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Encountering God

February 24, 2019 Pastor: John Palka

Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8

What do you think it would be like to encounter God? Try to imagine what that would be like. The reason I ask that question is because spiritual wellness that is anchored in Jesus gives us this incredible gift, the gift of encountering God.

In today’s OT reading we hear of a man’s encounter with God. His name was Isaiah. He was a prophet of the ancient Hebrew people, the Israelites. In his encounter we see a pattern that repeats itself as we encounter God.

The reason we’re asking what is it like to encounter God is because as we cultivate a spiritual wellness that is anchored in Jesus and the Bible we encounter God, that is, God reveals himself to us. So “What happens when you encounter God?” PRAY

Here’s the first part of Isaiah’s encounter with God. Is. 6:2-5, Above him were seraphim, each with six wings… they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “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.”

Isaiah was given a vision of heaven. In this vision he was before God’s throne of grace and seated on that throne was the Lord, high and exalted. There were two heavenly beings above the throne calling out to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. The temple shook. Here’s Isaiah response. Is. 6:5, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Listen to how this passage is paraphrased in the Message edition of the Bible, “Doom! It’s Doomsday! I’m as good as dead! Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted— blasphemous even! And the people I live with talk the same way, using words that corrupt and desecrate. And here I’ve looked God in the face! The King! GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies!”

A preacher named Louie Giglio, speaking on this passage said that Isaiah was stunned in God’s presence, not just impressed, but stopped dead in his tracks, jaw to the ground, trembling in dread and doom. Isaiah cries out, I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips. God is holy…I am not. Isaiah had the ultimate reality check and what he saw in light of God’s perfection and justice was that he, Isaiah, was completely broken, stained with sin and without hope of self-rescue.

I think the church needs a whole lot more stunning; Stunned so that there’s a shift from being a consumer of spirituality to a more costly following of Jesus.

Have you been stunned by an encounter with God?

For me I can experience being stunned as I open up the Bible and it becomes a part of my life, digesting and meditating on it. For me, worshiping God in song can also be powerful, helping me see who God is and who I am. God also stuns me with his creation.

Let’s move on with Isaiah’s encounter with God. What happens after he’s was stunned? Is. 6: 6-7,Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 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.”

After being stunned, Isaiah is seared and sealed in God’s mercy. The winged seraphim flew over Isaiah with a burning coal taken from the altar of God. The burning coal is touched to his lip of Isaiah and Isaiah hears the amazing declaration that God removed his guilt and forgave his sins. This searing and sealing in mercy and forgiveness seems to be God’s first language. Ps. 116:5 tells us Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. Micah 7:18, Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

One of my favorites stories and movies is Les Miserable where the theme of mercy all over the place. Jean Valjean is released from 19 years of being imprisoned for stealing bread to eat. Released from prison he finds himself destitute, cold, hungry, rejected by society and with no hope. On a cold rainy night he finds shelter and a warm welcome in a priest’s house. Jean Valjean repays the kindness by stealing a silver candelabras from the priest, but he’s caught by the police. Dragged back to the priest by the police to face his certain judgment & condemnation. The priest says he gave the silver to Jean Valjean and he certainly want him to keep them. Valjean deserved condemnation, but received mercy and forgiveness.

As we encounter God he messes with us good. One way He messes with us is he says, “Your sins, your rebellion have been forgiven. Jesus received those sins and died for them so that you would not have to. You are forgiven.”

Rom. 6:23 tells us about God’s amazing mercy, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Each of us needs to make God’s mercy personal. Go ahead and say this out loud “My guilt is removed.” Now say “My sins are forgiven.”

Now let’s see the third thing to happen to Isaiah in his encounter with God. Is. 6:8, Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah hears this conversation between the Father, Son and HS. They are wondering who they will send as their representative and spokesperson. Stunned, seared and sealed, Isaiah says to God, “Send me.” His is astounding. A minute ago Isaiah knew he was doomed, then end was here, but now he’s waving his hand saying “I’ll go. Send me.”

God doesn’t simply stun, sear & seal. When you are stunned, seared & seal in God mercy He always SENDS…always, always SENDS. He send us as his representative. 2 Cor. 5:20, So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ…

If you are stunned, seared and sealed, then God always sends you. He sends you into your family. He sends you into your workplace. He sends you into your neighborhood and community. He sends you to the people within your church community. He may even send you to people in far off countries. He wants the people of Santa Monica, and Westchester, and Mar Vista and Hollywood to be stunned, seared and sealed and even sent.

Unfortunately, it’s perfectly acceptable in Western Christianity to be nominally stunned, perfectly seared and sealed, and hardly ever sent. That mindset is a challenge we face.

After God stuns, sears and seals you He always asks “Who shall we send?” You don’t have to say “Send me.” If you want to answer “Yes, send me.” Then grade the 2 index cards in the worship folder and write on both of them “Send me.” One will be left in the pew, one will be brought home and perhaps put on the refrigerator to remind you that you have been stunned, seared and sealed and sent.

There is a sending work designed specifically for you. Find it…discover it.