Practicing The Presence Of God Part - 1
Practicing The Presence Of God Part – 1
Reading — Isaiah 6.1-8
Relating To His Holiness:
This morning, I want to begin a series of lessons that will last for the next two Sundays. In these lessons we will be examining:
• The Holiness of God,
• The sovereignty of God,
• The transcendence of God,
• And then we’ll notice, what happens when we stand In His Presence.
Let me encourage you to make an effort to be present for all these lessons. If you’re not in a habit of coming on Sunday evenings, try it for the next two weeks and see if you are not blessed with the information contained in Isaiah chapter six.
I want to introduce the series, this morning, with Georgia’s favorite sermon on relating to the HOLINESS of God. We begin with these questions:
• Do you ever have trouble relating to God?
• Do you have a problem understanding Him?
• Have you ever questioned His judgment, His purpose for your life?
Be honest now!... It’s all right to say, I don’t understand God... It’s all right to ask:
• Lord, why have you brought me to this place, this set of circumstances?
• Why will you not provide me immediately with the direction and answers I’m looking for?
• Why has this overwhelming sorrow or tragedy struck my family?
• Why have you allowed this illness, this diagnosis?
• Why has my loved one been taken?
• Lord what is the purpose of it all?
You see, we do have a problem relating to God, don’t we?
Because we can’t see into the future, because we can’t visualize the whole picture of life and how circumstances interrelate, we don’t understand the God we serve... And what He is: Doing with us... To us... For us... And by us. I want you to know this morning that... This is OK... It’s absolutely normal. You’ re not unique in your questing... And it is all right to have these feelings... And to question. There are times when we just don’t know how to deal with God in our lives... RIGHT?
These are some of the questions, we’ll be trying to answer with in this series of sermons. Of course the reason for such feeling is quite simple, because you see:
• His ways
• His understanding,
• His agenda,
• His thoughts, are as high above - Our ways, Our understanding, Our agenda, and our thoughts as the heavens are above the earth... That’s Isaiah 55.8-9.
I believe the basic reason we do not understand God, that we have problems: relating to Him, understanding Him, loving Him, is because of His absolute Holy nature... GOD IS HOLY! Because He is holy, and we are not, causes problems... Real problems. However, reconciling these differences is possible... This is the good news.
Turn with me to Isaiah chapter six and let’s see what we can learn. We‘re going to witness a genuine conversion as Isaiah sees God’s holiness.
The setting is this:
King Uzziah has died and it’s crisis time in the nation of Judah. Isaiah does much the same thing that we would do in a time of crisis, he turns to God for help and assistance. God dwells in Solomon’s Temple, so this is where we find Isaiah in chapter six verse one. Now, I want you to know that Isaiah is no spiritual slouch, he is probably the most holy man, the most righteous and religiously respected man in all of Palestine. He has served as a spiritual consultant to at least three kings. In the Temple he is witness to some strange sights and sounds. Six winged creatures, Seraphim, Angel-like beings are flying about:
• With two wings they cover their face in reverence and so that God’s glory does not blind them.
• With two wings they covered their nakedness, their creatureliness, their feet in the text.
• And with two wings they flew about the Temple.
A little side trip here, God is so efficient in His creation... isn’t He? In His Divine providence, He provides six wings for these Seraphim. Note church, they have just what they need when they need it! He does the same for all of nature:
• Why do fish have gills and birds have bills?
• Why do fish have scales and fins, while birds have feather and wings?
• Why doesn’t the polar bear live in the Sahara desert?
• Why do the rabbits in the Arctic have white fur and our rabbits have brown fur?
It’s because God has a purpose and He provides what is needed, when they need it. God is efficient in His creation and in His provision and providential care. These angelic creatures are made to serve Him, in His immediate presence. You see, we too are created and equipped to serve Him.
Church, if God equips the others of His creation with what they need, doesn’t it stand to reason that He has and will continue to equip us with what we need? Oh yes, He knows your needs and mine, and He is providentially supplying just what we need... Just when we need it. Remember Moses at the burning bush?... Moses said, I am not equipped to stand before Pharaoh and say, let my people go. Remember what God said? Moses what is that in you hand... Moses tells Pharaoh that THAT I AM SENT YOU. Well, now to the sounds, these six winged Seraphim are singing; HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the Lord God almighty and the earth is filled with His glory.
Let’s look at the problem
HOLY! HOLY! HOLY! The problem is God’s holiness. The Jews of old had a special way of calling attention to that which was very important. They did it by REPETITION. Today if we want to call attention to something special in print we:
• Place it in boldfaced type.
• Underline it,
• Put parenthesis around it,
• Put it in quotation marks,
• Italicize it,
• Or place two or three explanation marks after it.
