1 LIVING THE EAGLE LIFE By Neil Smith preached at FHBC Evening Service on the 4th May 2008 Main Question = Are you one of the flock that follows, or are you one that shall lead the way? Main Point = Don’t flow with the Flock. What I want them to do about it = Fly toward God – alone if you have to – lead the way against the flow. Introduction - hook You guys all know what a comparison is? Right? You use a comparison to help describe something. It can be a metaphor or a simile – you all remember those from school right? Here’s an example; He was so tall, he was like an Oak tree. Here’s another... Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze! You with me now... Great. Tonight we pick up where we left off last week with the next chapter of Hosea – and it is going to give us a couple of interesting comparisons. I want to look at one in particular, please open your bibles to Hosea chapter 7. Let’s all stand together. Book – Hosea 7:1–16 1 whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed and the crimes of Samaria revealed. God is saying whenever I want to heal you Israel – all your sin starts pouring out. He goes on... They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets; 2 but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me. 3 "They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. Even the leaders are in on it...And here comes a comparison... 4 They are all adulterers, here it is...burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough, till it rises. 5 On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers. Here it is again...6 Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smoulders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. 7 All of them are hot as an oven; they devour their rulers. All their kings fall, and none of them calls on me. 8 "Ephraim mixes with the nations; Here comes another comparison... Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over. You see guys, cooking is not just a girl thing, God is into baking! Ephraim is like a cake not turned over! 2 9 Foreigners sap his strength, but he does not realize it. His hair is sprinkled with grey, but he does not notice. 10 Israel's arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this, he does not return to the LORD his God or search for him. And then here comes the one I want us to look at tonight... 11 "Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless. Interesting... (Say it slow) Like a dove. Easily deceived and senseless. You can take your seat... Ephraim is like a dove...who was Ephraim? Well, they were one of the tribes of Israel. The Tribe of Ephraim at its height, had some pretty cool territory. They were at the center of Canaan, west of the Jordan, the region which was named Samaria. The area was mountainous, giving it protection, but also highly fertile, giving prosperity, and contained the early centers of Israelite religion - Shechem and Shiloh. All these factors contributed to making Ephraim one of the most dominant of the tribes in the Kingdom of Israel, and led to Ephraim becoming a synonym for the entire kingdom. And God says that they are like a dove, because just like doves, they have been easily deceived and senseless. They just flowed with the flock. And it led them right into sin, far away from God. While I was thinking about this earlier this week. I started thinking about the comparisons used in scripture by God to describe his people. You know what I mean, for example He tells us to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. And one that I have been fascinated by, is the comparison that God uses of his people being like eagles in Isaiah 40:29. 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. Wow. God compares believers, you and I to eagles. Cool. And to doves. Not so cool! I want to speak to you today on the Subject of... TITLE: Living the eagle life You see...Out of all the birds, God compares his people to eagles in Isaiah, and to doves in Hosea. Let’s talk about the eagles for a while...we will get to Hosea’s doves in a little while. When you study eagles, there are certain attributes that you see in them that should be parallel in the life of the believer. Let me tell you a couple of things about eagles you may not have known. Firstly, you need to know that... I Eagles are fiercely committed When an eagle mates with another eagle, they stay with that mate for life. Eagles have one mate for life. Did you know that? You never hear about an eagle running around with another eagle! You never see an eagle going through a divorce. An eagle, when it mates, is so fiercely committed, that it will not mate with another eagle. It stays with that mate, in that family that they produce together, for life. Not exactly what was going on in Hosea’s time, there, everyone was like doves – just flowing with the flock with the adultery thing. But eagles don’t just flow with the flock. They are fiercely committed. I don’t know how an eagle knows that they need to stick with one partner, but it is in their nature, that he needs to stay in one relationship, all of his life. Sounds like the eagle has been reading from the Word of God! What God has put together, let no one break apart. If ever there was a time when we needed to live the eagle life, when we needed to be fiercely 3 committed to our mates and our marriages, when we needed to decide that we are living a monogamous life sexually, where we said, I have made up my mind, through good, through bad, through storms, through sunshine, through stinky nappies when we have babies, and wrinkles when we get old, I am committed to my mate. I am committed to my mate, I am committed to my family, I am committed to my children, I am committed to my church, I am committed to what God has called me to do, and I don’t care what comes and goes, I am committed. If ever we needed to be committed... in our day, and in our time. Verses 2 through 7 in Hosea says that the people of God had forgotten this; they were the opposite of fiercely committed...they were foolishly uncommitted adulterers...It says... “They do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me. 3 "They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. 