Are there doors inside of us that the Lord wants to reopen or repair? Will we invite Him in to work alongside us for healing and breakthrough?
So great to see all of you. If you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry. I’m the lead pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. Our series is called Breakthrough. I realize we’re only 10 days into the new year, and some of us might say, “We’re already 10 days into the new year.” It’s true. Time is already racing ahead. It’s not too late to make good adjustments.
One of the things that I’ve come to really, truly believe in is that the decisions we make at the outset of the year go a long way to shaping how we end up approaching the entire year. Foundations matter, beginnings matter. They don’t tell the whole story. There’re a lot of variables. I think a lot of us are aware of that. We just saw how last year worked out; it certainly wasn’t predictable.
If we make good adjustments and establish some good patterns early on in a year, it can oftentimes carry us into a season of breakthrough or growth in our lives. That’s my desire. I want to have us actually look back into the older Testament to start this off. I’m calling the message, “Opening Doors for a New Year”. I’m convinced that there are things that God wants to open up in us as we open this new year.
For those of you who’ve accepted Jesus and known Him, maybe you’ve known Him for a number of years. Maybe the challenge for you is not so much staying faithful in your walk with the Lord and your convictions around who He is. But, it’s more about keeping them vital and alive. It’s like any kind of love. It’s very easy to take things for granted when we’ve become accustomed to them. It’s human nature. The Lord wants us to periodically stir things up so that even the things that we’ve come to grow accustomed to can be fresh and renewed inside of us.
I know that even in my own life, having followed Jesus for all of these decades since I was but a young man really. I grew up in church and Sunday school. Some of you have the blessing of being able to take advantage of both of these. What I think is wonderful right now is the online children’s ministry, kids’ ministry that we’ve been just pouring energy and life into. I grew up in Sunday school. It was a much smaller church that I grew up in, but yeah, those seeds were planted.
Then when I was a teenager, it came to a point of fruition where the God that I had learned about and all those Bible stories that I had embedded into my heart, came alive to me when I was touched by the Lord’s Spirit in my life. I made a decision as a teenager to truly follow Him. That has made all the difference. I still remember the excitement of those early years, when I started reading His scriptures and they came alive to me. I found myself very intrigued with the Older Testament as well.
The stories, the examples, there was just so much life in it. I just found it to be like an adventure of discovery. God’s Word, things new and old flowing out of it. I remember reading a commentary. The first little devotional I had was one of those daily breads. I remember reading them. I’d read the passage and the commentary and maybe speak a little prayer or affirmation. It was just such a life-giving to me. I’ve tried to maintain that through the vast majority of my life, obviously changed now that I’m a pastor.
Every now and then we do need to stir up the gift that is within us to make it alive again. That’s like moving the fire around a little. Move the wood around. Let some fresh oxygen in. Mix some things up. Do some things differently. Remind ourselves that love needs to be nurtured. It can’t just always be the same thing. There’s a comfort in the same. Maybe some of us during this unique time have found some of that comfort in the sameness of life.
There’s also a need to change things up. I said all that to say that part of my day desire if you’ve been following the Lord for even just a modest amount of time. Certainly, if you’ve been following Him for a long time is to strengthen you, to keep you encouraged, and to motivate you, to pursue Him in fresh ways. To keep your relationship with the Lord vital, growing alive, and in love.
Those of you who are seeking, maybe you’re not even at that point where you would totally describe yourself as a Christian and have yet to be baptized, haven’t fully accepted Him in your life. Maybe this is your time. I want to inspire you. I want to inspire you too to believe in the God who believes in you. Who is for you and who is even now reaching out to you. Who’s given us everything. He has given us Jesus, His only begotten Son.
He so deeply loves you and wants you to be His son and His daughter, His beloved son, and His beloved daughter. Just accept His name, except His word in your life. Accept His presence. Confess Him as your Lord and your savior. Tell Him, I’m a sinner who is open to you, God, and I want to receive you and all that you have for me. You can do that this day even. I just know, even now Lord, I just pray wherever we are in our faith journey, We’re almost there. If we’ve just begun, like some of us Lord, maybe we even came to you during this time, we came to you online. For others of us, who’ve been following you now for many years or just a few even, we’re very sincere. I just ask that you would meet each one of us where we need it most. That’s my prayer. Bless this word. Let it come alive. My desire, my earnest desire is to see all of us drawn closer to you, including myself in Jesus’ name, breakthrough Lord. Amen.
