Sunday, October 29, 2006

Love Your Enemies

Meditating recently on Romans 8:28, I was faced with a very real application of that verse:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

All things that happen in my life are allowed by my Heavenly Father - and everything that happens to me (whether good or bad) He is working out for my good. They may be bad in themselves, but He will turn it around and bring some good out of it for me. It is not a promise of a rosy future, but a plan He is working out. The very next verse teaches us exactly what the overall good is that the Lord is bringing about in every trial and triumph in my life:

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

All things that the Lord allows or personally brings into my life have been lovingly approved of for my spiritual good.

This past week, I have been helping out a friend. He stayed with me for a few days, and I had given him a key to my apartment so he could still get in while I was at work. On Wednesday night, I got home to find out that he had ransacked my apartment! Various things were stolen - for the most part things that didn't really matter, plus some things that were more important, such as my checkbook and coffee can of coins that I was saving up for some teens in my church.

When I realized what had actually happened, I was surprised, yet filled with God's peace. When I started making a list of what was missing and what still remained, I began to praise the Lord that He held back this man's hand from taking more than he did. I changed the locks the next morning, and contacted my bank to cancel my checks. It turns out several days later, while I was at work, that he came back again, tried to get in, and couldn't because of the changed deadbolt lock - then he attempted to damage my doorknob, but was not able to get in.

I just praise the Lord for His grace at work in my life - and that He had put a love in my heart for this friend, that my first response was to pray for him and his repentance, not to get my stuff back (actually, I have not even prayed for that at all), nor to be bitter or seek any kind of revenge. As I prayed for him and this situation, the Lord impressed various passages upon my heart, which I was able to preach on yesterday.

Matthew 5:43-48

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

Here Jesus is referring to an Old Testament passage:

Leviticus 19:17-18 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

True love means I will love my brethren, love my neighbour, that I will speak up and rebuke him if he wanders into sin, and that I would not seek personal revenge for any wrong done to me. God commands that we love our neighbours.

But then He quotes their addition to the Scriptures: "And hate thine enemy." The Pharisees and religious folks thought that they were doing good if they loved those who loved them, and hated those who already hated them - but THAT was not what God's Word taught. Jesus exposes their hypocrisy and traditions and teaches true love and righteousness:

Matthew 5:44-48 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

When we respond to the world around us in the exact same way they are treating us, we are no different than they are. When we respond to hatred, abuse, slander, and evil treatment with good, with the love of Christ, THEN we are showing the lost world around us that our profession of faith in Christ is real - THAT we are really the children of God.

The last verse is misunderstood by many. Perfect means "complete, mature." Jesus is saying that we are to be like the Lord God in the aspect of loving our enemies - that we are not to be immature babes and respond in evil, but mature believers and respond in Christlike love and compassion - EVEN TO OUR ENEMIES! I tell you this much, when you are truly fervently praying for your enemies, they are no longer your enemies - they may treat YOU as their enemy, but you will have done all that you can do to reconcile with them - and the ball is left in their court whether to reconcile with you in return.

That is much like what the Saviour has done to us:

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

Jesus Christ has paid the complete penalty that we deserved for our sins when He shed His sinless blood and died upon the cross for our sins. He arose from the grave the third day and is now ascended into Heaven, sending forth the Holy Spirit to be a testimony of His salvation and to convict you of your sin and need of Him as your Saviour. He has done His part to be reconciled to you - now it is up to you to respond to the Gospel invitation and be reconciled to God.

Romans 5:6-8

When we were at our worst, Christ came and died for our sins:

Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

When we were ungodly, when we were rebelling against God, when we were sinning and going astray from God, He sent His Son to die for us. THAT is the love we are to have for our enemies - when they do us wrong, we are not to do them evil in return, but to still have love and compassion for them - whether they reject it or not. THAT will prove to the world that we are different than those who live according to its philosophies and treat others the way the lost treat them. When the lost see you living differently, when they see Christ in you and living through you, they will take notice - it will have an effect on them! Your manner of living will back up your witnessing.

