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Isaiah 6:1-8

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Reading Together:  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Silent Prayer As I read this dramatic passage and see Isaiah’s ultimate response to his encounter with God, “Here I am, send me” I see some reasons why Isaiah volunteered for service.  I have come to the conclusion they are also my reasons for wanting to serve God in every way possible, every where possible.
  1. I’m going because I have seen the Lord!
Talk about someone who is larger than life.  God is huge!  He is seated on power on a throne.  He is high and exalted and the train of His robe filled the temple in Isaiah’s vision.  This is no small God.  This is a mighty King. When Solomon gave a prayer of dedication for the new temple, he said in his prayer that no temple could contain God and even the heavens could not contain Him.  I Kings 8:27.  27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! The long train and robe shout “Majesty, worship His majesty.” There is a sense that His very appearance prompts tremendous worship as the seraphs (a word which means “to burn”) are flying around with their heads covered and their feet covered crying “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty.  The whole earth is full of His glory.”  Talk about an awesome sight. As the seraphs cried out, Isaiah saw the temple shake and then it was filled with smoke. The thresholds and doorposts shook, symbolizing the power and awesome presence of God.  Rock bands didn’t invent the smoke and earthquake sensations!  Isaiah experienced them in this vision of God as smoke started filling the temple. For young Isaiah, the outlook was bleak. His beloved King had died, his nation was in trouble, and he could do very little about it. But, oh how his troubles were put into perspective when he looked at this awesome God who was still on the throne.  The king was dead, but the King of kings was still on the throne. Friends, when you are in trouble, when you are grieving, when life hits you hard, look up.  God is still on the throne!  Get a new revelation and a heavenly vision of God’s awesome power and majesty. Everything that has been made has His fingerprints on it.  From your blood and DNA to the painting of a sunset in the sky, God is in charge of it all. *We sing the chorus of “How Great is Our God” and “How Great Thou Art.” Doesn’t a revelation of God’s majesty, power and holiness compel you to want to share him with others?  Don’t you want others to see Him the way you have seen Him? I’m going because I have seen the Lord.
  1. I am also going because I’ve seen myself.
You don’t have a true encounter with God and stay the same.  Amen?  When Isaiah saw the holiness and majesty of God, he realized how imperfect he was.  God’s holiness makes our sin stand out. Isaiah saw himself and he didn’t like what he saw.  “Woe to me!” he cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  Unclean lips come from an unclean heart.  Isaiah was able to see what was on the inside of his heart, and he knew he was in trouble. The throne the Lord is seated on not only speaks about Jesus and His power, but our subjection to that throne.  We are under His authority.  We have fallen short of His standard. Caution, the following news isn’t meant to be cheerful.  “Our righteousness is as filthy rags.”  (Is. 64:6) I know you didn’t get up thinking this morning, “I hope when I go to church, I get beat up.”  I’m not interested in hurting your feelings, but I’m also not interested in sugar coating God’s truth.  In light of God’s holiness, we are pathetic sinners. Well, why would that reality compel me to go?  It compels me to go because it’s not the end of the story!  Isaiah got more than a revelation of God.  He also got cleansing and forgiveness for his sin! A live coal – a burning coal – a coal that speaks of purification and cleansing – was brought by a seraphim from off the altar of sacrifice and touched to his lips. The altar that the live coal was taken from was the Altar of Burnt Offerings – it was the altar where the blood was shed. It was the place where the priests would kill those animals to pay for the sins of the people, because “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission (no cleansing) from sin.” – Hebrews 9:22 – God has declared it. So you have a coal that has been touched by two things: BLOOD and FIRE. The blood speaks of cleansing from sin.  “What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” The fire of the coal also speaks of refining, purifying power of the Holy Spirit. The blood washes away sin, the fire brings the refining of holiness. When God saves you, what does He do? He applies to your life the cleansing power of the eternal blood of His Son, Jesus – that washes away the sins of your old life – and then He sets you in the way of a whole new life which is being refined by the workings of the Spirit of Holiness.  We begin to live a life of positive righteousness. HE CALLS US RIGHTEOUS BECAUSE OF THE BLOOD OF HIS SON, AND THEN HE MAKES US RIGHTEOUS THROUGH THE WORKING OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT – the FIRE of the Holy Spirit. This past week I posted a statement on Facebook in which I asked people to think about who and what they were before they encountered Christ.  I asked them to fill in this blank, “When God found me, He found _____________.”  Some of you responded to that post.  I’d like to invite several of you now to stand to your feet one at a time and share with us what or who you were before Christ.  Is there anyone willing to complete the sentence, “When God found me, He found ______________.” (People in the congregation share.) God can handle who and what you are because He also has the power to transform you!  