Renewing Your Strength - Part I
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Isaiah, chapter 40, and notice with me the paragraph which begins with verse 28:

Isaiah 40

28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the end of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

The verse that we want to continue thinking about today, given to us in 1970, is Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

The last time that we spoke to you on one of these seventh Sundays, we shared with you what it means to wait upon the Lord. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength …” Today I want to think with you about the subject of renewal. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” As I have studied this passage of Scripture and asked God to teach it to me, and as I have implemented it in my own life, I have found there is a twofold responsibility concerning renewal. One of them is the responsibility of God, and the other is the responsibility of man.

God's Responsibility In Renewal

If you will glance there at verse 29, the promise is something that cannot be questioned: “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength.” Let those words grip your heart today, for fainting is a very common problem with individuals. The Spirit of God brings that out in the next verse when he said, “Even the youths shall be faint and weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.” It's not a question always of old people fainting because they don't have strength enough to continue. From the youth to the young man to the old man, three different classes of people, there is a problem of when we feel we have gone as far as we can go and there is no more strength left within us.

It is God's responsibility, then, on the basis of this promise, to give us what we need when we have come to the end of the road, to the end of ourselves, to the end of our own power. In verse 31, both of the responsibilities are mentioned. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” The first part of that statement, “they that wait upon the Lord,” describes your responsibility and mine. The last part of the statement, “shall renew their strength,” is God's responsibility, on the basis of the promise that we gave to you in the 29th verse. So what are we saying to you today? Individuals who have come to the end of the road, the end of their strength, the end of the rope, wit's-end corner, and come to God and wait upon him, God is obligated to renew their strength.

Our Responsibility to Wait

You will notice in verse 29 that the word “increase” is used. “He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, he increaseth their strength.” I call your attention to that word “increaseth” there, because it will apply to all else that I am going to say to you this morning. I remind you that it is the translation of the Hebrew word rabah , which speaks of something being brought in abundance. It speaks of God's doing what He does in an abundant way. You see, if you had just a drop of water in your canteen on a desert journey and God gave you another drop of water, there would be an increase. There is no way to deny that. He increased the water. But what good would that do? It would be almost tortuous, and our God does not torture or deceive us. The Lord Jesus Christ reminded us that if a child came to his father and asked for a fish, he would not give him an asp. If he asked for bread, he would not give him a stone. And if a father would not deceive and treat his child in that fashion, said our Lord Jesus Christ, why do you think God would? I say to you that if God increased the water supply in the canteen in the desert by one mere drop, He would be torturing us. But He doesn't do that. He fills the canteen up to the full and overflows, letting it even run down on the hands of the person who carries the canteen.

So I want you to know today that when we talk about God's increasing our strength, He does it in an abundant way. And if you are at a place in your life today where you feel you cannot take much more, where you feel you cannot go on any farther, remember that God has promised that “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Responsibility is yours, then, to wait upon the Lord. Yes, we have talked about that, but the procedure does not stop there. You have an additional responsibility after you have waited on the Lord, or during the time that you're waiting on the Lord, to renew your strength.

I want to think with you about what we're talking about when we use the word “renew.” Let me remind you that the word “renew” here is the Hebrew word khaw-laf , which speaks of sprouting. The best way I know to illustrate that is to remind you that oftentimes when you cut off some of the lower branches of your tree because you didn't want the branches so low maybe next season, you notice coming out of the very place where you cut the limb, a little twig that will eventually be a branch. It's sprouting. Sometimes I have had the experience of looking at a mesquite tree and being sure that it was dead and thinking the branch needs to be cut off, but for whatever reason didn't get around to it, and next season it would be sprouting again. Things appear to be dead sometimes that are not. This word “renew” conveys the idea of sprouting. What God is saying to you today is that if you are at the end, if you are nearly dead, if you are completely without water, if the limb has been cut off, still you can be renewed.

