Learning From The Kings, Pt. 3 (Hezekiah): Pride and Possession

Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:11-20, Matthew 19:23, Isaiah 39:1-8
Date: 09/11/1999 
God wants to bless us. Having material possessions is not bad, but it can be when our hearts are turned away from God by them. This is a lesson we can learn from the kings of Israel in this sermon. Hezekiah is an example of pride and possessions leading one astray.
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Coming to you from the capital city of California, Amazing Facts presents, "the everlasting gospel." We're gathered with God's family of faith at the Sacramento central church. Together, we will explore the Bible with teacher, author, evangelist, Pastor Doug Batchelor. In the atmosphere of heart-felt prayer to our Savior and lord, moved by Psalms of love and praise for God and his amazing grace and inspired by the dedication and personal witness of our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. We will study the timeless everlasting truths of God's Word. From messages which inspire us with the hope and freedom we have in Christ to practical down-to-earth sermons which give us the tools to live Godly lives in a secular society as well as messages that give Bible answers to our spiritual questions and look at what God says about the future.

There is sure to be something for everyone. So we invite you to join our family and experience the transforming power of God's Spirit in your life. We are continuing our series in learning from the Kings. This week is message number 3 in this series, "learning from the Kings, part three," dealing with pride and possessions. Last week was "pride and position.

" Next week it's going to be "pride and passion." A lot we can learn from the Kings. And so we hope that you will plan on coming for the entire series. I'd like to begin by reading something to you from the book of Deuteronomy 8. I'd like to lay down some principles that I'll try to expand on as we study. Deuteronomy 8, Moses--you know, you heard me say earlier, I was awake last night quite a bit.

I kept saying, "this is the Sabbath, doug, rest." And my mind was swimming with so many issues. But, you know, I listen to Bible tapes and I listened to this tape four times last night on Deuteronomy. And I'm glad that I did because this one Scripture finally caught me about 1:00 in the morning, I thought, "that's a really good way to introduce this subject." Moses, in Deuteronomy, is giving his farewell sermon. The children of Israel are preparing to cross over and he warns them to beware. Matter of fact, two or three times in Deuteronomy, he mentions this caution.

"Beware," Deuteronomy 8:11, "beware thou forget not the Lord thy God. In not keeping his commandments and his judgments and his statutes which I command you this day. Lest when you have eaten and you are full and you build goodly houses and dwell therein and when your herds and your flocks multiply and your silver and your gold is multiplied--" in other words, when he blesses your possessions-- "and all that you have is multiplied, then thine heart be lifted up." What's that called? Pride. "Thy heart be lifted up and you forget thy God which brought you forth from the land of Egypt from the house of bondage." You read just a few verses down and it said, "the reason he brought you through the wilderness, he prepared you for salvation because he fed you with manna which your fathers did not know that he might humble you." See, one way the Lord prepared them to enter the promised land while it was by humbling them. Now, you might think, "wait a second, it says, God was blessing them with things.

" But God says, "there's a risk when I bless you with things and I prosper you that your heart becomes lifted up." Now here's the principle I don't want you to miss. God wants to bless you. Being blessed with material wealth is not necessarily bad. It can be bad if those things become the source of your confidence, if they absorb your attention so you forget God and your heart is lifted up. You become proud of what you possess.

Well, this was a trap the Kings fell into several times. Now, the Bible says, "money is the root of all evil," is that right? I'm glad you caught that. The Bible says, "the love of money is the root of all evil." The Bible says, "it's impossible for a rich man to be saved." No. It says, "it's almost impossible." With God, all things are possible. But scarcely--oh, let me read it to you from the mouth of Jesus.

"He said to his disciples," Matthew 19:23, "assuredly I say unto you, it's hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven. And again, I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." He didn't say it's impossible. He said it's hard. Now, a lot of us would like to believe that we are the exception. One of the reasons that the Kings of Israel had problems with pride is because of their accumulation of possessions.

And it's easy to get your trust misdirected into confidence in the things you own. We're going to go by starting with a king who started out right and ended up becoming distracted. It's the story of Hezekiah. Now this story is of unusual significance because you find this story three times in the Bible. It's found in Isaiah 39, and that's where I want you to go, Isaiah 39:1.

It's also found in 2 Kings 20:12 and it's found in Chronicles 32. A very important story God would have us notice. Turn with me in your Bibles to Isaiah 39. Incidentally, the name Hezekiah means: ya or jehovah strengthens. His very name wasn't designed by his parents to remind him that God is the one who strengthens us.

Now Hezekiah had a brilliant life. He had been a gleaming example of a Godly king. Matter of fact, until Hezekiah, there was no king that was so much like David as Hezekiah was. Godly, trusted the Lord, took his problems to the Lord. But the Bible tells us that there was this one instance when God withdrew from him so that Hezekiah could find out what was in his own heart.

