Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God wants us to grow in Godly attributes so we can fly like eagles rather than go on scratching like chickens

Stiffkey/Saxlingham 24-05-02

Isaiah 40:27-31

Story: Eric Liddell

Many of you will have seen the film "Chariots of Fire".

For those of you who don’t know the story, the film is about the competition between two runners, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell. And film works towards their apparently inevitable clash in the prestigious 100 metres finals in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

However, that contest never took place. Eric Liddell was a committed Christian and took the Ten Commandments very seriously, including the fourth commandment – to “keep the Sabbath holy to God”.

As one of the qualifying heats for the 100 metres was on a Sunday, Liddell refused to run and so had to withdraw from the 100 metres.

Liddell was probably the fastest man alive at that

time and had been the favourite to win it for


The Press and even the Prince of Wales tried to talk him into running on the Sunday but he refused.

Instead, on the Sunday morning of the 100 metres heats, he went to the Scottish Presbyterian church in Paris.

And the text of the Scripture that he read was from Isaiah 40 – our OT reading today. And the final verse of Isaiah 40 seem to sum up the situation

31. "But those who hope in the Lord...will run and not grow weary"

One of the other British athletes pulled out of the 400 metres and Liddell was given his place – even though he had never ever run a 400 metres race.

And God honoured Liddell for his stand on the Sabbath. Liddell got into the 400 metres final. Although he was not favourite, he won the race. He ran the 400 metres at a 100 metres pace. To experts of the time, they thought he was running the first 100 metres far too fast and would tire later in the race.

But Liddell did not tire, he did not grow weary. He won with a new world record. As one of the sports commentators of the day said: Liddell seemed to gather strength from somewhere to keep going.

I would like to look at the final verse of the lesson that Liddell read in the Scottish Presbyterian Church in Paris on that Sunday in 1924

- Isaiah 40: 31

But those who wait upon the Lord

Will renew their strength

They will soar on wings like eagles

They will run and not grow weary

They will walk and not be faint.

1. They that wait upon the Lord

If you are anything like me, you’ll want to do. I want to get on and DO IT.

Yet the paradox in the Christian life is that by waiting - we succeed. God will give us strength when we RELY on him.

As Christians God wants us to rely on him, whatever we are doing.

Story: Even as I was preparing the sermon this week and nothing came – I waited on the Lord to give me something to say. And then it came on Thursday night.

As we look to Him, He will give us the strength to continue. Even when we are tempted to give in. There are times when we want to chuck the towel in - yet when we look to our Lord, he will RENEW our strength.

2. They will soar on wings like eagles.

I wonder if you have ever seen the Bumper sticker that says:

“Do you want to fly with the eagles or scratch with the chickens.”

I know which I want to do!!!

As Christians, we have the right as children of God, to soar like eagles. Why because our source of strength comes from God – from Jesus.

Isaiah 40 tells us that if we want to soar like the eagle – we need to wait upon God to renew our strength.

The eagle is a majestic bird. It has always been a symbol of power and majesty.

The standard of the Roman legions bore an eagle.

The eagle was the symbol on the coat of arms of the German Kaisers, the Austrian emperors and Russian Czars- and even the Old Guard of Napolean’s army used it.

And interestingly many of the lecterns in Anglican parishes bear the symbol of the eagle – symbolizing the power and majesty of God’s word – the Bible.

Story: A flying eagle is a magnificent sight. He soars in the air above us. But it does just happen overnight. An eagle has to learn to fly.

The eagle is an interesting bird. It makes its nest from briars and thorns and then lines the nest with animal skin - to stop the thorns and briars hurting the newly hatched eaglets.

For the eaglets - this is the life. Mum brings the food and the eaglet hangs around the nest getting fat.

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