4 They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises. 6 Their hearts are like an oven; ... Their passion smoulders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. 7 All of them are hot as an oven.” And that is why I believe we need to remember our commitment, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, till death do us part. Like Hosea. This is the message of the eagle, he is fiercely committed. So, are you one of the flock that follows, or are you one that shall lead the way? Say after me, “Don’t just flow with the flock.” Let me tell you something else about the eagle, the eagle is not afraid of storms... II Eagles are not afraid of Storms As a matter of fact, the thermal currents will enable and empower an eagle, when a storm comes, instead of being like a chicken and running for cover and flopping around to hide in it’s hok, the eagle will spread it’s wings because it knows with storms come thermal currents that enable it to go higher than it could go without the storm. The eagle spirit is one that says this storm is not going to tear me up, this storm is going to carry me up. And I’m not afraid of storms, yes, I don’t deny that storms will come...storms will come in your friendships, in your relationships, storms will come in your marriage, in your finances, in your career. Storms will come in your children’s lives. But when an eagle gets in a storm, it lets that storm take it to a whole new level of faith, another level of trust and blessing, if you believe God. But you see, in the flock, the storm is something feared, the storm is something bad. When you flow with the flock you get taught to run for cover when the storms come, hide somewhere till it blows over. It’s interesting that Hosea got through this storm in his marriage with Gomer and it took him to a whole new level in his walk with God. I believe that we need to know something else about eagles...they know they need to go through times of renewal. III Eagles know that they need renewal time alone This is interesting to me. Eagles have thousands of Feathers, and what happens is that after they have flown for a while, after they have soared for a while, they will go down, and lice and bugs and things will begin to latch on to their feathers. And the eagles feathers will get dirty and heavy and after a while he can’t fly as high 4 as he used to, his plumage gets all messed up. After a while he can’t soar like he used to soar – and so he has to go through a time of renewal. Interesting that that is what Isaiah 40 is talking about – Renewal. Interesting that this is what God was wanting to do in the lives of his people in Hosea – Renew them. Eagles know that they need a time of renewal. And so what the eagle will do... Amazing, certain eagles actually do this, they will find a rock, and they will get in the rock, and they will get a spot where they can get a lot of sun, as close to the Son as he can get, because he knows what he is going to have to do to those feathers. And how hectic is this, he will start plucking those feathers out, one by one, thousands of feathers, it takes days! And the eagle will pluck them out one by one. And you will never have seen such a unsightly bird, at this point it looks a mess, it’s ugly. He is plucks them all out, and he goes through the pain of change. Now listen, an eagle understands, and is not afraid of the process of change and understands that with change comes pain. There are two kinds of change, there is the pain of staying like you are, and the pain of change. You have to decide, you have to choose. You are going to be in pain one way or the other. If you stay like you are you are going to be in pain. You don’t like your life, if you’re miserable, if you’re complaining – that’s the pain of just being the same. But like the eagle, you can make a decision, and put yourself right, and say, this is going to be painful, but I am going to go through this pain of change, because I don’t like who I am, and I don’t like what’s going on in my life, and the eagle decides, I am going to go through pain for change. That’s a big decision... some of you might need to think about how it relates to what we have been speaking about the past few weeks going through Hosea. And so the eagle starts to pluck those feathers out one by one. I can’t help but think about the sins that Hosea has highlighted in this passage we read earlier, and in the previous weeks. Sins that God wants us to pluck out of our lives - hypocrisy, idolatry, ingratitude, injustice, sexual sin, pride, it may be painful, but these things will only cause more pain in our lives if we leave them plastered all over us like the lice and dirt ridden feathers of the eagle. What do you need to pluck out of your lives guys? That eagle will pluck out those infected feathers till it’s an ugly naked bird. Maybe it’s time for