Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jehu or Jehonadab? - Desiring A Zeal That Will Last

One Bible character that intrigued me as a young believer is Jehu, a man that the Lord anointed king. He was used of God to wipe out Baal worship in the land of Israel, and to destroy the remnant of Ahab and Jezebel's ungodly line. When God called him, he had a lot of zeal, which inspired others to likewise be fervent for the Lord:

2 Kings 10:15-16 And when he (Jehu) was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot. And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.

I encourage you to read this whole chapter on your own - as I only want to touch down on it in my comments. Jehu's zeal was commendable, but it was not complete - and it did not last. We need to learn from his example:

2 Kings 10:28-29, 31 Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel. Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan... But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.

Jehu did not walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart - his obedience was incomplete, halfhearted at best. And his story did not end well - eventually the Lord cut off his line as well.

But there was another man mentioned in this chapter, whose story did end well, who was commended by God, and who did have a godly heritage. This was Jehonadab the son of Rechab. He was also used of God in destroying the Baal worshippers (see verse 23). Though this chapter does not give us any more info on Jehonadab, there is another passage of Scripture that does show how his story turned out. As my pastor often says, "The evidence of how well you have raised your children is seen in your grandchildren." In Jeremiah 35 (please take the time to read this whole chapter as well), we see how this godly man - Jehonadab the son of Rechab - raised his children and influenced his future generations by the way they turned out:

Jeremiah 35:1-3 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites;

Notice that the prophet Jeremiah is sent to speak to the whole house of the Rechabites, all of the descendants of Jehonadab that were living hundreds of years later at the time of the Babylonian captivity. This passage goes on to relate how he influenced his family for good - and how they still clung to his instructions and godly example, even when tested by the prophet:

Jeremiah 35:5-6, 8, 10 And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine. But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever... Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters... But we have... obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.

Jehonadab's zeal lasted - it provoked his future generations, was commended by God, and recorded in His Word as an example to us. At the time of the Babylonian captivity, we do not see any mention of Jehu's temporary zeal - but Jehonadab's lasting zeal is recorded forever.

How about you - how about me? Is our zeal lasting, or is it fading, flagging, temporary? Are we like Jehonadab or like Jehu? To use another passage many of us are no doubt aware of (and which truly fits the age we live in): are we like those in the Laodicean church that the Lord Jesus rebukes in Revelation 3?

Revelation 3:15-16, 19 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth... As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Four words used in this passage above:

1. Cold - chilly. We might use this term in reference to being against Jesus and the things of God (including His Word) - but this church was not "against" Him (see Matthew 12:30) - at least not wholly.

2. Hot - to be boiling, fervent - Earnest. (From the Greek word zestos - where we get zest from.) Neither was this church sold out for Christ.

3. They were lukewarm, tepid. Neither cold nor hot, neither against NOR for Christ, neither outright rejecting the truth nor standing for it! They were sitting on the fence - and God Himself rebuked them publically and eternally for all the world to read! This is the day we live in, and sadly this is exactly how the majority of Christendom has become - because the majority of the individual professing "Christians" have become this way. Is this how your church is, is this how you are - are you lukewarm? Or are you hot or cold? Can those around you tell exactly where you are, where you stand in this apostate age? Go back and read verse 16, and see how just like lukewarm liquids make our own stomachs sick, so lukewarm "Christianity" makes God Himself sick.

4. Zealous, where we get our word zeal from: to have warmth of feeling for or against. Jesus says we need to be either cold (against Him and the things of God) or hot (fervently for Him and His kingdom). We need to get off the fence. The world - and our families - needs to see where we stand!

For the sake of eternity - for our eternal benefit - we need to be for Christ. For the sake of the lost world around us - and even for the sake of those younger Christians we can influence - we need to be for Christ; they need to see us clearly taking a stand, clearly being sold out for Christ. Then our zeal will provoke others "unto love and to good works" (see Hebrews 10:24-25).

