Sermon Outline On Isaiah 40:21-31
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked,”What’s the point, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity-boiling water-but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her daughter.”When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle Adversity? ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?
This inspiring parable ends with the following statement: Don’t tell GOD how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your GOD is!
While this is a poetic attempt to make this vivid image into a spiritual message, there is a serious theological flaw in this statement. It begins, “Don’t tell GOD how big your storm is.” That is not good Biblical theology. The book of Psalms contains one example after another of doing just that–telling God how big our storm is. The point of the message of the prophet Isaiah we read today is that we are to place our trust in God. It is by God’s power that we weather the storm, and that is the point of this closing statement of the e-mail parable.
However, it is in the very sharing with God just how big our storm is that we know the strength that is from God. We are not informing God of anything. God knows that we are in the middle of “boiling water.” The prayer, the sharing with God, is the way that we accept God’s grace in our lives. In accepting that grace, we remind ourselves that the good shepherd is walking with us in the dark valley.
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Endnote The e-mail parable is right on in saying, “Tell the storm how big your GOD is!” Our God is bigger than the storms of life!
God asks us today through the prophet Isaiah, “Why do you complain …my way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God?”
Hear God’s promise. “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”
Hear God’s promise. “God gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.” It is by God’s grace and the strength and power that comes from God that we are able to transform the “boiling water” into something of hope and joy.
Hear God’s promise. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Endnote
God expects us to come calling. God excepts us to tell the One who flung the stars into the heaven all about our problems. Not because God doesn’t know, but because that is the way we know that God cares and that God is with us.
This parable can be interpreted as “pick yourself up by your bootstraps.” Did you hear how it ended. “If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle Adversity? ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?”
On the other hand, this parable may be interpreted as the words of wisdom found in Proverbs 3:4-5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.” This was the attempt made with the closing couplet.
The message from the prophet Isaiah is that God overcomes if we just place our hope in our God who has great power and mighty strength, if we obediently and faithfully allow God to work in us and in our circumstances.
What is God’s deepest desire for you and me? The Psalmist expressed it in Psalm 147:10-11. “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; [God does not delight is our displays of self saving strength] the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” The HarperCollins Study Bible says of that word “fear,” “an all-encompassing term for worship and obedience, the proper relationship to God.” Another translations puts it this way, “the Lord takes pleasure in the faithful, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”
According to the words of this Psalm and the prophet Isaiah, God’s deepest desire for youÂ is to have that proper relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that we may fully rely on the One who “brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.” That we might trust in the Lord because of his great power and mighty strength.
We can be a carrot or an egg. But by God’s grace we can be a coffee bean.