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The Power of Prayer and the Problem of Pride

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 23, 2014 5:00 am

The Power of Prayer and the Problem of Pride

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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Pastor Rick Gaston
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Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
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Pastor Rick Gaston

Welcome Summit Church at all of our campus locations.

And if you have a Bible, you'll want to take it out now and begin to open it. Last week, we looked at the difference that one person's faith can make for a city, a family, a circle of friends. Hezekiah was a man who stood in the gap between his generation and God. And because of Hezekiah's faith, God works salvation in his generation.

Hezekiah was the ultimate stand-in-the-gap person for us. And then I explained to you that God intends to use you to be that for somebody else. Your faith, your obedience becomes the vehicle, the means by which God pours out salvation in your community. Why don't we experience more of the work of God in our community? Why don't we see God doing more in our community? Well, the Bible never presents God as being unwilling or uncaring to pour himself out to the people around us.

It never presents the world, believe it or not, as too sinful or too cynical. It always goes to the church and says the church is not willing to put itself in that stand-in-the-gap position of faith and generosity and become that vehicle for the people. The Bible always says and looks to the people of God and says this is where the outbreak of revival always begins.

I really want you to think about that. For example, if you're a UNC student or a North Carolina Central or an NC State student or a Duke student, your generation of college students has one shot to have an outbreak of the Spirit of God. And it has nothing to do with their belief it has to do with you. If the Christian community on that campus, whether it's going to be willing to rise up and stand in the gap on behalf of that community and to see it pour out, don't let your college years go by and not experience that. By the way, I want to tell you how encouraged I was on Friday night. We had 2,000 of you come out to the prayer meeting to stand in the gap. That was amazing. We filled up every square inch of this church campus, but it was awesome.

I was really encouraged by that. Hezekiah was that man in his generation. So what happened next?

What happened after Hezekiah led them in that great revival? You know those stories, the Where Are They Now stories that come on VH1 about all the 80 stars that we knew and loved so much. Some of those shows, it's kind of like watching a train wreck I feel like sometimes, but it's just always really interesting. Some of the stars went on to become great directors like Tom Hanks or Robert Redford. Tom Cruise became a Scientologist and a type A weirdo was his legacy. Sometimes what they did was totally random. I remember watching, I wish I could remember who it was, but some famous star of the 80s went on to run a chain of dry cleaning stores. Tom Macchio, the karate kid, opened a car wash detailing business with the wax on, wax off.

That's not really true, but you get the point. Arnold Schwarzenegger became, of course, the Governorator. Nicholas Cage, of course, went on to become the greatest actor of our generation. Where are they now? What happened next? Where were they now after Hezekiah? It's really interesting and it's really instructive for us because how Hezekiah's life turns out after a great start is going to show you and I the potential that our lives can have, both for good and for bad. You're going to see something at the end of this story that if you're not familiar with Hezekiah's story, it's going to blow your mind.

I'm serious. If you are not familiar with the story, you are not going to see this coming. So let's get started. I never told you in the Bible where to turn, did I? 2 Kings 19 is where you should turn. It's right before 2 Chronicles, so if you still have your Bible in that place from last week, 2 Kings 19.

By the way, there are some of you that don't need me to tell you where Scripture to turn to because you figured out the summit secret that you can download the transcript on Friday afternoon and you've got it in your hands right now and you know every word that I'm about to say. We put the jokes in there on Friday afternoon. They're the ones who are ill able when their neighbor's going, listen to this. This is totally lame. No one's going to laugh. They're the ones who have the inside track, but it's available for you.

I think it's on my blog and our website. So anyway, have I killed enough time? You got 2 Kings 19?

Okay. 2 Kings 19 records the story of the greatest battle that never happened. Sennacherib was the wicked king of Assyria, probably had the worst name that I've ever heard. Sennacherib, sounds like something of McDonald's, like a snack of ribs or whatever, but that was his name. Assyria, which he ruled, was a really terrible place, a place so bad that according to the veggie tales, people slapped each other with fishes.

