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Slaves and masters! – Ephesians 6:5-9

Slaves and masters! – Ephesians 6:5-9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 2, 2017

There are times when employees may feel they are slaves or just a cog in one big giant machine only good for what they can turn out for the “man” but to equate our boredom or nasty bosses to actual slavery is a bit much. Real slavery is no laughing matter and it still exists in many countries of the world today; most notably within those that are predominately Muslim or socialist. While slavery was the predominate thinking for much of the world’s history Christianity has played a huge role in ending this horrendous system of slaves and masters.

Jesus taught that God views all people equal and while Paul and others addressed slaves and masters they knew that God so loved the whole world and that Jesus came to save all mankind. Within those nations who were influenced by Christianity the ungodly system of slavery would eventually be done away with. We can find the seeds to its destruction in how Paul addresses the attitudes of slaves and masters here in Ephesians. Let’s take a look at what Paul wrote and how it should affect our lives today…

READ: Ephesians 6:5-9

So should people view Paul’s statements here in Ephesians as an endorsement of slavery? Absolutely not! Instead we can discover that what mattered most to Paul was how one conducted themselves as a believer. And here in this truth Christians can find that…

I. No matter their position in life believers are to consider themselves as servants of Christ! (Vv. 5-6)

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.

1. Slaves in Paul’s day had a harsh existence. They were property considered a thing that could be bought, sold, or destroyed at a whim. Yes, some slaves who served well could become part of a family and in fact receive the same rights and privileges as their masters if the master decided to give them their family’s name. In fact some slaves rose in rank and advantage even higher in society than their own masters! Yet we must look at the deeper truth Paul was trying to give his readers here. We must remember that both slave and master would hear his words. And so Paul began by telling them, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart”. He knew that slavery was harsh but he also knew that people could serve outwardly yet harbor hatred toward those who are over them. So again he mentions “respect” (literally trembling) and “fear” and “sincerity (single-mindedness) of heart”. We forget in our day and age because we put a deeper emphasis on personal fulfillment rather than being called by God. Paul wrote the Roman church that “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son… And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30 NIV) This is why Paul told slaves to obey their masters “just as you would obey Christ”. Paul was not endorsing slavery but rather teaching new believers how live their faith in difficult circumstances. They were to “Obey” their masters “not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.” This is a good truth for all Christians because no matter what their position in life is believers are to consider themselves as servants of Christ!

EXAMPLE: When my father had to leave for weeks and sometimes months in order to earn a living for our family he would remind us kids, “Mind your mother just as if I were here while I am gone.” We knew that no matter whether he was home or away we had to be obedient to our Mom just as if he were home. Slaves in Paul’s day could have seen their newfound faith and freedom in Christ as an excuse to be disobedient to either their believing or non-believing masters. But Paul reminds them that no matter their position in life believers are to consider themselves as servants of Christ!

Some folks see their job as something they have to do in order to pay the bills but this attitude can make your work drudgery for you. The same is true when one is saved by faith and called to serve the Lord. We can begin to see our service as drudgery; however Paul reminds us that…

II. No matter our position in life Christians are to serve enthusiastically! (Vv. 7-8)

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

1. Enthusiastically is a word that comes from several Greek words that literally mean “in God’s essence” and was originally used by the Greeks to describe manifestations of divine possession but was later used to describe the believer’s life in Christ. Paul writes that new believers were to “serve wholeheartedly” literally from their very beings that now had been changed by their faith in Jesus! In his letter to the Colossian church Paul would remind them to put off any evil in their lives by remembering to put “off your old self with its practices” and instead “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:8-10) And remember he had just taught them that “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV) The reason for Paul was obvious because when the believer served their masters, bosses, parents or others this way it was as “if you were serving the Lord”! It is easy to go through the motions of just doing your job or your chores but when one does this it is only because they do it as if they were serving “men” and not Jesus. For the believer serving Jesus should never be a chore. The Christian’s attitude should be changed because of their faith in Jesus. We are to live our lives by a different set of values and attitudes because “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) And we know “that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” Paul is not enforcing a “works” mentality but rather reminding them that our final reward is different than what the world gives. The world rewards us by our status but God sees us as his new creation. No matter our position in life Christians are to serve enthusiastically!

