Amen. Hi everybody! Good to be here, glad to be here tonight - I am anyway! Thank you for joining us, it's a real privilege for me to be here - and it's hard to believe again, as Brendan said, we're at the end of another season almost, one more month to go. This is, I think, my third season with you. I was just thinking that you could have a degree by now - three years, probably not a very good one like - but it has been a real pleasure for me to share with you. I hope that, some of you have been on the journey from the very beginning since I've been here, and it's great to have known God moving among us and continuing to do so. I believe tonight is going to be no exception.
We're going to look tonight at, again, this subject that we've been following month after month: 'Hunger For Reality'. Really we're wanting to know how to go deeper in the things of God. We've covered a lot of ground so far, and do avail yourself of the CDs if you haven't already got some of those. So we've been asking the question: 'Do you long to go deeper with the Lord?'. Tonight we're considering this subject: 'Answering The Call', answering the call. Now one of the questions that immediately came to my mind, before we look at any Scripture - we're going to be looking at plenty, don't worry - is the question: 'Is everybody called or only a few?'. Sometimes we can think that there is this elite breed of Christians whom God has sort of put His finger on and called to serve Him. One of the verses that is often quoted is Matthew 22 and verse 14: 'Many are called, but few are chosen'. So we ask the question: what does that actually mean? Does that mean, right, I'm called to be a Christian, but I'm maybe not one of the chosen few that God is going to send to do His bidding in some kind of service in His kingdom? That's not what it means at all. I would encourage you - we're not going to look at this tonight - but I would encourage you to always look at the context of verses, particularly verses that are commonly quoted, because they are often misquoted. That verse in particular comes at the very end of a parable that Jesus taught, the context of that parable was about a chap who turned up to a wedding celebration without the correct garment on, and he was cast out. The verse actually reads, in the NIV: 'Many are invited, but few are chosen'. So the idea is that everybody was invited to come to this wedding feast, but it was only those who had the right garment that got in - the chosen, if you like.
So be careful about these concepts that may have entered into our mind, even through the ecclesiastical system, if you like, the church, the institutional church - where we've got this concept that you've got the clergy and the laity. Now this isn't a pop at any denomination, or anybody's concept of how to do church, I'm just stating a fact. Often that can breed within us this conception that: 'Well, those guys up there, or those ladies, are the ones that we are paying to do the work. Those are the ones God has called, we supply their need because of that, but I'm just one of the laity, I'm one of the folk filling the pews. I will certainly pay my way, but that's a distinction, a demarcation line'. Well, that is false, as far as the Bible is concerned. I'm not saying there aren't people who have particular roles - there are - but the Bible teaches us that we are all called, every single one of us, we are all called to preach the Gospel, we're all called to spread the good news, to gossip the Gospel in our daily life.
Now, having said that, we may be led as individuals to do that differently. So one may be called to do that on the factory floor with their work colleagues or in the office; but others might be set apart to minister full-time in the word of God and prayer and have their need supplied by the church. But nevertheless, there is no difference - it's a bit like the distinction between secular and sacred that we often make. You know, there is no distinction, if you're a child of God we're to do everything - whether we eat or drink - to the glory of God. In the same regard, there are no 'called' Christians and 'not called' Christians. We are all called, and so therefore I don't want any of you to tune out right now, OK, from what I'm going to say in the whole message tonight - it is for everybody. So if you don't consider yourself someone called to pulpit ministry, to be an evangelist, to maybe go to the mission field - this is relevant to you and your life.
So we're going to turn to Isaiah chapter 6 for our first reading. I reckon some of you could have guessed we might go there. 'Answering The Call', Isaiah chapter 6 verse 1, and we're reading through to just the beginning of verse 9. Isaiah 6:1: "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim", these are angelic beings, different than just normal angels - no such a thing, really, as a normal angel, but seraphims are an angel of a different kind - "each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!'. And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts'. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged'. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?'. Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me'. And He said, 'Go, and tell this people'".