Any parents in the room? Do you track what I'm talking about? Sennacherib had gone on a many world conquest and conquered over 46 city states and kingdoms. In 2 Kings 19, he brought about a quarter of a million troops to camp outside of Jerusalem. 250,000 troops to camp outside of Jerusalem. That was a huge army, especially when you consider that the entire population of Jerusalem at that time was about 10,000 people. And the scholars say that the number of soldiers that Hezekiah had was about 2,000. So we're dealing with an army that out-populates, out-numbers the population, what is that, 25 to 1, and out-numbers Jerusalem's army 125 to 1. Sennacherib sends a smack-talking letter to Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem that said, verse 10, Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. See, he didn't like the writer's name either, it was so long, so he just refers to himself as the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. Will you be delivered?

Are you the exception? Have the gods of the other nations delivered them? Then he sent out messengers among the people to say, Do not let Hezekiah fool you. Don't let him pull this whole God's going to deliver you stuff, because all the other 46 nations that I've conquered, they prayed to their God too, and look what happened to them.

You have 46 to know, you're going to be number 47. Verse 14, Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and he read it. Watch this, I love this. And he went up into the house of the Lord, and he spread it out before the Lord.

You read it. And then he said, verse 17, God, it's true, Sennacherib has destroyed all these nations, and they're gods, but that's because they were not really gods at all. They were just the work of men's hands, but you, you, O Lord our God, save us from His hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, you were God alone. Well, God heard that prayer, and God sent the prophet Isaiah to tell Hezekiah, verse 32, Thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, he won't even shoot an arrow at it. By the way that he came, he shall return, for I will defend this city to save it for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David. Verse 35, That night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians, while Israel was sleeping without a single casualty on their side, and Sennacherib's record just dropped to forty-six and one, with this one being a total shutout. And when people arose early in the next morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib departed and went home and lived at Nineveh, and as he was worshipping in the house of Nizrock, his god, his son, struck him down with the sword. So things did not turn out well for old snacks. Now you, that would have been my nickname that I would have given myself. You History Channel nerds will find this interesting.

I know you're out there. Archaeologists have uncovered Sennacherib's palace in Nineveh, and they found a wall where Sennacherib had inscribed all of his victories, all these conquests. And so when they find this wall, you see all these forty-six nations that I'm referring to, and it gives details about each conquest and what he took from them.

When it comes to Jerusalem, all it says is that he had Hezekiah trapped like a bird in a cage. Strangely, though, it never really says anything that happened after that because he didn't go to all the details of all the conquests the way he did other things, which, you know, of course, perfectly corroborates with the story the way it's written here. In a book called What If, what if military historian William McNeil called this the most important battle that never happened. Had Sennacherib been victorious, he said, and McNeil, by the way, not writing as a Christian, he's writing as a historian. He said, had Sennacherib been victorious, Judah would have been destroyed, and there would have been no continuing nation, which means no Israel for Jesus to have been born into, therefore no church.

Human history, he said, would have been fundamentally altered, and I would add, you and I would not be sitting here today. McNeil called it the most faithful might-have-been in all of recorded history. And what makes it so remarkable to me, he says, was that there was no natural reason for the people to defy Sennacherib. Jerusalem was nothing in military terms. Cities much bigger and much more powerful than Jerusalem had just surrendered on the spot to Sennacherib to try and escape total annihilation. McNeil says this, and I quote, the inhabitants of the small, weak, and fragile kingdom of Judah had the audacity to believe that their God was the only true God, whose power extended over all the earth. He said, for me, pondering how a small company of prophets and priests and a king in Jerusalem inspired so many to believe, and how their views about their God came to prevail so widely in our day, defies historical imagination. Never before or since has so much depended on so few believing so wholly in their one true God and in such bold defiance of common sense.

That is exactly what the kings of Israel were supposed to do for the people of Israel. They were supposed to believe God in the face of impossible odds and lead their people to victory, and that is exactly what you are supposed to do as a person who stands in the gap for the community that God has sent you to reach. So doing this, Hezekiah gives you a picture of prayer done right. I'm going to give you four quick things. These are things that describe prayer from people who stand in the gap.

Here they are. Number one, Hezekiah prioritized God's glory in his purposes, in his prayer. He prioritized God's glory in his purposes. In his prayer, he puts God's glory in purposes foremost.

