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Sermon – Recovering What’s Lost
The Bible says that Manasseh did evil in the sight of the Lord according to the nations God had kicked out; but then it says something we all need to sit up and pay attention to. It says, “He rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed” (2 Kings 21:3a).
The sin of Manasseh that eventually caused of the nation of Judah to be taken captive by the Babylonians with Jerusalem and the Temple of God being destroyed wasn’t just following the idolatrous ways of the other nations, it was also his deliberate undoing of what his father, Hezekiah, had taken such pains and time to accomplish for the glory and worship of God. The culmination of this evil effort was the building of altars to false gods in the Temple of the Lord.
Now look at what the Lord reveals concerning the heart of the people at the undoing of God’s holy and righteous standards. “They paid no attention” (2 Kings 21:9a).
It then goes on to say because of the people’s complacency Manasseh was able to seduce the people and the nation to do even more evil than they could ever imagine, more than all the idolatrous and godless nations that surrounded them.
This story has current implications. Today we have seen that our leaders have done the same to America. They have systematically taken away the very foundation upon which our country was founded upon, and that is the Lord God. They have taken prayer and the Bible out of our schools. They have taken the Ten Commandments from out of our courtrooms. They are trying to take “In God We Trust” from off our money, and “One Nation Under God” from out of our pledge. They’ve even taken “Christ” out of “Christmas.” In the name of tolerance they want us to agree with what we consider morally wrong, yet they won’t tolerate our belief in what the Bible says is right.
This story and what we see happening in our country today should be a wake up call for the church. Because we have not only been letting slide God’s moral standards, but also we have been paying little to no attention to the commandments of God’s word. And as a result we have been seduced, which has led our nation into even more and greater evil. We need to take to heart the words of the Lord who said, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).
So, what can we do? How about following God’s word and return to His ways and revival.
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)
And we need to do it quickly because there isn’t much time left!
Going back to our story, disaster was averted, if only for a short time. After the Manasseh disaster the nation of Judah entered into a time of reformation and revival, and it is all because of Manasseh’s grandson, King Josiah. We find the story in 2 Kings 22:1 thru 23:28.
Josiah swept away all the sins and idolatry of his grandfather. First he restored the temple, and in so doing rediscovered the Book of the Law. After hearing the words, Josiah humbled himself and mourned over his and the nation’s sinful condition.
Next he removed what Manasseh had done. Listen to the words that are used. He “brought out,” “removed,” “tore down,” “put away,” “broke down,” “took away,” and “burned” all the idols, temples, and high places throughout the land.
And because he had humbled himself, wept, and removed the abominations, the calamity was averted for the time, and that there was no king who proceeded or followed who had turned to the Lord so completely.
You see, Josiah had “made a covenant before the Lord” to follow and keep the word of God. But it wasn’t Josiah alone. It took the nation as well. It goes on to say, “And all the people took a stand for the covenant” (2 Kings 23:3).
We need to personally and corporately as the church make a covenant with God to follow His word and through the power of the Holy Spirit remove the idols and those high places in our own lives and in the church.
What I’d like to do is look at what it will take to recover what we have lost, not only what we have lost as a nation, but also what we have lost in our lives. The story I want to share with you comes from the life of King David, and it’s one of my favorite stories from his life that shows not only the consequences of compromise, but also the road back where we can recover all that we have lost, and then some.
What happened is that David was running for his life from king Saul, because Saul knew that God had anointed David to be the next king and he didn’t want that to happen. We’ll after one close call after another, David decided to cross the boarder into the land of Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, and thus started his road downward.
Instead of trusting God to protect him, he trusted in his own wisdom and in the strength of God’s enemies. While in the camp of the enemy he ingratiated himself to the King of Gath, whose champion, Goliath, David had killed. He was then given the city of Ziglag, which in order for he and his men to stay there, David had to lie, and to protect those lies he had to kill everyone in the cities he attacked. Eventually his compromise saw him leading his army against his own people, and if not for God’s intervention, it would have been a horrible ending.
When David returned to Ziglag with his men he found that it had been burnt to the ground and all of their families were taken captive along with all of their possessions and flocks. And that is where we find David sitting, in the blackened ruins of his sin and compromise. It says that David and his men wept so hard and so violently that they had no more tears to shed.
It was at this point that David finally came back to his senses. It says he encouraged himself in the Lord and inquired of God what he was supposed to do.
The Lord said, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.” (1 Samuel 30:8 NKJV)
And so it was that David recovered all, which was his relationship with God and his Holy Spirit vision, passion, and guidance. It was then and only then that David recovered his family and possessions. In other words, we must first recover in the spiritual before we can ever hope to recover anything in the physical.
So let’s take a look at what David lost and then recovered. We see what he lost in a telling verse when he crossed over to the enemy.
“And David said in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand.’” (1 Samuel 27:1 NKJV)
And so the first thing that we see he lost, and the first thing he recovered was
1. Holy Spirit Vision
What am I talking about when I say Holy Spirit Vision? It is the upward look toward God and His plans and purposes for our lives. David lost his Holy Spirit Vision because he had forgotten God’s promises and ceased to believe in God’s power. He doubted God’s ability to protect him. We see this in the first part of our verse. Look at what he said, “Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul.”
For some of us, maybe we haven’t fully lost that Holy Spirit vision, but it sure has become blurred. We say we believe God and His word, but we live our lives out in this world without fulfilling His purpose. What is that purpose? It is seen in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
It is our loving God with the whole of who we are, with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And then in that love we are to go into the world and make disciples teaching them to do all that Jesus has commanded (Matthew 22:37-39; 28:19-20).
