I delivered this message last Sunday. I’m posting it in full because so many have asked me to post about our work with flood relief in our community and this message contains a lot of that information. Plus, I thought this message might be helpful to other preachers leading other congregations through the midst of a disaster.
It’s often our first word.
Often, it’s good to say “no.”
When your 1-yr.-old is about to put something in the wall outlet. “No.”
When a stranger offers you candy. “No.”
When someone offers you the answers for the test ahead of time. “No.”
When offered drugs. Just say, “No.”
When you start to think to yourself, “I think it’s time to grow my mullet out again.” “No.”
When someone says, “My buddy can do that. He does tattoos in his basement.” “No.”
When someone asks you if you want one of the litter of their kittens. “No.”
When your child asks, “I found this on the ground, can I eat it?” “No.”
There are also times when saying “Yes” can change everything.
Did you study for that exam?
Did you pass your driving test?
When the right person asks you, “Will you marry me?”
When your husband asks, “Are you pregnant?” (btw…never ask this question recklessly!)
When someone asks, “Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
Are you going to church tomorrow?
When God calls you to do anything.
I was talking with Dan England from the Greeley Tribune on Thursday and he asked me what we did to get our relief efforts started. I told him, “We just said ‘Yes’ to God.”
We saw a need in our community, heard God calling us to help, and said, “Yes, we’re on it.”
God showed up and we ended up helping thousands of flood survivors in the past week.
God called, during a time of need, and you guys said, “Yes!”
We want to be a relevant blessing during each stage of this crisis, so when we were contacted by Samaritan’s Purse to help with the cleanup phase of this crisis, we said, “Yes!”
They will be using Journey as a home base for the next couple of months.
But, this is not how this all started.
We could not have been in a position to help this community if the original core group of Greeley residents hadn’t said “yes” to God when they were called to plant a church in Greeley.
We could not have been in a position to help this community if Rocky Mountain Christian Church hadn’t said “yes” to God when they gave us $100,000 to start Journey.
We could not have been in a position to help this community if you had not been willing to say “yes” to God when he gave us the opportunity to take a Leap of faith into this new building.
My friend, Mark Tyre, and I loved to sing gospel music together. Every once in a while, he’d yell from his office, “Brother Chambers, do you have a ‘yes’ in your spirit?” And, I’d yell back, “Yes, Brother Tyre, I have a ‘yes’ in me spirit?”
Journey, do you have a “yes” in your spirit?
When God calls you, do you typically say, “Yes” or “No”?
You have a choice.
God offered Adam & Eve a life in spectacular garden and, with a “no” in their spirit, they ate that fruit.
God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, but with a “no” in his spirit, he responded,
“Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”
God called Gideon to stand up against the Midianites but, with a “no” in his spirit he responded,
“Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
God called Jonah to share the gospel with the people of Nineveh but, with a “no” in his spirit he responded in the following manner,
Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
God called Jeremiah to be a prophet during a difficult time but, with a “no” in his spirit he responded,
“Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”
Jesus called a rich young man to leave everything and follow him but, with a “no” in his spirit, he walked away sad.
Do you have a “yes” in your spirit?
Let’s take a moment and look at what happened when Isaiah was called by God to take a leap of faith.
Isaiah was probably a young man when God called him and gave him a chance to change the world.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
Isaiah was a prophet of Southern Kingdom—Judah. For 150 years prior to Isaiah’s time the Assyrian empire had been expanding and absorbing other nations. Tiglath-Pilesar came to the Assyrian Throne in 745 B.C. and continued to expand the Assyrian empire threatening surrounding countries–6 years later 739 B.C.
Isaiah was being called to minister in an apparently hopeless situation. The people of Judah were deep in sin and their hearts were going to be hardened to his message.
They would get deeper and deeper in sin. The nation of Judah was going to be attacked by Assyria 200,00 captives would be taken into captivity, 46 walled cities would be destroyed, and only a remnant would survive. And that remnant would be persecuted.
Isaiah would endure lifelong Assyrian threats,see his nation ruined, and see his kings ignore his warnings and be defeated. Yet he still says, “Here am I, send me!” and ends up changing his world.
We can talk about how we’re going to change the world for Christ, or we can be like Isaiah and get out there, say “yes” to God, and start changing it.
Why did Isaiah say “yes” to God?
He saw the Power of God.
