What is your response to who God is?

Those who have seen God are never the same.  The children of Israel asked to see the Lord of Moses, but when they saw the Lord they were afraid and ask Moses never to allow them to see God like that again [see Daniel 10:7-10, Luke 2:10, Acts 9:3-4].  In Revelation 1:9-18, John saw the awesomeness of Christ and fell as a dead man.  People who see God are left with an awesome, fearful, and unforgettable impression of who God is.

stop-drop-and-rollA response to seeing God is similar to one who is on fire.  What is the normal trained response or actions for someone who is on fire?  Stop, Drop and Roll. Just as that is a memorable way to deal with being on fire it is also a great way to respond to God.

STOP to take a long look at who you are and who God is. 

And I said:“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)

Isaiah sees that his spirit is on fire.  Hot!  Isaiah is deeply impacted by seeing God.  As he glimpses God’s holiness and glory he says, “Woe is me.”   This is not “whoa!” but “woe!”  In ancient times “Woe” was a pronouncement of judgment on those who dare disobey God’s Word (cf. 5:18-23).  It was a shot to the heart, a punch in the kisser, and a kick to the spiritual stomach.

As Isaiah gets a glimpse of God and he’s devastated.  He got a peak behind the curtain of the holy of holies and is found out. He’s caught. He’s ashamed. He’s afraid.  He speaks a judgment upon himself as if to say, “I’m toast!”  It’s not an understatement—Isaiah’s freaking out. He is no longer shocked by the sins of the king or Israel but by his own sin.  Before he pointed one finger at Israel but now points three back at himself.   He sees no ones sin but his own in the presence of God.  Isaiah thinks he’s toast.  He knows he deserves to be.  That he is still alive is a wonderful thing.

This is a good thing for us to see.  We are good at pointing of the sins in others, but bad dealing with our own.  We play the comparison game with other Christians and pride ourselves on not being as sinful as the other Christian.  Jesus said to the religious leaders who were shocked at the lifestyle of the prostitute, “Whoever is sinless throws the first stone.”

We are a people of “compare-ers.”  We compare our actions to those of others to see whether we are acting right.  And, quite honestly, compared to all the people in the world, Isaiah was probably one of the best people there was.  But when he saw the glory of God there was no comparison.  Although Isaiah was better than most people, he knew that he was filthy compared to God’s pure holiness.  Isaiah admitted that he was a sinner. He had no excuses for his sinfulness.  He had no one to blame.  He had no where to run and hide.

I believe there is a great need to reintroduce the word “woe” to our devotional vocabulary.   When you finally take a moment to look at who you really are and who God really is.  Our “Woe!” can lead to “Whoa!” which leads us to the next response.

DROP to your knees and receive God’s forgiveness.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said:“Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:6-7)

There is something very interesting and weird going on here that is being illustrated.  In Isaiah’s day, their was a pagan practice called the “washing of the mouth.”  wash your mouth outSimilar to washing ones mouth out with soap it was a ritual that took an inanimate idol and made it inhabited by a god.  The image would be purified and cleansed to be ready for a god to dwell in it.  The cleansing ceremony Isaiah experiences is quite similar, but ironically God chooses Isaiah to cleanse and be His spokesmen to the pagan idolaters.

So what could Isaiah do about his sinful condition? Absolutely nothing!  What did God do?  Everything.  God’s messenger flew to Isaiah, took a burning coal from the altar, and touched his lips.  Fire is used in the Bible to purify things (Malachi 3:2-3).  This burning coal from God’s altar was a symbol that God was the One who made Isaiah pure.  Only God can save someone from his sins (Revelation 7:10).  God did not just cover up Isaiah’s sin. God took Isaiah’s sins away!  Isaiah’s sins would not be remembered or talked about ever again because God took them away!

I am so glad the story doesn’t end in verse 5.  Isaiah is not left feeling the heat of his sin.  He feels the forgiveness and restoration of God.  He is not left feeling afraid, guilty or shameful.  He feels true freedom.

When Adam sinned in the garden there were three consequences of sin that happened.  First, guilt.  He broke one of God’s rules.  Second, shame.  He want to hide from God and cover his nakedness.  Third, fear.  Adam was afraid for his life as death was introduced into the world.

You might know firsthand the the affects of shame, guilt and fear.  Maybe shame seeped into your life because of a hidden or naughty habit, a relationship crossed certain boundaries, or a detail about you if uncover you would haunt you forever.  Maybe guilt got the upper hand because you felt like you’d never measure up to the standards of someone or you just can’t quite quit that nagging guilty pleasure.  And guilt manifest itself in depression, self harm, eating disorder, or blame shifting.  Maybe fear trapped you because of various unknowns, via threats breathed down upon you, or someone holding dirt on you that if leaked could tarnish your reputation and future.