Capacity to Perform

The word “strength” has a variety of meanings in the Scriptures, and we won't have time to explore them all, but I would like to suggest one thing to you about this particular word. It is the Hebrew word ko-ach , and it speaks of the capacity to do something. “Capacity”–that's the meaning of the word “strength.”

Do you remember the story in Elisha's day when the oil quit flowing? The woman had a little bit of oil, enough to make a cake for her and her son, and that would be all, and she used that up, and there was more meal, but the story of the oil is even more wonderful. Elisha said, “You bring every pot you've got in the house and start pouring out that bottle of oil.” There was just a little bit in the bottle, but she poured it out in every vessel she had in the house, and then he said, “Go to your neighbor's and get all of the vessels that you can.” The neighbors brought in their vessels, and with that one bottle of oil she filled all those vessels, and the only time that the oil quit flowing is when there were no more vessels. Now that's an illustration of what I'm speaking about today in relation to capacity.

I like that because so often some of us have physical weaknesses and we need strength physically. Some of us need strength emotionally and mentally. There are many different ways and many different areas that you need strength, but this particular word describes God's ability to give you the capacity to do whatever you ordinarily couldn't do.

The Hebrews, weak before their enemies, were given the capacity to go through a troop. Men who could not even walk very far were given the capacity to jump over a wall. The medical world may refer to it as adrenalin, and there's something to that we know from a physical standpoint. But I speak not of that adrenalin; I speak of that divine strength which God has given to me numerous times and which God guarantees to give you.

Operating At Your Capacity

Let me suggest this to you: By the grace of God, and by careful examination of your own life, determine what your capacity is and make a determination before the Lord that you will operate on your capacity. I think too often many of us are led into reproaching the Lord and perhaps criticizing ourselves because we do not recognize the difference in capacity. There are two-cylinder vehicles, four-cylinder vehicles, and six-cylinder vehicles. I don't know whether there are any eight-cylinders now or not, but there have been. Now, it would be foolish to expect a two-cylinder car to do what an eight-cylinder car would do, and yet many people have said, “I can't understand it. I've prayed about it, and God has said He would do it.” What God has said is that He will give you enough to operate a two-cylinder car fully, if you are a two-cylinder car. He will give you enough gasoline to operate an eight-cylinder car fully, if you are an eight-cylinder car. But the truth that I want you to get today, because I have had to learn it, is that God expects you, and He expects me, to operate to full capacity. If you find the engine missing, you need to find out what the trouble is.

Recognize the Need for Renewal

That leads me to the first of these three suggestions I want to leave with you about how you can renew your strength. Remember, I said it was God's responsibility to renew it, but He doesn't put you down and hold your nose, and pour it down your throat. He tells you what He will do if you will do. The first thing, as I've already suggested to you, that comes to mind was what I've said about capacity. The first thing that is absolutely essential is to recognize your need of strength. You need to recognize that you will come to a place in your life when through no fault of your own, you cannot go anymore. It is not a sign of weakness; it is not a sign that there is something wrong with you; it's a sign that you need to run the car in the garage and have it worked on. You need to recognize your need.

The Apostle Paul is one of the great exponents of this. You recall the thorn in the flesh about which you've heard much. We don't know what that thorn was, and there's no need for us to know, but we do know this. The Apostle Paul was terribly uncomfortable with it. It hindered him. He couldn't do all that he wanted to do, and the Scriptures say that he besought the Lord thrice for deliverance from that thorn. That doesn't mean he prayed one, two, three times. That's a phrase that describes continuous prayer. He kept on keeping on about it. It's never wrong to keep on keeping on. It's only wrong to keep on keeping on after God tells you to shut up. The Apostle Paul said, “Lord, I want something done about this thorn. I want something done. Lord, do something.” Finally God said, “Hush, I'm not going to do anything about it.” “God, you're not going to take this thorn away?” “No, I'm not.” “Well, that's not fair. You've promised to give strength.” “Ah,” but God said, “it is fair. That's exactly what I'm going to do.” And you remember what he said in I Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 9: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Oh, Beloved, how true that is! Most of you know I have had physical problems for quite some time, and some of those times, one in particular, I knew it was time to go home. I wanted to, but God said otherwise, and what He brought to my mind was this very thing I'm talking about. “Lord,” I said, “I can't go on. There's no way I can continue.” And He has said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” And I want to tell you today, Dear One, that I would not have chosen, but I do not regret whatever I might have been through, because I have learned that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. And I suggest to you today that if you want to renew your strength, be honest; tell God that you've come to the last drop in the canteen. Tell God that you've come to the last ounce of energy that you have. “Oh,” someone says, “I'm not supposed to complain.” You're not supposed to fuss at God, but you are supposed to let Him know what you need.

