Text: Isaiah 43:18-26
Key Verse: Isaiah 43:18-19 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
I want to introduce the message this morning by telling you the story of “Lawnchair Larry.”
Larry Walters, was a 33-year-old man in 1982, who decided he wanted to see his neighborhood from a new perspective. He went down to the local army surplus store one morning and bought forty-five used weather balloons and several helium tanks from a local Toy store. That afternoon he strapped himself into a lawn chair, to which several of his friends tied the now helium-filled balloons. He took along a six-pack of beer, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and a BB gun, figuring he could shoot the balloons one at a time when he was ready to land. He packed some sandwiches and a six pack of beer and prepared for take-off.
Walters, assumed the balloons would lift him about 100 feet in the air, was caught off guard when the chair took off like a rocket when the first tether was released. It rose so quickly that it then bork the second tether that was meant as a safety line. His glasses fell off and he held on in fear of his life. He then soared more than 16,000 feet into the sky, right into the middle of the air traffic pattern at Los Angeles International Airport. At least two pilot radioed in to the tower. “LAX, we have a man in our flight lane at about 16,000 feet and you’re not going to believe this but he is flying a lawn chair.”
Now Larry was too frightened to shoot any of the balloons, he stayed airborne for more than two hours, forcing the airport to shut down its runways for much of the afternoon, causing long delays in flights from all cross the country. Finally, he found the courage to shoot a few of the balloons and start to descend but then he dropped the pellet pistol and just had to wait till the helium came out of the balloons. As he came down his broken tether lines draped across some power lines and caused an entire Los Angeles neighborhood to go black.
Soon after he was safely grounded and arrested by LA’s finest. Later the reporter asked him three questions: "Were you scared?" "Yes." "Would you do it again?" "No." "Why did you do it?" "Because," he said, "you can't just sit there."
I would never go for a 16,000 ft in a folding lawnchair, but I do agree with Larry's reason for doig it himself. "You can't just sit there." Yet, isn’t that what we are guilty of doing in most of our Christian lives? Just sitting there? I would rather soar into the path of danger than sit in the lawn chair of inaction. But how do we begin to break out of our religious ruts? Turn to Isaiah 43:18 and look at
God’s promise of new rivers.
The Promise Isaiah 43:18-19
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
The context of the rest of the chapter points to His own past works, the things that God has done in the past for Israel. He had made a path through the Red Sea, he had overthrown the Egyptian army when Moses led out the Hebrews. But now God himself promises a new thing and he promises that He will do this new thing.
Babylon, the Chaldeans was the great military power that was beginning to invade Israel, indeed Isaiah had already prophesied that because of Judah’s sin, Babylon would overtake the nation and go into captivity, but along with the prophecy of punishment, God sends a prophecy of hope and return.
Isaiah speaking as God’s prophet says it will spring forth. He asks shall you not know it. A rhetorical question that tells us the new thing will be plainly and powerfully the work of God. No one will be able to recognize God’s hand at work. God will make a way in the wilderness, a highway through the wasteland, and He would bring rivers, not just a rain shower or even a stream but full wide rivers, God would bring into the dry and thirsty deserts. This way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert were to bring His people home one day.
Look at the description God's new thing. It will be...
Spontaneous. The Bible says "It shall spring forth." Not anything they had seen before not what they were familiar with, but fresh and new.
It would also be Superior. "A way in the wilderness." No longer a cross country trek though the rocks, sand, hills and wadis. Not there would be a highway, that would let people go where God wanted them to go.
And it would be Satisfying. There were going to be "Rivers in Desert." Places where God’s people could find refreshment as the traveled on God’s highway back.
Does God Promise New Ways Today?
The promise that God made to Israel is still our promise today. You can experience the newness of God. You can find a way through the wilderness and rivers in the deserts. It happens at Salvation, when you accept the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for us.
Jesus himself described it to the woman at the wall as a spring of water - John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Later in 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Even as a 7 year old boy I felt it, I was new. And I have seen that wonderful gift of newness in Christ come into the life of people who have wasted their lives on this world’s worst poisons and lies but when they found Jesus that old dried up desert of a life was flooded with a new river of life.
And I want to tell you that God never intended for that newness to stop at salvation. God didn’t stop after delivering the Hebrews during the Exodus and He doesn’t stop bring newness into our life as we follow where He leads.
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
God is never satisfied with our past or the old ways of doing things. He looks for newness in our relationship with him and in our service for Him.