EXAMPLE: One of the best pieces of advice my father imparted to me in the last days of his life had to do with how I did my work whether it was at school, home, or a job earning money. He related that I would probably do a lot of different things in life just as he had but in all those jobs he learned that if one wants to be successful in life you have to have the right attitude. He related, “Go to work, do your best, do more than what is expected of you, be honest and trustworthy and don’t get involved in gossip.” A believer’s motivation in life is not to be money, prestige, power, or position. Paul would say that no matter our position in life Christians are to serve enthusiastically!

We see that Paul’s view on how Christian slaves were to conduct themselves was radical. It was radical because of the change that occurred in the life of a believer when God comes to reside in them through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore those in charge who were saved were to be radically different as well. We discover that…

III. Christians in charge are not to be prejudice in any way! (v. 9)

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

1. Equality between sexes, races, or ages is not found in baseless reparations, false apologies, or in making idiotic excuses. You cannot force someone to not be racist, xenophobic, or chauvinistic. Sure you can legislate, make laws, and try to teach social justice but that will never change the inner person who is evil in nature. Paul intrinsically understood this because he had experienced it himself. In fact he had been an evil “enforcer” for his mentors to try and stamp out the early Christian faith. In the Book of Acts we learn that while the followers of Jesus were preaching and teaching others about the love of God expressed in Jesus, Paul “was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2 NIV) However Paul was changed “As he neared Damascus on his journey” when “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” (Acts 9:3) Paul would later say that Jesus “appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:8) and he would confess “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10 NIV) Just as Paul had been changed he now says, “And masters, treat your slaves in the same way” as they had been treated by God. They were placed in charge for a reason just as they had come to faith for a reason and so they were told “Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” Jesus saw both slave and master as the same. Paul would write, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28 NIV) Christians in charge are not to be prejudice in any way!

EXAMPLE: Atheism is the antithesis of faith. We see its outcome in socialism and communism where mankind is exemplified and faith in God is disdained. Hundreds of millions have been murdered by the atheistic movements found in the Nazism of Germany, the communism of the Soviet Union, China, North Korean, Cambodia, Vietnam, Venezuela, Cuba, and other nations. Atheists believe morality is derived from the social norm but if the social norm is already inwardly and utterly corrupt and evil then your morality will be corrupted as well. This is why many in our day think that society needs to change its moral core from one influenced by faith in God to one based on faith in mankind. We see its outcome. Morality is in a constant state of flux and depends upon how one feels about their self in the moment. Paul says believers are to be influenced by the change that God has done in their very beings; their souls. Christians in charge are not to be prejudice in any way!

Conclusion:

No matter their position in life believers are to consider themselves as servants of Christ! No matter our position in life Christians are to serve enthusiastically! Christians in charge are not to be prejudice in any way!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Over 5,000 Served! — John 6:1-13

Over 5,000 Served! — John 6:1-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 18, 2015

When the Super Bowl happens or there is a big college football game radio stations often have contests for their listeners in order for them to compete to get tickets for the game. I find it interesting that folks who never cared a thing in the world about football all of a sudden will do some of the most outlandish things for something that is free. But, I suppose, that is the way of the world. As someone once quipped, “Free is a very good price!”

It is also interesting how some people will follow others for their fame, others for their fortune, and then there are those who follow someone for the free food! Food? Yes, food. We find Jesus ministering to a group of folks who were only interested in being fed for free. Kind of like many modern day believers who attend church simply to be “freely fed”. Like a McDonald’s of our day, we find Jesus feeding a whole lotta folks with very little food. You could say there were over 5,000 served! Let’s discover what occurred and how Jesus and his disciples served over 5,000…

READ: John 6:1-13

Here in the preserved words of John the Apostle we find that…

I. Jesus attracts people! (Vv. 1-4)

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near.

