Helping find what God wants for your life, then doing it right
OK, so we're taking a look at Isaiah 6 in a slightly different way - we're going to use this to learn some lessons about how God speaks to us, how we can hear him and respond to him. It's basically the Bible helping you find what God wants for your life and helping you to do it right and well.
Bible Reading - Isaiah 6.1-9 (from NLT version)
Before we read the Bible, just ask the Holy Spirit (the helper) to help you understand this and to hear something that God may be saying to you. Remember that God speaks to us through the Bible but he may say different things to each of us or in different ways. He won't tell you to do anything that is against the Bible or against God's ways and nature but he may say something else apart from the things we'll look at in this talk!
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,
1. The new instead of the old
The first thing is that Isaiah saw the Lord God in the year that Uzziah died. Although we're not quite sure of exactly when it happened, there is a lesson for us...
Sometimes things have to 'die' (we don't mean literally, we just mean they come to an end) before something else happens. The famous Bible teacher called Joyce Meyer said that her ministry only really started and took off after she obeyed God and left her church. I can also say in my life that when God is ready to do something new, something else often ends.
Look out for these God-moments in your life. Sometimes God calls us away from something we have been doing so that we can do the new thing that he has for us. This doesn't mean we do things that are against the will of God and the Bible! But think about a simple example in the life of the disciple of Jesus called Peter - in order for Peter to go fishing, he had to leave the land, get into a boat and get out onto the water. Then when Jesus called Peter to follow him, Peter left his nets and his fishing career behind and followed Jesus. He had to stop doing something for the new thing to start.
Maybe ask God if there is something new that he is calling you to do. Or is there something in your life you need to lay down (a bad friendship, something you're doing that isn't wrong but you just don't enjoy any more?)
2. God is sitting and is at peace and at rest. You?
Did you know that God knows everything that's going on? He isn't confused about what's going on and he isn't surprised by anything. He doesn't shout, 'woah, I didn't see that coming!!' Instead, God is sat down on his throne (and Jesus is now sat down beside him - see Mark 16.19 and Hebrews 10.12). There's only one time we read about Jesus standing up and that is when Stephen was being killed because of his faith (Stephen was the first Christian martyr - someone murdered simply because he was a Christian - see Acts 7.56).
We spoke about the famous Bible teacher called Joyce Meyer earlier. When she started her ministry, God gave her three keys that would be important for her. One of them was that she had peace in her home and her life. Now, we know that one of the fruit of the Spirit (we looked at earlier in Galatians 5) is peace. But sometimes it's hard to have real peace isn't it?! There is a way that helps us and that is found in two Bible verses.
First of all, Matthew 11.28-29 where Jesus tells us to do the things he calls us to, not do things we're not called to do. We can often tell because the things we're called to do are easy to do (this doesn't mean there's no opposition, it means they're things that we're gifted to do or come naturally etc). The things we're not called to do are often heavy-going and you get tired of them. You don't get tired because they're hard work but because they're not really 'you'. So do the things that fire you up and you're excited about!
Second, we keep our eyes, hearts and minds focused on Jesus. One verse that tells us this is Isaiah 26.3 which talks about us having perfect peace because our eyes are on God and because we trust in him. If we really trust in God, then we know he's looking out for us, is in charge and will help us in all things. We can have peace because God is in charge!
Peace is also important in knowing what to do - Colossians 3.15 tells us that peace is like an 'umpire' - it's one way that God tells us what is 'in' and what is 'out' for us!
3. The robe fills the temple (the temple means you!)
Another really important thing when we think about what God wants us to do, is that God wants us to make good and right choices in life. The Bible isn't just a guide for living, it helps us understand God and shows us how his ways are best.
In Isaiah 6, we read how the 'train of God's robe filled the temple'. If you've ever seen a wedding, you may know that sometimes the bride's dress is really long at the back and needs bridesmaids to hold up the dress. This long bit of the dress is called the 'train' of the dress.
When we read about God, we read how his robe filled the temple. In the New Testament of the Bible we read that today, we don't meet God just in a building. Instead, God lives in us. We are now the 'temple' of God because the Holy Spirit lives in us (1 Corinthians 3.17). So the question for us today is whether God is filling every part of you, just as God's robe filled the temple.
A better way of asking this is to ask if there are areas of your life that are out of tune with God's ways? Imagine you're a guitarist in a band and the song you're playing is in the key of E. If you start playing chords and notes in the key of G, it will sound funny. Or if you haven't tuned your guitar properly, it won't sound in tune with the rest of the band.
We know that God covers us in his robe of right living (the 'robe of righteousness' we read about in Isaiah 61.10). But we also need to make good choices. So is it time to 'tune up' your 'strings' (your life) so you're playing in key and in sync with God?!!
In Isaiah 6 we read that there were two angels (fiery angels, called Seraphim) who attended to God on his throne (attended means they served him - something we all should do, not out of fear but out of love for God!) These Seraphim had two wings covering their faces and two wings covering their feet.
