Breakthrough is not about denying our struggles but rather about aligning them with God.
Blessings to you all. 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 focus is on breakthrough; that’s going to be our theme for the year. It’s our prayer for us as a church community. It’s my prayer for you and for myself, that we would experience breakthrough at a number of dimensions. Even now, Lord, we welcome you in to speak to us, to work in our lives, to work in our hearts, toward your purposes, and to bring the breakthrough that we are all aspiring to. This is what we pray in Jesus’ name.
We focused last Sunday, actually, on the account of a young King in the Old Testament named Hezekiah. I want to pick back up and finish it. I want to draw life from it. I think there’s so much for us. In 2 Chronicles 29:1, “Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became the King of Judah. And he reigned in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. He did, in contrast to his father, what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done.” Instead of his father, he used King David as his role model. Isn’t that interesting? Notice what he did to begin the process of breakthrough. I’m going to move right on through this passage in verse 3. “In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them. He summoned the priest and the Levites 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.'”
“Our ancestors were unfaithful and they did what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned the Lord and his dwelling place. They turned their backs on him. They also shut the doors to the temple’s entry room and they snuffed out the lamps, they stopped burning incense and presenting burnt offerings at the sanctuary of the God of Israel. And that is why the Lord’s anger has fallen upon Judah and Jerusalem, who are being judged. And God wants us to just turn around. He has made them an object of dread, 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. My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer. The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence to minister to him and to lead the people in worship and to present offerings to him.”
King Hezekiah, as a young leader of 25 years of age, is exhorting and challenging the spiritual leaders of Judah to step forward and repossess their responsibilities to represent the people before the Lord, and to honor God with worship that is in alignment and in obedience and heartfelt. Hezekiah believed that if he honored the Lord, that the Lord would take care of them, even though their enemies were great and their vulnerability was profound. How relevant is that? As I shared last week, I think a lot of us feel surrounded by trouble still. We do. Last year, it was tough. We started into this year still with some great challenges, and they’re still ahead of us in many ways. If we are honest, we feel vulnerable, and we should.
Remember; whatever issues that we’re struggling with, God is there for us. I have to assume that we have areas in our lives, all of us are different, I know that, but maybe some of us have done better during this period than others of us have. I can’t help but think just the nature of life, the nature of this time, that we all have something that we are needing to trust God for, in an area in our life where we are wanting breakthrough. Maybe there are more than a few areas where we want to see God bring His breakthrough. Remember, it’s not about being spiritual or godly, it’s not about denying. There’s no virtue in denial. It’s not about denying. It’s about aligning. Aligning is always about intention; we choose the direction of our will. Let me put it another way.
Intentionality is the want-to, and there’s no substitute for it. If we don’t want to do something, then it’s not going to happen. Intentionality is the want-to, strategy is the how-to, discipline, the stick-to, and accountability, the help-to. That’s when we bring others in. When you combine those elements together, those are keys for breakthrough. Breakthrough comes and it’s almost like you can’t stop it when you begin to put these things into place. I’ll say it again. Intentionality is the want-to, strategy is the how-to, discipline, the stick-to, and accountability, the help-to. If we think about Hezekiah, he was making a case for all four of these things. That’s why I love this study. Hezekiah wanted the Lord’s house opened, and he wanted it repaired. That was important to him.
He had the want-to, the passion, and the desire to see it happen. Remember, there’s very little substitute for passion. Sometimes, the first prayer we should pray is, “Lord put the want-to in me. Give me a hunger because Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for what is right, for they shall be filled.'” He encouraged us in that direction for a reason. Because it’s got to start there. So, sometimes, I think, “Lord, my heart isn’t really hungering for your ways the way it should.” When that happens, other things find their way in. God wants us to love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, doesn’t he? The want-to is huge, the passion, the desire. I remember reading about a piece of advice that Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president with the possible exception of George Washington. This is not an original, but I’ve heard historians refer to as the man who would not be king.
George Washington was remarkable in that regard for “He would not be King.” I remember Abraham Lincoln who led our nation through one of the single most polarizing times in the history of our young nation. Abraham Lincoln, I believe, was raised up by the Lord to guide us through it and to get us to the other side. There was a moment where I recall reading about how he gave a young man who was aspiring to be a lawyer, advice. He says, “If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already. Always bear in mind that your resolution to succeed is more important than any other thing.” In other words, what he was saying is, once you resolve that power of resolution, that’s how it really can be. The breakthrough comes when we resolve to do it. There’s no substitute for resolution.