God allowed him to be tested. Incidentally, you find that passage in 2 Chronicles 32. It says, "however, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him in order to test him that he might know what was in his heart." God needed to save Hezekiah. He had become proud because of his possessions and in order to save him, he humbled him. I'd like to read something from the seventh volume of testimonies to the church, page 210.

Everyone, how many? "Everyone has undiscovered traits of character that must come to light through trial." God, sometimes, tests us so these things will come to light so we will know what these traits are. "God allows those who are self-sufficient to be sordidly tempted that they might understand their helplessness." Sometimes we go through trials so we might recognize that we can do nothing without Christ. Well, Hezekiah had become self-sufficient. Now it says here, "at that time, merodach baladan, The Son of baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah for he had heard that he'd been sick and recovered." Let me give you the background you find in chapter 38. Isaiah the prophet had been instructed to go to Hezekiah.

Hezekiah was sick. He had a fever. There was a boil somewhere on his body and it was infected and he had a fever. And he was probably fading in and out of delirium and he sent to inquire of the Lord. And Isaiah came and God said to Hezekiah, "God has said to set your house in order 'cause you're going to die.

" Incidentally, does the Lord want us to make preparation for death? Yeah, even the ahithophel, you know, counselor of God, before he committed suicide; he got his house in order. Made sure his will was written, had his trust lined up. Then he hung himself. He was a wise man, the Bible says, one of the wisest who ever lived up until Solomon. Matter of fact, it was Solomon's grandfather.

Here, Hezekiah looks like he's got a terminal disease and the prophets comes and says, "get your house in order." In other words, you need to make preparation, have your will written up, get your trust lined up, get things in order. God wants Christians to have things in order in the event of our death, amen? Isaiah comes and says to Hezekiah, "set your house in order." He leaves then Hezekiah turns his face to the wall, he begins to sob and to weep. He's already sick and now he hears he's gonna die. He cries, says, "lord, I've tried to be faithful. I've served you.

I've brought about a revival in Israel. Haven't I obeyed your commandments?" And he had obeyed the explicit commandments of God, but he was focused on the things, on the external obedience, and he was not looking at the pride in his heart. Isn't this what Jesus said was the problem with the pharisees? They focused on the external details and he said, "your hearts are corrupt." There's pride, religious pride is one of the worst forms of sin because it doesn't feel its need. Let me read another quote. "The evil that led to Peter's fall that shut the pharisee out of communion with God is proving the ruin of thousands today.

There's nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency of all sins. It is the most hopeless and the most incurable." That's from the book, "Christ, object, lessons," page 154. Pride is one of the most offensive and most incurable sins. It's the sin of laodicea. Pride; religious pride even.

Now, Hezekiah cries and he prays and he pleads and he says, "lord, please, let me live." God hears prayers and he answers them. He doesn't have to waiver. Do you know a lot of things are not received because we don't ask? God said, "you're going to die." Hezekiah said, "please, let me live." God said, "okay." What if he hadn't asked? You know the Bible says the King of Israel got sick, the prophet Elijah came he says, "you're gonna die." He never asked that God would change his mind. Your prayers can change the mind of God and that king died. Hezekiah knew the Lord and that you and i, through our prayers, can change God's mind.

And God said, "okay, I'm gonna give you another 15 years." Well, that's not bad, is it? So Isaiah comes back and he says, "you're gonna live years and God's gonna prove it by giving you a sign. What would you like? Would you like the sun to go down 10 degrees?" And I guess that meant accelerated or go backwards. And Hezekiah said, "well, it's not very usual for it to go down but if it goes north, that would really be something. And so Isaiah prays and something happened that never happened before, has ever happened since. Joshua prayed time stood still.

Hezekiah prayed and Isaiah prayed, it went backwards. And all around the world people saw this wonder and all of the wise men who studied the heavens were there in Babylon and they saw the sun dial starting to go the wrong way and they got witnesses that said, "is it doing what we think it's doing?" Sure enough, for 15 minutes, it went backward. Then it stopped and it resumed its normal procession. They inquired all around the world to find out what caused this and they said it was the God of Israel. And ambassadors were sent from the King of Babylon to find out about this--this was the grandfather or great grandfather of Nebuchadnezzar, to find out about this wonderful God that had this power.

So these ambassadors come from the center of the educated world, which was Babylon back then, to ask about God. And they had heard about Hezekiah that he'd been sick. They had come to inquire. We just read it in Chronicles. They came to inquire about this wonder that God had done.

"But Hezekiah was pleased with them--" verse 2, chapter 39. "And showed him the house of his treasures. The silver, the gold, the spices, the precious ointments and all, his armory and all that was found among his treasures. There's nothing in his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them." Now why did they come. They wanted to hear about the God who had this power to make the sun stop and go backwards.

