Monday, July 31, 2006

Apostles - Jesus Loved Them To The End

I preach once a week at the Gospel Mission. This past week, I was having a hard time deciding what to preach on. There were two themes that were competing with each other in my mind, and I could not decide which one I would actually preach on Friday (thinking that I needed to choose between the two). The choice was either between continuing my series on The Apostles, or preaching a message on The Love Of God. As the week progressed the second theme took on more of a preeminence, but I was still desiring to build upon the prior messages on the apostles. Friday morning came, and the decision was now at hand. I found some excellent material that supplemented the love of God - but as I was meditating on it and sharing it with my sister, and expressing my dilemma, I was reminded of John 13 again, which I had touched down upon somewhat in my message on Bold And Rash Peter, however I took that chapter in an entirely different direction last time. Now this passage perfectly tied the two themes together!

John 13:1-5 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

In this chapter, we see our Lord Jesus Christ loving His own apostles, those twelve He had chosen to be with Him, to preach and minister with Him. HE LOVED THEM UNTO THE END, UNTO THE UTTERMOST! And it wasn't until Friday morning when talking with my sister that we realized Judas was also present at that time. Knowing what was to happen to Him within a few short hours, knowing who was with Him that dark night, He still chose to love them all to the very end. Oh, The Love Of God!

1. Jesus' Love For The Twelve Apostles.

One thing I like to do when reading about various Bible characters and the situations they faced in their lives is to put myself in their places, to gauge my own life and see if I am like some of them, to think about what I would do when faced with the same circumstances, when confronted with the same truths, when dealing with the same choices. Consider the twelve apostles, and think about which one you are most like - consider their character and conduct, then consider how the love of God could change them:

1. Peter - who would deny his Lord three times that very night. (See John 13:36-38) Perhaps you have never denied the Lord Jesus Christ by your words, but how about by your actions? (See 1 Timothy 5:8 and Titus 1:16) Jesus loved Peter still...

2. Judas - who would betray Jesus that same night as well. (See John 13:10-11, 18-21) Perhaps you have never betrayed Christ to His enemies, but have you ever received Him as your Saviour? If not, you are siding with the same crowd, you are walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the way of sinners, and sitting in the seat of the scornful. (See Psalm 1:1) The love of God was still reaching out to Judas that night...

3. Thomas - who doubted, he questioned the things of God; he was weak in faith at times. Like all the others, he would be scattered and flee in fear for his life that night. (See Zechariah 13:7) Jesus knew this and loved Thomas still...

4. James and John, the Sons of Thunder - named for their fiery emotional outbursts, at times it was strongly directed towards their enemies. Remember when they wanted to call down fire from heaven and destroy those who wouldn't receive their Master? (See Luke 9:51-56) So lacking in compassion for the lost, yet even then Jesus loved them...

5. Simon the Zealot - who had the wrong zeal in life, who was once supporting armed rebellion against the government. The love of God included him...

6. Matthew the tax collector - working for his enemies, oppressing his own people by basically stealing from them to make a living. The love of Christ reached out to him as well...

And the other apostles... Christ loved them ALL unto the end... No matter what you are like and what you have done, Jesus loves you too, and sometime within that long dark Passover, He was going to prove His love to all of us...

2. Jesus' Love For Lost Sinners.

Knowing the best and the worst about His twelve apostles, He still chose to love them all. Knowing the best and the worst about fallen mankind (that includes every one of us!), He still chose to love us, and to do something about our sinful condition:

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 none of us had the strength or power to obey Him, when none of us were righteous in His sight, when we were all wretched, ungodly sinners, living in rebellion to God, our Creator, He still proved His love toward us by sending His Son to shed His blood and die upon the cross for our sins!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

1 John 4:8-10 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Ah, the love of God - the love that chose to die for worthless sinners. You see, He didn't die because we were worth something - we were worthless, useless, our righteousnesses were as filthy rags in His sight. He didn't die for us because of something in us - but because of who He is; He died for us because He is love - and that love is what gives us value.

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

He first loved us!

3. The Greatness And Vastness Of God's Love.

Ephesians 3:14-21 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

The following is taken from chapter 15 (Paul's Prayer for the Ephesians...) of The Epistle Of Paul The Apostle To The Ephesians by Oliver B. Greene:

It is humanly impossible for the finite mind to comprehend the love of God.

Its breadth - "God so loved the world." Can you conceive of such love? Do you dare ask yourself what it would mean to love the whole wide world? How many folks do you love? Think it over. The breadth of God's love covers the whole wide world.

Its length - "God... gave His only begotten Son." God's love reached from the portals of glory to a stable in Bethlehem. God's love placed His only Son in the womb of the virgin Mary. He was born . . . He lived . . . God gave Him. God surrendered His Son into the hands of wicked sinners, and they nailed Him to a Cross. That, in some small way, points out the length of the love of God. Do you have a son? Do you have an only child? Would you surrender your child to die for wicked men?

Its depth - "Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish." Oh, I know we say we love everybody . . . but do we? Do we really love everybody? It is easy to love the lovely. It is easy to love those who are always doing kind things for you and saying kind things about you - but God so loved that He gave His only Son, that whosoever . . . the lovely, the unlovely . . . might not perish. Christ died for the ungodly. God surrendered up Jesus when we were yet sinners.

Its height - "Everlasting life." The love of God reaches to the depth of sin and places that sinner in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. From the lowest depths to the highest height . . . only the love of God could work such a miracle!

4. Jesus' Love Changed The Apostles.

Thinking about the love of God brings to mind this hymn by Charles Wesley:

And Can It Be That I Should Gain

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Chorus:
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

The love of God can save a soul and transform it into a vessel the Lord can use - the love of God can change a sinner into a saint; change a faltering apostle into a mighty servant of God; change a lost, condemned child of wrath into a born-again child of God!

Jesus loved those twelve apostles unto the end - just as He loves each and every one of us! His love changed those apostles and can change each one of us today - if we will respond to that love.

1. The love of God changed an erring Peter into a faithful man of God.

2. Christ's love changed a zealous Simon and gave him a new reason for living.

3. It gave faith to a doubting Thomas.

4. It gave a new Master to Matthew.

5. It changed a Son of Thunder into an apostle of love.

6. It even offered forgiveness to Judas, if he would have only received it. We know that he didn't. He rejected that love because he rejected that Saviour, he rejected that free gift of salvation and the forgiveness that Jesus was extending to him. It is too late now for Judas to receive that love!