Number 19, show these people, both the Israelites and the attacking Assyrians, show them that you are God alone. Hezekiah knew that was God's purpose. Scripture told him it was God's purpose. And when he discovered, listen, the purposes of God, and he prayed the purposes of God back to God, he saw an outpouring of the power of God, because that's how prayer works. It's like I told you last week, effective prayer is discerning what God wants and then asking him for it. Many of you don't ever stop to listen to what God wants or discover what God wants.

You just kind of rush to what it is that you want. But if you want to effectively pray, we say prayers that start in heaven are heard by heaven. Which means, listen, if you are experiencing unanswered prayer in your life, the first place that I would start is with the question of how well my prayers are grounded in God's revealed purposes in Scripture. Your prayer filled with the promises of God. You say, well, where do I learn the promises of God? There are 3,000 of them in your Bible, 3,000.

They are on every page. Which means you just need to open your Bible, get on your knees, find the promises of God, and begin to pray the promises of God back to God. Because effective prayer begins when you take the purposes of God that have been revealed, you prayed them back to God, and then you receive the power of God. Jesus said something that confuses a lot of people. He said that if we had faith like a mustard seed, we would move mountains.

And people are like, well, let's be honest here for a minute. People are like, well, I've done a lot of praying and I've never seen a mountain move. I feel like most of my prayers weren't even about mountains.

They were about little ant hills, and they still didn't move. Which then makes you ask, right, my faith must not be even as big as a mustard seed. There must be something wrong with my faith. Or you think this, and you don't ever say this in a small group, but you're like, oh, well, maybe this prayer thing doesn't really work. Or maybe God doesn't even exist.

Maybe that's the problem. Faith as a mustard seed. Let me tell you something about faith.

This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in our culture, what I'm about to say right now. Faith, according to the Bible, is never just a positive emotion you work up toward God. Faith is not a hopeful optimism.

It's not a presumptuous optimism that God will give you what you want if you just believe it hard enough. According to the Bible, faith, listen to this, must be a response to what God has revealed. So if you do not know what God has revealed, there is no way possible for you to have faith.

Because it's not just a general optimism you have about God and life. Faith is a direct response to revelation. Where there is no perception of revelation, there can be no faith. And how does God reveal himself?

He reveals himself primarily through his word and secondarily through his spirit. And in those things, he shows us what mountains he wants to move, and then you ask him for him to move those mountains, and that's exactly what he does. So you remember in the model prayer that Jesus gave, the first thing he told us to say before we gave a single request to God was, Your kingdom come, your will be done. I'm going to learn what your will is from your Bible and then from your spirit, and then I'm going to ask you to move the mountains that you want to move, and then I'm going to see them move. That's why I tell you, get on your knees, open your Bible, don't read your way through scripture, pray your way through scripture. Because scripture is not a textbook full of facts that God wants you to learn, it's a book full of promises that he wants you to believe, and thereby enter into not only the relationship with God he has for you, but the power of God he wants you to live with.

So I will say it to you again, if you are experiencing unanswered prayers in your life, the first place that I would look is whether my prayers are grounded in God's revealed purposes in scripture, whether I am listening to God as I pray, because the prayers that are heard by heaven are the ones that start in heaven. Number two, Hezekiah was confident that God's victory would come. He knew God would establish his kingdom no matter how bad the odds. Quarter million soldiers camped outside his walls, a letter demanding his surrender in his hands.

He's in the temple with it spread out before God so God can read it, because he knew that when God gets involved, it doesn't matter if it's a quarter million or if it's 250 million, it's all the same to the creator of the universe. Number three, he knew prayer was the means by which God's victory would come. So he knew that victory would come, but he knew that prayer was the means by which it would come. His confidence in God did not lead him to do nothing, to sit around and say, well, you know, it's all in God's hands and it's going to happen however God wants it to have.

No, his belief in God's sovereignty moved him to pray. We know that prayer is the means by which God has sovereignly appointed to get his work done. So our confidence in God to get the victory does not lead us to complacency. Our confidence in God's victory compels us to pray.

