Come Down Lord: We Need You!

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Our Enemies Have Trampled Down Your Sanctuary

Not only have our hearts become hard, not only have we lost fear of your name, but the prophet Isaiah says, our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary. Now you'll notice that the concern is not even over the photo of Jerusalem. He could have saved our enemies have taken over your city the land that you gave us, the land flowing with milk and honey but don't you see Don't you care? Doesn't matter. consarn is not Jerusalem. Isaiah's major concern is the sanctuary. The tempo, the praise of God is wearing, as I understand is that when they still cannot hold things, obviously for apart, Isaiah solution is that if you can look down upon them and establishes a sanctuary, then there will be solid in the land. In other words What are you saying is that if restoration must come, it must come to the church, it must come to begin with God's people in the sanctuary. If God His enemies have taken over the sanctuary, then there is no more hope for those who go to the sanctuary. And not only does he say that, but he goes further and says that we ourselves have become like those of our whom you have never ruled. When you see us and you see the people of the world, you no longer see a difference. No, no, no Tanya have they taken over the sanctuary, but they have recreated The new culture in which we have been swallowed up, that we are now just like those who conquered us. We are like the people of whom you've never ruled. We are like the people who have never known your covenant. We are like the people who have never experienced your miracles on your power and your grace and your faithfulness. What a picture. When God is people can no longer be differentiated from those of the world. I understand it when people over the world come asking us where our Lord is because they do not know him nor do they see him but what does it look like when God is people are the very ones who are asking each other Where is good? Why would they want one to come to God if you are now looking like them? Why would they be challenging to join you I charge if you are charged exactly looks like the club just outside a little bow. Is it that makes us distinctive as about his people. But when they look at us, listen to us sees the way we behave and relate. They wonder why. And they come to us and said, Please tell us the secret of who you are. Why is it that you love so much? Why is it that you sacrifice so much? Why is it that you fear God so much? Why is it that you forgive so much? Now art is looking at us and looking for that one field that they can hold us on. And they said, we wish we could be like you, but they don't see it. Look at our churches today. Look at the same as we do. If you've been able to reach the number of churches and fellowships in Kampala, today, look at them and ask yourself, why would the Muslim want to be part of that church? Because really, whatever is being said on the purpose of these churches is no different from what would be saved in a mosque on Friday.

"God will bless you, God will love you, God will do this, now be well behaved. Make sure you do not steal, make sure no more lying..." but even the witch doctors tell their children to be morally behaved. So where is the difference? If the message of the world is the same as the message of the church, why should people leave the world to join the church? Isaiah is saying that one of the things that break his heart is that you can no longer tell the difference between those who are of God and those who are not. I don't know how you feel when you hear a statement like that, but frankly, it's a statement that should break your heart.

If you read Acts chapter two, and you look at the beginnings of the early church, you begin to see the big distinctive that existed between the church and the world, that God's people were together in unity, studying the Apostolic teachings, breaking bread together, and the people of the world were filled with godly fear that they would not even approach the believers. That's how serious it was! That the glory and holiness of God, was so evident in the church community that there was no middle ground. Either you broke down, repainted, and joined them; Or you stayed away and probably ran as fast as your legs could take you because you knew that you were not one of them and there was something about them that scared you. Either you came in and joined them, or you stayed at a distance. But today, come on, anybody can come to church. Anybody can be a pastor today. Somebody wakes up in the morning gets, a Public Adress system, gathers some nice young girls putting on some shorter dresses with some nice lipstick and with beautiful voices, and by evening there is a church service. Tomorrow they are putting up a mega Cathedral. And the next day they are there shouting and promising all sorts of things, and a church has begun! Hundreds of people are gathered there day in and day out.

The other day I was seeing one of the prominent prophets in Kampala playing football in church. What was he demonstrating? That he is the man of God, anointed that Jesus goes with him anywhere even in the football field, and to prove that the anointing of God was upon him, he brought a ball and invited people to play soccer with him in church.  Any everybody who came close to the ball fell town and was crawling on the ground. And he says, "Do you see the power of God to me, the anointing is even in the ball!"

But those theatrics be done by the people of the world too. So why would the world want to come to God if they do not see God's people looking like God? If there is anything that is an obstacle to the spread of the gospel: it is not the world, it is the church. The Church's testimony is not the kind that makes non-believers want to come in.