What a wonderful opportunity to introduce a whole nation? These were ambassadors, representatives of the King. They could bring about the conversion of the King of Babylon, how different history would have been. But Hezekiah maybe had a little inferiority complex. Babylon was very wealthy and here were the elite influential people and he felt a little insecure and so he, in order to raise his perceived worth, said, "well, I'm gonna show them that I'm just as important as they are and my worth is not my God. My worth is my stuff.

" Now, I'm touching on what I think is a very important point. We are living, without question, in the most materialistic age in the history of the earth. In the last 20 years, we have had access, and now even on the internet and on the tv, to buying more things than any other time. It's unprecedented in the history of the world. No other age or generation can even come close to the countless articles that we have the opportunity to acquire.

Not only do we have the opportunity to buy more different things, we can buy it with money we don't have, which makes it really dangerous. And think of a machine gun, think of barrage. Think of bombardment. You are being bombarded with a barrage of advertising that is absolutely asSaulting your senses continually that are telling you to buy. And you know one way that get people to buy more things? By making you think you will be worth more.

And the advertising agency is very clever in the subtle innuendoes that they slip into their advertising campaigns that will make you think that you are more valuable because you own their product. "You will be better looking. Your friends will like you more. You will be perceived as having more value. You'll be more intelligent; all by buying products.

" And you, without even knowing it, you may know it, you may not know it. But it's still true. You have all been influenced by this advertising to think that your value goes up by what you own. The Bible tells us our value is based on who we know, who we are, not what we have. It is a major deception of the devil for us to think that we're valued based on what we own and what we have.

And Hezekiah slid into this. He felt insecure. He thought, "I want to make a big impression." Instead of telling about his God, here's a king who prayed and the sun goes backwards. That would be enough for me. But that wasn't enough for him.

He felt insecure and he said--took him on a tour, flung open the locked vault and showed all of his gold and silver and his treasuries and his armory and all this stuff. And you know what? People are going to covet your treasure. When your brag about your treasure, your think people are gonna like you more. They won't like you, they'll want what is your treasure. People will want your treasure.

What is your treasure? If your treasure is Christ and he's what you brag about and he's what you hold forth and promote, they're gonna want your treasure. If he's what gives you security and happiness and worth, they're gonna want your treasure. It's human nature. We have a tendency to covet others' treasure. And he said, "here's my treasure.

" And he showed all of his spices, his servants. And you know what? When he wasn't looking, they were making notes. "Wait until the King sees this. And look at all that gold and silver and precious stones and spices. And boy, he's really loaded.

" They forgot all about asking about the miracle and his God. Doesn't say he ever took them to the temple. He took them to his house, showed his stuff. What a tragedy. Then the Isaiah prophet was sent to the King.

And he said, "what did these men say and where did they come from?" Now, did Isaiah already know? Does God ask questions, wants us to think? And Hezekiah said, "oh, they came from a far country all the way to see me from a long distance from Babylon." And Hezekiah was asked by Isaiah, I underlined this and highlighted it, "what have they seen in your house?" "What have they seen in your house?" That's a very important verse. First of all, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Every day, you carry a tabernacle around with you. What do people see in your house? What do they see in your house? What do they notice about you? What you have on? What you're wearing? On the outside, is it the gold and the silver and the adornment or is it what you have on the inside that people see? What do they remember about you? What makes the impression? What have they seen in your house? It goes also to the literal aspect. When people come to your home, what do you notice? Yeah, I think maybe I've shared this with you before.

I know I shared this story at camp meeting. I used to teach juniors in Sabbath school. And there was a couple of twin brothers I used to teach, bright young men, good looking boys. And their hearts were very sensitive to the Holy Spirit and for a while, they came to church and they were dedicated. They got baptized but then as they entered the teenage years and they went off to school, you know how often happens, they became distracted by the world and they drifted out of church.

Years went by. Now, we have a cabin up in the hills. One day I heard the propane truck coming up the road and a young man hops out, muscular, handsome. And I looked at him and he looked at me and he kind of grinned. He said, "how you doing, doug?" And I said his name.

It was this kid I had taught as a junior. He was working for the propane company. He's delivering gas. And I was so glad to see him and I thought for a second, opportunity to talk to him about his soul. I had heard he had drifted from the Lord.

And he said, "hey, this is a nice place you have here." That's all it took. He let the genie out of the bottle. He asked me about my place. I said, "well, yes, it is isn't it? See the solar panels up on the roof?" I said, "the whole house is powered by the sun. Let me show you the inverter, follow me.

See, all the springs, the gravity, see the pond down there?" And I began to give him a tour and pretty soon he said, "hey, I've got other customers," and after filling my tank, he had to take off. And as he was going down the road and I could see the cloud of dust behind him, I heard a little voice say, "what did he see in your house?" And I thought, "oh lord. Here I had this opportunity that you gave me to talk to him about his soul and I found out what was in my heart." I was very proud of my stuff and my blessings. I think God blessed me. God said, "I want to bless you.

