How To Renew Your Strength With God
February 5, 2012
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
The Amazing Text
Today we are studying a text that was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born - a text that the very eyes of Jesus surely read. It is a text that must have made the heart of Jesus beat with energetic strength, because within these words, Jesus saw Himself. We are reading from the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah has been called "the fifth Gospel" by some people. What an interesting title to give to this prophet! Why is he called the fifth Gospel? Well, it is because he lived 300 years before Jesus and yet had all these insights about Christ. Also, we know that Jesus loved reading the Book of Isaiah, He knew it quite well. So in reading from Isaiah your eyes behold the same scripture that the eyes of Jesus Christ beheld. To know that we are encountering the same ideas that Jesus encountered, brings us closer to Him.
The Reward of Waiting for the Lord
Let’s take a look at this scripture which is sparkling like a radiant gem.
The Lord is the everlasting, God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those 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.
The good news from this Bible reading this morning is this: friend, your strength can be renewed. Your energy can be restored. We can have new vigor for living. Isn't that something we can use? Let’s explore this together.
Isaiah is saying that if we thought strength and energy and vigor only belong to the young people, well, that is not quite the case. He is saying that youth is not a prerequisite. Strength, energy and vitality are available to all of us. Isaiah is saying that this energy, strength and power is available to those who "wait for the Lord."
What does it mean to "wait for the Lord?" It is simply a phrase that means those who anticipate the help of God. In that phrase there is also the notion of putting God first. If you are going to pick up someone at the airport, you usually wind up "waiting" for them. You have every trust that they will show up. Perhaps you are thinking about how good it will be to see them, and what joy there will be in that meeting. You are making the way easy for them to enter into your vehicle. You are "waiting" for them with joyful anticipation.
Isn’t it true that when you go to a restaurant that the waiter or waitress can make or break the meal? A "wait person" who is devoted to their guest makes sure that you feel like the only person there. They give their full attention to your needs. In turn, we feel very benevolent towards them. So it is with us and God. As we serve the Lord, there is a blessing that comes. That blessing is one of renewed strength.
Peter's Mother In Law Was a "Wait Person"
In the Gospel today we hear about Peter’s mother in law. She was ill, sick with the fever. When Peter and his friends came home from church, they were hungry. But Peter’s mother in law was weary. Then Jesus touched her hand and she was filled with energy and strength. She rose up and served them! And so it is with us. When we serve the Lord, when we put God first, when we turn to the Lord, there is new power, new vigor, new energy in your spirit!
What Kind of Strength are We Talking About?
Isaiah goes on to describe the energy to us.
Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those 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.
What's It Like?
Isaiah is saying that when you serve the Lord, it shouldn’t be dreary, it shouldn’t be exhausting, it shouldn’t be depleting. It should be energizing! When you turn to the Lord there is an energy that comes to you that is like mounting up on eagle’s wings. He is saying that there is a reward that comes from serving the Lord.
Let me ask you this-did you ever have a flying dream? Aren’t they great? I wish I had more of them. In your dream, may be you are running along and all of a sudden you leap up and are flying through the air. You are looking down upon the earth, the green valleys, the tall mountains. You are seeing the colors of red and orange and gold in the sunrise. What a good feeling it is, you want the dream to continue.
Well, Isaiah is saying that when we wait for the lord, when we turn to God, that is the kind of feeling that should be in our heart. Faith and religion should not be dreary. A joyless Christian is a contradiction in terms. There is energy in store for you, my friends.
Tools for Tapping In to God's Energy
Let me give you three tools that I believe will help you tap into that energy. The three tools are: Freedom, Hope and Companionship.
First of all, God gives us energy by giving us Freedom inside. When you look at a bird soaring through the air, I have never seen an eagle with luggage, have you? (Congregation laughs) The eagle flies free and we can take a hint from that. Forgiveness brings freedom. Maybe we need to learn to forgive and let go. If someone has wronged you in some way-just let it go. What freedom that will bring to you! Have you ever had the joy of saying, “I am really sorry, I never meant to hurt you. Will you forgive me, are we still friends? ” What joy we receive when the other person responds, “Yes, we are still friends.” And what joy you can have when you "let go" inside, and let the situation fly free!
Secondly, a Christian is a person who should always have something to look forward to. It could be as simple as your morning coffee, a meal with a friend, a good book to read, a happy possibility. A Christian always looks for a joyful destination. This gives us energy and Hope. Joyful foresight, we can call it. It can turn a dreary day bright. Hope is the rehearsal of a positive possibility. The scripture says, "They shall mount up on wings like eagles." Notice the future tense. Set a good goal, and go after it. Find a need, and plan to meet it; find a hurt, and plan to heal it. It brings us hope, and energy from Above.
The third tool is that a Christian always has companionship. You never face life alone. You go through life with Jesus. Jesus said, “I will be with you always.”
There is a story about a young boy named Henry.
Henry had a challenge to face.
Every day he had to pass by an old, spooky, abandoned house on his way home from school.
Going past this old house scared him.
The very thought of it made him worried for a long time before even going home each day.
He told each of his three brothers.
The oldest brother said, "I know it gets dark early, and that makes it spookier. Here, I'll give you a flash light. Then you won't be scared."
Henry thanked him.
The second brother said, "Of course you're scared - someone could jump out of that house at you. I will give you a big stick, and they you will be able to defend yourself.
Henry thanked him.
The youngest brother said, "Henry, I don't have a flash light or a stick to give you. But every day, I will wait for you on the corner, and walk with you past the scary house. Maybe if we walk together, it won't be so scary." Henry thanked him.
Which gift do you think Henry appreciated the most?
I'll leave that to you.
Jesus said, "I am with you always."
Companionship makes it easier to face the hard things in life.
With Jesus you are never alone. His companionship gives us positive energy.
Freedom, Hope and Companionship come to you when you wait - anticipate - the presence of the Lord.
May you be blessed right now to welcome the presence of God in your heart, and
To accept the renewed strength, determination, and energy that He has in store.
… those 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…
God loves you. I do, too, Friend. I wish you a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2012 Anthony J. Godlefski