Here Am I, and the Children God Has Given Me!

 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Here Am I, and the Children God Has Given Me!
Isaiah 8:17-18; Hebrews 2:9-13

I do not get to change my mind very often when it comes to following my preaching schedule. I usually have a three-month plan with a general theme and the supporting Scriptures. Yet, this Sunday is an exception. I had prepared a different message for this morning, and on Thursday the Lord put something different on my heart. I think we should be obedient to the whispers and prompts of the Spirit. Therefore, the short message I am sharing with you this morning comes from the bottom of my heart. Not that I do not do this every time I teach and preach, but today’s message comes with a great sense of urgency and seriousness. Today’s message will definitely challenge us as individuals, as followers of Christ, and collectively as a congregation. It will make most of us uncomfortable. But in all cases, I hope it will cause us to wake up. My hope today for all of us as followers of Christ is to walk the real Christian walk and not be satisfied by just talking the talk.

As a way of introduction, let me ask you a simple and yet a tough question. When was the last time you shared the love of Jesus with someone the Lord had sent your way? When was the last time you prayed for someone so that they may see the love of God in Christ? When was the last time you invited someone to church? Well, are we suppose to do this stuff, you may ask? Don’t we hire ministers and church staff to carry out this job. The true of the matter is that we collectively, the body of Christ, are called together to witness to our family members, friends, and neighbors. Everyone of you will meet people in your circle of relationships your minister will never get the chance to talk to them. It is my responsibility, however, as your minister, to equip YOU to do the work of ministry so that the body of Christ may be built up as Ephesians 4:12 says. Do we do that? Do you have children in the faith? As we think about this matter today, may we honestly face it and seek strength and guidance from the Lord.

Take Away the Stone
Most of us, if not all, are here today, are in the faith, in Christ Jesus, because somehow, someone, someday, has extended an invitation to us to “come and taste the goodness of the Lord.” It might be a friend, a parent, a neighbor, a pastor, a Sunday school teacher, a youth leader, a sibling, or a spouse. It does not really matter who issued the invitation, but what really matters is that you’re here because God’s grace used a human tool, a human agent, to draw you closer to Christ. We are the body of Christ in the world. We are Christ’s foot and hands here on earth. The Lord can and will raise Lazarus from the dead. That’s His business not ours, but He requires us to “take away the stone” as we read in John 11:38. We are to make every possible way to bring people to Christ and leave the rest on him. This morning I would like to make a couple observations based on Isaiah 8:17-18 and Hebrews 2:9-13.

First: We Do Exist as Signs and Symbols of Hope and Wonder
Please listen one more time to the words of the Scripture in Isaiah 8:17-18, “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding His face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in Him. Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.”

“We are signs and symbols in Israel,” says Isaiah. Like the Prophet Isaiah, we are signs and symbols in this world. Signs and symbols point beyond themselves. They give warnings, directions, instructions, and guidance. I think this is what Jesus meant in Mathew 5:14-16 when He says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The prophet’s own name, Isaiah, and the names of his two sons, Shear-jashub (Isaiah 7:3) and Maher-shalalhash-baz (Isaiah 8:3) were signs from the “Lord of hosts” that He would do what those names signified. Judah’s enemies would descend on her soon (Maher-shalalhash-baz means “speed to the spoil”), a remnant would return (Shear-jashub means the remnant shall return”), and Yahweh would save (Isaiah means “Yahweh will save”). Even though God was presently silent, He was still on His throne. The Prophet Isaiah, his two sons, and possibly some other followers who had been converted by his ministry, were all signs and symbols of God’s wonders.

Second: Christ is Our Great Example
Hebrews chapter two brings another great insight to us. The picture is for Christ having accomplished the mission of redemption and the Father is so pleased with His work, Jesus goes back to His eternal glory in heaven, the glory He had with the Father before the world began, and Hebrews chapter two makes it very clear that He returns to the Father with a gift in His hands. Twice in Hebrews chapter two, verses 10 and 13, we are told, “For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” And again in verse 13 we read, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

The Author of the letter to the Hebrews cites Isaiah 8:18 when he shows Jesus proclaiming, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” In Christ’s prayer to the Father before the crucifixion in John 17, He makes reference several times to those the Father had given Him. Christ, like the prophet Isaiah, did not stand ALONE, but claimed a gift that the Father had given Him (John 17:6; John 17:12), the gift of the believers ~ “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

Friends, I am afraid many believers will stand before the Lord on the Last Day empty handed. As you look at your life today, can you say these word, “Here, am I and the children God has given me?” What kind of legacy are we leaving behind us? Here is what the Scripture says about a life of a faithful man in Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” Here I am with the children the Lord has given me. Could this be a description of your life? Have you begotten any children, spiritually speaking? Paul describes Onesimus in Philemon 10 as his “Son whom he had gotten in his impressment.” Do you have spiritual sons and daughters?

Friends, I know today’s message is a hard one. It is not surprising that some of you feel uncomfortable right now. But I tell you the truth, it is a matter of life and death. Who will be sitting in these pews in 20 or 30 years if we do not do our job today? John MacArthur tells a story of an old church in England. A sign on the front of the building read “We preach Christ crucified.” After a time, ivy grew up the walls, obscuring the last word. The motto now read, “We preach Christ.” The ivy grew some more, and the motto read, “We preach.” Finally, ivy covered the entire sign, and the church died. Such is the fate of any church that fails to carry out its mission in the world. Let us determine that we shall fulfill our mission in the world. To God all praise, honor, and glory, and to this all God’s people said, “Amen.”

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