Romans 12:17-21

Romans 12:17-18 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

We are commanded not to repay evil for evil - we are not to do wrong in return for the wrong done unto us. The next phrase: "Provide things honest in the sight of all men," puzzled me somewhat until I thought about motivations. When my friend was hiding his evil intent, he won my friendship and hid what was really going on in his heart - he deceived me and then took advantage of me. However, as a follower of Christ, as someone who desires to be Christlike, I am to be honest in the sight of others - I AM TO BE TRANSPARENT, with no hidden motives or agenda, despite whatever evil intent others may have towards me.

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

I am not to seek personal vengeance, but to leave my situation and the person who has done evil towards me in the hands of the Lord, and in His own time, He will take vengeance if needed - whether that happens in this life, or in the future if the person dies as a lost person and they face God's judgment at the Great White Throne.

Romans 12:20-21 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Paul here quotes Proverbs 25:21-22. What he is saying is to do right no matter what - to treat our enemies with the love of Christ and not to treat them in the same manner that they have treated us. When we feed them or give them drink, though they are the least deserving of it, we show them the same love our Heavenly Father has shown us time and again - even when we have rebelled and sinned against Him, when we have despised His grace and turned our backs on Him. His goodness eventually led us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and frankly that is what can happen when we show love and mercy to those who have sinned against us.

You see, if we treat others with the same hatred and evil that they have treated us with, their heart is hardened and (in their mind) they feel justified for their wrongdoing - YET if we treat them with love instead, with forgiveness, with compassion and sympathy, they may be broken and see the error of their ways, and see that our profession of Christianity is REAL! They will see it is not all words, that it is not all a sham - the Bible is real, and God is real, Christianity is real - because if Jesus can still work through me and reach out to the lost or straying soul that hurt me, then perhaps they will get a glimpse of the love of God towards themselves. Perhaps this view of what God has done for them and to them will bring them to repentance and to the Saviour.

If not, there will be more coals of fire heaped upon their head, there will be more that they will be accountable for if they still persist in rejecting the gift of God and His offer of grace. They will not be able to stand before Jesus, the Great Judge, one day and say, "I rejected Christianity, I rejected the Bible, I rejected You, because all the so-called Christians around me were all hypocrites, they were all out for themselves, they all lived like the lost around them, and NONE of them showed me the love of Christ." Because now they've seen this love in action in your life!

1 Peter 2:19-25

1 Peter 2:19-20 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

God will reward the believer who endures wrongdoing for doing what is right in His sight. He will praise them and be well-pleased with them choosing to obey God's Word and submit to the Holy Spirit's leading in this manner. If we suffer wrong because we have done wrong, then we have no one to blame but ourselves - we deserve what we get then, it is sowing what we have reaped! Yet, if we suffer wrong because we are being faithful to our Heavenly Father, there is a reward and a blessing promised.

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Big shoes to fill, a big example to follow - but the Lord never commands us to do something that He will not equip us and give us strength to do. We CAN follow Jesus in this manner, we CAN be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect in regards to loving our enemies. It is a matter of growth and relying on God's grace.

1 Peter 2:22-23 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

It is man's natural response to fight evil with evil, to pay back in the same manner we were treated - if reproached and spoken evil of to respond likewise, if slandered or cussed out to dish out coarse speach in return, if stolen from or taken advantage of to respond in kind - to do unto them exactly what they did unto us - BUT that is not God's way, nor is it the example Christ set for us (see Jesus' contrast to this world's philosophy in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). When He went to the cross, when He endured the false trial, the false witnesses, when He suffered the beatings and the scourging and heard so many things spoken against Him, Jesus, our example, did not fight back in return. He could have threatened them all with extinction - He was God after all! Instead, He left His life, His trial, His death upon the cross, in the hands of His Heavenly Father - knowing He was in control, and His will would prevail. Jesus then went to the cross, and died the same way He lived: FOR OTHERS!

1 Peter 2:24-25 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

What a blessed example to follow in the Word of God - what a convicting example! We should love others as He has loved us (John 13:34-35), we should forgive others as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32), we should show the mercy to others that we have been shown by Christ Himself (Luke 10:37; Titus 3:3-6 and Lamentations 3:21-23).

