Wednesday, October 28, 2009

W.o.G. Wednesday: Isaiah 29:13

Can you tell that Isaiah is one of my favorite books in the Bible? I hope you're not getting tired of this prophet's messages--i can't get enough of them!

While working on my {failed} Tutorial Tuesday post this week, I had the extreme privilege of listening to one of my favorite pastors speak online. His name is Mark Ashton and he is the lead pastor at St. Andrew the Great in Cambridge, UK. J and I recently received their newsletter and were stunned to hear that Mark has terminal pancreatic cancer. We both grew so much under his teaching so it was wonderful to be able to hear his sermon from earlier this month, "Turning Things the Right Way Up" (<--that link takes you directly to his audio sermon), derived from Isaiah 28:1-29:24. While I was carving away (or not), i was stopped cold by what Mark said halfway through the sermon. He brought the listeners back to the one of the main verses in the passage:

Isaiah 29:13

The Lord says:
"These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.
Then he repeated: "their hearts are far from me"

Because what he said next really resonated with me, I transcribed it below so that I would have it for easy reference. Many many times I feel like this is where I stand before God--going through the motions but not living for Him with my entire heart. I so absolutely needed this reminder and convicting sermon.

anyway, here is what Mark had to say:

See, God knows the human heart. He knows every heart present in this building. At this moment. And He knows where each of us stand in relation to Him. I don't know where you stand but God knows exactly, absolutely exactly, where you stand before Him at this moment in your life.

Mark then elaborated about the weeks before finding out he had cancer. His friend advised him that his poor feelings were from taking too much Ibuprofen. Mark finally went to hospital for gall bladder surgery. When he came to after the surgery, the surgeon told him that he had cancer.

Despite not knowing the surgeon and not particularly liking what the surgeon had to say, Mark believed that the surgeon was right, and not his friend. Why? Because the surgeon had been inside him. He had taken photos of his liver to prove it so there was no question who Mark would trust.

okay...back to the transcript:
Would you believe me that God has been inside you and He knows exactly where you stand? That is why you and I need to accept His warning to us. He knows the human heart; better than you know it yourself. God is like that. That is why we should believe him about the human condition; even our religion doesn't fool Him for a moment. It might fool our family and friends but it doesn't fool God. He knows exactly where we stand and he alone can deal with the heart of yours and mine.
So...that's my W.o.G. post for this week, courtesy of Mark Ashton. A challenge for me, to be certain! May I not be found performing "lip service" to my Savior but, instead, be found with a heart CLOSE to Him.