Summary: The message out of Isaiah is "There is a right way and a wrong way to get what you want out of life." What had Judah done wrong... and what could they do to change their destiny?"
OPEN: (Show 5:30 minute clip from “Cool Runnings” – the section where bobsled team crashes in their final run... but they refuse to admit defeat. They pick up their damaged bobsled and carry it across the finish on their shoulders. Make sure to include the section where the team shouts their battle-cry before the race: “Respect.” Also, see the note at the end of this sermon)
APPLY: The movie “Cool Runnings” was loosely based on a true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
In the movie practically everyone looked down on their team. Their coach was a disgraced bobsledder who’d been kicked out of the sport for cheating. Their team was a sloppy group of black men from a country which had never seen snow, let alone a bob-sled. And the sled they used was a rebuilt and repainted reject that failed them in the final run.
By all reasonable expectations, they shouldn’t have been able to compete that year. But, because...
· they didn’t cheat
· they didn’t complain
· they didn’t give up…
…because of HOW they ran their race, they gained the one thing that mattered most to them: admiration and respect. (Make note of their battle-cry of “Respect”).
One of the underlying messages from the movie was: there is a right way… and a wrong way to get what you want in life.
I. What is it you want most out of life?
Some people want Love
Others seek Financial Security
The Bible says “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4
It is God’s desire to give you your desire
But there is a caveat. There is a condition that we must consider.
Let’s rephrase that verse and look at it in reverse:
“He will give you the desires of your heart IF you delight yourself in the LORD.” Psalms 37:4
The problem is, many people (even Christians) want what they want on OWN terms… not God’s. They either don’t want to wait on God, OR they don’t want to live under God’s authority and leadership. So they’ll seek other ways to obtain what they want in life.
That’s what Judah had done. And the message out of Isaiah 40 is this: THERE’S A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO GET WHAT YOU DESIRE IN LIFE.
And Judah had gone about pursuing their goals in entirely the wrong way.
II. For some time Judah had been pursuing:
They were a small kingdom surrounded by larger and more powerful nations, and they felt weak and threatened.
It was almost as if they were “running a race” and they believed that they needed every advantage they could find… so they sought to strengthen themselves by invoking the names of other gods and by making alliances with pagan nations.
Why would they do this?
This was Judah. They were people of God. Why on earth would they turn their back on God and seek out other sources of power?
1st – it is hard to ignore the dangers that surrounded us.
To the north of Judah there was an empire called Babylon. It was a powerful kingdom. It had a fearsome army and a reputation of destroying any nation in their path… and Judah was smack dab in Babylon’s way.
Now, I have to admit to you that it’s hard for me not to sympathize with Judah’s fears. They lived in a very real world filled with very real dangers.
ILLUS: A former police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department - Bob Vernon - tells of how the Department would demonstrate to rookie officers the value of the bullet-proof vests they’d be issued. The vests were placed on mannequins and then officers would fire round after round into the vests. The rookies were asked to check to see if any of the rounds had penetrated the vests.
Invariably the vests would pass the test with flying colors. Vernon would turn to the rookie officers and ask, “So who wants to wear a vest and let us test how it works on you?
How many of you would put on those vests and allow marksmen to take a shot at you? (No one raised their hands). I don’t blame you. You could cover my entire body with that armor – and I’d still hesitate to put it on and let them shoot at me.
Because it’s one thing to “say” I have faith
It’s quite another to actually act on that faith.
You see, this world can be dangerous place. And the things that we desire in life can often be threatened by powers beyond our own strength. We might lose our jobs, our relationships, our families. At times like these it’s easy to panic. It’s easy to take our eyes off of God’s faithfulness and begin to look around for other forms of power and security.