Let's pray. I want you to pray for yourself, if you want to hear the call of God in any shape or form, pray that He will speak to you now. Father, we thank You that there is a prophet, Isaiah. We thank You that these men of God spoke and wrote as the Holy Spirit moved them. We thank You for inspiration, we thank You that You are still the God who is and is not silent. We pray tonight, O God, that by the power of Your Holy Spirit, that You will come, You will speak into the depths of our being. Lord, You have confirmed this word several times already today, and I just pray that You will come mightily and that You will use it to bring Your call upon our hearts. Lord, I pray for the burden of God to come upon this meeting. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.
So, we've already established that it is not that we are not called, there are not any of us not called. I suppose the real issue is whether or not we are hearing it - yes? What we have read tonight from Isaiah chapter 6 is the call from heaven. I want to say right away: you don't have to be on a spiritual high in order for God to call you. That comes very clearly to me from Isaiah chapter 6. Now you might say, initially: 'Well, hold on a wee minute, I mean, was this not a high in Isaiah's ministry?'. I mean, this vision is known right throughout the church as one of the epochs of what we would call 'theophanies', where God appears to someone - and here we see His glory filling the whole Temple, it would appear. Would this not have been a pinnacle experience for the prophet? Well, of course it was, he records: 'I saw the Lord'. But I want you to note that it began with a low. This is often, I have to say, when the call of God comes - not the high points, mountaintop experiences; but rather deep in the valley, the low experiences.
It says right at the very beginning of verse 1: 'In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord'. His other name was Azariah, sometimes we read of him with that name in Scripture. Uzziah the King had a long, distinguished reign within Judah. He began when he was only 16 years old, and he reigned for 52 years, and he was a great King. He was known as a good King, a moral man. He was a mighty ruler, also quite an accomplished military commander - he beat the archenemies of God's people, the Philistines, and others. He was also an innovator, he was a moderniser, and you can read in the record of his reign how he invented certain technologies that had never been seen before. The Bible says that his fame spread abroad, everybody knew about King Uzziah, even in other kingdoms. There is this phrase used of him in 2 Chronicles 26, it says that he was 'helped marvellously'. That term actually is quite similar to a New Testament term talking about the help of the Holy Spirit. God helped this King to get to where he was, but the problem came when he got too big for his boots. Just quickly, to summarise 2 Chronicles chapter 26, Uzziah took it upon himself to engage in a priestly role which was forbidden. He actually went into the Temple of God, and he attempted to burn incense on the holy altar - he was not allowed to do that as a King, you had to be a priest to do that. No King should also be a priest, in fact, this is interesting: the roles of prophet, priest and King combined in one person was to be reserved for the Messiah - and that's what Jesus was, Prophet, Priest, and King, and still is. So you might say that Uzziah got a bit of a Messiah complex. He thought he was all that, he thought he was God's man - and to an extent he was - but he overstepped his boundary and his remit. We read here that when he went into that holy place to do an unholy thing, that Azariah the high priest went in with eighty priests with him, and confronted Uzziah, and told him: 'It is not lawful for you to do this'. He got angry, because he was King - you can imagine - but when he got angry, it says that leprosy broke out on his forehead. That's interesting, because the forehead is where the high priest wore the mitre, or the crown, and written across the forehead of the high priest is 'Holiness to the Lord', but unholiness broke out on Uzziah's forehead. He then turned from anger to fear, and it says that he ran out of the Temple, and he lived the rest of his days as a leper until he died alone in a solitary home.
This was this great King, marvellously helped of the Lord, but he had a mighty fall because of pride - and then he dies because of his sin. So this is the backdrop to this vision: 'In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord'. It appears that not only did the people get their eyes fixed on King Uzziah in an unhealthy way, but also the prophet of God did, Isaiah. Something had to die in Isaiah's life before God could call him. To put it another way - and some of you will know that one of my passions, and one of the messages that I have carried is 'God's New Thing' - here we see this principle again, that something old had to die in order for God to bring forth the new thing. Of course, that Scripture about God doing a new thing is found in Isaiah chapter 43, in this very book. So Isaiah was talking out of personal experience, that this King had to die before God could come to him in a new way, because he had got comfortable with the status quo. I wonder is that where you are tonight? I have really been challenged by this message myself as I have prepared it: have you gotten comfortable in your own status quo? Is there something that needs to die in your life in order for God to come to you? God could be killing something right now.