Let’s begin by going back in time to a unique period in the history of Israel. It was about 700 years before the time of Christ. We read about it in the Old Testament, 2nd Chronicles. We’re going to look at the 28th chapter verses 22 through 27. Let me just start with that 22nd verse. It says, “Even during this time of trouble.” “Even during this time of trouble.” Now, the trouble that is being referred to had to do with the enemies at the gate of the Southern kingdom. Judah was in real peril. They were all that was left to the nation of Israel. Judah, Jewish, the connection there.
The Northern kingdom had already fallen to the Syrians. So Judah was all that was left. Judah was in real trouble. Yet we are told in this verse, it says, “Even during this time of trouble King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord.” “Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord.” It was a curious statement, wasn’t it? A reminder of what could happen when trouble escalates. You know what I noticed, when trouble escalates in life, it tends to move people one way or another. It can move us to become softer and more open to God.
I’ve seen that. I’ve watched people come to the Lord because of a time of great adversity or trouble or pain. Something happened in the life of someone they loved and it caused them to want to come to the Lord. I’ve watched it in my own life, how I’ve responded to God in places of anxiety. How places of trouble have instead motivated me to see that adversity as an opportunity. God used some of the bleakest seasons of my life to bring the breakthrough. That may not have been able to happen if I hadn’t been broken of my own strength and confidence perhaps. Maybe that’s one way of saying it.
There’s a blessing in humility that cannot be substituted, “For God resists the proud,” the scripture tells us, “but He gives grace to the humble.” But when trouble hits, some of us tend to become more open to God. Others, I’ve noted, push Him away and become even more entrenched in their unbelief. I see some of that happening in the culture at large. The phrase “continue to reject”, that’s it hit me. King Ahaz continued to reject. That’s a sad statement because it implies a hardening. It implies that there was a refusal to listen to the appeal of God. The adversity that was occurring, instead of making the king more open to God, almost pushed him to an even more distant place. It turned him away from the Lord.
Where we turn in times of trouble makes all the difference. Where we turn in times of trouble makes all the difference. If I turn to the Lord in my time of trouble, God will make a way for me. If I turn to other things I’m on my own. When we are on our own, we get the results of being on our own. The Lord is an ever-present help in times of trouble. Let’s draw close to him in times of trouble, not push Him away. Draw closer to Him.
King Ahaz, we’re told that he moved even further from the Lord. Look verse 23, “He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him.” So he started to worship the false gods of his enemies. He said, “Well, they have strength.” For he says, “Since these Gods help the Kings of Aram, they will help me too if I sacrifice to them.” But, instead, we’re told they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah. The King took the various articles from the temple of God, and he broke them into pieces. This is incredible.
He shut the doors of the Lord’s temple so that no one can worship there. He set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem. He made pagan shrines in all the towns of Judah for offering sacrifices to other gods. In this way, the Bible says he aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of his ancestors. The rest of the events of Ahaz’s reign and everything that he did is a miserable reign. This wicked king from beginning to end is recorded in the book of Kings, the Kings of Judah and Israel. When Ahaz died, he was so despised that he was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal cemetery of the kings of Judah. No, he was buried outside.
Then we’re told his son Hezekiah became the next king. Now, one would have thought that Hezekiah would have followed in his father’s footsteps, but he didn’t. Let’s remember that at the time of Ahaz’s death, the nation itself was in very bad shape. It was demoralized. It was demoralized spiritually, bankrupt. Ahaz had been an awful leader. One of the judgments of God on a nation or a people is leadership. Things rise and fall with leadership. When we have a bad leader like Ahaz it affects everything.
Leadership affects things. He had adopted Baal worship as a national policy. Think about that. He had enforced it at a local level. We’re told that he had set up altars on every street in Jerusalem and that in the towns, the smaller towns, he had set up shrines to these false gods, shutting the door. So he would shut the doors of the temple and desecrate its furnishings, we know that. Setting up all these false altars and then enforcing the use of them. We know from 2nd Kings, one more thing too. We know that he even offered one or more of his own sons as human sacrifices, adopting the method of the Canaanites as they worshiped the God of Molech. That’s how far he descended, how far away he moved from God.
Yet something remarkable occurred after his son Hezekiah became king. We read about it in 2nd Chronicles 29. Look at it with me. It says, “Hezekiah, his son was 25 years old when he became the King of Judah. He reigned in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah.” In contrast to his father, he did what was actually pleasing in the Lord’s sight. He’s one of the good kings. In fact, his model was not his father, but David. He says just as his ancestor David had done.
