Tell Them and Some Will Believe
from sermon series
“Learning from Isaiah”
by Pastor Dave Strem
Used by permission
Batteries are not designed to be idle. They are designed to be used. I opened up that flashlight and inside it was terribly corroded. There was stuff all over on the inside, the walls, the switches, the springs, the light bulb, were covered with battery acid and corrosion. The flashlight became useless. Isn’t that how we are? God has designed us to be the light of the world. We were not created to be in a safe environment, warm and snuggly. We were designed to cast light amid the darkness.
Successful evangelism isn’t leading someone to the Lord. Successful evangelism is being obedient at scattering the seed. I do not want you to think that you have to be a Billy Graham. You just have to be an obedient servant. Let me tell you about a flashlight I found recently. It was in one of my cabinets. It is a large one. I found it the other day after several months of not using it and when I tried to shine it I discovered it did not work. The light did not come on, not even a faint glow, nothing. I knew that I had put new batteries in it, so I figured the batteries had run out of power. I unscrewed the lid and tried to take out the batteries but they would not come out. I started shaking and shaking and shaking. What a mess! I had battery acid all over the place. Those batteries that I put in were new when I put them in, but now they were badly corroded.
You and I were created to share God’s message of good news to the world. Isaiah 40:1-11 describe that good news centuries before Jesus Christ was born into this world. “Comfort, comfort my people,” says God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for. That she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Verse 3: “A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up and every mountain and hill made low. A rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Verse 6: “A voice says cry out and I said, what shall I cry? All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall but, because the breath of the Lord blows on them, surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord, our God, stands forever.” Verse 9: “You who bring tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout. Lift it up and do not be afraid. Say to the towns of Judah, here is your God. See the sovereign Lord comes with power and his arm rules for him. See his reward is with him and his recompense accompanies him.” Verse 11: “He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms. He carries them close to his heart. He gently leads those that have young.”
Look at verses 3-5. In the desert there is dryness, aridness because of a lack of water. Spiritually, there are people in our community who are dry and thirsty who need to be watered. In the wilderness there is aloneness. Many people suffer daily with loneliness. We, like the prophet, can bring God’s words of encouragement to them, maybe even bring them some companionship. Verse 4 says, “Every valley shall be raised and every mountain and hill made low. The rough ground shall become level and the rugged place a plain.” For those who are arrogant and haughty this is a warning. God is saying, “I am the sovereign Lord, you are only a human whose heart can stop beating at any time, trust in Me. For those who are lowly in this world, entering into My purposes and plans can give a significance and satisfaction that will last beyond this temporal world.”
I was reminded the other day of a basketball game I saw in 1987. LSU was playing Indiana. It was the regional semi-finals in the NCAA tournament and LSU was ahead by 8 points. They were milking the clock, focusing on the clock. But what got them 8 points ahead had nothing to do with focusing on the clock, but playing wholeheartedly. One of the announcers saw this and said, “Look, they are no longer playing like they are trying to beat Indiana. They are trying to beat the clock.” As they lost their focus, concentrating on the clock, Indiana crept closer and closer. Indiana won the game. Indiana went on to win the national championship. Brothers and sisters, do not lose your spiritual focus. You are in an important ‘game’, do not focus on the clock. Jesus is coming with justice for the downtrodden and abused. You were created to share. Echo the voice of the prophet.
The second voice in this passage is the voice of God. The Lord cries out, “All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall because the breath of the Lord falls on them. Surely the people are like grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” As you are sharing with others, communicate this truth–that we are temporal and weak. The things that we focus on, the houses, the cars, the bank accounts, whatever it is, are temporal and destined for destruction. We are all subject to death and judgment. We are powerless to prevent either!
Chuck Colson wrote in his book, The Loving God, about a 4th century Christian monk who lived in a remote village and as he was praying he heard the word of the Lord. He heard God’s voice and it said, “Go to Rome.” The monk spent weeks traveling to Rome. He arrives just as a festival was starting and follows the crowd into the Coliseum. His heart was full of Christ’s love and concern for others. When he saw the gladiators killing each other for the pleasure of the crowd and their own glory, he was grieved and horrified. He went down into the fighting arena and walked over to the gladiators and said, “In the name of Christ, Stop!” As he said this, one of the gladiators drove his sword into the little man’s body. As he collapsed on the Coliseum floor, he shouted again, “In the name of Christ, Stop!” A hush fell over the crowd. One person in the stands got up and made his way to the exit. He was followed by another, then another, and then another. Colson writes, “That day was the last day that people died in that Coliseum for pure entertainment.” What are you crying out against? What grieves your heart? That little man made a huge impact because he stood with Christ against injustice and brutality. What are you willing to side with Christ to oppose? Anything?
“You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout. Lift up your voice, do not be afraid. Say to the towns of Judah, here is your God. See the sovereign Lord comes with power and his arm rules for him” (verses 9-10). We should do the same thing for our community. We were created to share. If that little monk can look those huge gladiators in the eye and say, “Stop!” then surely you can speak to those God puts in your path.
Verse 11 likens God’s role of protector and nurturer to that of a shepherd. It says, “He tends his flock like a shepherd and He gathers them in his arms and carries them close to his heart. He gently leads those who have young.” Does that sound familiar? Psalm 23 comes to my mind. Look at Psalm 23. Let me read the first couple of verses. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures and he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” What did we say would happen? Revival would break out. “He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake and even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me. Your rod and your staff will comfort me.” It’s a beautiful picture of the shepherd with his rod and his staff gently guiding and protecting his beloved sheep. This Shepherd is worthy of our trust!
I was reminded recently about a race boat driver who had a racing accident. The racer was traveling at top speed and catches a wave at the right angle and spins out of control. He was thrown out of the boat. In fact, he was going so fast and the angle of trajectory was so steep that he was thrown deep into the ocean water. It threw him down so far that he had no idea which direction he was facing. He said he calmly waited for a few moments so that the buoyancy in his vest could begin to move him in the correct direction. He followed that buoyancy and swam to the surface. Some of us have our lives filled with so many things that when we emotionally and spiritually spin out of control we lose our bearings. We do not know how to escape. We need to learn how to be calm and allow God to protect and direct us.
You were created to share. Echo the words of the prophet and the words of our Lord. Echo the voice of the people. Tell others that their Savior has died and been raised to new life for them. Tell them that forgiveness is available for all who receive the redemptive work of Jesus Christ at Calvary as their own. Tell them and some will believe!