1. “Some time after” Jesus had healed the man at the pool and then had the lengthy discussion with his detractors, he “crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee.” This means he went north from Jerusalem and then across the huge lake known as the Sea of Galilee. And “a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.” The people were eager to see more miracles, they followed Him round the head of the lake, and, as they went, their number was increased by those who were headed to Jerusalem for the Passover. We now have been following Jesus for over a year. The only reason folks were there was for the show they thought they would see from Jesus or perhaps they wanted him to heal someone or themselves. Whatever the reason, Jesus needed a place away from the pressure of the crowd and so we discover that “Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples.” This is not like the mountains we have in the Northwest that are thousands of feet tall and have snow year round, this probably was more like what we would consider a hillside. Jesus would often go up on a “mountainside” to pray, choose his disciples, or simply to be alone in his own thoughts. He usually did so when something important was about to happen in his ministry. We learn that there were a lot of people perhaps because “The Jewish Passover Feast was near.” Big important events draw large crowds and the Passover is the biggest event on the Jewish calendar. However, they were not here for the Passover, they were out there on a mountainside because of Jesus. We find large crowds often following Jesus, but isn’t this the way of Jesus? We discover that Jesus attracts people!

EXAMPLE: Like a moth drawn to a bright flame, people are attracted to Jesus. The real Jesus, not some phony televangelist huckster weeping and groaning to a crowd of unsuspecting dupes. The simple truth of Jesus is attractive to those who are in need of salvation. It is heard in the urgent plea of a desperate father of a convulsing boy who cries out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV) It is found in the drug addict, the homeless man, the rich Wall Street analyst who all share in the one need we all have — the need of forgiveness! Whether it was the miracles, the food, the show or curiosity the crowds were attracted to Jesus. In our daily witness of the one who saved us we must never forget this beautiful truth, Jesus attracts people!

We soon also discover that…

II. Jesus uses personal sacrifice! (Vv. 5-9)

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

1. Herein these few verses is hidden a most delightful story concerning Jesus and his willingness to use that which we are ready to sacrifice. We will learn that if we want to be considered first in his kingdom, we must be willing to be the very last or servant of everyone else. (Mark 9:35) This is truly a hard concept for many in our day and age. There are those who are willing to sacrifice if it doesn’t cost them anything, there are those who willingly sacrifice for family or friends, but few would do so for strangers unless there is some emotional reward in return. Why else would we readily help a child with cancer but not a senior adult? Why does the loss of a home in a fire elicit compassion, but not a small business? Whether we want to admit it or not we are often more willing to sacrifice if we think the need is greater in one instance over another. Here we find a great crowd who selfishly followed Jesus now in need of food. Jesus’ response is to ask his disciples, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Jesus was not concerned for why the people came, he was only concerned for people. His question was to help his disciples to discover within themselves whether they were willing to find the answer. If they were willing to sacrifice what they had to help. Jesus had in mind what he was already going to do. Incredulous, Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples answers him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Philip was a realist, pragmatic in his response. However, Jesus is the Messiah and was never practical in his approach to meeting people’s needs. And here we discover the wonderful golden nugget of personal sacrifice, one little boy’s lunch. “Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?'” The food did not belong to Peter or any of the other disciples of Jesus, it belonged to one willing boy whose name we never learn, and isn’t this the way of true sacrifice? Sacrifice never asks for attention, it only gives and goes. And here we find that Jesus uses personal sacrifice!

EXAMPLE: I will never forget Ron. He was one of those wonderful people of God. He came to Christ during the time when those who were in the counter drug culture of the 60s and 70s were finding their way out through the Jesus movement. Jesus Freaks we used to call them. Long hair and a quiet soft-spoken pot induced haze was Ron’s demeanor. Yet he found Jesus. I should say, he fell in love with the Lord. Deeply and utterly. God changed him through the power of the Holy Spirit now living in him. Ron was so poor he could not afford a car so he often rode the bus. One day, while sitting waiting for his ride to come lumbering up, he needed something to eat. He remembered his morning devotion that had focused on the Lord’s Prayer. Specifically the “give us this day our daily bread” part. he kept repeating the words over and over and decided he would depend on God to provide something for him to eat. He opened his eyes and noticed there beside him on the bench was a newly made sack lunch. He looked around, no one was in sight. He opened up the neatly folded bag and there he found some potato chips, a baloney sandwich, and an orange. For Ron there was no doubt in his mind that someone else’s sacrifice became his meal. Jesus uses personal sacrifice!

