Thursday, June 24, 2010
Today’s Topic: Preparation for Service
Today’s Text: “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:5-7)
God is calling you. I’m not sure to what yet, and maybe you aren’t either. He hasn’t told you what it is. But the fact that He has brought you into His presence means that He is preparing you to respond to a call to serve Him. He has brought you into His presence to remove all obstacles in the path of acceptance. We may think there are several closed doors in front of us, but God wants to open them all so we can walk the path He has prepared.
The fact that we are in God’s presence opens the first door – the door of humility. Isaiah is overwhelmed with the perfection of God. He is cowering in fear of his own unworthiness to be there. If we are to hear the call of God clearly, pride must be destroyed. Self must be crucified. Our desires, goals, and dreams must melt under the spectacle of God’s sovereignty. We must be willing to set aside anything and everything that is important to our flesh for the sake of experiencing the fullness of the Spirit.
The second door that must be opened is the confession of sin. It starts with the recognition of its horror. Every sin – not just the big ones – but every little sin that stands opposed to the holy, non-contradictory nature of God must be seen for what it is: absolute corruption.
Once the horror of sin is recognized, we must confess that we are presently smothered by it and responsible for its presence in our lives. We stand in our very nature opposed to God. People can’t help us, for they are all in the same condition. Woe to us. We are ruined by our sin.
It is in this position – face down before the throne of God with nothing but His justified judgment of sin on our minds – that God meets us at our point of need. This is the third door that God opens for us. When we reach the point of realization that we are incapable of providing a way of escape from the deserved punishment of our sin that God reveals to us the way He has provided. He has atoned for our sin. He will remove our guilt. He will make us whole.
The word atonement is significant. It simply means satisfaction for a wrong. Our sin is wrong. It’s always wrong. It’s never even slightly right. There is nothing in us that qualifies us to satisfy the wrong of sin in the holiness of God. But God can, and He did. It is symbolized for us in the life of Isaiah with the burning coal from the altar of heaven. The fulfillment of the symbol is found in the death of Christ when He presented Himself on the altar of heaven during the darkness that followed His crucifixion. (Read Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 for a complete picture of this.) In Christ God atoned for the sin of man. The sacrifice Jesus made on the cross has been eternally recognized by God as the sufficient, once-for-all sacrifice for our sin.
Some of you readers may have never reached this point in your “religious” life. You have been trusting the wrong thing. You have been hoping that God will somehow choose to recognize your self-produced goodness. That cannot happen. I cannot emphasize that enough. It is not in your power to save yourself. Only God can provide the satisfaction for your wrong by offering His sinless Son as a substitute for your death. Put your faith in Him today.
Others of you have been to the cross, but your lives are a mess because you cannot hear the call of God to service because your heart is blocked up by sin and self. You too need to humbly come back into the throne room and let God restore you to a life of faith in Him.
The fourth door is opened when we stand and accept God’s spectacular gift of forgiveness and believe that because of Christ we are now worthy to serve the King, the LORD Almighty. It is at this point that we will hear His call to service, just as Isaiah did. But notice this very significant observation – God’s call was one to service with no details of what that service would be. God wants your willing heart before He gives you details of what you will be doing. If Isaiah had known up front the message that He would be speaking, he may have refused the call. But with His heart overwhelmed with the vision of God’s holiness and the grace of God’s forgiveness, he was ready to say yes to anything God asked.
And he did.
You will if you go through all four doors.