This is a strange time, when God can come and call. Like Isaiah, your world could be just crashing down around you, but sometimes that's the way God works. Sometimes it's outward circumstances that conspire to sort of set us up for God to come and call us. For Isaiah, it was a time of grief, a time of loss, there was great uncertainty about his own ministry personally as the prophet to the King, and also nationally. He was disorientated, he was in a crisis. Can I say: he wasn't even spiritually match-fit - do you understand what I mean? We might say he was kind of backslidden to an extent, and yet it was in this place that God came to him. When our crutches, like Uzziah, our comforts, and our wrong dependencies are removed, that is the moment we really need a God encounter - and he got one of the greatest. In fact, if you go to John chapter 12 (not now), it's recorded by John of the Lord Jesus in John 12 that Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus in a pre-incarnate form, high and lifted up, and His train filling the Temple. This was the Word of God, the second person of the Trinity, that Isaiah saw - so he had an encounter with Christ. When crutches, comforts, and wrong dependencies are removed, and then God reveals Himself, you have a God encounter - do you know what happens next? Look at verse 5: our secret sins are revealed, 'So I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts''.
Now this is fascinating, there is so much I could bring out of this passage, but I'm trying to go as God leads. Isaiah's strength was his weakness - is that not the case for many of us? What am I talking about? Well, what was he? He was a prophet, so his mouth was part of his profession, forth-telling and foretelling the word of God. In fact, we know - and I'm not a Hebrew scholar by any means - but we know that the standard of literacy of the book of Isaiah surpasses any other book in the Old Testament. He has been called 'the Shakespeare of the Old Testament', and yet here he is crying with his hands up, 'Guilty as charged, Lord. I've been exposed to Your holy, holy, holiness; and as I have this God-revelation, this encounter with You, I'm undone because I've got unclean lips'. Isn't that incredible?
What was he meaning, that he had unclean lips? Did he use bad language? Did he engage in dirty or inappropriate talk or innuendo? Was he prone to lying, even the little white ones we talk about? Maybe it was slander, maybe he was gossiping about people? It could have been exaggeration - he wouldn't be the first person in the Lord's work to do that! Maybe it was flattery? Or could it possibly be that it had something to do with his prophetic gift, how he used and executed his gift was not completely pure, perhaps to do with selfish motives or something like that? Now, I don't want to cast aspersions, but there was something that Isaiah was compromising in that involved his mouth, his speech, his words; and that left him undone before the presence of God.
I want to ask you: have you ever been undone before God's holiness? The word 'undone' could be translated 'ruined', or 'lost', 'doomed'. The idea is that Isaiah was expressing from the depths of his being: 'It's all over for me', that's why verse 5 ends 'For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts'. He's not saying that in an elated way, he's saying that in utter fear and trepidation because the concept in these days was that if you saw God, you were dead. He not only saw God as a mortal, but he was seeing God as (he believed) as an immoral servant of the Lord in some shape or form - and he felt he was finished now. He thought he was going to die. Let me just remind you that this is the Old Testament. We hear this nonsense over and over again about the God of the Old Testament, seemingly so different from the God of the New. 'The God of the New is all grace, the God of the Old is always law' - not anything remotely near the truth! What happens to him is not that he dies, but look at verse 6. One of the Seraphim, these angelic creatures, flies, having in his hand a live coal which he has taken with the tongs from the altar. Isaiah says: 'He touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged''.
Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. I've taught you before: grace and truth come together - do you know that? Whenever you're willing to say, like Isaiah, 'I'm undone because I'm this, that, and the other!' - when you're truthful with God, that's the point at which grace will meet you. It's like 1 John 1: 'If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and...we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us...then the blood of Jesus Christ God's Son keeps on cleansing us from all sin'. As he walked into the light, what happened was: a heavenly creature brought a blood-saturated fire-induced coal from off the altar of God and touched his lips - isn't that wonderful? That's Calvary, that's the cross, that's the power of the Spirit in our lives - the blood and the fire. But isn't it interesting, God touched him with the power of the blood and the power of the Spirit in the very area of his weakness: his lips. The very thing the enemy used - and this is the word of the Lord, I believe this is a rhema word for some of you here tonight, so catch it - the very thing that the enemy used, God would take, He would sanctify, and He would use for His glory!
