Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day. Many of my brothers, friends, colleagues, associates and acquaintances will stand in front of a gathering of people and proclaim a message from the Lord. Not all sermons are messages for the Lord, but many are. There are a great many pastors who strive with great purpose, diligence and effort to bring their congregations “a word from the Lord.” These pastors and their congregations vary in a great many ways – size, influence, maturity, focus, demographics, etc. Some appear to be more “successful” (whatever that means) than others. It appears that God uses some more significantly than others.
No doubt, there will be some great sermons and there will be some which appear to be “not so great.” The thing is that it is very difficult to evaluate and then replicate a great sermon. Any moderately experienced preacher will tell you that he hasis frequently prepared sermons, which he considered to be accurate (excellent exegesis), well-illustrated, pointedly applied and prayerfully delivered with sincerity, emotion and enthusiasm. He will also confess that despite his best efforts, many of them have seems to “bombed.” Even ones which seem to be well received seem to have produced little lasting results.
At other times, however, while delivering a sermon which in his subjective opinion lacked cohesiveness and purpose, he recognized the powerful work of the Lord in the hearts of the hearers. Let me tell you it is very humbling yet wonderful when after struggling through a sermon someone tells you that God significantly used it in his or her life! It is even better when you see the results lived out. Sometimes, it seems this is the exception rather than the norm.
Have you ever wondered why your pastor keeps preaching? Please don’t say because it’s his job. That may be true of some but not of most of my readers. Preaching is hard work. Preaching requires persistent, prayerful study and preparation. The task sometimes conceived relentless – service after service, week after week, month after month. Sometimes the results were obvious, were often they are not.
One thing that keeps a preacher preaching is his calling. He recognizes that he has been called by God to speak for him. He knows he has a God-given purpose.
I recently preached a sermon on Isaiah 6.1 – 13 (you can find helpful details on sermon audio). This fascinating chapter gives us a glimpse into heaven – God’s throne room where Isaiah is commissioned as his prophet. Isaiah behold the glory of the Lord – his awful majesty and holiness is displayed to Isaiah. Having received a glimpse of the glory of the Lord, Isaiah perceives himself and his predicament. He is undone and calls a curse upon themselves. Here, the prophet, God’s spokesman, confesses he has a dirty mouth (man of unclean lips). Following this, the Lord reveals his purpose in calling him.
In v. 8 Isaiah is permitted to listen in on the holy council of heaven. God asks the question: “Who will go?” “Whom shall I send?” asks our Lord.
Isaiah responds: Here I am, send me. This is the reply of a servant. These are words of yielded and obedient servant. Here I am, send me!
God’s command: go and tell – that is, announce or proclaim God’s message. The message is God’s message. The message, which Isaiah is given, is specific for his time and situation, yet Christians, especially preachers (who have an enhanced responsibility) may learn some broad lessons from it.
- The message is God’s message. We are commissioned by God to announce it for him. The message does not originate with us, we merely proclaim it for the LORD God Almighty. We have no right to tamper with the contents. We are the messengers who deliver the message from the great King.
- God’s message is not popular. GOD is calling people to repentance. This means recognition of wrongdoing. Folks must acknowledge their sin and its devastating results. This is the bad news which is part of the Good News. We must be bold and announce the message of the King. People must realize that they are lost, if they are to be saved. This is unpopular because people don’t like to be informed that they are wrong. But it is a matter of life and death.
- God’s message always announces hope in Christ. GOD will not leave his people in their sin. He promises a way of forgiveness. V.13 …so the holy seed will be the stump in the land. The promised holy seed is the Lord Jesus, who not only was “the stump” but who was laid on the trunk and bore in his body on the tree the iniquity of us all. Jesus gives hope!
This is the message we must announce. The message of God – there is hope in Christ.
Have you seen the grace of our God? Have you, like Isaiah, seen your deep personal guilt before God? Have you come to the point where you recognize your filth in God’s presence? Have you seen that you are empty of any good to merit God’s grace? Until you have, you do not know what grace is.
Consider your gracious Lord. He is ready to cleanse and forgive, even at deep personal cost to himself. Hear now the King, God Almighty, who says to you: Go and tell these people the good news of the kingdom of God.
You must respond: here am I send me. According to the NT there are two ways in which you must go.
- Go personally … You have a personal responsibility to announce to those around you the message of the good news of the gospel. Tell others about forgiveness found only in Christ.
- Go by proxy: Romans 10:14, 15 – faith comes through hearing; hearing comes through preaching; preachers must be sent. Thus, “Send …” Sent by praying and by giving.
In the years after the depression, there was an elderly widow, who used her impoverished home to run a childcare center in Baltimore, Md. She seized this opportunity to teach the children about Jesus. With the little money she earned, she would send boys to summer camp.
One young boy was converted to Christ. He grew up to be a seminary professor, preparing men for the gospel ministry for 45 years. Another was converted and became a missionary, pastor and leader in the field of Christian missions for over 40 years. Another was converted and became the pastor a large church, which had a tremendous interest and impact on world missions for over 30 years.
Do you get the picture? God calls each one of his people – you to be personally involved in his program where you are. You must send, by prayer and finances and you must proclaim the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus. Preachers: Preach the Word.
Hear now the King who is holy, holy, holy. The whole earth is full of his glory. His holiness is reflected by his great majesty and radiated by his great grace. It is he who commissions you: Go and tell these people my message of forgiveness.