Three Hindrances to Personal Revival

Three Hindrances to Personal Revival

Please turn with me to 2 Chronicles 24. Today we’re going to look at King Joash. He’s a very interesting character. He’s a sad character. His rule started out with such great promise and then just belly flopped. God obviously had a plan for him. God wanted to use him to bring revival to Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah, but it never happened. First a little background. Ahaziah, his father, was only king for one year. He was 22 years old and he goes up to Israel to comfort the king up there who had been wounded but when he was up there he was killed by Jehu and if you want to know about that, read it. But here’s the interesting part. When the Queen Mother, this is Ahaziah’s mother, found out that he had been assassinated, grandma goes around and kills all his sons. Nice lady. Good old grandma. She goes around and kills all the grandkids so that she can sit on the throne. She was a Baal worshiper. Idolatrous. Remember, one of the king’s sister’s (remember he was only 22 years old) took little Joash and hid him from her (the grandmother’s name was Athaliah). Snuck him out of the palace and into the temple. Handed him over (and his name was Joash) this little baby to the high priest, whose name was Jehoiada. And this high priest hid him in the temple, which is incredible when you think about it, from the queen who was ruling the country for 7 years. Obviously, there were a lot of other people involved in protecting his life and you can read about that. But when he was 7 years old the high priest blows the trumpets and everything. Brings him out and say, “The king!” And Athaliah comes, “Treason, treason!” They kill her. So, let’s pick up in 2 Chronicles chapter 24. We’ll start with verse 1. King Joash is 7 years old and he’s now the king. Imagine 7 years old and you’re the king.

Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Zibiah from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. Jehoiada took two wives for him, and he became the father of sons and daughters. Now it came about after this that Joash decided to restore the house of the Lord. He gathered the priests and Levites and said to them, “Go out to the cities of Judah and collect money from all Israel to repair the house of your God annually, and you shall do the matter quickly.” But the Levites did not act quickly. So the king summoned Jehoiada the chief priest and said to him, “Why have you not required the Levites to bring in from Judah and from Jerusalem the levy fixed by Moses the servant of the Lord and the congregation of Israel for the tent of the testimony?” For the sons of the wicked Athaliah had broken into the house of God and even used the holy things of the house of the Lord for the Baals. So the king commanded, and they made a chest and set it outside by the gate of the house of the Lord. They made a proclamation in Judah and Jerusalem to bring to the Lord the levy fixed by Moses the servant of God on Israel in the wilderness. All the officers and all the people rejoiced and brought in their levies and dropped them into the chest until they had finished.

2 Chronicles 24: 1-10 NASB

You keep reading and what happened is, the temple was remodeled. All the utensils were put back. They made new ones and they started having sacrifices and offerings daily. Singing and rejoicing in the Lord daily. So, revival was beginning to take place. Let’s continue reading verses 17.

But after the death of Jehoiada (the high priest who had raised Joash since he was a little boy and put him on the throne) the officials of Judah came and bowed down to the king, and the king listened to them. They abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols; so, wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their guilt. Yet He sent prophets to them to bring them back to the Lord; though they testified against them, they would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, “Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you.’” So they conspired against him and at the command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord. Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which his father Jehoiada had shown him, but he murdered his son. And as he died he said, “May the Lord see and avenge!” Now it happened at the turn of the year that the army of the Arameans came up against him; and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, destroyed all the officials of the people from among the people, and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus. Indeed the army of the Arameans came with a small number of men; yet the Lord delivered a very great army into their hands, because they had forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers. Thus, they executed judgment on Joash.
2 Chronicles 24: 17-24 NASB