But that same love that Christ showed to His apostles that night, that same love He showed to the whole world the next morning by dying upon the cross of Calvary (almost 2000 years ago), that same love is still available today because the Lord changes not - Jesus Christ is still the same! (See Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8)

2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

The love of God is still available!

The love of God is still extended to all who will receive it through repentance and faith.

The love of God still saves from the guttermost to the uttermost!

What is your response to the love of God?


Preached on July 28th/06
Written July 31st/06
Jerry Bouey

For more studies in this series on The Apostles:

The Apostles #1 - Simon the Zealot
The Apostles #2 - Bold And Rash Peter
The Apostles #3 - Thomas The Doubter

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Apostles - Thomas The Doubter

In the four Gospels, we actually only have the accounts of the salvation of six of the twelve apostles: Andrew and John, Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and Matthew. The situations surrounding the other six and how they came to Jesus is not covered therein - however, they were more than likely with Jesus almost since the beginning of His public ministry, after His baptism by John the Baptist and His temptation in the wilderness. (See Acts 1:21-22 and John chapter 1)

Thomas was also known as Didymus - both names mean "The Twin" (Didymus being the Greek equivalent of Thomas). While we know nothing about his twin, whether he ever got saved or not, or how close they might have been in appearance or in their relationship as siblings, this was obviously something that characterized Thomas in some way. Other than the three lists of the twelve apostles given in the Gospels, there are five other times where Thomas is mentioned specifically by name - the Gospel of John giving us the most information, and Acts chapter one giving us the last view of this man.

1) We see Thomas on his way to Lazarus' tomb. (See John 11:1-16)

When Jesus and His disciples heard about the sickness of Lazarus (a close friend of Jesus'), their Master chose to linger where He was for two more days - until Lazarus died. Then He called His disciples to go with Him back into Judea. At once arose thoughts of distress at the potential danger they faced there:

John 11:8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

But Jesus had a purpose for going back, He had a reason - and that reason involved a miracle (raising Lazarus from the dead) that would prove His claims of being the Messiah, that would strengthen their faith in Him, and bring glory to God (see verses 4 and 15). The disciples were slow to catch on to what He was saying to them though:

John 11:11-15 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Next we have the first recorded statement of Thomas, a statement that seems to give a gloomy outlook on their situation.

John 11:16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Was Thomas being pessimistic? At first I thought he was (and this is how I preached it two weeks ago, but today I was meditating more on this chapter as I was writing this out) - but then when you re-examine the context, you realize that Thomas did have more boldness than the other disciples - while they were fearfully finding reasons not to go to Judea, Thomas was expressing his desire to go, even if it meant their deaths! I can imagine Thomas thinking, "They want to kill my Master, Lazarus is already dead - well, let's follow our Master to Judea and into the teeth of death itself! I won't let my fear hold me back from following Jesus!"

How about you? Are you bold in your service for the Lord, willing to go wherever the will of God leads you? Do you love your Saviour enough to lay down your life for Him and His cause? Thomas did!

2) On the way to the Father's House, to Heaven. (John 14:1-9)

In this passage we see Jesus seeking to encourage His brethren by reminding them of where He was soon going to and how to get there:

John 14:1-4 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

He stated that He was going to the Father's house, to Heaven, where He would be preparing a place for them, preparing mansions for believers to dwell in for eternity. Then Thomas asks a question to clarify exactly what Jesus meant:

John 14:5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Earlier Thomas was willing to risk all to follow his Lord and to be with Him wherever He went. Now he is brought face to face with another place where Jesus was going - and he did not want to be left behind. Lord, where are you going?

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

I am the way to the Father's house; I am the source of eternal life; salvation is only through Me; it is only through Me and My (soon to be) finished work on the cross that you can be saved and follow Me where I will be going after I arise from the dead.

This is an important theme in Scripture. There is only one Saviour, only one Mediator between God and man; only one way of salvation; only one door to eternal life:

John 10:7-9 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Only one name by which we can be saved:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

The name Jesus means "Saviour", and Jesus came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21), from the just condemnation due us because of our sins against God.

There is only one way to be saved - and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ - through repentance of our sins and faith in His finished work of redemption; faith in His death, burial, and resurrection in fulfillment of the Scriptures. By faith in the Saviour, we can KNOW we have eternal life - we can KNOW we are going to the Father's house when we die:

1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Thomas had that assurance that he had eternal life, because he trusted in Jesus to save him. Do you have that assurance - do you know that you have eternal life? You can know, if you receive Jesus Christ through faith.

3) In the closed room. (John 20:19-29)

After Jesus arose from the dead, He appeared to 10 of the twelve apostles, and proved to them that He was literally, physically resurrected - He was alive again! After reproving them for their unbelief and hardness of heart (see Mark 16:14), He showed them His hands and side, and even ate with them to prove He was not a spirit or a ghost (Luke 24:36-43). After comforting and assuring His apostles (and other disciples), He left them temporarily. Thomas was not with them, and when he heard the account of Jesus appearing to them, he was hesitant to receive it. He wanted proof first!

John 20:24-25 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

Thomas is what I like to call an honest doubter. He wasn't a skeptic - someone who was unwilling to believe, but was an honest doubter - someone willing to believe but wanting more proof. He was willing to consider the evidence, but first he needed to see it!

Just like Jesus took the time out to specifically restore Peter into the ministry, here we see Him taking Thomas aside to reassure him personally as well.

John 20:26-27 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

Now you see the evidence before you, Thomas. Now you can actually see the wounds, feel the marks of the cross, touch the hole in My side where the spear pierced. I have resurrected just as I said I would, in fulfillment of all the Scriptures. Now will you believe Me, Thomas?

What was Thomas' response?

John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Jesus was alive again - that meant He was exactly who He said He was: God manifest in the flesh! The Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour. With all the evidence in front of him, all of Thomas' doubts flew away. There was no place left for them!

But then Jesus makes an interesting statement:

John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Thomas, I appeared to you personally to strengthen your faith in Me. But now that My Word is written I am not appearing to anyone else today (1 Peter 1:8) - you can only be saved by faith and you must walk by faith and not by sight. Blessed are all those who believe in Me because of receiving the testimony of the Scriptures!

4) In the fishing boat with Peter. (John 21)

John 21:2-3 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

In the previous study on Bold And Rash Peter, I mentioned that Peter, out of discouragement, went back to his old fishing career. It is interesting that six of the other apostles also went with him. While we do not know their motivations, perhaps they did not want to break up their years of fellowship and serving together.