Hezekiah seemed to have had a genuine love for the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob and the God of David. We don’t know how he got this genuine love, but maybe he rebelled against all that he saw. Maybe part of what he saw moved him towards the Lord. We’re going to sit with this for not only this week but the next as well. Notice what Hezekiah did to begin the process of Breakthrough.
There’s a lot here for us. This is a great truth we’re about to look at. It says in verse three, “In the very first month of the year of his reign.” So the first thing that Hezekiah does, really think about this, a 25-year-old leader, who has just become king, has reopened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them. I just saw such a connection between this, a verse, and the idea of repairing the doors of the temple of the Lord after he reopened and repaired them. Hezekiah wanted the house of the Lord to be reopened. He wanted the temple of the Lord to be a place where once again, true worship would happen.
I was reminded of the New Testament corollary, a verse in 1st Corinthians third chapter verse 16. Chronicles is in the old Testament, Corinthians in the new, 1st Corinthians 3:16 says this, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and the spirit of God lives in you.” The older version says you are the temple of the Lord and God’s Spirit lives in, abides in you. I want to ask the question as we make our way into the new year; are there doors inside of us that God wants us to repair and reopen? Is there repair work He wants us to do?
This is a very important invitation that the Lord is making to us right now. Don’t run past it too quickly. Let us sit with the wise and ponder. Sit with the wise and ponder. As I sat with this, I said, “Lord, I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. I was created in Christ Jesus to worship and live for you.” I thought, Lord, are there things that I have closed? Perhaps some of us, we can relate to what has happened here, that in this season of closure and confinement, whereinto some degree the doors of the house of Lord have been closed. I’m thinking of us as the temple of the Lord. Are there doors that have been shut inside of us that God wants us to open?
Perhaps as we make our way into the new year, there is repair work he is inviting us to commit ourselves to. I thought about a couple of different places where this may be important for us. One of the first things that came to mind may have to do with our spiritual, our devotional life. It might have to do with our private life with the Lord. It might have to do with our relationship with Jesus. We can sense God calling us to a rededication of sorts.
Maybe that was an aspiration we had as we were ending 2020. Maybe some of us have started into the year well. If you have, and you’re in your reading and engaging, and you’re just really building a nice foundation this year spiritually, good for you. Stay with it. Keep sowing. Keep growing. Keep contending for the breakthrough. Don’t stop, stay with it, stay on it. But maybe some of us, we got off to a slow start. It’s not too late though, to get going. Let’s get out there. Let’s start pushing this a little bit because some of us, maybe the Lord is calling us to a place of genuine rededication to cultivate with greater intention the growing edge
.Perhaps we’ve been a little too unmotivated, a little bit apathetic. Maybe we’ve been less engaged than we should be with the things that truly matter. God is calling us to up our game and to walk in the power of His Spirit. That may mean, recommitting ourselves to really, seriously engaging in His word like we’re sharing today. To the place where we’re praying about it, pondering it, talking about it, engaging in small group community. Even if that group is on Zoom or some other way. That is maybe not as traditional as we’re accustomed to, that’s okay.
We’re putting in the time to sharpen one another, to let ourselves be sharpened by others, to pray for one another, that you may be healed, the scripture tells us. I’m doing this. The idea of maybe also giving a little more attention to the reading of His word and Bible study, getting a little devotional. That’s why they call it a devotion because it has to do with devoting or sharing our life with Him. That we’re listening for His words. That we’re speaking words to Him in prayer. That we’re thinking long thoughts about God and about our life. We’re not just walking through life caught up in the everyday-ness of it that we’re not welcoming Him into the everyday-ness.
So it might be something as simple as just recommitting to rise and shine, which is just like a little spiritual vitamin pack at the beginning of our day, to help keep us awakened to the things of God. That stirs the pot and gets us up and running. So does it in the context of community so that we’re all hearing the same things together. That itself is beautiful, right? So maybe it has to do with something else though. Maybe it’s not necessarily our spiritual devotional life, which can really be supplemented with a quality book and quality reading. It could be a lot of other things as well.
Maybe it has to do with our relational priorities. Maybe part of what the Lord is asking us to repair has to do with relationships. Maybe there are some key or critical relationships that God is asking us to tend, to nurture, to affirm, and maybe yes, even repair. I would assume that some relationships have been damaged in this season of confinement, this COVID period. But not just that, the last year was just filled with divisiveness, I know it still is. I think profoundly last year was a time of great tension, polarization, separation, isolation, and tribal thinking. We’re not seeing things maybe holistically with sensitivity, but rather in a very narrow way that could be actually damaging to the relationships in our lives that the Lord has given to us to cultivate.
