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Isaiah 6:1-9a

Theme: God gives us a vision for living.

Introduction: Vision

A.    Vision

1.      Close your eyes--What do you see?

a.      Some of you may still see impression of light

b.     Some of you may see little squiggly things that seem to float across our eyes

c.      For others of you this is nonsensical 

d.     You may open your eyes

2.      What you see in your mind is often more important than what you see with your eyes

3.      Our cultural is talking more and more about vision, but it is seeing less

a.      George Bush, Sr., never did figure out that “vision thing”

b.     Many of you have vision statements at work

i.                  Some of you have worked on writing them

ii.                Does this church have a vision statement?  Ask Shirley

c.      We are good with words, but do we see?

B.    Worship

1.      The goal of worship is to help us go beyond words, to see, to experience

2.      This morning we seek to experience God

3.      To make this an interactive experience we are going to work the message throughout the service

a.      This is a little risky for a guest pastor

b.     When I looked at the passage I wanted to preach on, and I looked at your order of worship, I saw a parallel that I could not ignore

c.      So I checked with the chairperson of your elders, who also happens to be my sister, and she said it would be acceptable

d.     Then Won Lee, my colleague at Calvin, confirmed this

4.      The warning is that you will get four messages this morning

5.      The goal is that you will experience God, that he will envision you

6.      For the first part I ask that the younger children stay in this service and try to listen and see

a.      Often they are better at it than adults

b.     In the song after this part they will be dismissed to their Worship Centers

I.              The Vision of Experiencing God (Isaiah 6:1-4)

A.    The Earthly Setting

1.      Our text this morning is the vision of Isaiah, which we find in Isaiah 6:1-9a.  We will be reading and commenting on this text throughout the service

2.      We start with the setting of the vision, given in the first part of verse 1

3.      The year is around 735 B.C.

a.      Uzziah had been a good king in Judah

b.     With his death or approaching death there is uncertainty

i.                  The Assyrian Empire was growing and threatening

ii.                The nation was in transition and turmoil

c.      Into this setting comes the vision

4.      Our goal this morning is to bring a vision into your setting

a.      Our nation is looking at transition

b.     Much of our world is in turmoil

c.      All of our lives have uncertainty

5.      What is your setting this morning?

a.      Is school, work, family life stressful?

b.     Are relationships in trouble?

c.      Are you sick?

d.     Is someone you know dying?

6.      God comes into our setting

B.    The Heavenly Sight—Read 6:1b-2

1.      Isaiah saw the Lord

a.      Only a glimpse, for at is all we can see

i.                  He senses power and majesty.  God is king

ii.                He knows he is in the presence of God.  It is beyond description

b.     He sees the heavenly messengers, angels

i.                  They are seraphs, fiery ones, with 6 wings

ii.                With two they cover their faces from the majesty of God

iii.              With two they cover their bodies in humility before God

iv.              With two they are ready to do the Lord’s work

2.      Look up and see where you are today, right now

a.      Do not let the trappings of this building trap your vision

b.     You are in the presence of God, the majestic and powerful ruler of all creation

c.      Do not be earth bound

i.                  Let worship set you free

ii.                Let worship raise your eyes to see

iii.              Pause to see

C.    The Holy Sound—6:3-4

1.      Do you hear?  Read 6:3

2.      God is most holy

a.      He is distinct from all others

b.     He is uniquely righteous, pure, just, and true

3.      God rules over the whole world

a.      He is present in all times and places

b.     All of creation finds its source in him

4.      This is the song of heaven

a.      Praising the nature and work of God

b.     The praise of God rocks the world—verse 4

5.      God is here--See him, feel him, hear him

6.      Let us join the praise

II.            The Aversion of Experiencing Sin (6:5)

A.    The Earthly Crisis

1.      But the presence of God brings an earthly crisis

2.      Isaiah cries out—Read 6:5

a.      Isaiah knows that an unholy person cannot be in the presence of a holy God

b.     The vision of the holiness and majesty of God lead him first to turn away in despair

3.      As John Calvin said, knowledge, by which he meant experience, of God leads to a true knowledge of self

a.      There is no lying to God

b.     As Adam and Eve found out, there is no hiding from God

4.      Our culture leads us to think that God is the great permissive friend

a.      When he shows up, we run to him, saying, “Oh, God!”

b.     Isaiah says, “Oh, God”

B.    The Honest Confession

1.      Isaiah lead us in honest confession before a holy God

2.      Sin turns us away from God

a.      Sin brings the crisis

b.     Sin brings the brokenness, the shame, the pain

3.      We know sin is there

a.      We know sin is in the way

b.     We know our sin

c.      And so does God

4.      So let’s talk about it, honestly with God

a.      What keeps you from enjoying God?

b.     What do you hope no one finds out about?

c.      What action of the mouth or attitude of the heart hurts?