Verbally, we use inflection, raise or soften our voice. But the Jewish way was to simply repeat it, say it again. We see this exemplified several times in Scripture; for instance: Paul uses this verbal vehicle in Galatians chapter one. Paul admonished them and us to not let anybody tell you about another Gospel other than the one we delivered, and even if one came from heaven, don’t listen, but let him be accursed... I say again, if any man preach any other Gospel, let him be accursed.
Jesus does this frequently in His teaching. When He gets to that very important point, one He does not want His hearers to forget or lose the impact, He says, VERILY VERILY, or TRULY TRULY depending on whether you believe Jesus spoke in King James or RSV. Really what Jesus said in Aramaic was A-MEAN, A-MEAN. Instead of waiting until the end of the sermon or message Jesus said, amen, which means, this is true... It is the truth ... So let it be. Verily, verily, truly, truly... What I am about to tell you is important, so listen up. It’s like the captain of a ship getting on the horn saying... Now hear this... (What is the next thing you hear?... He repeats it)... This is the captain speaking!
Less than five times in the entire Bible is anything repeated to the superlative degree, and audience only once in all of Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third level. These Seraphim are saying God is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. The Bible never says that God is:
• Love, love, love,
• Mercy, mercy, mercy,
• Just, just, just,
• Sovereign, sovereign, sovereign,
• Or anything, anything, anything.
But here in our text it says, God is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.
The Hebrew word translated Holy is used 116 times in the Old Testament... It means: Set apart, Pure, Consecrated, Selected. The root word means DIFFERENT - Totally different... Above earthly definement.
Now, can you see the problem we have in relating to God and His holiness? He is so different from us... A difference that is:
• Above earthly definement.
• Beyond human comprehension.
• Above our explanation.
In Hosea 11.9, God declares that He is above, free from mortal imperfections and failures. First Samuel 2.2 says, no one is as holy as our God. His holiness absolutely separates Him from sin. James says, God cannot tolerate sin, He can not sin or even be tempted to sin. Is it any wonder that in His Divine plan, it was necessary for Him to become man and dwell with us, so that we could comprehend Him? With His incarnation, we can see what God is like and relate to Him. John 1.18 says, No-one has ever seen God, but the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known... The King James say, He has declared Him. Jesus came:
• Showing us,
• Explaining God
Do you want to see God?... Want to know what He is like?... Look at Jesus! This is what incarnation means, God coming in the flesh, God coming as a man.
Now, notice verse five, as we view our own sinfulness. We’ve been looking at God’s holiness, now let’s notice our sinfulness. As Isaiah sees:
• The set apart,
• The absolute difference,
• The undefinable Holiness, of God, he is brought to his knees with his own unworthiness... His own sinfulness.
He says, In contrast to you God, I am nothing. Listen to him,
• Woe is me,
• I am coming apart,
• I am ruined,
• I am undone,
• I am a foul-minded, foul-mouthed sinner, and I dwell among a similarly sinful bunch.
• Woe is me, for my eyes have seen the Lord, and the curse of God is upon me.
You see, Isaiah came to the Temple thinking he was a pretty good man. He is saying,
• I felt like a whole person,
• I had integrity,
• My conscience was clear,
• I was OK.
• I had my act together,
• I was religious.
But now, I have seen God’s HOLINESS, and as a result, I can’t stand myself. My good people, this must have been the most excruciating time in this prophet’s life. And we must know this morning that this is not just an isolated case in Scripture.
Remember Job? Job is angry at God... He has lost: his children, the farm, all his wealth, his friends have turned against him. His wife is suggesting that he give up and curse God. Job screams, demanding an answer to his circumstances... Sounds like some of us doesn’t it?
Have you ever screamed at God, demanding an answer, demanding WHY?... I certainly have! Then God shows up in Job’s life and Job says in chapter 42, verse 6, I abhor myself, I repent in dust and ashes, I speak no more
There is the prophet Habakkuk.
He also struggles with understanding God. Habakkuk is a contemporary with Jeremiah, he has witnessed Nebuchadnezzar’s coming in 605 B.C. carrying off the young princes of Judah. He sees all kinds of injustices taking place, so he stands on his watch tower and says, okay God, I don’t like what I am seeing down here. There is injustice all over the place and you’re responsible for it. I’m going to sit right here on this wall until I hear from you... Until you explain yourself, why this is happening and what your going to do about it. And then God shows up and Habakkuk says in 3.16, My lip quivered... My belly trembled... My bones were filled with rottenness. Georgia and I have six grandchildren, I had almost forgotten what a quivering lip meant. Their parents take them to the bedroom and they come back with a quivering lip. God took Habakkuk to the bedroom.
The close friends of Jesus struggled with His holiness.
