Monday, September 18, 2006

I Will Go, Send Me


INTRODUCTION

I learned about the Adopt-a-Campus (AAC) Project in April 2004 when I was praying and consulting with pastors and Christian friends regarding the establishment of the ministry the Lord has given me, the Generation 3:16 Ministries. I emailed Ptr. Jun Singson, AAC’s over-all Coordinator, signifying my interest to be part of the group. A year after, I accepted the challenge to be the AAC Coordinator of Pasig City. I believe the Lord desires His children to serve Him effectively in His vineyard. Getting involved in AAC is a great opportunity to take part in His work. I would like to share with you what the Lord has taught me when it comes to ministry service, as expressed in the amazing experience of prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6, GNB). Take note of the events leading to the prophet’s declaration that he must be commissioned to deliver the message to the Israelites. They reveal how we should respond to God’s invitation to work for Him and with Him in any endeavor.

THE NEED FOR MINISTERS

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…(Isaiah 6:1)

God showed himself to Isaiah the day King Uzziah died. Uzziah became the leader of Judah when he was 16 years old and reigned as king for 52 years. The fifth chapter of the book of 2nd Kings reveals that he did what was pleasing to the Lord. He became powerful with his fame spreading even to Egypt (2 Chronicles 26:8). Nevertheless, his leadership experienced a tragic ending due to his arrogance and disobedience (2 Chronicles 26:16). He failed to destroy the pagan places of worship thus the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense to various idols. He burned incense on the altar of incense of the Temple without a divine mandate. Consequently, he was stricken by God with a dreaded skin disease which stayed with him the rest of his life. He lived in a separate house, relieved of all his official duties, while his son, Jotham, governed the country (2 Kings 15:5). When he died, he was buried in the royal burial ground but was denied to be laid in the royal tombs (2 Chronicles 26:23).

God showed Himself because there was a pressing concern. Israelites did not know that God’s judgment was knocking on their doorstep. A man He had chosen to represent Him before Israel disappointed him and abandoned His cause. Serving as a historian for King Uzziah for several years (2 Chronicles 26:22), Isaiah may have been discouraged because of the demise of a great leader of Judah. Nonetheless, the Lord assured the prophet that the vacuum in the leadership will be short-lived because He shall choose another leader.

Similar to Isaiah’s time, many present leaders (Christians and non-Christians) of our country have disappointed God. Hence, there is a critical need for passionate Christian youth leaders who shall take the lead in proclaiming God’s glorious plan for this nation. Man-made solutions cannot address the basic heartfelt needs of the younger generation. It is only through Jesus that they can experience genuine peace and fulfillment. This can only be made possible through the active involvement of Christian youth leaders who can serve as God’s mouthpiece.

MINISTERS KNOW THE CHARACTER OF GOD

He was sitting on his throne, high and exalted, and his robe filled the whole Temple. Around him flaming creatures were standing, each of which had six wings. Each creature covered its face with two wings, and its body with two, and used the other two for flying. They were alling out to each other: "Holy, holy, holy! The LORD Almighty is holy! His glory fills the world." The sound of their voices made the foundation of the Temple shake, and the Temple itself became filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:1-4)

Isaiah witnessed God’s two major attributes: as the King of the universe (the One who sits on the throne) and as the Most Holy One (the object of angels’ worship). The Bible declares that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it; the world, and those who dwell in it (Psalm 24:1). Nothing is impossible with Him (Matthew 19:26) because He is the prime controller of human history. This character is complemented by His holiness which “overcomes any darkness” (James 1:17). As the angels declare God’s holiness, the foundations of the temple shook and the room was filled with smoke. Smoke has been identified with the glory of God which appears whenever people worship Him. Worship facilitates the relationship between God and man because it is only through genuine adoration that divine presence manifests (Psalm 22:3). As ministers, our main goal is to help the spiritually lost to become genuine worshippers of the living God.

Seraphims are “burning angels” who minister at God’s throne. They have six wings. The two cover their face; the other two conceal their body and the rest they use for flying. Notice the balance of the use of their wings. On one hand, they use their four wings to cover their face and their body as an act of humility. Further, as the scenario suggests, even angels cannot endure the brightness and majesty of God. On the other hand, they utilize their two wings to express their willingness and ability to serve God. Humility and service, these are the qualities that God requires from His ministers.

