says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, in returning and rest you
shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength; but
you would not, and you said, 'No, for we will flee on horses' -
therefore you shall flee! And 'We will ride on swift horses' - therefore
those who pursue you shall be swift"
As a group and as individuals, those of us in the "human
race" have a strong "do-it-yourself" mentality. Sometimes people get
discouraged when they don't seem to succeed in life and stop trying, but
most keep on struggling and won't reach out to God or others for help
unless there is nowhere else to turn. We like to "triumph" on our own.
This is seen in the phrase "we will flee on horses" (Isaiah 30:16), which relates
to the attempts we make to insure our own safety on earth, and it also
touches the surprising negligence exhibited in relation to that which is
eternal. We protect our lives with medical and life insurance and fight
the aging process with plastic surgeons, but the enemy of us all is very
You may decide now to "tune-out" this sermon for
a happier topic, but you're encouraged to stay for awhile, for we do
have a "happy ending." This is not a "fairy tale" though, it's LIFE, and
the good news is that God intends TRIUMPH in your life and mine.
However, the path to victory is not accomplished in the way you might
Paul the Apostle was a Jew who grew up in a
Greek and Roman culture. He saw the "Olympic Games" prevalent in that
time and place, and he compared living this life to "running a race" (1 Corinthians 9:24). He observed that
first we must train with diligence and then we run to win. But how, from
a Biblical perspective, do we prepare in a manner that will cause us to
"win," even TRIUMPH, when others fail?
For a foot race, we need strength, quickness, and
speed. We not only need an athlete's body, but also need an athlete's
mind, with a dedication to bringing that body to utmost readiness for
the race. The key in relation to God is not merely physical - it's FAITH. Not just any faith,
as in the slogan, "Ya' gotta' have faith, baby!" but instead
it is trusting in
Someone who will help you to victory. This means to have faith in the Christ
can and will help you, rather than just having a warm hope that
everything will turn out all right. To "prepare to run" is to "learn to
God had JUDGMENT in His mind for Israel, as Isaiah the
prophet was telling the people in today’s Scripture. You and I may be headed
down the wrong road like they were, or we may not. But just like buying
an insurance policy, we don't really know what will happen in the future and we should be
prepared for the race that we call "life." Both the cost and
underwriting of this insurance policy are found in the phrase "
and rest" (Isaiah 30:15).
An obvious problem with an
insurance policy is how much it costs. We hope we will never need the
policy but we often purchase it anyway - just in case. There is good news
about our heavenly policy, which contains the phrase "returning
and rest" - 1) We are given
absolute safety by receiving the protection offered, and 2) The premiums
have been paid in advance, in full - now and forever.
is to come to God on His terms; in His way. Jesus said "Come
unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"
(Matthew 11:28). And Jesus Himself IS "the
way" (John 14:6).
It's like we are small adopted children and our parents have provided a
place for us to live. "This is your room," they say; "the bathroom is
just down the hall, and the refrigerator is in the kitchen. This is your
home and we love you." But you respond, "Yes, you are my parents, but I
respectfully submit that I will not be living here in the safety you
have provided. I've got an old pup tent from somewhere and I will live in the
park..." The parents of this 5-year old will reasonably reject his
or her decision because what they offer is better for that child; just as
God has something better for you.
You may say, "I am a Christian" but Jesus not only
wants your words, He wants your heart. He not only expects you to come to
Him one or two days a week or a couple of times a year - He wants - YOU!
To "run the race" on God's terms is to trust in Him.
To "run" is to see that the "negative" situations we sometimes
experience in life
are testing grounds where you have the opportunity to flex "muscles" of
faith and grow. To read the Bible is essential in such training, for "
comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God"
(Romans 10:17). Budding athletes imitate the training methods of proven
winners and we do, too - We GROW in FAITH through prayerfully reading
the Word of God about those heroes of the faith who have come before us.
Again, we are in a sort of "race" here in earth,
requiring us to "train" effectively in order to win. We have a great
"Trainer" who will enable us to win the race, and He loves us so much
that He took out that insurance policy we spoke about, written in His
own blood. His name is Jesus Christ and He gave up everything in order
that you might have it all. You can trust in Him.
Frances Ridley Havergal, said this: "
have not passed this way before, but the Lord Jesus has. It is all unknown ground to us, but He knows it all by personal
experience. The steep places that take away our breath, the stones
that make our feet ache, the hot shade-less stretches that make us
feel exhausted, the rushing rivers that we have to pass through -
Jesus has gone through it all before us. 'He knoweth our frame; He
remembereth that we are dust.' Think of that when you are tempted to
question the gentleness of His leading. He is remembering you all the time;
and not one step will He make you take beyond what your foot is able to
endure. Never mind if you think you will not be able for the step that
seems to come next; either He will so strengthen it that it shall be
able, or He will call a sudden halt, and you shall not have to take it
Open His Book (the Bible), learn
about Christ and trust in Him, for He loves you and He will bring you
through. Turn to "the Holy
One of Israel, (for)
in returning and rest you shall be saved; (His) quietness
and confidence shall be your strength." Your "happy ending" is when you stop doing it yourself and
place your faith in Him. And the "end" in this context is really the
beginning – for you!
Lord, I trust in You. Forgive me for
the many times I have attempted to live life in my own strength. I
accept the rest, quietness and confidence offered in and through Jesus
Christ. I choose the "happy ending" given through faith in the Son
of God. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.