Revival 2: The Follow Through
It was a cool, clear morning.
Micaiah was in his garden,
tending tomatoes, when suddenly a column of soldiers came double-timing it over the hill.
"Sir," the major in charge ordered, "we have come to get you."
"For what? What are the charges?"
The major explained to Micaiah,
"The Samaritan War Council has summoned you because you are a prophet of God."
Then he said more softly, "The king doesn't really want you, but the visiting king does. So if you have any sense, and want to stay out of jail, you better tell our king what he wants to hear!"
So Micaiah was taken in tow towards Samaria
If you want to know how Micaiah got in this position,
So the next time you are in your garden you can avoid arrest,
turn with me to 1 Kings 22:1-4. Read.
King Jehosophat of Judah came to visit King Ahab of Israel.
The year was 864 B.C.
The meeting place: Samaria.
When you watch a boxing match they talk about the fellow in the green trunks and the fellow in the blue trunks so you can keep the players straight.
Let me help you with the players here:
Jehosophat, the King of Judah, was basically a good man who followed the Lord.
Ahab, the King of Israel, was basically a bad guy who did not follow the Lord.
So I'll call them the "good king" and the "bad king" so you can keep them straight.
The good king was coming to visit the bad king.
Verse 4 tells us the bad King Ahab had a plan.
He wanted to be a conqueror,
And he specifically he had his eye was on Ramoth Gilead.
The problem was it was in the hands of the Syrians.
So bad old Ahab thought he should take a whack at getting it back.
But he needed the help of good King Jehosophat.
Let's read vv. 4(b) & 5.
The good king says to the bad king,
"We are brothers,
We are family,
Sure I will help you -- on one condition: before I do anything important, I want to seek God's counsel."
Now you know one reason why Jehosophat is the good king.
Let's read on: v.6
There you have it, right? 400 prophets.
They all say the same thing.
How could you have any doubt?
Friends, it was not just 400 prophets.
It was 400 prophets and one Viking!
Verse 11 tells us that a prophet named Zedekiah made something that must have looked like this Viking helmet here. [Wear Viking helmet for illustration.]
It had two big metal horns that stuck out from the sides.
(Except my horns on my helmet are small and plastic!)
And old Zed prophesied that they would not just win,
they would be like a bull goring the opposition,
just like his Viking helmet.
Now that the guy with the Viking helmet has spoken,
you couldn't have any doubt, right?
If I wore this helmet each time I preached, you would not have any doubts about me either, right?
In v.7. the good king has this really penetrating question:
"We've got 400 prophets and one Viking, is there anyone who is a prophet of the Lord?"
"Do you have to bring him up," the bad king groans in verse 8.
"Yes, we do have a prophet of the Lord,
His name is Micaiah.
But I hate him,
He never tells me what I want to hear,
He never has anything good to say,
He is always says no!"
"Don't groan," the good king says, "that's the guy we should talk to."
Now you know why Micaiah got plucked from his tomato patch.
Micaiah enters the bad king's palace and our story picks up in v. 15. Read.
Talk about being wrong! Micaiah agrees with the 400 prophets and the Viking!
This, of course, is too good to be true.
So bad King Ahab says in v. 16, "Tell me the truth!"
"Truth? So when did you start wanting the truth?"
"Who could know! Here you have 400 prophets and a Viking. Who would have thought you wanted the truth."
The truth was, bad King Ahab did not want the truth.
But good King Jehosophat did.
So Micaiah gives them the truth. Read vv. 17-18.
The Shepherd of Israel was the bad King Ahab.
So what Micaiah is saying is that if Ahab attacks,
He is going to die.
I invite you this afternoon to read the rest of this story.
Let me just give you the highlights now:
Micaiah got thrown in prison for his good advice.
The good king and the bad king went to war anyway.
As they were going to war, the bad king had this excellent piece of advice for the good king.
He said "Good king, I think you should go into battle dressed like a king, and I'll go into battle disguised as a regular soldier."
Jehosophat may have been a good king, but I'm not so sure he was a smart king because he disregarded the advice of Micaiah the true prophet, and took the advice of Ahab that he should enter the battle as the only one who looked like a king.
Sort of like entering battle with a bulls-eye on your outfit.
