Renewing Your Strength - Part II
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles to Isaiah, chapter 40, that portion of the Word which we are studying today. We are considering another of the promises that God has given us during these years of ministry, and we have been asked to do that on these so-called “seventh Sunday” sermons that we are bringing to you during our Jubilee Year. Incidentally, the date of our Jubilee Year is fast approaching, August 19th, so this will be the last Sunday that I will be speaking in relation to the Jubilee Year. Then, the Lord willing, on the Sunday following the banquet on Saturday evening, I will be bringing a message that will encourage our hearts as we praise Him, not forgetting those things which are behind, but praising Him for those things which are behind and then pressing on to a new and glorious future, if the Lord Jesus Christ is pleased to tarry.

Notice, please, Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 28:

Isaiah 40

28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.
29He giveth 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.

Notice again the verse which we are considering together, verse 31:

Isaiah 40

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; they shall walk, and not faint.

In our last lesson, when we considered with you this verse, having considered a portion of it one other Sunday, we were thinking about what it means to wait upon the Lord. We furthered our discussion by talking about the responsibility of being renewed. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” We mentioned to you that this renewal was a responsibility of both God and man; for in verse 29, we have the promise, “He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, He increaseth strength.” That's the promise God made, and God is responsible for all of His promises.

Then we noticed in verse 31 the responsibility of both man and God: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…” It's one thing to wait upon the Lord and another thing to take advantage of the means by which God teaches us that our strength should be renewed.

I would like to think with you about the provisions that God has made for the renewal of which we speak. We can believe that God will renew our strength. We can ask Him to renew our strength, but if we don't take advantage of the provisions that He has made, we will never have the strength which He has promised. I want to suggest several provisions of which you and I must either take advantage or be consistently conscious of if we are to renew our strength.

Provisions Related to Need

It follows, on the basis of what the Scriptures have said and on the basis of what we suggested in our last lesson, that we will not ever renew our strength or take advantage of the provisions of renewing our strength unless we sense a need. So quite naturally, these provisions to which I call your attention will be related somewhat to the need that you have in your life. I might say to you today that if you do not have a present need, you will have. These promises should stand you in good stead.

Let me suggest to you, first of all, that we will find strength in constantly acknowledging the presence of the Lord. Oftentimes we say, “I don't feel very close to God.” I don't know that we all mean the same thing when we say that, and some folk might even think you shouldn't say it. Sometimes I've heard people say, and I have had people say to me, “Oh, I wish I was close to God. I don't feel close to God.” In knowing them and their problems in some instances, I, in the flesh, want to say, “Well, get close!”

You've heard the proverbial illustration of the husband and wife who had been married some time. They were driving down the road in their automobile, the wife sitting over against the door and the husband under the wheel. The wife is saying, “I don't know what's happened to us; we don't seem as close to each other as we once did.” And the husband, the driver of the car, says, “I ain't moved. I ain't moved.” That's true. God is where He's always been, and if we are not close to Him, then we need to move over closer.

Being Conscious of God's Presence

Having said that, I would suggest that it's good for us to acknowledge the presence of God and be conscious of His presence all the time. Now in the Old Testament, God made His presence available to man, or made man conscious of His presence, through visions. Many visions were recorded in the Old Testament, but one comes to mind that has always been a blessing to me. Remember in chapter 15 of the book of Genesis, Abraham had defeated the enemy, and he had paid tithes to Melchizedek. So great was his power that the king of Sodom had said, “Why don't you take the spoil and just leave the men?” He was very ingratiating to Abraham, and Abraham boldly said, “I would not take anything from you, lest you, a heathen, would say that you have made me rich.”

This is not stated in the Scriptures, but as I've told you before, I believe that we should read our Bibles with a sanctified imagination and recognize that these men were men. How would you feel if you had just come away from a great battle, and somebody offered you something good and because of your convictions, if I may use that term, you turned it down? Well, there might be a certain sense of exhilaration; but if Satan was as active then–and I'm sure he was–as he is now, I'm sure that Satan whispered to Abraham, “You're a fool, you know. You could have taken all that. There wouldn't have been any problem with it.” Abraham may have had a feeling of discouragement. I don't know, but I'm inclined to think that he did, in view of what God said to him in the first verse of Genesis, chapter 15, when He said:

Genesis 15

1…Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

Now how did God say that? Look at the first part of the verse:

Genesis 15

1After this [ after what? after this that I've described to you, after these things ] the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

There is no question that in the Old Testament God spoke to his people in visions and in dreams. We are aware that the Scriptures tells us today that in time past God spoke to His men in dreams and in visions, but in these last days He has spoken to us through His Son and, it would follow, through His Word. That being true, and there's absolutely no question about it in relation to divine revelation as far as additional truth in the Word of God is concerned, I have never found it in my heart to argue with people who say, “I had a vision of Jesus last night.” Now, I never have, and sometimes I've wondered if they did, but I never argue about it, because I'm not able to say what God does with other people. Now if they told me that they had a vision or a dream and God revealed unto them something that was contradictory to the plain teaching of the Word of God, I would say, “You drank too much coffee or ate too much pie before you went to bed. God didn't have anything to do with that.” But God is anxious for us to be conscious of His presence, and so He makes His presence known in the Old Testament through visions. He makes His presence known in both the Old Testament and the New Testament era through what is called “theophanies.” Now that is a theological word, and all it means is “the manifestation of God upon the earth.”

Paul's Experience of God's Presence

You will recall that when Paul was taking his leave of Timothy, mentioning that the time of his departure was at hand and he was ready to go to be with the Lord, he concluded his letter in II Timothy, chapter 4, verses 16 and 17, by telling of an experience that he had during his time in Rome. He said:

II Timothy 4

16At my first answer [ you see, he's thinking back over his life, and he said, ”At my first answer…” Really what he was saying was, at my first trial, at my first defense ] no man stood with me, but all men forsook me…:
17[ Then he said ] Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…

Then he went on to say the reason for that was that he might have the opportunity of preaching the Gospel, and then he concluded his statement with the words, “…and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”

It is generally understood that the lion there is none other than Nero. Whether it be so or not, Paul said, “No one stood by me when I was in the midst of my trial, and I really didn't know what I was going to do, but somebody was there. He was there all the time, and I was conscious of His presence.” It is good to know that Christ will be standing by your side whether literally, as I believe in Paul's case as well as in his experience on the road to Damascus, or whether He is there giving you the sense of His presence. I'm going to be frank to say to you today that I believe that we have the greater assurance. Visions, as I mentioned,are highly doubtful; theophonies are certainly few and far between, if ever, though some folk have reported them.

Assurance of His Presence

If you will turn to the book of Hebrews, chapter 13, and perhaps look at what you've already marked, because these promises are real, you will see God's provision for the acknowledgment of His presence that can never be denied. The apostle says:

Hebrews 13

5…and be content with such things as you have: [and this is the part of the verse we want:] for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.
6So that we may boldly say, …I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

I say to you that these words are more assuring to me than the idea of a dream or even a theophany. As I have said, the dreams and the visions are erratic; the theophanies are rare, but here is the assurance that you are never alone.

You have been taught concerning this verse of Scripture that the grammatical construction of the verse is such that the word “never” could be repeated more than once. “I will never, never leave thee.” Some have suggested that the phrase, “or forsake thee,” means “I will never, never let you down.” I would not ask you to answer the question that I propose at the moment, but I do wonder how many of you have felt that someone has let you down. You put your confidence and your trust in them; you knew they would never fail you, but they did. They let you down. You become discouraged, and perhaps so discouraged that you wonder if there's any point in trusting anybody again ever. Well, we need to remember that there's One Who has said, and He has certainly kept His promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

What are we talking about? Have we gotten afield? No. We're talking about the renewal of strength, and I have said to you that one of the ways that you can renew your strength is by taking advantage of the gracious provision of God in His assurance that we are never alone no matter through what trials you may go, no matter what challenge you may face. It may be like the lion that Paul faced, and you'll be standing alone, yet you're not alone. “Notwithstanding,” the Apostle Paul said, “He was there.” I'm sure that many of us, if not all of us, can give testimony to the fact that the presence of our God, the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, has sustained us in trying times.

You know, if you are in right relationship to God through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are conscious of that presence. Have you sometimes been in a room and you've been busily engaged about something and you look up and say to a person who has slipped into the room, “Oh, I didn't know you were here.”? I don't think, if you are controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, that during those times of control you'll ever need to look up and say to the Lord Jesus, “I didn't realize you were here,” for you will be conscious of His presence.