" Just like he told Moses, "you're gonna be blessed. You're gonna move into a land and eat from vineyards that you didn't plant and houses you didn't build." Be careful that you don't start focusing on the blessings and forget who gave it to you. And here, instead of telling my friend, this young man who was lost about God, I told him about my stuff. And he went down the road and God said, "doug, what did he see in your house?" This is the house of the Lord. People come here looking for God.

We have visitors every week. There's some here today. What do they see? What do they hear us talk about in our idol chatter, when we're out visiting with people after, before the service? What do they observe? Do they see a reverence? Do they see that our treasure is God? People are gonna want your treasure. What have they seen in your house? Very important. You know, so often we drift between the two extremes, one group is thinking that happiness consists in the abundance of things a man possesses as Sarah read during our Scripture reading.

Others think, "if we don't have enough, we can't be happy." That's the other extreme. Now, we're learning from the Kings, one of the problems that a king has is when you're coronated a king, you're instantly rich. There's a danger in being rich quickly. The Bible says, "an inheritance that has gotten hastily will be squandered," Solomon said. You know, I'm concerned because America has gone through a very interesting dynamic in the last years.

Twenty-five years ago, gambling in North America was rare and isolated to a few desert communities. Right now, it is prevalent all across North America and is endorsed by the government. Thirty-seven states now have lotteries. More are lined up to get lotteries and now they have legalized gambling on the reservations. And, of course, every state has reservations.

And they're finding out that people become just as addicted to gambling as they do to alcohol and other addictions, drugs. I know people that have squandered everything they own, run up all their credit cards, mortgaged their house to supply a gambling addiction. Some people have done it for bingo, slot machines. Some people have committed suicide after they lose everything. I was at a convenient store the other day and I saw this man come in and he just--his whole demeanor was he looked intense.

He looked very troubled. You know how sometimes people carry this air of anxiety about them. And as he came in, he looked really, all agitated and he plopped down some money. It looked like $25 on the counter and he bought 5 lotto tickets or lottery tickets. And I know there's different kinds of lotteries.

I actually had a pastor ask me this week if I had ever bought one. I was surprised he would even ask me that. I said, "no." He said, "well, I haven't either," but evidently, he knew pastors that had bought lotto tickets. Evidently they prayed first and promised God to give it all to the church, and that means it's okay, right? But this man, he walked outside; I followed him out when I went out to my car and I watched him. He stood there by the garbage can.

He frantically, perspiration was on his forehead, he scratched the coating off to see if he was a winner and then he threw them all in the garbage can and stormed away. And I guess that he had probably spent his last $25, desperate to win. You know, the Bible tells us we should not make haste to get rich. Let me read that to you. Proverbs 23:5, "will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches make themselves wings.

They fly away as an eagle towards heaven." Proverbs 16:19, "better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud. He that maketh haste to be rich will not be innocent." How are we to get rich? The lottery or by working? Or an honest inheritance that you might have passed on. And it's dangerous because when a person becomes rich very quickly, they start trusting their riches. Some people who are poor only focus on what they don't have. They're unhappy my because they say, "I don't have anything in my house.

" Hezekiah thought his esteem and his worth came from all the treasure in his house. There's the other extreme. Some people think, "I'm deprived. I'm cursed because I don't have anything in my house." You know that story, it's found in 2 Kings 4, there was that widow woman in debt and she comes to Elisha. She's desperate.

Creditors coming to take away her children and he says, "what shall I do for you?" She wanted a loan, I guess, I don't know. He said, "what do you have in the house?" She was so focused on everything she did not have, she was neglecting the blessings she did have and God was telling her that if you utilize the blessings you do have correctly, you can get out of debt. She took what she did have, just a little oil, and with the blessing of God, she committed what she did have to the Lord, committed her heart to the Lord. Not only did she get out of debt, there was a surplus. Focused on what she didn't have in the house and he said, "what do you have in the house?" A lot of us aren't happy because we're focusing on what we don't have that everyone else has? You know what I'm talking about? You gotta keep up with the jones, try and live like the millionaires we see on tv.

The disciples said, "you better send away the multitude because they're hungry. We can't feed them. Send them away." She said, "don't send them away. You give them something to eat." How are we gonna feed them? We don't have enough--we don't have storage and resources to feed all these people." And what did Jesus say? "What do you have? How many loaves do you have?" And there are two extremes. There are millionaires that aren't satisfied because they don't have enough.

And there are poor people that aren't satisfied because they don't have enough. You know what that tells me? Happiness does not come from the abundance of things you possess. Now back to our story of king Hezekiah. He thought that his worth came from his treasure. You know what Isaiah said to him? "Hear the word of the Lord.

Behold the days are coming when all that is in your house, what your fathers have accumulated until this day shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left." Your treasure was your stuff, you're gonna lose it all. Another point, don't want to rush past this: God can give it all to you in one day. He can take it all away in one day. Job lost everything in one day.

