Who Will Go For Us?

     

 

This is an excerpt of the sermon given by Henry Tan, the new Small Group Ministry (SGM) chairperson on SG Sunday based on Isaiah 6: 1-8.

I have chosen the passage that we just read and titled today’s sermon as who will go for us? You probably can tell that we will journey through Isaiah’s answer to the call together and see how this can be applied to all of us today. In case you think that this is a call for us to become full time pastor or missionaries, it is not, it is a call for us to step up in leadership and service. 

As we read the passage we can see 3 clear responses from Isaiah:    

1. Upwards
2. Inwards
3. Outwards

Looking upwards, Isaiah sees the GLORY of God and recognizes where His sovereignty and authority comes from. In Isaiah 6 verse 1, in the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. I try to picture this happening right here, perhaps like our President walking into this hall right now. But I don’t think it comes close to what Isaiah felt at that time because if you read further in verse 2, above him were seraphs, each with 6 wings; they used 2 wings to cover their faces, 2 to cover their feet, so angels are responding in total awe of the majesty of God's glory. This majestic view is so awesome that we can tell from verse 3, where the angles together say: Holy holy, holy is the Lord almighty, the whole earth is full of his Glory. And their voices are so loud that doorposts shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  We would also experience the glory of God as we look upwards to Him.  As Isaiah looks upwards, he also starts to look inwards at himself. 

Inwardly, Isaiah looks at himself and the people he represents, all with sins and not worthy of His Glory. Verse 5 reads “Woe to me! He cried, I am ruined!”  I don’t know if you have felt this way when you looked at yourself…I think we do, especially in our younger days, when we wasted our lives away and especially when we recall the many sinful things we have done, we would say, ”Oh no, oh no, woe to me, I am ruined, I am ruined!”    The verse goes on to say “and I lived among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  I remembered when I was a child, I accidentally broke my parents’ beautiful vase when I played with my brother in the house and when the doorbell ring, I hid in the corner of my bed with my face between my thighs hoping that my parents won't see me as I was feeling guilty for doing something wrong.

But in verse 6 we read that “the seraphs flew to me with a live coal and touched my mouth and said, see this has touched your lips, your guilt is taken away and your sins atoned for.”  God touches us when we feel we are unworthy; when we are sinful and we have done wrong, He sent his Son to atone for our sins so as we look upward to God's glory, we are able to and look inwards as we are justified by Christ.  

The last response is the outward response from Isaiah in verse 8 when Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”  God looks for volunteers, willing hearts who will answer His call. God can easily say, “Isaiah, let me tell you, you are now ready, therefore, Go!”  No, our God wants us to volunteer, to step up, to put our hands up to say, “Here here, here I am, send me.....”

Let us think of our own situation for a moment in Wesley, how many of us put up our hands to be an usher or a small group leader.  Using the SG situation since this is SG Sunday, many of us know that a small group leader works very hard to ensure that the sessions run well, contacting members, arranging food for fellowship, preparing the bible study materials, the worship, etc.  Yet, how many SG members go to the leader and volunteer help? If just one small task is taken by one SG member, the leader will have one less task to manage.  

God asked “Who shall I send? And who will go for us? 

Isaiah replied “Here I am, send me!”

I have a testimony to relate.  I recall about 9 years ago when Pastor Lilian Ang gave me a call one day to ask if I was prepared to be the chairperson of family life ministry? My answer to her on the phone was “yes sure!". I did not tell her then that I will pray about it or think about it and neither did I offer any excuse not to do it. 

When I went home, I told my wife and her first question was: "Huh? You family life chair? You don't even have a family life!" At that point, I felt just like Isaiah looking inwards and realized that I was indeed not worthy.  I travelled frequently at that time; played golf every Saturdays and when I am not traveling, I organized many events in the evenings for clients and friends. As I had already said yes to Pastor, I didn’t dare to go back on my word.  What I did was to go to SKS and bought a book called FAMILY LIFE MINISTRY. I sat down and started flipping through the book for about 15 mins and it dawned on me that I know nothing about family life much less how to run a family life ministry.  I went on my knees praying every morning when I woke up (in fact it was God who woke me up, not that I wanted to wake up....).  God guided me to start the family life ministry, family sub- ministries, including family seminars, Men-In-Christ and Building Marriage on His Word.  Very often, God would send me brothers and sisters who are more capable and more equipped to help me in each of these ministries.  Indeed it is God and not me who was directing the path as He sent me into this ministry.  As He continued to guide me, I grew in confidence and my family life also improved as I sought his guidance. My Saturday golf has been replaced by Saturday morning breakfast, going to the gym and walks with my dear wife or Father’s prayer groups, traveling has been reduced significantly and evening events are replaced by church meetings!

Indeed as we step up to serve in answer to His call, he will equip us regardless of how unworthy we think we are. It is not us, but God that provides! 

Let me share another recent event that God has worked on me. 2 years ago when I step out of the family life ministry, SGM ask me to be a zone leader, my answer was also Yes but this time I was a bit cleverer...I went home without telling my wife and children about this but instead I asked them to pray and let me know which ministry I should be serving in after family life and they all came back to me and said “SGM!” I have since served as zone 10 zone leader for 2 years and I thank God that we now have 4 assistant zone leaders who answered the CALL like me when I shared with them the desire to provide more pastoral care to the SGs and the environment of gathering, nurturing and flowering for our small groups.  Today, I found it an absolute joy and easy task to lead this zone as most of the work was done by my dear assistant zone leaders.  We did the Cuff Road flowering projects, centralized common bible study for a season and organized congregational gathering of SGs in the zone etc.  God has made the zone and SG life a very vibrant and edifying one.  Today, I stand here as the New SG chairperson assured that I do not need to know everything about SGM, nor the direction it will take, but assured that God will continued to lead me as He had and I only need to follow His lead.   

When God calls, He equips us and He uses the weak to do His work so that His glory can be magnified!

One of the most common reasons we hear when we are asked to step up to serve in a ministry, as a leader, or as small group leader, as zone leaders or to help out is....”sorry I don't have time” or “I travel a lot”.

But God is greater than all these, when He calls He already know how busy we are, how inexperienced we are and how often we travel.  The answer He wants from us is not we have no time, the answer he wants from us is: yes sure, teach me.  We know that God does not need our help to do His work if He decides to do it alone.  He is able to do much more than we can imagine, he is the Alpha and Omega.  But why does God want to ask, “Who shall I send, who will go for us?”

He wants to give us an opportunity to answer His call; He wants us to grow in his service, to grow the fruit of the spirit and Christ-likeness in service.

Our answer to the Call I hope and our outward response should be:

“Here I am, send me!”

Isaiah did not say, let me pray about it and then come back later and say I am busy or travel a lot.  Isaiah did not ask what it entails and what it takes to be sent.  Isaiah did not ask what skills he needed to possess.  Isaiah just responded with His hands raised saying, “Here I am, here I am, send me, send me!”
This message is for those seated here who may be a small group member, a small group leader or a volunteer in any ministry or not serving yet at this time.

When the pastor or leader approaches you to step up to leadership or step up to serve, it is a CALL from God through this person, and your answer I pray will be, “God, here I am, here I am, send me, send me!”

Thank you, God.  Amen.