Our message series this month is called Jumping Hurdles. Hurdles are obstacles in our lives that God allows to test us. When we jump those hurdles and pass the test, we grow stronger. And we continue to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. Now, one big source of hurdles in our lives is the godless culture around us.
Romans 12:2 (ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
This verse begins by telling us to not be conformed to the world. The underlying Greek text meaning is to not be squeezed into the world’s mold. The world seeks to make us fit it’s pattern in life. This peer pressure from the world and the people around us is a hurdle that we must overcome. We all have the fallen tendency to follow the crowd. The majority of people are always right, right? Wrong. Jesus taught that the crowd, the majority of people are on a path to destruction. The majority is headed in the wrong direction.
Rather, according to Romans 12:2, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Greek word for transformed is the root for our word metamorphosis. Metamorphosis means to change form or substance into something new. For example, a wooly caterpillar undergoing metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly. God is at work transforming you into something beautiful.
And how does that transformation happen? The transformation happen through testing, which is the hurdles that God allows into our lives. As we learn to jump those hurdles we discerning that the will of God is good and perfect. To jump the hurdles of the worldly culture, we must Go Against the Flow, which is the title of this morning’s message. God wants to teach us to follow Jesus, even when most of those around us are not.
Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Jesus explains to us that in life there are two gates and two ways. The narrow gate leads to a hard way but its destination is life. The wide gate leads to an easy way, but its destination is destruction. In case, we’re not sure which gate to enter, Jesus begins his teaching with the command “Enter by the narrow gate.”
Now, how many people enter the wide gate towards destruction? Many people, the majority are on the path to destruction, but don’t know it. Few people, the minority are on the hard way that leads to life. The flow is going through the wide gate. This morning we going to learn how to trust God and go against the flow of the world.
Our story this morning is about a young king named Hezekiah. Hezekiah lived in a dark time in Judah, when evil reigned supreme. His father King Ahaz was an evil king who worshipped idols and even sacrificed Hezekiah’s brothers to those idols. The worship of God was practically non-existent when Hezekiah became king. Yet God used Hezekiah to go against the flow of the evil past and his father and follow the narrow of righteousness. Let’s learn from his example, how God can use us today to impact our culture for Him.
2 Chronicles 29:4-5 (ESV) He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them … and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place.
Hezekiah knew that the worship of the one true God needed to be restored. So he began by assembling those who were supposed to leading worship, but were not, the priests and the Levites. These leaders had not been living lives consecrated to the Lord and they needed to rededicate themselves to worship. The physical temple was in a state of disrepair and was not even being used for worship. The leaders were called on by Hezekiah to consecrate and prepare the temple for worship once again.
2 Chronicles 29:31 (ESV) Then Hezekiah said, “You have now consecrated yourselves to the LORD. Come near; bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD.” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all who were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings.
When the preparations for worship had been put into place, the people began bringing their sacrifices and offerings to the temple. The sacrifices were for the atonement of sin and the offerings were to give thanks to the Lord for His presence. As Hezekiah began to restore the worship of the one true God, the hearts of the people were willing to follow as well.
2 Chronicles 29:36 (ESV) And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly.
As worship was restored in the nation, both king Hezekiah and the people rejoiced. The rejoiced in the restoration of the house of the Lord and the renewed worship. This transformation of the direction of a nation came about not over years, but suddenly. God used the willing hearts of King Hezekiah, the spiritual leaders and the people to bring about an amazing revival of worship. Once again the people of Judah were living a lifestyle of worship.
We see from the example of Hezekiah, the importance of corporate worship. This is when believers meet together as a church to worship God. As we worship together, the presence of the Lord works in our lives in many ways. The Spirit speaks to us, encourages us, brings conviction and healing to us. Worshiping together as a church family is so important, that Satan seeks to discourage people from coming. God’s Word instructs us to not neglect gathering together for worship, lest we miss God’s blessing.
To worship God in Spirit and truth also requires us to consecrate ourselves to the Lord. This means that we confess any known sin and recommit our lives to God regularly. Worship involves not just singing and hearing God’s Word. Worship also involves bringing thank offerings to the house of the Lord. As we worship together, the Lord fills your heart with joy and renews you spiritually. The blessing that we receive in corporate worship empowers us to worship God individually throughout the week. Live a lifestyle of worship.