The prophet Isaiah says that not only has your sanctuary been trampled, but even we who attend the sanctuary are no different from the pagans of the world. The things we do, the way we live, the songs we sing, the prayers we pray, there is no difference whatsoever!

In Isaiah 64, the prophet says, "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you. As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down and make your name known to your enemies and cause the nation's to quake before you."

In this prayer, the prophet Isaiah prays for two things. Number one, he says, "We God's people, we need you. We need you to revive us. We need you to melt our hearts that have become so hard. We need you to instil the fear of your name back in us so that the world can see the difference between us and them. Let your power so be evident among us, that when the world looks at, it sees changed lives.

But the prophet Isaiah also says, "We need you to display your power so that even your enemies will know and to see your name. We need you for the conversion of those that are unsaved. And then he uses some metaphors in these verses, at least three of them. He describes their condition of those who do not believe and says they are like mountings that stand as resistance against the things of God. He identifies the human heart as one that is ice cold. And if it's going to be melted, it's going to take God's power to melt that ice, that coldness, that indifference to the things of God. The power of God must come down if he is to make his name known to his enemies.

Isaiah anticipates the incarnation of Jesus. Isaiah anticipates that God must put on human flesh and the come and live amongst his people. Isaiah understands that God will not just come and display his power amongst his people, but ultimately this God must suffer, must die, he must lay down his life for his people. You'll notice that this same prophet is the one who writes Isaiah 53 where he talks about the suffering servant of the Lord. That the only hope for God is people is the accounting of that servant, who will be chastised, who will be bruised, who will be punished, who will be left formless beyond recognition! And in a kind of a paradox, the God who should come in power, actually demonstrates that power in the greatest weakness ever.

And the prophet Isaiah says, "Your enemies need to know you, the nations need to quake before you; but for that to happen, you must come down in your power. You must display your power.

Paul later writing to the Philippians would say "that even though he was God, he did not consider equality with God as something to fight for. But lowering himself and coming in the form of a servant, he suffers even up to the point of death on the Cross. He identifies with God's people, he lives in their limitations, he experiences their problems, he endures their curses and ultimately he lays down his life before the wickedness of men. And only in that great moment of weakness, will hit display his power. In that moment of brokenness, will you show himself great and he will make his name known among the nations.

Is it a wonder, that Paul as he writes to the Philippians in that very passage, chapter two, not only does he say that Christ has humbled himself to the death on the cross, but he also says that "Therefore, God has given him a name that is above every other name, that at the mention of Jesus, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Every knee shall bow! Every tongue shall confess. Whether you are a believer or not believer, a time is coming, when God will make his name known amongst his friends and his enemies, that no matter who you are, you will bow down. Either you acknowledge him on your way to hell, or you will acknowledge him on your way to heaven, but either way, you will. God has so set it in a way that when the moment comes, no matter where you are, you must bow your knee in acknowledgement of who he is. If you end up in hell, you will be a witness that God is a just God. When he says he will punish sin, indeed, he punishes it. If you are in heaven, you will demonstrate His goodness and grace that God who promised that he would save His people, has done so - - but either way, every knee must bow, every tongue must confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory Of God the Father.  And this is the prophet's prayer, "God rend the heavens and come down, that your name may be known even amongst your enemies."

Ultimately, God will certainly display his power when the trumpet has been blown, when the faith has become sight, when hope has become a reality. The earth will quake, everything will tremble, and the Lord will return to execute his righteous judgment. Yes, his power will be displayed; but even before then, we see the display of that same power in a limited way, of course, in the resurrection of Jesus. That God will answer the prayers of the saints, that God will hear the prophet's prayer that he makes ahead of time, that God indeed we will display his power in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in is triumph over the powers of darkness and the death itself; and Christ Jesus will come out victoriously and God's name will be known. God's name will be revered again. But until then, the prophet cannot stop crying. The prophet cannot stop seeing the plight of his people as they sit in the midst of ashes after Jerusalem and the people have been burned down. And Isaiah knows there is only one way!  God must come down. Emmanuel among God's people must come down.