It turned out Micaiah was right. The Bible says (v.34) a "random" arrow hit bad King Ahab between his armor and he died.
The fact that bad King Ahab got whacked is unsurprising to me.
The fact that good King Jehosophat is dumb enough to be out on the battlefield looking like a target is less surprising to me than the fact Jehosophat is on the battlefield at all!
The man insisted on consulting with a prophet of God so he could understand d'God's will.
And once he learned God's will, he acted just like he had never heard it.
I call this "choking on the follow through."
The "follow through."
Anyone who participates in a sport that involves swinging a club knows what I am talking about when I say "follow through."
The follow through is what happens to your club after you hit the ball.
I remember when I took golf in school. Being concerned about the follow through not only improves your shot, it can keep your head intact.
When you stand by someone who is hitting the golf ball, the best place to stand is opposite them, like this. [Use golf club as illustration.]
If you stand at my back, the follow through is likely to land on your head.
The world is filled with two kinds of people, spiritually speaking.
There are players and nonplayers.
The players are like golfers and baseball batters.
They decided to play the game.
They walk up to the plate.
Or the tee.
And address the ball.
They even take a swing at the ball.
That is, in their hearts they want to hit the ball.
Every one of you is a player.
You are at church so you have decided to join the game.
You've got your Bible in hand.
You are listening to a sermon.
And so you are addressing "the ball."
You are addressing the subject.
Your head tells you that you want to do what is right,
you want to hit that "ball."
But the great challenge for Christians,
the challenge which good King Jehosophat did not meet in our story,
was the challenge of following through.
He wanted to hear the Lord's will.
Just like every one of us here today.
If you asked him, I'm sure he would say he wanted to do the Lord's will.
But then he completely disregarded the Lord's will, made himself a target and got out there on the battlefield.
He lacked the proper follow through.
He is not alone. Let me take you to the New Testament for two examples.
You remember the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18?
Turn with me to Luke 18 while I remind you of the story.
A rich man came to Jesus.
He had good intentions.
He was a player.
His goal was to go to heaven.
He knew the 10 Commandments,
and he tried to keep them.
It was his intent to hit the ball!
Let's read his question in Luke 18:18.
He wanted to know how to go to heaven.
But when Jesus told him how to go to heaven,
how to follow through,
he decided against it.
Turn back a few pages to LUKE 10:25. Read.
Do you see that this lawyer asked Jesus exactly the same question as the Rich Young Ruler asked him?
If you continued reading you will see (v.26) that Jesus directed this lawyer to the 10 Commandments, just like he directed the Rich Young Ruler.
If you read on in Luke 10, you will see that Jesus tells the lawyer the story of the good Samaritan.
When Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler about selling all he had and giving it to the poor, he was talking about the follow through.
Do you see the parallel?
When Jesus told the lawyer that he should be willing to help mugging victims of another race, he was talking about the follow through.
When I was around twenty years old I worked for my younger brother who was a partner in a construction company. He had several guys working for him. I was in school full time, and so would work for him in the summer.
I was never a particularly great carpenter.
I certainly was not a big, strong carpenter.
But I was a trustworthy carpenter.
So one morning (I do not remember if it was cool and clear) my brother told me to go up on the roof of this house we were building just to check that it had been done right.
Let me give you a little roof construction strategy lesson -- for free -- so you will know the theory for building yourself a roof.
You all know what rafters are, right?
If you are not sure, they are like the beams in our church roof here.
The plywood goes over the rafters to form the roof, right?
Now here is the "Critical Roof Construction Strategy."
you may want to take notes here.
You want the edges of the plywood to meet on top of the rafters!
You don't want the edges of the plywood to meet between the rafters.
That is it!
You now know the Critical Roof Construction Strategy!
When I got on top of the roof for my brother, I saw that this Critical Roof Construction Strategy had not been followed!
Some of the plywood sheets came together over air.
So stepping on one of those edges was like stepping on the end of a diving board.
With the critical difference being that diving boards tend to bend,
and plywood tends to break.
As I was looking at this sorry situation,
and watching my step,
I noticed that there were signs written on the plywood.
Stuff like, "beware," "watch out," "danger."
I got down right away to tell my brother the bad news.