Need for Repentance

There is another way that you can renew your strength, and I have described it by the word “repentance.” Just as you need to realize you have a need, you need to recognize that there may need to be some self-examination in your life before God can renew your strength. That's brought to your attention in Isaiah, chapter 41. Israel, you know, is the subject of discussion here, and she needed her strength renewed, but in verse 1 of chapter 41, God said:

Isaiah 41

1Keep silence before me, O islands, and let the people renew their strength: [ that's just what he had promised in chapter 40, verse 31, isn't it? But then He went on to say: ] let them come near; then let them speak; let us come near together to judgment.

He goes on to say that the reason that they needed to renew their strength was that something was wrong. If their strength was ever going to be renewed, there needed to be repentance. As a matter of fact, this very book begins in chapter 1, verse 18, with this very same thought:

Isaiah 1

18Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

I believe, and I've had to learn, that when I reached the place where the renewal of strength was necessary, I needed to find out what it was that caused my weakness. One thing causes weakness, and we must always recognize it. When I bring it to your attention, I do not suggest to you that I think if you're having a difficult time, there's something wrong in your life; but I do say if you have not come to the place where you can renew your strength, compare the verse of Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 31, with Isaiah, chapter 41, verse 1. You haven't come to the place where you can renew your strength and you find out if there's sin in your life. Sin is directly related to God's blessing.

In James, chapter 5, is a passage of Scripture which is very familiar to most of you, I think, concerning the prayer for the sick. We do believe in that, but at the moment we are not talking about the prayer for the sick; we're talking about the simple statement in connection with that prayer for the sick that “if he have committed sins…” Now the man who is sick calls for the elders of the church to come and pray for him, anoint him with oil. God will heal him; and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. The suggestion is–not always, but sometimes–that our physical weaknesses are related to sin. I Corinthians, chapter 11, tells us the very same thing, and I John chapter 5, verse 16, tells us the very same thing.

You say, “Well, my problem isn't physical weakness.” I know that. That's the reason I call to your attention Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22, where we are told that as long as we walk in the flesh, the fruit of the Spirit cannot be produced in our lives. And so instead of saying, “God, why can't I do this? Why does this have to happen? Why doesn't this work out?”, we might need to come near to the Lord, as we are told here in the first verse of chapter 41. We might need to sit down and have a consultation with Him. That's the meaning of the word “reason” in chapter 1.

If we find that there is something in our life that is displeasing to the Lord, then we need to confess it; and if we need to make it right with others, we need to do that. I believe that we can wait on God, I believe we can sense our own need and still not find our strength renewed until we go through this period–call it repentance for want of a better word–and acknowledge to God when He brings it to our attention. Oh, you might say today that you don't know of a thing in our life that is displeasing God. Well, I'm glad, but I have learned that quite often that can be said because you're so busy you don't know what has grieved the Holy Spirit. And if you stop long enough to reason with the Lord, if you come near to Him, in the words of our text, the Holy Spirit will point out to you that which has been grieving Him. You will say, when He does that, “Well, I didn't realize that. I never had thought about it. I wouldn't have done it.” No, you wouldn't have.

