Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Here I Am, Lord
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Here I Am, Lord

Intro.: Knock, knock; who's there; Zippy; Zippy who; Zippity doo da, zippity day!1

  1. Knock, knock; who's there; YouGot; YouGot who; You Gotta love my Knock, Knock jokes!2

  2. Knock, knock; who's there; God; God who; God wants you to serve him.

  3. One of the earliest verses that I was introduced to when I was presented with what it means to be a Christian was Rev. 3:20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. (HCSB)

  4. Its a familiar picture – Jesus standing at the garden gate knocking, waiting for someone to open the door.

  5. And the response is the title of today's hymn, “Here I Am, Lord”


Trans: Dan Schutte was not quite ready for the assignment that he was given.

  1. He was a Catholic priest in training at seminary in Berkeley, CA. He had been struggling with the flu, he was tired, and now this.

  2. A friend had come to the door to ask a favor – you know one of those small things that the friend thinks will take just a few minutes, but in reality will take several hours.

  3. It seemed that Dan Schutte's friend had the responsibility of arranging for the ordination service. He needed a new piece of music reminiscent of Isaiah 6 ready for the service in three days.

  4. Of course, there was another side to this – one of Dan's favorite scripture passages was Isaiah 6's description of Isaiah's call to be God's servant and messenger to the people of Israel.

  5. Isaiah had a certain amount of uncertainty when responding to God's call – so did Dan Schutte as he responded to his friend's.

  6. Dan sat in front of blank sheet of music and asked God for the strength to write the new music. His thoughts turned, not only to Isaiah 6, but also to the call of Samuel found in I Samuel 3.

  7. What his friend hoped would be an easy task, Dan worked for two days to complete the work. Dan says, “I was making last minute changes as I walked the piece over to my friend who lived several blocks away.” And he still wondered if the piece was what his friend wanted.

  8. Today, as he looks back to the time he first wrote “Here I Am, Lord”, Dan Schutte says that the story is about God “giving a power to our stumbling words, the simple works of our hands, and making them into something that can be a grace for people, with a power far beyond what we could have imagined or planned.”3

  9. Let's look at the passage that became the foundation for one of our favorite hymns – Here I Am, Lord.

Read: Isaiah 6:1-8

T.S. Isaiah shows us the four steps that needed for us to serve God.

  1. Spiritual Awareness

    1. Today's passage is deeply personal. Much of scripture is written in the third person – he said ..., they did ..., she was .... Rather than telling someone else's story, Isaiah tells his own story.

    2. He is very explicit as to when these events took place. It was the year that King Uzziah died – he died 740 years before Christ was born. He was one of Israel's greatest leaders.

    3. But this story is not about Uzziah – it is about what Isaiah sees – he finds himself in the Lord's temple. It must hae been awesome. There is God sitting high and lifted up. His robe fills the temple. And above him stand angels – Jeremiah calls them seraphim. The angels each have six wings – they cover his feet, they covered his eyes, and they flew – talk about a sight.

    4. But it was where Isaiah had to begin.

(Appl.) You see, Isaiah was no different than any one else. We are not ready for spiritual challenges until we become aware of God's presence.

(Ill.) Before I moved to New York Sandra and I were members of a Christian and Missionary Alliance church. One of the important leaders in the history of that church was a man by the name of A. W. Tozer. Actually, Tozer was born about 200 miles south of Rochester. Tozer once said “The practice of the presence of God” consists not of projecting an imaginary object from within his own mind and then seeking to realize its presence; it is rather to recognize the real presence of the One whom all sound theology declares to be already there.”4

(Appl.)God was there, but God is also here – are you willing to experience His presence?

  1. Spiritual Insight

    1. But it is not enough to be aware of God's presence. Even as Isaiah becomes aware of his being in God's presence, he also becomes aware of what it means to be in God's presence. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

    2. We have talked about it before – how we have no business being in God's presence. He is holy, we are far from being holy. Part of preparing ourselves for service, is realizing that we don't belong there. Isaiah realized it.

(Ill.) Have you ever gone into a restaurant and looked at your silverware? Of course you have. And what do you do if you find that the silverware isn't clean? You get a new knife or fork! In fact if you find too many dirty dishes, you might just be tempted to get up and leave. Now take a minute and consider what it would be like to be that dirty knife. “I just know I am going to be thrown back. I am no good. No one wants a dirty knife.”

    1. You see, I think that is how Isaiah felt when he found himself in front of God. He knew he was not worthy of being there.

  1. Spiritual Preparation

(Ill.) Go back to the dirty silverware just for a second. I suppose there might be another option. You could get our your dish detergent and rewash the silverware. Then you would know that you have a clean utensil.

    1. You see that is exactly what God does. In Isaiah's case a seraphim takes a burning coal and touches Isaiah's lips. The sin was gone. The guilt was gone. Isaiah was clean.

    2. God did the same for us when His son was hung on that cross. He died so that we might be clean. In Christ there is no guilt.

    3. That is what grace is all about. God reaches out and takes us when we are broken and touches us. He makes us whole, he makes us clean.

  1. Spiritual Responsibility

    1. And with that, Isaiah is ready to serve.

    2. When God asks, “Whom shall I send?”, it is Isaiah who replies, “Here I am, send me!”

    3. My prayer is that each of you will be able to experience God presence and to be made whole by what Christ has done on the cross.

    4. My prayer is that today's hymn would become your prayer.

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry. All who dwell in dark and sin, My hand will save.

I, who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright. Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?

Chorus Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.5



3These details are derived from an essay entitled “The Story of 'Here I Am, Lord'” received as part of a personal correspondence from Dan Schutte on February 19, 2008.

4Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (375). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


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