Then He Said Go

Isaiah 6:7-9
“Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.’
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’
And He said, ‘Go…’”

Isaiah 6 is perhaps most well known for what Isaiah saw. He records, in the year of King Uzziah’s death, he had a vision of the throne of God. He describes how he saw the Lord enthroned and surrounded by angelic beings, who ever live to give Him praise. What perhaps, is sometimes missed, is what Isaiah heard. He records hearing the voice of God in two distinct ways.

First, an angel took a coal from the altar, touched Isaiah’s lips, and declared God had taken away his sin. In order for Isaiah to receive pardon from God, he had to first recognize he was a sinner, and then allow God to touch him with the coal from the altar. Those coals would have been stained with the blood of the sacrifices. The most important words you will ever hear are, your sin has been taken away. That happens the moment you realize you are a sinner, Christ is the Savior, and you choose to trust in Him. At that moment, all your sins are washed from you. No longer do you have to carry the burden of the guilt from sin, because He carried it for you when He hung on the cross. No words could ever be sweeter than when heaven declares “your iniquity is taken away and your sin is purged.”

Second, once cleansed, Isaiah heard God speak again. This time he was commissioned by God to go into the world with a message. The remaining chapters of Isaiah have to do with that message. Essentially, God is using Isaiah to call others to the Lord. It is important to realize God wants to commission each of us. Something happens to a person who has truly met God, they begin to be filled with a desire for others to know Him as well.

Have you come to Christ and heard Him say “Your sin is taken away”? If not, take this moment to confess you are a sinner, and trust Him as the Savior.

Have you responded to the great commission, where you realize He not only saved you, but is sending you? Before you head out the door, pray God would give you opportunity to invite someone to come hear about Christ, or perhaps He would grant you the chance to tell them yourself.

Pastor Jim

 

Ashamed? 

Psalm 119:5-6
“Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments”

The devil is crafty and a master of deception. Paul referred to him as an angel of light, because of his ability to disguise himself in order to fool the Christian.

When we are first introduced to him in the garden,  we watch as he tricks Eve into thinking the one thing that her loving God has forbidden, is of more value than all the fruit of the garden or the freedom she has been given. He has been deceiving people ever since, fooling us into thinking the ways of God are too restrictive and that sin will satisfy us. Once he has convinced us to walk outside the boundaries of God’s Word and get involved in that which is forbidden, his job is only half done. Instead of leaving us alone and moving on to deceive another, he turns his weapons back on us and begins an assault of shame. His fiery arrows begin to assault our minds with shame. We are defeated by the sin we have committed, and continue in defeat as we wallow in shame and guilt. We are repulsed by our failure, and instead of entering boldly into the throne of grace, where mercy and grace flow from our loving Father, we cower back with feelings of unworthiness. We question how God could love us and fear that we will never overcome the weaknesses of our flesh. There, in our miry clay, the devil holds us bound in shame and guilt; keeping us from abundant life or from impacting others for the kingdom of Heaven.

I want to assure you, that if you have received the pardon of sin that Christ offers on Calvary’s Cross, ALL your sins have been washed away. The blood of Christ is rich enough to pardon the sin that you have stumbled back into. Right this moment, receive that pardon and rise from the ashes of your failure to walk in the victory that is yours in Christ.

That being said, the Psalmist speaks here of one of the greatest ways to avoid pitfalls of the devil and ending up overcome with shame.

Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments.”

The key to avoiding the pitfalls of the enemy, is walking in the right direction, and staying in bounds. The key to remaining on track, is allowing the Word of God to shine continually upon your life and guide your steps. One of the ways we fail, is when we come to a crossroad and find ourselves face to face with temptation. On the one hand, we are being greatly pressed to step outside the boundaries and pursue what we know God has forbidden, while on the other hand, we desire to please Him and do what is right. Right there, in the midst of the battle, we will find great strength from the perfect Law of liberty. Like a valiant soldier, as we reach into the sheath, removing the Sword of the Spirit, we will find the enemy is vanquished with the power of the Word. Later, in times of confusion, when we are not sure what the way of the Lord is, we can find guidance that keeps us on track. Have you ever, when facing decision time or great temptation, taken a moment to search for what the Scripture has to say? Using an online concordance, you can look into the statutes of God regarding the situation you are facing. The light of the Word will shine in your life, and you will find the help you need to avoid falling again into shame.