There's a handful of you that really have a problem with this. Not all of you, but the handful of you, because you just ask questions like, well, if God knows everything and we've got God's will already enacted on the earth, what difference is it going to make if I pray or not? So if I pray this, isn't God going to do it anyway? I've explained to you like this. God's sovereignty is what gives you the courage to pray. I know he's going to get the victory, but I also know he's appointed prayer as the means to that victory. And the analogy I always use with you, I've probably given it to you a dozen times, but it goes like this. I always compare it to eating, right?

Remember, here's how we do this. Does God know the day that you're going to die? Yes, he does. Has God appointed the day that you're going to die? Yes, he has.

Psalm 139 tells you he has. Okay, why do you eat? Oh, no, I've got one question. Can anything you do change that day?

Can anything you do change God's mind about when you're going to die? Nope. Why do you eat? You eat to live. What happens if you don't eat?

Then you die. If you don't eat, and then you die, would that be the day that God had preordained for you to die? And our answer to that is, quit asking stupid questions and just eat. Because eating is the preordained way that God has set for living. Prayer is the preordained way that God has set to get his work done on earth. So when we pray, we are enacting the victory that God wants to bring on earth, and what God does is he moves his people to pray. When we pray, we move the arm that moves the world.

When we pray, God begins to work. You know, this story is a very special place in my heart because when I was a missionary in Southeast Asia, there was a situation where four of my friends from the United States had gone on a little mission trip in the area where I was passing out Bibles that were written in the local dialect, and the people had never seen a Bible in their local dialect. Me and my roommate had smuggled in every single one of these Bibles. We brought them in.

This team was going to go give them out on day four. There was a flash mob that kind of descended on them of 2,500 people who were trying to kill these guys. They were shooting at them. The police pulled them into the police station. They burned their cars, torched their cars to the ground. It was this big, nasty mess that the U.S. Embassy had to get involved with. Well, the Islamic police there wanted to figure out who was behind these Bibles getting printed in their language, and so they started to do this investigation. So they put me and my roommate under house arrest. They didn't have any connection that they were going to make yet, but they figured if they looked hard enough, they'd find one. So they put us under house arrest, and then every afternoon I would get the newspaper, and I would read.

It was a big deal in this area. I would read the state of where this investigation was, and I remember reading the phrase that said we have discovered the Southeast Asian contact that they used to bring these Bibles in. It was a friend of mine. I read that, and I thought, that's it, because my number is all over his phone record. There is no chance they're going to arrest him. They're going to arrest me. He might stay in jail for life. I might get kicked out of the country.

I don't know what's going to happen. I went down to see him. I met him at 3 a.m. in the morning at a hotel, and we met. We wept. We prayed. We spread this out before God and said, God, we don't know what to do. This guy's life is in front of him. He's going to spend it in prison.

The work that we've established here in Southeast Asia, it might stop. God, what are you going to do? And my friend said, they have my name. I know they have my name. I've seen. They've been investigating me.

He said it's all. We thought that afternoon he was going to prison. We waited a day. By the way, I found out that during that same time, this church, before I pastored, it was called Homestead Heights Baptist Church, found out what was going on.

And one Sunday morning, they pretty much canceled their sermon part, and they just got on their face and they prayed. And so we waited a day for somebody to get arrested. We waited two days. We waited a week.

We waited three months, and not the first thing ever happened. And the only way that I can explain what happened is to say that God did with them the same thing he pretty much did to Sennacherib, which he's got a big army around him, and he said, that's far enough. Why don't you just go home, and why don't you forget about it? When you pray, God begins to work. Here is the question I would have for you. What do you need to spread out before God? Maybe it's bills that you feel like are impossible to pay. Maybe it's goals that God has put in your heart, not selfish ambitions or dreams, but things you believe the Spirit of God has put in your heart to do. Maybe it's a bad report like Hezekiah got. Maybe it's a letter that just came home from the principal about one of your kids, and you just got to spread it out before God. You ever feel like Hezekiah here? You ever feel like some impossible army assails what you know to be God's purpose for you?

You know, I think we experience that feeling in general sometimes as the people of God. Our world tells us, you know, you cannot possibly maintain Christian confession in this age or in the age to come, in the age of reason. It's just you're just going to get, I mean, you might believe, but your kids aren't going to believe, and their kids definitely aren't going to believe. The church is declining in Western society, and it's going to continue to. And if you take the Bible's teaching on things like sexuality seriously, you're going to be on the wrong side of history. And Hollywood says it, and the college professors, a lot of them will say it, and the secular media will say it, and it feels overwhelming. When you feel like that, think of Hezekiah and the size of the army in front of him.