you to lay your soul bare before the Lord tonight? It may be ugly, but it’s necessary. Are you one of the flock that follows, or are you one that shall lead the way? Say after me, “Don’t just flow with the flock.” Then, so amazing. This blew my mind when I heard it. The eagle as you know has a beak. Deh. As you have seen in these pictures they are sharp and curve down. Now what happens in some cases – after a while that beak becomes calloused, and it begins to grow inward, like an ingrown toe-nail. And do you know what it does? It locks the jaws of that eagle completely shut till it cannot open it’s mouth! (Say it slow) If it is a lady eagle, that is bad, it cannot open it’s mouth at all! I’m just kidding ladies. Lighten up a little. But listen to this, that beak will curve round in until it completely closes the mouth of the eagle. Locked shut. Don’t miss the spiritual lesson. That eagle cannot eat anything fresh. All it has is the prey that it ate a week ago, and the hare that it ate a month ago inside of it. And you know guys, when I gave my heart to the Lord He gave me a heart of an eagle. He gave me wings of praise that when I praise him in the storm, the storm actually takes me higher. When I gave my heart to the Lord I decided I was not going to flow with the flock anymore. But when you have been walking with the Lord for a while, you can become callous. You know what I mean...And you don’t take in fresh manna from him. And you are no longer taking in a fresh passionate walk with Jesus, you’re not consuming him anymore. 5 And if you’re not careful it’s like you’re an eagle, but you are living off yesterday, you’re living off what you used to have, you’re living off what you used to take in. And so many believers don’t understand that there are processes, that when you first get saved, you’re soaring, and it’s so happy, and you are eating the Word of God, you can’t get enough of church, you can’t get enough of bible study, you’re tearing it up, but once you stay in this thing for a while it is possible for you to become callous to the Spirit, it is possible that you are not taking it in like you used to. You come to church but it’s not getting in you, you are going through the motions. And what has to happen is this. The eagle knows it has to go up into a higher place, and he will take his beak, and he will throw himself against a rock, and he will knock that beak against the rock over and over, he will back up and do it again and again. And little by little that beak will begin to break like a scab, until that beaks point, that has become ingrown, completely breaks off. It can be quite a sight, his face is battered and bruised and bleeding. If you were to look at it him then he looks awful. It’s meant to be an eagle, but it’s feathers are out, it’s beak is all broken and bleeding. Believe it or not, this is what is called the renewing of the eagle. And there must come a time in every believers life, when you sense you are not getting it like you used to get it, when you sense you are coming to church and you are not taking it in, and Jesus does not excite you anymore, and worship becomes a duty, and you can’t even get your mouth open to say (Mouth Closed Voice) “Praise the Lord!” because your beak has grown over and you have lock-jaw. This happens! And there is only one solution for it. Eagles have to get alone. That is right. Alone. Alone time. One-on-One with the son. Heart Laid bare. In the rock. Close to the Son. By yourself. Notice you will never see a flock of eagles. Eagles know that they cannot just flow with the flock. They go their own way sometimes. Like believers guys. Other birds fly in flocks, but eagles know that there are some things that you have to do alone! There are some places where you don’t just go with the flow in the flock. Yes we have companions, yes we have community in the body, but my friends, being a believer, living the eagle life, means that sometimes... You won’t be invited to the party if you are an eagle. Sometimes people won’t want to be around you if you are an eagle. Sometimes people don’t want anything to do with you when you are an eagle. And there is such a thing as the eagle life, where sometimes you have to get alone with God. This is good. Now...there are not just eagles. I need to tell you that in the church there are some other birds. People have sometimes not become eagles, and if you have not become an eagle you are going to become another bird...we will get to Hosea’s one last...In the church there are... 1. Vultures You know what they do? They tear the flesh off somebody else. They tear flesh off. And you know, vultures will rip people to pieces. Some people have a vulture spirit. I have seen this in the world and I have seen this in the church - and have you seen those nature programs - Vultures flow with a flock. And they can come with their homies and pull a real nasty on you. And anytime they hear that someone is struggling, they just tear them to pieces, in the name of the Lord! You know, (Vulture Voice)“Did you hear about so and so, let me tell you... so we can pray for them!” You are a vulture, not an eagle. The bible said in Leviticus, there were certain birds that were legal to eat for the Jews, and certain that were illegal to eat. Thank the Lord that chicken was one that you can eat! I always enjoy a good Kentucky rounder burger. But did you know in Lev 11 it says that these birds are illegal to eat... and one of them is an eagle. 