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Stand in the Gap

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 28, 2022 9:00 am

Stand in the Gap

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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November 28, 2022 9:00 am

God is looking for people who will stand in the gap between him and the faithlessness and disobedience of the world. In this message, Pastor J.D. walks through what it will take for you to be part of a spiritual awakening that starts with repentance in the church and spreads throughout every nation.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. 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. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich, and we are so glad that you joined us. You know, God is always looking for people who will stand in the gap between Him and the faithlessness and disobedience of the world, people who will stand up for righteousness and point others towards salvation in Christ. And today, Pastor J.D. walks through what it takes for us to be a part of a spiritual awakening that starts with repentance in the church and then spreads throughout the world.

If you missed the beginning of this short teaching series, you can catch up right now at JDCreer.com. But for now, grab your Bible and let's get started. Here's Pastor J.D. If you have a Bible, I'd invite you to take it out right now and open it up to the book of Second Chronicles.

As you are finding that, there are a number of you that have started to read the Bible through with us. Last Monday, you read this from the prophet Ezekiel. God says to Ezekiel, and I look for someone among them who would stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so that I would not have to destroy it.

But I found no one. So I will bring down on their own heads all that they have done, declares the sovereign Lord. Ezekiel wrote those words during a time when Israel was wandering pretty far from God. And so God was looking for someone, some man or woman of faith that would stand between him and the people in the gap of faithlessness and disobedience.

And 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. And there's a lot of historians that kind of, well, they disagree with that theory because they're like, well, there's 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 directory of a group, like a family or a community.

And 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 27th, 1955 at 10.04. And 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. 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, verse 26, Hezekiah, his son, succeeded him as king. Chapter 29, verse 1, Hezekiah was only 25 years old when he became king.

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 out the temple and it had become like a junk heap. So Hezekiah reopens the temple and brings in the priests and the Levites. He said, listen to me, Levites, remove all the defilement from the sanctuary. 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 is 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. 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, a 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. Okay, 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. A couple hundred believers were together and during the middle of this prayer meeting, a prayer meeting that was supposed to last about an hour to 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. 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 percent of its students came to faith in Christ.

90 percent. 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. We'll return to our teaching with Pastor JD Greer on Summit Life in just a moment, but I wanted to quickly tell you about our featured resource this month. The He Is Here Advent Devotional is great for the whole family to prepare our hearts for the Christmas season. This devotional is unique in that it focuses much of its attention on Old Testament passages, seeing Jesus being foretold through all of history, culminating in His birth in the major.

It's kid-friendly and quick enough to be used around the dinner table for all ages, especially teenagers and older, and I think it'll give you some new language for how to communicate these ancient stories to yourself and to others. Because it's 25 days in length, it's designed to start on December 1st and take you right up to Christmas Day, so call right away. Receive He Is Here 25 Advent Devotions with your gift to the ministry right now by giving us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at jdgreer.com. What are the reasons God's Spirit was not pouring more out on our community and your family? What have had nothing to do with their unbelief and had to do with your sin?

I'm not talking about just being a sinner because 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 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. 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. I was like, this is where I count to 10 Mississippi. 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.

I'm telling you, it's eerie how similar it is. I could see him trembling. It 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 taught bad about you. He said, it all goes back to jealousy, I think that's in my heart. He says, I need forgiveness. 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. 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. God resists the proud. When you say thy kingdom come, what you mean is my kingdom come? And I stood up and I said, y'all, I think it's me because, and I confess 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, people that begin 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. That's 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 reestablishing scripture as the center of their lives in worship.

Write that down as number two. Awakening happens when churches recenter themselves on scripture. When we recenter 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 up enough stuff to say on Sunday morning. I mean, God gives different ones of us gifts.

One of my gifts is you can prop me up against the 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 noticed that whenever pastors don't discipline themselves to work through text or 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 JD. What you need are the words of scripture. Thank you. Thank you for not wanting leadership lessons from Uncle JD.

That's kind of the bottom line. 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 exploit 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?

All right, man, let's praise the Lord. 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. 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 have their hands in their pockets with a bored look on their face. They're seeing God not because the 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. 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 gets through. 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. When you see God, you respond. So it's a rhythm of revelation and response. In 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. David is telling God that he wants to build him a house, and God says to David, I don't want you to do that, and then God makes 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 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. to make an impact on church planning here in North America, specifically in Halifax, Nova Scotia. If you've been with us for very long, you know the value we place on growing the church around the entire world. Yeah, we know that the Lord Jesus didn't just call us to grow the church in the United States, but he wants to see peoples that worship him and see people restored to him from every tribe and tongue on earth. And we got a unique opportunity for our whole Summit Life family right now to support a family in a brand new church that I love.

It's not here in the United States. Giving Tuesday, we're going to be supporting Port City Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It's in Eastern Canada. Jeremy and Julianne Dager were sent from our church several years ago. They went down on faith to plant a church in Greensboro, North Carolina. And that church has just blown up to several thousand people. And now us together with that church, Mercy Hill Church, we're going to plant this church in Nova Scotia.

They are currently there kind of tilling the soil. They've launched home groups. They plan to launch their first public worship service in early 2023.

And we get to be a part of helping them do that. What's special about this Giving Tuesday is that every gift that we receive tomorrow is going to be matched up to $35,000. Your gifts will enable Port City Church to prepare for that spring launch. Halifax, it's a rapidly growing area. There's a lot of de-churched and unchurched people moving in there, and there's gaps in housing, different parts of life.

And one of the big gaps right now is churches that are faithful gospel preaching churches. So if you would like to invest in a very specific way in bringing the gospel to this growing area, just go to jdgrier.com anytime tomorrow. And like I said, your gift will be matched up to $35,000. Thank you so much, J.D. And don't forget that you can reach us at jdgrier.com or call us at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. I'm Molly Bidevich.

Join us again tomorrow as we continue this study called It's Not About Me. That's Tuesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-28 10:27:37 / 2022-11-28 10:38:38 / 11

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