Luke 7:40-43, 47

In Luke 7:36-50, there is the account of the woman who broke an alabaster box over Jesus' feet and washed and anointed Him with her tears. She was so grateful for the salvation and forgiveness the Lord had given to her. Simon, a Pharisee, was self-righteous and looked down upon this women, so Jesus told him an illustration to portray their spiritual condition:

Luke 7:40-43 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

Luke 7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

Those who have truly seen their sinful condition before God and have received His forgiveness will love the Lord in return and want others to know that same Saviour, have that same peace with God and forgiveness that they have personally experienced.

If you are filled with bitterness, angry and hateful towards others, unwilling to extend forgiveness to your enemies, perhaps you have never experience the love and forgiveness of God for yourself. It is still available - salvation and forgiveness is a gift, free for the taking. It is received through repentance (changing your mind about your sin and turning away from it in your heart) and faith (turning to the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, and receiving Him instead).

What the Lord has done in my life through His grace, He can do in yours. Do you know my Saviour?

Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

October 29th/06
Jerry Bouey

Saturday, October 21, 2006

David And Mephibosheth - 2 Samuel 9

A Picture Of The Kindness Of God Unto Fallen Man

Many of us are familiar with the basics of the story of David and what transpired before he became king. I would like to quickly sum up his story as the background for the message that I preached today at the Gospel Mission.

Saul was chosen as Israel's first king - but due to his rebellion against the Lord, he was told that the kingdom would be taken from him and given to a man after God's own heart. That man was David. Shortly after being anointed by the prophet Samuel, we find David fighting the giant Goliath and defeating him through faith in the Lord God. That victory earned him respect in the eyes of Jonathan, who possibly would have been the next in line to be king if Saul had not lost the kingdom. Instead of Jonathan being jealous of David, he stripped off his kingly robes and gave them to David. See 1 Samuel 18:1-4. A solid friendship started that would last years, even after Saul sought to kill David and David was forced to flee for his life. See 1 Samuel 23:16. While Jonathan was confirming his father's intentions toward his friend, knowing that if what David said was true, their houses would be perpetually at war with one another - he made a covenant with David to look out for the children of the other party if something should happen to one or the other. See 1 Samuel 20. Then in the course of time, Saul and some of his sons - including Jonathan - were slain in a battle with the Philistines.

It did not take long for the news of this loss to get back to the rest of the nation of Israel.

2 Samuel 4:4 And Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.

Here we see that Jonathan's son was lame because of a fall. He was living in exile, an enemy of the king. All his inheritance was lost - much like the Prodigal Son who lost all his inheritance through his sin, Mephibosheth lost his inheritance through the sin of Saul. Likewise, all of mankind has fallen into sin, through the rebellion of Adam and Eve - all of us are exiled, far from God, our inheritance lost and squandered.

2 Samuel 8:15 And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.

2 Samuel 9:1-3 And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake? And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.

Notice what is stated here: what David was about to do for Mephibosheth was a clear example of the kindness of God toward the lost sinner! David - which means "Beloved" - offers kindness to his enemy because of a covenant made with another, because of Jonathan's sake (remember this). Christ is referred to as the Beloved in the Song of Solomon, and He offers us the kindness of God because of the covenant He has made with His Father in Heaven.

2 Samuel 9:4-5 And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar. Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar.

King David sends for Mephibosheth, and he comes at the king's invitation. He received this invitation, though he expected the worst. Knowing that many kings in the surrounding nations often killed their rivals, he expected nothing but judgment...

And the same is true of us too: we are members of a rival kingdom - the kingdom of darkness (Colossians 1:13) - serving a different king in opposition to the King of Kings, living in rebellion and exile, enemies of God (Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:12), deserving nothing but judgment and the King's wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3). Like Mephibosheth, we are poor, destitute, crippled - not worthy of the least of God's mercies...

2 Samuel 9:6a Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence.

Here we see Mephibosheth's fear. Another verse gives us his thoughts at this time:

2 Samuel 19:28 For all of my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king?

Jonathan's son, expecting to die, humbled himself before the king, and waited in fear for what was to come next...

But it wasn't what he expected at all!

2 Samuel 9:6b And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!

In my mind, I picture this scene as one of compassion, of love, of tenderness. David, perhaps in a voice laden with emotion, speaks: "Mephibosheth, look up. I have something to tell you..."

2 Samuel 9:7 And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.

How often do we hear these words of comfort repeated over and over in Scripture - when God wants to send a message or get someone's attention, often the first words spoken are, "Fear not." Knowing that we would be fearful, He takes the fear away.