2 Chronicles 30:1 (ESV) Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel.
The Passover was a festival commanded in God’s Word to give thanks for God delivering His people from slavery in Egypt. The Passover had been neglected under evil kings for many years. Hezekiah knew the importance of following God’s Word and so invited all of Israel and Judah to keep the Passover again. At the this time, Israel and Judah were no longer a united kingdom. Yet, Hezekiah desired for all of God’s people to be blessed by following God’s Word.
2 Chronicles 30:22 (ESV) And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the LORD. So they ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the LORD, the God of their fathers.
The Levites who had been consecrated to serve in the temple were encouraged by Hezekiah to do their part in the Passover. The people of the land brought their offerings and sacrifices into the temple and they celebrated for the seven days of the Passover. The celebration of the Passover, involved not only remembering what God had done, but giving thanks to Him in worship.
2 Chronicles 30:27 (ESV) Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven.
As the people followed God’s Word, the spiritual leaders blessed the people. The blessing was a form of prayer and this verse tells us that God heard those prayers. Which means that the blessing of God came on the people who were following God’s Word by observing the Passover. Not only are we to live a lifestyle of worship, we are to live to follow God’s Word. Genuine revival, either in our personal lives or in our church family is always based upon a return to God’s Word. A return not just to some of God’s Word, but to all of it.
Choosing to follow God’s Word involves learning about it in church and in your personal study. But learning what God’s Word is saying is not enough. It wasn’t enough for the Israelites to know that God instructed them to keep the Passover. They had to obey and put into practice God’s Word.
In the same way, knowing God’s Word is just the first step. We must apply and obey the Word in order to see spiritual transformation in our lives. Biblical churches are characterized by following God’s Word and worshipping Him in Spirit.
The New Testament expression of the Passover is communion. In communion we corporately remember and worship the Lord for our salvation. We remember Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and His resurrection three days later. We will be taking communion at the close of the message this morning. Choose to follow God’s Word.
2 Chronicles 32:8 (ESV) With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
After all of Hezekiah’s spiritual reforms, God sent a spiritual test. The king of the world power Assyria, Sennacherib, advanced into Judah and attacked all of their fortified cities. Judah was greatly outnumbered by their forces, yet Hezekiah was not deterred. He affirmed that the Lord their God was with them to help and fight their battles. The faith of Hezekiah in the midst of dire circumstances was contagious.
The people, who had been spiritually renewed, took confidence in his words. They also believed that the Lord was with them to fight their battles.
2 Chronicles 32:19 (ESV) And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men’s hands.
This verse tells us how Sennacherib and his leaders spoke of the Lord God. They blasphemed His name in comparing Him to all the idols of the nations. This verse makes it clear that the gods of the nations are simply the work of men’s hands. They are idols with no power to do anything at all. The Lord God is completely different. He is the creator God with infinite wisdom and power.
2 Chronicles 32:20-21a (ESV) Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. And the LORD sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria.
So, in these dire circumstances, Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet cried out to heaven for protection against this world power. God answered that prayer by sending just one angel. This angel went throughout the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 of their fighting men and officers at one time. King Sennacherib pulled his remaining troops and returned to Assyria in shame. Not only was God’s judgement on the Assyrian troops but also on the king. When Sennacherib went into the temple of the idol he worshipped, two of his own sons killed him with the sword. So, through prayer Judah was saved from an enormous army. We also must rely on God’s power for protection.
You may wonder why God allowed this attack, this hurdle, after Hezekiah had done so many things right. The lesson for us today is that counter attacks by the enemy always come after spiritual victories. Satan seeks to discourage us and get us to doubt God’s protection. God wants us to rely on His power for our protection and to not worry.
As you get the basics right, by living a life of worship and following God’s Word, God will hear your prayers. He will protect, provide for and guide you on that narrow road following Jesus. Through prayer you will jump that testing hurdle and be delivered from the enemy’s attack.
This morning, do you sense that you are under attack? If so, it doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong. Most likely you are under attack because you are following Jesus. As you pray in faith, as Hezekiah did, God will deliver you from the enemy’s attack. Rely on God’s power for protection.
Today, we’ve talking about going against the flow of the world as Hezekiah did. You go against the flow by living a lifestyle of worship, both with your church family and individually. You go against the flow by choosing to follow all of God’s Word in every aspect of your life. You go against the flow and the attacks of the enemy by relying on God’s power for protection. As you go against the flow of the world, you follow Jesus on the narrow road.
The narrow road is the road that puts you in the flow of God’s blessing.