Then realize that God can do more while you sleep than we can do in 10,000 lifetimes. And by the way, realize that that feeling, like we're on the brink of being crushed, that's not new for the church in this day. In 303 AD, the Roman Emperor Diocletian went on a rampage and tried to stamp out the church. He sent out an order to get every copy of the Bible in the Roman Empire and to burn them all. He fed whole families of Christians to the lions.

Just 10 years later, the new emperor of Rome, a guy named Constantine, became a Christian himself and began to establish Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire. The French atheist Voltaire in the 18th century said that within 100 years of his death, no one would even remember the Bible. He said in an age of reason, an age of enlightenment, not only are we going to cease to believe it, he says our grandkids will not even remember that there is such a thing and they'll mock it as something as part of an archaic past. Voltaire's doctor, who was with him when he died, said never in all my life would I ever want to see a man like Voltaire die again. His last words, he said, were I am abandoned by God and man.

Will not somebody please help me? I would give half my fortune for just six more months. And today, 2014, in his house, as I speak, is a functioning Bible printing press. That's just God just showing off, right? There's a monument in France that's erected to a small group of people you probably never heard of. They're called the Huguenots, a very hated group of gospel-loving Christians. In their day, the government and religious leaders tried to destroy them. At one point, they thought they had killed every single one of them, but they survived and they grew.

And today, there's this old monument that stands in France that commemorates them, and it's got this little inscription across the bottom that I love. Pound away, you evil hands. The hammer breaks, the anvil stands. The Chinese Communist Revolution tried to stamp out Christianity in the mid-20th century.

Today, Mao Zedong is dead, the communist wave has subsided, and the church is growing in China faster than in any place and any time in human history. And some of our people, some at church, are there and get to be a part of it. Pound away, pound away, you evil hands.

Your hammer breaks, the anvil stands. God will build his church, and the gates of hell will never be able to stop it. Islamic terrorists cannot stop it. Secular media cannot stop it. Kim Jong-il in the head and his lunatic son cannot stop it in North Korea.

Cynical professors at your college campus cannot stop it. Hollywood will not stop it. The secular media will not stop it. God's glory will cover the earth. God's glory will cover the earth, as Habakkuk tells us, like the waters cover the sea. He will redeem people from every tribe and tongue on the planet to worship around the throne, and there is nothing that is erected in his way that he will not take out in a moment because God will accomplish all that he has purposed.

Do you have things that you believe God is working in your life and your family? Then you need to get on your face and open your body to the Lord. God's glory will cover the earth. Then you need to get on your face and open your Bible, and you need to pray those promises back to God so that God can enact the power of those promises in your life. When Martin Luther made his famous stand for the gospel at what they call the Diet of Worms, he was immediately put into hiding because people were trying to kill him.

Church leadership immediately tried to gather up all of Luther's books on the gospel and burn them. Luther, from hiding, wrote these words that we still sing in the church today. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing. Our helper, he emits the flood of mortal ills prevailing, and still our ancient foe does seek to work us woe.

The body they may kill. God's truth abideth still. His kingdom never faileth. That was true then. It's true today. It's gonna be true tomorrow.

It's gonna be true the day after tomorrow. You are not on the wrong side of history because history is his story. And if you are on his side, then you will be on the right side of history because his side is the only side that never fails.

Number four. After praying faithfully, Hezekiah planned fervently. If you go to Jerusalem today, one of the places that you will go on your tour, I've been once and this is every trip I've ever heard goes to this place, it's called the Siloam Tunnel. And your tour guide will explain to you that this was a tunnel built by Hezekiah.

Archaeologists uncovered it in the 19th century and they have labeled it as one of the most astounding engineering feats of the ancient world. Because when Hezekiah knew that Sennacherib was coming with 100 or 250,000 soldiers to surround Jerusalem, the first thing you do in a siege is you cut off the water supply. So there was a river bringing water into Jerusalem.