We often look at guilt, shame, and fear as bad, which they are if used as tools against someone or yourself.  However, God uses them for good as a tool to motivate you not to go there again and to seek rest in God’s forgiveness.

Notice how God’s pursues forgiveness in Isaiah.  He he does this with you too.  He pursues you through the work of Christ on the cross that shed His blood as your substitute so that you might be forgiven and free.  Have you known the forgiveness of God?

Just as God took away all of Isaiah’s sins, God wants to take away your sin also.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to become the holy sacrifice that takes away your sin. Just look at what the Bible says  God does with your sin.

  • God purifies your sins by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).
  • God takes your sins from you as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).
  • Your sins can never be found (Jeremiah 50:20).
  • God forgives you of your sin and cleans you from all wickedness (I John 1:9).
  • God will trample on your sins under His foot. Just imagine God stomping His foot on your sin! And God throws all your sins into the deepest part of the sea (Micah 7:19).
  • “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:6-9)

If you have not done so, it is time to drop your shame, guilt, and fear at the feet of Jesus who will forgive you today and forever.

ROLL up your sleeves and get going.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go…” (Isaiah 6:8)

Again, the verses do not end after 6-7.  Isaiah is not immobilized or handicapped.  He is not out of commission and sidelined because he has blown it or because he is a sinner.  Interesting, after God took away Isaiah’s sin, he hears God speak!  So often he is silent because our sin is like putting in earplugs.

What does God say?  After God cleanses Isaiah He commissions him: see to it that My people know I am forgiving too.  It is no irony that Isaiah’s commission is similar to Jesus commission to his followers in Matthew 28:19-20.

Commonly, commissioning follows cleansing.  Cleaning is God’s path to making you ready, useful, and humble for the task he has you to do.  One who is forgiven is forgiving and goes and tells of God’s great forgiveness.  That’s the goodness—the gospel—in a nutshell.

God was looking for the person who would be His messenger.  Isaiah didn’t hesitate.  He wanted to be the one used by God.  Isaiah sees who God is.  He is wowed.  He says WOE!  And God wipes away the fear, guilt, and shame of his sin.  Isaiah is pure and clean in God’s eyes.   He is ready to be used by God.

Likewise, Jesus came into this world to rub shoulders with people harboring loads of shame, guilt, and fear.  He came to free you from it.  He died for the sinner so that the sin would no longer have any power.  So that you could know the greater power of forgiveness and be used by God as an example of what God does through Jesus.

“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate (where atonement was made) in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured… Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:12-16)

Today you stand at the altar.  Will you stop and humble yourself before God and see him as he is?  Will you drop to your knees and enjoy his forgiveness?  Will you roll up your sleeves and let others know who God is?  How will you respond?  Let God touch your lips that you might taste his goodness and sweet forgiveness.

 

Coming up next: the result of responding to God in obedience

Previously in this series: God is

 

DOWNLOAD QUESTIONS:

In Isaiah 6:5. Isaiah responds to his vision of God.   What does Isaiah immediately become aware of?   In other words, when you see the holiness of God, what do you see in yourselves?  Have you every experienced that before?

Why is it important to learn about who God is?   Why is it important to see God not as you want to see Him, but as He truly is?

What does it mean to you STOP, DROP and ROLL as Isaiah explains it?  Why is this important to remember as a follower of God?

5 terrifying truths about Christianity

Have you ever had to tell the truth to someone and what you had to tell them was not the greatest of news? Not that they have a boogey hanging from their nose, but a bad behavior that needs changing. You finally muster up the courage to tell them. You share this truth with them because you care, love and help them. Sometimes the truth might scare you out of your pants. Today Jesus is going to tell us the truth on some facts that might make you fear.

Jesus’ talks a lot about eternity. 2/3 of all parables were about heaven and hell issues. At the end of His greatest message ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, He talked clearly about the reality of heaven and hell. We do not like to think about the reality of hell. Many believe that there is no such thing as hell. They say, “How could a loving God send anybody to hell?” Hell is more of a swear word than a real place in the minds of many. This is not a hell fire and brimstone message, but cutting to the heart of the issue like Jesus did:

1. Not everyone is going to heaven [Matthew 7:13]. You might be able to handle this first fact thinking to yourself, “Well, murders, molesters and rapists definitely deserve to go to hell. I am not like them. At least not AS bad.”

When I was in South Africa I observed gated communities. I would pass by the gate and the guard would nod or wave me in. Everyday was the same. He let everyone in. I suppose that is why homes got broken into so many times!? When it comes to heaven we want a guard gate kind of God. ”If you are sincere; if you are basically good; if you believe in a god…just drive up to Him and he’ll nod, wink and wave you on through.” God does not care only if you are a good boy or girl. He doesn’t grade on a cosmic curve. He just doesn’t let anyone in to His heaven. Heaven and hell are gated communities.

