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Stand in the Gap

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 16, 2014 5:00 am

Stand in the Gap

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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Welcome Summit Church and our campuses around the Raleigh-Durham area. If you have a Bible, I'd invite you to take it out right now and open it up to the Book of 2 Chronicles. The Book of 2 Chronicles, I was tempted to have them open the service by telling you to find the Book of 2 Chronicles because I know that for some of you it might take about that long. It's on page 379 of my Bible if that helps you out any.

If you have a table of contents, there is no shame at all in looking at that. If you don't have a Bible at any of our campus locations in the Next Steps area, you can pick one up for free. We would love to give you one. It's not an iPad with a Bible in it. It's an actual real Bible, but we would love to give you that as a gift.

If you don't have one today, I'll put stuff here on the screen. As you are finding that, there are a number of you that have started to read the Bible through with us in the course of a year, which I'm really encouraged by. I'm going to invite more of you to do that. We have a one-year Bible reading plan that's available on the website. If you're super cool and you wear skinny jeans and you're on Twitter, you can follow us at at readthebiblerdu if you want to do it that way. But if you are doing that with us, last Monday you read this from the prophet Ezekiel. Today, you're going to look at the story this week and next week of someone from a different period of Israel's history who actually did stand in the gap of faithlessness and disobedience. He would obey God righteously and he would pray for the people and he would believe God on behalf of the people. Had there been even one, he said, one man or woman of faith, then he would not have destroyed the people, but there was no one, not even one in all of Israel. Well today, you're going to look at the story this week and next week of someone from a different period of Israel's history who actually did stand in that gap. And because of this man's faith and his radical all-in obedience, his people, Israel, the southern kingdom of Israel to be exact, was preserved from destruction and experienced a great revival during his generation. This man's name was Hezekiah.

He lived 123 years before Ezekiel wrote those words, so in a sense, you can think of him as his obedience, his faith, preserved Israel for about three generations. My encouragement, my hope for you today is that you are going to begin to see yourselves as that man or woman, one man or one woman that's going to stand in the gap for your family, for your group of friends, for a college campus, for us as a church as we stand in the gap for our city. Historian Thomas Carlyle famously said that societies are shaped by one great man or great woman that ends up doing something that decisively changes the trajectory of the entire community. There are a lot of historians that disagree with that theory because there are so many factors that control the shaping of a society, but you can't get away from the fact that there are times when the obedience or the actions, the bold actions of one person changes the direction of a group like a family or a community.

I want you to begin to think about where God has you as that man or that woman that is the faith instrument that connects God's generosity, what He wants to do with their great need. In fact, I was thinking about this. I was thinking about that scene in that great movie Back to the Future in the 1980s where you remember Dr. Emmett Brown at the moment that Michael J. Fox is trying to drive his DeLorean at 88 miles an hour so that he can get the lightning strike, the 1.21 gigawatts. It's going to strike at exactly January 27, 1955 at 10.04. It's going to strike the clock tower and he's got it all set up so he can fill the flux capacitor with the energy that Michael J. Fox needs to get back to the future. The wire comes undone and he jumps up there, remember this, and he connects it and then it's everything that's the scene right there.

All the great movies are in the 1980s, right? But he became that person that stood in the gap and connected. That's kind of an image that I think you need to have in your mind as you think about Hezekiah because that's what he does and that's what you and I are supposed to do.

A little trivia before we get started here. By the way, I'm just killing time for some of you to keep finding 2 Chronicles. Hezekiah's story is the most often told story in the Old Testament. It's told in Kings, it's told in Chronicles, it's told in Isaiah, which shows you that it was really formative in how Israel understood their history.

This was like their go-to story. So we're going to start in 2 Chronicles 28. If you haven't found it by now, just quietly close your Bible and set it to the side. No one will judge you.

And you can just look at it on the screen here. Hezekiah was born into the southern kingdom of Israel at a time of great moral degradation. His father Ahaz had been one of the worst, most ungodly kings ever.

In fact, here's how the author of Chronicles summarizes Ahaz's reign. Verse 22, in his time of trouble, King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord. God had sent him some mild trouble to try to wake him up and bring him back to God. But rather than coming back to God, Ahaz just got worse. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him because he thought, well, if they helped him beat me, then maybe if I get them on my team, they'll help me too. But they were his downfall and the downfall of all of Israel. But then, chapter 26, Hezekiah, his son, succeeded him as king. Chapter 29, verse 1, Hezekiah was only 25 years old when he became king.

