Faithlife Sermons

Better Than Good 3

Better Than Good  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Thank you Bob and Bonnie Jae! They are watching from home right now each week. They are working to get vaccinations and they hope to be with us sometime soon!
SECOND SERVICE - If y’all will turn around and wave at Bob and Bonnie! We love you guys! We can’t wait to have you back for in person worship and to introduce you to all of these new families who now call East home!
If this is your first time being here at East, you are our special guest and we count it a privilege to have you with us today. We want to give you a really cool gift today at our Next Steps area. If you will, grab that card from the back of the seat in front of you, fill it out with as much info as you feel comfortable with (make sure you check the “First time guest” box), and drop that by Next Steps on your way out today. They will hook you up with a free t shirt and some other cool stuff!
The last two weeks, we have been walking through Isaiah chapter 6, verses 1-8. We’ve seen that God is completely and fully holy, in a way that we can’t even grasp! When we experience that holiness, we should be drawn to worship God just like the spiritual beings in the passage. We should also consider how we enter God’s presence. Isaiah was humbled when experienced the holiness of God’s presence. He confessed his own personal sinfulness before the Lord.
In the same way, you and I must pursue God’s presence with humility through reading the Bible, praying, singing, telling others about Jesus and any other obedient thing God has called us to do.
Today, we get to the end of those verses and see really the third response to the holiness of God.
Bob and Bonnie have already read, so please, allow me to pray and we will dive right in!
Hang with me today, OK? I believe God has a word for all of us today, alright?
Isaiah 6 should be viewed as Isaiah’s call to be a prophet.

1. Isaiah’s Call

We don’t know how many times Isaiah should have already gotten the hint about what God wanted him to do, but here, God leaves no doubt! He gives him a vision of the throne room of God and he experiences the holiness of God!
We’ve talked about it for two weeks now… Was Isaiah totally overwhelmed? YES!
Who was the one who orchestrated this? GOD!
So, God wanted to present Isaiah with a situation in which he felt overwhelmed, right? Why?
So that when he asked the question “Who will I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah would be ready to answer.
This was not a rhetorical question. Nor was it an open ended question that God didn’t know the answer to. God was looking out of the corner of his eye like.... “Who will I send? Who will go for us.” God has orchestrated this moment and given Isaiah a clear opportunity to step into a greater adventure than he could ever find on his own.
Would the life of a prophet be easy? NO! It really stunk for Isaiah actually! But living out the calling of God is incredibly satisfying on a soul/spirit level!
And listen… That has never stopped! It’s still the same today. I know that God has gifted me in unique ways that led me into ministry as a pastor. That is a calling I am living out. It isn’t easy! Sometimes people are mean. Sometimes meetings go wrong. Sometimes you fall flat on your face. But even in the worst of times through 13 years of ministry, God has proven himself faithful to me and my family. But that is not my primary calling!
You see, you may not be a pastor, but you and I share the same calling from Jesus! Paul says that we have one calling as believers...
2 Corinthians 5:18–20 CSB
Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”
It is the calling of every Christian to be a reconciler. We have the message. And it’s our job to plead on behalf of Christ to others: BE RECONCILED TO GOD! When we are in this calling, we will live a greater adventure than you or I could ever find on our own.
Though God didn’t call Isaiah’s name, it is obvious from the passage that God was calling Isaiah to this new lifestyle. And my question to you is, What is God calling you to do? Are you being obedient to what he has already told you to do?
When Isaiah hears the call of God,