Are we like Jehu, whom the Lord eventually had to spue out of His mouth and reject?

Or are we like Jehonadab, still being faithful and fervent years later?

Consider these three final passages:

Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

2 Corinthians 9:2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

If you are (or have let yourself become) lukewarm, the Lord urges you to "be zealous therefore, and repent."

April 30th/06
Jerry Bouey

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Prodigal Son

One of my favourite stories in the Word of God is that of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15. It seems I never tire of preaching it - there are always several different angles to tackle it from:

From the perspective of the value of one soul;
From the angle of the love of the Heavenly Father and the relationship He desires to have with all of mankind (Abba, Father);
From the view of showing the degrading nature and downward course of sin, repentance, and salvation;
Also, how each aspect of the Father's reception of the prodigal son pictures what we have in Christ: the fatted calf representing Christ dying for our sins; the best robe picturing Christ's righteousness - that replaced the prodigal's own filthy rags; the ring representing the seal of sonship; and the shoes corresponding to part of the armour of God in Ephesians 6 - our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

Lord willing, today I will be preaching on 1. What Do You Have To Do To Go To Hell? Nothing.
2. Then What Do You Have To Do To Go To Heaven? Repentance and faith - using the story of the Prodigal Son as the illustration of this second point.

We are condemned already because of our sin:

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

We have all gone our own way in life - wandered away from God - just like this Prodigal Son:

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Psalm 10:4; Romans 3:10-12, 23; Psalm 53:1-3; Romans 6:23.

What did the Prodigal Son need to do? He had to realize where his sin had taken him - away from the Father's house, and into the muck and filth of sin, brought down to the depths of despair and ruin. That was when the Prodigal came to himself:

Luke 15:14-17 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Even though he went the way he thought would bring him pleasure and fulfillment, eventually he found out that the swine's husks just left him empty, distraught, hungering for more than his sin could ever provide. He came to himself - he thought on his ways, and realized that his sin and wandering deserved judgment, and he repented of his sin - he no longer desired it, but instead desired to return to his father. That's what repentance is: changing your mind about sin and the Saviour; no longer desiring the sin but the Saviour, and turning from that sin in your heart to the only Saviour - the Lord Jesus Christ - to save you, as only He can do.

Luke 15:18-20a I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose...

He made a choice in his heart to turn from the pigpen of this world, to return to his father (he knew that was the ONLY solution to his distressful situation, the only way to solve the mess his sin had gotten him into - and to deliver him from the just condemnation of that sin), and he arose - he did not stay in the pigpen! He did not want to be there anymore - living in the midst of his sin, in the midst of the filth and mire of it - he turned from it, and turned to go home.

Before the Prodigal Son ever took that first physical step homeward, he had already turned home in his heart. How about you? Have you come to the place where you turned from your sin to the Saviour? He first came to himself, then he turned from his sin in his heart - and he went to his father. It is not enough to be tired of your sin, you also need to receive the Saviour.

Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance AND Faith - the two sides of the coin of salvation; both must be together. Without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (trusting in His shed blood and finished work on the cross of Calvary), grief for sin is just human reformation, trying to clean yourself up, trying to lift yourself up to Heaven by your own good works - by your own bootstraps - and it will never work! BUT without repentance for your sin - a desire to turn from it in the heart - without seeing your lost condition in the eyes of God - turning to Christ is just being religious, just saying a prayer, just getting your "fire insurance," with no saving value! Both must be together: you must see your sin in the light of the Word of God and turn from it in your heart to the Saviour to save you from them and from the punishment due you because of those same sins - believing in your heart that Jesus can and will save you. THEN the Holy Spirit gives you eternal life, makes you a new creature in Christ Jesus, and begins to change you from the inside out. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Luke 15:20-24 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Now the Prodigal Son was received with open arms and had the kiss of his Father (the kiss of reconciliation, peace with God - see Psalm 2:12); now he had the fatted calf killed for him (now he believed that Jesus died for his sins); now he was a new creature (cleaned up by the Father and forever changed); now the Father had exchanged his filthy robes for the best robe (exchanged his unrighteousness for Christ's righteousness - see Jeremiah 23:6); now he had a ring on his hand (the seal of his adoption, the sign of his sonship - see Romans 8:16 and Ephesians 1:13); now he had shoes on his feet (his feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace - see Ephesians 6:15 and Song of Solomon 7:1) - now he was in a position to tell others of the good news of salvation, of his reception at his Father's house.

