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Sunday, 6 July 2014

'THE VISION'

Rev. Brent Russett
By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:
http://www.sunnysidechurchottawa.com/   

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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, July 6th, 2014:
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The Vision’
 
            Good morning. And welcome to good news in the morning. My name is Brent Russett. I am the Senior Pastor at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church. It is my pleasure to look at some of life’s challenges, and then bring you some good news in the morning.

            This program is sponsored by Good News Christian Ministries. If you want to look us up on the internet, or to re-listen to this program you can find us at Goodnewsinthemorning.ca

            Last Sunday if you were able to listen to Good News in the Morning we started talking about the book of Isaiah. This morning I want to look at one of the great passages in Isaiah. It is the vision and call of Isaiah. It is one of those incredible views of God. But it is also one of those passages of Scripture that is challenging to understand.

            Isaiah’s day job was a chronicler for the King. One of his main professional accomplishments was that he chronicled the life and exploits of King Uzziah. At the same time Isaiah was a prophet. He had already had many words from the Lord and he had already proclaimed the word of God. With that as a back ground come with me to Isaiah 6

Isaiah 6:1–10 (NLT)
It was in the year King Uzziah died* that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people,
‘Listen carefully, but do not understand.
Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
10 Harden the hearts of these people.
Plug their ears and shut their eyes.
That way, they will not see with their eyes,
nor hear with their ears,
nor understand with their hearts
and turn to me for healing.”*

            The first part of this passage is spectacular. The second part of this passage is frustrating to try and understand

            I could spend our whole time talking about Isaiah’s vision of God. But I am not going to because I want you to get what is going on in this whole passage.

            But I do want to say this. God never gives spiritual experiences for their entertainment value. God always has a purpose in what he does. He showed this vision of himself to Isaiah for a reason, and he allowed Isaiah to record this vision for us for a reason. The question is, “What was God up to?”

            Isaiah had already had many words from God. It seemed like he heard from God on a regular basis. So why does God give him this vision, and why does God give him this experience?

            It would seem to me that this experience of God is not a reward for what Isaiah has done, it is preparation for what he will do. This experience with God, prepares Isaiah for the future.

            I have known a lot of people who spend a lot of time just seeking after some experience with God. They will run from this meeting to that program in order that they might experience something from God.

            I believe that we should, from time to time experience God. It may come in the form of answered prayer, or a sense of how God is leading, to a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. It may come in the form of visions, or dreams or miracles. From time to time we should experience God in a way that is out of the ordinary.

            But these experiences are not given for your entertainment. They are most often given to move us from one stage in our spiritual life to another. They are often given to deepen and confirm faith for the journey ahead. But seeking after the experience is not the way to go. Seeking after God himself is always the way to go. Saying to God, I am willing to move forward is always the way to go. When you do that, you set the sails of your spiritual life so that when the Spirit blows you are ready to catch it and move with Him.

            Isaiah has this experience with God. He sees the mighty angels of God. He sees the grandeur of God. He sees the holiness of God. He hears the call of the angels – Holy, Holy, Holy,

            And he says cool experience – what’s for lunch. Not – you see when he saw God, he also saw himself in relation to God.

            There are some of you who attend church. And you know that from time to time God shows ups. Then the service ends and it is really easy to say next.. And forget everything that God has said to you. When you experience God make sure you stay quiet long enough to hear all that God wants to say to you.

MUSIC  - I saw the Lord – Dallas Holmes 4:37

            Isaiah sees the Lord. He sees the angels. He hears the booming voice of God. And this is what he says.

Isaiah 6:5 (NLT)
Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

            In the first 5 chapters he spent a lot of time talking about how bad the people he lived amongst were. They were oppressive and unjust. They did wrong and mocked God.

            But his first response to seeing God was – I am doomed. I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips.

            Here you have a prophet of God who speaks for God and he sees himself in relationship to God and he is undone.

            Whenever I see someone who is really judgemental of other people, I see someone who has never profoundly encountered the living God. As you move through this book you are going to see a change. For the next little while in this book, you are going to see Isaiah pronounce God’s judgement against the enemies of Israel. You are also going to see him give God’s words to a disobedient people – but unlike the first few chapters, you are going to see less and less of him scolding Israel himself.

            In this experience with God he recognizes that the difference between the people he has been scolding and himself are minute when compared to a Holy God.

            I know that some of you are not going to like this. But if you were to put your righteousness, your goodness, against the goodness of a pimp or a prostitute or a drug dealer or child abuser – and then compare you and them to God. The difference may be significant in this world, but it is insignificant compared to God.

            That is why the Bible says our righteousness is like filthy rags. There are some of you who think so highly of yourself that you think, why wouldn’t God love me. But if you think that, you have not glimpsed the holiness of God.

For Isaiah who was extremely good in comparison to the people around him said, Isaiah 6:5 (NLT)
“It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

            This by the way is why we need Jesus. Jesus takes our sin and gives us his righteousness. So when God looks at you, he sees you as righteous. But it is a righteousness that is not your own it has been bought with a price.

            I still believe in right and wrong. And there are a lot of people in our world that celebrate the fact that they do wrong. They boast about their drunken benders, and their sexual exploits over the weekend. They boast about their stealing from the government, insurance companies, and from the person who was not bright enough to see what was going on.