2. Isaiah’s Response

God asks the leading question, and Isaiah responds in a way that seems kind of formal and not very eye-catching: HERE I AM. But if we look at those words through a lens of the whole Bible, we find that those words are used a lot by humans and by God. But they are only used 5 other times as a response from man to God. And they are not minor instances! They are really important men in really important moments for the people of God.
Let me show you those so you understand the seriousness of it all.
Before Genesis 22, God had promised Abraham, who was very old along with his wife, that they would bear a child. Through a few moments of Abraham lacking faith, they finally conceived and had a son. They called him Isaac. They had waited something like 25 years for this son and then we see this...
Genesis 22:1–3 CSB
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Take your son,” he said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about.
Do you see this?
God says, “Abraham.” And Abraham responded HERE I AM. Then God asks him to do the craziest thing imaginable, to sacrifice his son on an altar!
This is a big moment in the lives of the people of Israel. If Isaac is killed, then the line ends. Everyone we read about that descends from Abraham is done, which is nearly everyone in the rest of the Bible! Most importantly a little baby born in Bethlehem named Jesus!
If you aren’t familiar with the story, Abraham is willing to go through with it, but God doesn’t let him. He stops him at the last second. And the line to Jesus is safe.
The second time we see the words Here I Am is with Jacob. Jacob is kind of sorry dude when you read the account. He is a sneaky little guy. But it is still through his family that God continues to move and work.
He winds up marrying two of his uncle’s daughters and stays with them for a while, but as a means to get him back home the land of promise, God speaks to Jacob in a dream.
Genesis 31:11 CSB
In that dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’
This dream provides Jacob with a plan to get enough livestock to make it all the way home and do well in Canaan.
The next time we see this phrase is when some shepherd named Moses says it while on a mountain.
Exodus 3:1–4 CSB
Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought, “I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am,” he answered.
Here, Moses is on a mountain that would later become really important to the people of God and they would call it Sinai. But here, God calls Moses to go back to Egypt where the people of God are enslaved and lead God’s people out and back to Canaan. This “HERE I AM” is a big moment in the people of Israel again. This sets up the Exodus that opens the door to a new way of life for the Israelites.
The next time we see it is with Samuel. Samuel was a small boy living with Eli, a priest of God.
1 Samuel 3:4 CSB
Then the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.”
We find out right after this that when Samuel heard God calling him, he actually thought it was Eli calling from the other room. But it was not. It was God calling out to him.
Samuel isn’t a priest as he gets older, he actually becomes a judge over Israel and God uses him to anoint David as king later. It all dates back to this calling form God right here.
Story wise, then we see Isaiah’s call and response. But it’s not the last one.
In the New Testament, we see those words only one time. ANd it is with Ananias. A seemingly forgotten name! But his calling was vital to the existence of the people of God.
An up and coming Jewish Religious leader named Saul was ravaging the church after Jesus ascended back to heaven. He was marching from city to city with papers allowing him to have all Christians arrested on the spot. But Jesus intervenes.
While they are walking the road towards Damascus, Jesus appears to Saul and blinds him as he speaks to him. He wants him to continue into the city, and he would send someone to tell him what to do next.
This great powerful man is led by the hand into Damascus and he waits.
Meanwhile, God calls out to the next person in his plan Ananias...
Acts 9:10 CSB
There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” “Here I am, Lord,” he replied.
God tells Ananias to go into Damascus and lay hands on Saul so that he will see again. God makes sure Ananias knows that Saul is going to be a huge piece of the plan.
Acts 9:15 CSB
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites.
Saul was a chosen instrument of God who would with his missions team take the Gospel to the furthest reaches of the world! Ananias may not be known for much but he healed the eyes of the greatest missionary to ever live!
Each one of these men were called by God and THEY RESPONDED! That’s so important to note. When God called they moved. They acted in the way he called them to, often saying yes before they ever knew the task.
This is exactly what Isaiah did! He didn’t even just say “HERE I AM” He said, “Here I am, SEND ME!”
He had no idea what God had in store for him. WHY DID HE SAY YES!?
The Bible doesn’t necessarily give us the answer, but it seems obvious when we remind ourselves of the setting.
Where is Isaiah? In the presence of God. What has Isaiah just confessed? I am unclean and unworthy to stand before God. And how did God act in that moment? He provided atonement for his sins through a coal of fire! Isaiah’s sins were covered by this holy God. In that moment, what could Isaiah NOT GIVE?
When God begins to stir in your heart to take a next step of obedience, how is it that we find the gumption to say NO!? How can we who are ruined in the presence of a holy God and having been washed clean of all the sin that I could never rid myself of How can we tell God NO!?
But we do it!
I did it this week. The Lead Pastor of all of our campuses of Lindsay Lane, myself and our North Campus pastor went to meet with some of the pastors at Brentwood Baptist Church in and around Nashville. We were seeking guidance and how to lead more effectively in a multisite church. We spent three hours asking questions and taking notes. During our lunch at a local pizza place, there was a young guy that caught my eye for some reason. He had some pizza, a few beers, and sat all alone with airpods in. No idea why he got my attention but he did. But I used the excuse that I was having an important meeting and didn’t take the time to speak to him. And he got up and left.
You see, you and I don’t really have the power to say No to God. As a pastor in North Carolina always says, We must have our yes on the table and then let God put it on the map! We should be willing no matter the task.
But the task is important to look at.

