Beth Moore - Lift Up Your Eyes, Part 5
So Isaiah 40 and you get to just plant yourself right there so I'd like to hear a couple of different things from you so that we can review it because the more we review it, the more you say it, particularly the more you write it, the more it's locking down in your consciousness and getting down in the gray matter of our brain. So would you tell me what our two key words were for Isaiah chapter 40. There's two key things, two key attributes of God. What are the two words? Transcendence and immanence. And please, tell me what transcendence is in short form. Existing outside of time and space. And what's the other word? Immanence. And tell me the short definition for it. Present within time and space.
So number one is what? God is both transcendent and immanent.
Number two is God is both Creator and Sustainer.
Number three, this is the long sentence: God is both... Does anybody love that point besides me? That God is both going before us and coming to get us.
And number four is what? God is both... Infinitely strong and immanently tender. I have got to know that. I have got to know that.
Now, look toward the very end of Isaiah, chapter 40, because if you're like me, when I started reading it last night, the part that was most familiar to you was right here at the end of it. And it is a promise to us and I want you to see it and we're gonna take it apart as much as our time will allow.
So it's going to start in verse 27. Isaiah 40, verse 27: "Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God'? Have you not known? Have you not heard? 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". Anybody? "To him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 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; and they shall walk and not faint".
Anybody love that besides me today? Anybody love that? I got to remind you what state these people are in because this is looking to a time, the prophecy that is in Isaiah chapter 40, is looking ahead to the time when they would very much be captive in Babylon and they would be absolutely miserable, absolutely miserable. And the promise would have to come back to them: "I have no intention of leaving you there, I will take you home," but I want you to hear with me, you can sit right where you are but I'm gonna read you just a couple of verses out of Psalm 137 and the reason why Psalm 137 is so significant to our story, and what we're in the middle of in Isaiah 40, is because it is written by the captive while they are there in Babylon. And it gives you some of the feeling there.
So I wanna read these verses to you. It says in verse 1, Psalm 137: "By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres," and it's like our harps. "For there our captors required of us songs, our tormentors, mirth, saying, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion!' How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land"? I wonder if that resonates with anybody in the room? Did you notice it said, "By". What were they sitting by in Babylon? Somebody tell me, anybody? "Sitting by the rivers in Babylon".
Why do you think they were sitting by those rivers? Well, they would have looked back over the great deliverance of God and their past. It would have been the time when they came out of Egypt and they were going to be chased by Pharaoh and his army and they came to the Red Sea and what happened was that God said to Moses, "Hold up your staff," and I mean, he held it up and those waters parted. And it said that they crossed over on dry ground. There's something marvelous about realizing that when they went across, it wasn't just that he parted the waters but literally he sucked the water out of the ground so they wouldn't be going, like, "Eugh". You know what I'm saying? Like, now it's like, "Move it, move it, move it". Because there were a lot of people that needed to go across and the waters, of course, came back together.
Same thing happens 40 years later when they're on the edge of Canaan, the Promised Land, only this time it's the River Jordan. Sure enough, it parts again. Only, this time, he tells the priest he's gonna call upon them for faith because he knows they're going to live by faith when they get in that Promised Land because he's shown them all manner of manna, in the wilderness they have had a cloudy pillar by day and fire by night. They've seen all manner of wonders but he knows now he's gonna take 'em into the land of milk and honey and they're gonna have to live by faith because they won't have those daily manifestations of his presence like they'd had before and so he, this time, tells the priest, "You go in that water and you touch your feet into it and then it will part," and that's exactly what it did. And they crossed over again.
So I wonder why they went and sat by this river, except to wait for it to part? And it doesn't. And sometimes, we think because God doesn't come along with the exact same miracle he did for us before, that we're not going to get that miracle at all. Oh, he had a miracle for them, all right. He literally was going to take a completely pagan king named Cyrus, the king of Persia, and he was gonna put it on his heart to free those captives and send them home by his decree. Waters wouldn't have parted, but he would very much perform a miracle. Maybe you keep looking for the same miracle over and over again and he's got something entirely new to show you. Maybe, maybe, maybe, what God wants to do for you, you have never seen in your life. Would anybody be open to that, anybody be open to that?
Looking back at Isaiah chapter 40, I want you to see that gorgeous reference: "mounting up with wings like eagles; running and being weary, and walking and not fainting". Now, notice that it is conditional. It says, "Those who wait upon the Lord, those who wait upon the Lord". It is the most gorgeous, gorgeous word. In Hebrew it is a word that means and really the Greek words for hope, also a wait, also mean very similar to the same thing as do the other Hebrew words that are also translated wait or hope. It means to wait with anxious expectation. It implies that it is a very confident hope, that you can know it's coming, that though it has not come, you can know that he promised it would. That when you're weary and you feel like you do not have the strength to go on, that you can know, Lord, I am trusting you for this, I know you will come through for me.
A couple of days ago went over a situation that I have. I just felt, like, "You know, I don't know if I have an ounce of strength left for this". Well, yes, I did. I just had to wait a few minutes on it. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Just that, Lord, just confessing to him over and over, this is what you promised me. This is what you've said. It's not a passive kind of waiting. It is a confident waiting, a confident kind of faith that says, "My God is well able and he will see me through. He will". I may feel like I do not have an ounce of strength right this moment, but my God knows my estate. He has promised to be my strength in weakness, and my God will come through for me.
