St. Luke's Church Faribault
- IntroFor the most part, we think we want more out of Church. We crave something more in our religious experience, both in the physical and in the spiritual.For those wanting more in the spiritual, it goes like this. In our lives, we have a moment where it seems God was speaking directly to us, and something happened. There was this spiritual moment we had, and since then, there have been other moments, but not as intense, so we spend our time seeking more. That is what drives us.Our heart is sold on that idea of being a God moment, and we want to go back there. We gravitate toward this passage in Isaiah 6, and we long to see the throne room and the Cherubim. That is kind of where we fixate. And we ask God to directly speak to us and tell us what he wants us to do, and we wait and wait, and nothing happens.So we go to work and live our lives, and that experience seems to be outside of our grasp. But we pursue and look for more, and week after week, and we are left without it.Or perhaps we are more in the physical camp. We are looking for the next great thing that is going to really to turn things around. Maybe it is a new book, or an innovative method, one that will transform our current lives into something better. We try a new approach or a new thing and make some change, but we end up looking for the next bestseller by the latest author to be the one.Even Churches do this. They look for a program or search for a new method or the right Pastor for transforming and lasting change, but sadly it just seems to escape them.So what is the answer, how do we escape this trap? I think Isaiah chapter 6 has the answers.(The answer is that we have to see the Holiness and the wretchedness of us, and then have a willingness to submit-and leave the results up to God.)PrayRead Isaiah Chapter 61 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, 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 seraphim 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 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!” 9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “ ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, 12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. 13 And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”The ProblemLet me describe the problem to you. The preacher preaches a rousing message on this passage. He starts with the Holiness of God, like we had last week, (Cue laugh track Just kidding) any way he preaches a message on the Holiness of God, and comes to Verse 8.8 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!”And he asks the congregation to listen for a voice from the Lord, He says. The Lord is looking to send someone, here today.And he is doing a good job, and we are drawn into the text and we engaged, (again like last week right?).And he has bow our heads, and the music plays, that song, you know it right? In fact we will listen to it later, Here I am Lord- It is I Lord right?And everyone in the congregation is praying....Now I am not picking on that sermon. I have heard some very good ones like that in my day. The problem is not the preacher, or in the message or in the interpretation the problem is in our heart.See most people in the congregation that are engaged in that message, are usually praying that the young man in the congregation is going to go into seminary, or that the young couple will take a step in faith to go to the mission field.They are saying Here He is Lord send Him. Now that is kinda funny, but they might even be doing that in all sincerity, and for a good reason. They have an established life, or they might be older, or there might be some other legitimate reason, or obstacle to the mission field, so they assume, that the Call is not meant for them.The problem is to put it in a nutshell is that there view of God is too small. They aren't actually leaving the decision up to Him, they assume that the call is to a mission field or whatever, and that is right for them.Churches and Church boards assume that God couldn’t be calling them to do that, or that there is an obstacle.Peter had this problem in our first reading this morning in Luke 5.Remember, in Luke 5, verse 44 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”The first though in Simon’s mind is what.5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”We have worked hard all night and haven’t caught a thing....Our church can’t do that, we have tried this thing and it didn’t work.Or you can’t possibly be sending me Lord, I am too old, or not smart enough, or what is your obstacle? What is our CHurches assumption about what God wants to do?After we make this assumption, we keep rolling down that track, and we say things like we don;t know what God wants us to do?The things is, in that Isaiah passage it is the only time that God does not issue a specific call to a prophet.Think about it, in Jonah God says,1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”But in Isaiah it is not this specific call.8 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!”God just asks this general question Whom shall I send? and Who will go for us?BTW-write trinity in your Bible and an arrow pointing to the us., then next time someone says The word trinity is not in the Bible say it all over the place, Is 6.8 for instance.Anyway, God could have forced Isaiah to be a prophet right? That is what he did with Jeremiah and Jonah, why not Isaiah, why this general question?Because something God is looking for is Willingness.WillingnessGod is looking for willingness on the Part of Isaiah.God doesn’t force Isaiah. God doesn't reveal the whole plan Isaiah. He just says Who will I send, Isiah knows nothing about it but he is willing to let God be God, He is willing to trust God, He is willing to put aside any ideas or assumptions he may have.Peter had that same willingness, right5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”Peter is in essence saying, God in the practical, or in the physical my idea was to fish at night, That makes sense-that is when fishing is best. If Peter did not have willingness, He would have stopped with that assumption But instead Peter pushes him past it-and says Jesus -but because you say so.. I am willing I will let down the nets.So our question is...Are you Willing?The problem we have have is that we have a deceptive heart. We like our comfort, we love the way things are. No one WANTS to die to self. No one WANTS to take up there cross, right that’s hard, that’s misirable, why would I do that?Right, I mean even Jesus found it hard....In the garden in42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”How are we supposed to cultivate that place in our heart where we say here Lord. Here I am, whatever you want, fully trusting fully doing what you want?How Could Isiah do it, How did Peter a seasoned fisherman, do it.How could a seasoned fisherman become willing to listen to a carpenter and rabbi, tell him how to fish, when he knew better? How could he do that?It is about ....Surrender.SurrenderHe had to have nothing left to lose. He had to come to the end of himself. Peter had to have nothing left to lose? What possible thing did Peter have to lose by casting his net down? Just one thing-His pride—He had to surrender his prideIt is the same thing Isiah had to do. He had to come to the end of himself. Once Isaiah saw God as He was he was so undone by the Holiness, captivated by the majesty absorbed by sovereignty of God, that he was at the end of himself, I am ruined Isaiah said.There was nothing more. He saw himself and surrendered and said. I live a life of sin and I live among sinners. The after the surrender something wonderful happens.God does not leave Him as pile of rubble, instead He rebuilds Isaiah, by His grace. He rebuilds Him by cleaning Him, and then God searches for willingness.This is what happens to us. When we are presented with the holiness of God, and we realize we are not, and that God’s sovereignty and Holiness looms over us, we come to the end of ourselves, and we admit to Jesus we are a sinner, God rushes in with His grace and covers us with the Blood of Christ.Then he begins to rebuild us into a new creation, and searches for surrender and willingness on our part.(For the advanced class I would say this is what Paul illustrates in Romans 6 , 7 and 8. Paul confronts his sinfulness, and the holiness of God in Romans 6 and 7, and would says oh what a wretched man! He is wrecked by who God, his pride is gone, and then in Romans 8 he is rebuilt into a new creation walking in the Spirit)When we place our lives in His hands, I mean really place our life in his hands, we leave the mission up to God, and we leave the outcome up to GodWhen we come to an end of ourselves, when Churches come to an end of themselves and realize that we cannot do this on our own. We realize our weaknesses and failures, and wHen we have nothing left of ourselves, we have to surrender, and the result is a willingness to serve God in His capacity and in His way.That is the type of surrender that God is truly looking for.If we are not in the place to be able to that, we must go back -rethink our vision of God. What is it that we are saying about God. Do we really believe He is all Good? Do we really believe he loves us , and that he has what is the absolute best for our relationship with him. Do we really believe he will take care of us, and provide while we serve as He sees fit?If we having problems with that then we need to back up and pray for a new vision of God. we need to pray that our our eyes are opened to see Him as he is, good and trustworthy and faithful and mighty. We need to pray as Paul Prayed in Ephesians 1Pray then that the eyes of your will be opened,17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.Pray to see God more clearly, and step into a deeper relationship with Him as we listen to open the eyes of my heart.
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