The Provision of Prayer

Another gracious provision that God has provided to make possible the renewal of our strength I have referred to in the words, “access through prayer.” You'll recall in Luke, chapter 18, the Lord Jesus Christ said to those who were listening to Him that day that men ought always to pray and not to faint. Now the Lord Jesus Christ here was not insisting on the importance of prayer, as important as that is. What He was suggesting is that there is an alternative to giving up; there is an alternative to fainting. Why do people faint? We recognize that sometimes they faint because of physical conditions such as sudden movement or the rushing of blood to their head or away from their head, or what have you, but it is a well known fact that many people faint to escape reality. The thing at which they're looking is just too much for them, and so they get out of it by fainting. I believe that that's what the Lord Jesus Christ is saying to us today. No matter what the situation, no matter how serious the situation is, no matter how weak you become, don't faint. Pray!

I have been told that if one feels that he is going to faint, the sensible thing to do is to put his head down between his legs. I didn't know anything about it until after I had fainted, so there wasn't any point in putting my head between my knees. This is what the Lord Jesus is saying: “When a serious situation comes, take advantage of what I've provided for you. Renew your strength through prayer.”

Some of us, you know, are praying constantly, continuously, in the sense that we're always in what I refer to as the “spirit of prayer.” We don't have to say, “Well, Lord, before I can talk to you I've got to get things straightened out.” Now, you may. I have had to any number of times, but I'm speaking of the fact that you are in fellowship with the Lord; you can go immediately into His presence. I've had the experience, I've told you at other times, of having what I refer to as having an “S.O.S.” prayer. There isn't time to come to God and preface your remarks with a recognition of His holiness, and all the things that are proper when we come softly into the presence of a Holy God. But sometimes we're in a situation such as Peter was in when he began to sink when he saw the waves, and he knew there wasn't any hope, and he said, “Oh, Lord, save me!” There wasn't any fancy stuff about that. He just cried out for help. God is saying to you–and I want to remind you from my own experience that this works–when it comes time to faint, go to prayer.

I like the way David expressed it in I Chronicles, chapter 16, verse 11, when he said:

I Chronicles 16

11Seek the Lord and his strength, [now if he had stopped right there that would be an excellent exhortation, but he continued] seek his face continually.

So even though there may be a time when you have to do some “S.O.S.” praying, to which I have made reference, it is good to keep in mind that if we are continuously seeking His face, then we will have His strength available to us. That's the reason the Spirit of God has been pleased to record in Paul's letter to the Philippians, “We should be anxious for nothing, but in every thing with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make our requests known to God.” I say to you if anything is so unimportant that you don't need to pray about it, then you are not putting the right value on your time and your effort for God. Some people feel that way, you know. Why bother God with this? Then you're not putting the right value on your time and your effort for God. Anything you do as a born-again, spirit-filled child of God is important. There is no small thing. We need to seek the Lord, and seek Him continuously.

Accepting God's Promise

Now there is another thought I want to leave with you that has helped me in renewing my strength as I have waited on God, and I have expressed it in the words,“accept God's promise.” Notice what I'm saying. I'm not saying to memorize the promises of God, though you should; it would be helpful. I'm not saying mark them in your Bible, though that's good. I have in one of the Bibles that I have used in other days many verses marked by the two letters T&T, and that says to me that these have been tested and tried, and I know that they are true. Now, it's not important, as I say, to have those marked in your Bibles, though it may be helpful in further meditations; but what is important is that you accept the promises of God at their face value. If you are in the midst of a trying situation and you don't accept the promises of God at their face value, it's not going to do you much good to know them.

David has left us a wonderful example. In Psalm 119, verse 28, he describes the sad condition in which he was:

Psalm 119

28My soul melteth for heaviness…:

Now that's a good Old Testament way of expressing a saying that we use sometimes: “I'm so far down that I have to reach up to touch bottom.” David was that far down. And what did he do? He said, “My soul melteth for God.” And then he lifted his voice to God and said, “Strengthen me according to thy word.”

Oftentimes when we are going through a trial and our heart is heavy, well-meaning friends will say, “Don't think about it. Get your mind on something else.” We know they mean to be helpful, and sometimes that's good advice. Certainly there's no point in our worrying about something if God is going to take care of it, but the problem isn't solved by thinking about something else. That's the reason David recorded these words. “Strengthen me according to thy word.” When you go to God in prayer asking for strength, you should accept the promise, simply put, in what we're talking about–that He does increase our strength. Simply put, if we wait upon the Lord, He will renew our strength. But there are a multitude of promises in the Word of God. Some of them are more meaningful to you personally, perhaps, than they would be to me, because God has spoken to your heart through them. But accept what He says in relation to them. Accepting the promises of God is connected in many places in the Word of God as an alternative to giving up, as an alternative to fainting. In Psalm 119, verse 81, David said again:

Psalm 119

81My soul fainteth for thy salvation.