God must come down. If men must be saved, God must be the initiator of that salvation. Not by what we have done, not by what we have said, but by what God has done.

I love singing that Hymn "Rock of Ages, Cleft for me." One of those stanzas talks about the helplessness and the condition of sinners: "Naked I come to thee for dress, helpless I come to thee for grace" because that's the only way to come. In another stanza, he says that even if I were to cry forever, not even my tears, good atone for my sins. "You must save only you or God must save." And that's the truth of the gospel. That for anyone to be saved, for anyone to be given an opportunity for eternal life, God Himself must draw you out. God Himself must melt that heart. God Himself must forgive your sins. God Himself must apply Christ's righteousness to you. Only then and only then can you be set free. And that's the good news of the gospel: that we who were sinners, destined for eternal destruction, dead in our sins and therefore unable to help ourselves, the apostle Paul says, "But God who is rich in mercy has raised us in Christ Jesus" when we are unable to do anything!

Romans 5:8 further says "God demonstrates His love in this way, that while we were still sinners, Christ Jesus died for us." Isn't good news, brothers and sisters, that while we were still sinners as and unable to help ourselves, God showed up on our behalf, and has not only atoned for our sins; but has made it possible to live with him forever! Isn't it a wonder that you have been chosen among the so many to be one of God's sons and daughters. And I need to remind you: it's not because you are smart. It's not because of what you have done. It's because of what God has done as he came down among men in the passing of His Son, Jesus Christ. Glory to His name!

And you who have been saved, you must also be reminded that the God who has saved you has not only called you to be his, but to live like his people. The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians that "He died for them all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died and rose again."

If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come. And the question is, how do we as a church, as God's people, begin to live as new creations that God has made? How do we begin to live no longer for ourselves, but for Jesus who died and rose again? Now more than ever before, Christ must be central to everything we are and everything we do; that we must adopt a Christian worldview, where we see the world through the lenses of Scripture, where we ask ourselves the question at every step of the way: "what I am and what I am doing, is this what would you please my master the Lord Jesus?"

If the trumpet resounded now, if the clouds well rolled back right now, would I stand unashamedly before the Lord? And would I stand not on the basis of my efforts and my works, but on the confidence that Christ Jesus paid it all for me? And you can't only say Jesus paid it for you. You must continue and also say over to him: "All to Him I owe." That's the appropriate response for understanding Christ's sacrifice. "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.

How I pray, that as a church, especially this year, that we will have this heart-rending cry of the prophet Isaiah; that ours would be that really heart-rending cry from the prophet Isaiah. That ours would be a longing and earnest expectation of God's power and presence among us. That would be a church that yearns for God's presence among us. That we would be a church that lives in constant recognition that on our own, we cannot present God in a manner that pleases Him. That we must daily bow at his feet, that we must daily surrender to His will and to His Word; that we must daily be governed and guided by his Word - - and only then can we live lives that are honouring him. Only then can the world look at us and wonder why we are who we are, and ask us the hope for the reason of the faith that is within us. Only then can we be a model example that indeed Jesus saves. 

We must be that church, whose heart is broken, that church that is on its knees day in and day out. That church that recognizes that our salvation is solely based on God and what he's doing in us and not on our human efforts. And therefore, in constant surrender, in constant submission, in fear and honour of God's name, we may live as a church. And only as we do that, will sinners know God, will non-believers, will the world be brought to a standstill and ask, "Where is that God that has saved the people in your church, that he may save us also."

Let us pray.

Father, we thank you, that you are such a great and glorious God. And yet not only glorious but gracious. That you who did not have to save us, have nonetheless saved us and paid the ultimate price ever, that we who were destined for destruction: might be redeemed, might be renewed, might be reconciled and restored as sons and daughters of God. What a wonder! We are truly grateful for your grace that is greater than all our sins!

As a church, we continue to pray that you would make us those people that model biblical Apostolic Christianity: that the world around us would you see the difference. That we would be the people who show the world that indeed Jesus does save and what he has done in our lives. Would you forgive us where we have been hypocrites, where we have been indifferent and unconcerned about your glory and goodness? May we recover that burning desire to live for you, to honour you, to tremble before you, that in godly fear and submission, we may lives that honour you. We thank you, in Jesus name we believe and pray, Amen.

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