Our level of commitment to a ministry often hinges on our knowledge of God’s character. We can only comprehend the true value of our service if we can understand His two major character: the all-powerful One, who can make all things possible and the Most Holy One, who deserves to be praised and worshipped by the peoples of the world.

MINISTERS ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR WEAKNESSES

I said, "There is no hope for me! I am doomed because every word that passes my lips is sinful, and I live among a people whose every word is sinful. And yet, with my own eyes I have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." (Isaiah 6:5)

Isaiah saw his weaknesses when he heard the pure worship of angels and witnessed the majesty of God. We can only see our real spiritual condition if we experience a real encounter with God. God’s glory (shekinah) exposed Isaiah’s filthiness as a man of unclean lips. He realized the impending judgment for his sins. This is the same situation in Luke 18:13 where a publican was in the corner of the Temple beating on his breast crying, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" He did it because he has been exposed to the truth about his sin and had an experience of conviction. Unless we acknowledge our iniquities we can never appreciate the value of God’s forgiveness.

Our weaknesses should alert us to the truth that we can do nothing apart from our Creator (John 15:5). Our attitude should be attitude of our Lord who said, "I can do nothing of Myself" (John 8:28). God uses those who are meek and humble because at the end of any work, the full credit must be ascribed to Him alone. No person should glory in His work (Isaiah 42:8, 1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

When Isaiah saw the Lord, who did he see? He saw the pre-incarnate Jesus (John 12:41). God has revealed Himself through our Christ as the physical embodiment of His love for mankind (John 1:1-2). Anyone can be transformed by Christ’s love and compassion. We can always find mercy at the feet of the cross. The Bible declares that “no man can see the face of the Lord and live” (Exodus 33:20). God, in His sovereign will, protected Isaiah. This reinforces the truth that, in His presence, He preserves and protects His ministers (Psalm 32:7).

Our effectiveness as ministers is measured by how we acknowledge of our frailties and weaknesses. We must realize that we need’s God’s empowerment to accomplish His will. Ministers depend not on the strength of the flesh, but on the power of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). For it is God who is working in us to make us willing and able to obey him (Philippians 2:13). Consequently, we can have the confidence that God shall preserve us even in the most difficult part of our Christian walk.

MINISTERS ARE SANCTIFIED

Then one of the creatures flew down to me, carrying a burning coal that he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with the burning coal and said, "This has touched your lips, and now your guilt is gone, and your sins are forgiven. (Isaiah 66:6-7)

Isaiah’s “unclean lips” made him unfit for God’s ministry. But God provided the way for the prophet to become a qualified minister. He is the Lord who shows compassion and pity on those He chooses (Exodus 33:19). Remember that in the plan of salvation, it is God who made a way for man to be saved from His sins through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). The burning coals represent God’s cleansing power. The coals came from the altar, representing the place where God’s blessings and mercy emanate. Isaiah confessed his sins thus he was forgiven and cleansed (I John 1:9).

Isaiah’s commissioning was announced after his spiritual cleansing. Ministers need to be sanctified. As Christ’s ambassadors, we must maintain the righteousness that Christ has ascribed unto us. Sin is the major reason why ministries fail. Church programs cannot please a righteous God. They can become “filthy rags” if done with hands full of transgressions (Isaiah 64:6). All who serve the Lord must respect His holiness (Leviticus 10:3). Offering our lives as a “living sacrifice” is the least thing we can accomplish (Romans 12:1-2). As the writer of Hebrews wrote, “Let us rid ourselves of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1).


MINISTERS ARE READY TO SERVE

Then I heard the Lord say, "Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?" I answered, "I will go! Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)

In this verse, God inquires who will go for him to the people, and bear his message. The prophet expresses his readiness to do it. What created this kind of heart in Isaiah? First, he had been immersed in the transforming presence of God. He had a heart that realized its sinfulness and had been washed by God. Most importantly, Isaiah absorbed God’s heart to reach the nations. He realized the spiritual needs of his people. God is searching for people who will stand in the gap between Him and the youth of this nation (Ezekiel 22:30). He needs leaders who will represent Him in different campuses. He is searching for “Isaiahs” who are always ready to proclaim the Gospel and stand firm in faith.

