“THE BEST NAVIGATION SYSTEM” By Pastor YAU
Text: Isaiah 30:15-21 January 2, 2011.
1) Navigating an aircraft: Have you ever wondered how a pilot knows to fly his aircraft from point A to point B? Most likely he uses VOR, the short for VHF Omni-directional Radio Range, an air navigational system invented in the early 1950s. The VOR still guides many aircraft to their destination today. The pilot sets the course of the aircraft on his dial and the plane will fly accordingly. If the aircraft drifts from the set course, the instrument will show the pilot that the plane is deviating so he can correct it to align the aircraft back to the set course again.
2) Navigating a nation: In the years of prophet Isaiah, the nation of Israel badly needed a reliable navigational system. Before the captivity Israel drifted away from the course of spiritual worship God set for their ancestors. God uses an extraordinary method to redirect their spiritual focus back to Him by allowing them fell into captivity in a pagan land. During the years of captivity, they tried to stage revolts to regain their national identity but fail miserably. They were in despair for direction as a people without God or their home- land. God sent Isaiah to Babylon to show them two things they need to know: They need to rely on God instead of their own struggle for freedom. They also need to trust God to direct their future as a nation and as a people.
WE NEED A SYSTEM LIKE THAT: Because . . . . .
1) We seek life safety first: “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior. The sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:18-19) Knowing the desperate condition of his life and his environment, Prophet Habakkuk sought safety of his life and his needs in the Lord. Among all the four most important elements for survival, the first and the foremost is the need of safety of life. We need a system to keep us safe.
2) We don’t know tomorrow: “You do not know what will happen tomorrow.” (James 4:14) In respond to the self confident who brag about their plans of money making, James reminded them that they really don’t know nor have any control of their life even the next day. This is one of the weaknesses of being human. Since we don’t know what may happen tomorrow but have to plan for tomorrow, we need a system to help us charting the future.
3) We live in this wild land: “The Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land is slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, the thirsty and waterless land with its venomous snakes and scorpions.” (Deut. 8:14-15) Moses used very descriptive and vivid words to show us that this world we live is not a friendly place but a dangerous land where we need God to lead our way as did the Israelis in Exodus time. When Jesus tried to comfort his disciples before his pending death on the cross, he told them, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We need God who knows better to help us going through life in this wild world.
4) We face spiritual warfare: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) This last danger of our life is not the least danger at all. We need to know that safety is not just for the physical but also for the spiritual. In order to venture our life safely to the end, we also need a system that can protect us from harm and lead us out of pitfalls both in the physical and spiritual areas.
BE AWARE OF FAULTY SYSTEMS: Just to list a few.
1) The system of materialism: “And I will say to my soul: Soul, you have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy. Eat, drink and be merry.” (Luke 12:19)By far, this is the most system many people seek to feel safe and secured but it is the most unreliable system of all. History long ago as well as in present days both prove that material possession is frail and risky. Many people in this world believe that material possession is the key to safety. But the truth is material things has very little to do, is any, to make any life safe. Above all, material possession itself is also unreliable and fleeting. Jesus has some words of wisdom on this subject. (Mt. 6:19)
2) The system of self reliance: “Now listen, you who say: Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” (James 4:13-14) James certainly is not against planning for the future, but against self-confidence and self-reliance many people still practicing, especially in this world today. He warns against “You boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.” Further, James advised that “You ought to say: If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” (4:15-16) God is in total control, not anyone of us.
3) The system of do-it-my-way: “My people have committed 2 sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) The people at Jeremiah time tried to build their security by digging their cistern to store water while they reject the provision of living water by the Lord. Today, many people, including some Christians, do exactly the same thing: we want to do our own things our own way for our own security and needs when there is God who can provide us living water that will never run dry. This is not a rejection of saving or planning for the future, it is about self sufficiency without God.
4) The system of connection: “Do not trust in princes or mortal men who cannot save. When their spirit departs they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” (Ps. 146:3-4) These are words of King David. He talks about the risk of seeking guidance or help from connection of people in high or powerful positions. Many people today believe that a good connection with people in high and powerful positions will help them go through life. King David says in Ps. 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” It is nothing wrong to have connection with people, buy putting you future in their hands is a very risky thing because they can’t even save their own life for another moment, must less your life.
HERE IS THE DIVINE SYSTEM: (Isaiah 30:15-21)
1) Turn off our own activities: “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In returning and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (30:15) Just as in downloading a new program into your computer, you need to turn off all other programs for the new program to work properly without interference. If we want to allow God and His system to work in our life, we cannot run our program at the same time. This is the most common problem why we often cannot see the full power of God’s system in our life: because we cannot stop our own little human system. God doesn’t want to be our co-pilot. He needs to be the only pilot and we need to let Him do it.
2) Allow God to do His job: “The Lord waits to be gracious to you, he wants to show you compassion. For the Lord is God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” (30:18)Waiting is one thing most of us just can’t do. We want something and we want it now. But here God tells us He will wait to be gracious to us if we can wait to allow him to work. Waiting means patience and trust. If we can’t wait to allow God the time to work in our life, we just can’t experience his power, guidance and blessing. Just read v. 19 and you will see all the blessings God intends for us.
3) Allow God time to change us: “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more. With your own eyes you will see them.” (30:20) God was changing the ways He deals with the Israelis in exile to purify their souls so they will be faithful to the Lord. It is a necessary step to uninstall the old program for the new one to work. We need to allow God to change us, cleanse us and renew us so we can see the Teacher and his work in our life. Unless a vessel is cleansed, God cannot pour His blessing into it. “If anyone who is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (1 Corinth. 5:17) No new wine can be poured into an old wineskin.
4) Follow on His directions: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying: This is the way, walk in it.” (30:21)Anytime you use a new program, you need to know the instruction and follow it carefully to be effective. Same principle applies to follow God’s system. We need to read His instruction in His word, the Bible and to follow His direction so His system may work properly in us. If we keep our ears open and alert, we will hear His voice to correct us any time when we get distracted that drift to the right or the left: you will hear God’s voice: this is the right way, walk in it.
1) We need a new system: If you feel that in this new year, you want to live a new life for God, for your self and for people around you, then you need a new system to help you, guide you and correct you on the way. No system is better than the system God uses to lead us to in the right path. Seek his way and allow God to work in you in the New Year.
2) We need to allow changes: In order for God’s system to work properly and effectively, we need to allow God to change us: our attitude, our value our way of life and our goal and purpose. We need to allow God to cleanse us, remove all unclean thought and sinful desire from our heart so God can install His purpose, values and guidelines for us to follow.
3) We need to be obedient: In order for God’s system to work the best, we need to be obedient to His direction. Anytime, we try to follow our way, we jeopardize God’s power in our life and render it ineffective. The level of our obedience to God’s system determines the level of His effectiveness.