too. If you will seek God, really seek God you will be strengthened, soar like an eagle not a penguin, You will do what you cannot do, and you will do what you never imagined possible.
If you will wait on God… that speaks to me of hours of prayer, days of fasting – a radical passion for God, with a blazing heart for Him and His purposes, then all things will be possible.
A blazing fire
If you have read this far, my guess is that you are in less than 1% of the Church. I urge you – take everything to heart and seek God like never before. Be a blazing fire in the hand of God. Expect miracles, signs and wonders. Read the promise again, and believe it. It is true. If it is not then you have to question whether God has actually saved you. It’s that serious and that radical.
Wait on God, because it really is true.
- Versimilitude appears to be my latest discovery. (back)