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Summary: Theme: Coming to Faith - Isaiah, Paul and Peter come to faith through: 1. An epiphany/encounter with the LORD 2. Acknowledging and confessing their sinfulness 3. Accepting God's purifying touch 4. Partnering with the LORD JESUS

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Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-10; Luke 5:1-11; [1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and Acts 9:1-19]

- Epiphany 5

Theme: Coming to Faith -

All three individuals (Isaiah, Paul and Peter) come to faith through:

1. An epiphany/encounter with the LORD

2. Acknowledging and confessing their sinfulness

3. Accepting God's purifying touch

4. Partnering with Jesus in sharing the Good News

INTRO:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our LORD!

Through the ages there have been some fantastic trios. For example, how many have enjoyed the antics of the Three Stooges (Larry, Curly and Mo) and the Marx Brothers ( Chico, Harpo, and Groucho). Music lovers no doubt have enjoyed the trio of the Bee Gees (Robin, Maurice, and Barry Gibb), Destiny's Child (Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams), Peter, Paul and Mary or for those with finer tuned ears, the Three Tenors (Placido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti). Then there is Little Joe, Hoss and Adam from the Ponderosa and the Good, the Bad and the Ugly with Clint Eastwood. And to top it off we have the 3 Little Pigs, the 3 Bears and Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Biblically, we can point to Noah's sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth), the Great Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), the Three Hebrew Children (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) and the inner circle of disciples (Peter, James and John).

This morning, our scripture passages link together another great trio; Isaiah, the prophet, Paul the evangelist and Peter the Apostle. All three of them share similar faith journeys. Faith journeys that in many ways parallel our own faith journeys.

I. All three men experienced an encounter/epiphany with the LORD

a. For Isaiah, it happened in a vision in the House of the LORD. In His vision the prophet sees sitting on His throne, high and lifted up. He is overwhelmed with the sound of heavenly voices praising God, being surrounded by celestial smoke and being in the company of the seraphim. In his spirit he feels the very foundations of the Temple shake as God is given glory and honor.

b. For Paul, Acts 9 tells us that his encounter happened while he was riding his horse on the way to the city of Damascus. Paul who calls himself "one untimely born" never expected to have such an encounter. Suddenly, Paul is struck down by a heavenly light and hears the voice of Jesus speaking to him. This is the same Jesus for whom Paul has been rejecting as Messiah and Lord. For three days Paul suffers sightlessness until at the hands of Ananias, God gives him back his sight.

c. For Peter the encounter happened in a boat on the Sea of Gennesaret (Galilee) on a preaching/fishing trip. Jesus used Peter's boat as a platform to teach and preach to the people who had gathered around the seashore. When he had finished speaking, Jesus instructed Peter to let down his fishing nets so that Jesus could reveal to Peter His true identity through the miracle of a great catch of fish. The miracle was being able to catch a boat load of fish at worst of times to fish. No one expected Jesus to catch anything at that time and with all the noise that had taken place on the boat and on the shoreline.

In a Temple vision, during an ordinary horseback ride and on a fishing boat each man experienced an encounter/epiphany with the LORD. It is comforting to know that the LORD reaches out to all of us in many different ways. He spoke to the Samarian woman at the local water cooler, Mary in the comfort of her home, Amos on the hillside taking care of his sheep and the Prodigal son sitting in a hog lot.

The LORD is not limited by time, place or space. He reaches out to people in all kinds of places. C. S. Lewis' epiphany occurred on a night he spent talking to J. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. It was through their conversation that C. S. Lewis felt a deep touch by the LORD. Billy Graham encountered the LORD at an evangelism service lead by Dr. Mordecai Ham. Dr. Charles Colson encountered the LORD through reading C. S. Lewis's book Mere Christianity.

All of this reveals to us that the LORD is always seeking us, reaching out to us and doing all He can to bring us to Him. He reaches out to people in hospitals, in work lunch rooms and even in bars and taverns. It was in a bar that John Crowder encountered the LORD.1 So, no matter where we find ourselves or someone else finds themselves that place can be a place where God creates an altar in which they can meet Him. There is nowhere on earth that a person cannot meet God and experience a whole life transformation.

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