There are three things mentioned in this verse:

1) I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake.

Mercy offered because of a covenant made with another! David tells him because of the covenant made with Jonathan, he is offering mercy and grace to Mephibosheth. Here is the second name defined in this study: Jonathan means "the gift of God." Because of the gift of God, He can extend His mercy and grace to us! Because of the New Testament (Covenant) made between the Father and the Son, through the gift of salvation - through the gift of the Saviour - the Lord God offers His mercy and grace to us. In the New Testament of our Bible, we see this covenant fulfilled through Christ's death on the cross for our sins, through His burial and His physical resurrection after three days - because of this covenant, Christ offers us the gift of eternal life and reconciliation to the King of Kings!

Notice this covenant did not depend upon the worth of the recipient, but upon God's grace - God's unmerited favour. That is good, because none of us could ever deserve it. This grace is offered to all who will receive it through faith.

2) I... will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father.

The inheritance that was lost through sin was now to be restored! Restored because of the gift of God - God's free grace to the lost. Here Mephibosheth is promised back all that he lost through the fall and the taking away of his kingdom.

2 Samuel 9:9 Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.

Likewise, through the gift of salvation, God promises to restore what was lost when we lived in rebellion to Him:

Joel 2:25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

Now through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are made joint-heirs with Christ, and have an inheritance in Him.

3) Thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.

Fellowship with the king! Freely granted to an undeserving man. The opportunity to eat at the king's table - sitting with royalty, fellowshipping with the king as a close friend. That is what God offers fallen man through the gift of His Son - fellowship with the King of Kings, fellowshipping at His table:

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Notice Mephibosheth's humble response:

2 Samuel 9:8 And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?

Who am I to deserve this great kindness? Who are we to deserve the kindness of God? Praise the Lord, it does not depend upon our worthiness, but upon His love!

But King David had one more thing he freely bestowed upon Mephibosheth:

4) 2 Samuel 9:11 As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king's sons.

Not only is Mephibosheth allowed to eat at my table, he is there as one of my sons! He was given the right to be there, because of the covenant made with another. King David took someone that was unworthy, and adopted him as one of his own sons. Even so, because of the New Testament that Christ has made, through faith in His shed blood and finished work upon the cross, we are given the right to be considered as one of God's sons too, to be adopted forever into the family of God!

Psalms 113:7-8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.

The King of Kings is reaching down to lift up all those who will place their faith in Him - lift them up to sit with royalty, in the family of God!

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Have you trusted in Christ alone to save you, have you received the Saviour, and His free gift of eternal life? If so, John 1:12 is true of you too. There are two main thoughts I want to bring out from that verse:

1) The reason this verse says "sons" is because it was the sons that received the firstborn rights, that received the inheritance. Though you may be a son or a daughter of man, through faith God considers you His son - He gives you the right of the firstborn inheritance. You are now a joint-heir with Christ, if you have truly received Him as your Saviour. See Romans 8:14-17. You have the rights - the privileges - as a son of God.

2) God also gives those that trust in Him the power to live as sons of God. Before we trusted in Him, we were enslaved to our old masters, sin and Satan, but now those chains have been broken and we are given the power to live as a child of God.

Adopted, a child of the King, all the rights and privileges of sonship (our inheritance in Christ). Not worthy in ourselves - but worthy because of the love of God! No matter our past, no matter our background, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God's love makes you worthy to be a child of God!

2 Samuel 9:13 So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet.

Our study ends with Mephibosheth dwelling in Jerusalem - the City of Peace. All true believers dwell forever in peace with God. It is interesting to note that in eternity we will also dwell in the New Jerusalem. See Revelation 21-22.

One final point worth mentioning: Mephibosheth means "Destroying Shame." And that is what this passage is all about - King David taking away the shame and reproach of his enemy and making him his son; likewise, the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross, bearing our shame and reproach, so that all who would receive Him and respond to His Gospel invitation would have their shame removed, and be raised up out of the dust and the dunghill and set with princes.

Have you received the Gospel call of our Beloved King? Have you received The Gift Of God? Lastly, has the Lord Destroyed your Shame and raised you up as His child and given you an inheritance fit for a king?