One night on the Sea of Galilee Jesus and His disciple were caught in a storm. The disciples fought that storm until they were exhausted, and when they saw that their efforts were in vain and that they were going down, they ran to Jesus, who was asleep in the back of the boat. Master, Master, don’t you care, we’re going to drown!... Folk, they’re scared to death. Jesus awoke and says three words, peace be still, and the sea was calm:
• Not a wave,
• Not a zephyr in the air,
• Calm all about them.
Do you know what the Bible says next?... And they feared exceedingly... The King James says, they were sore afraid. You see, these disciples had seen something akin to what Isaiah saw. When compared to His great holiness, they were nothing. He was different, above earthly definement. Even the elements, the wind and the sea, obeyed His will. Church, this is good news! The next time you are afraid, the next time you’re caught in a storm that you have no control over, remember Jesus is sleeping in the back of the boat.
Another sea story... Same guys... Same sea... Perhaps the same boat.
They’ve been fishing all night without any luck. Peter is mad... Jim Branstetter can relate to this fishing all night and not catching any fish. Jesus comes suggesting that they try fishing on the other side of the boat. Peter was probably thinking, you may be a great theologian, a master teacher and miracle worker, but we are the fisherman... But, to humor you we’ll try the other side. As the net begin to break, and the boat began to sink, Peter said in Luke 5.8, depart from me, for I am a sinful man.
Audience, you may be thinking, I can’t:
• I can’t overcome this ugly sin in my life.
• I can’t live for Jesus,
• I can’t put my marriage back together,
• I can’t teach a class, lead a prayer, or be evangelistic,
• I can’t deal with this loss in my life.
But, then Jesus shows up and says, let me show you how.
Saul, later to be Paul, experienced this same phenomenon.
Traveling on the Damascus Road, he said:
• I was an all right fellow,
• I had a clear conscience before God,
• In the matter of the Law, I was above reproach.
But then God showed up, and Saul fell on his face in the dirt crying, Lord what would you have me do?
Church, we are going to be different people when we see the holiness of God contrasted with our own sinfulness. Show me a man who has the right picture of God, and I’ll show you a man who sees his own sinfulness and who is more than ready to do what God asks of him without delay.
OK — This brings us to the solution. In verse seven, one of the Seraphim takes a live coal from the alter and places it to his lips.
Listen to me now, genuine, authentic conversion is one of the most painful experiences we humans can go through.
God says, Isaiah:
• I will cleanse you,
• I will cauterize your sinfulness,
• I will burn off all your impurities,
• I will take away your sins in forgiveness,
• I will refine you into pure gold.
Becoming God’s person, allowing Him to remove, remold, and remake our lives is not painless.
If we think it is, we are on a collision course with God. But, on the other hand, if we will totally turn our lives over to His Remolding... Remolding... Refining... and Remaking, life will be an adventure... Life will be an adventure.
If you think Christianity and God are all:
• Love, love, love,
• Nice, nice, nice,
• Easy, easy, easy,
• Goodie, goodie, goodie,
• Kind, kind, kind,
Then you have a warped concept of how He goes about shaping us into the image of His Son. Bonholfer says, to see God in this light only is cheap grace.
Listen to these verses that verify such a concept:
• First Peter 1.7, These trials, these sorrows, have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
• Hebrews 12.7, Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
By this time, no doubt, Isaiah is kneeling on the floor in pain, in humble submission to God. There are no doubt blisters on his lips, yet through the pain, he hears God say, who will go for me... Whom will I send in this time of crisis? Isaiah, with tears streaming down his face, through the blister says, here am I Lord, send me.
• Why can’t I go?
• Why can’t you use me,
• Please God use me, let me be the one.
This guy five minutes ago was saying, woe is me... Now he is saying,
• I want to love God,
• I want to serve God,
• I want to obey God,
• I want to honor and glorify God with my life.
WHAT HAPPENED?... WHAT HAPPENED?... Genuine, authentic New Testament conversion! Folk, God will do the same thing for you and your preacher.
No... No... The HOLY, HOLY, HOLY God is not out to destroy us.
• He wants to heal us.
• He wants to save us.
• He wants to purge our sins.
• He wants to remold, remake and refine us into the image of His Son.
When that happens, when true conversion comes into my life and yours, we will be found saying, here am I lord use me. Making excuses, looking around for others better qualified, will be all behind us. Isaiah six is God’s call of the prophet Isaiah to authentic conversion.
Why not let this sermon be your call to Genuine New Testament conversion? Respond to His call for you to become His son through: Faith, Repentance, and New Testament baptism, immersion in water for the forgiveness of all your sins.
Perhaps today is the day you need to be restored and completely turn you life over to His management. Indeed!... Indeed!... Life will be an adventure.