And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord. Chapter 29 goes on to describe how Hezekiah not only got himself right with God, but ended up leading Israel in a national awakening, coming back to God. I want to break down this revival. Revival just means an awakening back to God. I want to break down this revival into five different steps to show you what an awakening in our city would look like, to show you that we really are part of one right now, and then to show you how you can continue to foster this and we can see it going.

Here is number one. Awakening happens when God's people clean out the junk from their lives. Awakening happens when God's people clean out the junk from their lives. Verse 3. In the first month, chapter 29, of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.

During Ahaz's reign, they had closed up the temple and it had become like a junk heap. So, Hezekiah reopens the temple and brings in the priests and the Levites, and he said, listen to me, Levites, remove all the defilement from the sanctuary. And then he had them consecrate themselves, which means purify themselves, and then purify the temple. Hezekiah started this revival, listen, with himself, then with the Levites and the priests, and then with the house of worship. Here's what you're supposed to get out of that.

Revival always begins in the house of God. That's where it always begins. We typically think that the problem is out there.

Right? The media is too liberal. Hollywood is too immoral. Our politicians are idiots.

College professors are too cynical. The Supreme Court has failed us again. But God never looks out there as the primary problem for why His Spirit is not coming and bringing great awakening. It's us in here. It's what God's people in His community. It's the junk in their lives, in their temple, if you will, when we harbor secret sins. When we have things in our heart and lives that we know aren't right, we keep our community from the presence of God. Because, listen to me, there is nothing that grieves and drives out the presence of the Holy Spirit like harbored, unconfessed sin in the church. God's not surprised by the world.

He knows what's going on out there. He's not expecting them to be holy. But it is when God's people have secret sin in their lives, they extinguish the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit like water does to a flame. Tim Keller, pastor in New York City, says that when he reconnects with a college student who grew up at their church, has gone off to college and lost their faith, he says, whenever I reconnect with them, the first question I ask them is, so who are you sleeping with? He said they'll always kind of stutter and they'll say, well, what's that got to do with anything?

He'll say, it's got everything to do with it. Because the presence of God is imperceptible to you when you are in willful sin. Sin extinguishes the presence of the Holy Spirit like water does to a flame. So God's awakening in the community always begins in the church with God's people getting rid of the things that grieve and drive out his spirit. One of the greatest revivals ever in church history happened in Korea in the early 20th century before the North and South split in Korea. Historians always trace the beginning of this revival back to a small prayer meeting where there were just a couple hundred believers present. You know, there were really only a couple hundred believers in all of Korea at that point.

There was hardly any Christians. The couple hundred believers were together and during the middle of this prayer meeting, a prayer meeting that was supposed to last about an hour, an hour and a half, one of the church leaders, Korean leaders, Mr. Kang stood up, trembling and said in a voice that was barely louder than a whisper, he said to these believers, I have something to confess. I have for weeks harbored an intense hatred in my heart for Mr. Lee, our friend and missionary.

I confess before God and before you, I need forgiveness and I need to repent. People that were there say the room fell deathly silent. Did this man in a shame based culture, did this man just publicly admit to hating the host of the conference? Well, every eye turned to Mr. Lee to see how he would respond. They say he was visibly taken back.

He could not hide his surprise, but he quickly answered, Mr. Kang, I forgive you. They say what followed was a scene that they called a poignant sense of mental anguish due to the conviction of sin. The church members one by one began to confess their hidden sins, their junk. They began to weep over them to pray for forgiveness.

This meeting, which was scheduled for only about an hour and a half, stretched on until 5 a.m. the next morning. That led to a massive outpouring of God's spirit on that country. Listen to this. And in one year, 50,000 Koreans had come to faith in Christ. In a country where up until this point there had only been a couple hundred, at the local college campus there in Pyongyang, 90% of its students came to faith in Christ.

90%. Today, now that the nation is divided, South Korea is one of the most thriving missionaries sending hubs in the world and it goes back to God's people. It doesn't go back to the Korean people changing, it goes back to God's people in Korea getting serious about the things that were grieving the Holy Spirit. I read a book on revivals recently that said that true revival, listen to this, true revival is not noisy. We typically think it's noisy. People sing and they dance around a lot and they shout and that's revival.

True revival, it says, is never noisy, at least not at first. It usually begins in a hushed awe. People weep over their sin before they shout with joy. I am personally tired of people who sing loudly and smile broadly and scribble down lots of notes in church when they harbor secret sin, which really is the thing that grieves the presence of God. God's not excited about your enthusiasm on Sunday.