Thomas, who would not leave his Master, now chooses not to leave his brethren in Christ. Though uncertain of the future, he knew who he wanted to be around: the men of God he had come to know and trust. What about you? In times of uncertainty, do you still associate with your brethren in the Lord? Do you still faithfully attend the services of your local church? Is your presence still there when it is most needed? Peter was discouraged - and though we don't know all that might have been on their minds and hearts - his brethren stood by him! Sometimes our presence, and sometimes our words, can go a long way towards strengthening a struggling brother or sister (see Proverbs 12:25).

5) In the upper room. (Acts 1)

Acts 1:13-14 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

The last place we see Thomas mentioned is in the upper room, where the disciples were gathered together in prayer, awaiting the power of the Holy Ghost to come upon them in their service and witnessing. He was still with his brethren, still persevering in the things of God, still standing by the stuff.

Though we often look at one incident in the life of the apostle Thomas - one moment of doubt - we tend to overlook that in actual fact he was a man of faith! In the long run, that is what counts - not our moments of failure or doubt, but the overall course of our walks with the Lord.

Just as the Lord had compassion and took the opportunity to strengthen the faith of doubting Gideon (see Judges chapters 6 and 7), spent time personally to remove the doubts of "Doubting Thomas", He also with strengthen your faith in Him as you abide in His Word (Romans 10:17) and let the Holy Spirit guide you day by day (Galatians 5:22-23): one of the fruit of the Spirit is faith, after all.

Yes, Thomas had his moment of doubt - but he was an honest doubter. He was willing to deal with his doubts, look at the evidence, and put away those doubts from that point in time on. How about you? Are you an honest doubter? When the devil comes whispering his lies and suggestions in your mind, will you believe his doubts, or will you run to the Word of God, where you have the evidence of faith before you, where you have the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts of Satan?

In some ways, Thomas (the twin) is also our twin - he is a man of like passions, who can succumb to doubts or resist them by faith. We have the same choice today in our walks with the Lord.

Will you be a Doubting Thomas?

Or will you be full of faith?


Preached on July 21st/06
Written July 31st/06
Jerry Bouey

For more studies in this series on The Apostles:

The Apostles #1 - Simon the Zealot
The Apostles #2 - Bold And Rash Peter
The Apostles #4 - Jesus Loved Them To The End

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Justifying Ourselves Or Accepting Responsibility?

There was a situation that was bothering me and I let myself get somewhat bitter about it. I would try to tell myself it didn't really matter and I was right in my reactions, but my spirit was uneasy whenever I thought about this person or the situation. Then I would try to make myself feel better by telling myself I have the right to be annoyed because of the way this other person had reacted. Tonight I was under conviction and wanting to make it right - the Holy Spirit wouldn't let me go until I had been reconciled with this person. I wrote an apology, and in it I stated I was sorry for my reactions - but then I had justified myself, in a way stating that I did this because you did that. Then hit Send. Then my heart smote me. That isn't an apology, that is not taking responsibility for my actions, words, etc. That is still placing the blame on others. How many times have we all (especially me) been guilty of that?

Thank the Lord that this reply was sent through a message board that allowed me to edit or delete this private message up until the time the person read it. They had not yet done so. I corrected it and accepted complete blame for my actions. While I was thinking about this, I realized there were some Biblical principles I had been overlooking. I want to share those with you - as a reminder to myself, and as an exhortation to you not to fall into the same trap I had fallen into.

1) If I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I am responsible for ALL my personal moral decisions. No one else can make me sin. Being bitter and responding sinfully in my anger is wrong, no matter how you look at it - even if my original anger may have been justified. (I emphasize "may", because too often it is not.)

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Psalms 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

I have a choice whether to be bitter or not, regardless of the situation that tempted me (not forced me - no one or nothing can force you to sin) to be so. I can choose not to get annoyed at others, especially at my brethren in Christ. No one else can make me stumble - and if I do get offended (ie. stumble at the actions of others), then it shows I don't love God's Word as I should and that I am not leaning upon the Lord as much as I ought to do.

Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

2) An apology is accepting personal blame for our conduct (whether words or actions). When we justify ourselves for doing evil, we are not really accepting the whole blame. If the Lord God expects us to acknowledge our personal responsibility before Him, how can we think we are doing right when we do not do this with our fellow man?

Accepting responsibility first starts with being truthful with ourselves and with God.

Psalms 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Then it means realizing who we have sinned against primarily.

Psalms 51:3-4 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.

Then it means making amends with our brethren, whom we have wronged. At times it may mean seeking to be reconciled even when we don't believe we are at fault. If we know a brother or sister has something against us, God still tells us to do what we can to reconcile the situation.

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

3) Repentance means changing our minds about the situation - about our sin, about our conduct. When I was justifying myself, I was not looking at the situation correctly. When I repented, I changed my mind about my conduct and acknowledged that I was wholly at fault. True repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of conduct. Now that I had changed my mind about my actions, I was in a position to change my future conduct as well. The Holy Spirit showed me that my conduct was not pleasing to Him, and that I needed to make it right with Him and with the person offended.

Psalms 32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

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

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.

It is sad that too often our attempts to correct our sins is mixed with sin itself! Praise the Lord for His Word and His indwelling Holy Spirit that can reveal the sin that we are so often blinded too!

Psalms 139:23-24 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.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 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.

Now that the Lord has opened my eyes to the corruption in my own heart, I can confess and forsake the sin - and receive His mercy. Praise the Lord for His forgiveness and cleansing!

July 19th/06
Jerry Bouey

Monday, July 17, 2006

My New Blog - Songs In The Night

I just wanted to give everyone an invitation to my new Blog: Songs In The Night.

It looks like a good avenue to be able to post sound poetry and hymns/songs. I do have my own personal poetry site (Home Of The Real McCoy), and one of my webpartners has a section on her family site where we keep poems by others (Trenholms Of Kelowna) - but there is never enough time to make new pages for these two parts of EarnestlyContending (plus so many of the free graphics sites keep disappearing - so it is hard to always find an appropriate background).