So Isaiah was effectively saying: 'Take my lips and let them be consecrated, Lord, to Thee'. Now all of this, all that we have looked at, was all preparation to hear God's call - the whole lot. It's all leading up to verse 8, to get him to that place where he can hear a call from God. 'Also', verse 8, 'I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?'' - there's the Trinity there - 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?'. All of this was getting Isaiah to the place where he could hear the call. Now, obviously he had heard the call of God on his life at some stage, because he was a prophet - but he needed to re-hear the call, he needed to be recommissioned, and that's where some of you are tonight! You've heard God's call upon your life, but you need to hear it afresh. It was preparing him to hear the call, but it was also preparing him for the response. He had to see the greatness of God to be humbled, in order to repent, in order to get to that place of utter brokenness so that he could respond in the manner he does in verse 8, the second half: 'Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me'. And God said, 'Go, and tell this people''.
I wonder have you gotten to the place where you can hear the call from heaven? Have you heard the call to repent? Is there someone here tonight and you're not born again, you've never been forgiven of your sins, you've never trusted Jesus as your Saviour? Have you heard that call? Christian, do you need cleansing, tonight, because you have backslidden? There are areas of compromise in your own life - I was deeply convicted, I felt undone as I was studying this yesterday in particular. Are you ready to give that response? That's a big thing, and I'm not asking for people just to in a very superficial manner - that often is the case at times in Christian meetings and conferences - to say 'Here am I! Send me'. Do not vow to the Lord and then not repay - it's a very silly thing to do, let alone a dangerous thing to do. But I believe some people here tonight are ready to say 'Here am I! Send me', because you have heard the call from heaven.
But I want to share another call with you, the call from hell. Turn with me to Luke chapter 16, Luke 16, and here we have a story that Jesus told about a rich man and a beggar called Lazarus. I will just summarise the story. The rich man, it says, fared sumptuously every day - so he had everything that he needed. He was wealthy. But down at his gate there was a beggar who had nothing, and that rich man would step over him every day. The difference between the two was: they were opposites in an eternal manner, than they were in a temporal. In other words, the rich man was poor spiritually, because he didn't truly know God; but the poor man, the beggar, was rich spiritually because when he died, it says, the angels came and carried him away into what we would call, probably, heaven. The rich man died, and it says he lifted up his eyes in hell being in torment; but he could see Lazarus, the beggar, in heaven or paradise. He begged that someone would dip the tip of their finger in water and cool his tongue from the torment that he was in, and that wasn't even permitted him - because there is no mercy in hell, mercy is before the grave. Then he utters this to Abraham, and he says - look at verse 27 - he said: 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment'. He wanted Abraham to send Lazarus back to life again, so that he would warn his brothers. Now this is the call from hell tonight, two words: 'Send, lest'.
Do you know there are people right now calling out, crying from hell that someone would go to their loved ones and tell them about Jesus? That's what this parable teaches us. One of the messages that I preached, probably 17 years ago, was entitled 'The Cry From Hell', from this very portion of Scripture, and it was one of the greatest responses I have ever had. The main point was this: that there are these two words, the cry from hell, 'Send someone, lest people come to this place'. Now, listen, I know many of us have been turned off heartless harsh hellfire and brimstone preaching - I certainly have. Sometimes I cringe when I walk through town centres and cities and hear that kind of preaching, graceless, loveless preaching, a preaching of hell without teary eyes. But equally let me ask the question: where are we on hell as the church? What do we believe about it? I know we have a theological assent up here in our heads, but I reckon most of us, including myself, practically speaking are maybe agnostic, or even unbelieving when it comes to hell. Has our culture airbrushed it out of our consciousness? I think that's what has happened to most of us; that we have become conditioned, the world has pushed us into its psychological mould, to thinking that this is beyond possibility and certainly beyond deity, that God, and especially a God of love, should send anyone to hell. Whatever happened to hell?
