Strengthen!

Isaiah 35:3 (KJV)  Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

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Audio of Sermon: 

Sermon Notes: God speaks to His people. “Grow strong” (חָזַק chazaq) the weak hands and – NOT “confirm” but “make steady or brace up” (אָמֵץ ‘amats) the feeble knees. As we grow older our hands get shaky, our legs a little less stable. Physically we go down in strength. But in our text today …

God Is Not Addressing Physical Weakness

When you read these words you may attribute them to old age, but that is not what God is refering to.

God gave us hands and feet to serve Him.
God expects us to serve Him.
Every day we live is a day to serve our Lord.

God’s best servants and best saints were those who were advanced in age.

Abraham followed God and had the child of Promise, the Isaac or laughter of life, when he was 100 years old. Abraham continued to follow and serve the Lord in strength, and did not die until he was 175 years old. Old age does not keep us from serving God.

Moses heard God’s call and followed God when the Lord called to him from the burning bush, sending him to the courts of Pharaoh.

Exodus 7:7 (NKJV) … Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Moses never entered the Promised Land in his earthly life, but served God faithfully until he was 120 years old according to Deuteronomy 34:7. When he died he passed leadership of Israel over to …

Joshua, who was between 68-78 years old when he led Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua led Israel faithfully serving God until he died at the ripe old age of 110 years old.

In the New Testament two of the stories that we didn’t get to cover during Christmas is the stories of Simeon and Anna the Prophetess. We do not know how old Simeon was, for the text does not tell us, but his words seem to imply he was of advanced age. We read:

Luke 2:25-32 (KJV)  And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  [26]  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  [27]  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,  [28]  Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,  [29]  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:  [30]  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,  [31]  Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;  [32]  A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Here is this apparently old man who loved and walked with God. The Lord led him to the Temple and told him that he would see the Savior. Simeon had no weakened arms when he reached out and took Jesus to himself. Simeon said in essence – “I’m ready to go home, Father. Let me go in peace for I have seen Your Salvation, Your Jesus!”.

Right after Simeon saw and was blessed by Jesus we are told that the Prophetess Anna saw the baby Jesus. We know that Anna was old:

Luke 2:37 (KJV) … she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

…but her age did not stop her from serving God. She kept coming to the Temple. She refused to let old age rob her of her duty to God. She served God with FASTINGS and PRAYERS night and day. She made herself available to God.

I have pastored older members who – as age increased – they began to stay at home rather than come to Church.

When I was young I served the Lord – NOW I’ll retire”.

Beloved you are not retired from the service of God on this earth until God takes you home to heaven. Anna served God day and night. Anna departed not from the Temple.

When I think of Anna I think of my Grandma Elma who prayed for me and shared Christ with whoever came near her until God took her to glory just 30 days short of her 102nd birthday. As a young man I rebelled against my God and my parents, but when I was 17 years old I was saved and not long after that entered the military. I’ll never forget my grandmother’s words just before she died. She was not able to leave the Nursing Home she was at to come and hear me preach, but she told me “I always knew you would be a preacher.” I asked Grandma “How could you know that?”, to which she replied “I prayed for you every day”. Anna and Elma had a lot in common. Anna prayed day and night. Though 84 years old she was not feeble of hand and knee in the ways that mattered. Anna witnessed the blessing of Simeon on Christ and the Scripture says:

Luke 2:38 (KJV)  And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

She confirmed the Christ. She saw Jesus because she served God.
Old age is not a reason for spiritually weak hands and feeble knees.

Our Focus Must Be On God Not The Desert

Our hands become shaky in serving God and our knees wobbly in following God when our desire focuses away from our Lord. We read:

Isaiah 35:1 (KJV)  The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Our text speaks of the “wilderness”, the “solitary place” and the “desert”. These are all places where you would not expect to find joy or happiness. A “wilderness” is a place without comfort, a “solitary place” somewhere where you have no companionship, and the “desert” a place without food or water.

But in these places there is, the Lord says, rejoicing and gladness.
What is it that brings rejoicing and gladness to these lonely and rugged places in life?
It is to be in that place with God.

Isaiah 35:2 (KJV)  It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon,
they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.

If God is with you in the wilderness it will blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing. In the lonely places if God is with you then you are never alone. Where God is, joy and happiness abounds. The Scripture says of God:

Psalm 107:31-35 (NKJV) Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders. 33 He turns rivers into a wilderness, And the watersprings into dry ground; 34 A fruitful land into barrenness, For the wickedness of those who dwell in it. 35 He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into watersprings.

Where God is glorified the knees are not weak nor the hands without strength. Regardless as to whether we are in the mountaintop or in the valley if our focus is on Him Who saved us and we are living to glorify His name, then joy and singing breaks forth. It is in the wildernesses of life that we find God.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NKJV) Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. 21 This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.

God saved us to praise Him, to dwell on His magnificence, to magnify His name.
Yet when our focus turns from Him to ourselves we become like the Laodicean Church.

Revelation 3:15-17 (KJV)  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  [16]  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  [17]  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

The people focused on themselves and not on the glory of God soon find themselves without God, for God will not honor selfishness and self seeking. Chuck Swindoll wrote:

Deterioration is never sudden. No garden “suddenly” overgrows with thorns. No church “suddenly” splits. No building “suddenly” crumbles. No marriage “suddenly” breaks down. No nation “suddenly” becomes a mediocre power. No person “suddenly” becomes base. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, certain things are accepted that were once rejected. Things once considered hurtful are now secretly tolerated. At the outset it appears harmless, perhaps even exciting, but the wedge it brings leaves a gap that grows wider as moral erosion joins hands with spiritual decay. The gap becomes a canyon. That “way that seems right” becomes, in fact, “the way of death.” Solomon wrote that. He ought to know. Take heed, you who stand; take heed, lest you fall! Be careful about changing your standard so that it corresponds with your desires. Be very cautious about becoming inflated with thoughts of your own importance. Be alert to the pitfalls of prosperity and success. Should God grant riches, fame, and success, don’t run scared or feel guilty. Just stay balanced.”