3. Isaiah’s Task

Isaiah was tasked with a pretty tough ministry. God says “Go preach to the people who will not listen. Show the people who will not see.” That’s a tough crowd! That’s like preaching through the book of Leviticus to a group of teenagers at a youth lock in at 3 AM. God says, “NOBODY IS GOING TO LISTEN!”
But Isaiah moves on with it.
Isaiah’s ministry was anything but sexy. It was routine. It was often times mundane. And it was in a lot of senses unfruitful. But it wasn’t up to Isaiah to decide what role he got to play. It was up to God.
Elsie Jo is playing 8U softball this year. This is only her second year of playing on a team. She is getting so much better across the board, but she is not quite ready to throw into the infield. But she wants it so bad! She wants to play short stop. But we’ve told her, “Your job is to play where you are most needed. Where the coach feels your skills are best used.” Don’t try to be a short stop. Focus on being a good outfielder first. That’s where you are now. Do a good job with that or why would your coach trust you with something else or something you view as greater?
That’s a little bit of a hokie analogy, but it is absolutely accurate! So many people I have encountered in ministry want to do BIG things for God. And I get it! I do too! I dream of our church seeing crazy things happen here and reaching hundreds of people. I see 4 and 5 years down the road and I like to think that BIG THINGS are in store, but at the end of the day, I need to focus on what’s right before us. What are we doing with the influence God has given us now? Deal with that first dummy!
Isaiah is not the only example to give here. Think back to Ananias. How many of you had actually heard of Ananias before I told you that story? Ananias wasn’t sent by God to travel the known world and plant church after church after church, but he wasn’t sent down the street to pray for a man and lead him to the Lord. And guess what that man did? He traveled the known world planting church after church after church! Ananias focused on the small things, and let God accomplish the Big on his time.
Shortly after the time of Isaiah, God’s people begin returning back to their homeland. They attempt to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple that was destroyed when they were overrun years earlier.
The temple was anything but impressive. Looked more like a heap of rocks as opposed to the glory of Solomon’s temple. Zechariah tells us that the old men who remembered the beauty of the old temple literally wept as they saw the new one. But the young rejoiced because they saw beauty in what was built. Into this situation God said through Zechariah...
Zechariah 4:9–10 CSB
“Zerubbabel’s hands have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Armies has sent me to you. For who despises the day of small things? These seven eyes of the Lord, which scan throughout the whole earth, will rejoice when they see the ceremonial stone in Zerubbabel’s hand.”
Do you see that question? Who despises the day of small things?
What a question!
Church, 99.9% of what we do for the Lord are what we and the world would consider SMALL THINGS. It can seem mundane and boring. You may long to do the great things that you have always dreamed of, but what we need to see is that there is beauty in the small things. There is a need for rejoicing in the small things.
I praise God that Isaiah preached a message over and over that nobody every listened to.
I rejoice in the fact that Ananias instead of getting on a boat and sailing to the farthest reaches of the world when God called him, simply walked across his neighborhood to engage with a man named Saul who God would use to change the world as we know it.
My wife found a commentary on these verses and sent them to me a while back. The author said this…

“If we are genuinely faithful in the day of small things, our small obedience will become big — but not usually right away, and not often in the ways we expect.”

This is the way God has been working all through the story of the Bible...
“The big God is apparently patient enough to endure centuries of small days. His kingdom, which will one day cover the earth, does not begin big. It grows from one old man and his barren wife (Isaiah 51:2). It grows from “the fewest of all peoples” (Deuteronomy 7:7). It grows from a mustard seed and a bit of leaven (Matthew 13:31–33). It grows from an embryo in the womb of a virgin (Isaiah 9:6–7). It grows from twelve uneducated men (Acts 1:8).
What will it mean for us to worship a God who works like this? It will mean praying for the big, longing for the big, and working for the big — all while faithfully and contentedly devoting ourselves to the small. Pray for revival, and then prepare breakfast for the kids. Dream of the knowledge of God’s glory flooding the earth (Habakkuk 2:14), and then bring a taste of that glory to the neighbor next door. Preach a grand vision to dozens or hundreds on Sunday, and then sit and listen to the wounded one on Monday.”

The day of big things is coming. Until then, do not neglect the day of small things. - Scott Hubbard

Church, may I remind you now that you and I are all called to a particular task today: ministers of reconciliation. Called to speak to those far from God and lead them as best we can to repent of their sin. But most of the things we do as believers are not note worthy. They are not going to be stories you can share in your testimony. It is just faithfully taking one next step after another, focusing on the small right in front of eyes, and praying all the while for the BIG!
I want to call on you today to do this very thing. I have written a prayer for us to pray together today before we sing this last song. I’m asking you to pray this prayer in creepy unison with me as I read it from the screen, OK?
Join me in praying,
I don’t know how God may have used this message today, but will you respond however God leads you. I’m gonna be right down on the front row here if you would like to talk with me about a next step that God has put on your heart today. The altar will be open if you want to come and pray for our church, for yourself or for any other need or person. We always have decision counselors in the back as well if you would like to go backward instead of forward.
Let’s worship and respond!
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