Sometimes it takes a dramatic encounter with God to get your attention so that God can call attention to your sin in a way that you get how much it hurts you and God. It took the dramatic encounter with God’s holiness for Isaiah to see himself. The man huddled on the cabin floor was slowly freezing to death. It was high in the Rockies in southwestern Alberta, and outside a blizzard raged. John Elliott had logged miles that day through the deep snows of the mountain passes as he checked for avalanches. As dusk and exhaustion overcame him he had decided to “hole-up.” He made it wearily to his cabin but somewhat dazed with fatigue, he did not light a fire or remove his wet clothing. As the blizzard blasted through the cracks in the old cabin walls, the sleeping forest ranger sank into oblivion, paralyzed by the pleasure of the storm’s icy caress. Suddenly, however, his dog sprang into action, and with unrelenting whines, finally managed to rouse his near-comatose friend. The dog was John’s constant companion, a St. Bernard, one of a long line of dogs famous for their heroics in times of crisis. “If that dog hadn’t been with me, I’d be dead today,” John Elliott says. “When you’re freezing to death you actually feel warm all over, and don’t wake up because it feels too good.” This is a powerful illustration of the deadly deceptiveness of sin. We will never be able to rouse ourselves out of our state of unholiness because we are paralyzed by its pleasure. We need a dramatic encounter with the holiness of God to rouse us out of our unholy oblivion before it’s too late.  Isaiah had one. Before we can minister to others, we must permit God to minister to us. Before we pronounce “woe” upon others, we must sincerely say, “Woe is me!” Isaiah’s conviction led to confession, and confession led to cleansing.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). When was the last time you looked inward at yourself?  When was the last time you confessed your sin to the Lord?  Seriously.  Have you yelled at your spouse this week?  Your kids?  Have you had unkind words to say about a co-worker or your boss?  Have you harbored bitterness in your heart towards someone?  Have you been greedy?  Have you been selfish?  Have you obeyed the Lord in everything this week? There is cleansing power in the blood of Jesus that you don’t get to benefit from without confession.  There is empowering power from the Holy Spirit that you don’t get to benefit from without confession.  There is sending power to go to a lost and dying world that you don’t get to benefit from without confession. Hallelujah, I have been cleansed by the blood and sealed with the Spirit of God!  I am going because I have been set free and been made new!  I am going because God has touched my life in such a way that I want to respond to Him in love and service.
  1. I am going because I see the need.
Isaiah saw the Lord and himself and then he heard a question.  “Who will go?  Who shall I send?”  There was a need for a prophet in Israel; someone who would call God’s people back to obedience.  It wasn’t a command but a question.  “Who will go?”  God wants willing workers, not people that have to be petted, prodded and coerced. The nation of Israel needed the Lord, and the Lord wanted a servant to minister to the people. Everything to this point was preparation. Now God could call Isaiah and use him to preach His Word. The prophet was no longer wrapped up in his own needs.  His needs had been met.  He was no longer burdened by sin.  He had been cleansed. He was no longer discouraged.  He knew God was on the throne. He was ready to go to work. Isaiah did NOT say, “Where would I be going if I went?” “What’s in it for me?” “What is the salary?” “What are the retirement benefits?” Isaiah signed a blank check on his whole life. He didn’t try to strike a bargain with God.  He didn’t attempt to negotiate a compromise. God called – Isaiah answered. The need is just as great if not greater as it was in the time of Isaiah.  I believe the Scripture “To whom much is given, much is required,” from Luke 12 can be applied to more than money or talents.  I believe those of us who have seen the Lord and had our sins forgiven have an incredible opportunity to be sent by the Lord to those who need the same opportunity. This might sound crazy, but I am addicted to going.  I am addicted to serving.  The idea that this is the year of the YES, the “Year Everyone Serves,” that is my DNA.  I realize that I have been saved to serve. Ephesians 2:8-10 “8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” When I am serving, I am responding to the revelation of God to me.  When I am serving, I am celebrating that I have been forgiven and freed in order to be a blessing to someone else.  When I am serving, I am investing in the lives of others who long for and need the same experience.  When I am serving, I am doing what God has wired me to do.  When I am going and serving, I am responding to the need. I can’t make you care about your neighbors, coworkers, friends, and relatives.  I can’t make you care about our community, but I am observing that more and more of us are experiencing God in a transforming way that we are being given spiritual eyes to see how much God loves the world and how His heart breaks for those who are still in bondage to sin. The front of our bulletin says that we hope you experience God’s presence today.  Why?  Because an experience with God will change your life and if your life is changed like Isaiah’s was, this community will be changed, one person at a time.  Maybe it’s time that you come and pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you in a fresh way.  Maybe it’s time that you come and ask Him to search your heart and life and confess any sin He brings to your attention.  Maybe it’s time to ask for spiritual eyes to see the need around you.  Maybe it’s time to say, “Here am I.  Send me.”
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