Thursday, October 16, 2008

National Prayer Leader on 2 Chronicles 20:1-23

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GOD HELP US FOR WE DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO (Doug Metzger)

Text: 2 Chronicles 20: 1-23

Let me begin by asking a dumb question. Someone said there is no such thing, but I am about to prove them wrong.

Do you ever like to see trouble invade your life?

DUMB RIGHT? Kind of like asking do you like having a root canal? Do you enjoy it when the waitress dumps your dinner in your lap at the restaurant? All of us would agree that we don’t like to see trouble come because it is like an enemy invasion.

It takes joy and turns it into sorrow; peace and calm and turns it into turbulence.

No one better captured the turbulent nature of life better than did Max Lucado in his book In The Eye of the Storm when he told the story of Chippie the parakeet getting sucked into a vacuum cleaner, being washed clean by cold running water and blown dry by a hot blow dryer. It was a turbulent experience to say the least. When the owner was called and asked how Chippie was doing following the experience she responded: “Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore, he just sits and stares…..” Not hard to understand why?

Your story may be different from Chippie’s, but admit it: we don’t like to see trouble come.

What we like is life free of troubles.

Surely this was true for King Jehoshaphat whose troubles started when 3 enemy armies are poised to invade his peaceful land. He looks out to discover trouble with a capital “T” is staring him in the face. Life is suddenly threatened.

QUESTION: What can we learn from King Jehoshaphat’s example that could benefit us when trouble invades? What we can learn will be greatly beneficial in moving someone here tonight from experiencing the pain of trials to the glory of revival.

    1. WE MUST GET REAL WITH THE REALITY OF TROUBLE

    2 CHRON.20: 3a “And Jehoshaphat was afraid….”

When word comes that there is trouble in the land, note that he did not bury his head in the sand and hope it would go away…

He didn’t hold a pity party and say: Why is this happening to me?

He got real with reality by recognizing that things were not right &and by the way, the reference to being afraid is not alluding to a cowering fear, but rather a recognition of trouble.

The NIV uses the word “alarmed”. Picture an alarm clock going off. Does it bring fear?

No! It says it’s time to wake up….

Why is that significant for us today?

If there was ever a day when the church of the Lord Jesus Christ needed to get real with reality it is today. Alarms are going off all around us and we cannot afford to sleep through them.

While many of us have been asleep and too comfortable, America’s been invaded by powerful, pervasive enemies. Let me mention 3:

  • A new paganism that is taking immorality to new depths. It’s unreal what can be seen on TV and elsewhere today. The spread of filth and garbage is beyond imagination!
  • Post-modernism that is challenging all absolute truth and belief systems ultimately seeking to make truth relative as opposed to absolute.
  • A rampant liberalism is stretching us way beyond the boundaries of the Biblical standard we hold dear far beyond anything we thought possible.

HOW DOES THIS ALL AFFECT US?

Well, not very well! Why so?

For some time now, Biblical Christianity in America, the spiritual roots upon which our nation has been founded, have been under attack from these enemies. We have seen the Bible, prayer and the Ten Commandments removed from our schools.

Additionally we have seen Biblical marriage come under attack by those who would make it other than a relationship between one man and one woman. By doing so, we see the family structure as society has known it since God established the home set to be destroyed.

We see abortion continue to take lives of millions of innocent babies. The holocaust is great and sad!

And one could go on & on about attacks on morality and Christianity and all we have held dear in America.

But to make matters worse, the church of the Lord Jesus for the most part appears to be oblivious or blind to the reality of it all.

We are much like the church at Sardis in Revelation 3: 1-3. Read text! Like Sardis, we have reputations, but in many cases we are dead and if not dead, we’re asleep and need to wake up to reality.

George Barna’s book, The Second Coming of the Church, contains a scary statement about the condition of today’s church:

“At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I believe the Church in America has no more than 5 years – perhaps even less to turn itself around and begin to affect the culture, rather than be affected by it…we must re-kindle our passion for God, recapture a sense of urgency about ministry, and respond strategically to the challenges before us.”

That statement was made in 1998 and we are now some years removed from that declaration.

Has the church heeded those words? Sadly, most of the church does not even know they were spoken and if they did, my fear is that they would likely not care.

Jimmy Draper said something about the church in recent years that says it all: “We don’t care and we don’t care that we don’t care.” The picture is one of an alarm clock ringing, but no one heeding. At best we hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.

Such apathy begs a question: How long will God be patient with us? God’s word to the church at Sardis was to wake up or else. Verse 3.

Let us not forget that the Bible is full of stories of God dealing with His people in judgment when they went astray? We see it in the case of Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Assyrians in 722 B.C. The Babylonian army under King Nebuchadnezzar did same to Southern Kingdom about 100 years later even destroying Jerusalem in 586 BC.

For 70 years the people that God desired to bless, prosper and use suffered in captivity in a foreign land. Like much of what we see in our day, they had been going through the outward motions of religion, but spiritually their hearts were not where they needed to be.

I believe we can summarize the state of the church with this description: we have swapped a Biblical world-view for a “believe whatever you want world-view.”

Why is that important? It is important because it is your world-view that determines what you value and how you respond to your culture when it seems to be going haywire.

Sadly, it is not just the general population that is off-base in a non-biblical worldview, but this is seen even among many, many people who call themselves Christians.

The situation grows worse and worse. The alarm clock is ringing, but we let it ring unheeded. Traditional values and Judeo-Christian morality is fast slipping away and we remain asleep.

Is there an answer? Certainly and King Jehoshaphat demonstrates for us what it is.

  1. WE MUST BE WILLING TO ADMIT OUR HUMAN LIMITATIONS

“And Jehoshaphat turned his attention to seeking the Lord” V. 3b…

Note v.12… “We are powerless.”

