Devotions for November 7-13, 2016
Monday, November 7, 2016
“I saw the Lord ….” (Isaiah 6:1a).
The prophet Isaiah had a vision and saw the Lord. He isn’t the only one who has had this experience. Moses saw the Lord in a burning bush. Peter saw the Lord while working with his nets on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Paul saw the Lord on his way to Damascus. The Lord appeared to these and others of God’s choosing in gracious acts of revelation.
God continues to reveal himself to people. Carlotta experienced God’s presence during a women’s retreat put on by her congregation. James saw the Lord in the thankful smile of a fifth-grade boy he was tutoring. Akihito caught a glimpse of the Lord in the eyes of a homeless man to whom he served food at a homeless shelter.
As followers of Jesus, we walk in a relationship with God. In that relationship God appears to us. Today with eyes of faith we are watchful and expectant to see God among us.
Great God, we rejoice that you have revealed yourself to us. We ask that your Spirit might move in us and through us so that those around us may see you, too. Amen.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
“Sitting on the throne” (Isaiah 6:1b).
World leaders are distant and difficult to approach. Loyal subjects of Queen Elizabeth can’t hope to have a private audience with her. Unless you are a head-of-state, or just won the World Series, you probably won’t be able to schedule a meeting with President Obama. It is difficult to arrange a visit with Pope Francis even if he is a little more accessible than previous popes. Sometimes even pastors are difficult to catch and talk to.
Sitting on the throne like an earthly monarch, the Lord smashes our stereotypes of rulers. The Lord is accessible. We can approach the Lord of lords and King of kings at any time through prayer. We don’t need to go through an appointment secretary or priest. God has an “open door” policy and invites us to come in and talk.
Almighty God, it amazes us that one as great as you pays attention to people as insignificant as we are. As you are aware of us, may we be aware of the people around us and their needs. Amen.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
“Holy, Holy, Holy” (Isaiah 6:3b).
The clean is always fearful of being soiled by the dirty. The holy is concerned about being tainted by the mundane. Parents everywhere dress their children in fashionable clothing for reunions, parties and worship services. Their instructions are clear, “Don’t get dirty!” The children may hear, but their pants and shirts, dresses and blouses don’t. In the world of childhood and play, dirt, stains and tears appear on their clothes.
The seraphs called out “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The Lord’s nature is different from that of creation. Creation is “good,” but God is Holy, and in many ways the good creation has been broken. A holy God would be wise to keep distant. Thankfully, our God isn’t concerned about getting a little dirty. God came and met Isaiah. God the Son shed his godliness and got his hands dirty living and dying among us. In the person of Jesus, the dirt didn’t take away from his holiness, but rather enhanced it.
We sometimes like to avoid getting dirty. As followers of Jesus, though, and as imitators of his example we realize that getting dirty and serving others is one way that God’s holiness shines through us–God’s love and grace through our words and actions.
Holy Lord, please don’t let us ever think that we are too good to get our hands dirty and help people in need. Amen.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
“The whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3b).
When going through his congregation’s Sunday school program decades ago, Cal learned that one definition of God is that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Through the years, Cal had redefined several times his understanding of God being all knowing, and all powerful and how God demonstrated those attributes. One characteristic of God that was affirmed to Cal almost every day of his life was God’s omni presence. Being involved in the medical profession, Cal could see God in the intricacies of life. As an amateur astronomer, Cal could see God in the wonders of their universe, and Cal saw God in the glories of nature as he hiked and mountain biked.
God has a relationship with creation; God was never separated from it. God continues to care for creation through God’s continual creative activity. Humankind sometimes allows our urbanization, science and technology to pull us away from creation. We lose sight of God in creation and begin to treat creation like an object instead of understanding our close relationship with it–that we are a part of it. Creation is holy because it is full of God’s glory. We worship God through our care of creation and offer thanksgiving and praise through proper use of its resources.
O Lord our God, when we in awesome wonder consider all the worlds your hands have made. We see the stars, we hear the rolling thunder, your power throughout the universe displayed. Then sing our souls … “How great thou art!” Amen.
Friday, November 11, 2016
“Woe is me! I am lost” (Isaiah 6:5).
In the movie “Legally Blond,” the law school classmates of Reese Witherspoon’s character, Elle, play a practical joke on her. They invite Elle to a party and tell her it is a costume party, when it isn’t. Elle shows up at the party attired as a Playboy bunny–obviously out-of-place. By their actions her classmates clearly demonstrate to Elle that she was unwanted.
We have all been in similar situations like Elle, though perhaps not as dramatic. In these situations we have felt out-of-place. We have wanted to flee; to run and hide. A similar situation occurred when Isaiah encountered the Lord in the temple. In the presence of the Holy, Isaiah wanted to run away. Clothed in his humanity Isaiah felt inappropriately dressed.
The Lord did not reject Isaiah, however. Isaiah was not ordered out of God’s presence. In fact, action was taken by the spiritual beings to make Isaiah feel welcomed and accepted. God’s love and desire for relationship always draws us closer and never drives us away. There are times when we may feel uncomfortable, ashamed or out-of-place when we are in God’s presence. The Lord, though, always welcomes us with open arms.
Lord, we come into your presence with singing because of your steadfast love, overwhelming grace and unconditional forgiveness. Amen.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
“One of the Seraphs flew to me holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar” (Isaiah 6:6).
Isaiah cried out in need, and the response was immediate. A seraph took a hot coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s lips with it. Intense heat sterilizes and purifies. Isaiah had declared that he was a man of unclean lips. With the touch of a hot coal he no longer had unclean lips. (He also had no more excuses for not being able to serve.)
We are always tempted to focus on our weaknesses and our “don’t haves,” and use them as excuses for why we shouldn’t answer a call to action. It is more beneficial for us to look at what we do have instead of what we do not. With the blood of Christ, we have been cleansed. With the breath of the Holy Spirit we have been empowered. We are equipped and ready to serve. Nothing needs to hold us back.
Holy Spirit, move within us, sanctify us so that we more clearly reflect God’s glory and are better equipped to serve and share God’s love and grace. Amen.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
“Here I am, send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
Pat Tillman was an NFL player with the Arizona Cardinals. He left a lucrative career as a football player and enlisted in the army after 9/11. Two years later Pat was killed in combat. Pat enlisted in the army, in part, because Pat realized that he had been richly blessed and he wanted to give back from his abundance. He also believed it was his patriot duty. He felt he could better serve his country on the battlefield rather than the football field.
From God’s throne, the Lord asked, “Who shall I send, who will go for us?” Isaiah responds, “Here I am!” Isaiah does so in response to what God had done for him. The Lord had come to him in a vision. God had cleansed him and had prepared him to serve. Isaiah was living in a relationship with God. When a need was made known to him, Isaiah responded to the need.
We are the recipients of a multitude of blessings. God’s call now rings in our ears, and the need is plainly before us. We respond to the call and the need not out of a sense of obligation, but rather out of a sense of opportunity.
Send us Lord. Direct our paths, empower our service and be glorified in our lives. Amen.