What he's looking for is your consistency, your holiness of life. Some in church, I think this behooves us to ask the question, listen to this, what are the reasons God's Spirit was not pouring more out on our community and your family? What if it had nothing to do with their unbelief and had to do with your sin?

I'm not talking about just being a sinner because, I mean, we all continually struggle with sin, but things that you know are wrong that you just refuse to deal with. One of the times that I think I experienced this most was, I've told you a part of this story before when I was in college. In fact, I didn't know this story from Korea, but it's eerie how similar my experience was to that. There was a group of us, there was about 80 of us that were going to a Bible study, Bible study slash prayer meeting. A friend of mine was speaking that night and he got up and he did a 20, 25 minute talk on how sin grieves God.

It wasn't like it was a great oratory, he didn't tell a lot of great stories, he just kind of rambled that out and then he gets to the end and he says, anybody here have something to say? Well, I'm the leader of the Bible study and I'm thinking, okay, it was really awkward. He just kind of threw it out there and I was like, this is where I count to 10 Mississippi and then at 10 Mississippi I get up and I close in prayer.

At 9 Mississippi, there's a kid that stands up in the back and I'm telling you, it's eerie how similar it is. I could see him trembling. He was one of our worship leaders. He stood up and he said, it's me. So the Holy Spirit says, it's me. He says, I just need you to know that there are a lot of you, I don't know any other word for it, but I hate different ones of you.

That's what I have in my heart. He said, I have slandered you, I've talked bad about you. He said, it all goes back to jealousy I think that's in my heart and he says, I need forgiveness and some people prayed for him. It's hard to describe what happened next, but it was like whatever the Spirit was doing to him, it suddenly grabbed a hold of my heart and God revealed to me, it's like, you know, it's your pride.

That's one of the reasons I'm not working because you're as concerned as what people think about you as what they think about me. You're more worried about your name getting big on this campus than mine and God resists the proud. When you say thy kingdom come, what you mean is my kingdom come and I stood up and I said, I think it's me because, and I confessed that and people prayed for me. What followed was a prayer meeting slash Bible study that was supposed to last an hour that went on to about 3 a.m. There were students who said, I've got pornography back in my dorm room that I've got to get rid of.

They began to confess sin and they got serious about the junk in their lives and that led to an outpouring of the Spirit on our campus that resulted in hundreds of college students that came to Christ over the course of the next couple of years. It never starts out there y'all, it starts in here. Here's my question, what if it's you? What if the reason God's not working in your children has to do with your sin? What if it has to do in our community with the fact that you and I are not serious about the things that grieve the Holy Spirit?

Let me show you what happened, we could probably just stop there, but I got a few other things to say, but I don't want you to let that go by. What's the Holy Spirit saying that's you? I would imagine there are people here that are in adultery. I would imagine there are people here that you're talking about other people. There are pornography habits that have never been dealt with. There's all kinds of things that God says, you know what, the reason is not Raleigh Durham's wickedness, it's not the college professors and how cynical they are.

It's not politics, it's you. Let's keep going, verse 25, chapter 29. Hezekiah then begins to reorganize the temple. And the phrase that keeps getting used in these next verses, you'll see, in the way prescribed by David, let's see it in verse 25. Then it says, he did what was commanded by the Lord in terms of their worship. King Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord, see this phrase, with the words of David. The Psalms and Asaph, who's another Psalmist.

You know what's happening there? Listen to this. Hezekiah is re-establishing scripture as the center of their lives in worship.

Write that down as number two. Awakening happens when churches re-center themselves on scripture. When we re-center ourselves on scripture, the Bible, listen, is the church's life.

Without it we die. I hope you notice how seriously we try to take the Bible here. In my sermons, the largest time slot we give to anybody during our service is for whomever stands up here and opens up the Bible. And I hope you notice that our custom is to teach through text of scripture.

You want to know why? It's not because I can't think of enough stuff to say on Sunday morning. I mean, God gives different ones of us gifts. You know, one of my gifts is you can prop me up against a wall, press a button, and I can talk for four hours about the subject of your choice. So it's not that I can't think of enough stuff to say. It's just that I notice that whenever pastors don't discipline themselves to work through text of scripture, they end up talking about the same seven or eight things all the time.