But to do this we need Holy Spirit Vision. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:8-11 NKJV)
How are we to catch and maintain this same vision of what the Holy Spirit is doing, and therefore wants us to see? The Apostle Paul tells us to set our minds on those things that are above, and not on the things that are on this earth (Colossians 3:2). How are we to do that? It is by keeping one eye on the White Throne Judgment of God, and the other eye on the Judgment Seat of Christ.
In other words, it is by keeping one eye on heaven, and the other eye on hell. It is only seeing the end of the both that will keep our Holy Spirit Vision from becoming blurred.
When we keep an eye on the White Throne Judgment of God it will keep us ever moving toward the Great Commission of telling the world about Jesus, because all those who die and who do not come to faith in Jesus Christ, their end will be hell and the Lake of Fire for all eternity. This is something that none of us as believers in Jesus Christ want to see for anyone.
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, said that if he could he would finalize the training of everyone in his army by suspending him or her for 24 hours over hell. That is Holy Spirit Vision.
But at the same time we’re keeping our eye on the White Throne Judgment of God and the ultimate judgment of sin, we also need to keep our other eye on the Judgment Seat of Christ where in His grace, God has done away with the penalty of sin through Jesus death, burial, and resurrection, and how through belief in Him we can have access to the riches of God’s glory, right now and for all eternity in heaven.
So we need Holy Spirit Vision of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come, and of what Jesus Christ came to do setting us free from the bonds of sin and death.
David recovered His vision as he sat there in the blackened ruins of Ziglag. When he had finally come to an end of himself it says, “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30:6b NKJV)
And so to recover what we’ve lost it starts with strengthening ourselves in the Lord and recover our Holy Spirit Vision.
The next thing that David lost and needed recovery for is…
2. Holy Spirit Passion
While Holy Spirit Vision looks upward, Holy Spirit Passion looks inward with a hunger for God that surpasses every other desire that is possible to possess. It is our seeking after God with the whole of who we are.
Our verse reveals David’s loss of Holy Spirit Passion when he stopped looking to God for his life. It is when he stopped inquiring of God and started to figure things out on his own. And we see this very thing in our verse. It is found in the first six words.
“And David said in his heart.” (1 Samuel 27:1a NKJV)
David’s passion was lost when he started looking to Himself rather than looking to God. And the really sad part is that he allowed this to go on; not for days; not for weeks, not for months, but for years.
Right when he was about to march with the Philistines against his own people, Israel, the other Philistine lords got nervous that David was there and so they told Achish, the King of Gath, and David’s sponsor, to send David back. And Achish argued with them saying that David had been with him “these years” (1 Samuel 29:3).
David’s passion had cooled as he stopped seeking after God, and as a result got further entangled in his compromise. He had forgotten to pray, and had literally been absent from God for years.
What about our prayer life? What has caused our Holy Spirit Passion to become cool if not cold? Is our time with God tucked away in some five-minute span between the busyness of the day and the pleasures of life? Today I think it’s safe to say that we don’t take time to pray and to seek God’s presence. And because of that we’ve taken, like David, a nosedive into compromise.
It has been said that within the church we have plenty of people who are ready and able to interfere, but very few who are willing to intercede.
“Be still,” says the Lord, “and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Take at least and hour and sit before God and contemplate His great love. That is what David did. When God spoke of everything that He had done for David and of His great love for him, it says that David sat down and said, “What more can I say” (2 Samuel 7:20).
It is said that the person who sins will stop praying. So let’s confess our sin and turn back to God. Victory isn’t won in understanding theology; rather it is won in prayer. What we need today is less theology and more kneeology.
This is what David did and regained his Holy Spirit Passion. It was when he was sitting in the blackened ruins of his compromise, the blackened ruins of his losses that he regained not only the vision he had lost, but also Holy Spirit passion.
But that wasn’t all that David lost and recovered. Besides losing his Holy Spirit Vision and Passion, David also lost and needed recovery of …
3. Holy Spirit Guidance
When David lost his Holy Spirit Vision by doubting God’s ability to protect him from Saul, and when he lost his Holy Spirit Passion by turning to himself for the answers instead of seeking after God, he also lost his Holy Spirit Guidance.
Look again at what David said, “There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand.” (1 Samuel 27:1 NKJV)
David went over to the dark side. He crossed the boarder into the territory of God’s enemies. He was now living alongside the people of Goliath, whom David had slain and won such a great victory for God and Israel.
It is when we lose our vision and passion we also lose the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Of the Holy Spirit Jesus said, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13a NKJV)
The Holy Spirit has been given to all who believe in Jesus Christ in order to be a guide. To not only guide us into all truth, but to be our guide, that is, to pull us away from the wide road that leads to destruction, and onto the straight and narrow road that leads to everlasting life.
And so it was, that when David recovered his vision by looking upward and strengthening himself in the Lord, and then by recovering his passion by inquiring of the Lord, the Lord responded by restoring to David Holy Spirit Guidance.
“So David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He (God) answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.’” (1 Samuel 30:8 NKJV)
And so David immediately set out at such a furious pace, a pace that not all of his men could keep up with, and the Lord set in his path someone who could then direct him to where his loved ones and possessions were.
And so it was that David recovered all, not only his loved one and material possessions, but also his Holy Spirit Vision, his Holy Spirit Passion, and his Holy Spirit Guidance.
And it will be the same with all of us when we turn back to God, and here’s the really neat part. God doesn’t condemn us, rather he puts us right back in the game, right back on the horse, where we can likewise recover all that is lost.
So today, cry out to God and return to Him and let Him restore to you that Holy Spirit Vision, Passion, and Guidance. It’s yours and it is available right here and right now.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study