DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

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Keys To The Kingdom
 

1. Key Players in the Valley of Vision

Isaiah 22:1-3
1 An oracle concerning the Valley of Vision: What troubles you now, that you have all gone up on the roofs,
2 O town full of commotion, O city of tumult and revelry? Your slain were not killed by the sword, nor did they die in battle.
3 All your leaders have fled together; they have been captured without using the bow. All you who were caught were taken prisoner together, having fled while the enemy was still far away.


This is a prophecy in Isaiah 22, concerning the invasion of Sennacherib. Hezekiah was 25 when he came to power, and the kingdom was in a shambles at that point. Hezekiah had to break down idols as one of his first duties as king. He unified the nation from north to south, celebrated the Passover and reinstated temple worship. He was incredible in trusting God and keeping his commands His first 14 years in power were incredible. Jerusalem became called the Valley of Vision. People could come and see God at work in Jerusalem. Then Sennacherib invades.

As the Israelites saw the enemy gathering around the city, they began to flee. This was a challenge they had never faced before. They needed to raise their level of faith. There had been stunning successes, sure, but now the cracks began to show. If we read Isaiah 30-31 we learn more about how the Israelites were captured. They were running down to Egypt, to enlist Egypt's help and hide there. They were trying to find a way to win the battle without facing the risk.

Literally, they were trying to do it without God, without desperate, total reliance on Him. We're working hard, we're more knowledgeable and better-trained, but we may not be growing. We're so much more mature but we may be unified. We have so much more to be thankful for, but we may be less thankful than we've ever been. We have more to be thankful for than ever, and so many of us are less evangelistic than ever. We have less motivation now than ever. Why is that? We were the "Men Who Dreamed" What's the vision in the Valley of Vision? It's every nation, every town, and every person. We taught it, we studied it, we believe it, but is that still true today.

If we take a survey of our ministry, is it the Valley of Vision? What drives us? So often, what drives us is our schedule, what we have to do. Not our vision. We were born in the Valley of Vision, and we need to stay in the Valley of Vision.

Isaiah 22:7-11
7 Your choicest valleys are full of chariots, and horsemen are posted at the city gates;
8 the defenses of Judah are stripped away. And you looked in that day to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest;
9 you saw that the City of David had many breaches in its defenses; you stored up water in the Lower Pool.
10 You counted the buildings in Jerusalem and tore down houses to strengthen the wall.
11 You built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.


They got ready for battle, even breaking down houses to reinforce the wall. They built up a double wall to collect rainwater, in case they were under siege. They had meetings, they planned and worked hard to prepare for battle. Isaiah 22:12-13 The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. [13] But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! "Let us eat and drink," you say, "for tomorrow we die!"

"Let's eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Who cares?" There are millions and millions of people who care. Why do things go awry sometimes? God doesn't need us to become better planners or technicians, although we should. He's not waiting for that, but he's waiting for us to turn back to him. Ever been on a treadmill? Maybe, instead of building walls we need to be changing our hearts.

           Great planning minus brokenness = frustration.

           Great planning plus brokenness = victory

Isaiah 22:15-24
15 This is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: "Go, say to this steward, to Shebna, who is in charge of the palace:
16 What are you doing here and who gave you permission to cut out a grave for yourself here, hewing your grave on the height and chiseling your resting place in the rock?
17 "Beware, the LORD is about to take firm hold of you and hurl you away, O you mighty man.
18 He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country. There you will die and there your splendid chariots will remain-- you disgrace to your master's house!
19 I will depose you from your office, and you will be ousted from your position.
20 "In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah.
21 I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
22 I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
23 I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father.
24 All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots--all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.


Two key players here in the Valley of Vision. Shebna was the steward, like a treasurer. He was like the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance all rolled into one. Amazingly, he's the only one in the whole book singled out by name for a rebuke from God. Hezekiah was actually a very godly man. Shebna was trying to get him to compromise. That's why God was so angry with him. He was advocating compromise, rather than God's way

Shebna didn't believe they could do it God's way, so he determined to find another way. Eliakim, on the other hand, was a godly representative, and everybody felt his impact. Where was Hezekiah? Well, there are a few lessons here. First, we are responsible for your own faith and godliness. We're also responsible for your own impact. Do we challenge one another to dream even greater dreams?

We're a key player in the Valley of Vision. God watches us, and that's a good thing. He loves us, but He also has extremely high expectations for us. He wants us to exhaust ourselves not on building walls, but on seeking him.

2. The Key Comes Chained to the Cross

Matthew 16:16-24
16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
20 Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.


From holder of the key to son of Satan is a very steep drop. What was so bad, so horrible? It almost looks like Peter's expressing concern and love for Jesus. Well, verses 21 and 24 both talk about the way of the cross. He must have resented the insinuation that there was any other way. It ticked him off . The key to be a disciple comes chained to the cross. It's like the guy who gets on a plane, and the stewardess gives him a parachute "That will make your flight so much better." It's uncomfortable, so he takes it off. It's not the better flight that motivates us to put the parachute on. It's the fact that the plane's going to crash. That makes the suffering worth it. It's not actually the suffering that hurts us, but the surprise. We're not ready for it. Have our challenges made us more bold, more urgent, or more conservative?

John 21:18-19
18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"


The key comes chained to a cross. We can't separate the two. Is that our heart, is that our mindset? "I want to go. Show me the way"

3. Be Weak, So We Can Become Strong

Revelation 3:7-8
7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. \
8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.


The key of Christ is a universal key, a master key. It will open any door. What does it mean that they had little strength in Philadelphia? Not much talent? They were persecuted a lot, probably weren't lukewarm. What was it then? Well, Paul said, "When I am weak, then I am strong." Maybe it was like that. Maybe he's saying that this church, more than all the others, wasn't deceived. The truth is that all the churches had little strength, but most didn't realize it.

That's really the challenge for us, to realize that we are totally dependent on God. We need to be committed to doing it God's way, to see ourselves as weak and in need. We don't know everything we need to know yet to complete the work God has given us. Let us not try to impress each other. Spiritually, we know we're weak, which drives us to God.

Jesus opens the door that nobody can shut. 1 Cor 16, 2 Cor 2, Col 4 . . . These doors are all evangelism doors, opportunities to preach the gospel. It's when we're weak that Jesus opens the door that nobody can shut.

We live in the Valley of Vision. We were all born there. We were told we would evangelize the world. It's one thing to be born in the Valley of Vision, and it's another thing to die in it. The only way to avoid that is to turn the Valley of Vision into reality. Without brokenness, all of this means failure and frustration. With brokenness, it means victory.