This new website gives me an opportunity to share poems with others on a regular basis, without having to send them out on a mailing list or make pages for them. Lord willing, I hope to post a new one each day - whether by myself or others - including sometimes little notes as to where the poems came from, how they influenced me, etc. After I have posted a bunch, I will also make up a Table Of Contents page where I can list them alphabetically, for those who later want to look for a particular one. When one of the poems I send out also has a page on our site, I will link the title to the appropriate page, so you can also view it with graphics and sometimes music.

I hope it is a blessing to you. Feel free to email me any of your favourite poems (with author's name, if possible), and I will use some of them as time goes on.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Immanuel

When once I mourned a load of sin;
When conscience felt a wound within;
When all my works were thrown away;
When on my knees I knelt to pray,
Then, blissful hour, remembered well,
I learned Thy love, Immanuel.

When storms of sorrow toss my soul;
When waves of care around me roll;
When comforts sink, when joys shall flee;
When hopeless griefs shall gape for me,
One word the tempest's rage shall quell -
That word, Thy name, Immanuel.

When for the truth I suffer shame;
When foes pour scandal on my name;
When cruel taunts and jeers abound;
When "Bulls of Bashan" gird me round,
Secure within Thy tower I'll dwell -
That tower, Thy grace, Immanuel.

When hell enraged lifts up her roar;
When Satan stops my path before;
When fiends rejoice and wait my end;
When legioned hosts their arrows send,
Fear not, my soul, but hurl at hell
Thy battle-cry, Immanuel.

When down the hill of life I go;
When o'er my feet death's waters flow;
When in the deep'ning flood I sink;
When friends stand weeping on the brink,
I'll mingle with my last farewell
Thy lovely name, Immanuel.

When tears are banished from mine eye;
When fairer worlds than these are nigh;
When heaven shall fill my ravished sight;
When I shall bathe in sweet delight,
One joy all joys shall far excel,
To see Thy face, Immanuel.

Charles Spurgeon

This is one of my favourite poems - by my all-time favourite preacher.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Apostles - Bold And Rash Peter

Peter is perhaps the Apostle we have the most information on. He was well known for his boldness, and his rashness. He was quick to step out in faith, and often the first to speak out. Sometimes his rashness got him in trouble...

He was one of the first to become a follower of Christ, and later one of the first Jesus called into full-time service. While his boldness is commendable and worth imitating, we can learn a lesson from his rashness too.

In Matthew 16, we see Jesus observing the multitude around Him. He then turned to His disciples and the following conversation takes place:

Matthew 16:13-17 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Notice that it is Simon Peter, often the spokesman of the group, that answers first. Jesus praised him for his faith, and stated that the truth of who Jesus is was only revealed from God the Father. But within a few moments, Peter's rash statements got him into trouble with his Lord:

Matthew 16:21-23 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Just like Simon the Zealot, it looks like Peter was also looking for a political Messiah, and did not fully understand yet what Jesus came to do - ie. die for our sins upon the cross.

There are various examples we could give about Peter's walk of faith - and perhaps I might cover some in a future study, but right now I want to move ahead to the night of the Last Supper.

John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

Jesus knew what was coming up, who would betray Him, that all His disciples would be scattered, and that by the next morning He would be crucified. Yet in spite of the dark night that was in front of Him, He loved His disciples unto the end, unto the uttermost. When anyone else would have been focussed on their sufferings or fearful of what lay ahead, Jesus loved His brethren and took the opportunity to teach them two lessons - a lesson on serving one another, and a lesson on forgiveness (which they did not yet understand).

John 13:3-6 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

Jesus began to wash His disciples feet, and proud Peter was offended, and protested what the Lord was doing:

John 13:7-8 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet...

We see Peter once again rashly speaking out. But then Jesus continues:

...Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

Oh oh, he's gone and put his foot in his mouth, in a manner of speaking.

John 13:9-10 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

The lesson here for Peter and for all of us is that none of us can fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ unless we have been washed. We need to be washed completely, to have our whole bodies washed (figuratively) - which is what the word washed in verse 10 indicates. The word is Strong's #3068, and means: "to bathe (the whole person; whereas 3538 means to wet a part only)." Being washed completely is what happens at salvation, when we are washed in the blood of the Lamb through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. (Revelation 1:5 uses the same word. Another similar word for wash is #628, and means: "to wash fully," and is used in 1 Corinthians 6:11.)

Strong's #3538, which is the word for wash that Jesus used throughout the rest of the passage, means: "to cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face)." Jesus was saying that we even need to have our daily defilement washed. This is pictured by our hands and our feet getting dirty - our whole body has been washed at salvation, but our hands and feet get defiled through our daily contact with this world.

For the OT type, see also Exodus 29:4 and 30:18-21: the priest was washed completely when he was separated unto the priesthood - yet he daily had to wash his hands and his feet at the brass laver, everytime he came to minister to the Lord in the tabernacle. Brass represents judgment in the Word of God when used symbolically. (For example, the serpent of brass in Numbers 21:8-9, representing Jesus bearing our judgment on the cross; and Jesus' feet of brass in Revelation 1:15, corresponding with Romans 16:20, indicating that Jesus would be judging His enemies under His feet.) The brass lavers were made from the lookingglasses of the women - see Exodus 38:8. Brass is reflective. When the priests came to wash before serving, they could see their defilement in the polished brass and use the water within the laver to cleanse what was dirty. In the New Testament, three times the Bible is referred to as a glass (ie. a mirror). In the mirror of God's Word, we are to come and see our daily defilement and use the water of the Word to wash it away. This is the picture that is being referred to in James 1:21-25, where he exhorts us to take and apply what we see in the mirror - use it to cleanse our lives from all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness. (See also 1 Corinthians 13:12 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 and contexts for the other references to the Word of God being a glass; the first passage indicating that until the perfect - ie. complete - Scriptures came, we were looking through a glass darkly when gazing into the Old Testament; and the second passage indicating that as we look into the Word of God and see Jesus reflected in its pages, we are transformed into His image.) Everytime we want to fellowship with or serve the Lord, everytime we want to draw closer to Him, we first need to take care of the daily defilement of our sins, by washing in the Word of God - by looking into the brazen laver, judging the sin in our lives, and letting God's Word cleanse our way by confessing and forsaking the sin we see revealed therein. (See also Psalm 119:9; John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26)

It was obvious that Peter and the others did not yet understand what Jesus was doing, yet in time I believe they came to realize it. (See John 13:7, 12-17)

As the evening wore on, we see Jesus taking Peter aside and speaking to him:

Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

All of you (you indicates Jesus was speaking about more than Peter here, you in the King James Bible always being plural) will be tested severely tonight by Satan - all of you will be scattered (see Zechariah 13:7). But I have prayed for you specifically, Peter (indicated by the use of thee, which is always singular, meaning one person).