“Lord, I'm in a fix. I need to be delivered, and I'm about to give up.” But notice how he finishes the verse:

Psalm 119

81…but I hope in thy word.

He's past the place here where he thinks that someone will come to his deliverance. He's past the place where he thinks, “Well, so and so has always helped me out, and he'll be here before long.” He said, “Lord, I'm hoping in Thy Word. I'm resting my belief in your delivering power in the Word of God.”

May I remind you that when all else fails, the Word of God stands secure. I have made promises to people which I fully meant when I made them, but I disappointed them. I was not able to keep them, but God never does that. His promises are real.

Adjusting Our Perspective

One last thing I would like to suggest to you as an aid to your renewing your strength, and I've expressed it in the words, “the adjustment of perspective.” Most of us see with human eyes; most of us see as ordinary men see, but we need to adjust our perspective. Paul brings that to our attention in the familiar verses of II Corinthians, chapter 4, verses 15 through 18, where he said:

II Corinthians 4

15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Go back over that paragraph with me, and let's emphasize a few things for our mutual encouragement. Let me say that this whole paragraph could be summed up in the statement, “It all depends on the way you look at things.” Folk have said that to you at different times, I suppose, in your life. “Well, it all depends on how you look at it.” I'm not sure they know what they mean when they say that, and certainly they don't offer any concrete thing; but on the basis of this passage of Scripture, it does depend on the way you look at it. He mentions in the very first statement that related to the sacrifice of giving, which the Corinthians were responsible for, as well as other problems in their life, all of it gave a chance that the abundant grace of God might be made evident through the thanksgiving of many. I am aware that primarily there he's speaking of the sacrificial giving of the Corinthians, but I want to emphasize as well that we need to recognize these difficult things that come into our lives that bring us almost to the place of fainting and giving up as an opportunity for the abundant grace of God to be manifested not only in our lives, but as a testimony to others.

I wonder what people think of us and our testimony when they see us under fire. It's one thing when you have a testimony meeting for someone to get up and give a testimony about God's faithfulness or to quote a verse of Scripture that has been a blessing to them or share some answer to prayer. And it always blesses our hearts, but that's true of nearly all Christians. What kind of a testimony do you give when you are under fire? You don't talk about it, but people know about it; and people could say, whether they say it to you or not, “Well, there is one thing sure: His faith is real. He's standing.” I think we should be more concerned about the abundant grace of God being manifested in our lives than we would be about what people may or may not think of us. It does depend on the way you look at things. These difficult circumstances are an opportunity for the abundant grace of God to be shown.

Contrasting Affliction With Glory

One other thought I would make mention of in this verse: There is presented to us in this verse of Scripture a contrast between affliction and glory, and the Apostle Paul mentioned that most of us spend our time looking at the affliction instead of looking for the glory. I saw a little tract the other day. The cover of it said, “If the outlook is bad, try the uplook.” There was a little telescope on it. “If the outlook is bad, try the uplook.” That's what Paul's talking about here. Did you notice he said, “Our affliction is light, and it's but for a moment.”? I can tell you from experience that it is awfully hard to accept. Someone comes along and tries to perk you up and says, “Oh, it doesn't hurt that bad.” In the flesh you want to say, “What do you mean it doesn't hurt that bad?” You know it does. But scripturally, whatever affliction, be it physical, emotional or whatever, it is really a light thing; and it is but for a moment. And when you contrast the exceeding weight–an exceeding, eternal weight of glory–your heart has to be encouraged. Though we may have to accept by faith that the affliction is light and the glory that will come later will be an extremely glorious thing, it is true; and we can find in our heart a real understanding of what it means to wait on the Lord by changing our outlook. Renew your strength by changing your life perspective.

In the few moments I have remaining, I want to suggest to you the lifestyle of those who wait on the Lord as it is contrasted with the lifestyle of the world. Yes, there's something here in the Word about mounting up with wings as eagles; there's something about running and not being weary and walking and not fainting. We have experienced all of those and can share them with you at some time or other, but at the moment I want to drive home this truth that I'm trying to get across to you concerning man's perspective. You recall in Psalm, number 55, verses 5 and 6, David said:

Psalm 55

5Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.

