United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

Date: May 22, 2022

Minister Kimberly Braxton

Sermon Title: “Us Four and No More”

Heart of the matter


Have you ever noticed it is easy to find time to pray when something is not going right in your life? Think about it. When everything is running smooth in your life – your crazy coworker decided they aren’t returning to the office; your money is lasting longer than your bills; and your health is excellent – no aches,

no pains everything is just as it should be it’s hard to find time to pray. We tend to try to squeeze God into the margins of our lives. After breakfast but before our first meeting we can squeeze in a small prayer. Or if we are caught in traffic I’ve been known to ask for the, “If Moses could part the Red Sea perhaps

You can create a break in this traffic so I can get to where I need to be on time. Amen”. Don’t tell me I’m the only person that prays for red lights to be converted to green. That traffic anointing! Won’t He do it. Yes, when things are going well and we are walking in the blessings and favor of God it’s challenging to make the time to pray.


But, when “the storms of life blow” - - You contentious coworker is back at it again; a surprise expense pops up and now you are suffering from “funds so low” disease (your funds are so low you don’t know how you’re gonna make it through the month) or you receive the call from the doctor’s office that they

need you to come in right away to discuss your test results. In those moments we not only find time to pray we make time to pray. Because when something goes awry in our lives it will drive us to seek the face of God for answers and relief.


And God is faithful to His Word. He will answer but where is the intimacy in that type of transactional relationship? Where is the “sweet communion” the dialogue of prayer? When the Lord reveals things to you, about you. Those moments when the Lord holds up a mirror to your soul and shows you who you really are and begins to shape you into who He created you to be? It’s in

those intimate moments with God that character is revealed and shaped in the presence of the Almighty.


And that’s what brings us to the story of Hezekiah this morning. Hekekiah is a lot like us. When he was trouble, when he was facing insurmountable odds he sought the face of God. In Chapter 19 of 2 Kings after Hezekiah received a letter from messengers saying ‘Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, “Jerusalem will not be handled over to the king of Assyria.

Surely you have heard what the king of Assyria has done to other countries, destroying them completely.” Hezekiah took that letter, went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before Him and he prayed for deliverance. And deliverance came! The Assyrian army was defeated and their king was killed by his very own sons.


What a relief.


When Hezekizah fell ill and Isaiah came to him and let him know, “You are going to die. Get your affairs in order” Hezekiah prayed and wept saying,

     “Remember, O God, who I am, what I’ve done!

      I’ve lived an honest life before you,

      My heart’s been true and steady,

      I’ve lived to please you; lived for your approval.

The Lord heard him and sent Isaiah back to Hezekiah letting him know the Lord had heard his prayer, had seen his tears and has decided to add 15 additional years to Hezekiah’s life. He would indeed recover from his illness.


Glory to God!


But the same King that boldly sought the face of God in crisis and conflict did not give God the glory He was due when he was well. When Hezekiah recovered he received an envoy from Babylon and gave them a tour of the palace. Now, Hezekiah was very wealthy, his wealth was compared to Solomon’s so there was a lot of see here. But this was no simple tour. This was Hezekiah proudly showing off his wares to the Babylonians in order to

make it appealing for them to enter into an alliance against the Assyrians if they attacked.


God was not pleased. How could Hezekiah go from the pinnacle of faith in believing God for deliverance and receiving it to only later on trying to make something happen with the Babylonian’s so he could defend his nation himself. So here comes Isaiah, again. And then in Verses 16 through 18 he told Hezekiah,


“Listen to what GOD has to say about this. The day is coming when everything you own and everything your ancestors have passed down to you, right down to the last cup and saucer, will be cleaned out of here—plundered and packed off to Babylon. GOD’s word! Worse yet, your sons, the progeny of sons you’ve begotten, will end up as eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”


And after hearing all of this Hezekiah responds in verse 19, “if God says it, it must be good.” But inwardly. Inwardly he thought to himself, “It won’t happen during my lifetime - I’ll enjoy peace and security as long as I live.”


That brings us to two observations we can make from the life of Hezekiah.

1. Every blessing we receive. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. Our success is not ours alone. It comes from God. So be sure to always give Him glory and honor and praise for what He has done in our lives. For all the ways He has blessed us. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of self-sufficiency. What did Job say in chapter 1 verse 21, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In the good times be grateful to God. Be thankful for all He’s done. This will enable you to resist becoming proud and thinking that your successes are something that you brought about yourself. Proverbs states, “Pride goes before destruction a haughty spirit before a fall.” Hezekiah’s pride was revealed when he thought he could take the matter of securing Judah himself by entering into an agreement with Babylon. He sidelined the Almighty that had given him success in previous battles thinking he could handle this on his own. Don’t fall for the trap of the enemy that would have you depending on your own ingenuity instead of the sovereignty and power of an almighty God.


That brings us to observation #2 – Our present actions have future

consequences. When Hezekiah received the envoys from Babylon it not only effected him. It affected the generations to come after him. The ramifications of his decision would not affect him directly but it would effect his children, his grandchildren, and the entire kingdom of Judah. Yes, Hezekiah would have peace for the remainder of his life but what about the generations after him that had to deal with the consequences of his decision?


Think about this in the present day. There is very little focus given to climate change. Yet, as we continue to abuse the planet that the Lord made us to be stewards over we are racking up consequences for future generations to deal with. The earth’s climate continues to get hotter but we act as if it’s nothing really to worry about because by the time the planet begins to feel the catastrophic, irreversible damage we will be long gone. And as Christians we can even get holy about it. “We’ll be raptured before all the glaciers melt.” So instead of enacting legislation to deal with this impending catastrophe we push it onto the shoulders of the next generation. So our children, their children, the grandchildren, or the great grandchildren will either have to address the consequences of our mismanagement of the planet or be left to endure the consequences of our inaction. It begs the question “How long can we treat the earth with radical indifference? How many glaciers need to melt? How many species of animals, flora and flourna need become existent before climate policy becomes a priority?


And on that note, we are way past the time of dealing with the consequences of slavery. How many generations will have to pay the price of America’s original sin? When will America finally be ready to deal with fact that systematic racism is real and it’s consequences are far reaching. Affecting not only black and brown people but everyone it touches. When will enough finally be enough?


However, as Christians we have an obligation, a moral commitment not to look the other way or to pass the problems of this generation onto the next one to deal with. The bible tells us in Proverbs 13:22, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” Let’s take a stand to make an effort to leave this world a little better for the little ones who will inherit it after we depart.


Let us pray