Matter of fact, I think I copied that verse here. Yeah, notice this. Job 1:10, the devil is speaking. He's complaining to God. Was job a rich man? Did he have a lot of material wealth? Was that his treasure? No.

Was he happy? Yes, 'cause it was not his treasure. The devil said, "you've made a hedge about him and about his household and about all that he has." Notice, all that he has on every side. Can God bless your substance? Does he want to do that? Yeah. "You've blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land. But now stretch forth your hand and touch all that he has and he will surely curse you to your face.

And the Lord said to satan, 'behold, all that he has shall be in your power.'" You know God can give you all that you have instantly and the devil can take possession of all that you have instantly too. It's very dangerous for your esteem and your worth and your treasure to be bound up in what you have. Pride and possessions. Back to Hezekiah. "Isaiah said to him, 'the days are coming when all that is in your house, what your fathers have accumulated until this day shall be carried to Babylon.

Nothing shall be left,' says the Lord, 'nothing.'" Gotta close the account. All of it's gonna be taken away. If you brag about what you have, people will covet what you have and want to take what you have. "And they'll take away some of your sons." His materialism was affecting his children. "They will take away some of your sons who will descend from you whom you will beget and they will be eunuchs.

Daniel, hananiah, mishael and azariah were all princes of judah, sons of Hezekiah that were made eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon." This prophecy was literally fulfilled. Now notice what Hezekiah says. Instead of falling on his knees and saying, "oh, what have I done? Lord, cleanse my heart from pride." Hezekiah says to Isaiah, "the word of the Lord, which you have spoken is good." For he said, 'at least they'll be peace and truth in my day.'" In other words, at least I'll still have my stuff to enjoy while I'm alive. Saw this motor home going down interstate 5, one of these -foot motor homes, got a sign out front that says, "wide load." Satellite dish on top, towing a trailer behind. There's a bumper sticker on the back of the--they're towing a trailer with their luxury car.

The little bumper sticker said, "we're spending our children's inheritance." Hezekiah said, "well, yeah, maybe they'll take it all away from my children, but at least they'll be peace in my day. Right? I'll get to enjoy it." I don't know if he got the point that God was trying to teach him. Let's look at another king, king Solomon. Now before we go to Solomon, I want to remind you about something. Deuteronomy 17:16, Moses said, "you're gonna someday dwell in the land.

Someday you'll set up a king over you. But he shall not multiply horses for himself nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses. For the Lord has said, 'you shall not return that way again.' Neither shall he multiply wives for himself lest his heart turn away. Nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself." Isn't it interesting, Moses is giving these very specific instructions that they were not to multiply silver and gold and horses or wives? "Also, it shall be when he sits on the throne of the Kingdom that he shall write, for himself, a copy of the law of this book from before one of the priests or levites. And it shall be with him and he'll read it all the days of his life that he might learn to fear the Lord, his God, that he might be careful to observe the words of the law of these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brethren.

" God said, long in advance, that the Kings would be tempted to be proud. And they were not to multiply things for themselves. Now, David, amassed great wealth. But you know the difference between David and Solomon? David collected and stored great wealth to be put in God's house. David set aside--when he would conquer a kingdom, he began to fill these storehouses.

And when he realized that he was going to appoint Solomon his heir, he said, "now I've made provision with great substance for the house of my God." David did not multiply it all for himself. He did have too many wives and he may have had too many horses, but David did, at least, keep God as the priority. Now Solomon did the very thing that God told him not to do. Kings 10:27-28, "and the King, Solomon, made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones." So he said, "don't multiply silver and gold." "And cedars made he to be as the sycamore trees that are in the vale for abundance. And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt.

" Now didn't I just read where Moses said, "don't do that?" Now, did God bless Solomon? I want you to catch this, friends. When Solomon made God and his kingdom priority--matter of fact, let's look at that. Turn with me to 1 Kings 3:3. Kings 3:3. "And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.

Now the King went to gibeon to sacrifice there." Notice, in his youth, the loved the Lord. "And Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar." Keep in mind, the temple altar had not been built yet. That's why the narrator is giving this little addendum here. "At gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night and God said, 'ask what I shall give you.'" Okay, I mean, that's a blank check from God. "What do you want? Ask what you want me to give you.

" Now listen to what Solomon asks for. This is when he's fresh on the throne. He's been reading the word of the Lord. He's been remembering the counsel of David, his father, and Solomon said, "you have shown great mercy to your servant David, my father, because he walked before you in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart with you. You have continued this great kindness to him and you have given him a son to sit on his throne as it is this day.

Now, o lord, my God, you have made your servant king instead of my father David. But I am a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in." Look at the humility. What is the emphasis in Solomon's request? You, you, you, you, you. What was Hezekiah? Me, me, me, me, me.