Peter, still bold and rash, was too self-confident for his own good:

Luke 22:33-34 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

Oh, Peter, you think you are one who will never fall or falter - yet within a few hours you would be denying your Lord! It was already evening, and before the rooster crowed in the morning, you will have already denied Christ!

Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane and led away by an armed mob. The disciples scattered, and Peter and John follow afar off to see what would happen to Jesus.

Matthew 26:69-74 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

Notice how sin is progressive. (For an excellent study, see Why Peter Denied His Lord.) First Peter was too self-confident and proud, then he slept when he should have been watchful in the Garden, then was too impulsive in his actions, and did not stick close to his Lord. Now we see him in the courtyard with the crowd of those who rejected Christ, warming himself at their fire. When confronted, out of fear he denied Christ; when confronted again, he made an oath stating he did not know Jesus; then the third time he denied Jesus with cursings and swearing - then the rooster crowed...

Luke 22:61-62 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Peter suddenly realized with all his boldness and brashness, he failed his Lord - and he had no one to blame but himself. Bitter and discouraged at his own sin and compromise, he turned away in shame...

If you are a believer and are honest with yourself, you will acknowledge that there are times you have failed your Saviour - as have I; there are times you have wandered afar off, times where you have hung out with the wrong crowd, times where you were not faithful to watch and pray, perhaps even times where (in your actions at least) you have denied your Lord. If you are unsaved - if you have never turned to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation - then you have already failed the Lord. Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him..." If you do not know Jesus as your Saviour, then you are not walking in faith.

But the story doesn't need to end there. At the same time that Peter was fleeing in disgrace because of his denial of Christ, Jesus Himself was going to the cross to die for his sins - to die for all our sins. The same Lord we have failed and sinned against so many countless times, has already died for those same sins. What could have been a life of failure in Peter's case, upon his repentance was a life of victory. Remember when Jesus told Peter:

Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Jesus wasn't finished with Peter yet - He knew Peter would fail Him and fall badly, but He also knew Peter would repent and turn back to (which is what convert means) the Lord. When he was restored, then Jesus could use him again, in service and in strengthening the brethren. That time of restoration came after Jesus physically arose from the grave - though He had already appeared to Peter and the other apostles together, He still needed to personally encourage Peter.

In John 21:1-14, we see seven of the Apostles, including Peter, out fishing again - though Jesus had called him (and Andrew, James and John at that time) to leave that career to follow Him in full-time service (see Matthew 4:18-22). I believe Peter was discouraged, perhaps he felt that God could no longer use him - and therefore he went back to what he knew, what he seemed most qualified to do. But that night he and his fellow fishermen could not catch anything. Until a man from the shore called out to them and tells them to cast their net out on the right side of the ship. Suddenly their net was overflowing with fish, and John realized it was the Lord on the shore. Peter in his excitement, dons his coat and jumps overboard, to swim to shore. Jesus has dinner with these fishermen, and then takes Peter aside privately after their meal:

John 21:15-17 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him more than all these - perhaps all these other brethren, or perhaps all these things, such as his career as a fisherman. Peter was no longer bold and brash - he was no longer self-confident and proud. All he could do was reaffirm his love - though he knew he had failed so miserably to show that love. Three times Jesus confronted him with the same words: Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? The third time grieved Peter because that brought so sharply to mind his three denials of Christ. No longer could Peter boldly proclaim his own loyalty - he knew he had already failed severely - now he could just plead with the Lord to examine his heart and see that he did truly love the Lord, though he knew it was nowhere near as much as it should be.

But Jesus didn't bring this up to condemn Peter - He did it to restore him. You see, when we leave the Lord, when we backslide and wander away from Him - He has to bring us back to the place where we departed. We need to deal with the sin that separated us from Him - and with repentance, that sin is wiped away, cleansed, washed in His blood, and our fellowship with Him is restored. Just as Jesus basically told Peter, "Now I can use you again to strengthen the brethren and feed my sheep," so too, He says to us, "Repent of your sins and I can still use you; I still have a plan for your life - but you need to have your hands and your feet washed, you need to have that daily defilement washed away - then I can use you in the plan I have for you."

The passage ends with some interesting words. Though Peter denied his Lord so vehemently that night out of fear, later he would lay his life down for Christ. Once he realized that he could not serve the Lord in his own strength and boldness, the Lord was able to fill Peter with His own strength and boldness through the power of the Holy Spirit.

John 21:19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

Jesus was glorified by Peter's faith, by his life of service, and later by his testimony and martyrdom. At the beginning and during Peter's life of faith, the Lord reemphasized the same words: Follow me. He speaks those same words to us. Are we listening?

Are you daily letting Jesus wash your hands and your feet through His Word?

Are you living a life that will glorify Him?

Are you serving in His strength?

Peter, are you following the Lord today?

Preached and written July 14th/06
Jerry Bouey

For more studies in this series on The Apostles:

The Apostles #1 - Simon the Zealot
The Apostles #3 - Thomas The Doubter
The Apostles #4 - Jesus Loved Them To The End

EarnestlyContending Is Back Up And Running

Praise the Lord! My websites are back up and running! If you have tried some of my links in my posts (whether to my poetry site or my Bible study site especially) and they didn't work for you - now you will find they are working just fine.

For various reasons we had to switch servers several weeks ago, and we were missing certain registration information. We were going to wait until this coming up Monday and then buy a different domain name, if we couldn't obtain this info by then. We were not looking forward to losing any of our readership base (because we had no way to redirect from the old site), but I was determined to trust the Lord with this.

If you have not visited any of my sites (and my webparters' sites) or if it has been a while, please stop by and check them out. You might like what you find there.

Our Domain name (with all its subdomains) is:
EarnestlyContending - on each homepage you will find a link to all the subdomains in the left menu bar.

On EC (which is an Independant Fundamental Baptist site which stands on the King James Bible), you will find all the following sites, plus more:

My Bible Study site: Eagle's Wings Ministries
My Christian Poetry site: Home Of The Real McCoy
Angela Trenholms' Family site: Trenholms Of Kelowna
Angela's Free Computer Background Website (you have to check this one out!): Looking Unto Jesus
Kate Plourde's site: Maranatha
(Kate has also just started her own blog too: Maranatha)

There is so much more to be found on EC (accessible from the main page) - such as an IFB Ladies message board, SwordSearcher modules for download, the 1744 French Martin Bible (TR-based) with search features, and one of my favourite projects:

The Psalms Of David In Metre/Psalms Of Isaac Watts

This is your official invitation that we are back up and running, so please stop by for a visit or a sojourn.

