A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR DISCOURAGING DAYS
In many ways, the prophet Isaiah would feel right at home in our days. In chapter 2 of his book, he talks about the days when God will physically rule on the earth, when men beat their swords into plow shears and there is peace in the land. I too look forward to those days, but sometimes, I imagine like Isaiah, those days seem a long way off.
In chapters 2-5, he talks about the judgment he knows is coming on his land and on his country. He knows God is going to judge them. In chapter 2 he says that God is going to judge his country because of their pride. They trust their wealth and military might instead of trusting and depending on the Lord.
In chapter 3, he complains about the women who encourage their husbands to break the law and to act immorally, while they parade around in their fancy clothes and expensive perfumes. In chapter 5 he again acknowledges that his country deserves and is going to be judged by God for 6 things.
1. They are covetous – In verses 8-10, he complains that the rich folk are defrauding the poor. They are building large mansions and extensive farms at the expense of the poor. God warns that their large houses will be empty and their harvests will be poor.
Doesn’t that sound like the homes of many in our country today? They own several large homes, but they are largely empty because they have lost their families. There’s no need to discuss the poor harvests. Turn on the news any night now, and you can see that’s true.
But, not only are they covetous, the land also has many drunkards.
2. They are drunkards – There are many people in the land who think little or nothing of working. They don’t worry about what they can accomplish or what they can contribute to society – they want to party from the time they get up in the morning until they go to bed in the evening. It’s everyone else’s responsibility to take care of me. I want to eat, drink, and be merry.
3. Third, they are careless – Isaiah complains that his country is filled with people who think little or nothing of God. They are wrapped up in sins and addictions and instead of being grateful to the God that has protected them and built their nation, they mock Him. They take His name in vain and laugh at His rules.
4. They are lying – They flatter one another but don’t mean what they say. They twist and distort the truth where you can’t even recognize it anymore. We see the same thing today, when people sue claiming they can’t work, and then are seen working out and playing. We don’t see tax increases, but revenue enhancements. You can’t disagree with someone without being a hater. Our language has been twisted to where you can no longer recognize it.
5. They are Prideful – Instead of praying and seeking God, the country’s leaders were prideful. They consulted one another and based their decisions on their own wisdom, never consulting God’s Word or asking His guidance.
6. There was Injustice – The judges who were supposed to enforce the law used their authority and power to free the guilty and attack the innocent. The judges and politicians were more interested in their parties and with lining their own pockets than they were with doing what was right.
In chapter 6 we find that King Uzziah has also died. Uzziah was a good king. He loved the Lord and he loved the people he was leading. He taught them the things of God. He built up the military and built cities. He increased religious and other education across the land. He was one of Israel’s good kings and now he has died as well.
If there were ever a time and a person who could be discouraged, it was Isaiah. His godly king was dead. His nation had turned their back on God. He knew judgment was coming and the promised deliverance and peace that he dreamt of seems so far away.
How many of you can relate?
In the midst of all of this discouragement, in the midst of this immorality, in the midst of a nation on a downward spiral, God calls a man. The man Isaiah. Before God sends this man out in to a world filled with sin, discouragement and nay Sayers, God reminds him of several things.
Please open your Bibles this morning to Isaiah chapter 6 this morning as we look together at God’s Word of Encouragement for Discouraging Times.
- Isaiah 6:1-8
I. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE
- Isaiah 6:1
When Isaiah was discouraged, God gave Him a vision of His Holy and mighty self, still seated on the throne of heaven. My friend, I want you to know that God is still in control.
Don’t you know the Israelites were discouraged when they reached the banks of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army hot on their heels? Again, they thought it was all over when they could find nothing but a small boy with a sling to stand against the giant Goliath. Their enemies thought it was the end for Daniel when he was thrown to the lions. Don’t you know, the disciples were discouraged when Jesus was crucified and they were left alone? They thought the end had come.
My friend, when you discouraged and frustrated, remember, God is still on the throne. He is still in control.
A while back I got discouraged, I got frustrated. Things were not going the way that I had planned. I was tired. I was tired of solving problems and dealing with people. You ever get like that? I didn’t know what to do. I still remember walking up down the road to my house, tears streaming down my face, singing to myself, “God is in control, we believe that His children will not be forsaken. God is in control, we will choose to remember and never be shaken. There is no power above or beside Him we know. Oh, oh, oh. God is in control. Oh, oh, oh. God is in control.
Oh my word. We serve the sovereign, world-creating, storm-stopping, life-changing God and He is still on the throne! He will not be replaced. He cannot be dethroned. He cannot be outsmarted. He cannot be surprised. He will not be shaken. He is God, and He is still on the throne!
Tell somebody “God’s still on the throne!” Tell somebody, “God knows what’s going on!” Tell somebody, “God’s still in control!”