When Joash became king, there must have been an excitement. Especially when he got a little bit older and began to institute revival because when you start seeking the Lord and you start worshiping Him, I think the Lord births an expectation of good things to come. But something went wrong. Why did such a perfect opportunity for revival slip away? How did this happen? How did Joash, who started off so good, what happened to him? How is it that he crumbled? And I believe that these are important questions, especially, and the reason why I’m preaching this message as we see what God is doing with us here as a church. We’re no better than anyone else and I got to tell you that Mark and I are getting reports from other pastors that God is moving all across this county right now. It’s pretty exciting and we just didn’t want to miss anything God has for us. Amen?! So, what can each of us learn about missing revival in our own life. Remember, revival historically has been… well it doesn’t happen unless you and I get revived. If we as individuals don’t do something, if we don’t go forward with our walk with God, if we don’t get serious, revival never happens. Revival happens, it starts in the household of God. You guys understand that? And then as a church gets built up and on fire with God it just explodes out into the culture. What happened to Joash that he so easily compromised, missed out on what God had for him? Well, I believe we can identify three self-inflicted hindrances that King Joash allowed to happen in his life that made him susceptible to compromise and miss out on God’s revival. The first is this. He failed to develop spiritual convictions.

1) Failure to develop spiritual convictions

Convictions. I’m going to define them… spiritual convictions. They are beliefs that you and I are so convinced about. We know they’re truth. We believe they are absolute truth and of course, this is the Bible, and we are willing to base our life upon it. I have a spiritual conviction that this is the Word of God and there are certain parameters that rule my life and they are absolute. Now as long as this high priest was around, Joash did okay, but as soon as he was gone, he failed. So why was that? Obviously, Joash had not developed his own set of spiritual convictions. He was leaning on the high priest. He had never sat down, read the Word, understood what is said, why it was important and how it applied to his life and so forth. He had always let somebody else do it for him. King Joash needed to understand and develop convictions himself but he never did. Oh, he went to temple every week and I’m sure he considered himself one of God’s people. But he never came to a place where he understood what he believed and why he believed it. So as soon as the priest died, Joash was easily led astray by these political leaders, these important leaders, and probably it was initially to compromise God’s ways in some way. And I’m sure it revolved around money, or politics, or power, or land. So Joash, when he was confronted with well thought out arguments that questioned God’s Word, he just crumbled because he never developed his own set of convictions about what the Bible said, what the Word of God said and how that applied to his life. As your pastor I can only lead you so far. Mark and I can only lead you to a certain point; we can say this is what the Bible says. At that point it’s up to you. Ultimately you and I have to develop our own set of convictions. We have to come to a place where we know what the Bible says and we’re committed to live by it. A good spiritual conviction to have is, “I’m not sure what the Lord says about this particular thing, but I am going to find out and I’m going to be obedient to it.”

The story of Samson is another sorry story. It’s a cool story. I remember it when I was a kid. I didn’t like that part where he got his eyes gouged out. When you’re a kid you kind of think about that. I remember going, “What does that mean? What do they mean gouged out? How did they do that?” You don’t want to know. But here is someone else. Samson had never developed spiritual convictions and so he fell quite easily. I love what Joshua says. I like Joshua because Joshua was a guy who developed spiritual convictions. I mean, his mentor was Moses and he was going to do things God’s way. And this is what he said. And this is probably a passage familiar to you.

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15 NASB

As for me and my house as soon as we know what the Lord wants us to do, that’s what we’re going to do. This man had spiritual convictions. Biblical convictions agree with God’s Word. They don’t try to take away from it. They don’t add to it. They don’t try to explain it away. It is what it is and this is God’s Word and I believe it. In a church like ours the more people who are dedicating themselves to learning and gaining spiritual conviction, the more power and presence of God we’re going to have in our midst because the more people you have seeking God’s will for their life… Isaiah 66:2 says this and this is one of my favorite Scriptures and I know I probably share it all the time, but I love it.

“For My hand made all these things, thus, all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Isaiah 66:2 NASB

You get a church full of people who are humbly coming to God’s Word and letting it speak to them, humbling their life before God and wanting to serve Him and do what He wants… do you understand that revival will come to that group of people? It’s only a matter of time. So, the first hindrance is that Joash never developed his own spiritual convictions. You know, I’ve seen in the church married couples, and when the spouse dies who had the spiritual convictions, the other spouse, (whether it’s a husband or wife, you know, kind of let the other person lead in that area, let them learn Scripture, never really learning spiritual conviction for themselves) when the one with spiritual conviction is gone, many times they fall. I’ve seen it too many times.