Hezekiah was resolved, wasn’t he? He had a passion. He had a passion for the house of the Lord, he wanted those doors opened and repaired. He wanted it cleaned out and restored. He was a believer. He was a true believer. He believed that if the people honor the Lord, starting with the priest and the leaders, isn’t that usually where it begins, that God would deliver and bless. S, he laid out his plan; fix it, clean it, restore the worship, align that worship with God’s commands as he’s given us. Hezekiah had the want-to, but he also, I think you can see this, had the how-to. Think about it. What do I mean? He had a strategy, didn’t he? He had a strategy, a plan to act on his want-to. So, there may be things that we feel led by the Lord to do, or we sense God calling us to respond to. The want-to is there.
There might be areas in our lives that we want to fix. We really believe God is calling us to address things. The want-to is there, but we need to have a how-to. We need to have a strategy otherwise we will lose hard, we will flail around, we will waste our energy. It’s a very inefficient and unsustainable thing to move into a want-to without a how-to. But notice; he exhorted them. He encouraged them to be tenacious and committed. Look what he says in verse 11, “My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer.” Don’t do that. Stop it. Stop putting off what you know God wants you to do. Don’t neglect your duties any longer. The Lord has chosen you. He challenges them with a sense of their identity in the Lord. He says, “The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship, and present offerings to him.” He’s basically saying, “Look, I’m the King, but your responsibility is to lead the people towards the Lord. I can’t do that. You can do that. You’re called to do it.”
Basically, what he was saying was to live out of a sense of your calling, commit yourself fully. It’s a reminder that the breakthrough we have will always be connected to self-discipline. We’re talking about the need to conquer ourselves. That is important. It’s essential to live out of a sense of your calling, commit yourself fully. I remember reading something asserted by a wonderful motivational writer named Alan Loy McGinnis. He wrote, “It is a mistake to suppose that self-discipline is learning to concrete yourself. Rather, it’s realizing we are a bundle of contradictory impulses poisoned at the truth. The impulse to achieve coexists with the impulse to seek the easy way out. The impulse to become highly proficient in some field co-exists with the impulse to pamper ourselves.”
When you decide to learn self-discipline, the stick-to, you decide to become unified. You are saying no to the self-indulgent and self-coddling tendencies, and yes to the desire for accomplishment. So, you look at what’s happening there. A want-to, a how-to, stick-to, and then he makes a case for one more thing, doesn’t he? I love it, because, what he said was, “The breakthrough that God wants to give us is going to be connected also to the help-to.” King Hezekiah knew that he could not do the work alone. That, to succeed, he needed to involve others. He challenged the priest and the temple workers to get involved and join the cause. It’s a really powerful reminder of the value, isn’t it; of partnership and its connection to breakthrough? Even as the scriptures reminders us; two is better than one. A threefold cord is not easily broken. We are better, you know it, together. We’re better together. We always are.
Not this lone Wolf. There is a time to be alone. The Lord modeled that. He sometimes went to a solitary place. There is a time, there is a pattern for getting away and being alone, being alone with our thoughts, being alone with God. But we’re not to have a life that is isolated. It’s certainly not true when it comes to spiritual things that are a growth with God. When we isolate ourselves, the Bible says we seek our own judgment. That is, we end up creating a pathway that produces a result that will not be what we really need, nor is it what God wants to give us. Because that tendency to pull away from community is going to create selfishness. The training tool that God often uses to grow us is others. We need to be challenged to live with patience, vulnerability, love, kindness, and forgiveness.
For love to be fully expressed, there needs to be another person. That’s one of the reasons why God created humanity. It’s also why God put Adam with Eve. Because the other allowed for love to be expressed, otherwise, it was a different kind of love. I don’t want to walk too far down that road, except to say that we were created not to do this by ourselves. When Jesus called his disciples, he didn’t say, “Go out by yourself.” He said, “Go out at least with one other.” He sent them in twos, because, if one falls, as we know, another can help pick them up. There are unique temptations out there. There’re unique vulnerabilities out there. We’re just not strong enough. That’s just the truth. The most mature of us, and I don’t know who that is, but we’re not strong enough.
There are going to be times where we’re going to stumble, where we’re going to fail to live up to a sense of what we should be honoring the Lord with. We will find ourselves hurting and wounded and being unmotivated, and at times, in pain. In those places, we need other people. We do. None of us are that good. We’re not so strong. We all have vulnerabilities. We all have weak spots. We all have blind spots. We all have areas where, if the right button’s pushed or the right pressure is applied, we will fault you. You say, “How can you say that?” I’m a strong person. It is true. We’re all different. We’re all unique. Some of us are stronger than others, but none of us are comprehensively stronger in every area. Jesus was the only one who was able to withstand every attempt of the evil one to take advantage of who he was in his humanity.