And the beautiful thing about divine strength, listen to me. I wanna see some hands in this room. Have any of you, by God's power, that you know specifically it was God. You were in a relationship with him, you know that it was him. How many of you have gotten through something that you look back over the course of your life and think, "There is no conceivable way, none," anybody, anybody? What do you do with that? See, here's what happens. Here's what's so beautiful about that. This is why I don't just believe in Jesus. I know whom I believe and I'm persuaded that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day.
In other words, let me tell you something. Ain't no imaginary friend on earth can do for me what Jesus has done for me. There is not enough of a mind concentration focus, not enough of trying to call things into being on my own strength. Nobody could have done for me what Jesus has done for me. And when you know good and well he has given you the strength to endure something that you got to the other side of it and you knew you did not have it in you, you knew, you knew. There's nothing like that 'cause you're not laying in bed going, "I wonder if he's out there or not," because you knew that that very day he had made a miracle of you. Listen, sometime we want him to do a miracle out here so badly, "Perform a miracle, perform a"...
Do you know what he wants? I mean, he performs all sorts of things but he's looking for us to be a walking wonder. There is no, honestly, no excuse for my life except that Jesus is Lord. He loves me, that he's powerful and has mercy on me, and has given me divine strength, amen? My pastor, one time, said to us, "Do you know, you just walk with Jesus a long time and the thing about the Word and the Spirit is it falls fresh," 'cause it's like, you know, breath so it's just like, fresh. And I think it's different, it's distinct from everything else because of that capacity that an ancient word can still come to you with jus, like it was said this morning. And he said to us, he said, "Do you honestly, do you want to get to the end of your life, and your life to have been explainable"? And I was, like, you know, I told him at lunch, I don't know how anybody else reacted but I was all, like, "No, I do not". No, I don't. No, I don't. I don't know what that signs me up for. Life that's harder than I can live.
See, you can't do your calling. You're incapable of it. I'm incapable of mine. What we have been called to do before the foundation of the world is something only God can do through us. It's impossible for us. We have to allow him to do it through us, which mean it just pushes us sometimes to the absolute brink, but I can tell you this. When our lives are over, there'll be one excuse for him: Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord. That's it, that's it, that's what I'm looking for. I want you to watch this progression here because it seems like it's going from high to low. It seems like it's a digression because it talks about mounting up on wings like eagles and then running and not being weary, then walking and not fainting. So it's these big to medium to small, but I hope to be able to prove to you that perhaps the exact opposite is true when we're living it out.
So here's what I wanna do. I wanna bring up a couple of screens because I'd love for you, if you still have it in you, to fill this in. I want you to write down the words "fly," "run," and "walk," and each of them is gonna have a key word. Now what I'm hoping for, this is the teacher in me, that years from now, when you think about this verse or you hear someone speak of it, or it just comes back to your mind, that immediately you were able to think up these three key words and that it will stir you back up in your faith. So we've got three things here. It's talking about mounting up with wings like eagles. So, that's flying. And then it's talking about running and it's talking about walking.
Well, there are three ways, one word for each that we can remember what those things mean. Okay, key word, write under "Fly": effortlessness. The key word, the association that when you think, "What would it be like in this metaphor to mount up with wings like eagles". It's really fun. In one of the early manuscripts, it is translated "to sprout wings, to grow wings, and fly". It's kind of beautiful. I'm not sure it's sound, but it's beautiful. I'll tell you that, but it is the idea, this effortlessness, of God literally all we'd have to do is, like, just raise up our wings in this metaphor and his Spirit, the wind of his Spirit, would literally carry us.
Now, I'm gonna tell you 'cause I'm gonna try to throw out, this is a personal example and you think in terms of whatever your zone may be, that you love this. In whatever you have been called to do, many of you have been called to teach. Many of you have been called to minister in ways that you know are beyond you and called to do things that you know you cannot do. And there are times when you do them that you know that for whatever reason, in that moment it is absolutely effortless.
Now, for me and what I do, it's what I'm after more than anything else. If I could find a formula for it, I would do anything. I would absolutely do anything. I would twist myself into a pretzel if I ever figured out, listen, if you would fast three days and if you pray like this and if you wouldn't watch any TV, if I could think up a formula for what it would be like to simply go minister and when I do, all I have to do is stand there. Now, I've prepared. My notes are here. But all I have to do, literally, it's effortless. It's effortless. I mean, I'm just like raising my wings and I mean, his Spirit comes and it's up we go, and I don't even have to be self-conscious. It's where you just get to be freed from your own self and your own big ego and I don't have to be, like, pinned to my notes. It's just coming. Anybody know what I'm talking about?