The second self-inflicted hindrance that prevented King Joash from entering into revival that could have affected him and the kingdom and generations to come was his lack of trust in God.

2) Lack of trust in God

This is talking about the same king. Jehoash is just another name for Joash. In other words, some people call me David, some people call me Dave and some people call me other things, but we won’t talk about that, but Joash or Jehoash, same person.

In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash (Joash) became king, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba. Jehoash did right in the sight of the Lord all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.
2 Kings 12:1-3 NASB

Which is interesting to me. If you read 1st and 2nd Kings and 1st and 2nd Chronicles an interesting thing about a lot of these kings, even the so-called good kings, is a lot of them left these high places. Solomon had them, too. And the high places are where they worshipped idols: Baal and Ashtoreth, all these guys, Molech. Why did they do that? I think it was insurance policy just in case God didn’t come through. If God didn’t come through we got a plethora of gods. Maybe one of them will help us. And you know, American Christians do some things similar. We hold on to relationships because we believe that relationship meets our needs and maybe God won’t come through. We hold on to some business practices that really are kind of sketchy, just to make sure we can get ahead. We tithe on almost everything… especially when we get a big gift, we’re not going to tithe on that because we just want to make sure we have enough money. We want to make sure we have enough. But whenever you compromise in any area of your life, it’s a sin. And sin the Bible says, Romans 14, “Whatever is not from faith is a sin.” And sin, Isaiah 59:2 says, “…separates us from God.” And Hebrews 11:6 tells us it’s impossible to please God without faith. The person that God is pleased with is the person who is trying to live their life in faith. Believing that He is faithful and He is the rewarder of those who seek Him. Let’s read something else. Let’s read 2 Kings 17 and 18.

Then Hazael king of Aram went up and fought against Gath and captured it, and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem. Jehoash King of Judah took all the sacred things that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred things and all the gold that was found among the treasuries of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house, and sent them to Hazael king of Aram. Then he went away from Jerusalem.
2 Kings 12:17-18 NASB

In other words, he bribed him but he was thinking, “He’s going to come back. When the money runs out he’s going to come back.” If King Joash would have been following the Lord, he would have called a fast and prayer in all of Judea and asked God for deliverance when he was faced with a crisis. He didn’t do that. And it’s interesting that this small army defeated a great army. And what it makes me think about is so often the things that come into our life, the enemy makes them look bigger than they really are. Remember, we’re talking about having faith in the God who created the universe. Sometimes in our own mind or the enemy, he even makes big things look even bigger and when that happens we panic. Panic. Panic is nothing more than a bi-product of a lack of faith. If you ever find yourself panicking it’s just a demonstration of your lack of faith and trust in God. What kind of faith you and I have is revealed in how we respond to difficult circumstances. Listen guys, when the doctor told me I had cancer, that was bad enough sitting there listening to him, and then he said, “And what we’re really concerned about is that it has spread (because it’s been such a long time) up into your brain.” At that point, I’m panicking. So, his mouth is moving, I don’t hear a word he says. Cancer. Brain. Ahhh! To say I was panicked is an understatement. I went home in a daze. “I’m going to die. It’s going to be horrible.” I immediately open the Bible. I’m smart enough to recognize I need God. So, I start reading the Bible and I started journaling. I was telling God, I still have stacks of this stuff, journal, this is how I feel. Woe is me. Read more Scripture, prayed, and I want to tell you something. What happens, it doesn’t take very long, the Lord would bring Scripture to me and I would write it down. Scriptures that I had memorized long before about God’s faithfulness and so forth and I just kept reading and I would wake up at two or three in the morning, (whether it was the devil or in my own mind I don’t know), but you wake up in the morning and you’re freaked out. So, you go, “I’m going to die, it’s going to be horrible.” I don’t want to make fun, but that’s how I was. I was panicked. I’d go downstairs, I’d read, I’d read, I’d study, I’d journal, I’d read, I’d study, I’d pray. Slowly over the course of a maybe a week, my attitude changed. I still knew I was probably in for a rough ride, but my faith and trust was back in God again. Because, guys listen, whether I was a Christian or not, whether I was going to have trust in God or not, I was going to go through this thing. Do you understand? I was going to go through it. Why not be filled with His Spirit and hope? You might as well do that because you’re going to go through it anyway. I’m smart enough to know I need God. Don’t ever think that you don’t need to have your faith renewed every single day. You need to find a place to have that devotional. The most important thing is to find a time to have it and a place to do it and to go there every day so that when that trial comes you’ll be ready. So, he failed to have spiritual convictions. He had not developed any kind of faith in his life and he wasn’t trying to develop it. And the third hindrance to personal revival, renewal, demonstrated by King Joash was something we need to think about. He didn’t listen to the voice of God.