Because, we have broken humanity in us, we are vulnerable to so many things. Jesus himself was tempted at all points, yet without sin, we can be tempted at a few points, with sin. Do you see what I’m saying? It’s just different. We’re going to need, not just the Lord’s help. The Christian life cannot be lived apart from Christ. The Jesus way cannot be done with excellence without Jesus. We need the Lord. We need his Holy Spirit working in our lives. There are going to be times when we’re going to need God to just supernaturally step in and save us, like Peter who’s reaching out his hand as he’s sinking in the water. After an amazing step of faith, he’s drowning, and Jesus brings him up and he says, “Oh, you of little faith.”
Now, I’ve always thought to myself, “Wow. I need a lot of faith to get out of that boat and walk.” But when he started sinking, he got his eyes off the Lord and he looked at the situation and the circumstances, he started sinking, and Jesus had to save him. I’ve known that. I think many of us have. We’ve come out of moments of perhaps spiritual victory in our life, or we’ve had a wonderful season of growth, and we find ourselves building great momentum, and then all of a sudden, just the way life hits us and the way some spiritual things come at us, we find ourselves flailing and drowning and in need of the Lord’s help. Thank the Lord that he does reach to us and carry us and pull us up and save us. But a lot of times, the Lord’s method of saving is going to be others. That’s why the help-to matters. Remember, the want-to, the how-to, the stick-to, and then the help-to. We’re going to need the help of others as well.
This journey is meant to be done with others. Christian life is meant to be lived in community. That’s why I do encourage all of us to be in small groups and in an accountability relationship. I myself had a few small groups that I’ve been involved with. I also have an accountability. I’m talking about in addition to my wife. Those things can’t substitute for my alone time with the Lord when I still have to make decisions on my own, but they could be of huge benefit. That’s just part of living the Christian life, the way Jesus designed it to where it can work most effectively. We need that. We really do. I will encourage all of us to seriously think about, if we’re not already involved in a small group within the context of community, to listen to the voice of the Lord, obey him, and get him.
It’s not that hard. Just let us know. We’ll find a place for you. Our pastoral team is ready, prepared, and desirous. That, by the way, may mean that some of you need to step up and either host a group in your own unique way. You’ve got training, you’ve got to experience, don’t wait for the perfect moment. Other times, the growth moment is happening because we want to step into something that God is opening up. It’s going to challenge us and grow with some of us. We just need to get reconnected. It’s not about leading anything. We just need to get involved, engaged, we need to be able to have some degree of vulnerability and prayer. I look at that and I think, “That’s a huge part of the healthy life with Christ.” We are better together. Hezekiah knew that. He knew that this goal he had, he couldn’t do it on his own.
I was reading about another relationship, thinking about how-to, and well, this one had to do with help-to. I was reading about the relationship between Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealand Mountaineer, and Tenzing Norgay, the Nepalese Sherpa, who, in 1953, became the first two human beings in history to climb the summit of Mount Everest. It was the first time it had ever been done. We also know that when Hillary and Norgay were coming down from the peak, the descent had his own peril. It was one thing to get there, and it’s another thing to get down. Everything that I’ve read tells me that coming down is the underestimated peril of going up. Hillary, he’d suddenly lost his footing and he began hurdling down a crevasse on a block of ice. It looked like he was going to die, but Norgay his partner, held the line taut. He kept them both from falling by digging an ax into the ice. He got it in there, and then he held the rope.
Later, Norgay refused any special credit for saving Hillary’s life, saying “Mountain climbers always helped each other.” What a fitting picture of what the Christian life is supposed to be. We too are on a quest. We are mountain climbers in the spirit. There are peaks, there are valleys, there are crevices, there are times of ascending and descending. Moments when survival is dependent on a brother or a sister to use the language of scripture, digging in on our behalf and holding the line. Do you know what I’m talking about? We’re only talking about the safety of fellowship and accountability. We’re also talking about the power of shared vision and a shared quest. So, it’s two better than one, not just for safety, which is good, but also for the joy of the shared quest.