He longs to!

Preached and written October 21st/06
Jerry Bouey

You may also appreciate these excerpts by Spurgeon on this same passage:

Raised Up With Princes

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Lord Uses Clean Vessels

2 Timothy 2:19-22 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Do you want to be a vessel that the Lord can use? He uses vessels of gold and silver - vessels of honour - for His glory, they are set apart (sanctified) for special use. If you want to be used by the Lord, you need to be a clean vessel.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

I used to deal with severe depression, and in the worst of the battles I turned to drinking (which never helped); then when I wanted to be used by God, He could not use me until I became a clean vessel!

How do we become clean vessels, according to the Word of God?

1) Salvation cleanses us from our sinful past:

Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

For the believer:

2) How to cleanse your heart (be clean on the inside).

Confess that you have sinned against the Lord, and forsake (repent of) that sin.

Psalms 51:2-4 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Confess here means to agree with God about what He said regarding my sin. When I truly repent and acknowledge my sin to the Lord, He will forgive me and cleanse me from it.

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

3) How to cleanse your conduct (be clean on the outside).

Study and apply the Word of God, memorize it, meditate on it.

Psalms 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalms 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Regardless of your past, cleansing is available. The Lord will only use clean vessels for His honour.

Are you a clean vessel?

Written/Preached October 3rd/06
Jerry Bouey

Here is a follow up: After I preached, one of the men from the Mission's recovery program went to the head of the program and told him that he wanted to be the kind of vessel that the Lord could use! That is awesome!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pharaoh's Four Proposals

Wow - September sure was one busy, hectic month for me! God was stirring up some things in my life and getting me to leave the nest I was in - so that I would be ready to move into the new sphere He wanted me to be a part of now. (See Deuteronomy 32:11-12) I am no longer working full-time at the hotel (though the door is still open for me to work shifts here and there), but am now working at the Gospel Mission where I have been preaching once (sometimes twice) a week for over 2 1/2 years, and have done several years of volunteer work on top of this.

I have been praying for ways to get more involved in the lives of the people there - and all of a sudden this job opportunity came up (the senior evening position in the Mission), and the job was basically dropped in my lap. Because of the work the Lord was doing in my heart prior to this point in time, I knew this was exactly where the Lord wanted me to be. A lot of things fell into place - including His peace like a blanket covering my heart and mind. I am finished with the full-time graveyards at the hotel, and am adapting to the days at the Mission now - though yesterday I just slept most of the day...

It will be 4 days on, and 4 days off (plus whatever odd shifts I might still get at the hotel - no set schedule there though). That will give me plenty of time to work on studies, my websites, my blogs, etc. and still work on my messages at the Mission. I was thinking that if I had to preach up to 4 days in a row that would mean I would have to shorten my messages and not have as much time as needed to develop them - but even will a full hectic week last week, the Lord still gave me two messages - the second one (this is the one below) actually went a little longer than planned, but it sure had everyone's attention! Praise the Lord for His grace - especially for this step into greater ministry opportunities, for a day job that will allow me more time to get involved in church soulwinning times (could not easily do that before with full-time graveyards), for being able to be around the people at the Mission throughout the week (not just on the day I was to preach), and for more opportunities to preach the Word of God (which gives me more experience in this area too - not just more opportunities to get the Word of God out to those in the Mission) - also, I am looking foward to being able to do more series and build upon prior messages (which I can easily do if I am preaching two to four days in a row).

My message today is what I preached on Sunday - the basic idea is not new to me, as someone has pointed out these four passages in a message I have read before (though theirs dealt with Satan trying to hinder us from being involved in our local church - attempting to hinder us from worshipping God in the manner and place He has designated - and using work as one of the main hindrances from assembling together with other believers). Using the same four passages as my springboard, I took it in another direction, aimed at presenting the Gospel to the lost at the Mission.

Pharaoh's Four Proposals

The other day I was reading through parts of Exodus and was reminded of what happened to the nation of Israel. During a world-wide famine, God led them to take refuge in Egypt, where He had already placed Joseph ahead of time. Because of the wisdom the Lord gave Joseph, he was able to protect the nation of Egypt, many surrounding areas, and even his own family, from the dire effects of the famine. With his family dwelling in Egypt, they began to grow mightily as a nation. As the years passed, the Egyptian Pharaohs put them into slavery, cruel bondage and hard labour - and the Israelites cried out to God to deliver them. In God's timing, He led Moses to go back to Egypt and lead His people out of their slavery to Egypt and bondage to the Pharaoh.