We must start there. It’s interesting because that’s also the place where we often can take things for granted relationally. We may assume we always will have someone in our life, but that is not always the case. Relationships need to be nurtured. Now, it’s interesting because, in this time of confinement, there’s been maybe normalcy to a degree that none of us have been accustomed to. So it may be that we start to take things for granted because it’s habitual and we’re accustomed to it.
Let’s not take the key people in our lives for granted. Let’s not assume we will always have them. Instead, if we’re able to, and we’re sensing there’s been some damage that’s occurred, let’s devote ourselves potentially to repairing those relationships. So I asked the question, what would breakthrough and repair work look like? Are there some conversations we need to have with a few people in our lives? Such as getting yourself in a place where you can have that conversation prayerfully and then ask to have it. Is there some love that we need to reaffirm that we’ve been negligent around because we’re just kind of used to it?
The danger of being accustomed to something and having it all the time is we start to just take it for granted as if it’s nothing. Let’s be careful about that. Let’s be careful about taking for granted our great blessings. Maybe some love needs to be affirmed. Maybe there are some apologies that need to be made. Maybe some forgiveness needs to be asked for or offered. That could be another strong stronghold, a reluctance to offer forgiveness. Let us forgive as we have been forgiven. We will never stop needing any of the forgiveness that the Lord has at work in our lives. So we should never stop offering that to others, especially people God has given us to love. Maybe that’s a door that needs to be opened and repaired.
Another thing I was thinking about how to do has to do with our attitude and demeanor. Perhaps some of us have allowed negativity to define us. Instead of allowing our adversity to refine us, we’ve given a place to negativity and have been defined by that. We’ve allowed a critical spirit to settle in. Instead of staying optimistic, we’ve yielded to pessimism, a pessimism that needs to be challenged by faith. Don’t yield to that. Don’t let that be our defining characteristic, negativity in a critical spirit. Resist that with all your mind in the Lord.
This is especially true, not the exclusive domain of the older, but it’s especially true for those of us who are advancing in years. It’s very easy to drop into a negative place. Just don’t do that. Don’t do that. Let’s choose instead to embrace the joy of the Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord, always. And again, I say rejoice.” We can always find reasons to be angry, upset, or offended. We can. If we want to find it, we can find it. I could find it, so it is easy to find it inside of me, inside of other people, the world around me, everything’s bad, and so on. No, don’t go there. It’s so easy for us to drop into that place.
However, to cultivate an attitude of trust and optimism, to think on the good things, think on these things. Think of good, true, noble, and lovely things. That’s a choice we make. Perhaps in the midst of this period, that the Lord is saying, that’s one of the doors I want you to open. Open up those doors, repair those doors. Let’s move back to Hezekiah.
Verse three, “In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the temple of the Lord and he repaired them.” The temple doors faced east into the brilliance of the rising sun. So when the doors opened up, the sun would come in. When the light beamed in it was a glorious sight. I imagine them repairing those doors if they could open again. When they opened the doors to the Lord and the sun shone in, it revealed something though, because not only was it glorious, it also revealed the extent of the neglect and what needed to be cleaned, repaired, and fixed.
It allowed them to see with great clarity, the dirt, the clutter, the mess. In other words, not just the doors, but what was behind the broken doors. I think we need to allow the light of the Son. I’m talking about S-O-N, not S-U-N. Although it’s good to allow the light of the sun, S-U-N in, we need that, it keeps our spirits up. A lot of good things happen in sunlight. Now I’m talking about Sonlight as an S-O-N-L-I-G-H-T. Sonlight, the light of Jesus to shine into our lives and reveal at the outset of the year the things that he wants us to focus on in this month.
He wants us to clean and repair, right? If choosing to open the doors is the first step, then responding to what we see is the second step. So much of breakthrough is seeing and responding to what God is inviting us into. I’ll say that one more time. So much of breakthrough is both seeing and responding to what God is calling us to be attentive to. For what I cannot see, I cannot be. I cannot be what I cannot see. This is one of the reasons why, when Jesus interacted with the scribes and the Pharisees, in his critics, He said, “Listen to me. Your real issue is that you cannot see.”
