Seeking the Lord: A Position of Blessing

January 14, 2006 2 Chronicles 26:

Introduction:
1.  Sometime ago, a pastor of a very large church (around 10,000 people) was asked a question:  Why is this church the way it is? (referring to size, various ministries, etc.)  Why is God blessing this ministry so much?
- The response of the pastor was very insightful and gracious:  “This church is the way it is because that’s the way God has chosen it to be.”
> That answer is a very theological answer – an accurate answer and an ultimate answer
- but I also think, to a certain degree, it is an incomplete answer
2.  It is true – God is sovereign, and He does whatever pleases Him . . .
-  He’s holy, so He cannot make a mistake, so everything He does is RIGHT and for HIS GLORY which He deserves because He is the true and Living God, He is the Creator of the heavens/earth and He made man in His own image and likeness and breathed into man the breath of life!
- but there is another element that we do need to factor into the questions asked of that pastor:
WHY is God blessing this ministry so much?
3.  I fully agree – the ULTIMATE answer is found in the nature and character of God – He is the ‘covenant keeping God of Israel’
- you can go back to Gen. 3:15
 Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel."
> that was God’s sovereign choice to MAKE that promise . . . and to FULFILL that promise in the Person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ (the seed of the woman)!
- you can go back to Gen. 8:21 – and the covenant God made to Noah after the flood:
 Genesis 8:21 . . . the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."
> that’s exactly what God has done since He made that promise – the NT tells us that the next time this earth is destroyed, it will be by fire . . . not by flood!
- you can go back to Gen. 12:1-3 – and the covenant God made to Abraham:
 Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; 2 and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; 3 And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
Point: God blesses whom He chooses to bless . . . because He is a gracious and merciful God:
• Gracious in giving us what we do not deserve and . . .
• Merciful in withholding what we DO deserve!
-  After the exodus from Egypt, the Lord reinforced this truth as Moses wrote to Israel (God’s chosen people):
 Deuteronomy 7:7 The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
- the question stands: Why did God do this?
4.  In other words, Is there anything we can do to be in a position of God’s blessings?
-  Do the choices you and I make have anything to do with how God responds to us?
- I think the following verses would indicate that the answer to that question is YES:
 Deuteronomy 11:26 "See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.
 Deuteronomy 7:9  "Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
5.  You might make the argument:  Well, that’s the OT and God was dealing with Israel then – this is today and the NT and God is dealing with the church
- true, but what do you do with verses like:
 John 13:17 "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
 Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
- you might be thinking: Are there any examples in the bible of God blessings being dependant upon a person’s actions!  Answer . . .YES!!
6.  Please turn in your Bibles to 2 Chronicles 26 [page 335 of the front section of the bible under the chair in front of you or p. ____ of the Chinese bible]
- last week, Pastor Viars presented our 2006 theme for our church: Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness [if you weren’t here, get a copy of it from Ministry Resource Center or website]
7.  Two week ago today (in preparation for Steve’s message), I raised a question on Jan 1st : What is going to help us accomplish what our Pastor lays out before us next week? [Jan. 8th]
- i.e. if God allows us another year of serving Him – what will it take for us to be effective and get something done for the glory of God that puts us in a better position to minister effectively when the community center opens in May of 2007?
- we referred to verses like
 Daniel 11:32 “. . . but the people who know their God shall be strong, and take action!”
 Psalm 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.
8.  Our study this morning takes us to an OT passage and a man by the name of Uzziah – the text tells us a lot about this man and his life [READ 26:1-23]
- I want to remind you of Paul’s words regarding the OT:
 Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
* There are 4 Lessons we can learn from this passage