Where did the devil fall? I, i, i, i, i. You got it? "But I'm a little child. I don't know how to go out or come in. And your servant, in the midst of your people whom you have chosen a great people too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore--" here's his request, give your servant, a winning lottery ticket.

What did he ask for? He said, "give me a wise and an understanding heart to judge your people." He didn't ask for anything tangible. He asked for the most important gift which is what Elisha asked for from Elisha, a double portion of God's Spirit. He asked for spiritual blessings. Now, so many of us think that our happiness would be all resolved if God could take care of our physical or material problems. "Give us physical health, give us long life, give us material blessings and we will be at last, satisfied.

You know I've watched with my children. I like buying gifts for my children and God likes blessing his children. You know, you take them shopping. You have to go to the store and they migrate over to the toy section and they begin to drool matchbox cars or just, you know, something that they're positive if they own this thing, they'd be happy. And if you're like me, sometimes you give in.

I don't always give in because it's not good for them. I get really irritated with these parents in the Markets. You see the kid having a fit, "okay, okay, I'll get it for you." Well, you know every time the kid goes, he's gonna have a fit until he gets what he wants, right? So I say, "you can cry all you want." Sometimes, I say, "you're not getting it. Read my lips." Because you don't want them thinking that you're gonna give them everything they pont to. It's not good for them.

You know, the reason God doesn't give us everything we ask for is 'cause he loves us and he knows it's not good for us to get everything we ask for. Some of what we're asking for is not good for us. Some of us pray and we don't receive because we want to consume it on our lusts. That's not just talking about sensual. That means we are lusting something, the lust of the eyes.

We're wanting something. God says, "you want it for the wrong reason." But sometimes I'll buy it for my kids if it's reasonable, if I haven't gotten them anything or they deserve it for some reason. And it's interesting how long it keeps them happy. Sometimes before they reach the car, it's broken. Sometimes before they reach the car, they're fighting over what the other person got because they think it's better.

"It works better. I like the color better," they're tugging. Happiness does not come from the abundance of things a man possesses. Solomon said, "give me a wise and understanding heart and the speech please the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. And Solomon God said to him, 'because you've asked this thing and have not asked for yourself, riches, neither have you asked for vengeance on your enemies but you've asked for yourself understanding to discern justice.

Behold, I've done according to Your Words. I've given you a wise and understanding heart. So there's not gonna be anyone like you, before you, nor shall there be any who arises after you. And I've given you what you did not ask for, both riches and honor.'" Who give it to Solomon? God did. Why could God give it to Solomon? 'Cause at that time, he had a humble heart.

He had his priorities straight. What was Solomon's priority? Seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. That's what he prayed for. "Give me wisdom to judge your kingdom." His concern was the Kingdom of God and the people of God and the righteousness of God. "Give me a wise and an understanding heart to know the difference between good, right and wrong.

" And when his priorities were right, he could handle the other blessings. You know, when you look at the lives of the patriarchs, was Abraham wealthy? Yeah. Was Isaac wealthy? Was Jacob wealthy? Jacob did not start out wealthy. He left home with a staff. But after he learned some lessons from God and he committed himself to God-- you know it's interesting, after his promised to pay tithe on everything God gave him, he crossed back over the jabbok, a very wealthy man.

Now, there's a principle there I don't want to miss. He recognized everything belonged to God. Some of us still have the attitude of that fool. God blessed him with a bumper crop and he said--instead of sharing his blessings, he said, "ah, I'm gonna build bigger barns and I'll cram it all in the barns," and he hoarded it. "And I will eat, drink and be merry and I'll say to my soul--" and God said, "you fool.

This night your soul is required of you then whose shall those things be?" You can't take it with you. Sometimes people will say, "well, I'm gonna pay my tithe." It's not your tithe. Matter of fact, nothing is yours. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. You are a living sacrifice and if you're on the altar, then everything you own belongs to God.

And when Solomon recognized that, God blessed him. You know, Solomon got distracted by his riches. After a few years of prosperity, he began to focus on the things, he multiplied wives, he collected horses. He began to hoard the silver and gold. And you read, at the end of his life, Solomon wrote a book called Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes, we understand, was written after Solomon repented and came back to the Lord. Now you have to look between the lines in the Bible to see that Solomon did repent and he will be saved. Jewish tradition tells us that he repented like manasseh and returned to the Lord. But for a while there, the wives he multiplied and all of his possessions and treasures distracted him from God. In Ecclesiastes, listen to what he says here, chapter 2:3, "I search my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine while guiding my heart with wisdom and how to lay hold on folly till I might see what was good for The Sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their life.

" He's searching, trying a little of everything. "So I made my works great. I built my house as I planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards. I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.

I made myself water pools in which there was water and growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who are in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered, for myself, silver and gold and special treasures of the King and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers and delights.