A happy and contented,
Jerry Bouey

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Lord Is Able

What the Lord is able to do in our lives:

1) Able to give you an inheritance.


Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

2) Able to fulfill all His promises.

Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.

3) Able to make you stand.

Romans 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

4) Able to make all grace abound towards you (able to give you all you need to serve Him).

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

5) Able to do exceeding abundantly.

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

6) Able to subdue all things.

Philippians 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.

God can subdue the lions in the lions' den, the fire in the fiery furnace, the storms in your life, and the sin in your soul.

Micah 7:19 He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

The Lord can subdue this storm in your life and give you peace; He can subdue the mouth of that old roaring lion (the accuser of the brethren); He can quench and heal the fiery pain in your heart; and He can subdue any sins in your life, and cast them into the depths of the sea where He will never see them anymore.

7) Able to keep those committed to His trust.

2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.

8) Able to aid those that are tempted.

Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.

9) Able to save to the uttermost.

Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.

10) Able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless.

Jude 1:24 Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

August 13th, 2004
Jerry Bouey

I wanted to add the following devotional from Charles Spurgeon, as it really builds upon what is presented in this study (or if you want to put it another way, this study really builds upon Spurgeon's devotional):

"Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn." Ruth 2:2

Downcast and troubled Christian, come and glean today in the broad field of promise. Here are abundance of precious promises, which exactly meet thy wants.

Take this one: "He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax." Doth not that suit thy case? A reed, helpless, insignificant, and weak, a bruised reed, out of which no music can come; weaker than weakness itself; a reed, and that reed bruised, yet, He will not break thee; but on the contrary, will restore and strengthen thee. Thou art like the smoking flax: no light, no warmth, can come from thee; but He will not quench thee; He will blow with His sweet breath of mercy till He fans thee to a flame.

Wouldst thou glean another ear? "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." What soft words! Thy heart is tender, and the Master knows it, and therefore He speaketh so gently to thee. Wilt thou not obey Him, and come to Him even now? Take another ear of corn: "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, I will help thee, saith the Lord and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." How canst thou fear with such a wonderful assurance as this?

Thou mayest gather ten thousand such golden ears as these! "I have blotted out thy sins like a cloud, and like a thick cloud thy transgressions." Or this, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Or this, "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come, and let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." Our Master's field is very rich; behold the handfuls. See, there they lie before thee, poor timid believer! Gather them up, make them thine own, for Jesus bids thee take them. Be not afraid, only believe! Grasp these sweet promises, thresh them out by meditation and feed on them with joy.

(From Charles Spurgeon's Morning And Evening Devotional)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's New With You?

So often Christians ask me this and this answer always comes to mind:

Lamentations 3:21-23 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Because I am:

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.

With:

Ezekiel 36:26 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 have access to:

Hebrews 10:20-22 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

And one day I will dwell in the:

Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

Therefore,

Psalms 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

Now, I have been made an:

2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

So I need to tell others how they can have all things made new in their lives.

Lastly, I have:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

What's new with you?

July 12th/06
Jerry Bouey

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Apostles - Simon The Zealot

I think it might be worthwhile to present a series on the twelve apostles. I do not know how many I will cover, but I definitely want to dig deeper in some aspects of the lives of these Bible characters. On Friday, I preached on Simon the zealot, or Simon Zelotes as he is referred to in Acts 1:13 and Luke 6. The Bible doesn't say much about him, except stating that he was one of the twelve that Jesus chose to be with Him and sent forth to preach (see Mark 3:14). It is interesting that the word apostle means "one sent forth." These twelve were uniquely sent forth to be ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 6:12-16 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines zealot as: "One who engages warmly in any cause, and pursues his object with earnestness and ardor. It is generally used in dispraise, or applied to one whose ardor is intemperate and censurable. The fury of zealots was one cause of the destruction of Jerusalem."

From Treasury Of Scripture Knowledge: "Simon Zelotes. Canaanite. Kananites, so called, not from being a native of Canaan, Chanaan, which would have been Chananaos, but from the Hebrew Kana, to be zealous, whence he is called in Greek, Zelotes, or the Zealot, from Zeloo, to be zealous."

Strong's Concordance defines Zelotes as: "a Zealot, i.e. (specially) partisan for Jewish political independence."

In the first century, a zealot was a person in Israel who promoted rebellion (sometimes armed) against the Roman government, and sought to establish an independent Jewish government. As Webster stated this was one of the reasons Titus came against Jerusalem and destroyed it in 70 A.D., but he doesn't mention the fact that this was also the reason that the nation of Israel was scattered throughout the world in 135 A.D. due to the Bar Kochba rebellion.

Based on this name given to Simon (Zelotes, Zealot), it is assumed that he was involved in rebellion against the government before he became a disciple and was chosen to be an apostle. Perhaps this is even one of the reasons that he started following Jesus in the first place - there was confusion among the disciples in thinking that Jesus was going to set up His own government in place of Rome, that He came to overthrow Rome - not understanding that Jesus came first and foremost to die for our sins upon the cross. Yes, when Christ comes again, He will reign from Jerusalem, but that was not the purpose of His first coming.

Webster's also defines zeal as: "Passionate ardor in the pursuit of any thing. In general, zeal is an eagerness of desire to accomplish or obtain some object, and it may be manifested either in favor of any person or thing, or in opposition to it, and in a good or bad cause."

In the New Testament, we can see some examples of the right and wrong kinds of zeal.

Good Zeal:

1) Jesus, the Son of God.


John 2:13-17 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

In an OT passage about the coming Messiah, it is interesting to note that it was prophesied that He would wear the same armour that later the apostle Paul would exhort believers to wear.

Isaiah 59:16-17 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.

Notice that it was zeal for His Father's house, and zeal for doing the Father's will that consumed Him and drove Him in His public ministry. Is that the kind of zeal that we have?

2) The Psalmist.

Psalms 119:139 My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.

Are we passionate about the Word of God? Do we stand for it in our lives, even going against our modern culture and Christendom when they oppose it? Does it grieve us when those around us neglect or have no regard for God's Word? It should!

