In times past, we could look euphemistically at the promises of persecution and trials for followers of Jesus that are in the Bible.  Protected by the US Constitution, we may have felt “safe”, and certainly insulated, from any such threats. But in blatant defiance of the 1st Amendment protections for Freedom of Religion, Christian business after Christian business has been targeted with life-threatening lawsuits for not supporting gay marriage and transsexualism.  Christian groups have been banished from college campuses for their “hate speech” and discrimination is choosing leadership. And an ex-Muslim pastor, a refugee from Iran, was just arrested and chained to a chair for 4 hours for having a private conversation about his conversion with a couple of curious Somali ladies…in the food court of Mall of America.  Is there any doubt now that everyone who claims to be a bible-believing follower of Christ has a big target on our backs, that seemingly the entire world is shooting at?  So how will you respond when your time comes…with attempts to compromise, just focusing on all the “love” verses or even denying the Bible is true, or stand boldly and, in love, keep speaking the truth?  All of us have choices to make these days…here with us today to help us choose wisely is teacher and author of the book “Broken Yet Blessed,” Kathi McCarty.

 

Table Talk Notes

2 Kings 18:1-8 | In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. He struck down the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.

 

Greatest king Judah ever had (v5)

  • He was a model of faithfulness to & trust in the Lord, a principled man of God.
  • He destroyed the bronze serpent (v4).
  • He re-opened the temple and restored the Levitical priesthood.
  • Reinstituted Passover as national holiday.
  • Revival came to Judah.

 

He decided to follow God (v2)

Every decision he made as King was predicated on his decision to follow God in all his ways.

 

Prov 3:6 | “…in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

He was made king at age of 25.

 

1 Tim 4:12 | “don’t let anyone despise your youth”

  • Martin Luther was 25.
  • Billy Sunday, 20’s.
  • Billy Graham was 22.
  • Patrick Henry was 26.

 

His deeds were righteous (v3)

His devotion to God kept him operating in the fear of the Lord rather than the appraisals of men.

 

Prov 9:10 | fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom & knowledge of the Holy one leads to understanding.

 

Fear of the Lord – awe, respect, adoration BUT also fear of His judgement because He is a Holy and Just God.

Our “fears” are based on the quality of knowledge of God, His ways & His timing. We cannot know Him properly apart from the Word.

Who or what do you “fear?”

 

Ps 46:10 | “Be still (quiet yourself, your fears) and KNOW (be intimately acquainted with) that I am God”

 

He took a stand against sin (v4)

  • He took ALL the idols out in the groves and destroyed them.
  • High places – something exalted; holding a place of prestige or honor
  • The brass serpent was a symbol of God’s mercy to the Israelites in the wilderness but became an idol. It took great courage to destroy it.
  • Idolatry: When we find our comfort, security, contentedness or moral standing in anything or anyone other than God and His Word
  • What are your idols? (everyone has them)

 

2 Cor 10:3-5 |  For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

 

Are you willing to be courageous, go to the “high places” in your own life, and pull down those things that exalt themselves above the knowledge of God? Click To Tweet

 

He trusted God (v5)

  • He takes responsibility for his life and actions
  • Hezekiah blames no one for what happened around him. Because his trust is in God, he does not labor under a victim or martyr mentality. We are victors not victims.
  • Pretty remarkable given his father was an evil king who led Judah into wickedness.
  • He was “discipled” by the Lord & prophet Isaiah.

 

He was devoted to God(v6)

  • Devotion: clave – a military/battle term. Soldiers were trained to never let go of their sword.
  • Taking a sword was a sign of conquering. Never be conquered, even in death!
  • “…and many a soldier gave his hand to war” (I will explain what this means)
  • “Easy” battles do not measure our devotion; battles that cost your “life” do.
  • How fierce is your “grip” on the Lord?
  • When the battles come, are you willing to fight with the sword of His Word, or succumb to the enemy?
  • How fiercely do you hold to the truth of His Word?
  • If God says it, I believe it and that settles it.
  • Is it true only when it’s easy and things are going well?

 

He was determined to stay the course (v7)

  • Neither prosperity nor adversity dictated his choices  – he would not bow/serve the enemy
  • The Assyrian king demanded a yearly tribute. His father paid it rather than go to war to fight the enemy of God. Hezekiah refused to pay and be yoked to the enemy.
  • If there is not an immediate hatred for sin and the yoke it brings to our lives, it’s because the sin is offering a trade-off, or pay off.

 

Mt 28:18 | And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

 

Are you exercising your authority?

Eph 6:12 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

  • We have an enemy!

 

Jn 16:33 | I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

  • Jesus told his disciples they’d have trouble in this world, BUT “I have overcome…”

 

The challenge…

What constitutes “greatness & success” to you as a believer?

Are you willing to pay the price?

Are you willing to stand strong in the difficult times, and stand “gracious” in the good times?

 

Be blessed…

2 Cor 1:12 | “…we have conducted ourselves in the world… in the holiness & sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom, but according to God’s grace”

Phil 3:3 | “…we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ, put no confidence in the flesh…”

 

Response: Can you say, as did Paul in Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live, I live by faith of the Son of God.