I.  God Prospers Those Who Seek Him – 26:4-15


A.  What does it mean to ‘seek God’? – 26:4-5
seek = to resort to, seek with care (not some casual attitude, but with purpose!)
- he sought to recognize Who God is and what He had done (i.e. the Exodus – leading Israel out of Egypt, the walls of Jericho coming down, etc.)
- in short – he properly worshipped God and wanted to know Him better
 that would include elements of prayer
 obviously he was connected to the temple and he knew what went on there, so you have the element of willing to bring sacrifices to the Lord
 there was an element of him knowing ‘the Law’ (or the writings of Moses)
 but anyone who is truly ‘seeking the Lord’ will be. . . OBEDIENT to the Lord – that’s what v. 4 and 5 are really all about
Summary:  To ‘seek God’ means to know Him better and to understand what He wants you to do . . . and then DO IT!
- my prayer is that FBC will be a body of individuals who are seeking God:
• We’re going to be praying
• We’re going to be worshipping
• We’re going to be sacrificial in our serving and giving
• We’re going to be men/women of the Book – study to know God’s word
• We’re going to OBEY it – no matte the cost!
Application: What does that look like around FBC on a day to day basis?
- talk about the Faithful to Pray team
- talk about FBI classes coming up
- talk about ABF Ministry – The Disciple Making Church!
- talk about willing to step into new Serving positions (point out: Jeff & Lori Walters)
> seeking to use your gifts/abilities – teaching, music, hospitality (BCTC)
POINT: You can’t say you are ‘seeking God’ if you’re not (1) growing in your relationship with Christ by reading/studying His Word, (2) getting ‘connected’ to your church body by being here regularly, and (3) SERVING and Reaching Out to others!
 Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
* but Mark, that sounds like a lot of work to me – YOU GOT IT!
> but remember:  ‘as long as He sought the LORD, God prospered Him.’
- you might say: Well, I’m not doing all that, and I’m getting along just fine!”
CAUTION:  Don’t confuse God’s PATIENCE with God’s PROSPERITY!
- God in His mercy may be withhold what you really deserve or may be blessing you in spite of yourself . . . but eventually He will confront you (see that later in the text)
Note: It’s interesting that God brought a godly person into Uzziah’s life to help direct him:
Zechariah = "Jehovah remembers" a prophet in the reign of Uzziah, who appears to have acted as the king's counselor, but of whom nothing is known
[Do you see a pattern in this man’s life? – a mom whose name means “Jehovah is able” and a prophet whose names means “Jehovah remembers”
Q: Who has God brought into your life to help you grow?
Suggest a few people:  Your pastors, deacons, ABF Teacher, Key Leader, the body of Christ!
B.  The reality of God’s blessings – 26:6-15
- when God prospers a person, He does so in a very tangible and real way!
Prospered = to rush, to advance, make progress, succeed, be profitable or experience prosperity
- there was no doubt in this text of the blessings of God on the life of Uzziah because ‘he did right in the sight of the Lord’ and ‘continued to seek God’
[summarize these – Here are some ways God prospered him]
1.  His success in wars – v. 6-7
- for sake of time, we won’t discuss the ramifications of each of the victories
- but I do want to point out that the ‘arch-enemy’ of Israel were the Philistines and Uzziah conquered their major cities,
 Gath = one of the five royal or chief cities of the Philistines and the home of Goliath 
 Jabneh =  a Philistine city that had an important strategic consequence – it gave control of the area through which Joash of Israel had attacked Amaziah, Uzziah’s father (2 Chron. 25:21)
 Ashdod = "powerful" , a major Philistine city on the Mediterranean Sea west from Jerusalem
- along with a few other strategic cities!
 Eloth = a  port on the northeast arm of the Red Sea that gave access to the maritime commerce to the East  [very strategic – like New Orleans or San Diego, CA to U.S.]
 Gur-baal = "dwelling of Baal" and Meunites (a reference to the people of Edom – 20:1)
2. The greatness of his fame and reputation – v. 8
- word was getting out a/b this king that God was blessing – even to the borders of Egypt
3. His buildings – v. 9-10a
- while he was on the offensive abroad, he was very defensive at home – he sought the protection of Jerusalem
- the fact that he had to rebuild the wall (due to his father’s spiritual failures) should have been a reminder that he needed to continue to seek the LORD
>  that is the BEST defense . . . i.e. knowing and doing the will of God!
4.  His management of property and goods – v. 10b
(all the cattle, farmland, vineyards – evidence of God’s blessings – ‘for he loved the soil’)
- he was a great king that had a heart for the farmers (good thing = food, meat, wealth)
5.  His army and its preparation – v. 11-16
- not only the size and numbers but ‘valiant warriors’ – HIGH QUALITY men!
- but they were very prepared – in fact, Uzziah provide offensive and defensive weapons – v. 14
- v. 15 indicates he had specialty men who developed devices that would enhance their military power and capability!
- Push the pause button and remember a couple of verses:
 Psalm 20:7 Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.
 James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights . . ..
‘What a pity it is that the wars and fightings which come from men’s lust have make it necessary for cunning men to employ their skill in inventing instruments of death.” – Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Joshua to Esther, p. 762.