3) The Corinthian Church.

In Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church, we see that they were a mess and that they had a lot of areas that they needed to get right in - there was also sin in the church, including open immorality that should never have been tolerated. Paul wrote his letter to confront their sin and tell them how to deal with it. They grieved for their sin, humbled themselves and got those areas right in the sight of God. Once these sins were put out of the church and the erring member dealt with, their zeal was rekindled to do God's will.

2 Corinthians 7:11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

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.

Now their zealousness to serve the Lord stirred up those around them. Does your zeal for the Lord stir up and stimulate those you know to walk even closer to Him?

One of the exhortations the Apostle Paul gave to the Corinthian church is found in his first letter to them:

1 Corinthians 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

Are you zealous in seeking to edify your brethren? Are you using your gifts and talents to stir up and exhort the brethren to be more faithful to the Lord, to be more devoted to Him in their service and soulwinning?

4) Ephaphras.

Colossians 4:12-13 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

Epaphras was one of Paul's co-labourers, earnestly desiring to lift up his brethren in prayer, to do what he could to encourage and strengthen their walks with the Lord. He had a fervent zeal to see that those believers he came in contact with were fulfilling the will of God for their lives, that they were growing and maturing in their relationship with their Saviour. Is this the kind of zeal you have?

Bad Zeal.

1) Paul's Zeal Before He Got Saved.


Acts 22:3-4 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

Galatians 1:13-14 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Philippians 3:5-6 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Before he got saved, Saul of Tarsus (later known as Paul) had a zeal for the religious traditions he grew up with. He was diligent as a Pharisee and zealous for their traditions - so zealous for the wrong things that it led to him persecuting, imprisoning, and even being involved in killing Christians. Until one day the Lord Jesus Christ stopped him on the road to Damascus and blinded him with His glory - while at the same time opening his understanding to the truth of who Jesus really was. Then Paul repented of his misplaced zeal and received Jesus as his Saviour.

The rest of the Apostle Paul's life was marked by a earnest zealousness to do the will of God, to follow the Scriptures, to draw even closer to the Lord. What about you? Is your life marked by a zeal for your religious traditions - or for knowing and obeying the truth? From Paul's early life, we can see the tremendous damage that the wrong kind of zeal can do to so many people - but from the moment of his salvation on to the end of his life, we can see the effect that righteous zeal can have on those it influences. What is your zeal like?

2) Israel's Zeal.

Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

This is probably one of the saddest commentaries in the Word of God. So many of the Jews who knew the Scriptures were blinded to the righteousness it revealed through the Messiah. They were too caught up in trying to obtain their own righteousness through the works of the law - the law which no one has ever been able to fulfill completely (no one but Jesus Himself - which is why He is the only one righteous!). Instead of realizing their righteousnesses were as filthy rags in God's sight - worthless, incapable of earning salvation - they did not turn to the Messiah when He came to die for their sins upon the cross.

Jesus did pay for all our sins, He did take the full penalty for them upon Himself, and He finished the work of redemption that was needed to purchase mankind back from the slavemarket of sin. When we repent of our sins and turn to Him in faith, our sins are not imputed (credited) to our account - instead His righteousness is! There is no way any of us can earn or attain righteousness - righteousness is only through faith; when we receive Jesus' gift of salvation, then His perfect righteousness becomes ours. Christ IS the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth in Him - in Him, we have His perfect righteousness, the only righteousness that could ever please the Heavenly Father and fulfill the righteous requirements of the law.

Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Do you have the mistaken zeal to obtain your own righteousness - or have you humbled yourself in the sight of the Lord and realized you could never do enough good works or works of the law to please God and ensure a home in heaven? Have you accepted Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as your righteousness, as your Saviour? If so, are you zealously telling others how to know this same Saviour?

Titus 2:13-14 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.

Are you living for the Lord, serving Him day by day, zealous of good works? Or are you like the Laodicean church, lukewarm, couldn't care less about the things of God? Are you zealous for the truth, or wishy-washy? Are you zealous to know Jesus Christ more each day, or does your relationship with Christ (or lack thereof!) even matter to you? Are you hot or cold? Jesus does not want you to be lukewarm - He does not want you to sit on the fence. He wants you to be for Him or against Him. Ultimately, for you, it is better to be zealous - HOT - for the things of God, zealous in your service, warmly devoted to the Son of God who died for you.

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

It is interesting that the name Simon means "hearing." Are you zealous to apply what you have heard today?

Simon, how's your zeal?

July 11th/06
Jerry Bouey

For more studies in this series on The Apostles:

The Apostles #2 - Bold And Rash Peter
The Apostles #3 - Thomas The Doubter
The Apostles #4 - Jesus Loved Them To The End

For another study on the theme of Zeal:

Jehu or Jehonadab? - Desiring A Zeal That Will Last

Genesis 1:1 & The Trinity

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 - "This one verse refutes all of man's false philosophies concerning the origin and meaning of the world:

1) It refutes atheism, because the universe was created by God.

2) It refutes pantheism, for God is transcendent to that which He created.

3) It refutes polytheism, for one God created all things.

4) It refutes dualism, because God was alone when He created.

5) It refutes materialism, for matter had a beginning.

6) It refutes humanism, because God, not man, is the ultimate reality.

7) It refutes evolutionism, because God created all things."

- Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, p. 38.

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The Trinity in creation - chapter one:
Vs. 1 - The Father is the source of all things.
Vs. 2 - The Spirit is the energizer of all things.
Vs. 3 - The Word (Son) is the revealer of all things.

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Universe - means "one single spoken sentence."

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

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Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Godhead means the Trinity. Here in Romans, God is saying there is evidence in creation of the fact of the Trinity. What are some ways this is evident?

The Trinity is expressed in man:
1) In substance - body, soul, and spirit.
2) In mental faculties - understanding, will, and affections.

The universe/cosmos consists of: space, time, and matter.

Each of these contain a trinity:
1) Space - height, depth, and breadth.
2) Time - past, present, and future.
3) Matter has 3 states - solid, liquid, and gas.

Atoms are made up of: protons, electrons, and neutrons.

Music contains: rhythm, melody, and harmony.

There are three heavens:
1st heaven - where the birds fly (Genesis 1:20).
2nd heaven - outer space, where the stars and planets are (Genesis 1:14-17).
3rd Heaven - where the presence of God dwells (Genesis 9:24).