" He had the good stereo system. "The delights of The Sons of men." Trying to make it relevant today. "Musical instruments of all kind. I became great and excelled more than all who are before me." How is he identifying greatness? With an abundance of things. Then what's his conclusion? "Then I looked and all the work that my hands had done and all the labor which I'd toiled and indeed, all was vanity and grasping for the wind.

There was no profit under the sun." Now he doesn't end the book that way. Go to Ecclesiastes 12. I want you to read the conclusion of the whole matter. Verse 13, "let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter." Here's the wisest man who ever lived giving you the bottom line. "Here's the conclusion of the whole matter.

Try to acquire as much merchandise as you can get in a shopping cart in 20 minutes at target and you will be happy." You know, they tell people they're gonna go on a shopping spree as a gift. You watch these people screaming up and down the aisles, cramming all they can fit into a shopping cart as though their happiness depends upon it. Let's hear the conclusion of the whole matter. "Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man, for God will bring every work into judgment including every secret thing whether it be good or evil." It's not your possessions, it's your deeds. He says, "obey God.

Make him supreme. Respect, revere, honor, fear God and keep his commandments." That's the bottom line. That's the conclusion of the whole matter. This is coming from a man who owned one of everything. It was really hard to buy something for Solomon on his birthday.

What do you get the man who has everything? Now I want you to notice the contrast between these two Kings. Hezekiah, he started out thinking, "my esteem comes in my stuff." And you know I neglected to tell you. What a tragedy; history would have been so different. What if Hezekiah had his priorities straight like Solomon in his youth? The ambassadors came. You know when the queen of sheba came to Solomon.

The Bible says that she left with more than she came with. He showed her his God. He had his priorities straight during that time. She left and brought the knowledge of the true God back to her country. What if Hezekiah had done that? Historians think that this was one of the pivotal tragedies of history.

Because when they came from Babylon, it was the center of intelligence and the biggest libraries in the world. If Babylon had been converted to the worship of jehovah, for one thing, they would not have oppressed them later. You know, I understand that when marco polo, with his father mateo and his uncle nicolo polo, when they lived with the kubla kahn--he was, of course, one of the richest men in the world back then. After a couple of years of living there, they learned the language. He began to inquire about Christianity.

And it was a new empire. They had overthrown the previous dynasty, and they were still finding their religion. He said, "you go back to your high priest," the pope. He said, "send missionaries to come and to teach us about your God and Jesus. We will all become Christians.

" Well, for one thing, they stayed for several years. What they should have done is hightailed it right back and got some missionaries. They stayed--it was 40 years before finally, the--36 years before the invitation reached the church. The church did not believe the reports about china. Finally, they consented to send two missionaries, two priests.

One died on the way. The other got discouraged and turned back. Now right now, one of the strongholds for atheism in the planet is china. I wonder how different the world history would be if marco polo and nicolo and the others had been able to prevail on the church to send some missionaries. Even with their flawed theology, are you aware the best seventh day adventists are converted catholics? Even with their flawed theology, things would be better now.

The gospel is growing the fastest now, you know where? South America, the Philippines, are you aware of that? These countries. How different history would have been. But now, buddhism and communism, the stronghold of that country. What a tragedy. America has more things than any other nation in the world and more books on how to find happiness.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:7, "that none of you might be puffed up on behalf of one another, against one another, for who makes you differ from another and what do you have that you did not receive?" Nobody here can I say, "I am a self-made man." You cannot draw another breath without the grace of God. Everything we have, all the gifts we have to acquire wealth, they come from the Lord. And incidentally, this is what God said to--God said to God's people through Moses in Deuteronomy, "don't forget that it's the Lord who gives you the ability to acquire things." Now, I'm not saying that things are a curse. I think we need to be very careful because we have a lot more than we need. I'm talking to myself.

I am speaking from experience. You can get to the place where you become a slave to your possessions. You can spend so much time oiling and greasing and maintaining and guarding and insuring and fretting over your things, that you, actually are being controlled by your things. If that's the case with you then you need to evaluate whether you've got too much. And this is a good time in history to liquidate and to invest in God's kingdom.

I think that one of the real curses that has come upon the church, especially in North America, is materialism. We are so preoccupied. We are so distracted with the concept that our value is connected with what we have. These kids get their cars and they cruise the strip. You know why? They get their car and they cruise the strip and they design their cars and embellish their cars and they paint their cars and they make them bounce up and down and do all these things and special horns.

You know why? Because teenagers go through a very intense period of insecurity, and they want to feel their worth and they--if they don't get it at home and they don't get it from a pretty girlfriend or boyfriend, they get it from their car. It represents power and possessions and prestige, and that's where they get their worth. Some of us never grow out of that. We try and estimate what we are based on what we have. Martin luther said, "I've held many things in my hands and I've lost them all.

But whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." The devil cannot take it away. The devil tried to take everything away from job. Took away his treasure, took away his family. But he says, "though he slay me, yet while I trust him." He could not take away his faith. You might lose your health.

Jesus said, "don't be afraid of those who maybe torture your body but they can't touch your soul." If you're gonna be afraid, be afraid of the one who can take your soul and body and destroy it in hell. Don't be afraid of losing your stuff. What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? We can learn from the Kings. They got distracted with materialism. You've heard, "you can't take it with you.

" "A shroud has no pockets." "You will never see a hearse pulling a u-haul." Some people have tried to take it with them. King tut tried to bury his treasures with him and he had it. After 3,500 years, he still hadn't spent any of it. A man's life does not consist of the abundance of things he has. "It's not what we have, but what we enjoy that constitutes abundance.

" What is abundant life? A lot of things or is it what you enjoy? Do you enjoy Jesus? That's where our abundance comes from. Our value does not come from what we have, it comes from who we know. The last of the Ten Commandments is often the most neglected. "Thou shall not covet." And it says, "thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife and thy neighbor's house and thy neighbor's servants and his oxen, his donkey and everything else your neighbor has." But sometimes, we vicariously covet those things through the advertising. We think we're not gonna be satisfied until we own one of everything.

And then after we get one of everything, we think we need one of everything in every room before we're satisfied. I think we need to guard against this spirit of covetousness because, you know, friends, it was materialism that crucified Jesus. Christ was killed by virtue of someone who loved silver. Jesus was nailed to the cross because of covetousness and materialism. He was sold for a price.

And if our value is in our things, then we will sell out for our things. Remember lot's wife? She looked back. God said, "I'm before you. I'll protect you. Don't look back.

" She turned away from God and his leading and looked back on the things that were being devoured in the fire. Her treasure was in sodom and she met the same fate. Everything in this world's gonna be dissolved someday. Am I right? The only thing that's going to heaven is people who have been transformed, characters that have been changed. That's where our value needs to be, that's where our treasure needs to be.

People are gonna want your treasure. If you advertise that your treasure is Jesus, they're gonna want your Jesus. If your treasure is in material wealth and substance, money, you're gonna lose it all like Hezekiah someday. I'd like to encourage you to make a decision so say, "lord, I'd rather have Jesus than anything. I want him to be my treasure.

" If that's your desire, reach for your hymn book. We'll sing your closing hymn together. , "I'd rather have Jesus." Let's stand. [Music] I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold. I'd rather be his than have riches untold.

I'd rather have Jesus than houses or lands. I'd rather be led by his nail-pierced hand than to be the King of a vast domain or be held in sin's dread sway. I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today. Before we sing the last verse, I'm gonna ask you to pray a prayer, a very scary prayer. It's easy for us to say glibly, "offer these platitudes to God.

Yes, lord, I'd rather have you and all that I am is yours. I'd rather have you than fame and fortune." Are you willing to pray, "lord, if my heart isn't right, then I pray that you give me obscurity and take everything away." You know sometimes we think if he we had one request, we'd say, "lord, I want to be rich and famous, worldwide fame. I want to be a king, sit on a throne, have all this money, power, prestige." Are you ready to pray and say, "lord, if my things are distracting me from you, what profit is it if I gain the whole world and lose my soul? Lord, take it all away. Take it all away, or impress me to give it." God can work either way. Lord, if I'm preoccupied with notoriety and attention and worried about what people think of me, then give me obscurity.

Put me in some isolated place in your work where that won't be a temptation. It's a prayer. Are you ready to pray that prayer? What profit is it if you gain everything and lose your soul? If that's your desire, would you lift your hands before him and say, "lord?" Now before we sing our closing verse here, the final verse, there may be some of you here today, you've never really made a decision to say yes completely to Jesus, to place all that you are, all that you have, all that you possess on his altar. And if today you're feeling God impress you, just say, "lord, I want to completely consecrate my life to you. I want to be a Christian.

I want to accept all of Jesus, his mercy, the gospel." We invite you to come to the front. We want to have special prayer with you before we close this service. Come as we sing the last verse and accept Jesus. [Music] he's fairer than lilies of rarest bloom. He's sweeter than honey from out of the comb.

He's all that my hungering spirit needs. I'd rather have Jesus and let him lead. Than to be the King of a vast domain or be held in sin's dread sway. I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today. Father in Heaven, lord, many of us are sincerely making the decision to place all on the altar today.

We know that it's important for us to seek, first, your kingdom and your righteousness and have everything else secondary. We can see, Lord, in Your Word, that you want to bless your people. But if these blessings are distracting us from Jesus, then we want to ask you, indeed lord, we want to plead with you to take away these things. Remove anything that would be an obstacle to our salvation. Bless us so we can sincerely mean what we're praying right now, lord, that Christ will be our all and all and it's in his name we ask, amen.

Happy Sabbath, pastor Jim.

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