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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
As we continue looking at scripture references that come from the common lectionary, this week’s readings included a familiar passage from Isaiah 6 in which the prophet gets a glimpse into the throne room of heaven. It tells us of the time and place of his commission as a prophet. The words are best told from his mouth so here is how Isaiah expresses the experience in chapter six.
6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.
6:2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.
6:3 And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory."
6:4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.
6:5 And I said: "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
6:6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
6:7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out."
6:8 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!"
6:9 And he said, "Go and say to this people: 'Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.'
6:10 Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed."
6:11 Then I said, "How long, O Lord?" And he said: "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate;
6:12 until the LORD sends everyone far away, and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.
6:13 Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled." The holy seed is its stump.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to be Isaiah at that moment? At times I think I would like to have accompanied him on that trip to see the throne. Most of the time, though, I think I’m glad I haven’t had that experience. Take a look at his words and the terrible fear he felt being in God’s presence. Why? Because he like all of us find it impossible to bear the weight of our sins in the presence of a holy God. He is so pure, so innocent, so incredibly good, that in his presence we see only how base and sinful and how far short we are from the lives he desires for us.
We are unworthy to come near him, yet he invites us to come. We are unworthy to carry his message of forgiveness, yet his plan is for us to do just that. We are so away from the kind of life he wants us to portray as a life of godliness and holiness, but he gives us the command to go make disciples and teach them by our example.
Why would God ever choose to put the hope of mankind in our hands? Why would he choose people so desperate for forgiveness and so hungry for cleansing from the filth of sin to share his message?
I think the answer is simple. When we are forgiven, we can forgive. When we experience his mercy, we can show mercy. When we have a taste of his grace in our lives, we can spread his grace to those around us so they can get a small taste of who God is and what he wants for all mankind. So we see Isaiah at his lowest.
“God, how can I be here in your presence as a sinful man? Even though a priest, I will die because I am so far from your holiness. I am undone!”
But God ignores Isaiah’s self incrimination. He looks around and asks a simple question, “Who will carry my message?”
“Here I am, choose me.”
I can picture Isaiah standing at the very back of the room trying to hide behind the angels. I can see him just peeking around those giant messengers of God trying not to be seen lest he encounter God’s wrath because of his distance from true heart purity. But the question reaches his ears and in the moment I can see him frantically waving his arms above his head and screaming out, “Here I am. Look I don’t want to hide anymore. You have touched me and done something in me that I never dreamed possible. You’ve taken away my guilt and cleaned up my heart. You made me whole again. Here I am, way back in the back. God, look. Send me. Let me do whatever it is you want done.”
That’s what it’s like what God does his work in your heart. When he cleans us up, we can’t help but be ready to do his bidding. When we are freed from the stain and guilt of sin, we can’t help but jump up and down, wave our arms in the air, and volunteer for the God who does all things well. We can’t help but give ourselves to him in complete obedience.
Was Isaiah’s life easy after that? Far from it. Being a prophet for God is hard. No one wants to listen to you. No one wants to believe the message you say is from God. Most will think you are a bit crazy. Many will be ready to kill you because of the message. That is the way it was from Isaiah and that is the way it still is today. In fact, there are more martyrs for the cause of Christ every year today than there have ever been in all of history.
Living for God is hard. Jesus told us the world would hate us because of him. He told us we might lose everything because of him. He told us we would have to take up our cross and follow him. For some that means a literal cross on which we sacrifice our flesh and blood for him. For others the cross means giving up our assets or our families or our livelihood or a host of other things. The cross we bear is different for everyone, but we must all take up the cross that belongs to us. We must carry it and realize it is part of God’s plan for us to do so.
It was hard for Isaiah. It was hard for Jeremiah. It was hard for the disciples and for Paul. It is hard for anyone and everyone who picks up the mantle God gives. But is it worth it? That is the question to be answered when at the end of the day fatigue sets in and progress seems so small.
And what is the answer? Ask Isaiah. Ask Jeremiah. Ask Paul and all those who have gone before us. The will give you a resounding answer, “Yes! Absolutely!” Isaiah stood at the very foot of the throne of God and saw him high and lifted up. What a sight. Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. What an opportunity. God speaks to his people. It may be through his written word. It may be through a dear Christian friend or through circumstances surrounding you. It may be in a thousand different ways, but when we listen intently for his voice, we will hear him.
And when he speaks to his children, very often he has a chore for us to do. He doesn’t want us standing around idle. He wants us busy at his purpose. He wants us to be part of his plan. He wants us to spread the message of forgiveness to all who will believe and follow him.
So what is he telling you? Can you hear him calling? Can you sense the task he has for you today? Step up. Believe he will help you. Understand, like Isaiah, that God wants to use you to carry his message by your actions to a lost world that desperately needs his love and forgiveness. He speaks today. Listen for his voice, then obey his command. I will tell you on God’s authority that it won’t be easy, but it will certainly be worth it.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.