He knew that he was gonna cut it off. So what he did is he went several miles away and he dug something out of the river and made a tunnel that went for several miles and came up under the walls of Jerusalem. So it's this Siloam, I've actually walked through parts of it, it's absolutely amazing. They say figuring out how the people, because Sennacherib's people had already started to get there, how they figured out where to meet in the middle is just amazing. And so what you have is with this unbelievable ingenuity, they figured out how to keep themselves alive during this siege.

I point that out to you basically for one reason. And that is to try to show you that praying like Hezekiah prayed does not preclude planning or prepping or vice versa. The way I've heard it always said is this, get on your knees and pray like it's all up to God and then get up and work like it's all up to you. Praying does not preclude planning or vice versa and that, by the way, is why we do what we do with things like All In Summit Church. It's not because God has needs and that our prayers aren't strong enough, it's that we know that when we pray for God to reach our city, then we get up off our knees and we do what Hezekiah did, we open our wallets, we open our pocketbooks and say, God, this is what we have, because sure, God does not need that, but that's what God uses to reach our community.

So our prayers for God to reach our community, we prayed on Friday or in part answered by the way that we yield our treasures and our stuff to Him and say, God, use this, use these things as a part of your process. So this was an awesome moment. Don't you think, for Hezekiah and the people of God, Hezekiah did exactly what kings and leaders were supposed to do. He led the people to believe in God in the face of overwhelming odds. Awesome, right?

Awesome. Look at the next story. Second Kings 20 opens with Hezekiah getting sick with a life-threatening disease that covered his body with boils. Verse one, the prophet Isaiah came and said to him, Thus says the Lord, set your house in order, Hezekiah, for you shall die. You shall not recover from this disease. It then says that Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall and wept bitterly and pled with God to take away his sickness.

I read this, and I'll be honest with you, it feels a little whiny. I mean, he turns his face to the wall away from the prophet of God. I get the image of him kind of curled up, sucking his thumb, feeling sorry for himself, weeping bitterly. I mean, it's okay to ask God for healing, sure, but the despondency, the turning toward the wall, the pouting, watch how this unfolds. God answers him in grace and says, Verse five, I've heard your prayer and I've seen your tears. Behold, I will add 15 years to your life. Hezekiah said to Isaiah, Well, what shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me? Well, how about the fact he just told you?

That's not good enough. So Isaiah says, Well, the sundial will jump forward 10 steps, which is about 20 seconds, all at once. So bam, God just moves time forward by 20 seconds. But Hezekiah answered, Well, it's an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen 10 steps. Rather let the shadow go backward 10 steps.

Now, that's starting to seem a little demanding, isn't it, Todd? Listen, the writer is giving a tone to Hezekiah's life. He's become demanding, he turns his face to the wall, he pouts and he cries, and then he gets pushy with God about signs.

Well, God gives him his sign, here's your sign, he makes the shadow go back, and then just like God promised, he recovers. Verse 11, The king of Babylon hears that Hezekiah has gotten better, so he sent some envoys from Babylon with a letter of congratulations and a present for him. This is a, listen, prime opportunity for Hezekiah to give glory to God, a boost to the nations about how God saved him from Sennacherib, how God delivered him from his sickness, how God did it all. But when the Babylonians show up, verse 13, Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, all his silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, probably walked them through this tunnel, this engineering masterpiece. He showed them all that was found in his storehouses, not even in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.

What is missing from that? No glory is given to God, no explanation of how God saved him, how God did it all, only, look at my riches, look at my power, look how much I accomplished. He never even took them into the temple. The author of 2 Chronicles says that this was a manifestation of Hezekiah's pride. Well, after the Babylonians leave, the prophet Isaiah came to confront Hezekiah, and he told him, verse 17, behold, the days are coming when all that's in your house shall be carried off to Babylon.

All the Babylonians are there, they had their notebooks out, writing down like, there's some really nice stuff here, one day we're gonna come back and steal this stuff, and that they did. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. Some of your own sons who shall be born to you shall be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon, which involved castration, which meant the end of Hezekiah's line, verse 19. Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, the word of the Lord that you have spoken is good. For he thought, why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?

