Summary: Part 3 in a series from Isaiah 40


Part 3-Gaining Altitude

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pastor Brian Matherlee

Isaiah 40:31(New American Standard Bible)

“Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

Isaiah’s words shift from the experience of eagles to the experience of humanity…running and walking. But I would like us to use the concept of gaining altitude for our time this morning. The design of eagles can give us great insight into several truths about growing as Christians.

1. God enables us to gain altitude.

a. Eagles are different from other birds in many respects…especially in the way they fly.

i. Some birds must beat their wings constantly to stay aloft. (i.e. the hummingbird)—many people think that spiritual growth must be accompanied by frenzied activity. In fact, getting alone with God is the primer for Christian growth. Doing must always flow out of being.

ii. Most birds beat their wings to get aloft and glide until they need to gain more altitude.—here are Christians operating in crisis mode. It’s all ups and downs. I do well for a while and then I must work so hard to get back where I was!

iii. Eagles are included in a group of birds that, once aloft, can actually gain altitude without beating their wings. They ride thermals. These are rising currents of warm air. They can make the most of these thermals simply by spreading their wings.—How beautiful is this truth? Other types of flight cannot get the eagle to such great heights. Eagles can fly up to 10,000 feet! Nearly 2 miles! They do this not by frantically beating their wings but by receiving a lift from God’s design.

b. God is trying to lift us up but we are so frantically beating our wings. We are riding spiritual highs and bottoming out only to work as hard as we can to get back to where we know we should be.

c. We are running and getting tired; we are walking and becoming weary.

d. But when we place ourselves in the flow of God’s love and instruction daily we find ourselves higher and higher. We find we are gaining new strength.

e. How much time are you spending with the Lord? It is the time with God that spiritually spreads our wings and allows us to catch the lift God supplies.

…but even as we are moving higher we must know a second truth.

2. It’s not always smooth sailing, but you can make it.

a. There is no one in the Bible who was close to God that didn’t have tough times…including Jesus. You don’t sweat drops of blood as a sign of spiritual euphoria.

b. The Christian life can be turbulent. Satan comes against us. Normal highs and lows take place. But these things don’t have to stop our progress.

c. Eagles have nearly 7,000 feathers. God made them lightweight, flexible and strong. And the design of the feathers makes the eagle able to endure great turbulence in flight. The tips of the wings are tapered. When the eagle fully extends its wings the tips are widely spaced. It dramatically reduces turbulence and they can effectively hunt, fly into headwinds and soar.

d. We may have times we think we can’t make it. The scriptures give us some beautiful reminders:

i. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

ii. 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.”

iii. John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

iv. Where is the turbulence in your life today?

3. It’s the direction that counts.

a. We can fall into the mistaken notion that the Christian life should always be a spiritual high. This is simply not true.

b. Isaiah says sometimes we run and sometimes we walk.

c. I believe it is in the spirit of this verse that we get the direction right and know that in times of great growth (which are fewer and farther between) and in times of consistent growth (which is the ordinary, daily putting into practice of the Christian life) Godliness is the pursuit.

d. The food of eagles is on the ground. We can’t fly high all the time.

I asked you at the beginning of this series a simple question. Do you have faith enough to believe that your best spiritual days are ahead of you? Why not make that your prayer.

God help me to hope in you for my best spiritual days to lie ahead of me.

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