III. Sacrifice often results in great outcomes! (Vv. 10-13)

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

1. A little boy’s lunch was about to become food for thousands! Can you imagine it? How delightful would it have been to be there and to see the little boy standing nearby now quietly hand Jesus his basket of food. All that he had. To see his eyes grow big as Jesus performs one of the most dramatic miracles in the Gospel narratives. Jesus simply asks his disciples to “Have the people sit down.” Soon every eye would see what was about to occur. “There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them.” I am not going to discuss the ratio of men to women and children, because John and the other gospels only record the number of male men over a certain age. This does not matter because whether it was only 5,000 men or 8,0000 men, women, and children, for me it does not matter. Would it have not been just as wonderful or any less of a miracle if it had been only for a family of five? Yet we see that Jesus willingly uses the sacrifice of one who tenderly and innocently gave it. As the little boy and Jesus’ disciples watched and as the crowd looked on, “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.” Mark writes that Jesus had the crowd divided up into groups of hundreds and fifties, and that he looked up to heaven and gave thanks. John’s account is simple in its accounting and beautiful in its uncomplicated nature. “He did the same with the fish.” And in that moment of trust, expectation, and personal sacrifice, everyone had all they wanted to eat and more! That’s how Jesus works, he gives us more than we deserve. Jesus leaves nothing to waste and I believe he knew the crowd would have to head back to where they came from or they would have to continue on to Jerusalem and they would not have food then either, so “When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.'” In my own way of thinking, I honestly believe a little boy returned home with way more than he had before! What a delightful outcome for when “they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” Sacrifice often results in great outcomes!

EXAMPLE: At 7-years-old, Tyrel Wolfe’s mom suggested that he participate in Operation Christmas Child. The recipient of Tyrel’s shoebox was a girl named Joana in the Philippines. Tyrel had included a photo of himself, as well as his name and address in the box, and so Joana was able to write him a thank-you letter expressing her gratitude. For most, that would be the end of the story but ten years later, with the use of Facebook, Joana decided to hunt down the boy who had sent her a package. She took a chance on a profile in a rural section of Idaho. The photo she’d received showed a young boy in a cowboy outfit. Back in the U.S., Tyrel logged into Facebook to see a curious friend request from, “a random girl in the Philippines.” The two spent a year exchanging not only Facebook messages, but letters and photos, catching up on all the years they’d spent apart. The more they talked, the more they realized they had in common. They were both big fans of music, and liked to sing and play instruments. They were also both devout Christians. Tyrel decided to visit her. “Once I saw his face, an amazing feeling came over me,” Joana said. “I was so happy I cried.” Joana and Tyrel began dating. Tyrel mustered up the strength to pop the question. Finally, after many years of no communication and several more of reconnecting, the seemingly star-crossed couple were married on Tyrel’s parents’ 400-acre ranch in Midvale, Idaho. “I remember as a little boy, I was so excited to know the toys and other items I put in the box would bring joy to another child somewhere else in the world,” Tyrel said. “I just didn’t know the joy it would bring back to me one day.” Sacrifice often results in great outcomes! (www.viralnova.com)

Conclusion:
Jesus attracts people! Jesus uses personal sacrifice! Sacrifice often results in great outcomes!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Do You Serve? – Isaiah 6:1-11

Do You Serve? – Isaiah 6:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 12, 2014 AM

Are You Being Served was a quintessentially British comedy that ran from 1972 to 1985. It was about a department store in London, which was very traditional. The social class structure within the store’s workforce, and how the clerks viewed and served its customers, was the source of the series character interaction. Sadly, what was often portrayed is exactly how many in our day view the service of others. Don’t you hate it when you go into a store and the clerks treat you as if it is your privilege that they serve you? Much of Christianity has morphed into such a ungodly notion as well. Instead taking the message of God to the lost, we ignore His call, and ask that the church to serve us!

Isaiah was either ministering or worshipping, or perhaps doing some other thing in the temple when God called him in a very vivid way to a life of service. Most of God’s folks are not called to serve Him in such a dramatic way, however, how Isaiah was called and what he was called to do for God can remind us that we are called to the same service. Therefore, this section of Scripture begs that we answer the question, “Do you serve?”