            While I believe what they are doing is wrong – I don’t think that I am any better than them – because I have seen the Lord. The difference between me and then is minute when I compare myself to God. They need Jesus, I need Jesus. We all need Jesus. It is pretty hard to  judge others when you recognize that we are all in the same boat.

            So Isaiah saw who he was and then

Isaiah 6:6–7 (NLT)
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”

            I don’t want to go into all that happened in that exchange, other than to say – from that point on Isaiah ministered out of an understanding that he was forgiven.

            That is the great thing about the gospel of Jesus. You just like Isaiah can be proclaimed forgiven.

Isaiah 6:8 (NLT)
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

            Now we remember that Isaiah was already a prophet. He had already been speaking the word of God. But He was called again.

            I know that there are a number of you who are trying to figure out your calling. You would love to get a vision that say – go do this. But these kind of visions for calling are rare. God will communicate to you, in a manner that is designed for you. You can trust him.

            What I also know is that there are a number of you here who know what you are called to do right now. I think that is awesome and good. What I  want you to note though is , that there may times when God comes along and confirms your call, deepens your call or changes your call.

            The reason that I want you to know this is that I fully expect that it may happen to a number of you.

            Remember Isaiah’s day job was a chronicler for the King. But he was also a prophet who spoke for God. Now God is deepening the call of the prophet in his life.

            Not only is it God’s way to renew or deepen or change a person’s call but this seems to be something that God is doing at this particular time in history.

            We have had people from the church I pastor retire and used their skills they learned working in the government to help Christian hospitals in India, or Christian camps in Ontario. We have had people called from a high tech companies in Ottawa, to set up an organization that helps kids in danger in Thailand or to work with University students in Ottawa.

            I know that one of the fastest areas of growth in terms of missionaries being sent is amongst baby boomers.

            I want you to know that God often changes, renews or deepens a call. Be aware of what God is doing.

MUSIC Hear I am Lord – Jill Henwood 2:26 (clear voice)

Isaiah 6:9–10 (NIV)
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.”

            I read this passage and I think God, you are proclaiming, maybe even causing these people’s hearts to be hard and eyes to be closed – What is up with that. How does this square with

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

            God I thought you wanted everybody to know you – then what is up with making people’s hearts calloused.

            I will tell you that I don’t pretend to understand  all of this. I don’t understand how these things go together.

            There are two things I would have you note. The Lord is talking about a people who had ignored him and rebelled against him for a couple of centuries. I think that this plays into it.

            I wish that this was an obscure passage buried in the Old testament. But this is one of those passages in Isaiah that Jesus highlights.

Matthew 13:10–16 (NLT)
10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”
11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets* of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,
For they look, but they don’t really see.
They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
‘When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’*
16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.

            Jesus is asked why he speaks in parable. And he quotes our passage from Isaiah.

            I think that Jesus key words here are
Matthew 13:12 (NLT)
12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.


            The more you listen to Jesus the more you will see and know and understand. The more you ignore Jesus, the less you will understand, and you may even lose the understanding that you did have.

            If I understand the spiritual principle right, both in Isaiah’s time when people had been ignoring what God had been saying for a long time, and in Jesus time, when people would not listen to Jesus, - it seems to be saying that ignoring what God has to say over a long period of time produces hardened hearts and blind eyes and dull hearing.

            If they were to turn to God, God would heal them – but they can’t turn to God because they are so spiritually dull.

            You are blessed because you have spiritual insight. But I know when I am praying for people – especially people who have known the truth – but have not walked in it – I pray for God to have mercy. For God has to bring a measure of healing before they can even have a chance to respond to the truth – and even then it is not a given.

            I don’t pretend to understand all of this. But what I do know is that you shouldn’t take your spiritual insight for granted. If you know who Jesus is, if you can see the truth that scripture brings us. If you understand your need for the death and resurrection of Jesus then you are blessed. What is obvious to you, is not obvious to many. Give thanks for what you can see.

            This morning we have looked on how God brings us experiences of prepare us for what is to come. We have looked at how when we see God, we can’t judge others because we are too close to them. We have looked at how God sometimes deepens broadens or changes the call on our life. We have looked at how we need to be sure not take the spiritual insight we have for granted.

            I suspect that somewhere in there is something that God wanted to say to you. Take what he has said and grab a hold of it. Don’t lose it. Pray into it.

            For not only was God at work in Isaiah’s life, he is at work in yours.


Let’s pray

Lord, Jesus, I want to thank you for what you’re doing in our lives. Lord, I pray that we would take what you’re saying to us and allow it to sink deeply in our hearts. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

            Thank you for your words of encouragement, and for keeping us in your  prayers.,   Keeping this program on the air continues to be a work of faith. If you can help with that, please make out a cheque payable to Good News Christian Ministries, Box 184, Rideau Ferry, On. K0G  1W0. Or you can give online by going to goodnewsinthemorning.ca

May you know   Jesus Christ personally and profoundly.  May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart .  And may the heavenly Father surround you with His constant and abiding and accompanying love

MUSIC – To Him who sits on the Throne – Acappela 2:13

- Rev. Brent Russett
Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:

To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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