Nov 03, 2023 Congregational Renewal for The Purpose of Mission – Words of Grace Blog – November 3, 2023
It’s November. That means it’s time for the annual Grace Missions emphasis and offering. For the next two weeks, we will hear a sampling of our mission activity and giving. In November and December, everything that is given to the Grace Missions Fund will go to our mission work in 2024. This Sunday we will hear the words of Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
This fall we are walking through the book of Isaiah together. Several weeks ago, we considered Isaiah’s commission to go with the message of the Lord to his people. Let’s return there and see the pattern for congregational renewal for the purpose of mission fulfillment.
Isaiah 6 is Isaiah’s vision of the Lord. We see five aspects of God’s work of grace in his life. This work of grace shows us how we can pray for our congregation, asking the Holy Spirit to renew us and use us to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to our city and beyond.
1. Let’s pray that we will not hope in human plans or power.
For the people of Isaiah’s day, the temptation was to hope in kings to the exclusion of trusting in the Lord for provision and protection. Israel and Judah were God’s chosen people. They received instructions about how to live in a hostile world from the law of God and the word he gave them through his prophets. But their kings rebelled and made their own plans. And each one died.
Isaiah said his vision of the King, the Lord of hosts, was in the year King Uzziah died. The lost hope of the people (another earthly king’s death) was an opportunity for new hope built on the power of their true King, God himself.
We are human, and we do make plans. We use the powers of reason, good judgment, and decision-making to live. But that is different from relying upon human solutions and power without submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Christ our King. When we trust in the Lord only, all our powers and resources are at his disposal and are governed by his word. Our hope rests on him.
2. Let’s pray that we will see God and his holiness.
At the heart of Isaiah’s vision was God and his holiness. That changed everything.
The great reality which governs all of eternity, including our lives, is God in all his holiness. A vision of him sets all things in their proper order. Seeing him we see all things clearly. A fresh sight of God through the ministry of his Spirit and word will lead to spiritual renewal as it leads us to repentance and faith.
3. Let’s pray for an awareness of our sin and need of grace.
When Isaiah heard of the holiness of God, he sensed his own unholiness and cried out, “Woe is me!” This is the necessary conviction that leads to an openness to the grace and mercy of Christ. Renewal comes through awareness of need. May the Lord keep our need before us. May we confess our need for cleansing of sin.
4. Let’s pray for the assurance of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God.
The heavenly seraphim took a burning coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s mouth. He then declared Isaiah to be forgiven. The man who confessed “woe” is now filled with joy. He is clean.
The conviction of sin is not for the purpose of beating us down and keeping us there. It is to bring us to faith so we can live with assurance.
Assurance of salvation is oxygen to our souls. It energizes our worship, prayers, obedience, and love. Trust Christ and live assured before God.
5. Let’s pray for a willingness to go as we are sent by God.
At the end of Isaiah’s vision, the Lord asked who would go as his messenger. This is a rhetorical question because the Lord already knew Isaiah had been made ready to go. From a new heart that had died to false hope, seen the holiness of God and his own sin, and experienced forgiveness by grace, Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me.”
Renewal for the purpose of mission. That’s what happened to Isaiah. That’s what we are always praying for at Grace Community Church. This is an ongoing, generation after generation prayer. Made new and always being renewed is the way of the Lord for Christians and congregations (Colossians 3:10).