And I feel like you probably need to hear from more than my seven or eight personal sticks. So I'm going to let God decide what you should learn. And so I'm going to work my way through the Bible because that's God's book to you. And what you need on the weekend is not leadership lessons from Uncle J.D. What you need are the words of scripture. Thank you. Thank you for not wanting leadership lessons from Uncle J.D.

That's kind of the bottom line there. You shouldn't want that. You need what God's word has to say because it's your life. And I don't want to bring you here and entertain you. I want to open up the words of life to you. We try to make scripture the center of the songs that we sing. Like they did, we try to use the words of scripture as we sing. A lot of our songs are essentially just quotations and paraphrases of scripture. It's why in our worship service we will stop in worship and reflect on scripture. You want to know why we do that? Because the most important thing you need in worship is to be reminded of the promises of scripture and to have God's beauty revealed to you. You don't need to sit in here and just come in and explore your feelings.

You need to see God and then your feelings will follow. Can I tell you a pet peeve of mine? It's not a huge pet peeve and our worship leaders don't do it so don't try to think of people when I say this. One of my pet peeves is when I'm somewhere and a worship leader walks out on stage and the first thing out of his or her mouth is, How y'all feeling? Y'all feel good?

Alright then, let's praise the Lord. And I'm like, how do I feel? I feel spiritually cold. I feel sinful. Sometimes I feel lost. Sometimes I don't know if God exists.

I'm thinking more right now about the guy that cut me off in traffic than I am about the beauty and the promises of God. So I do not want to start my worship with how I feel. What I need in this moment is to be reminded of who God is because worship is a rhythm of revelation and response. God reveals himself first.

We respond to what he has revealed. So when we come in here, we don't try to start with how do you feel and then start singing Barry Manilow or John Legend love songs written to Jesus and repeating the words a thousand times until you work yourself up into a lilting stupor and then somehow feel affectionate toward God. What we do is start with the revelation of God and then we respond back to the beauty of who he is. And by the way, one of the ways that you know that you've actually seen God and are understanding his promises is you start to worship like they did. So they worship with joy and gladness. They don't want to have their hands in their pockets with a bored look on their face. They're seeing God not because their worship leader is up there with a crazy electric guitar because he's whipping everybody up in motion. It just happens. When you see God, you don't need a charismatic worship leader up here trying to play on your emotions.

It just comes out. And if you're not worshiping with joy and gladness, it's because you're not seeing that. Around the throne of God right now with all the angels that are seeing God's face, I promise you there's not one of them with his hands in his pockets and a coffee cup in his hand and a bored look on his face wondering what time the service is through.

And so what's happening is I promise you there is not an angel in heaven right now that is around the throne of God with a bored look on his face and his hands in his pocket and a coffee cup in his hand wondering what time the service is going to get out. Because when you see God, you respond. And so it's a rhythm of revelation and response. And so for our prayers, I hope you see that we try to base even our prayers on scripture.

Why? Because scripture teaches us how to pray. I've told you that basically effective prayer is just figuring out what God wants and asking Him for it. That's why prayers that are heard by heaven, they start from heaven and you get that from the Bible. 2 Samuel 7, this is my time with God this week. There was David telling God that he wants to build him a house. And God says to David, I don't want you to do that. I'm going to make some promises to David.

I'm going to build you a house. 2 Samuel 7, 27, I've never seen this before. David says, listen to this. By your promise, your servant has found the courage to pray. Literally in Hebrew what it says is by God's promise, he found the heart to pray. God's word gave him the desire, it gave him the drive, and it gave him the direction to pray. You want to know how to get your prayers heard by heaven? You start with what heaven reveals to you because prayers that are based in Scripture, prayers that start in heaven or are heard by heaven, Scripture is the life of the church.

So we put it everywhere. It's in our small groups, it's in our sermons, it's written on our walls. If you remove the centrality of Scripture from the church, we die. No matter how entertaining your speaker, no matter how good your music, you remove the centrality of Scripture from your life, your marriage, your family, your job, and it will die. So you are to cling to Scripture, savor it, plumb its depths, saturate yourself in it so that everything that comes out of your mind and your heart is Scripture.

Proverbs says, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. You want to become somebody that God pours his spirit into, then you let your mind and your heart be captivated by Scripture and you become that. Number three, awakening happens when Christians recenter themselves on the gospel. Awakening happens when Christians recenter themselves on the gospel.

