Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shepastor: “What Will Your Epitaph Read?”

II Chronicles 26:16-23

16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. 17 And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: 18 And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. 19 Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. 21 And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several [1] house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land. 22 Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write. 23 So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.

Uzziah's name means, "Yahweh is my strength." 2nd Chronicles chapter 26 starts out by describing the beginnings of a great ruler. When we first read about Uzziah in this text, he is a 16 year old boy that has been chosen to rule over Judah, the Southern Kingdom, when his father Amaziah died. He had at his disposal all of the riches, servants, craftsmen, builders and other skilled workers that could assist him in whatever he desired to be done. This was not unusual, during this day and age, for it was understood and was customary that when a king died, his son, no matter how young would rule in his place.

In addition to skilled workers, the kings were also guided by prophets and priests. In Uzziah's case, he had the prophet Zechariah. In Uzziah's early days, he relied upon God. The text says that Zechariah taught Uzziah to respect and obey God. As long as He obeyed The Lord, God granted him great success. He conquered enemy nations, he over threw kings and kingdoms, he built high and strong towers. His fame spread abroad around the ancient world. He was respected and revered.

But the scripture says, "but when he became strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction." Vs. 16 .

The scripture says pride goeth before a fall. A deacon from my home church used to pray, "Lord, don't let us come thinking too highly of ourselves..."

In 1969, Senator Richard Milhous Nixon became the 37th President of the United States. His rise to power was swift and strong. He established himself as a genius of foreign policy and diplomatic relations. He garnered the respect of national and international leaders. He was despised by some and revered by many. His first term as President was viewed as masterful. He was well on his way to leaving a legacy as a giant of a leader. In 1972 the record declares that he pummeled his Democratic opponent, George McGovern, who only carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Nixon won 60% of the popular vote. His victory was unparalleled in election history. It was a landslide win that had never been seen before, nor ever again.

But something happened. Soon the nation would learn of "dirty tricks" used such as wire taps, secret recordings and breaks into the Democratic Headquarters at the now famous Watergate building to learn about the campaign strategies of the Democrats and also to discover any dirty laundry that could be used to undermine the Democratic Presidential contender, McGovern.

Ultimately the scandals brought down the entire Nixon presidency and he had to leave office in shame and disgrace. Although he tried desperately to rehabilitate his reputation, even now, when you hear the name, Richard Nixon, you think “Watergate.”

Started out so good but ended up so bad. He no doubt would have won the election any way, but pride, insecurity, greed and a controlling spirit lured him into paths of humiliation and destruction. When he became strong...

You can start out so good and end up so bad. When you had little or nothing, nobody knew your name, when you were glad for any opportunity to have or to do or to go, God was at the top of the list. Nobody could beat you getting to church on Sunday morning. Ready and eager to serve in the Sunday School, happy to sing in the choir, willing to sweep the floor, faithful and dutiful in every way. But something happened. God began to bless you. God began to open some doors for you. God began to slay some giants for you.

All of a sudden you found yourself sitting in seats and places and spaces that you'd never been before. People began to know and respect who you were. Your shoulders started raising up a little higher. You didn't have to shop at the discount stores any longer, you could go to the boutique. You didn't have to stand over a hot stove with a marcellous hot iron any more, you could spend well over $60 and $75 a week to get your hair done. You didn't have to worry about using Sally Hanson nailpolish any longer, now you can go and get your French tips filled in on a weekly basis. You didn’t have to worry about getting your hands dirty shining your one pair of shoes, you could now go and get your shoes shined. You now have so many shoes that it doesn’t even matter. Once you only had one black and maybe, one blue suit. Now you have a suit for every occasion!

You have to be careful when your change comes. There is a temptation to think you made it on your own. There is a temptation to forget that God and God alone gave you that house, gave you that position, gave you that job, gave you that money, gave you that opportunity, God blessed you. God kept you. God made you who you are. God can and will bless you. God has promised to make our way prosperous and lead us to our designated promised lands. But God will not tolerate us giving His glory to anybody else, including ourselves.

Foolish pride results in shame. Foolish pride will bring you down. It does not matter how well you started out. You've got to endure endure to the end. He that endureth to the end will receive a crown of life. You've come too far, God has been too good God has been too faithful for you to lose sight of what really matters.

The scripture says that King Uzziah, after he became strong, forgot God. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who also started out good, but in the end, forgot God. Uzziah Thought that he had become so great that he ignored the council of God's representative.

It does not matter how much you think you know, you still have to listen to somebody. God has some spokes persons that he has put in your midst to remind you that you don't have all of the answers, you don't know all of God's directions, you need somebody every now and then to meet you at the throne of grace and pray with you until the answer comes!

Uzziah forgot that and he stepped out of his place, out of his lane, out of his position to assume a place that was not appointed for him. He refused to listen. He refused to be humble. He refused to honor God's representative and as a result he became leprous in his brow. He was now diseased. He was now shamed. He was now put out. He was now removed from his kingship. He died and was buried alone. The last thing that was said about Uzziah was that he was leprous.

What will be the last thing that is said about you? You couldn't control your anger? You refused to listen? You allowed foolish pride to prevent you from receiving lessons God had for you? You didn't know how to handle your affairs? You were mean? You were selfish? You never finished anything you started.? You wore your feelings on your sleeve? You couldn’t be trusted?

Or will it be said that you helped people? You loved unconditionally? You were a godly man or woman? You stood for what was right? You served The Lord with gladness? You gave your all? What will be said about you?

Ultimately, all that matters is what is written about you in the Lord's record. Will He Say well done? Will He call you redeemed? Will He know your name?

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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