Living in times where the fabric of our nation is unraveling, I frequently go to places of self-reflection in prayer. Clearly, the Lord has lifted his hand of protection from our land. “Lord, I know the big things that displease you- things like abortion, greed and perversions. (And this is in the church.) But, what are things that are so accepted and so a part of my culture that I can’t see them from your perspective? Lord, where are my blinders?”
I keep asking the Lord to reveal places in my heart and life that have been displeasing to him. I have taken so many things for granted and gone with the flow of society. When I think of what it says in James 1:13-15-
“When tempted, no-one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
….I have the fear of God in me. I am tempted by my flesh, by what my flesh wants. It’s very easy to be deceived by things that I want to be deceived by. It reminds me of when Starbucks comes out with that pumpkin spice latte and you just want to scream, “Take my money!”
“Lord, give me a taste for your food. I want to partake of your table. I want to hate my sin. Please untangle the knots in my life. So many of my bad attitudes, desires and frustrations are fueled by a self-centered life full of self-importance and pride.”
When I judge things with my reason alone apart from some deep prayer and soul-searching, I can be completely in my own flesh and feel completely justified. God is looking for people who are led by his Spirit for discernment and not who judge things according to the flesh. It’s possible to follow rules without ever hearing from God on what he thinks about something.
God is searching hearts, looking for people who are willing to surrender to him completely. Most Christians want to be used by God. (Hopefully.) Many Christians would even want to be famously used for God. But, how many of us are ready to be cleansed by God? When God called the prophet Isaiah, he was young. God gave him a vision of God’s holiness. Seeing the holiness of God revealed everything Isaiah needed to know about himself, as Isaiah moved into his calling as a prophet- right before God brought his judgement on Israel. Let’s read it for ourselves. (I would rather you read it for yourself than read my account.)
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
‘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.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’ 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!’
He said, ‘Go and tell this people: ‘ “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.’ Then I said, ‘For how long, Lord?’ And he answered: ‘Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.’”
Isaiah 6:1-13 NIVUK
First of all… when I read this, I am struck by Isaiah’s reaction to seeing God in Heaven. He doesn’t feel a warmth. Isaiah doesn’t run to smell the flowers. He knows he is completely undone. I imagine perhaps he fell down or went to his knees.
God didn’t show Isaiah this vision to shame him or destroy him. He called Isaiah. He chose him. Then he revealed himself to Isaiah in all his holiness. Isaiah had to know that while he was God’s messenger, he was completely unworthy. The only way for Isaiah to be cleansed was by God himself.
“Take a coal from your altar and cleanse my unclean lips, Oh Lord. May the deep springs of my heart bring forth thoughts and words that bring glory to you. Oh God! I am so unworthy to be used by you. Please reveal the unclean in my heart and life. Bring me the merciful cleansing of the altar.”
After his cleansing, the Lord gave Isaiah a very difficult message. No one would listen to his message. He was cleansed to bring a message of repentance that no one would respond to. But, it was a message that needed to go out.
When Isaiah was cleansed, he was emboldened to answer the call and cry out- “Here I am send me!” I want the Lord to continue his good work in me so his message can continue to move forward- even if no one ever responds. Who is with me? Who is ready to hear from God and to see ourselves compared to God and not to the world? Who is ready to be cleansed and sent?
Our Father, who art in heaven. You are high and lifted up. Holy, holy, holy is your name. I say this prayer, but what does it mean? Reveal yourself to me. I want to see you. I want to know you. How could a high and exalted Lord- creator of all the universe step down to see me and even love me?
My only answer is that your love is as amazing as your holiness. You are holy and you are love. You are the God who cannot live with sin, and you are the God who will not live without those you love- even in their sin. You love me, even when I am so unclean. Help me, Lord! Cleanse me! I am undone by your love. Your love is so much greater than I can imagine. Fill me with your love. Fill me with the knowledge of my hope in you.
I pray that you will send me. Cleanse me and send me. Let me go for you, Lord. Prepare me. Reveal to me anything in my life that doesn’t please you. Pour your Spirit out on my life. Begin a new work. I want you to build your kingdom in my life and through my life.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord, if only the world could be filled with your glory as heaven is. If only it’s people could see you for who you are. Reveal yourself to the world, Lord. Pour out your Spirit on this land. Purify your church and bring revival to the body of Christ.
Give the church boldness and a backbone to share the gospel in all its truth.
Lord, give me a vision of your holiness.
I stand in Jesus Christ and his love for me. He loves me and died for me. Praise you, Lord! Protect me by his blood. Defend me from Satan’s attacks and schemes. In Jesus name, Amen.