READ: Isaiah 6:1-11

As we draw near to God, He draws near to us. We begin to realize just how holy He is and how ungodly we are. Isaiah teaches us that we can serve…

I. When we recognize God’s presence! (Vv. 1-4)
1. Isaiah presents to us a specific and very identifiable vision from God. Visions are recorded for other prophets, but this is the only one for Isaiah. We learn that it occurred “In the year that King Uzziah died.” Uzziah reigned for 52 years, during which he and his people had been prosperous. Victorious in war, he was also successful in commerce. The later years of his life were clouded, but on the whole, his reign had been a time of great well-being. His son and successor was a young man of about 25 years and now there were the dark clouds of war. It was during this time of uncertainty that Isaiah, “saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” God was still in charge, creator of all things, lofty and holy. In fact,” Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.” Some suggest their wings were symbolic of reverence, humility, and service. In actuality it may suggest that being in the presence of God they covered their eyes, as Moses did, covered their feet as an act purity since feet were seen as dirty and crass, and they flew to signify their immediate and active service to God. “Seraphs” which means “to burn,” possibly suggests their zeal for God or that they were reflective of His Shekinah glory. We discover that “they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” Their cry is significant in that they cry out three times the holy nature of God, which means that in fact He is indeed holy. Wherever there is creation, God is, and, there is nowhere God is not. He is omniscient and omnipresent. This was more than a vision because it also manifested itself in that “At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke!” We see the Shekinah glory of God, his holiness, and the cloud that signified His presence with His people in the wilderness! WOW! Isaiah had no problem in recognizing that he was in the presence of God. We serve when we realize God’s presence!
EXAMPLE: I firmly believe Isaiah needed this vision of God because it would have to serve him for his entire lifetime of ridicule, hardship, and eventually his own capture and relocation. Christians do not need the same kind of vision to serve God. Isaiah lived when there was no Messiah. Jesus would remind Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NIV) And God reminds us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV) In fact, as Christians, we “are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone!” (Ephesians 2:19-20 NIV) We are now “the people of God!” (1 Peter 2:10 NIV) God’s presence is always with us as His people and we serve when we realize God’s presence!

She found it difficult to give up certain things and relationships in her life, but Lisa discovered that God would not use her for His service until she did. We learn from Isaiah that we can serve…

II. When we surrender our sin to God! (Vv. 5-7)
1. As we abide in Christ, walk with Him moment by moment something wonderful and terrible happens – we begin to hear His voice and experience His presence. We begin to realize how often we fall short of the glory of God. Isaiah discovered this as well. This vision of God’s majesty, holiness, and glory made Isaiah realize that he was a sinner. This is a common occurrence when God’s people come into His presence! Ezekiel, Job, Peter, Paul and John all responded in the same way. Isaiah cries, “Woe to me!” And then he realizes, “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!” Too many think too lightly of their sin. We puff ourselves up with our pride, our goodness, and our compassionate feelings, but all fail in comparison to the holiness of God! The sinful soul that has once seen God by faith in Christ must confess “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (Romans 7:18 NIV) or as Paul did when he declared, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 NIV) The answer is found only in the cleansing power of a holy God, “Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.” Our sin takes a special compensation. Our sin must be thoroughly burned away, cleansed, and purified to be in the presence of a holy God. “With it,” Isaiah remarks, “he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’” Here we see the application of pardoning grace! Paul would say we were immoral, sexually impure, idol worshipers, adulterers, prostituted ourselves; we were thieves, greedy, drunks, slanderers, or swindlers “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God!” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NIV) The burning coal of Christ’s blood has purified us! And that is the first step in our life of service to God! Isaiah experienced all this for the same reason we do as well. We serve when we surrender our sin to God!
EXAMPLE: The cleansing significance of fire plays an important role throughout Scripture. Fire came down from heaven to consume the evil and good sacrifices, the sacrifices in the temple and tabernacle were burnt up, and fire rained down on the evil of mankind to obliterate it from the face of the earth! Just as fire cleansed the sinful mouth of Isaiah, signifying his cleansing by God, Paul teaches us that “no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid; which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13 NIV) Service is a life of surrender to Jesus! Isaiah teaches us that we serve when we surrender our sin to God!