Believe it or not there is a town in Michigan in the United States called 'Hell' - and just like that sign, for many of us hell has frozen over. The coldness of our hearts has frozen our sensibility to what it means to be a lost soul. We can all have our ideas, hopefully they are biblical, about what hell might be and what it is like; but at the end of the day we cannot deny what Scripture teaches. When the American church historian, Martin Marty, a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, was preparing a Harvard lecture on the subject of hell (this is around 1989-90s), he consulted the indexes of several scholarly journals dating back over a period of 100 years to 1889. He failed to find one single entry on hell. This was his conclusion, he said: 'Hell disappeared and no one noticed'. Has that happened to us mentally, even emotionally, when we think of the lost? It was Alex MacDonald who said: 'If the 19th-century tried to conceal the facts of life, the 20th-century tries to conceal the facts of death'. How much more the 21st-century?
Denial of hell makes us feel better, just like denial of death - but it doesn't make death less real or true. It's the same with hell. Do you know that there is more about hell in the Gospels than anywhere else in the whole of the Bible? Are you aware that 13% of the words of Jesus were about judgement and hell? The New Testament picture of hell was to use the blazing incinerator furnace of the rubbish heap outside one of the city gates. That rubbish dump was called Gehenna, and the word 'Gehenna' is used of hell twelve times in the New Testament, eleven of those times it was our Lord Jesus who used it. God's opinion is, Matthew 7,that many find the road that goes to destruction. In fact, it diminishes the cross of Jesus to dispense with hell, because He died to purchase our freedom and our salvation - that's what He was saving us from, our sin that judges us. He took the wrath of God that was ours upon Himself, that we might not have to. So the cross, if you like, is the evidence of punishment, if ever we needed it. Let whoever has ears to hear, hear what the Scripture is teaching. You see, this is the call from hell: 'Send, lest' - and I'm not hearing that, I'm just being honest with you, I'm not hearing that! I probably used to hear it more.
Charles Peace was a wicked criminal who was sentenced to death, this is an actual magazine picturing his morning of execution. The clergyman led him out of his cell to the gallows, and as he was doing it he read the liturgy to him. Charles Peace actually tapped the clergyman on the shoulder and asked him: 'Do you believe what you're reading?'. And he said: 'Oh yes, I believe it'. Charles Peace said: 'Well, if I believed what you believe, I would crawl on my hands and knees across broken glass to the four corners of the world to warn people'. He had read in the liturgy about the judgement. Do you hear the call from hell tonight? I'm not talking that we should be constantly, morbidly obsessed with hell - can I reiterate: hell is not the Gospel, in the sense that the Gospel is good news, the good news is we can escape hell through the cross of Jesus. But listen: we only understand that the good news is good if we know the bad news.
Do you hear the call from heaven? Do you hear the call from hell? Then thirdly, I want to ask you: do you hear the call from the harvest? The verse I'm thinking of here is John chapter 4, you might want to turn with me there, John chapter 4 verse 35. Jesus says in John 4:35: 'Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!'. Now, remember again context is key. The context of this is the woman at the well, John 4 is about the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman, the woman who was an immoral woman, who was married five times and she was cohabiting with a guy that wasn't her husband. Jesus met her, and you remember He teases her a little bit along the path of truth, He asks for a drink of water at the well and so on. She questions why He is talking to her and so on, and He eventually gets round to offer her water, and if she drinks it she will never thirst again. She gets wonderfully changed by the supernatural power of God, she believes in Jesus as the Messiah, and it says that she goes into her home town - OK - and she tells the men. Look at verse 28: 'The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 'Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?''. Verse 30: 'Then they went out of the city and came to Him'.