3) Not listening to the voice of God

Yet He sent prophets to them to bring them back to the Lord; though they testified against them, they would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, “Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you.’”
2 Chronicles 24: 19-20 NASB

Even after Joash fell away, God in His mercy kept sending messengers, saying, “Come back to me, there’s still time. Come back to me, there’s still time.” But Joash didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t want to hear that what he was doing was wrong. Have you ever tried to lovingly tell someone what they were doing was wrong? How did that go? Usually not so good, but don’t ever think the Holy Spirit doesn’t use that. You go to someone, in love, and say, “This is what I see.” They may get angry at you, but you do it anyway. So, he kills Zechariah. Amazing to me. For the vast majority of you sitting here today, you don’t have the rebellion that King Joash has. You wouldn’t act like that. I know that. At least I hope. The fact that you are in church today is a good thing. And I don’t think the vast majority in here are in rebellion against God. I don’t believe that. You wouldn’t be here if you were. Some of you are. Your mom might have dragged you here. The Holy Spirit might have dragged you here. You might be in desperate shape because of your rebellion. I don’t know. But if you are in rebellion against God, you need to get right with God today. You can do that in just a few minutes. It’s not that hard. Jesus loves you. He’ll welcome you back. The Bible calls you a prodigal. I was a prodigal. God loves you. He died for you. He wants to set you back on the right course. He wants to change your life. If you’ve never given your life to Jesus Christ, it’s no accident you’re here. It’s no accident you’re hearing this message. God can change your life. He’s here. But for most of us in here today, we haven’t rebelled against God. Now I’m not saying you’re better than anybody else. I’m just saying you’ve given your life to Jesus. You understand that this is the Word of God as we talked about two weeks ago. For most of us here today, the real question is, are we listening to God? Are we having devotions? Are we reading His Word? Are we listening for the voice of God in our life? You see, most of us, I know, are like Martha. Remember the story of Mary and Martha. We get up in the morning, and if you’re like me, I make a list and usually that list, right in the morning, usually has 15-18 things to do that day. I’ve been thinking about them all night, tossing and turning. I got to do this and that and this. I get up and make the list. Then I have devotions and I run out the door. The good days are the days I look at that list and they’re all blacked out. You know what I’m saying? Now I must not like myself because I always make too big of a list that I can’t possibly finish that day, you know what I’m talking about? But that’s who I am. Drives my wife crazy. For some of us, we get up, we rush out of the house. We have every intention of doing devotions when we come home but when we come home, we’re pooped. Put a fork in you, right? You open the Bible, you look at it. You read a paragraph or two and it’s like, “What did I just read?” You try to read it again. You’re too tired. Your brain can’t handle it. The only thing you can handle to stand is to sit in front of the tube and vegetate. That’s all you’re good for. If you’ve been gone for eight, nine, ten hours, you know, and then you got to go to the gym. I hate working out. If you want to look like this at 65, don’t work out. People always go, “You have so much energy, I can’t believe it.” I say, “Well, I don’t work out.” I don’t waste my energy. Boy, am I going to get letters. “You’re a pastor, why are you encouraging people to…” I’m not. Yes, I’m sure you should work out. Then we come to church and it’s a good thing. We know God is here. We love to experience God’s presence and hear a message and visit with friends, but did you come this morning ready to listen? For a lot of you, you’re already starting to think about… even right now when you’re hearing this fantastic, inspiring, wonderful message you’re thinking about all kinds of things you’re going to do after church. I know. What restaurant you’re going to go to. You may even be on your phone right now, maybe even be putting in a reservation. But listen to this. What you walk away with today will be a direct result of your determination to listen to God. What you and I walk away with today is going to be determined by your willingness and desire to hear from God. If you’re reading along with us in our one hundred and twenty days, last week you were reading in Matthew and Jesus said and says it a lot in the gospels, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Interesting phrase, isn’t it? Of course, we have ears. Of course, I’m hearing. He’s saying listen. Some people are going to hear, but they won’t hear. Our Christian life can become routine. It can become a habit. We can go to a small group, we can be in church a couple times a week. But if you’re not expecting to hear from God, then your Christianity will become lifeless. You know, there are several times God has spoken to me in an audible voice. I heard Him speak. One of them was that I was to marry my wife. God said to me, as sure as this is standing here (pat on the lectern) and this is what He said, “If you don’t marry this one, it’s going to be a long time before I bring you another one.” I remember that like it was yesterday, “Hi Mary, let’s get married.” That’s almost how it was. And you know what? My wife is a gift from God. That was God telling me.