I do want to say this added word of assurance, because when I speak along this line sometimes sincere hearts are troubled, and I'm often asked, “Well, what about the sins that I don't know about? What about maybe those things that I don't know about?” Well, you have a promise from the Word of God: “If you walk in the light as he is in the light, you have fellowship with God, and the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses you from all sin.” Don't worry about the sins you don't know about. Confess the sins that you do.

Reliance On God

I would like to remind you of something else that is necessary if you're going to renew your strength. Not only must you recognize a need in your life, not only must there be a time of repentance if need be, but there must be reliance on God. And I can't say that forcefully enough. Your strength will never be renewed unless you rely on the Lord to do it. There are many little formulas you have heard, and there is a plethora of books today on the subject. I am amazed at the books that are being published and that are being bought based on how you can be a little better Christian or how you can find out what your temperament is, etc. Everything that can be said about those books, I'll put aside and say to you that unless you learn to rely on the Lord, there's not a formula that can bring about your renewal as you need it.

Isaiah said, “Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord is everlasting strength.” That's Isaiah, chapter 26, verse 4. “Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord is everlasting strength.” That word “trust” is an interesting word. It is from a Hebrew word which elsewhere is translated by the word “confidence.” As a matter of fact, you find it so translated in Isaiah, chapter 30, verse 15. When the Israelites needed their strength renewed, they ran off to Egypt to get their strength renewed, and God's man told them that wouldn't work. Then he added, “I'll tell you what will work. In returning and rest will you be saved. In quietness and confidence will be your strength.” That word “confidence” there is the translation of the same word “trust” here. You must rely on the Word. You must have confidence in the Lord.

You'll notice the verse I just quoted: “In quietness and confidence…” Quietness is very important. It is from a Hebrew word which means “to be at rest.” We talked about that while we were talking to you about waiting on the Lord. When you trust Him, you must not continually fret. You must learn to rest in Him. You are to have your confidence in God and leave the matter with Him, and that's a very difficult thing to do, isn't it? Most of us fail in doing it.

A Personal Illustration

I have used this illustration often, and I repeat illustrations because if they're effective one time, they will be another. Most of my illustrations are not from the book Five Thousand and One Illustrations ; they are what are in my life, and so I have to repeat them. I remember years ago we were training the children about a number of things and especially about growth and nature and God's causing things to grow. We made a little box, and we planted some beans in there, and we were going to show them how that the bean finally opened and then sprouted, and then eventually grew beans. The box was watered and tended and cared for, but those bean sprouts never came up. I could not imagine why so I began to question the children. I said, “Have you been taking taking care of these?” They said, “Yes, we have.” And one of them said, “Why, every day we dig it up and look at it to make sure it's growing.” Well, that happened, but you know, God taught me a lesson about that. I had to explain to them that you've got to let the beans grow, and God said to me, “And when you turn something over to me, you let it alone.” You've got to rest afterward.

Rejoice In the Lord

One last thing, and I've expressed it in this way: If you're going to renew your strength, you're going to have to learn to rejoice in the Lord; you can't spend your time fretting and complaining. Let me remind you today of the truth of Nehemiah. When the individuals who were long without the Word of God read the Word of God, they were convicted because they had not been obeying the Word. That's what the Word ought to do to our hearts. When we read it, if we're not convicted by it, we ought to be concerned. If we're not taught by it, we ought to wonder why. But they were so convicted by their lack of obedience that they began to weep and cry; and Nehemiah said, “Quit crying. Quit weeping. You found the truth. Go on your way. Rejoice. Have your banquet, eat your food, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” There is no strength in tears, Friend. I've shed many of them, but they don't make you any stronger. The joy of the Lord is your strength.

I close with this testimony from David, Psalm 28, verse 7:

Psalm 28

7The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: [ I like that, don't you? my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: ] therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

Prayer

We do thank you, Father, that you do renew our strength. We ask for every person within the sound of our voice today that that special need that he has in his heart this very moment, whatever that need may be, that thing that is nearest and dearest to him, that thing that burdens him the most, Father, we ask today that Thou will renew strength and show Thyself strong in behalf of those who place their trust in Thee. For we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.


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