St. Chronicles 30 gives you a pretty lengthy description of how Hezekiah re-instituted the Passover feast. I'm not going to take time to read the chapter, but the Passover was basically the celebration where they commemorated when God had delivered them from Egypt. God had said he was going to kill the firstborn in every household, the Israelites, so that if they take the blood of a lamb and they put it on the doorpost, that when the death angel saw the blood, he would pass over them. That's where you get the word Passover from. Well, in the New Testament, Jesus uses this as the picture of what He was going to do on the cross.

That when He died for us, the curse of death that was coming upon our house, our lives, that when God saw the blood of Jesus on the doorpost of our heart, that God would pass over us. When Hezekiah comes into power, they haven't celebrated this feast in years. It's completely out of the consciousness of the mind of the Israelites. So what does Hezekiah do? He puts it back into their consciousness.

Listen, because awakening occurs when you get reacquainted with the power and the beauty of the gospel in your life. If you go back and study Israel's times of spiritual decline, when they fell away from God, do it sometime, you'll find this phrase repeated over and over and over again. Israel forgot what God had done. Israel forgot His mighty works in the past. So how God brings them back is not by teaching them new stuff, but simply reminding them of their great salvation.

The same is true for us. 2 Peter 1-9, Peter says that when we grow cold spiritually, 2 Peter 1-9, it's because you have forgotten that you were cleansed from your first sins. Forgotten. Forgotten doesn't mean that you don't know that it happened. It's just not real to you. It's not fresh to you. Jonathan Edwards described it like knowing factually about sweetness, but never having tasted it, when suddenly sweetness like honey is put on your tongue.

You didn't learn factually anything new. It just suddenly bursts alive in your mouth. He said that's what it's like to reawaken to the gospel.

It's not new things you learn. It's suddenly become very intimately aware of how great a salvation you have. Listen, for you to experience personal awakening, you don't usually need some new precept. You need to become more intimate with how great a salvation God has given you in Jesus. Are you cold spiritually?

Then ask God, are you cold spiritually? Don't go try to learn a bunch of new Bible facts. I mean, that's great, but it's not you figuring out whether or not Kirk Cameron's right, and you're going to get left behind that's going to awaken you spiritually. What's going to awaken you spiritually is when you plumb the depths of beholding what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we can be called the children of God. That's not new information. That's why we say the gospel is like a well.

If you want the best water in a well, you don't go wide or you go deeper. You want the best awakening spiritually. It's not new things you need to learn. It's asking God to open your eyes to how great and rich a treasure you possess in Jesus Christ. Y'all listen, if I have one goal in my preaching, one, it is to help you behold each week the wonder of the gospel. I don't want you leaving just with a page full of notes. I mean, I love it when you take notes. I encourage you all the time. I've told you there's a note-taking gate in heaven, I'm pretty sure.

It's like the FastPass line at Disney World. It'll just get you in quicker. So I would encourage you to show up in heaven with your notebooks full, but I don't want you just to leave here with a bunch of notes. I don't want you to leave with action steps about ways you've got to change. The goal of a motivational speech is that you leave with action steps. The goal of a lecture is that you leave with a page full of notes. The goal of a gospel message is that you leave worshipping. Because when your heart is full of the love of God, you'll figure out the action steps on your own, and then you'll study the scriptures until you've got notes that are coming out of your ears.

Let me give you one other dimension of this before I go on to number four. This is really important. Verse 17, chapter 30. It says that there were many people who showed up who didn't have their own Passover lamb. So Hezekiah told the priest to kill a Passover lamb for each person that came without one.

Listen, follow me. I don't want you to get confused. What's significant is that the sacrifice has to be applied individually to everybody. Now, that's a ceremony, so the priest could do it for the people who didn't bring one. I, listen, I cannot apply the sacrifice of Jesus to you.

But the point is the same. The sacrifice has to be individually applied. And there are many of you who are listening to me right now who you've been caught up in the movement, but you've never actually made the decision. That happens all the time, where you come, you kind of get into it, you learn the songs, you start going to small group, you're just kind of going along, but you've never actually made a decision to personally trust Christ. And my fear is that many of you are going to show up never having trusted Jesus as your own. There is no salvation by association with the right group. You have to choose yourself to trust Jesus.

Have you ever done that? At night, I'm reading my kids, we're reading Pilgrim's Progress before they go to bed. There's a kid's version of it called Dangerous Journey. And so in the story, you get this guy named Christian, who's leaving the city of destruction to go to the celestial city, which represents heaven. And along the way, he comes to faith in Christ. And so he gets a parchment, which is like the certificate of his salvation. And so as he goes along, as he's getting close to heaven, another guy joins him. And Christian asks him where his parchment is. And the guy's like, oh, it's not important.