II.  God Allows Us to Determine Our Response to His Blessings – 26:16


- v. 16 is a key verse to this text
 2 Chronicles 26:16 But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
A.  Pride Leads to Corruption and Unfaithfulness
- pride says: I will do it my way; it’s all about me – he went into the temple and
> Saul, the 1st king of Israel, tried this and it cost him his kingdom
 1 Samuel 13:13 Samuel said to Saul, "You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you."
- Uzziah knew what the LORD’s expectations were for a king and for a priest
- he knew the Law clearly states that the offering of incense in the temple was a job for the priest – NOT the king!
- Uzziah’s actions not only had implications to the Law of God, but what Uzziah did mocked the coming King, the Messiah, who would serve as the only true King and Priest
[this goes back to Gen. 14:18 – Melchchizedek, king of Salem, was also a priest of the Most High God – it would later be said of Christ:
 Hebrews 5:10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
B.  What should be our response to prosperity? P R A I S E to God!
- thanksgiving to God, and further commitment to God to OBEY His Word
* Keep Your Focus on the Provider, not the Prosperity
- Uzziahs name should have reminded him of this truth: Uzziah = "my strength is Jehovah"
- remember what the Lord said to the disciples:
 John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
- remember the Lords words to Isaiah:
 Isaiah 41:10 'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
- when you get out of the ‘seat of praise’ and into the ‘seat of pride’ – look out!
> CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES and the Law of the Harvest kicks in!
- because God is a God of grace,  . . .


III.  God Gives Us Opportunities to Repent – 26:17-21


A.  God uses people to help us change – Azariah – v. 17-18
Azariah = “Jehovah has helped” – he was the priest – it was his responsibility, not Uzziahs
- he took with him 80 other priests – valiant men (strong, brave men)
- remember Zechariah (“Jehovah remembers”) – his mother: Jechiliah (Jehovah is able”)
B.  God uses His judgment: leprosy – v. 19-21
- He has yet another opportunity to respond
[explain the skin disease – equated with sin from a biblical perspective]
Result: look at v. 21 – “in a separate house” – cut off from the people, no longer able to enter the sanctuary of God; he basically lost his kingship and all honor from the Lord.
“If presumptuous men will not be made to see their error by the judgment of God’s mouth, they shall be made to see it by the judgment of His hand.” – Matthew Henry, p. 763
IV.  God Allows Us to Write Our Epitaph – 26:22-23
v. 23 ‘He is a leper’– that was NOT a compliment – rather, it was an indictment on his life
- think of what could have been said:
 David – ‘a man after God’s own heart
 Enoch – ‘walked with God’
 Abraham – ‘a friend of God’
 John – ‘the beloved apostle’
Conclusion:
1. We cannot lose sight of the fact that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5)
- we can never forget the words of Isaiah the prophet that lived in the day of Uzziah:
 Isaiah 42:8 "I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.”
 Isaiah 48:11 "For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.
- Life is not about us – we are not the central focus
-  But God has chosen to bless those who obey Him, serve Him with all their heart, and love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength!
2.  Conclude with this * Key verse:
 James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
3. What does all this mean to us?
- we better be doing what God has called us to do!
- we need to be seeing Him as a church, as families, as individuals
- we would want it to be said of us:  “as long as FBC sought the LORD, God prospered them.”