Let’s be sure, today, to allow our steps to be directed by His statutes.

Pastor Jim

 

Empty Jars 

2 Kings 4:6
“Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not another vessel.’ So the oil ceased.”

Living conditions in Israel had become very difficult; the nation was constantly at war with its enemies, years of drought had created wide spread famine, and morality was in decline. These things affected the living condition of everyone, regardless of their social status. In the story before us, we are introduced to a poor widow who is facing starvation. Without giving details, we learn that her husband, a godly man, had died and she and her sons were on their last leg. All her resources were gone and the creditors were at the door. In her distress, she sought counsel from Elisha who asked a simple question, “what do you have?” To which she replied, the only thing left in the house was a jar of oil. Elisha went on to instruct her to borrow vessels from her neighbors and fill them with oil from the jar. When she did, they found that the oil poured as long as their was an empty vessel to put it in. I think there are at least two valuable applications from this passage.

The first is obvious. This is a story which illustrates how God provides for His people. Long before this, Abraham referred to God as YHWH-Jirah, the Lord our Provider. This unnamed woman found God to be the one who could meet her needs when all seemed lost. We can take comfort in knowing, no matter what our need, we have a God who cares for us and has the resources to provide. I am always blessed when I hear of a child of God who chooses to trust in the promises of God, for they are the ones who see the miraculous hand of God providing for them.

The second may not seem as obvious, but is equally as striking. We read the oil flowed as long as an empty vessel was provided. Oil is often used symbolically in Scripture to represent the work of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, it was oil that was used to anoint prophets, priest, and kings, and in the New Testament oil is used to anoint the sick. In this story, what was required to have the oil flow was an empty vessel. It did not matter what the vessel had previously been used for, it did not matter what size, shape, or color the vessel was, the only thing that mattered was that it was empty and available. When it comes to Christian service, we are all dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit. Nothing in the kingdom of God can be accomplished in the energies of the flesh. That being said, if we want to be used by God, we need to be empty and available. Some of the things we must be empty of are private sins, pride, excuses, prejudice, and unwillingness to do the lowest of tasks.

This woman and her sons saw a remarkable work of God, and when it came to an end, I suggest that their only regret was that they did not gather more jars.

Pastor Jim

 

Stained Garment

Exodus 29:20-21
“Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments, on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.”

IMG_1451The Lord went to great detail to explain the garments that the High Priest would wear. He referred to them as holy garments, designed for glory and for beauty. In other words, they were designed to both look beautiful and to reveal some aspect of the Lord’s glory. These garments included a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a skillfully woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. The most highly skilled artisans in all Israel were commissioned to create them. Once the day of consecration arrived, Aaron and his sons were dressed in the most beautiful and highly technical attire the world had ever seen, but as they approached the altar, something quite striking took place. An innocent ram was killed, it’s flesh offered upon the altar, it’s blood mixed with anointing oil, and this mixture placed upon the Priest. Imagine how shocking to see the High Priest all dressed up, then have blood splattered upon his garments. No longer would our attention be drawn to his beautiful turban, breastplate or sash, now all we would notice was the stain.

God wanted the people, then and now, to understand that access to God is never based upon what we try to do to earn it. All the skilled artisans on the planet could not create attire clean enough to grant access to God. Access to God is only granted when sin is covered by the blood of the innocent. This was symbolized by the blood stained garments of the Priests, and pointed to the time when Christ would make a way for all to have access to God.

Hebrews 9:12
“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

The blood was also placed upon the ear, toe and thumb of the Priest. This was symbolic of a cleansing of all that he had done, and preparation for where he would go. How often have we laid our head on our pillows at night only to be consumed with guilt, for the things we have heard, seen or touched. We live in a fallen world, and sin is always around us. It is so comforting to know there is cleansing available to free us from sin and guilt.

Pastor Jim