5.      Confess it

a.      Don’t make any promises or excuses

b.     Just confess it

c.      Just talk to God about it

d.     Let him know you know he knows

III.           The Conversion of Experiencing Salvation (6:6-7)

A.    The Heavenly Action

1.      When confession is made, God acts

a.      God acted to open the door for Isaiah to see

b.     Isaiah responds in confession

i.                  He does not ask for forgiveness

ii.                He has no basis on which to address God

c.      God freely acts to bring forgiveness—Isaiah 6:6-7

2.      God sends his messenger to raise Isaiah back up into his presence

3.      The messenger takes a coal from the altar

a.      Either from the altar of incense, which stands for the prayers of the people

b.     Or from the altar of sacrifice, which is more likely to have coals and presents the need for a sacrifice to paid for sin

4.      God provides a way of overcome sin, of turning us back towards him

a.      God removes our guilt

b.     God makes us at one with him again

5.      For Isaiah it was symbolized in the altar, for us it is accomplished on the cross

a.      The cross is God’s act through his Son Jesus Christ

b.     The Spirit of God takes the sacrifice of the cross and touches it to our lives

B.    The Healing Atonement

1.      Amazingly, the live coal purifies Isaiah

a.      It is not a punishment

b.     It is a purification

2.      More amazingly, the cross purifies us

a.      As Isaiah says later, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

b.     God through the cross of Jesus Christ brings us back to his presence, forgiven, restored, healed

3.      May the cross of Christ touch your life

a.      See God offer it

b.     Hear the Good News of God’s action in Jesus Christ

c.      Feel it touch that which is sinful and broken

d.     Let it heal

IV.          The Conversation of Experiencing Service (6:8-9a)

A.    The Heavenly Conversation

1.      Now Isaiah hears the conversation of God—Read 6:8

2.      Here is the desiring God looking for a way to bring people back to himself

a.      How can God make himself known in the world?

b.     Who will be the agent of God?

3.      From the beginning God has sought to be present in his world

a.      Humanity, created and blessed in Adam and Eve, were to represent God to the rest of the created world, to be image bearers

b.     But humanity rejected this calling

c.      God had called the people of Israel through Abraham to bring blessing to the nations, to be a light

d.     But Israel had corrupted this calling

4.      Now who would speak for God, represent God in the world?

a.      This is God’s desire

b.     This is God’s search

c.      This is God’s call

d.     God does not command.  He asks, invites.  He opens the opportunity

5.      Isaiah responds

a.      Isaiah jumps at the opportunity

b.     Isaiah is so overwhelmed by what God has done that he must volunteer

c.      In gratitude and joy to offers himself to God

d.     He is like the kid hoping to make the team

i.                  His hand is high in the air

ii.                He is saying, “Pick me!  Pick me!”

6.      Do you remember the old military recruitments?

a.      I remember the old “Uncle Sam wants you” posters outside the Post Office

b.     Some of you might only remember the sexist Marine slogan, “Looking for a few good men”

c.      But both of these tried to make people feel important and desired, rather than just drafted and forced

7.      God wants volunteers

a.      He makes you and considers you important

b.     He opens the opportunity for you

c.      He is listening for you to say, “Here I am.  Send me!”  “Pick me!”

8.      If you do not have this volunteer enthusiasm yet, you do not yet fully know God, yourself, or your salvation

a.      Keep looking, listening, learning

b.     When you come to know, you will come to serve

B.    The Earthly Conservation (6:9a)

1.      Then you will bring God’s conservation to the earth

2.      God responded to Isaiah and said, “Go and tell this people”

a.      God had specific words for Isaiah to communicate to Israel

b.     Now Isaiah had the power and the passion to speak them

3.      God has specific words he wants you to communicate to the world, to your neighbor, to your friend, to you family

a.      You have a calling from God

b.     He saves us to send us

c.      Are you looking?  Are you seeing?

d.     Are you listening?  Are you hearing?

e.      Are you feeling?  Are you freed?

f.       Are you saying?  Are you showing?

Conclusion: Envisioning

A.    Saints

1.      This week has a religious holiday

a.      Wednesday is All Saints Day

b.     Tuesday evening is All Hallows Eve

c.      It was meant to be a time to honor the saints of the church who did not have a specific holiday

2.      On this day in 1517 Martin Luther choose to poster a list of reforms he sought in the church, so in the Protestant tradition it is know as Reformation Day

3.      Both of these practices seek to honor those who saw a vision of God and sought to proclaim it

4.      We honor them by seeking to see and having the passion to speak

B.    Close your eyes again

1.      What do you see?

2.      In your mind’s eye see

a.      A holy and majestic God

b.     A forgiving God reaching out to you with the cross of Christ

i.                  Touching you

ii.                Healing you

iii.              Holding you

3.      Open your eyes

a.      Now with the passion of vision respond

i.                  “Here I am”

ii.                “Send me”

b.     Look and listen

c.      Now with the compassion of God, go

i.                  “Go and tell”

ii.                Show the world, your friend and neighbor, your family, what you have seen and experienced today

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