This is literal history, of which we can learn many lessons from - but one I want to most impress upon you today is how Egypt is often pictured in the Word of God as the world, and the Pharaoh as Satan. The lost are living in the world, enslaved to sin and Satan - and the Lord God wants to deliver them out from that bondage! In each of Pharaoh's four proposals (should we say, compromises) we see pictured the Devil's proposals to mankind.

The Lord commanded, "Let my people go." But the Devil had four proposals to offer instead:

1) Stay In Egypt.

Exodus 8:20, 25, 27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me... And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land... We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as he shall command us.

It was the Lord's will for the Israelites to completely leave Egypt - but Pharaoh had other plans. His first proposal was that they simply stay in the land. You don't need to go anywhere - you can stay in Egypt and live with us, be like us.

And here we can see one of the Devil's compromises to lost humanity: Stay in the world - don't go anywhere; stay here, live with us, be like us. Just dwell here in a world opposed to God, living according to its philosophies, and be just like the rest of the lost around you. Be an atheist - follow the philosophies of the world. Believe in evolution - that this whole world, and you yourself, just came here by chance. You don't really need to believe the God of the Bible. Just live for yourself and be one of us!

But that is not what God wants - that is not His plan for fallen mankind. God wanted them to completely leave Egypt, and the Devil's compromise would have them still living in the midst of a world that is against the True God...

2) Don't go too far away.

Exodus 8:28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me.

Sure, you can go worship your God in the wilderness - just don't go too far away. Look there's a patch of wilderness over that hill, you can go seek your God there, or perhaps over there in that grove of trees. It's silly to head off into the great unknown when you can seek Him nearby.

The Egyptians had many gods - and the Pharaoh's second proposal was to merely add Jehovah - the God of the Israelites - to the gods of Egypt. One god is as good as another - oh, you want Jehovah? Okay, just add Him to all of our gods and we can worship all our gods together.

The Devil's second compromise: Don't be too radical; don't rock the boat. Okay, you want to be religious - but don't go teaching that your God is the true God and your way is the only way. The world's philosophy is that all religions are equal, all ways lead to Heaven - one religion is as good as another. The world's media is good at trying to give us this impression - many cults do this likewise - especially the New Age movement. But we also see glimpses of this in the ecumenical movement - where apostate Christendom is moving closer and closer to a one-world religion, as prophesied in the book of Revelation.

Have your own beliefs - have a mix of this and that - but don't get too hung up on that Book - that Bible that teaches that Jesus IS the ONLY way of salvation, the ONLY way to Heaven, the ONLY name that you can be saved by, the ONLY way to God the Father; that ONLY the Bible is true, that it is to be the SOLE authority for your faith and daily living, that God's Word is the ONLY guide for every area of your lives. That's going too far.

Be like the Hindus with their 300,000 million gods - just say a prayer and add Jesus to whatever else you want to believe in. Be like the Samaritans in 2 Kings 17, that added Jehovah to their pagan gods - have a mix of the "best" of all religions - they are all the same anyway.

But that is not what God's Word teaches - that is NOT the plan God set in motion. If any way was as good as another, if all ways led to Heaven, if we were all good enough to make it there on our own, Jesus would never have had to come from Heaven, shed His blood and die on the cross of Calvary...

3) The men can go.

Exodus 10:8-11 And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go? And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD. And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.

At first it seems like Pharaoh was going to let the men leave with their children too - but we see from the context he was simply being sarcastic. His third diabolical proposal is this: The men can go, but leave your families - especially the children - behind! Let me control your homes, let me have your families - I don't care how religious the fathers get, as long as I can have the families! (P.S. that means the men will really never go too far, because that would mean leaving their families behind them.)

Here we see one of the Devil's greatest attempts at compromise - personally I think this is the worst of the lot! Men - the heads of the home - you can be religious, oh go ahead and get converted and get involved in some church - but leave me your families, especially your children! Because if I can control the home, I've got you.