Don’t you let those nay Sayers, those doubting Debbies and those gloomy Guses get you down. Don’t you let the Devil steal your security, your peace and your joy. Don’t you let those weak-willed, non-praying, conviction-compromising, lilly-livered, Christian in name only people tell you that it’s over, that we might as well pack our bags and call it quits, because our God is not made of stone where He cannot move or speak. He does not bow at the alter of popular opinion. He is the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God. And one day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord and He’s still on the throne.
When you are tempted to be discouraged or frustrated remember, God is still on the throne. But not only is God on the throne, but God is also, still in the world.
II. GOD IS STILL IN THE WORLD
- Isaiah 6:1,3
- Psalm 139:7-12
There are times, especially in the hard times, when you may feel all alone. When you feel that no one understands, that no one is there for you in your struggle. You’re having trouble at home and the place that is supposed to be your refuge in a storm has turned into storm central. You go to church with a vision for what God wants done and for how He wants to work, and it seems that no one shares your vision, your passion, and your fire. Sometimes it seems like you’re alone in the world. It is during those times, my friend, when we need to remember that God is still in the world. There is no place you can go beyond His reach. No valley so dark, that He cannot see. No furnace so hot, He will not walk through it with you.
Shortly before Jesus left, the disciples were fearful and afraid. Seeing their concern Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And my friend, the promise Jesus made to them He makes to you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. In Christ you have a friend Who sticks closer than a brother.
> Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Don’t you let the Devil convince you that you are all alone, that no one knows and no one cares. God is still in the world and He is still walking with you. Others may let you down. Your friends may abandon you. I will disappoint you, but God will never leave you. He promised it and God keeps His promises.
Tell someone, “God keeps His promises!”
When you are tempted to be discouraged, remember, God is still on the Throne. God is still in the world, and God is still calling imperfect people.
III. GOD IS STILL CALLING IMPERFECT PEOPLE
- Isaiah 6:3, 6.
There are those who believe God cannot use them. They believe they are not good enough, or gifted enough to be used. Perhaps you are one of them. You believe God can’t use you because you mess up too much. How often does the Devil point out your imperfections in an attempt to keep you from serving God?
Isaiah said, “Woe is me. I am a man of unclean lips.” Remember what happened when God called Moses? Moses said, “I don’t speak well enough.” When God approached Jeremiah, Jeremiah said, “I’m too young.” My friend, God is still calling imperfect people.
One of the greatest soul winners I ever met was a man by the name of Cid Hutchins. Sid Hutchins would witness to anyone, at any time. During the last few years he was alive, Cid averaged leading one person to the Lord per day. And yet, Cid was an uneducated man. Didn’t finish high school. Couldn’t read all that well. But Cid, loved the Lord and loved telling other people about his Jesus. God used Cid in miraculous ways.
I can’t wait to get to heaven to meet the many people Cid led to Christ. God uses David Wring.
> Jeremiah 1:5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
My friends, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are made in the image of God. He loves you and wants to use you in spite of your imperfections.
Jesus healed the man born blind and the man gave testimony, “I was blind, but now I see”. He didn’t know a lot but he told what he knew and God used him.
If you are waiting until you get it all figured out before you strive to serve the Lord, you never will, because God uses imperfect people.
IV. GOD IS STILL FORGIVING FALLEN PEOPLE
- Isaiah 6:6-7
Some people feel they can’t escape the past. Some of you feel that you’ve made too many mistakes. You’ve messed up too much. You feel almost that you’ve been branded with a scarlet letter.
Don’t you imagine that’s the way Peter felt after he denied Christ 3 times? Don’t you imagine that’s the way David felt after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed? Don’t you imagine that’s the way Paul felt after he had persecuted Christians and held the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen? He described himself as the “chief of sinners.” And yet, God forgave him and used him to plant churches among the Gentiles across the known world and used him to write nearly ½ of the New Testament.
My friend, don’t let a mistake you’ve made, a sin you’ve committed, a wrong decision keep you from approaching God and serving Him. God is still forgiving fallen people.
> 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
V. GOD IS STILL USING WILLING PEOPLE
- v8 Who shall I send? Here am I. Send me.
Listen, You do not have to be popular to be used. You do not have to be educated in order to be used. The majority of the disciples had little education. You do not have to be politically savvy and connected. What God is looking for is willing people. People willing to be used. People willing to go. People willing to pray. People willing to tell. Let me ask you my friend, are you willing to be used by God?
Jesus told the fishermen, “Come” and they did. He told the tax-collector Matthew to “Come follow Him”, and he did. The Lord isn’t looking for perfect, educated, qualified, pretty people. He is looking for willing people, and He used those original 11 to change the world. He is still looking for willing people who remember that He is still on the throne, that He is still in the world, and that He is still forgiving fallen people, to change the world.
He’s looking for excited, encouraged, obedient and willing people to change the world today. Are you that person? Will you say this morning, “Here am I Lord, send me?”