When God Calls

Isaiah 55

1 "Ho! Everyone who thirsts,

Come to the waters;

And you who have no money,

Come, buy and eat.

Yes, come, buy wine and milk

Without money and without price.

2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,

And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,

And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

3 Incline your ear, and come to Me.

Hear, and your soul shall live;

And I will make an everlasting covenant with you--

The sure mercies of David.

4 Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,

A leader and commander for the people.

5 Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,

And nations who do not know you shall run to you,

Because of the Lord your God,

And the Holy One of Israel;

For He has glorified you."

6 Seek the Lord while He may be found,

Call upon Him while He is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way,

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord,

And He will have mercy on him;

And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.

This message was preached September 8, 2002 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at toulonbaptist.com  

The passage that lies behind the choir music for memorial service Wednesday speaks of hope. And we do need to have hope. But we must not miss the warning that is in that passage for us. The nation of Israel had spent the last few decades rebelling against God. God had brought a terrible judgment upon them. It had not been all at once but little by little. God had first sent the Assyrians to take away the ten northern tribes because of their continual sin. They saw that and at the time had a great revival under Hezekiah.

Later in the days of Josiah they had a great revival. But it was cut short by the death of Josiah. The people quickly turned back to their old evil ways. On three separate occasions God brought judgment on the people. In 606 b.c. and in 597 b.c. Nebuchadnezzar carried thousands of them away. But each time the people would not listen to the prophets that God sent. They continued in their sin until in 586 b.c. they were all carried away captive. Leaving only a handful to remain. It was to this last group that saw the total desolation of their city and nation that God offered hope of a return.

What is so disturbing is that as a nation we fit the same profile. After September 11, 2001 the churches were full. Many Christian leaders were prophesying that this would finally bring renewal back to our nation. But as the war on terrorism drags on and on the churches have once again emptied. The congress has returned to its partisan bickering. And the only lasting effect is changes in our national security.

I believe that God was trying to get our attention on September 11. I do not mean to indicate that God caused the attack but He did allow it. That fact is acknowledged even by agnostics when they asked where was God when this happened?

We must remember that God has not promised us there would never be a disaster but that for His people, He will be with them through that time of trial.

  1. God is calling our nation.
    1. He is calling our nation because He knows the way of the sinner is hard. Prov. 13:15 Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.
    2. He knows that nations that forget God come to destruction.
      1. Ps 9:17-20 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever. Arise, O LORD, do not let man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your sight. Put them in fear, O LORD, that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah (NKJ)
    3. He sees the multiplied sorrows across our land.
      1. The violence.
      2. The broken homes.
      3. The poverty.
      4. The abuse.
      5. The injustice.
      6. The children without fathers and mothers.
    4. He sees people spending their money and their lives on the things that will never bring satisfaction. V-2
  2. God is calling our church.
    1. Although some might disagree that God is calling our nation, no one can deny that God is calling our church.
    2. The New Testament is filled with the call of God upon our church.
      1. The Book of Acts is the history of the early church.
      2. Thirteen of the New Testament books were sent to churches or their pastors.
      3. But the average church today has lost sight of what God wants of His church.
      4. In some cases it has become a social institution.
      5. In other cases it is simply a country club, existing for the benefit of the members.
      6. Other churches have no idea what their purpose is as they struggle to stay alive.
    3. He has called us to love people.
      1. The church at Corinth had lost sight of this.
      2. They were into all the spiritual gifts, the speaking in tongues and healings etc but Paul had to show them that without love they had nothing, absolutely nothing.
      3. We have forgotten that it is the second most significant commandment.
      4. We don't want to love people.
        1. It will interfere with our lives.
        2. It will mess up our schedules.
        3. It will cost us something.
        4. We really want to be left alone, to live our lives without unsolicited interference.
        5. Oh yes we don't hate people, that is not the commandment.
        6. Jesus did not say do not hate your neighbor, he said love your neighbor.
    4. He has called us to make disciples.
      1. The church that does not make disciples is dying.
      2. Jesus came to earth to make disciples who make disciples that would make disciples, who would make disciples, etc.
      3. He has not called us to fill church pews.
      4. He has not called us to keep the church alive.
      5. A church that makes no disciples is fruitless.
    5. He has not called us to do some things that we are so concerned about.
      1. Most of the things that most churches spin their wheels about are not even a part of the New Testament.
      2. Most of the time the things that fire people up and get pastors fired, are not even mentioned in the New Testament.
      3. We do not have to have buildings, pews, organs or pianos, choirs or carpet on the floors, but we do have to have disciples.
  3. God is calling you.
    1. If you are not a believer, God is calling you to become a believer.
    2. If you are a believer, God is calling you to become a disciple.
    3. If you are a disciple, God is calling you to make disciples.

There is a distressing story told in the gospels. It is distressing because Jesus seems so out of character in this story. He comes to a fig tree and because it has not figs He curses it and it withers up and dies. Mat. 21:18, 19

When you compare that account with the parable of the fruitless fig tree, it becomes clear. Israel was represented by the tree, and it was fruitless. It was to be cursed and removed.

American Christians think that this world is a playground and we are to busy at our play. But how out of step are we with the disciples of the first century.

Over the next several weeks we are going to address what are considered the most important aspects of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

If we are believers, God plans for us to be disciples, who make disciples.