Even if the fathers truly got saved, with Satan having his hand in the home - with the children being raised by the world's philosophies, being entertained by the world's music and the world's movies and the world's video games and following the world's heroes - he's still got control of their hearts and minds! The Devil says, "Go ahead and 'be spiritual', but leave your families behind - let me influence your wife by the fashions of the world, control your home by my philosophies, and I know you can't do anything to hinder my kingdom of darkness! Your home, your family, your children, will never amount to much... and will never be a hindrance to me or ever be used by God!"

Be a Sunday Christian - but don't let the Bible influence your home. Go to church and make business contacts - put on a outward show - but don't let it really affect your home. Just be religious - be religious when it is convenient, when it suits your purpose - but don't let it affect your personal, day by day, life.

Even this compromise is against God's plan for the home - His will is to train your children in the way they should go (ie. according to God's Word), to train them up in the ways of the Lord, to teach them God's plan of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross of Calvary - then to raise them to serve the Lord...

4) Leave your flocks behind.

Exodus 10:24-26 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God. Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.

Go ahead - get religious, but don't go all out. Sure, go into the wilderness, do whatever you want, pick and choose what you want to believe - but make sure you hold back on God. He wants you to leave Egypt - go ahead, but leave your flocks behind. There were two main problems with this proposal: 1) they would still have one foot in Egypt; 2) They were leaving the heart of their religion out!

You see, the flocks and herds were for their animal sacrifices. These were the God-ordained way for the Old Testament believer to deal with their sin. They would offer an animal sacrifice, shed its blood to cover their sin - these sacrifices were a picture of the coming Messiah, the Lamb of God, who would one day shed His blood and die on the cross for their sins. Satan didn't care how religious they got, as long as it was either just going through the motions, OR as long as the heart of their religion (faith in the Redeemer) was neglected or put aside. Without faith in the Saviour and His deliverance, they would still be living in Egypt, never to leave!

In the same way, the Devil doesn't care what religion, what philosophies, what path fallen mankind takes - as long as it is without the ONLY Saviour - as long as true faith in the Jesus of the Bible is neglected, he doesn't care what you do or what you believe - he still has you! Without the redemption that the Lord Jesus Christ provided by His finished work on the cross of Calvary, without believing in His death, burial, and literal physical resurrection on the third day, the heart has been taken out of your religion - it is NOT Biblical Christianity then - and as such, offers no real hope of salvation. Go ahead - believe Jesus was just a good man, but don't believe that that He is the Son of God (God manifest in the flesh) and that He died to personally save you! Believe what you want, but don't repent and trust in Christ ONLY for your redemption, for your hope in Heaven, for the gift of eternal life. Anything else is fine with the Devil.

But none of these compromises fit in with God's plan. He came to completely deliver fallen mankind from their bondage to Satan and the world, from their slavery to sin, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Shortly after this point in time, the last of the ten plagues was poured out on Egypt. This was the death of all the firstborn. The Israelites heeded God's Word, the lambs were slain, and the lambs' blood covered their doorposts - then that night when the angel of death passed through to slay the firstborn, the Israelites were saved from the wrath of God because of the blood - He saw the blood and passed over their houses. Then the nation of Israel completely left Egypt, going through the Red Sea that the Lord had parted. Once they were on the other side, the Sea closed in on the Egyptian army, killing their old master, Pharaoh, and making it so they could not go back to Egypt.

Likewise, when someone trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ's finished work of redemption, they are saved from the wrath of God because of Jesus' blood that was shed and applied to their hearts. They are delivered completely from their old master, Satan - his power over them is broken. Any sins that a believer commits is committed willingly, as God has broken the power of sin in their life, and Satan no longer has dominion over them. They are delivered from this present evil world, from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of God's Son. It is a complete deliverance - God does not offer a salvation that has one foot in the world and one foot in Heaven, that has partial allegiance to Satan and partial allegiance to God - Jesus came to set us free from sin and Satan.

Romans 5:8-9 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Please also read the rest of this chapter to see how the Lord has delivered us from being the servants of sin.)

Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Colossians 1:12-14 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Have you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ to save you? Has He delivered you from your old master, Satan, and from his kingdom of darkness, from this present evil world and its philosophies?

Preached October 1st/06
Jerry Bouey