Somebody in his company had not done the job right,
and the owner had apparently come at night and noticed the defect.
Because he had written the warnings.
As we were standing there trying to figure this out,
one of my brother's new employees asked, "Are you talking about the writing on the roof?"
When we said, "Yes."
He responded, "I wrote that."
"What do you mean, 'you wrote that?'"
"The plywood did not fit right so I wrote the warning signs."
Friends, that young fellow correctly understood the Critical Roof Construction Strategy.
What he did not do was follow through.
He thought that knowing the strategy,
observing when the strategy was not followed,
writing about the strategy,
talking about the strategy,
was good enough.
Do you think my brother said,"Well done thou good and faithful servant?"
He said, (to cite the Cameron revised, edited version, suitable for church consumption), "You idiot, it was your job to put the plywood on so it would fit!"
Friends, when we discuss the Bible in my Sabbath School class: that is addressing the ball.
When you let me stand up here and preach, while you politely listen: that is addressing the ball.
The follow through comes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
If all I do,
if all you do,
is understand God's will,
we are no different than good King Jehosophat.
No different than the Rich Young Ruler.
No different than the lawyer.
And no different than my brother's idiot employee.
(And I don't mean me, I mean the other idiot.)
So what is the "follow through?"
Simply put, it is to focus on promoting God's kingdom.
Friends, I think that there are two basic situations in which we can find ourselves.
Our lives can be focused on one of two things.
They are generally reflected in Jesus' comments in Luke 12.
I want you to be honest with yourself, this morning, and see where you are.
The first focus of our life is on ourselves.
The worst of this self-focus is on addictions.
The most harmful addiction I can think of is heroin addiction.
The heroin addict's life completely revolves around his need to satisfy his addiction.
I doubt that any of you find your life focused on heroin.
But friend, all sin is addictive!
What about more common addictions?
How about the addictive sexual sins?
I recently read statistics on marital unfaithfulness that are amazing. Whether these statistics hold true for our church, I do not know.
But if you have had an affair, I do not need to tell you that it is addictive.
Having an affair or looking for new affairs can easily become the focus of your life.
What about pornography?
Pornography is both progressive and addictive.
What about greed?
A desire to have what others have is both progressive and addictive.
Greed is never satisfied.
It never ends.
What about gossip?
Gossip is both progressive and addictive.
What about competition?
What about the simpler addictions like
If you life is focused on one of these addictions, you have a hard time following through on your gospel convictions (assuming you can follow through at all!)
Turn with me to Luke 12. In Luke 12 Jesus has some wonderful comments about how we can trust Him and know that He cares for us. But then in vv. 16-20 He tells a story. Read.
The man got rich through hard work.
And so he said, "I think I'll retire."
Does that seem bad to anyone? It seems like the American way to me.
As I get older, the more I think like this farmer thought.
This man represents the most common and ordinary example of being focussed on the wrong thing.He is not an extreme example.
He is not addicted to drugs, sex or greed.
He is simply focussed on himself.
And God says, "You are going to die, and then what will your self-focus get you?"
How many of you today are like this man, or worse?
If you are struggling with an addiction, you have the most extreme focus on yourself.
And if your first priority is on making a living, you are still focussed on yourself.
It is all the same problem, it is just a matter of degree.
Jesus has the solution in vv.31-34. Read.
The focus that Jesus requests,
the focus that Jesus requires,
is to make Him first in our life.
Did you notice those terrible words in v.33? "Sell your possessions and give to the poor?" That was exactly the same follow through that Jesus gave to the Rich Young Ruler.
Giving up yourself to help the needy was essentially the same follow through that Jesus gave to the lawyer.
There is a popular song about being a "sold-out" Christian.
That is what God is looking for.
Christians who have "sold-out" everything that stands in the way of making Him the focus of our life.
Friends, if our focus is changed,
if our hearts are changed,
there will be a revival in this church like you would not believe.
I hope we take the next step towards revival today.
Making the decision that we need to "follow through."
A decision to go beyond theory, and follow through with our lives and our possessions.
I will tell you I cannot do it.
You cannot do it.
So, the next time we talk about the third step to revival: grabbing hold of the power that will change us: the Holy Spirit.