I never really bothered with that. And so Christian asked him about it two or three times, and the guy keeps blowing him off. And so Christian quits asking him, but they go through the whole rest of the journey together, side by side. They come up to the gates of heaven, and then John Bunyan, the author, says that the angels, the strong ones, come out. And they ask for the parchment, and Christian has his, but this other guy doesn't have his.

And Bunyan said that angels take this one, and they throw him into outer darkness. And what Bunyan was trying to say, listen, is that there's a lot of people in a church like this one who are making the journey with us, but they make the mistake of thinking that it's salvation by association with the right group. Do you know that you have trusted Christ personally and received the sacrifice for yourself? Y'all, you know I'm not real big on the you gotta have a day and know the day and the hour, and you gotta have a card in your Bible signed by Billy Graham with the tear stains of your grandmother on it that signifies the second that you trusted. I'm not like that. But I do know that you ought to know that there was a time when you personally received Christ as your savior. Do you know that that has happened because the salvation sacrifice has to be individually applied? Don't make that mistake. God has no grandchildren. Just children.

Number four. Awakening happens when God's people devote themselves to intercessory prayer. Throughout these chapters, we find Hezekiah praying for the people. So, for example, chapter 30, verse 18, Hezekiah prays for them. Verse 20, the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. Verse 27, the priests of the Levites stood to pray for the people and their prayer reached heaven. Awakening happens when God's people devote themselves to prayer.

Period. The measure of the awakening is not given according to the talent of the preacher. It's not given according to the resources of the church, the quality of the worship bands, the amount of books, the amount of commercials.

It is solely based on how people pray. Jonathan Edwards, who led in the first great awakening in this country, the largest revival our country has ever seen, said that the primary characteristic of the great awakening was not great preaching, it was extraordinary prayer. There is no awakening, he said, apart from prayer. In fact, he said, I would go so far as to say that prayer does not bring the awakening, prayer is the awakening.

As a missionary to China, who's worked in China during the great revivals there, by the way, church is growing faster in China than in any place in any time in history. He said this, listen to this, I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel it would be truer to give prayer the first place, the second place, and third place, and then teaching the fourth. You know, when I read that, I thought about what I pointed out to you guys from the book of Acts, that in the book of Acts, you find Jesus go up to heaven and the disciples go up into a room, and for ten days, they devote themselves to prayer.

Ten days! Peter stands up in Acts 2 and preaches for ten minutes, and three thousand people get saved. Remember I pointed out to you that we pray for ten minutes, I preach for what feels like ten days, and three people get saved.

It's because we got our zeroes in the wrong place. God gives awakening according to the measure of how we pray. Here is the question, do you pray daily for our church? Do you pray daily for our city? Do you pray daily for your own kids?

It is inconceivable that you would say you want the power of God and don't pray and plead with God because he doesn't give it according to the measure of your parenting, he gives it according to the measure of your prayer. Or here's another way I've asked you, when you do pray, if God were to answer all your prayers that you prayed in the last week, at one o'clock today exactly, well let's say five o'clock, since our Blue Ridge campus is meeting at five. Let's say that God answered all your prayers from the previous week at five o'clock today. How many new people would be in the kingdom at five o'clock? I mean, your food might be blessed.

You don't have traveling mercies. How many new people would be in the kingdom? When God says he's going to bring awakening, he raises up people to pray.

Some at church, we have a chance to apply this this Friday. We're going to do a massive altogether prayer and worship night at the Briar Creek campus. In fact, we're going to do our best to recreate this chapter.

I was reading through this and I found chapter 29 verse 30 and I thought that's a good picture of our night. They sang praises with gladness. We're going to have our choir here and they make us glad. We're going to have our great worship teams.

They're going to make us glad. They bowed down in worship. This was not a time of their hands in their pockets. This was joy and gladness. And God heard them for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place. This is not a casual time of casual prayers. It's prayers that engage the presence of God. Y'all, I think it'll probably be our best event of the year. If this is your church, you need to be there so that we can seek the presence of God together. Why? Because that's how God gives awakening.

I'll be honest with you. I get a little discouraged when we do an event like Christmas at DPAC, which we'll do again this year, and we have 12,000 people show up. And then we do a prayer meeting and about 400 show up. I'm like, what's wrong with our church that we'll have 12,000 show up for entertainment and 400 show up to pray? You want to know what separates our community from the power of God? It's not more money to do things like DPAC. It's more people that know how to seek God and pray.