What? After all that God had richly blessed Hezekiah with, he's demanding and needy and proud and selfish, it became about him, to the point that he says, who cares about others, as long as it's good for me? The next verse says he lived for those 15 years, and then he died. How his life ends should serve as two things for us. One is a warning, and the other is a promise.

The warning. It is so easy to receive the blessings of God and make them all about you. God has blessed you with life and prosperity and family and salvation and a good church, and it becomes about you. It becomes about your comforts. It becomes about your needs.

It becomes about your glory. So you're not concerned with whether or not the church is able to reach people in our community. You're concerned with whether or not the church is taking care of your needs. You're not using the blessings that God gave to think about others. You're just saying, am I comfortable? Am I blessed?

Here's a question. Are you using your success that God has given you in your life? Are you using it to give glory to God? If you're a prospering athlete, are you using your success as an athlete to lift up God's name or your own name?

Whose exaltation are you worried more about? Are you spending most of your time thinking, how do I take what I've been given and how do I direct attention to Jesus to show that he's the real hero, he's the real champion, I was nothing when he saved me, glory doesn't belong to me, it belongs to him? If you're a prospering businesswoman, a businesswoman who has overcome incredible odds to get where you are, are you thinking more about how much people admire you for your success or are you using that success to direct attention to God? And are you saying I am what I am simply because of God's grace? When the armies of Satan were around me, there was not a thing that I could do, God delivered me, God saved me from the point of death, I don't deserve glory, I don't deserve attention, he deserves glory, so don't admire me, look to him.

Hezekiah's evil in his last days, listen to this, Hezekiah's evil was not immorality or murder or idolatry, Hezekiah's evil was simply not leveraging his success to give glory to God. You're using, you're leveraging your success to give glory to God, here's another way of asking that, you're leveraging your health and your resources for the mission of God? Have you been blessed by God with salvation, with family, with resources, and you know that people all around us perish, but you think, like Hezekiah, you might never say this out loud, but you think, who cares? As long as me, I'm saved, my family's saved, my needs are taken care of, and I die happy, as long as it happens, I'll be okay. Sure, kids right here in my own city are growing up without mothers and fathers, and there are people all around the world that are dying with no chance to hear about Jesus, but it's okay, because in my days, we'll be okay.

We'll have freedom, we'll have peace, we'll have blessing. The people that I love right now are blessed, and so you spend all your money and all your time on personal comforts, personal pleasures, personal ambition, you work for most of your life so you can get to where you take the last 20 years of your life on vacation, so you say, now that I've gotten to where I've saved all my money and I got to where I could rest and I'll die with peace and happy, who cares about my grandkids? And who cares whether or not they and the society they grow up in know about Jesus? Who cares if people all around the world in these unreached people groups ever have a chance to hear, as long as I die happy and my kids die blessed? Here's why I don't think I can ever pile up luxury in my life or could at least do it with a good conscience. Not now, not when I retire, because I get one shot to bring salvation to a world around us that is dying body and soul.

And I just don't feel like we can look around at them and say, who cares? I'm saved, I'm blessed, my kids are going to know the gospel, who cares? We're going to heaven. The warning, this is how so many of God's people in their lives, they pass the test of adversity but they fail the test of prosperity. Because in the time of adversity they turn to God. And in the time of prosperity they turn back into themselves.

That's the warning. Don't be Hezekiah. Here's the promise. Hezekiah's tragic end, like the end of every other king in the Bible, points us to the need of a greater king. A king who would not think about his own interest but a king who would think about his people's interest and God's interest. King David, Israel's greatest king by far, the king after God's own heart ended his life in failure using his position of power for sexual conquest and murdering those who got in his way. Solomon, the wisest Jewish king that had ever lived that God bestowed with incredible wisdom and military power ended his life in failure leveraging his great wisdom and power to please himself. Hezekiah, arguably the most faith-filled king who ever lived ended his life in failure leveraging that great faith to bring healing to himself but not caring at all about the welfare of others. But one day, another king of Judah would arise. Like Hezekiah, he would trust God in the face of impossible odds.