Let me tell you something about this King lest you think he was a wimp: Jehoshaphat was one of those rare kings that had lot on the ball. He had a great track record and yet there comes a time and place that this great man has to confess he wasn’t sufficient of himself for the reality that had come his way.

With what we are facing in our culture today as we face the reality of our enemies and the inroads being made and as we look at the church and its failure to be salt and light in making a difference, we must recognize that we don’t have it either! We are certainly not adequate for what we are up against. Agreed?

I remind you that Jesus never said: Without me you can do many things or some things or even a few things. He said without me, you can do nothing.

What do you suppose nothing means in the Greek???? Zero/ Zilch/ nothing!

    1. WE MUST GET FOCUSED ON THE ONE WHO ALONE CAN HELP

      V. 12 b

“O our God, won’t you stop them? We have no way to protect our-selves against this mighty army. We don’t know what to do, but we are looking to you.” V. 12 (Living Bible)

What we see here in a word is trust... absolute dependence. He was trusting God to step into action because human action wasn’t going to be able to handle it. Here was a man who recognized that though the troubles were big, they were not bigger than God!

I have good news for you today: God is bigger than our problems too.

What we see next is God go into action and provide glorious victory as the 3 enemy armies turn on each other and not one Israelite dies in conflict! Totally a God thing!

Would you not like to see God by His Spirit change the landscape in America in the days ahead? How in the world would we ever hope to see that happen?

The same way it always happens as seen with Jehoshaphat and with others in this book and in history: Serious believing prayer.

The only hope for the church and the culture in America is for a movement of God that brings revival to our churches and spiritual awakening to our nation.

Every time God did that in the past, He did it in response to a movement of repentant, united, fervent, dependent prayer.

May I remind you today of the glorious promise given in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that says it all: “If my people, who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”

If we took that seriously, what would happen? Let me offer a history lesson:

America has had 2 Great awakenings in times of dire need… 1 in the beginning of the 1700’s and then in the late 1700's and early 1800’s.

Sadly, the last great movement of God happened in late 1850’s, but, my what a movement it was: called The Layman’s Prayer Revival. It came at a time when the nation was beset by grave problems: Slavery, financial prosperity making money god and religious extremism giving Christianity a black-eye along with a spiritually anemic church.

What happened? Layman Jeremy Lanphier, on Manhattan Island in NYC called for a prayer meeting at Fulton Street on Sept. 23, 1857 at noon hour. He and 6 others came together. Then in the weeks and months following, hundreds then thousands came together for prayer and before long they were meeting 5 days a week. It is believed that as many as 50 thousand were praying together in NYC at the height of the movement!

Results were awesome in NYC, but similar movements happened simultaneously across this nation. The result was the conversion of 1 Million people. If we had such a movement today, it would be the equivalent of 20 million saved.

And it all happened through a movement of prayer!

It is fascinating to me today that we see God birthing an exploding Christianity in Latin America, in persecuted China and in Africa?

Why not America? Could God not so move in America?

Yes, but we must have 3 things occur:

1. Get a proper motive: the glory of God. Henry Blackaby told me one day at lunch that he believes that Southern Baptists want a revival. He said our problem is that we want it so we can have more success and God is not going to give it to us with such a selfish motive.

2. We must get honest enough to deal with our sins through repentance. Sadly, we don’t even want to acknowledge sin let alone repent of it. So much more could be said at this point.

3. We must get desperate enough to cry out to God with a heart that yearns for His activity in our behalf.

There is really a bottom line issue: do we believe that prayer makes a difference?

Let me in closing speak to that from personal experience: As many of you know, 7 years ago, a tumor was found in my neck. Two surgeries followed with news I had a rare form of Thyroid cancer that had gone into lymph nodes (6 of 16). 35 radiation treatments were to follow.

I put out a plea far and wide for prayer for healing and to suffer minimal side effects of treatments. They could be harsh from what I read in 3 areas: major swallowing problems/ severe dry mouth/ vocal cord damage.

I did so well with the treatments that my Radiation Doctor commented. I told her that I had 1000’s praying for me. I wish I could tell you she jumped for joy and praised God. She made no comment; in fact she changed the subject. What she could not change was the fact that something was at work, or should I say “Someone was at work.”

But the real miracle in my battle with cancer, though I understand God doesn’t always work the same in everyone, is that prior to radiation, I asked for my blood marker for cancer called Calcitonine be checked.

It’s to be between 0-10 and mine was near 6000 prior to my 2nd surgery… off the chart. She said it was a good idea. Hold onto your seat belt, because it went from near 6000 to undetectable in the blood before I had one treatment as a result of prayer and it has remained 8 or less over the past 6 years.

When at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston for a check-up, my specialist looked at the before and after results and said: “Sir, I need to tell you something: you are a very lucky man.”

I said “Doctor, I need to tell you some-thing. Luck had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was the power of God working through the power of prayer.”

In closing: If we are ever to see revival come and we desperately need it, I can assure you, that luck will have nothing to do with it.

Only a movement of God brought about by the desperate sincere prayers of His people will bring God to display His glory and bring revival!

Would it not be awesome if He began that right here in this church? It has to begin somewhere!!!

The question is, are you ready to face the reality of our problem and then admit that you are inadequate for the problem? If so, will you then begin to focus on God intervening by seeking Him and His healing for the church and the land like never before?

Doug Metzger has been a Pastor in PA, NJ, GA and CA and has served nationally on the staff of the North American Mission Board in Personal Evangelism and as Director of Strategic Focus Cities and as Director of Prayer. He is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has a passion for preaching the Word and prayer.

He can be contacted at 909-693-9114 or at 36464 Byron Trail, Beaumont, CA 92223




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Cameron VSJ said...
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