When you got up this morning and you got ready to go to church, what were you thinking? I hope it was, “Wow, I get to go to church. I get to worship God and God is going to speak to me today. He’s going to tell me something. I’m going to learn something about God. God’s going to give me direction. God’s going to challenge me. God’s going to tell me something about Himself. I may learn something or God may speak to me about my life that I’m not even thinking about right now. The God of the universe is going to speak to me.” Show me an expectant and excited person who’s coming to church and I’ll show you a person who is probably going to hear God speak to them. He’s going to speak to that person about a relationship, teach them something, encourage them, convict them. They’ll get direction.

What you walk away with today will be determined by your expectant willingness to hear from God.

Do you understand that if you have a congregation of people, small or big, and they come to church with a determination, an expectant determination and willingness to hear from God, do you understand that group of people are going to have an excitement when they get together? God’s going to speak to me! God wants to speak to us, we just have to listen. When you became a Christian, God’s Holy Spirit was placed inside of you. It’s like you have a receiver. You have a radio receiver, right there, and God wants to speak to you. Now, I’ve heard a lot of people say, “God told me this, God told me that,” and I’m going, “No, He didn’t.” Obviously, you have to use wisdom. The enemy would like nothing better than to try to trick you, deceive you, but God has given us His Word. He’s given us counsel. We can determine that a lot of what God speaks to us is obviously God. A good thing to ask yourself as you leave here today is simply, what did God say to me today? What did God challenge me with today? What did I learn today? What does God want me to do? Who does God want me to forgive?

But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.
Jeremiah 7:23-24 NASB

It is interesting to me how many times in the Bible it talks about obedience. That last phrase, “and went backward and not forward,” just arrested me. My willingness to hear from God and not shut Him out is going to determine whether I go forward or backward. Israel chose not to listen to God and so they went backward not forward.

Okay, this is the last thing I’m going to say and I want everyone to hear it. Personal revival. Personal revival is where your walk with God is just energized. Where the Bible is coming alive to you. Where you’re hearing things, you’re laying hands on people, things are happening in the church, things are exciting. You feel led to pray about something and it happens. So, personal revival, personal renewal comes to that person who actively, daily puts themselves in a position to listen and hear from God. Personal revival comes to that person who daily actively puts themselves in a position to hear from God. What are you talking about? You read the Bible, you pray, you go to church, you go to small group, you visit with other Christians. You go to other Christians with situations and ask for their opinion. God will speak through other people. My prayer for each one of you would be that you would not miss an opportunity that God has for you in the next six to eight to ten months. I don’t know what God is planning to do but when you’ve been doing this church thing as long as I have… Next week I’m going to give a message on the fact that Jesus Christ is passing by. That’s the title of the message. I believe that Jesus Christ is passing by right now in a special way. It’s happened four or five or six times in the life of this church. I don’t want us to miss anything that God has for us and that is in some ways my responsibility, Mark’s and my responsibility to let you know that. I’m challenging you today. I am telling you, Jesus Christ is passing by. And personal revival, your walk with Jesus, if you daily put yourself in a position to hear from God, God is going to speak to you.

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