What we learn from this is that we need to approach God as our Father, as our friend, but also for the awesome and powerful God he is. It's good to recognise that God is approachable and loves to hear from us but that he is also holy and pure. This is a good place to find our calling - by recognising who God is and honouring him, respecting him but never being afraid to talk to him and 'sit on his knee' just like the children did with Jesus.
We also need to have good people around us who help us. If you're going to be everything God calls you to be, you will get there with the help of good people like family, friends and people in church. We are all there to support each other and when we do, the church works well. It's incredibly important to have people around who will also pray for you regularly.
Prayer is like the engine of a car. You know it's there and can't always see it, but no matter how good your car looks, you won't get anywhere without a good engine! That is what prayer is like. It is like your covering - your protection and help. Behind every man and woman of God doing amazing things for God there are people supporting them and praying for them. So get people praying with and for you. And be a prayer covering for other people too, as God leads!
5. Holy, Holy, Holy
What was the song that the Seraphim angels were singing... "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!"
Let's think about what these powerful beings were saying. The first thing was recognising who God is. People often tell us that God is 'love' and yes, he is, although God's love is not like human love - it's much more pure, deep and wide!
But first of all, God is holy. That means he is set apart from us. He is perfect. He is pure. He has always been and always will be. He alone is God. That's a good place to start when we're asking God what to do with our life because we get him and ourselves in the right place - God first. And when we see who God is it can actually help us know what to do.
When I started working in school, I met with one of the leadership team at the school. She was friendly and helpful but I was quickly aware that she was my boss. I knew what was expected of me and the way I should behave, the kinds of things I should do. She also modeled the kind of attitude that I should have - professional, friendly, open and honest.
The same is true when we know who God is - we begin to reflect his nature. This is our character and it's incredibly important. God is holy so we should be holy. (See 1 Peter 1.15-16 which tells us exactly this). You see, when the Seraphim shouted, they first said God is holy. Then they said the whole earth is filled with his glory.
Our motivation for life changes when we become a Christian. Increasingly we want to see God honoured and glorified. I can honestly say my heart's desire is that the whole earth is filled with God's glory. But holiness goes first and makes the way for God to use us and see God's power working through us. And being holy (doing what is right in God's eyes) is what helps keeps us on track in life. It protects us from doing wrong things that would dishonour God and not bring him fame.
6. Unclean Lips becoming Clean Lips
When Isaiah got a glimpse of how awesome and holy God was, he was a bit of a mess! He thought he was going to die and realised just how unholy he was. He realised how he was a man with unclean lips - this meant he realised just how un-Godly he was!
Again, this is quite a good place to start when we think about who we are compared to how God is. We live in a world where people think that they have all the answers and that the universe is all about them. They have become arrogant (often without knowing it), thinking that they don't need God and that man has all the answers for everything. Wrong! Isaiah got things right when he said, 'aaagh, I'm not worthy of such an awesome God.'
But things didn't end there. In the old days, people used to go around saying how they were so unclean and God was so holy, almost like God had left things that way. But God sent Jesus who came to make us right with God. Hebrews 4.13 says we can now approach God with confidence. Elsewhere in the Bible we know that when we ask something that's according to God's will, he hears us. We can draw close to God and he draws close to us. All because of what Jesus has done.
The same thing happened to Isaiah when one of the Seraphim touched his lips with a coal and said to him, 'you're not unclean any more - your guilt is removed and your sins are forgiven.' Isaiah then responded to God's request about who to send to speak God's words.
Often religion tells you that you have to do certain things to be right with God or get God's favour etc. But the truth that Isaiah found out as well, is that God calls us because of what he has done and who he is - and not because of what we've done or who we are. God's gift and calling is free! When we understand who God is and what he's done for us (taking us from being unclean to being clean), we should be full of love for God and want to serve him and do his work. We're not motivated by rules or by fear - but by love! We love others because God first loved us.(see 1 John 4.9-12).
7. Send Me
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..."
Send Me. Two words but they could change your life. The start of any calling is to make yourself available. God may well work in your heart so you want to be available but when we reach that place and tell God, 'send me', God will start to go to work in us, through us and for us.
I have a couple of friends who said 'send me' a couple of years back. Since then, their son plays drums in a large church; their daughter has done YWAM training and been to Africa; the dad has been to Colombia three times and Canada twice; his wife has been to India and to Israel, and Canada twice. Why did this happen? One day, the dad was reading Isaiah 6, heard God's voice and said yes - send me. As they've gone, they've helped empower women with sewing; they've seen loads of people healed physically through prayer; they've blessed people living in the UK, Israel, Canada, Africa, and South America.
Ready to hear God's voice and say 'send me'. Be prepared. It could be quite an adventure. But if you say yes, you won't regret saying yes.
Ready to pray?
Let's pray: 'Lord God. Send me. Amen.'