Is the story of the Prodigal Son your story? Can you say, that like him you have turned from the mire of your sin to the Saviour? If so, then what was true of that Prodigal is also true of you:

Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

This is one of those times where I hope the preaching of this simple message will far outweigh my ability to put these thoughts into writing. I will be preaching this message at the Gospel Mission in about 12 hours. If you read this before then, please pray for the Holy Spirit to speak through me and to open hearts to His Word and give those listening understanding to receive it. Thank you.

April 28th/06
Jerry Bouey

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Buy The Truth And Sell It Not

Proverbs 23:23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

In this Laodicean age where so many doubt that there is such a thing as absolute truth, the Lord Jesus Christ identifies Himself as, "the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness." He IS the Truth (John 14:6) - He is the incarnate "Word of God" who lived the written Word of God. The Bible is the Truth (John 17:17), claiming to be inspired completely by God (2 Timothy 3:16) - over 3000 times in the Old Testament it claims to be the Word of the Lord.

Isaiah 59:14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

In our modern society, truth is fallen in the street - it is overlooked, discarded, abandoned. How much value do you place on the truth? How much time do you spend studying it? Do you know your Bible from cover to cover - or are you like many that take a smorgasbord approach to the Scriptures, picking and choosing what you like, what you will believe, what you will accept as truth? When Jesus stated that He came to bear witness of the truth, Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" (See John 18:37-38) It was evident that he did not know God, because he did not know the truth! "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."

We don't need to be in ignorance - our eternity depends upon the truth: the truth about salvation, the truth about Heaven and Hell, the truth about our sin and our need of the Saviour, the truth about our unrighteousness and the Lord's righteousness, the truth about Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation - the truth that we deserve Hell and judgment for our sins, but the Lord Jesus Christ died in our place and bore the complete penalty that our sins deserved - He paid the penalty that we could never pay and He offers salvation as a gift that we could never afford - one that must be received by faith.

What is truth? "The truth is in Jesus" (Ephesians 4:21), and is ALL about Him. He is the central character of God's Book to man; the Gospel the central message; His death, burial, and literal physical resurrection after three days and three nights the grand focus which the Old Testament looked forward to and the New Testament looks back towards. Jesus is the lens by which ALL Scripture must be seen through. The Lord Jesus Christ didn't just come to tell us the truth - He IS "the Truth." How much do you value Him?

Hebrews 10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

Do you see Jesus in the Scriptures? Do you value the Word of God? Have you bought the truth - is it for sale in your life, or is it something you cling to with all your heart and soul - something that you value so much you would never part with? Do you receive the Bible as God's Word to you (1 Thessalonians 2:13)? Do you spend time in it to read it, learn it, study it, rightly divide it, devour it? (See John 8:31-32)

Do you see the Saviour in the Scriptures? Do you value what you see? Do you hide God's Word in your heart, and do you let it have its way in your life?

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

There is a poem that I read as a young Christian and it has always stuck with me based on the verse quoted just above:

When the child of God
Looks into the Word of God
And sees the Son of God
He is changed by the Spirit of God
Into the image of God
For the glory of God.

How much do you value the Truth - both Jesus, the Son of God, and His Word? How much does His Word and the time spent with Jesus affect your life? Can those around you say that it is evident that you have spent time with Jesus? (See Acts 4:13).

Buy the truth - and sell it not!!

April 27th/06
Jerry Bouey