That's what we're all, that's the high to me. That's when I would tell you there ain't no high like the Most High. When you do a work in his name that is literally for whatever reason taking nothing out of you, and you're just going, like, "What was that? What was that"? And after all that work you're energized instead of depleted. That's the fly zone. That's a beautiful thing. But if you ask me about how often that happens to me, often enough to where I'm so blessed and so thankful all the time? Heck, no. No, no. Mostly, I'm doing one of the next two. So there's mounting up like eagles, there's flying, and what is the key word to it? Effortlessness. Run is the next word.
So remember, it seems like we're going down, but I hope to prove to you we're really going up. The key word is athleticism and let me see if I can explain it to you. Especially from a New Testament point of view because running in the Word of God, if you brought up one of my very favorite things to do with any kind of topic is just go into a word search, bring up every single time it appears in Scripture and I did this with running to look for, for you in research for this lesson, for every single time it appears in Scripture. And running is always associated with either some kind of athleticism which I'm gonna get to in just a moment, or with urgency.
So we see that, that they ran to do this or or it might be that they ran away but there's either gonna be a sense of urgency to it or a fleeing or running to or there's going to be this athleticism and I think with our metaphor as a New Testament believer, this would be most forthright in what you and I would wanna understand today. Now, there's an inescapable connection to competition but I want you to hear it in its context and understand that, for us, we are never called to compete with our fellow humans. What we're running against is the darkness of this world, is the faithfulness of this world, is a whole lot of opposition, probably a whole lot of criticism, probably being really, really misunderstood and all sorts of things that go along with it, that is not competing against people. It is that we have a very, very strong foe who is fighting us tooth and nail.
And I want you to understand that competition has a good connotation in the New Testament. Paul speaks of running in this way. Listen to this, I'm just gonna throw out a few of these to you. 1 Corinthians 9:24: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it". Doesn't mean that there's only one that's gonna get the prize. He's saying, "Run as if you're the one. Run, press forward". Philippians chapter 3 says: "Press forward, strain toward the goal". Philippians 2:16: "Hold fast to the word of life, so that I may be proud that I did not run or labor in vain".
You know Hebrews 12:1. If any of the "run" Scriptures resonate with you, it's probably this one that we know the best: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us". This is the metaphor associated with racing and straining forward to the goal and it's about the difference between flying effortlessly and when you're running your race and you can feel the sweat running down your back. Does anybody know what I'm talking about?
See, never, never discount the beauty of that. When God is calling upon you, he's doing his thing. He's doing a complete miracle through you and you have the privilege of participating in it by giving it every single thing you have got. Everything you've got. Where you know he pressed you to the absolute limit of what you feel like your person could even bear. But you will know when you cross that finish line, man, you ran with everything you had. Anybody know what I'm talking about? This is the burn zone. This is the athleticism that says, "We gotta stay in shape," and I'm talking about spiritually speaking. We got to stay in the Word, we gotta keep our prayer lives up. We gotta fight for our families. We gotta hang in there and do the thing. We gotta keep the faith. We're gonna hang in here and do it.
And this is when we're running and I mean, sometimes it's really, really hard and we can feel the muscles burning in the back of our thighs and we can feel our lungs burning. That's athleticism. That is, "I am going to persevere. I am going to endure". 2 Timothy 4:7 says it so beautifully: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith". Listen, of all the things the enemy is after, he's after my marriage, he's after my family, he's after this, he's after that, he's... Listen, you know what he wants more than anything else? He wants our faith. He wants our faith. He wants our faith. What's the last one? What's that last verb? Walk. Would you write the key word underneath it? This is the word "Abiding". Abiding.
Ephesians 5:15: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise". Colossians 2:6. This one really is it: "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in him". This is really the one because it says just, you know what, keep walking. Keep walking. Keep walking. That's why it's the beauty of it. And I don't think I would ever have caught this except that one of my commentaries, one of the scholars, said such a thing. He said, "Actually," he said, "the true miracle is that we just keep walking". I mean, anybody can enjoy flying and it's pretty fun to run. But I mean, when it just comes to "We're gonna hang in there. We're on our way to Zion".
This is a rough place to live, a lot of pain in this world and, you know what? I'm just gonna keep putting one foot in front of the other and when I'm bored, when I'm not seeing anything, when maybe I'm not feeling anything, or maybe I'm feeling everything, maybe I feel torn up, maybe I feel joyful. Whatever it is, I'm just gonna keep walking. I'm just gonna keep walking. I'm just gonna keep walking. And that, really, is the slow drip of divine strength, just be faithful, just be faithful.
I wanna speak this over somebody. I wanna speak this over somebody that thinks, "You know what? I will never win back the respect of people again. I so blew it. And what they don't know is, I really did repent, I really have changed. And I keep telling them that I did". But, see, that doesn't really work 'cause when they see something like that, when people have been hurt, they're all like, "You know what? I tell you what, I can forgive immediately but I'm not gonna trust immediately because trust is something that we earn".
Anybody know what I'm talking about? But let me tell you what will happen. If you just continue to keep walking, this is what we don't wanna do. No, no, I need you to believe me now. No, no, walk it out in front of them. Walk faithfully. If it takes one year, five years, to win back their respect, so what? So what? Just walk faithfully with God. Just walk faithfully with God. Sooner or later, if people think you were an imposter, your life will prove differently when you simply do not quit. Do not quit.