You got a chance to apply that this Friday, and I think you should be there. Number five, awakening happens when God's people give extravagantly. Awakening happens when God's people give extravagantly. Chapter 31, the Israelites generously gave the first fruits of their grain. They brought a great amount of tithe, 10% of everything, and they piled it in heaps. I love the word heaps, don't you? I feel like we don't use the word heaps enough.

Look how many times he repeats it. When Hezekiah and the officials came and saw the heaps, they asked the Lord and blessed the people of Israel. Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the heaps, because when there's a heat, you're supposed to ask about it. And Azariah, the chief priest, said, well, the people began to bring their contributions to the temple, and since then we've had enough to eat and plenty to spare because the Lord has blessed His people and this great heap is left over. Hezekiah led an offering, and the people were so grateful for what they'd seen God do in their midst that they poured out so much that not only was there enough to meet the immediate ministry needs, there were heaps left over. Summit Church, are you grateful for what we've seen God do here in the last two years? Are you grateful for the 1,400 that we've seen baptized? I got a Twitter message this week from somebody who said, you said 1,400 people baptized last week?

I just want you to know that my wife was one of those 1,400, and I am immensely grateful. Are you grateful for the 2,000 members that we have added in the last two years at this church? Are you grateful for the individual stories of deliverance and salvation and forgiveness and restoration that we have heard that's represented in those 1,400 baptisms that we've had in the last two years? Are you grateful for how God has worked in your family, in your kids, in your kids' friends? Are you grateful for how we've seen Him do miracles on college campuses? Are you grateful for the incredible ways we've seen God work? As we approach the end of this year, we've still got some big things in front of us we want to do so that we can reach more people.

Let me give you a glimpse of a few of them last week. We've got to get the Blue Ridge campus renovated and up and running on Sunday morning. We've been meeting in like a fellowship hall on Sunday afternoon. We're about to move it to Sunday morning in January, and we've got to renovate that because we're just going to take our seating capacity over there.

It's going to multiply it by four. We've got to do that. We've got to get some of our mobile campuses transitioned from mobile ones to permanent ones.

We've got to identify and launch our next campus or two, most likely another one in Cary and a couple other places that we're looking at. So I want to challenge you, Summit Church, to two things you see them do here in Hezekiah, or the Hezekiah leads them to do. Listen, if you're a guest or you're not a Christian or you're not part of this church, I'm not talking to you right now, okay?

I'm talking to Summit Church people. Summit Church, I want to challenge you if you made a commitment to all in, I want to challenge you to finish strong. You made a commitment a year ago, two years ago.

You made it by faith. The faith you showed to make the commitment, I want you to exercise that faith in finishing it. Second, I want to challenge many of you to consider a really large sacrificial gift here as we get to the end of this year.

There are things we want to do, things to reach people like renovating and opening new campuses. That's going to take us heaping up resources that God is going to use in His work. So I want you to ask the Holy Spirit if there is a particular sacrifice He wants you to make in gratefulness for what you've seen God do in you to help continue this awakening in our city, something special that you say, God, is this what you want me to give, an end of the year bonus, an asset, a stock, savings, a car, a house about which you feel like God might be saying, heat that up.

Invest that in my kingdom so that you can extend this awakening to your neighbors. Last week I told you that Veronica and I, two years ago, set an audacious giving goal that we never thought we would be able to reach. In fact, we kind of put it down. I'm like, I have no idea how we would get there, but we put it down by faith, and I was ready to kind of bail on it and had a good excuse, but last week I told you that God put His finger on a part of our savings account that we were saving for something legitimate.

I mean, it wasn't like a yacht collection I want to start one day. It's a legitimate thing that we're saving for, and we just felt like the Holy Spirit said to us, what better thing would you want to see with that than to see that extend the blessing in Raleigh-Durham that, yeah, I've blessed your family at this church. I've blessed you. Why not offer this in gratefulness and say, God, would you just multiply this and extend this joy into our community?

Not only are we going to be able to meet that audacious goal that we set two years ago, we're going to exceed it by about $10,000. Summit, listen, we ought to pile up in a heap like Hezekiah had them do so we have not only enough for what we need to do, we have heaps to spare for the next thing God puts in front of us so that when He brings it to us, we're ready. One last little thing that I'll point out here, maybe one and a half things.

