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What motivates you?
We have talked of a Vision for Mission for some time now. In fact I first spoke on it on 5th January 2005 – 4 ½ years ago. But the danger of having a written Vision for Mission is that we take our eyes off Jesus and look at the church’s Mission Statement for our inspiration. The challenge this morning is to get back to basics, that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is our Vision; Jesus is the motivation.
Isaiah saw the Lord. As with all Old Testament visions of God, God himself is indescribable. It is only Jesus revealed in the New Testament that gives us a visual on God.
But Isaiah has this amazing experience. He saw the Lord.
Lets read about it.
I want to know, have you seen the Lord? Only a few have the privilege of a vision of him, but by faith we come into a relationship that means that we know him, we see him in our spirits.
So what does Isaiah’s vision reveal about God. First, can I ask you a question. Where was Isaiah? No he was not in the temple as such, he would have been in the courtyard. Isaiah was not a priest or more specifically the High Priest so he had no right to enter the temple building. Most significantly not even the king could enter. Uzziah had tried and been leprous from that day until his death.
Neither was God in the temple. It says his train filled the temple. The temple was where the presence of God was indentified and here we have a clear statement, God is not hiding away in his temple, he comes out to meet Isaiah. The following description underlines the complete differentness of God. He is holy. He is well beyond our understanding but he has chosen to reveal himself through the prophets, in this case Isaiah and now through his Son, Jesus. And we live in the age of the Holy Spirit by which I mean we can see God as the Holy Spirit reveals himself to us, individually, whereas her it was a revelation to one man for the nation to hear.
Have you seen the Lord? Have you received him by faith? Has the Holy Spirit entered your life and transformed you?
The Lord is seated on the throne. This is vision of authority. He is high and exalted because he is the creator and sustainer of the universe. He has you and me in his hand. At his word life springs forth. Reflect on that. Our God is not at our convenience. He is the awesome creator. He creates from a singularity, according to Steven Hawking, an entire universe. He formed humans from the dust of the ground and breathed life into each one of us.
The vision was of holiness. I want to dwell on this a little, as we are prone to some basic errors about God. That he tolerates our sin, because of his love. He can be negotiated with. His word is not absolute. This morning God’s messengers have the same message:
“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory”
"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.
So what was Isaiah’s reaction?
First, he was ruined. Just seeing God was enough to make him expect to be destroyed. Meeting with God is a deeply disturbing experience and we often are far too glib in our approach. Of course, in Jesus, he has revealed himself as a loving Father, but he is still the eternal God. When we meet him we are standing on holy ground. And that brought Isaiah to recognise that
Secondly he is a man of unclean lips. Now you must understand that lips in this passage carry great significance. This is all about speaking. It is angels that call Holy, holy, holy. He is unfit to speak, he has no response to the glory of God because his lips are unclean. Jesus went further and said that it from the heart that the mouth speaks. Lips represent the whole person. And we are unclean, we are pretty good some of the time making out that we are spiritually minded and caring but we are so often inside full of anger, frustration, envy, contempt that our lips give us away. We, like Isaiah, have unclean lips because our heart are not right with God.
Thirdly, lived among a people of unclean lips. Our godless, selfish bent society is nothing new. And we struggle to be holy in a our society as its standards are pushed on us daily. Your TV watching, your reading the papers, magazines, listening to gossip colours your thinking and we all need to be in the presence of God and asking him to “search my O Lord, and know my heart and teach me your way”. Ken commented last Thursday that we have faith without repentance. I do not think that just having a public time of confession is the point here. If we are meeting with God there will be an overwhelming sense of our worthlessness. Because our value is because he has set his love on us not that we have anything to offer him. There is great healing in repentance. Because when we admit to God our sinfulness, he is able to enter in a richer fuller way. In fact without repentance is the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Then , as always, God acts. Because without God acting, Isaiah would have been lost. It is God that takes the initiative in our relationship, it is for us to respond in faith.
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."
If you have never repented and received Jesus into your life by faith then there is no relationship with God, there is no forgiveness, there is no taking away of guilt. But it is not that you must have had some deep spiritual experience like Isaiah, God is looking for minute faith, real repentance and he will pour out his blessing on you. So rather than beat yourself about your sin, receive the healing that comes from him bringing you the salvation. That salvation is to be enjoyed, which is why we meet tonight at 7:30pm to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection in communion. This is not only the place of repentance but it is the place of forgiveness and releasing from guilt.
Then there is a sense in which Isaiah can now hear a voice he couldn’t hear before.
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
Isaiah , can now speak because his lips have be purified. And his words are that of the obedient servant.
"Here am I. Send me!"
If there is resentment in your heart this morning about the time and energy needed to serve God, then you need to meet him and have a renewed vision of the Holy holy, holy Lord, God Almighty.
If you are weary of well-doing then you need to see him on the throne, high and lifted up.
If you feel inadequate and sinful then you need his touch upon your life to know
your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
But be warned. Isaiah was called to be faithful. He lived through turbulent times. Kings came and went, invaders came and went. He may well have lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem. Certainly, Judea of his day would have been full of the wreckage of war, damaged building, refugees, hunger, and the land left to grow wild.
In the terms of this passage we see West London as a place where our message is treated as a voice from the past, intolerant, irrelevant, and we are ignored. But God calls us to reach out to this community with a rich message of salvation in Jesus, an eternal hope and a real peace. And there will be those who listen. Do not let the tempter gain control just because we have seen little fruit in these years, this is call to proclaim the message clearly, from sanctified lips from hearts in tune with the Holy Spirit. This is a call to share the message with our family, our friends, our neighbours, our community, through private conversation, Tuesday Focus, Razzmatazz, Job Seekers, Teddy Bear Club, Christianity Explored, leaflet distribution and whatever else God calls us to do. This is not a different Vision for Mission. We are to be waiting on God, ready for him to reveal himself afresh for us today, ready to respond to his call to action, ready to open our lips that we might praise him.Return to top