It says in Matthew 13, look what Jesus says. He says, “This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, when you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes. So their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear. And their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me, and let me heal them.” The last phrase, “And let me heal them, heal them.” “They cannot turn to me and let me heal them.” That’s so sad.
That is what the Lord longs to do, in all of our lives, is heal us. It’s what He longs to do in the life of every man and every woman because God so loved the world that He gave. He wants to heal. He longs to heal. But what we cannot see we cannot be, we cannot be what we do not see. So opening the doors, loved ones, that’s humility, that’s humility. When we exercise humility and welcome the Lord in, when we repair those doors and open those doors up, His light shines in. When that light shines in, then we can see. Now we have another decision to make, what are we going to do about what we see?
You see what the light does, it reveals. But it won’t make us step into what needs to follow. That’s a choice we make out of our own volition. In other words, we decide out of our own will to respond to what we see. We can’t respond to what we don’t see. In this world of ours, as I thought about the words of Jesus, I said, that’s what our world is. That’s our culture. They’re looking but they can’t see. They can’t see the who, the God of this world that blinded their eyes. They can’t see it. So what do we do? You’re looking for answers, but you can’t even see what the real issue is.
So the beauty of coming to the Lord is that we can see. Once we’re able to see, then we get to decide. Am I going to respond to what I’m seeing? That’s why we are to pray for people who we love, who don’t know Him, that they may be confronted and see. This is a strong word I know. Confronted with the reality that they may see what is. Now, they’ll still have to choose to respond. But a lot of times, if you can’t see it, you can’t even respond to it. So we pray for the Lord to visit them with godly conviction.
Often the places of brokenness are the places where God does some of His best work in terms of opening up people’s hearts. I look at this and say, our culture is looking for things, but they blindly chase after this or that, possessions, relationships, sex, drugs, anything to solve the problem. It doesn’t do it because you can’t see what the real issue is and what the real solution is. But once we see, we start to decide, what are we going to do about that?
Notice what Hezekiah did. Again, he was a catalytic leader at 25 years of age. I’ll move through this fairly rapidly. “He summoned the priest and Levi’s to meet him at the courtyard east of the temple. And he said to them, “Listen to me, you Levites, purify yourselves and purify the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary. You know our ancestors, they were unfaithful. They did what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned the Lord and His dwelling place. Yes. They turned their backs on Him. And they also shut the doors to the temple’s entry room. You know it.
They snuffed out the lamps. They stopped burning incense and presenting burnt offerings at the sanctuary of the God of Israel. That is why the Lord’s anger has fallen upon Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them an object of dread and horror and ridicule as you can see with your own eyes. Because of this, our fathers have been killed in battle, and our sons and daughters and wives have been captured. But now I will make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel so that His fierce anger will turn away from us.”
That God won’t judge us for our wayward turning from Him and getting the consequences of that decision. Because remember, when we decide to turn from God and we’ve known Him, it’s not a passive thing, it’s different. As God loves us to pursue us and often connected to that will be a judgment to get our attention. “My sons do not neglect your duties any longer,” Hezekiah says. Look at that. This young man, the Lord has chosen you. He’s challenging them to live up to their calling. He has chosen you to stand in His presence and to minister to Him and to lead people in the worship, in worship, and present offerings to Him.
Hezekiah was zealous for the Lord because he wanted God’s house cleaned and repaired and to be in good shape, listen so that it could do what it was supposed to do. That is God’s will for you and me, that we can do what we were created in Christ Jesus to do. For as they were told in Ephesians 2:10, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in that.” Hezekiah believed that if you honor the Lord, the Lord would take care of them. Even though their enemies were great and their vulnerability profound.
So it will be with us, loved ones. Though our challenges are real and our vulnerabilities are profound and they may be, we can prevail. It’s not about denying. It’s about aligning ourselves with the one who is able to bring good in all things and will never leave us nor forsake us. Now, I have one more thing to share, but at this time I want to shift a little bit, mix it up, keep it fresh. We’re going to have a song called Always. And this song reminds us of many things, not the least of which is if God calls us to a place of openness and surrender to sing the hallelujah.
Also, I want to remind everyone, this is the time when I remind you about giving, you can never out-give the Lord. So many of you have been faithful in your tithes and offerings. If you want to, you can give like some of you do, send it in to our offices. Others give online. The majority of us now give through the app, whatever way works best. Like I say, before you ever give though, give your heart. That’s the one thing He truly wants because when He gets our heart, everything else just comes with it. So Lord, meet us here in this song and then help us to close well together in Jesus’ name, Amen.