Listen to this. This is part of it. The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced along with the priest.

You see this phrase? Including the foreigners. Their generosity not only restored the temple, their generosity blessed their neighbors. They blessed foreigners who didn't really belong to Israel. I am continually moved at this church to hear how you care for one another and how you care for members in our community that don't even belong to this church. Julius' testimony last week on video that we watched was a great example. Somebody in this church gave him a car. That's not the kind of thing you count on offering.

It's just you loving people that are beside you. I got a letter this week from a guy in our prison ministry. I won't read it to you.

But the guy basically says this. He says about a year and a half ago a family from the summit church essentially adopted me. The prison has this deal where as prisoners come to the end of their sentence they can start to get reintegrated in society and they'll allow families to take some of these guys and work with them. So this family basically adopted me. He says I cannot describe the impact this family and your church has had on me. He said I thought God had forsaken me and I thought that nobody wanted me but this family showed me that I was loved by God and I was important to the people of God. He said not only did they leave me to Christ but he said here I am on the eve of when I'm going to be released. He says and the first thing I'm going to do when I get out is I'm going to join the summit church. He said and then I'm going to lead my family to adopt and love another prisoner so that him and his family can experience the same love and the same message that I've experienced to the people of your church.

You know what that is? That is a foreigner to let me use the analogy who is being blessed by that that is then himself becoming a blessing to others. Summit church, we stand in the gap. Awakening will not happen when the people out there get better. It's going to happen when we devote ourselves to these five things. And I look for someone among them who would stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I wouldn't have to destroy it but I found no one so I will bring down on their own heads all they have done declares the sovereign Lord.

He's still looking for somebody that stands in the gap. Can I tell you what I love most about this passage? The ultimate one who would stand in the gap between God and us was Jesus. He rendered perfect obedience to the Father. He prayed for us.

He did all five of those things. He gave himself as a sacrifice, listen, and God brought down on his head the punishment for our disobedience. And so those of us who were saved because of his sacrifice, those of us who were saved because he stood in the gap for us should no longer live for ourselves but we should live for the glory of him who died for us. We should live for those that he died for that have yet to know him. As he stood in the gap for us, we ought to stand in the gap for others. As he prayed for us, we should pray for others. As he gave his life as a sacrifice for us, we ought to leverage our resources and our lives to help others stand in the gap for them so that they can come to know the joy that we have come to know. Do you stand in the gap for you? Then you say these five things and you make them serious and you begin to stand in the gap for others.

Why don't you bow your heads if you would at all of our campuses. I know that there are a lot of things that the Holy Spirit may have lodged or registered in your heart. At all of our campuses right now our teams are going to begin to come and they're going to begin to distribute the elements of the Lord's table.

If you're a believer, I want you to take the bread and the cup and this signifies Jesus standing in the gap for you. As you hold it in your hands, don't take it yet, but as you hold it in your hands, I want you to think about what the Holy Spirit may have said to you as I spoke. Do you have unconfessed sin? What's the Holy Spirit putting His finger on in your heart? What attitude, what habit, what thing are you doing that grieves the Spirit that you just need to confess?

If we confess our sins, He's faithful and just and forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Have you centered your family on Scripture? Maybe you need to resolve to do that. Are you a person of prayer? Maybe you should resolve to begin to have a daily prayer time where you pray for others. You have a sacrificial gift He's leading you to make in response. I don't know, let the Holy Spirit just have His way with you in this moment.

How about this one? Have you ever personally received Christ? Have you? Have you ever personally received Christ? If you're not a believer, if you don't know if you've received Christ, don't take the bread and the cup.

It's not for you. That's for believers. But don't think I'm being exclusive and keeping you out when I say that because what's offered to you is something greater than the symbol. What's offered to you is Jesus Himself. So as others around you take the bread and the cup symbolizing how they received Jesus in the past, why don't you right now for the first time trust Jesus as your Savior? Say, Jesus, you are the Lord. I surrender to you. Jesus, I believe you died for me.

I received that gift as my own. You do that right now. Open your heart and receive Him. I'm gonna leave you here with your heads bowed holding these elements. Our worship teams are gonna come at our different campuses and they're gonna lead us. They're gonna lead us right now. As they sing a song over you, you hold these elements and as they sing the blood of Jesus over you. I want you just to meditate and let the Holy Spirit have His way and then our campus pastors will come out and they'll lead you in the taking of these elements.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-03 21:11:29 / 2023-09-03 21:31:36 / 20

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