Joe said he did not like ministering to certain kinds of folks, guess where God sent him. Isaiah teaches us that we can serve…

III. When we are willing to go where God sends! (Vv. 8-11)

1. After Isaiah grasped the presence of holy God, he recognized his sin condition. He was now ready to be used of God. He writes, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’” The question “Who will go?” did not mean God did not know or that He hoped someone would respond. God asked the question to give Isaiah an opportunity to serve. Isaiah understood that Israel needed cleansing as well. He readily responds, “Here am I. Send me!” God’s people should be ready to serve God when He calls them. We discover the same kind of willingness in Mathew, who although a hated tax collector was called by Jesus and immediately, “Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9 NIV) This shows Isaiah’s confidence in God. He was now ready to bear God’s message to his countrymen. All believers should respond in like manner. God gives Isaiah an unusual command, “Go and tell this people” meaning the Israelites, “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” In other words, Isaiah would go and speak God’s message, but the people would not respond. They would not listen, they would refuse to understand or comprehend, and therefore be hardened by God’s warning. Isaiah is stunned and asks, “For how long, O Lord?” God tells him it would be until Israel was utterly destroyed! We can serve when we are willing to go where God sends!
EXAMPLE: Les Lamborn writes for RBC, “Sometimes when the infinite God conveys His thoughts to finite man, mystery is the result. For example, there’s a profound verse in the book of Psalms that seems to present more questions than answers: ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants’ (116:15 NIV). I shake my head and wonder how that can be. I see things with earthbound eyes, and I have a tough time seeing what is precious.” Lamborn continues by stating, “We begin to unwrap the mystery, though, when we consider that what is precious to the Lord is not confined to earthly blessings.” Isaiah and the Israelites were not going to like the message he would have to convey from God, but that is what Isaiah had volunteered to do. When we come to God we come to a life of service, this is precious to God, and we can serve when we are willing to go where God sends!

Conclusion:

We serve when we recognize God’s presence, we serve when we surrender our sin to God, and we serve when we are willing to go where God sends us!

This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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When we betray Jesus! — Today’s Thoughts

When we betray Jesus!
Today’s Thoughts
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 7, 2011

“Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Mark 14:42 NIV)

When the President of the United States enters a room, they declare, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States!” When the Queen of England enters a room, they proclaim, “Her Royal Majesty the Queen!” We see a similar occurrence when a judge enters a courtroom where the bailiff announces, “All rise, this court is now in session. The honorable Judge so-and-so presiding.” All of these signify someone of importance entering the scene and we should recognize the fact in some way. How sad then to be announced by Jesus with the words, “Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

How awful to be known for all eternity as the one who betrayed the Messiah. Yet, this is exactly how Judas is remembered. In fact, his name has become synonymous with betrayal.

Recently, there was a TV program that related they thought Judas received unfair treatment by New Testament authors that Judas was in reality just trying to fight for the freedom of his people. It is an old excuse for Judas’ actions. The narrator even tried to say that Judas may not have even existed because his name is a direct derivative of the same name given to Israel: Judah. And so, this was a means to vilify the Jews for killing Jesus in the first place; however the program completely neglected the words of Jesus himself.

National Geographic in a display of deliberate animosity toward Christianity did a bias program on the Gnostic gospel of Judas. They tried to translate it as relating Judas was really a hero, the disciple Jesus loved, and was betrayed by the jealous disciples. Yet, when major Greek translators, biblical scholars, and other academics got a closer look at the rediscovered manuscript it became evident that this is not what it said at all. National Geographic was showing their bigotry. Why would a major organization do such a thing? I believe it was another misguided attempt to chip away at Christianity’s integrity. Also, no one likes to be called, “Betrayer!”

Sadly, National Geographic and other biased organizations do not have to chip away at Christianity’s integrity; Christians do that all by themselves! Every time Christians argue, take one another to court, or treat one another just as the world treats its own, we betray Jesus. Christians betray Jesus when they do not share their faith, when they do not join a church, or when they do not give or serve in a church. Far too many like what the body of Christ has to offer, but far too few want to be an involved part of the body of Christ. When we do, it is a betrayal of what Jesus came and died for. He came to establish his kingdom, through his church, in the world. While Jesus walked this earth he came to seek and save the lost, and he left behind his church to continue his work until he returns again. You cannot say you are part of his body without belonging to his church. And when you say you love Jesus yet do not belong, give, and serve in his body, you betray Jesus.
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Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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