Now look at what is going on here in the actual setting. Jesus says to His own disciples: 'Behold, lift up your eyes, look', and what has actually happened is, this woman has gone and preached the Gospel from her own experience, she's telling the men and others in the town, and they are coming down the road. As this crowd is coming down the road, Jesus says: 'Lift up your eyes and look! The fields are white unto harvest! Don't say there is another four months before harvest can come'. The harvest was the Samaritans, they weren't Jews of course: 'Behold, look', the Lord said, 'Behold, look'. I don't know what they were looking at, but they weren't looking at the crowd of Samaritans coming down the road. Can I ask you what you are beholding? What you're looking at? What do you see? What do you see? Do you see the harvest field ready, white, ripe for the picking right now? Because that's what Jesus says it is. I'm not underestimating if you have been slogging away constantly at some little corner of God's field, and you've been seeing very little response - I'm not questioning your calling or anything like that, but I'm definitely not going to change the word of God to suit your experience either. Jesus said the fields are white and ready now. Sometimes I think we have to question whether we're harvesting in the right places, but that's another subject.
But to see and hear the call of the harvest we need to have responded to another call, the call of discipleship, first. You see, many are saved, converted, but they have never answered the call of discipleship - what's that? 'If anyone desires to come after Me', Jesus said, 'let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whosoever loses his life for My sake will save it'. It's going back to 'In the year that King Uzziah died' - for Isaiah to hear and respond to the call, something had to die in his life that was getting in the way, an idolatrous substitute, something that was keeping him in a comfortable status quo. That's the call to discipleship to all of us: we need to die out to certain things and to ourselves - not our true selves, but our selfish desires and motivations.
When you have answered the call of discipleship then you hear the call for help. You see, the call from the harvest is a call for help. This happened to Paul in Acts 16, it says he had a vision, and in that vision there appeared to Paul in the night a man of Macedonia. He stood and pleaded with him saying: 'Come over to Macedonia and help us'. 'Now after he had seen the vision', this is remarkable to me, 'after he saw the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the Gospel to them'. So he sees this vision of this man pleading for help, to come and harvest this particular part of the world and immediately the next day - would you obey immediately on a dream? It might not be a wise thing to do, I have to say, at times - but he was so certain that this was of God that he obeyed immediately.
I think some of you here tonight, I know some of you are hearing a cry - not from Macedonia, but from another place. Where is it? Some of you are hearing it, you're hearing a cry from part of God's harvest field, but you know exactly where it is. Even if you don't obey that cry, and go to the mission field or something, mission organisations need our help - so that Macedonian call is constantly coming to us. It has to be said that what a lot of indigenous missionary organisations need in the mission field is not new missionaries, but they need money. They've got the missionaries, I know some organisations in Asia in particular who have the evangelists queueing up, but they have no resources. I know one evangelist who went and sold his own blood, yes, gave blood donations for money in order to finance his evangelism. Isn't that incredible? But can you help, even if you don't go to the mission field? Do you know that in two millennia since the great commission Jesus gave, 'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel', there is still one third of the planet, that's 2 billion souls, who have still to hear the name of Christ for the first time? They don't know who Jesus is - 2 billion! That's not good.
Jesus said: 'Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also'. Where is our treasure? Where are our priorities? Look at this pie chart on the screen. Do you know that of all church giving, of all church finances, 0.3% - do you know what that is? 30 pence out of every £100. 0.3% is used to take the Gospel to unreached areas. 96.8% of our finances are spent on ourselves, or to reach already Christianised parts of the world. Isn't that staggering? 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be', and yet 80,000 people in Asia alone died today without ever hearing the Gospel. Surely this has become the great omission of the church. You may not go, but you can give for others to go.
Do you hear the call from heaven? 'Who will go? Who will We send?'. Do you hear the call from hell? 'Send, lest my brothers come to this place of torment'. Do you hear the call from the harvest? 'Don't say there are yet four months, but lift up your eyes, look to the fields, they are white already to harvest. Come over and help us'. I'm going to ask you finally: is this the call in your heart, these calls, are these the calls and are they in your heart? What is the call that you're answering day by day? Let's just make this really personal now: the call to the wild is what some of us are following, myself included. In other words, we're following the flesh, we're following the world, we're following even the voice of the devil at times - that might seem staggering to you, but how often do we obey the insinuations and the prompts of the enemy in our life, in temptation, or what we think about life, ourselves, God, and everything? Maybe it's the call of comfort, surely that, ease and materialism and affluence, is one of the biggest problems - the seed of the word, the seed of the call, like Jesus' parable taught, is choked by riches and the care of other things. Maybe it's the call of your career, the call of pleasure, the call of care, worry, or fear? What voice are you listening to?