Christ gave ALL of Himself passionately for us.

God so loved the world that He – without reservation – gave His only Begotten Son for us. God laid it all on the table for us. We are to lay it all on the table for God. The misfocused people look at their pleasure and comfort and not at God’s glory. We must always be reminded the words of the Apostle:

Acts 20:34-35 (NKJV) Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

It is always more blessed to give than to receive. Our Lord showed us that. Our hands become feeble and our knees weak when we stop serving the One Who loves us, and stop going where He says go. We must love Him more than we love ourselves. We must love Him most. It is always good to remember that the very thing that cost Israel the Promised Land is that the people stopped praising God and began to murmur against Him because they did not have what they wanted. The Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 10:9-11 (KJV) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

When the wilderness comes, let us look up and praise our God. Let us be as the Psalmist who praised the Lord, saying:

Psalm 63 (KJV) O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

To keep your focus on God you need to build a habit daily of turning to His Word. Dr. Charles Stanley wrote:

One of the primary reasons we struggle in adversity and give in to despair and hopelessness is ignorance of the Scriptures. The Lord wants to help us through affliction, but we must open His Word to receive His guidance, comfort, and assurance.”

Let us learn to focus on our God no matter what might come, honoring Him and serving Him all the days of our lives.

Failure To Share Faith Fosters Spiritual Weakness

God’s people are to work together in encouraging one another to glorify God. We read:

Isaiah 35:4 (KJV)  SAY TO THEM THAT ARE OF A FEARFUL HEART,
Be strong, fear not:
behold, your God will come with vengeance,
even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.

A self focused person cannot help a person overwhelmed by life. A God focused person can. When someone is going through trials and tribulations do not add to them, but point them to the Lord that loves them. Encourage them to look upward, to trust God’s heart even when we do not understand His hand. Do not just tell them …

Be strong, fear not

Suck it up! Be a man! Toughen up! Stiff upper lip!” No, these things all seek solutions in ourselves. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (KJV) And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

The strength of faith is not in ourselves, but in God. Isaiah wrote not just “Be Strong and Fear not” but …

Be strong, fear not: behold, YOUR GOD WILL COME WITH VENGEANCE, EVEN GOD WITH A RECOMPENCE; HE WILL COME AND SAVE YOU.

Our hope is not in ourselves, but in God.

I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to lead someone to Christ only to find out some religious fool has led them in the wrong direction. “Be self sufficient. Name it and claim it. You can do it, little engine. Choo Choo!” Hogwash. Our strength is in God. Our hope is in Christ.

Psalm 46:1-5 (KJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. {REST!}. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

Psalm 42:11 (KJV) Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

My grandma used to tell me “If you can’t say somethoing nice to someone, don’t say anything.” Beloved, I want to modify that statement somewhat. “If you can’t direct the hurting and fearful to God, SHUT UP!” You do not help the cause of Christ by murmuring with the murmurers, nor by trembling with the tremblers. Remind those who are suffering that the Scripture does NOT say:

I can do all things …

but

I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST Who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

You must focus on trusting God in your own life, but must also direct those around you to focus on God. Tell the fearful that:

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Fear of God is good, but fear of anything else can be a trap that weakens the hands and knees. Trust thou in God! When you share faith in God with others there is a wonderful blessing that comes from it. When our focus is on Christ …

Isaiah 35:5-6 (KJV)  THEN the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  [6]  Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

Darkness breeds darkness, but God is light, and light in God brings forth light. Do you see the word THEN in our text.

When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the eyes of the blind are opened.
When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the ears of the deaf are unstopped.
When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the lame leap as an antelope.
When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the tongue of the disabled sing.

It is God Who can bring order from disorder, and blessing from cursing. We must not only trust Him ourselves but point others to Him as well. We are to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ that the Lord left us here on this earth on purpose, and we are to serve Him on purpose until the day we see Him in glory.

Failure To Serve The Lord Causes
Weak Hands And Knees

Isaiah 35:8 (KJV)  And an HIGHWAY shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

God makes a highway for His people, a Highway of Holiness. He calls us to walk that path with our Lord Jesus. The Lord said:

John 14:6 (KJV)  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Jesus Christ is the One in Whom we walk with. We have a personal relationship with Him, loving Him, doing as He says. Solomon twice repeated the admonition:

Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV) There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Proverbs 16:25 (NKJV) There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

We are to walk in the way with Christ. We have often sang those beautiful words:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of his Word
What a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will, he abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Where He goes, we go.
What He says we will do.
We trust and love Him Who saved us.

God gave us hands and knees to walk with Him, to serve Him, to be with Him daily. The step brother of Jesus James exhorted the Church:

James 4:7-10 (NKJV) Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

God calls you to salvation in Christ. Once called, He bids you follow Him Who saved you. Put your faith into action. I have often told those placed in rehabilitation at one of our Nursing Homes that they MUST get up and walk, MUST reach out, MUST do. If you do not, then in time you cannot do even if you wish to do.

So it is with Christ. Do not delay. Trust Him. Follow Him. Love Him. May God touch your hearts with His Word.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
This entry was posted in Faithfulness of God, Following Disciples, Following Jesus, Isaiah, Sermons Preached and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Strengthen!

  1. A great piece… God bless

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