When the armies of Satan came against him even to the point that they nailed him to a cross, he would never stop trusting God but unlike Hezekiah when death came to him. He didn't ask God to extend his life and say who cares about future generations as long as I'm okay. This king would lay down his life willingly so that future generations could live. He would say, yes, if there's any other way let this cup pass from me, father, but not my will but yours be done.

I'll gladly drink the cup of death if it means that my children get to live. And because we were precious to him, because we were precious to him, he did not pray for an extension of his life. He eagerly laid down his life.

Do you understand the irony of this? Hezekiah asked God to extend his life because he could care less about the death of his children. Jesus eagerly laid down his life and tasted death for his children so they would never have to. And so Paul the apostle would say, that's my king. That's my king and I'm convinced that if one died for all, if he died for me then those of us who live should no longer live for ourselves. We should live for the glory of the one by whose life and death we now live.

And we should leverage our lives to extend his salvation to those who have never heard about him. See that's what this is all about. Is that's a whole posture of our lives. It's not a posture we adopt for a season, it's a posture we take for the rest of eternity. Here we are at the end of this thing we've called All In.

And I've told you, All In has not been about a season where we needed to raise some money. All In has been about a whole new posture that we take toward Jesus. Where we say, I don't want to just be generous for a season, like to meet some need, I want my whole life to be about his glory. I want it to be about his mission.

See I don't want you to make the mistake of Hezekiah. Where you're like, Oh, All In was awesome, now I'm going back to living for me. I've told you my struggle with generosity is I always set myself goals and then when I reach that goal, I'm like, I'm at the goal.

Now the rest of it's for me. First goal I ever had was the 10%. It's like a God tax. I'll give God the 10%, I'll pay my tax, and then I've got 90% over here that I can just blow on me. And what God showed me is, that's not how a follower of Jesus thinks. A follower of Jesus doesn't look at Jesus as Lord of the 10%. The follower of Jesus says, you're Lord of the 100%. So my question is simply, how do I leverage this for the glory of the one by whose life I live and for people all over the world who have yet to hear about his precious death and how I can bring salvation to them. My question for you is, have you given God a blank check with your life?

That's what we've been asking because that's what it is. A blank check. Got any place, any time. I don't want to live anymore for me. I want to leverage what I have. I want the focus of my life to be you, your glory, and your mission. Don't make the mistake of Hezekiah and bring an end to this. Make this an entire posture of your life. Let it be the Lord of everything.

Why don't you bow your heads if you would at all of our campuses. Your heads bow. Now listen, if you are not sure you are a Christian, I want you to understand that before God wants anything from you, He has something for you because you can't save yourself. He had to do it for you. He lived the life you were supposed to live and died the death you were condemned to die. He offers it to you as a gift if you'll receive His gift of forgiveness. If you've never received that, I would invite you to open your heart and receive it by faith right now. Jesus, yes, I receive you. And then you'll spend the rest of your life following Him, pouring out your life back in love to Him, but start with just receiving that.

Maybe you need to lean over and ask the person that invited you to come to the campus that you're at and say, hey, explain to me more about what it means to have this kind of relationship with God, what it means to receive Jesus as my Savior. If you are a Christian, I will ask you what I've asked you every week for the last three weeks. Is your life a blank check? Have you given God a blank check?

Any place, any time, anywhere, you can cash it for any amount you want. Here's my name. I signed my name. It all belongs to you. Have you done that? Maybe you should do that right now, any place, any time.

The rest of my life is yours. Maybe the Holy Spirit's been putting something specific on your heart for the last few weeks. I've told you there's several things we're getting ready to do as a church to try to reach more people. God's been putting His finger on your heart, some asset you have. Maybe it's a savings account like it has been for me and Veronica. Maybe it's some kind of asset like a stock or a car or a house, and God's just saying, you know what, I want you to put that into my kingdom.

So your blank check, He's already filling something out on it. Can you just say yes, Lord? As we come to the end I understand kind of where we are and I'm ready to make the sacrifice and give this to you. Your spirit says give and I say yes. Right now would you just resolve that with you and the Holy Spirit? Father, I pray in Jesus' name that we would be a people fueled by the gospel, overwhelmed by His great love for us and led by the Spirit. I pray in Jesus' name.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-03 21:31:37 / 2023-09-03 21:51:32 / 20

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