6 It’s illegal to eat eagle. And if your brother, and your sister, are going through a struggle, you are not sup post to, in Paul’s words, “consume one another.” With your mouths, attacking one another. Like a vulture ripping each other to pieces. Vultures are a great way of describing the people of God in Hosea, practising deceit, bandits, thieves, mockers, adulterers it’s all there in the passage we read earlier. Secondly, there is another bird called the Kuckoo Bird. 2. Kuckoo Let me tell you, we got some Kuckoo birds in the church. You know what a Kuckoo bird does? You know what this sorry thing does, it sits back and watches another kind of bird build a nest, once the other bird is done, and flies off to go get some food or something. The Kuckoo bird will fly over, have it’s babies, its eggs laid in that other birds nest, and then leave them, never to return again. We got some Kuckoo birds in the church. People who sire children, put them in other peoples nests, homes, then leave them and have nothing more to do with them ever again! Maybe some of you don’t want to hear this. But your children are your children! Young people, don’t become Kuckoo birds! There is another bird...parrots. 3. Parrots They’re talkers. They hear something, and they repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it. They flow with the flock. Lies, slander, gossip. How many of you know a parrot right now, near you!!!! Near you!!! Talkers, the talkers in the church. (Parrot Voice) “Well, I don’t like this, I don’t like that,” you’re a parrot not an eagle. Eagles Soar! Parrots Talk! There is another bird in the church, the peacock. 4. Peacock Strutting it’s stuff... Notice all the colour. Likes to be seen. Doesn’t do nothing for the Lord, unless it gets the prominent position (Peacock Voice) “Everybody look at me!” (Do the peacock walk) The Peacock. “We need you to lead a small group?” “No, but I’ll Sing the Solo!” “We need you to help set out communion, hand out the bulletins at the door, and the offering baskets?” “No, but I’ll be happy to preach next week! I’m your one!” Peacocks. They do everything they do to be seen and to strut their stuff. A peacock is someone who loves it when us Pastors announce which passage we are going to read from, and they love it, because they have a bible that is all marked up in technicolour.. and that’s alright, because I do that, but they want everybody on the next three rows to see how spiritual they are!!!!with a marked up bible! Everybody is closing their bibles now! Peacocks. Secretly hope somebody will see me, notice me. Won’t do no small things, insignificant things, everything they do is to be seen. You are not an eagle! You are not an eagle. The bible said if you do it to be seen you have your reward, but what you do, do in secret! Every blessed thing we do we want everybody to know about. I look around on facebook – it’s amazing – Everybody seems to want everybody to sing “How great thou art” to them! But He said, what you do in secret, I will reward you openly. Then there’s crows...Shelley hates crows. She thinks they are evil...Well, the “people crows” are! 5. Crows Out of all of the birds that fight and afflict and attack and pester eagles. Crows do it best. Their whole purpose in life is to pester the eagles. They love to talk about you, they love to pick at you. Crows are people at school, or at work, or in the church, who go at you, because you are a believer, you have a dream and a passion to 7 have God do something great through your life, and crows come to pester you. And boy, you got to learn how to deal with these kinds of people. Just watch out for them, they flock too. The second last one is a chicken. 6. Chicken The chicken is a fat & lazy bird. And when the storm comes he reveals his true nature. The chicken is afraid of everything. Look at me. Every time you read in your bible the words, “Fear Not,” over three hundred and sixty five times in the bible. Someone said that is a fear not for every day of the year! Fear not. Fear not. Fear not. You know what that means, here is my definition = don’t run. Every time you read fear not, put in there = don’t run. Mary, fear not, don’t run. It’s going to be okay. Joshua, fear not, don’t run. You are going to cross over. So when God shows up in your life, he is probably going to say, fear not, don’t run. See, we think courage is the absence of fear, but it’s not, courage is being afraid, and doing it anyway. Do it afraid! When opportunity comes, your tendency may be to run, when God starts pushing a dream in your heart, your tendency may be to be like a chicken, but you’re not a chicken my friend, you’re an eagle! When that chicken spirit comes along and says; (Chicken Voice) “Ooo you can’t do that, oooohhh, that’s to big for you.” You end up flopping around in the chicken hok, instead of getting the spirit of the eagle – that says, I may be afraid, but I’ll do it afraid. And I’ll be courageous, because the Lord my God is with me. Look at the person next to you – tell them: “Fear not!” “Don’t Run!” “Do it afraid!” Here is the last one...It’s Hosea’s one...the doves. 7. Doves Nearly done tonight, let’s read the final verses of chapter 7. From verse 11. 11 "Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless— one second they are...now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria. 12 When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like birds of the air. When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them. 13 Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me. Listen to this... 14 They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine but turn away from me. 15 I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me. I love this comparison...16 They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow. In other words they have caused themselves to veer off of God’s target for them. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt. Ephraim is like a dove. A dove has the wonderful qualities of being gentle and innocent. Even the Holy Spirit is compared to a dove, and we are encouraged as believers to be gentle like they are. But they have other qualities here that Hosea brings out that are not so great. They are easily deceived and senseless. Turning to other Gods, running after the comfort of Egypt, then the God’s of Assyria. One way then the other. Led astray. And all just following one another. Not thinking. Just mindlessly flocking together into sin. Flowing with the flock. The dove, and the rock dove, and the pigeon, all sort of related, have one big downside. They flock, and they don’t think. The whole bunch of them would fly into a fire together. They are stupid when they get into this flock mentality. And they veer off Gods plan. Are you one of the flock that follows, or are you one that shall lead the way? Say after me, “Don’t just flow with the flock.” God says that he trained then and strengthened them. Just like you would in those days to send messages by birdmail. God trained them, but they were deceived. They veered off. They rebelled against him, and strayed from him. They flocked and flew away together, away from him. 8 So you know what God said, he says, he is going to catch his people like a person would catch a flock of doves with a net, and because they have not returned to him, in his words, because they do not cry our to me from their hearts, I will destroy them. And we all know what happened to Israel. We know that God happened. He made Assyria happen. My friends... Hosea’s lesson is do not be easily deceived and senseless and just go with the flow in the flock. Go your own way. Fly toward God. Leave the flock. Go against the flow. Fly to him, alone if you have to. I read a story about an eagle, it was wild, but it had been caught injured and fixed up. Then it got put in a cage in a zoo. There wasn’t much space at all to fly, but something in him said “you are meant to soar.” And that eagle would take off flying, and even though he knew that cage was there, he would slam into that cage. The Zoo keepers never knew what to do. They said he would just do it day after day. They said he would just take off like he was going to fly to the clouds and he would just hit that cage and fall down. Finally he was all bruised and battered and bleeding, his feathers were coming out. And a man walked into the zoo one day and saw the eagle, and said, “What’s wrong with that eagle?” And they told him, and they man said, “I’ll buy that eagle.” And he bought the eagle, paid a big sum for it, and they opened the cage, and they said the eagle looked up, spread its wings, and let out the biggest eagle scream you have ever heard, and took off flying. I can’t help but think, the world looks at us, other churches, and wonders, “What in the world is wrong with those people? Why do they shout and scream and sing praises like they do?” Well, in case you don’t know why - It’s because we have been let loose out of our cage! And we have been given the spirit of an eagle. We are free. We are not supposed to be hemmed in with limitations, bound up by sin, and held captive, He sets captives free. An eagle does not belong in a cage of sexual immorality or defeat, idolatry, or hypocrisy, or alcohol addiction. I believe that there are lots of eagles here tonight who have got themselves stuck in a cage of sin. Some have been acting like chickens, or some other birds. For some it’s been a long tome since you have had something fresh from God. I want you to do something, stand up on your feet. I want you to listen to these words... 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. My friends. You got a chance tonight to experience the life giving power of God. Don’t pass up a chance to meet with him and have him change your life. Pastor John, myself, Uncle Jack and Dave can you guys come up to the front please right now. We want to pray for you, we want to see you free, living the eagle life for God. While Mat plays this song – I want to encourage you to step out from behind your tables and come up here for us to pray for you. Neil Smith ©.Please Note: I am a firm believer in not having to reinvent the wheel! When I put together a sermon manuscript I often borrow from many different sources; messages I have heard; commentaries; books; internet sermons; podcasts etc. I try my best to mention whenever the ideas are not my own. But if this or any of my sermons are similar to a sermon that you many have heard or found by another pastor or teacher....chances are I have used it. Actually, there is probably absolutely nothing in this sermon that hasn’t been preached before! If I used your sermon and haven’t given you credit, please write me and I’ll give you credit by name. I have in no way intentionally withheld credit to any work I’ve used/borrowed from. PLEASE NOTE THAT IF I HAVE "USED" YOUR WORK IT WAS BECAUSE I THOUGHT YOU HAD A SUPER SERMON! If you use MY work, feel free to use it. I trust that it will be a real blessing. Simply realize that I have borrowed from other preachers, too. God bless. Neil Smith, Associate Pastor, Fish Hoek Baptist Church.