If I were ask you t call your mother you could not use just any number in the phone directory to call her. You got to call mom’s specific number. Likewise we cannot just try any way to God. There is only one way to God that is through Jesus Christ.

2. More people will go to hell than heaven [Matthew 7:14]. There is a truth to the two popular songs by AC/DC Highway to Hell and Rascal Flatts cover of Life is a Highway. Life is a highway that barrels by at a blazing speed and there is a road that leads to hell. The Bible says it is a broad road and well traveled. Like I-65 at rush hour. Many people think that they can make it to heaven on their own. However, self-reliance merges into self-deception, and self-deception dead ends into self-destruction. In another popular song Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel, he says, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” Hell is no laughing matter. Jesus says it is eternal torment. A place of isolation and darkness, and a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jesus is the definite article. This takes you back to English Grammar class [the=definite article]. That means He is absolutely the way, the truth and the life, nobody goes to the Father but through Him [John 14:6]. This is exclude 376 million Buddhists living in Asia, 900 million Hindus in India, 1.3 billion Muslims throughout the world, and…

3. Many who think they are Christians aren’t [Matthew 7:15-23]. God doesn’t send people to hell. We volunteer. Our sin condemns us to hell. Keeping God at a distance in this life will continue more of the same in the next. Just because you say, “I’m a Christian because you go to church, FUEL or pray.” Doesn’t mean you are a Christian any more than saying you are nut makes you a Snickers Bar.

You can tell a Christian by the fruit they bear. Apple trees bear apples, grapevines bear grapes, and Christians look like Christ. When people look at your life can they see clearly that you are a Christ follower because you act like it, talk like it, smell like it?

4. You will not get another opportunity after you die. Hebrews 9:27 says, “it is appointed men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Death is an appointment you are not going to be late for. You are going to die! God will look at you life and see if you received His Son. He will either say, “Well done. Welcome. Paid for by the blood of the cross” [Matthew 25:21-23] Or “I don’t know you. Where you come from?” [Luke 13:25] There is no second chance on the other side of this life, thus…

5. This could be your last chance. What you do on this side of the grace will affect where you spend eternity. If you are a procrastinator by nature this is not something you want to put off until later. Commit to Christ before it is too late. You do not know the date when you will stand before God’s gate!

Will you come to Christ today? Will you commit to live for Him? Will you prove it through your life?

a consuming fire

Getting a glimpse of God

I remember as a young whipper-snapper that a group of us went to Green Bay to see the Packers practice. As a little boy this was a big deal, a real cheeseheads dream. You could see the big stars practice. The players would ride in on their bikes, high five the kids, stop for autographs. I got to meet actual players. I still haven’t washed my right hand!? Thousands of people would flock around the practice field just to get a glimpse of their favorite football player. We are all excited to get a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous, get a sneak peak at the summers hot new blockbuster, and more.

I wonder what would your response be to getting a glimpse of God?

1. Fear God’s Holiness (Hebrews 12:18-21)

Modern people are not accustomed to fearing God. Fearing God is something primitive people do—along with bowing down to the sun and sacrificing virgins to volcanoes.

Even Christian people are not used to fearing God. You might say, “That sounds way too Old Testament. What about the love and grace of God? After all, John says: “Perfect love casts out fear.” Fear is for the spiritually immature, right?”

There’s a tendency for modern folk to think in terms of God offering man a contract—agreement between equals. “You’re ok, I’m ok. Every thing is ok.” NOT!! Ancients did not make that mistake. The 10 Commands were like terms of a treaty—the kind made between the conqueror and the conquered. No complaining or bargaining. Accept the terms unconditionally.

SHOULD WE FEAR THE LORD?

Let’s look at what the Bible says:

  • “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov.1:7; 5:21; 8:13; 9:10).
  • “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc.12:13)
  • “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, Him you shall regard as holy. Let him be your fear, and let Him be your dread” (Isa. 8:12-13)

You say, “That’s all from the OT!” What about Phil.2:1? “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”

The meaning of fearing God comes into clearer focus if we can imagine what it would be like to actually see God. This hasn’t happened too many times, but it is awesome to have an unfiltered experience with the living God! Isaiah said, “woe is me. I am a man of unclean lips,” (6:1-5) and when John saw the awesomeness of Christ and fell at His feet as a dead man (Rev.1:9-18).

When I was a kid I randomly bumped into things. My mom finally realized after multiple bruising that I needed glasses. I where glasses to see and protect me from potential danger. Fearing the Lord protects me from destruction. Sin makes me dumb. Following God is so smart.