Illustration: Ten Again
A man asked his wife, "What would you most like for your birthday?"
She said, "I'd love to be ten again."
On the morning of her birthday, he got her up bright and early and off they went to a theme park.
He put her on every ride in the park--the Death Slide, The Screaming Loop, the Wall of Fear. Everything wild ride that was there he made sure they rode it.
She staggered out of the theme park five hours later, her head reeling and her stomach upside down.
Into McDonald's they went, where she was given a Double Big Mac with extra fries and a strawberry shake.
Then off to a theater to see a revival of Star Wars, with a big bucket of popcorn, large Dr. Pepper and a giant box of Good and Plenty candy.
At last she staggered home with her husband and collapsed on the couch. Her husband leaned over and asked her, "Well, sweetheart, what was it like being ten again?"
She slowly opened just one eye, groaned and said, "Actually I was talking about my dress size."
Transition: Now, you may not want to be ten again either but the Lord promises that whether you are 8 or 80 each day you can experience newness in your walk with Him.
The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.
Why God Brings The New
First, To Satisfy His People. "To give drink to my people my chosen."
Second, To magnify His Person. "They shall shew forth my praise."
Israel, after their deliverance from Babylon would find fulfillment in their God that they had not found before this and they would also come to praise God because of His deliverance and provision.
Do we accept God's purpose?
What about God's purpose for us. Is it also supposed to be a life of satisfaction and fulfillment? Is my purpose to live a life, praising the One who saved me and who gave me hope for all eternity? Of course that should be my purpose just as it was for Israel after God saved them.
And yet we have all met Christians who do act like this is God’s purpose in their life. Instead of being satisfied, instead of praising Him, every sorrow, every problem and every inconvenience in their life they blamed on God. "I don't know why God did this to me."
Example Mrs. Dalton, a woman you never asked how she was feeling because she would tell you every sickness and operation she had had in the last 25 years. All her life centered on how bad she felt. As a young child that’s what I remember of her. And I have met pastors who are the same way. They can’t talk without complaining about their members, their problems with their kids, or other pastors that they can’t stand.
And there are other Christians, Christians who think that the Christian life never changes, never has excitement or newness in it. They go through their Christian life like people stuck on a spiritual Merry-Go-Round, a Christian Carousel of Changelessness. Nothing new or spontaneous or exciting every happens, not in their life, not in their family, not in the church. Just the same ol, same ol’. Is that really why Jesus came? Is that what He said he came to earth for?
Look what these verses says, directly from Jesus Himself, John 10:10 I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.
John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full.
John 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 17:13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
That was Jesus purpose and we are also told that we have a purpose. We are told why we are here as the saved of God on this earth?
Ephesians 1:11-12 "to the praise of his glory. "Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
I need to accept and believe that God has a new purpose in my life, but then I must let God make it happen. He will make the provision for the new.
But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.
The passage tells us that God’s provision is not by the goodness of the people but by God's own power and for His own sake.
Yet there is something that the people of Israel had to do. They had to come to Him.
Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest "Every virtue we possess"
All my fresh springs shall be in Thee. Ps 87:7b Our Lord never patches up our natural virtues, He remakes the whole man on the inside. The life God plants in us develops its own virtues, not the virtues of Adam, but of Jesus Christ. Watch how God will wither up your confidence in natural virtues after sanctification, and in any power you have, until you learn to draw your life from the reservoir of the resurrection life of Jesus.
If your tired of being lost in the wilderness, tired of the dried up deserts then what must you do?
First, Realize that you can't do it. You can’t bring the new, only God can.
Paul said his best was as dung before God. Philippians 3:7-9 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Second, Believe in the power of God to accomplish it.
Belief means acting upon God's promise. It accepts and trusts in what God has already done. Belief does not create anything nor does it force God to act on our behalf. Faith simply accepts what God is offering to us.
Third, Come to God. Come to God confessing our inability but believing in His ability, confessing our weakness but believing in His strength, confessing our defeat but believing in His victory, confessing our pitiful condition but believing in His powerful remedy.
Fourth, Then you will experience the New Rivers of God flowing through your soul and into everything you do.
The lepers at the gate of Samaria “Why sit we here till we die?” We will all have our wildernesses places and dried up deserts but for those who will let God work in their lives they will find that a new way in the wilderness and refreshing rivers in the deserts. Please, accept God’s gift of newness today. If you are lost in the wilderness or if you are just stuck in the ruts of your Christianity routine, why not trust in God’s new way for your life?