Rise Up…with Heavenly Strength!

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Who hasn’t at one point or another dreamed of flying? Not just going up in a plane or para-sailing, but mounting up with wings and soaring on the air like a bird…surely it would be a marvelous experience, as we try to replicate it through sports and machines, and often describe euphoric feelings in terms of flight. These emotions come to mind when we read the end of Isaiah 40, as we imagine mounting with wings like eagles. It is an inspiring passage, especially to anyone who struggles or works hard in any sense. This lesson focuses on the hope of Christ and the beautiful promises of God granted to all who love and serve Him.
Lesson focus: God has made amazing promises to us, and He promises to help us if we keep our hearts fixed on Him.
Passage: Isaiah 40:21-31
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Paper, paper towel tubes, decorative materials, feathers, puzzles, string
Lesson Opening: This story has to do with strength…strength of the Lord, and power to the weak and weary….we will start off with a couple of fun physical exercises! First, play “follow the flying leader…”
Mark a path on the playground or courtyard, or simply travel around the church, with one person in the lead and others following behind. Have the leader shout either “run”, “walk”, or “soar” and act accordingly…if “soar” is called, all participants should flap like birds and pretend to fly around the playground. After a bit of this, return to the classroom.
– Have a “strength challenge” time…depending on makeup of the group, the intensity of this may vary…you might have all kids come down to the floor for a “plank” or push-up contest…or just see who can stand on one leg the longest. The point is to do something physically hard and tiring, and think about what makes us fatigued.
Explain that today’s lesson describes to us the power and strength of God, and gives us a hopeful message that we can have that power in our lives, too…we can do amazing and powerful things when we rely on Him and place our focus on God rather than ourselves!
Bible Lesson:
Invite students to open their Bibles and partner read the passage, pausing for questions and comments. Alternatively, you may read the verses to them (as they follow along), and stop to point out what is being read at intervals. Remind students that Isaiah was a prophet who came to the people of Israel. Many parts of his messages discussed the coming Messiah, and a lot of them spoke hopefully about the future. This passage in Isaiah 40 is no exception…
 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?
22 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.    -Isaiah 40:21-22

Who is in charge of the universe? Well, if you have been in Sunday School for any length of time, that should be a “duh” answer—it’s God, of course! But not only is He in charge. He has always been and will always be in command. He is enthroned, and we are like bugs compared to His majesty! Now, that might sound a little scary, and it could be intimidating…but the important element to consider is that this is a message of hope. Isaiah promises a restoration to the people of Israel, and assures them that they can take heart in God’s great goodness ad glory.
He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 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. -Isaiah 40:23-24

Display a few seemingly impossible problems: maybe an extra-challenging math puzzle, or a chemical calculation, or a recipe with extremely technical instructions. Explain that sometimes we become puffed up in our own pride. We think that we can solve problems on our own, or we create idols and boast of what we think we can do. But our knowledge of anything, especially God, is quite small. There is none like Him!
“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?  -Isaiah 40:25-27

God has no equal; no substitute! God has already done everything in the universe. God and God alone is THE Holy One. Have you ever looked up at night while camping or out in the country, and seen the abundance of stars in the skies? Think about it…God KNOWS those stars. They have names that He assigned, and He knows their names, as well. If He knows that much, He knows our hearts as well. This could be a somewhat scary thought….or it could be a comforting thought. All things grow old and fade away. We can easily become tired. But God grants us amazing strength. Look at the final few verses in the section…
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.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 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.  -Isaiah 40:28-31

Wouldn’t it be awesome to run and not grow tired? Any athlete would be thrilled with that prospect…or better yet, wouldn’t it be neat to FLY, to really have wings and soar on the clouds? Well, we may not physically have these things in this life…that’s not what the verse is promising. But we do know that great things lie ahead if we rely on the Lord for strength. If He is able to put the heavens in place, count the stars, and make mountains tremble, just imagine what He can do for us!
Make an “eagle” with special wings! This could be a regal eagle, standing tall and proud like the national symbol…or it could be a flying eagle. Decorate a toilet paper or paper towel tube…attach paper and/or feather-coated “wings” and beaks, as desired. Punch holes in the tube and attach string if you wish for your eagle to really “fly” around…attach the memory verse!
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Ask for strength as we look to God alone for our purpose and potential in all things.

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