Sunday, August 11, 2019 - 9 AM
Let’s Settle This! – Isaiah 1: (selected verses from 1 & 10-20) Bascomb / August 11, 2019 / 9AM & 11AM Focus: The personality of a God that frees us and then suffers to persuade us to live into God’s will. Function: To encourage a mature, grown-up faith relationship that disciples can enjoy because of Jesus Christ. 5 Purpose Outcomes of the Church: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Evangelism, Service Isaiah 1 (selected verses) The vision about Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah saw. Hear the Lord’s word, listen to our God’s teaching, people of Gomorrah. What should I think about all your sacrifices? says the Lord. I’m fed up! They’ve become a burden that I’m tired of bearing. When you extend your hands, I’ll hide my eyes from you. Even when you pray for a long time, I won’t listen. Your hands are stained! Wash! Be clean! Remove your ugly deeds from my sight. Put an end to such evil; learn to do good. Seek justice: help the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow. Come now, and let’s settle this, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow. If they are red as crimson, they will become like wool. If you agree and obey, you will eat the best food of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. The Lord has said this. The Word of God for the People of God (thanks be to God): Ghosting, it’s what many confrontation-averse people do: You ghost. It's a dishonest way of not lying: “uh, my ‘ex’ just came back from France, so….bye, I guess.” Or avoiding that brutal text - sent to all interested parties – I am not interested! Ghosting is surely less work than the slow fade: those short, vague messages you send with decreasing frequency until..you..are…gone. Ghosting is a process that involves two important steps: ignore their every attempt at communication….. AND that’s it! OK, just that one step and they disappear! I found a web site that says there's a way to do it right! Really? How so? Well, here are the ground rules to keep you from being haunted by “Tinders” past. Know When to Hold ’Em, and When to Ghost ’Em - If you're gonna ghost, ghost early. Don’t Ghost Where You Live - Before you decide to Batman smoke-bomb your way out of a situation, you need to be certain: Can you still walk the streets without fear? You Cannot Un-Ghost - Once you choose the path of total neglect, you have to stay on that path. Ghosting Isn’t Always Up to You – at some point the ghost-er is going to become the ghost-ee. There’s even a test for guys to tell if they’re being ghosted: Now what do you think? Is God “ghosting” Jews here? Look closely – God says…. “When you extend your hands, I’ll hide my eyes from you. Even when you pray for a long time, I won’t listen” Isaiah 1:15 (CEB). Sounds like God is “breaking up” with Jerusalem. So Darren (choir), it’s not God being upset that WE don’t attend church, it sounds like God has quit coming to worship – God isn’t going to show up! And then, what’s the point? Come on Isaiah, what’s the point? Video clip: Isaiah – an overview (OK, one day HOPE!) Remember our former prophet – Amos? He was up north doing God’s work, but Isaiah is in Judah with four kings -- Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Three of the four were good men (Ahaz, NO …raspberry). But like the video said, Judah, as a people, had dirty hands – abusing each other and being unfaithful to God. That’s why Isaiah insults them: "your rulers of Sodom" and "you people of Gomorrah." Those twin cities of sin had been wiped off the face of the earth by God's cosmic judgment in the days of Abraham, over a thousand years before. For the prophet to address his message to his fellow Judeans like that was a slap across each and every Jewish face. I’ve already mentioned that God rejected their worship because the songs they sang on Monday, the true underscore of their lives, was a very different tune to the worship songs they sang on Sunday. The Lord is delivering a harsh message and Isaiah takes the gloves off to deliver it. Can we see the logic? Can any child enjoy a gift given by an abusive parent? Could any spouse cherish a romantic evening with a partner that has been unfaithful? Then we must understand that the Lord cannot delight in gestures of worship when they are empty, without sincerity. Matt Redman gives us a modern example of this: Video clip: Matt Redman explains the Heart of Worship And so WE must always check our motives (i.e. - are you here to worship even if you are not “working” the service?). That’s what my DS insisted on – that I be here last week to worship WITH him. I believe our weekly gathering is one of the MOST important opportunities to GIVE BACK to our Heavenly Father out of love. But worship loses authenticity if we don’t live INTO our faith daily, and the “Time with Children” makes it clear that mature faith puts the burden on us to grow-up so that we maintain a “child-like” trust in God while not being “childish” in our relationship with God. We mature from a childish kind of “what will you give me?” relationship with God to a “what can I give BACK” relationship with God. We simply TRUST that God wants the best for us, we look to live into God’s best - God’s will for our lives, and we let the Holy Spirit work in our lives to change us, redeem us for the very purpose of being Christ in the world! As always, the Lord's will is not to destroy, but to redeem. God does not want Judah to stop worshiping. God wants Judah (and us) to start living properly: "learn to do good; seek justice; rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." And God gives them hope in that effort: promising both the thorough cleansing of their sins and the lovely blessings of inner peace and inner joy that will come with obedience. And it is NOT blind obedience! My focus today is on Isaiah 1:18 – “Let’s Settle this!” which implies the constant struggle that goes on in relationships; the give and take, the ups and downs. The CEV says it this way: “Come and talk it over” Isaiah 1:18 (CEV). The NKJV says “be reasonable” “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV). And the NRSV says: “Come now, let us argue it out” Isaiah 1:18 (NRSV). Why God? I thought it was “God said it, and that settles it!” NO? NO… as always, the Lord's will is not to destroy, but to redeem. Parents don’t give up on their children – even when they grow up! I grew up before “time out” was created, so I’ve known my share of spankings! Grandma even made me go out into the yard and cut my own switch. And God has struggled with US, talked to us, reasoned with us, and argued with us until God was RED IN THE FACE – and then his SON came and showed us his father’s love by becoming RED – on his back, on his forehead, upon his feet! The blood on our hands (even if we lift up in worship) caused the blood to run down his hands in order to save us from RUIN. O.T. Isaiah could imagine God ghosting US – departing from US. It was the Old Testament of Faith. But we know now that God is with us! One of US has now ascended to the right hand of God the Father and he is interceding for us constantly. So, I challenge you today – “settle this” whatever that is in your life, your bad breaks, your busted relationships, your moral failings – is it perhaps your lack of faith? – then exercise faith – risk action for the kingdom – put yourself out there. John Wesley was told to preach faith until he actually had it. I believe God will be proved in the mission and the ministry we give back. “Settle this” – is it your personal self-destruction? God didn’t create you for death, but for abundant life! Get out of those diapers and grow up into faith by daily prayer, searching the scriptures, and risking yourself in mission and ministry. The author of Hebrews says it this way: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see” Hebrews 11:1-2 (The Message). John Wesley cried out to the people in his dead Anglican church just like Matt Redman does today: don’t be an “almost Christian” who looks moral and plays the part well. John Wesley calls us to be “altogether Christian” by way of a sincerity “gut check.” Something ALL OF US should do often – strip away any formal pretense and bring a sincere offering before God. Moral people may avoid sin simply out of a fear of punishment – a childish faith. Children of God avoid sin because they have grown up into a love of virtue based on a close walk with God – a child-like trust, a mature faith. Child of God – BE who God says you are! You are chosen, not forsaken, God is for you, not against you. BE who God says you are! Loved and called to a better life – let’s settle this once and for all! Sending Forth/Benediction: This is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were proud, had plenty to eat, and enjoyed peace and prosperity; but she didn’t help the poor and the needy Ezekiel 16:49 (CEB).