The Bible clearly commands us to fear the Lord. It is a mixture of terror and awe, not just reverence and respect. Fear of the Lord is an appropriate response to the practical awareness of who I am before God. John Piper says, “To fear God is to view God as so powerful and awesome that I would not dare run from Him, but to Him.”

copper 1copper 2When I was in high school I took a ski-trip with my step-dad out West. We skied a lot. I have one memory that sticks out in my mind. On our last day we went to Copper Mountain (12,300ft.) We decided to take a trip to the summit. The ski lift got us close, but we still had about a half-mile climb to get to the peak. I thought I was going to die. When we got to the summit it was an amazing experience (“This is the sanctuary of God”). You could see for miles, the air was brisk, and God’s glory was awesome. I remember crying out to God. Then it dawned on me we had to go down this mountain. The only way down was to jump about a 20-foot cliff to the powdery slope. I had the feeling of terror mixed with wonder was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. This must have been something like the Israelites’ experience with the living God–terror mixed with wonder. It was something God did not want Israel to forget.

Who is your God? Is He feared? One day you will appear before this God. Every person who has ever lived will appear before Him. You think you will tell Him how you’ve been a good boy or girl; or give Him a piece of your mind for how your live went on earth. No, you will approach Him in fear and trembling. You will be there, we will all be there. This is the God we will meet. The story doesn’t end there. Ready for some good news? There is this holy God “but…”

2. Gratitude for God’s Grace (12:22-24)

The amazing grace showered on you when you come to the God:

  • to Mount Zion—we may come to a literal mountain in Jerusalem that represented the heavenly Zion
  • to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem—but we come to the dwelling of God.
  • to innumerable angels in festal gathering—we come backed by a 10,000 x 10,0000=100,000,000 (minimum) member choir of angels in their party clothes.
  • and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven—the believers, church (ecclesia), any firstborns here today? All receive a special rank and privilege. We will be “enrolled in the Book of Life (Rev.3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15) If you are not enrolled you are not there!
  • and to God, the judge of all—God is there.
  • to the spirits of the righteous made perfect—we will be like Christ! All that things that bug me about you, and you about me will not be there!!
  • and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant—HE IS THE CENTERPIECE OF HEAVEN. We come to see the One and Only, the Supreme, who gave us the New Covenant. We come to our Savior and Redeemer.
  • and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel—we come through the Atoning blood of Christ through which we have forgiveness of sins. Christ’s sacrifice was better than Abel’s (cf. Gen.4:10). Though Abel’s sacrifice (and ours) is acceptable to God because of faith—it has no atoning power (it represented judgment and vengeance). Jesus’ is (Col.1:20).

Whoohoo! That will be the day!! Are you grateful for the work of Christ? Do you know the God of Mount Zion? (1 Jn. “These things were written that you might know you have eternal life through Jesus Christ”) Do you know that you know that you know Him. Forgiveness and repentance in Christ!

How should I respond to this holiness and grace of God?

3. Worship by Total Submission (12:25-29)

My Response (v.25): I will do what He says. When He says jump, “I will say how high?”

My Response (vs.26-29): I will worship. I give my best to God, I give my first to God, I reserve the most to God. I honor Him, respect Him, awe Him. I do not walk through life casually, placing a checkmark on my fridge that I went to church today. I totally submit to Him and worship for our God is a consuming fire.

Getting a glimpse of God means…
I fear God’s holiness: Do you fear God? Does it show up in your actions?
I have gratitude for God’s grace: Are you thankful for His mercy?
I worship by total submission: Do you worship Him as a living sacrifice?

who or what is in control here?

Today, there is a lot of uncertainty in American (and the world): the stock market is devaluing, gas and food prices are skyrocketing, there is threat of terrorism, there is political distrust on a reckless scale, and the American pride/patriotism is becoming as distant as the American dream. There doesn’t seem to be any solution, only a worsening problem. 

I am not one to use scare-tactics causing fear in the eyes of others about the future. Neither do I want to predict hell-fire or fatalism. I simply wanted to share a few articles I came across this week (thanks to Frank my local economist): The Rise of the Rest and Peak Oil: Life After the Oil Crash

What do we do? Is there any hope? Who or what is in control here? As said on the front cover of Douglas Adams’, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “DON’T PANIC”. Here are…

4 Essential Truth’s to Know & Do:

1. I do not need to fear [Rom.8:15; Ps.27:1; Ps.56:3-4].

2. God is in control [1 Chron.29:11; Prov.19:21; Rom.8:28-29].

3. This is not the end [Acts 16:31; John 3:16].

4. Those who trust in Him will survive [Prov.3:5-6; Jer.17:7; 1 Tim.6:17]!!