I don't know whether we could pinpoint the exact experience that he had, and whether we could say that we have experienced such; and yet I think that we can, because in the next verse David said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.”

Human Response to Trial

That is human response to trial. “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! then I could fly away and be at rest.” Hasn't there been a time, perhaps even now, that you'd like to get out of it all? Oh, I don't mean that you'd like to commit suicide, but if you could just get away from it all. That's the reason why some folk mistakenly commit suicide. That's sometimes why folk go off and children run away from home. They may not know it, but they just want to get away from it all. David said, “I feel like that sometimes. I've been so low that if I just had the wings of a dove, I could fly over the prison walls.” Prisoners, you remember, have studied birds quite a bit, and “The Bird Man of Alcatraz” has summed all that up in His book, because there wasn't much in Alcatraz to attract men's attention. He made a study of the birds, and oftentimes he saw a sparrow on the prison wall flitting in and flying out. And he thought how often he himself would liked to have done that. I think that's what David had in mind here. He was imprisoned in this particular circumstance in which he found himself; he had said, “If I just had the wings of a dove to get away from it all, how fortunate I would be. I would fly away and be at rest.”

What David realized later, that you and I may need to realize, is that there is no way of getting out of it. If you do fly away like the dove, you won't necessarily have rest. I say David learned that lesson because in Psalm 11, verses 1-3, he emphasized that he learned that lesson. He spoke of an experience through which he was going similar to a number he went through, and in verse 2 of that Psalm he said:

Psalm 11

2For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.

He felt the way that many believers feel, that everything's against them and everybody's against them. This thing of which David speaks is more trying than you might think. Have you ever stopped to consider what he was talking about? Do you know what he said? He said they had the bow string stretched and the arrow on the string and were ready to let it fly, but they never did. Haven't you been in a situation where you have said, relative to something that you knew had to be, and you knew it was going to be unpleasant, but people kept putting it off, “Get it over with!” You'd rather have it over with than go through the anxiety of waiting for it to happen. That's what David was talking about here. He went on to say, in verse 3:

Psalm 11

3If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Perhaps there was some such conversation, in the light of the context. Everything is going under. The very foundations are going. What are you supposed to do in a situation like this? And this is why I say David had learned his lesson. He said to these friends, “You say to me, ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain'. That's human advice.” David said at one time, “I'd like to get out of it all.” Other folk said, “Well, I wouldn't suggest that you just get away from it all. I would just say that you get in some place where you won't be in the midst of all of this. Flee as a bird to your mountain.” Now when a bird flees to his mountain, he is fleeing for protection. And because of the context, David recognized that as human wisdom.

Trusting In the Lord

Notice in verse 1, and I purposely left the first verse until last so that we could have the background for what he actually said:

Psalm 11

1In the Lord put I my trust:…

You see, he had learned his lesson. Previously he had said, “Oh, if I had the wings of a dove, I'd fly away.” And folk said, “Well, flee as a bird to your mountain.” And he said, “Oh, no, don't tell me that. That's not advice that I need. I'm going to put my trust in the Lord.” And more emphatically, he said, “In the Lord I put my trust. Don't ask me to flee as a bird or to fly away like a dove.” Dear One, you now have the opportunity of acting the way humans act or accepting the provision that God has made. You'll never have to wish you were a dove. You'll never have to flee as a bird if you wait on the Lord, for He has promised, “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. They shall walk and not faint.”


Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word, and always when we handle thy Word we recognize that human hands cause imperfections. But we pray that Thou will remove all the chaff and let the seed of the Word remain and let it find root in the hearts of those who heard. We would pray, our Father, for those who may be in our midst who haven't said a whole lot about it, but they're like David was. They would fly away if they could. We pray that thou will enable them to renew their strength as they wait upon Thee and mount up with wings as eagles and fly victoriously over every problem. Father, should there be someone here who doesn't know a whole lot about what we're talking about because they haven't been born again, we pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will be made very real to them, and in simple faith they will acknowledge that they are sinners and receive Jesus Christ as Savior, resting on the promise of the Word of God, “as many as receive the Lord Jesus Christ, to them gives he the right to be called the children of God.” We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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