"THE SECRET OF GREATNESS."
I. SO JOTHAM BECAME MIGHTY, OR GREAT.
A. We read of his accomplishments.
1. He built the high gate in the house of the Lord.
2. He fortified the walls of Ophel. Ophel was known as the city of David, it was the southern part of the city below the Temple Mount and down toward the Gihon Spring.
3. He built cities in the mountains of Judah.
4. He built castles and towers in the forests.
5. He defeated the king of the Ammonites and began to collect an annual tribute from them.
B. "Because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God." This idea of preparing your heart or ways before the Lord is found throughout the scriptures.
1. We read of King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon:
And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.
2. The Lord said to king Jehoshaphat:
Nevertheless there are good things found in you in that you have taken away the groves out of the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.
3. Concerning the people of Judah at the time of Jehoshaphat it was said:
Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.
4. We read concerning Ezra the scribe:
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
5. The prophet Samuel spoke to the people saying:
If you will return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
6. King David prayed for the people:
O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:
C. In all of these passages we find the thought of preparing the heart for the Lord. Just what does this mean to prepare our hearts for the Lord?
1. In the New Testament Paul wrote to the Ephesians: Eph 3:17
: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith."
a. The Greek word translated dwell literally means to settle down and abide, to make a permanent dwelling place, to settle down and make yourself at home.
b. We often say to our guests, "Make yourself at home."
2. I had two grandmothers when I was a boy. We used to visit them regularly because they both lived in Santa Barbara.
a. The one was a socialite, always dressed to the hilt.
1. Whenever we would go to her house we had to be on our best behavior. We had to be very polite.
2. We would have to sit like little gentlemen, as she was very formal and proper.
3. We could never just help ourselves to the candy; it had to be offered to us, and we were never offered a second piece. We always felt under a strain.
4. I never felt at home there.
b. In contrast my other grandmother was just a beautiful common little lady probably on Social Security.
1. As soon as we would arrive she would start making cookies or if she knew we were coming there was always the bowl of cookies waiting for us.
2. We never had to ask, "May I have a cookie please?" We could just go and get one whenever we pleased.
3. We did not just have to sit up straight and quiet there just speaking when spoken to, but we could run around outside and play to our heart's content.
4. I always felt at home there.
c. Preparing our hearts for the Lord is to so live that the Lord would always feel comfortable and at home in my heart.
3. Several years ago a pastor by the name of Robert Munger preached a classic sermon on the text, "That Christ might dwell in your heart through faith." He titled it "My Heart Christ's Home." It was later printed up in a little booklet.
a. It dealt very well with the subject of inviting Jesus to make Himself at home in your heart.
b. He spoke of the cleaning up he had to do, pictures that he had to remove from the walls. How that he had to change his diet to accommodate his guest. He talked about one closet that he had kept for himself, that he really wasn't ready to clean up. One afternoon when he returned home Jesus was walking around sniffing and He asked about the smelly odor in the house. He had figured out that it came from the closet that was locked. Jesus suggested that he get that closet cleaned, however he objected that he had gradually cleaned the whole house but was not quite ready to clean up the closet. Jesus gave him an ultimatum, either the smelly closet gets cleaned or Jesus was moving out. He again objected that he just didn't have the strength to do it, whereupon Jesus said that if he would just hand over the key that Jesus would clean it for him, which Jesus did. He finally found that it was too difficult trying to keep his house fit for Jesus, and decided to just turn the title to the house over to
Him. As Paul wrote, "You are not your own, you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit which are His."
D. Have you prepared your heart for the Lord?
1. Would Jesus be comfortable with the pictures that you have on the walls of your imagination?
a. The Lord told the prophet Ezekiel to dig a hole in the wall and to look inside.
b. Ezekiel saw all kinds of pornography on the walls of the room. The Lord then told him that he was looking on the inside of the minds of the leaders of Israel; he was seeing all of the filth that was in their minds.
c. We sing, "He knows my name, He knows my every thought." Do we really believe that?
II. HOW DO I PREPARE MY HEART FOR THE LORD?
A. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
1. David prayed:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and renew a right spirit within me. Deliver me from guilt, O God, thou God of my salvation: O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
B. We begin by asking the Lord to help us.
1. The prophet Jeremiah wrote:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
a. As David, I must ask God to search my heart and reveal to me the things that are there that are displeasing to Him.
2. I then ask Him to cleanse my heart from all defilement.
3. I then ask His help in bringing every thought into captivity.
a. James wrote:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren.
4. King Solomon said:
Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let your eyes look straight ahead. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right or to the left, walk a straight path: remove thy foot from evil.
III. WHAT WILL BE THE RESULT?
A. The Lord will come and dwell in your heart, and you will be all that He wants you to be, and He then can do for you all that He wants to do, as He lavishes His love upon you.