I want to emphasise this: it is vital that it must come to your heart directly from God, His call, do you understand? You must be hearing the call of God from Him. Now please listen, this is a public health warning over this message tonight: I am not wanting anybody here this evening to be motivated out of guilt or shame or mere emotion, 'Oh, those terrible people dying without Christ', and it's just an emotional response. It cannot be that! Listen, it's got to be more than that! It cannot - hear me loud and clear - it cannot be motivated by the need, and there is a great need; but if you're motivated by the need, and the need alone, you will become a basket case, OK? You will! Because the need is so great, there is only one set of shoulders that is able to carry the weight of the world, and it's not yours!
What am I saying? Well, every single call that we have mentioned already - and, I believe, every single call within the word of God - came through God's revelation. Recap with me: the call from heaven, what was it? Isaiah gets a vision, whether he was in the body or out of the body I don't know, but he gets a vision and it's a direct revelation from God, God gives it right to his heart. Yes? Luke 16, the cry from hell, was told as a story by Jesus. I believe it's a real story, but it was told as a story by Jesus, so it came directly to the disciples, directly to us by Jesus. The call to the harvest came from Jesus, He had to get the disciples to lift up their eyes and to see the Samaritans coming. The Macedonian call to Paul was a visitation in a night vision. So, do you see what I'm saying? Listen, even Isaiah, before Isaiah 6, must have been hearing from God because he was a prophet, whatever his sins of the mouth were!
If you think you're hearing from God - though immediate obedience, as I said earlier, may be a good thing - what we cannot allow is knee-jerk reactions. This is vital, this is probably the most important thing I'll say all night, OK? In Mark 3:14 it says: 'Then Jesus appointed twelve, that they might be with Him', first, I'm adding that, 'and that He might send them out to preach', second. So in everything that we say tonight, there is this caveat that you have to be with Jesus to know what Jesus is calling you to, and it comes through revelation. Listen, it doesn't come through an elder coming to you, or a pastor coming to you and saying: 'Would you teach this Sunday School class?'. OK, now I know there is a dilemma for church leaders, because they need workers, they need them to keep the thing going - but so often God is not involved in a lot of what goes on. You need to go to God, you need to get alone with Jesus. Jesus first called them to be with Him, then He sent them out. You see, one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that better part which shall not be taken away from her. What Martha did was not wrong, by the way, we need people who are gifted like Martha - but they cannot be doing Martha's stuff without first getting to the feet of Jesus like Mary. So, after tonight, what I don't want you to do is go: 'Woohoo! I better get to it and do something, book a ticket to Peru or something like that', or 'I'm going to now send a direct debit every month to whatever missionary society'. Those might be things that you need to think about doing, but the first thing that you need to do from hearing from God - and I believe you're hearing from God tonight - is go to Jesus and say: 'Here I am! What would You have me to do?'.
One thing is needful. OK, I'm almost finished. You know, we can talk about the ends of the earth, but there is a principle in the word of God. Jesus told the disciples: 'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, baptising in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Lo, I am with you always, even onto the end of the age. All authority I have given you, go'. But He gave them a pattern in Acts chapter 1: 'When the Holy Spirit has come upon you', Acts 1:8, 'you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world'. If you follow the Acts of the Apostles, you will see actually how that transpires out - the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2, Jerusalem and Judea; Acts 8, Samaria; Acts 10, the Gentile nations through Cornelius, and the uttermost parts of the world thereafter. So in your Jerusalem, OK, if that's Enniskillen or wherever it might be, what are you doing? What are you doing in your Jerusalem? Some people feel called to the ends of the earth, but they're doing nothing in their Jerusalem - it's to Jerusalem first. Where is your Samaria? Well, your Samaria is the side of the community that isn't your side, and maybe that you traditionally haven't had much time for - that's your Samaria. Or a little group socially, class-wise, or in a certain moralistic persuasion, or immoral persuasion, that you have despised - that's your Samaria.