Isaiah has a vision of the Lord on a throne, with a robe and a train that filled the temple, he sees Seraphs (lit. “burning ones”) which had 6 wings. 2 covering their faces, 2 covering their feet, and 2 used for flying. The sound of their voices shook the temple. The temple was filled with smoke.
He was humbled! God is powerful, God is amazing, God is Holy.
God is getting Isaiah’s attention, so that he’ll do what God wants him to do.
We saw the power of God in the flood and we saw the power of God in the response of God’s people in this community.
He saw the Purity of God.
Isaiah, humbled by the glory of the Lord, cries out, “Woe to me. I am ruined. (lit. destroyed)
I’m not the same person I was two weeks ago. That “Arron” has been “destroyed” by this experience and recreated as a more effective servant of God for this church and our community.
In the past week, we’ve seen the best and worst in people.
People lying to our volunteers about being flood victims.
Unfair criticism of our clothing effort on the internet.
Someone stealing the shoes of one of the young men who was volunteering here.
People coming together and giving of themselves and their resources generously.
People like Bud Barber.
This is a picture of one of our members, Bud Barber.
Bud is sitting with a flood survivor. He sat with her for about three hours.
I put this picture on Facebook with the following comments:
Bud Barber ministering to a flood victim. He sat with her for several hours. This is one of my favorite moments of the relief effort, so far.
And Bud posted this response:
Arron thank you so much for the kind words but there are so many that have given so much more of their time to helping sort, distribute and assist those in need.
To which I responded:
Bud, I love your heart & hear what you’re saying. Still, you’re the one in the chair.
Bud was in that chair because he has come into contact with the purity and greatness of God.
A piece of paper is worth: 5 cents.
Unless it was signed by William Shakespeare. In that case it’s worth about $3,000,000. There are only 6 confirmed signatures in existence.
A piece of ordinary paper becomes valuable because it comes into contact with greatness.
We are valuable because we have come into contact with God.
Isaiah saw the Purpose of God.
Isaiah was so compelled by the glory of God that he couldn’t help but say, “Here am I , send me!” He was willing to be used.
This week, I was amazed by all the people who said “Yes” to God and served our community.
But, we’re just getting started. We are now hosting Samaritan’s Purse for the next phase of this crisis.
Journey, we are going to be relevant at each stage of this crisis.
We need to get motivated–time is wasting.
Every day, we have a chance to change the world.
In Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft, Thor Heyerdahl tells how he and a crew of 5 crossed the Pacific from South America to the South Pacific Islands on a crude raft of balsa wood and hemp rope. During the 3 months journey in 1947 they had little control of the raft and no way to stop it’s forward progress. If anything fell overboard it was almost impossible to recover. 2 months into the voyage, Herman Watzinger, lost his footing and fell overboard. The 5 men were horrified as they watch Herman disappear behind them. Knute Haugland grabbed the lifebelt and dove into the water. He swam to Herman and tied the rope around them. They were pulled back into the raft. Changing the world sometimes requires that someone risks and takes the gospel to those who are lost.
We are partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to take the gospel through the mud, rubble, and sewage and hopefully into the hearts of people who are hurting and lost.
We need to get going– We can start praying, preparing, and giving so that others can keep serving.
No more excuses!
No more saying “no” to God.
Joyce Hollyday tells the story of a school teacher who was assigned to visit children in a large city hospital who received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child.
The teacher took the boy’s name and room number, and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in this class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework, so he doesn’t fall behind the others.” It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized that it was located in the hospital’s burn unit.
No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. The teacher felt that she couldn’t just turn around and walk out. And so she stammered awkwardly, “I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.” This boy was in so much pain that he barely responded. The young teacher stumbled through his English lesson, ashamed at putting him through such a senseless exercise. The next morning a nurse on the burn unit asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” Before the teacher could finish her outburst of apologies, the nurse interrupted her: “You don’t understand. We’ve been very worried about him. But ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back; he’s responding to treatment. It’s as if he has decided to live.”
The boy later explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw the teacher. It all changed when he came to a simple realization. With joyful tears, the boy said: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a boy who was dying, would they?”
That boy got a “yes” in his spirit.
There are people in our community who are scared, lonely, and confused right now. In a meeting with the area Pastors and City officials, I heard about many poor people in our community who feel forgotten.
I hear God calling us to go and serve them and give them hope.
I’m going to say “Yes”. What about you?
Do you have a “yes” in your spirit?