Sunday, June 24, 2012

Practicing Glory: Confession

The picture above is my friend Anna, photographed by her sister Rhoda. I love the snowy scene. It reminded me of this verse:

The Lord says,“Now, let's settle the matter. You are stained red with sin, but I will wash you as clean as snow. Although your stains are deep red, you will be as white as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 GNT)

I love Anna's dancing pose. Anna knows who she is! Anna knows who God says she is! So Anna can serve Him and celebrate.

In each chapter of Practicing Glory, you'll meet a cast member of a Christmas Pageant. Today, it's a man playing Isaiah.

They're kidding, right? That has to be a misprint in the cast list. Third shepherd on the right is what I do every Christmas. Everyone knows that - it's tradition. Bathrobe, towel, flip-flops and a "behold, some aerial being that gloweth like the sun disturbeth my slumber and frighteneth the sheep" expression behind my fake beard. I can do that. But Isaiah? Seriously?

This means I actually have lines to speak. Real, powerful words anticipating the advent and redemptive work of the Messiah himself, the creator of the world. "For unto us a child is born... And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father..." You need a voice for that. Sonorous, melifluous, low and powerful. Like James Earl Jones, or Barry White.. My voice is more like Betty White. I mean, I'm just a guy who wants to serve God in a not-too-conspicuous fashion. I like the wings, not center stage.

Why did the director choose me for this? What could he possibly have seen in me? I know what I see. I see a quivering wannabe that melts into a pathetic little puddle of forgotten lines and missed cues at the first flash of the spotlight. All I wanted was a minor role, and here I am stuck as a major prophet. Me? As Isaiah? What could I possibly have in common with him? God... help! I am so not ready for this.

Though he lived centuries before the Messiah appeared on earth, Isaiah proclaimed prophetic messages that included many details of the Savior's life. Isaiah was a prophet who called the people of Israel to repent and to remember God's great love for them. God gave Isaiah a vision of Himself, not in a manger but on a glorious heavenly throne. Notice his reaction.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth.” The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

Then I said: “Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips,and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed and your sin is atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: “Who should I send? Who will go for Us?

I said: “Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:1-8)
Isaiah shows us the spiritual discipline of confession. Though current use of the English word “confess” usually involves admitting wrongdoing, the Greek words have a larger meaning. There are two verbs translated “confess” in the New Testament: homologeowhich means “to speak the same thing, to assent, accord, agree with” and exomologeo which means “to confess forth” as in acknowledging sin, professing something openly or praising and gladly acknowledging.

How did Isaiah agree with God in this passage? I noticed three agreements:
Isaiah acknowledged God's identity as the holy King,
he confessed his own sinfulness,
and he agreed with God that he was forgiven and ready to serve.

Which agreement will you use in your prayer today?

Practicing Glory is a ten chapter Bible study designed for individual or group use. Look for the label "Practicing Glory" under this post and click it for all the posts about this book. Practicing Glory will be available in September. My husband Mark wrote the Cast Member quote.

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