Really, what I'm getting at is: there is a call from our own people, there is a call from our own island, there is a call from Ireland. I believe that God is raising up a group of people who are hearing that call. Not all are hearing it, but there are more hearing it now than I believe have ever heard it in living memory. Can I share something personal with you? I'm here doing this three years, so this is 17, 16, 15 - the first weekend I think I had here, it was March, the first meeting I had here was March, isn't that right? Then we did the thing 'Sins, Wounds, and Demons' in October, that's right, isn't it? So that was March 2014, if I'm not mistaken. April we had a mighty night here, God came in, blessed, people healed, delivered, emotional healing mainly, delivered - and I was on a bit of a high, because that was probably the greatest thing I have experienced to a degree. I remember (whenever the sun comes out like most Irish men or English men, I go out, and I tend to like to meditate in the back garden, pray, maybe have wee doze every now and again), this particular day the sun was out, and I decided to get the deckchair out and lie back. I had been reading an article by a man called Mark Virkler, and I would highly recommend his stuff on hearing the voice of God, and I was thinking about how God speaks. You know, he was talking about Abraham, and how Abraham was spoken to by God by the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, and how God can speak through sky and nature and all the rest. I laid back and closed my eyes and put my head back, just the sun hitting my face, and I said: 'Lord, You could speak to me in any way that You wanted today. If You wanted, You could even speak to me through the sky', OK?
Now this does not happen to me every week, I just want you to know that. But I was lying, that was the last thing I thought about, and I was just lying enjoying the sun, and all of a sudden there was a break in the sun, the heat wasn't there any more, and I was getting really cold. After a while I was getting miffed, and I thought, 'For dear's sake, I wish this cloud would hurry up and get by', and I opened my eyes - now understand that all of my life I have had a burden for this island, and I believe not a burden remotely near the burden that other people have and have had, I'm not comparing myself with others in that regard. There are people who are much more burdened and do much more. But that is something that God has birthed in me, as well as a belief that God is coming in revival to our land and awakening. I opened my eyes, and I really hope you can see this the way I did, but this is what I saw - that's my neighbour's garage, do you see the map, do you see Ireland? The whole island of Ireland, please tell me you do! I couldn't believe it. I quickly lifted my phone and I snapped a picture, but you can't really see this, you know the way photographs don't come out as well as the reality - the sun was right behind this cloud, as I said to you, and do you see this light here, it started round about there when I opened my eyes, and it was like fire; because the sun was right behind, it was like fire. As the cloud moved that way, the fire spread down, it was amazing.
Why am I sharing that with you? I'm sharing it with you because there is a call in many people's hearts that this is Ireland's time, that the harvest is ready, the fields are white and ripe, the labourers are few - and I'm not a great one. Now this is where I'm going to embarrass Daphne here. Daphne created, what would you call it? Wall art of some kind. It's a bit hard to see. What do you call this, it's not a tapestry, it's string art - it's obvious, isn't it? It's the island of Ireland, I hope you can see her island better than mine. The key is in the middle, the Scripture is there, Zephaniah 3:9: 'Then I will give to the peoples purified lips', isn't that interesting? Isaiah had to have his lips purified, listen: the church needs to have its lips purified for what it has said in this land, the curse that it has brought on this land through declarations, pronouncements, and vows, oaths. Christians need to have their lips cleansed for what they have said. 'Purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him'. You see, we need that cleansing before we can go on to do what needs to be done. 'Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity'. The big slogan here is 'shoulder to shoulder, united, shoulder to shoulder' - that's Ireland's call, isn't it? You know the rugby song, don't you? Do you know the rugby song? That's Ireland's call, the question is: do you hear it? Have you heard it tonight? You know, it never ceases to amaze me - and I don't know an awful lot about an awful lot - but I know that there has been revival to this island in more modern times; I'm talking about going back to 1859 and so on, but little of it touched the Republic of Ireland. We have really a pre-Reformation, pre-revivalist island that, since the days of Patrick, has not been touched by a real swathe of the move of the Holy Spirit - but is it not time? Is it not Ireland's time? 6.5 million souls on this island, do you hear the call? Will you answer the call?
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Stables in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the sixth recording in his 'Hunger For Reality' series, entitled "Answering The Call" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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