I think it’s one of the reasons for the enduring popularity of that theme in movies and literature in certainly like the Lord of the Rings. I think it’s one of the reasons for the enduring popularity of the Lord of the Rings, the token; capture this, the sharing of a noble purpose in the face of unrelenting evil. It speaks. There’s life in it. There is a powerful breakthrough dynamic that is released when we can unify behind a God-honoring goal. I think we understand that. It’s one of the reasons why we also get the blessing of being in a church, because, that’s why our church needs to have goals and aspirations. It’s why a family needs it, it does. Because in that kind of atmosphere, it’s easier to become better. The training component as well. If we make each other better, we sharpen one another.
Do we see how, in a marriage, in a family, in a church, in a small business or any organization, or a ministry, that cares about relational health and pleasing God, that we need to have that help-to component in place? Do you see how important it is? Remember, want-to, how-to, stick-to, help-to. But let’s finish up with Hezekiah in the temple. 16th verse. “The priest went into the sanctuary of the temple, so they heard Hezekiah challenge. They went into the sanctuary of the temple of the Lord to cleanse it. And they took out to the temple courtyard, all the defiled things they found. And from there, the Levites carted it all out to the Kidron Valley.” A Valley that you can still visit today, by the way. On our last trip to Israel, you can see the Kidron. That’s where they took this. They dumped it.
Since they began the work in the early spring and on the first day of the new year, and in the eight days that that had reached the entry room of the Lord’s temple, then they purified the temple of the Lord itself, which took another eight days. The entire task was completed in 16 days. Now, it was the beginning of their new year, which is a little different than ours, but it was a new year. I think that’s where we are right now, isn’t it? The Lord might be speaking to us. I do have one last thought to share. I’ll call it a breakthrough bonus, or we can call it the fifth key to breakthrough. But I want to add it to the four we’ve we’ve talked about. It’s connected to the song that we’re about to experience together. So, Lord, you know where we need it most in our lives, and we ask you for that breakthrough.
I do need to remind everybody; this is the time when I get to remind you about giving and about being faithful under the Lord. We are to bring our tithes and offerings to the storehouse. Some of you are magnificent in your faithfulness, and you do this because you love the Lord. So, remember, you can give in a number of different ways. You can give it by sending it to our offices, you can give it online, and you can give it through the app, which is what I do. But as I always say, before we give anything to the Lord, let’s give him our heart because there’s no substitute for that. So, I’m coming back around, let’s share this song. And even now, Lord, help us receive it in Jesus’ name. Here we go.
All right, remember I mentioned to you that there was a fifth key. I call it the bonus key. I’m going to end slightly differently than I have been doing lately. I want to end with a teaching point. I want to read one more portion of the scriptures. Just stay with me, you guys. I hope it’s worth it. You’ll see. But we read that after the completion of the cleaning of the restoration of the Lord’s house. Verse 27, “Then Hezekiah ordered the burnt offering to be placed on the altar.”
After they did the restoration and the cleaning, he cleaned it out, he said, “Let’s sacrifice unto the Lord. And as the burnt offering was presented, songs of praise to the Lord were begun, accompanied by the trumpets and other instruments of David, the former King of Israel. And the entire assembly worshiped the Lord as the singers sang and then Trumpets blew until all the burnt offerings were finished. And then the King and everyone with him bowed down and worshiped. King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord with the songs that were written by David and by Asaph the seer. And so they offered joyous praise and bowed down in worship,” didn’t they?
That’s why I love the song that we just did. He just called us into a place of worship and vulnerability and connecting back to a tradition that’s grounded in the first church in a way, the church of Israel, that God set up to lead us into the coming of Jesus. I love the fact that the Christian life is embedded in song. It’s not just a song for song’s sake, it’s a song for purpose, isn’t it? That leads us to the one that I call the bonus. From the want-to to the how-to, to the stick-to, to the help-to, and then to the unto. The unto. In addition to the others, it’s the unto. I’m talking about our praise. I’m talking about our songs of gratitude unto the one who is worthy of it, isn’t he?
The one whose love changes everything and who invites us into a life of love. I look at that moment with Hezekiah and the celebration, and what a special moment it was, filled with joy, gratitude, and praise, as they worship the Lord. AYou and I are invited to sing our songs of love to the Lord. Yes, we are. To have a melody of worship always on our lips. We are his children, and children sing songs of joy. Sons and daughters, that is who you are; so greatly loved. He, as you know, is so God and he’s so good, and he wants us to so God and to so good. It’s got to flow out of our hearts. The want-to’s got to be there. So, Lord, give us the gift of breakthrough and remind us that all begins with a want-to. My prayer for you all is that the Lord keep you in every way, your heart alive with him, and keep you in spirit, body, and soul in Jesus’s name.