How can campuses in the country “call to Christ for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed? And how can the message be proclaimed if the messengers are not sent out? As the scripture says, "How wonderful is the coming of messengers who bring good news!" (Romans 10:14-15).

God’s call is not always dramatic. We may not fall off from a horse and be blinded by a bolt of lightning as experienced by Paul. We may not see God sitting in His throne as Isaiah witnessed. Many times we know God is calling, but we deny it, we ignore it, and we doubt it. Don’t wait for the gigantic display of God’s fireworks, expecting that the Lord will visit your room and hand over to you His invitation. As prophet Elijah had learned, God is not in always in the wind or the thunder, but in a still, small voice inside us (I Kings 19:12). He is calling us for a special assignment. That is, to actively take part in advancing His kingdom in campuses all-over the country through the AAC.

There are more than enough reasons to respond positively to God’s invitation to take an active part in the AAC campaign. "God Is Calling You. You must answer: “I Will Go Send Me!" If you hear His voice, harden not your hearts (Hebrews 4:7). Follow his will.

MINISTERS PROCLAIM GOD’S MESSAGE

So he told me to go and give the people this message: "No matter how much you listen, you will not understand. No matter how much you look, you will not know what is happening." Then he said to me, "Make the minds of these people dull, their ears deaf, and their eyes blind, so that they cannot see or hear or understand. If they did, they might turn to me and be healed." I asked, "How long will it be like this, Lord?" He answered, "Until the cities are ruined and empty---until the houses are uninhabited---until the land itself is a desolate wasteland. I will send the people far away and make the whole land desolate. Even if one person out of ten remains in the land, he too will be destroyed; he will be like the stump of an oak tree that has been cut down." (The stump represents a new beginning for God's people.)
(Isaiah 6:9-13)


Isaiah was sent to preach to a people who would not respond to God’s message. This is God’s strategy of making the guilt of the people certain. We are preaching to a generation which does not know the essence of Christ’s death on the cross. They do not recognize that sins lead to spiritual death. It is, therefore, our mission to show them what sin is, its consequences before declaring God’s way to solve the problem. Often, ministers lay down the solution without first explaining the root of the problem. We often over-emphasize God’s love that we ignore His holiness and righteousness. Our programs must be directed on making this lost generation acceptable to Christ and not the other way around. The Gospel may be a “bitter pill” for unbelievers to swallow, but it is still the medicine which can cure their spiritual disease. The following illustration reinforces this message:

Two men are seated in a plane. The first is given a parachute and told to put is on as it would improve his flight. He’s a little skeptical at first because he can’t see how wearing a parachute in a plane could possibly improve the flight. After a time he decides to experiment and see if the claim is true. As he puts it on he notices the weight of it upon his shoulders and he finds that he has difficulty in sitting upright. However, he consoles himself with the fact that he was told the parachute would improve the flight. So, he decides to give the thing a little time. As he waits he notices that some of the other passengers are laughing at him, because he’s wearing a parachute in a plane. He begins to feel somewhat humiliated. As they begin to point and laugh at him and he can stand it no longer, he slinks in his seat, unstraps the parachute, and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart, because, as far as he was concerned, he was told an outright lie.

The second man is given a parachute, but listens to what he’s told. He’s told to put it on because at any moment he’d be jumping 25,000 feet out of the plane. He gratefully puts the parachute on; he doesn’t notice the weight of it upon his shoulders, nor that he can’t sit upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without that parachute.

Let’s analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience. The first man’s motive for putting the parachute on was solely to improve his flight. The result of his experience was that he was humiliated by the passengers; he was disillusioned and somewhat embittered against those who gave him the parachute. As far as he’s concerned it’ll be a long time before anyone gets one of those things on his back again. The second man put the parachute on solely to escape the jump to come, and because of his knowledge of what would happen to him without it, he has a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart. (Ptr. Ray Comfort, Hell’s Best Kept Secret)
Isaiah was told how long he must prophecy this way. The Lord answered: "Until the cities are ruined and empty---until the houses are uninhabited---until the land itself is a desolate wasteland. In other words, preach until destruction comes. Our soul-winning efforts should never cease until our Lord tells us to stop. Our message is filled with hope. We must, therefore, not grow weary in spreading the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

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