Sermon – 5/11/03 –
Word, His Will - Isaiah 66:1-2
His Word, His Will
“Thus says the Lord,
‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; where is the
house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?
For all those things My hand has made all those things exist, says
the Lord. But on this one I will look: on him who is poor and of a
contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word’” (Isaiah
Just a short time ago, we were privileged to be
a part of another Kairos ministry inside the razor-wire of a federal
prison. Men’s and Women’s weekends took place simultaneously, each
lasting from Thursday to Sunday evenings, in the chapels of the
women’s “camp” and in the men’s prison. It was an honor to be a
part of the lives of people who had lost - everything.
But for awhile, it did not look like I would be
allowed in with the ministry team. On Tuesday, it was discovered
that the “Beckham” on the approved list for the prison was actually
my wife. The prison official had assured Rick the “Rector” (weekend
lay director) that all on the “list” were OK, but with two days to
go, it was discovered that “Genevieve” is not in fact “Ron.”
I initially prayed “Thy
will be done,” understanding that God’s decisions are better
than mine. I also completed a missing form and faxed it to the
prison as requested. Then it was sent again the next day, because
the first one disappeared. Then more prayer, this time asking for
entry, for that now seemed to be the “right” prayer – the one in His
I rode to Victorville with my friend Don on
Thursday, understanding that I would travel right back to Long
Beach, if not allowed entrance. On our arrival, I walked toward
Rick the Rector. I thought from his lack of expression that I was
“out.” But he smiled and said, “You’re
on the list.” “Last minute” approvals at prisons typically
don’t happen. It was God’s will.
It was now time to really prepare for the
weekend! Oh yes, the clergy schedule had been done, emailed, and
then re-done and sent again. The “talks” had been roughed-out. But
all this was comparatively minor. There was a much deeper need for
the prisoners. They must meet God through Jesus and receive His
Spirit. Only the Lord can fill their hearts with love enough to
sustain them during years of confinement. It is important to
see that He does not need our efforts at all. He asks the question,
“where is the house you will build for Me?”
(Isaiah 66:1). Those in various kinds of prisons need God’s Word
and His will, not simply our well-meant efforts.
With that in mind, I looked again at the
meditations, homilies and talks to be given, which had to contain
more than just ideas. They must hear of Him, for His Word is what
they need. God had more in mind than I had previously seen. With
something like a holy fear, all was done again, for only He could
reach the need. All on the team were praying for this weekend.
And He did reach the prisoners. At one point
during the weekend, we asked the participating inmates to raise
their hands if they loved the Lord and had received Him. Most
raised their hands, but some did not. At the end of the weekend,
all of them, in holy fear and the joy of the Lord, expressed trust
in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In our Scripture for today, we learn that we
can do nothing for God. He has done it all. He created you and
me. Whatever brains or abilities we have, He gave to us. He offers
us the opportunity to be “born again”
in Christ Jesus (John 3:3, 7) “of the Spirit”
(John 3:8). We are re-created in Him. We merely receive - what
could we possibly do for God? As it says in “our” Scripture for
today: “on this one I will look: on him who
is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word’”
(Isaiah 66:1-2). What we can’t do, He CAN! – He leads; our job is
to listen and follow.
The reason we respond to Him, is not because we
have to. When you consider the cross and the resurrection, what
Jesus Christ has done for you and me; it makes sense to shout "Hallelujah,"
dance for joy, and follow Him - forever. Our hearts become filled
with reverence as we find the joy of the Lord, just like David
before us. Acts 4:25-26 attributed Psalm 2 to David, who advised, “Worship
the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm
2:11), and he also said, “How blessed
(happy) are all who take refuge in
Him” (Psalm 2:12). Paul advised the church to “rejoice
in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh”
(Philippians 3:3). Others will see Him in us and will want Him,
too. Just FOLLOW the Lord!
Jesus lived His life on this earth in response
to the Father’s will. He laid aside His abilities and “made
Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming
in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He
humbled Himself, and became obedient, to the point of death, even
the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus, the Son
of God, offered Himself completely, utterly trusting in the very
same Holy Spirit who is offered to you and me. His will is that you
listen and respond – to Him.
Accepting Jesus Christ, we are given His
Spirit, and through Him, the Word of God is alive in us. We
previously responded to mere human logic, but we now follow the
Spirit of the living God. We understand His will through His Word,
in the power of His Spirit.
I notice a kind of "fear" that accompanies what
we call a "witness," or when a "teaching" is given, or simply in the
clean-up after a church service, or in doing ANYTHING the Lord would
have us do. We should act and speak in holy fear and love,
delighting that the Lord has led us to act for His kingdom. When
you speak, it isn't you the world longs for, but instead the will of
God, expressed through the Word of God. Pray that you will hear Him
and give out HIS Word; in the power and love of HIS Spirit.
You say you don't hear the Lord? Chuck
Boucher, a team member during the prison weekend, answered that
concern. He said, "When we pray, we’re
talking to Him; when you read God’s Word, guess who’s talking to you?"
God always speaks. It’s simply that many don’t listen.
What can you do for God? Be “poor
and of a contrite spirit, and... tremble at
(His) word” (Isaiah 66:1-2). As Jesus said, “This
is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent”
(John 6:29). Just trust. Look to Him. You will understand His
Word and see His will.
Father, we do “tremble”
at Your Presence. There is a holy fear in representing You to
others. Not because we are afraid of You, but because we reverence
You. We want to serve You honestly, with everything we’ve got, in
Your will. Please show us the way, that we may trust in You,
sharing YOUR Word and not our own. In Jesus Name. Amen.