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In Genesis chapter one, seven times we read the phrase: "And God saw that it was good." (verses 4, 10, 12, 17, 21, 25, 31)

Notice what God says the seventh time this phrase is repeated:

Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

God's finished creation was perfect!


For more studies in Genesis (with Genesis as the springboard):

Genesis

List Of All Studies From 2006

I thought it might be beneficial to list all studies/devotionals that I have put in this blog, for those who want to be able to quickly find one again, or for those who may be perusing this blog and are wondering what is in it. I have put an * beside the studies that were a tremendous blessing or encouragement to me when studying them out. Any messages that I preached at the Gospel Mission have @ beside them. All links below will open in a separate window.

Click here for the List Of All Studies From 2007

Click here for the List Of All Studies From 2008/2009

Click here for the List Of All Studies From 2010


April 2006

Buy The Truth And Sell It Not *@ (Introduction to this blog)
The Prodigal Son @
Jehu or Jehonadab? - Desiring A Zeal That Will Last *

May 2006

Without Blemish In Christ - Part 1 @
The Glory Of The New Testament (Covenant) - Part 2 @
The Lord Would Not Repent
Kingly Lessons - None Like These *@
Mother's Day In Heaven (Poem)
Mount Sinai And Mount Zion Contrasted
Love - The Motivating Factor
Love Versus Duty
Kings And Chronicles
The Song Of The Altar *@
Reins - What's Driving You? *
The Prodigal's Return (Song)
So Amazed *
Gleanings From God's Word
The Children Of Your Father
Jesus - The Sinner's Surety *@
The Shadows Flee Away
Mustard Seeds And Mountains *@
Hidden Treasures From Proverbs 2 *
Resting On The Promises *@

June 2006

Slow Down, Daddy! (Father's Day Poem)
A Picture In Genesis Five
Earthen Vessels (From John 9) *@
Genesis: God's Sovereignty *
Genesis: God Remembered
A Song In The Night (Song)
The Great Comission
Genesis: Claiming The Promises *
EXpiration Or INspiration?
Marrow In Your Bones - Spiritually (Psalm 32:3-5)
Shadows And Wings *@
Living By The Word Of God *@
But God... *
Genesis 15 - Fear Not - Part One
Genesis 15 - Fear Not - Part Two

July 2006

Genesis 15 - Fear Not - Part Three
Genesis 15 - Fear Not - Part Four *
Genesis 15 - Thy Shield *
Sevens In The Psalms
Genesis 1:1 & The Trinity
The Apostles #1 - Simon the Zealot @
What's New With You? *@
The Lord Is Able *@
The Apostles #2 - Bold And Rash Peter *@
Immanuel (Poem)
Justifying Ourselves Or Accepting Responsibility?
The Apostles #3 - Thomas The Doubter *@
The Apostles #4 - Jesus Loved Them To The End *@

August 2006

For A Season
Be Ye Transformed (Romans 12:2)
Romans 5:3-5 @
My Victory Over Depression
Winning The Battle Over Depression
My Strength @
John 3:16 - The Gospel In A Nutshell *@
A One-Time Dedication Or Dying Daily?
At The Feet Of Jesus
Exhortation To Smyrna
Exhortation To Ephesus
Wrestling Until The Day Break (Song of Solomon series) *@
Draw Me And We Will Run After Thee (SOS series) *
Beside The Shepherds' Tents (SOS series) *
The Fountain Of Living Waters *@
Revelation 12:11
A Well Of Living Waters (SOS series) *
His Banner Over Me Was Love (SOS series) *@

September 2006:

How Much Do You Value God's Word?
Of How Much More Value Are We?

October 2006:

Pharaoh's Four Proposals @
The Lord Uses Clean Vessels @
David And Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9) *@
Love Your Enemies


Series TOC's:
(These studies are also listed above, in the order they were posted)

Genesis
Psalms
Song Of Solomon

Expositional Studies

30 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sevens In The Psalms

I was reminded of these yesterday:

I find it interesting to note that there is a seven-fold division within the Word of God itself. The Old Testament was divided by the Jews into the Law of Moses (the OT historical books - Genesis to Esther), the Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi), and the Psalms (or Writings - Job to Song of Solomon). (See Luke 24:44) In the New Testament, we have the four Gospels (the life of Christ), Acts (early church history), the Epistles (Romans to Jude), and End-times Prophecy (Revelation).

There are also seven dispensations (by this I mean eras, nothing hyper-dispensational here - not referring to different ways of salvation or doctrines, as some mean when they use this term) of man's history, as presented in the Bible itself.

1) Innocence (in the Garden - from Creation to the Fall)
2) Pre-Deluvian Age (from the Fall to the Flood)
3) The Patriarchs (Fathers of Israel - from the Flood to the Law)
4) The Law (the time of Moses to the time of the Church)
5) The Church Age
6) The Millenium (1000 year reign of Christ on Earth - Revelation 20)
7) Eternity (Revelation 21-22)

The voice of the Lord is mentioned seven times in Psalm 29: verses 3, 4 (2x), 5, 7, 8, 9.

Seven Alphabetical (Acrostic - each verse begins with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet) Psalms: 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, 145.

Seven Penitential Psalms: 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143.

In Psalm 100, there are seven ways we are commanded to praise God, and seven reasons for doing so - by the way, these reasons will never change if you are a child of God, so you always have a reason to praise God (actually 7 of them!):

Psalms 100:1-5 A Psalm of praise. 1) Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2) Serve the LORD with gladness: 3) come before his presence with singing. 1) Know ye that the LORD he is God: 2) it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; 3) we are his people, 4) and the sheep of his pasture. 4) Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, 5) and into his courts with praise: 6) be thankful unto him, 7) and bless his name. 5) For the LORD is good; 6) his mercy is everlasting; 7) and his truth endureth to all generations.

Seven-fold deliverance/salvation in Psalm 34. Salvation means deliverance, and the context will show what type of deliverance is in view - whether deliverance from enemies or afflictions, or spiritual deliverance from sin, death, and Hell. Notice how the last one sums it all up and emphasizes the spiritual deliverance - salvation - the Lord has given His people:

Psalms 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalms 34:6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

Psalms 34:7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

Psalms 34:17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

Psalms 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Psalms 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Psalms 34:22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Seven times the phrase "be glad and rejoice" is used in the Bible:

1) Psalms 9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in Thee: I will sing praise to Thy name, O thou most High.

2) Psalms 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy: for Thou hast considered my trouble; Thou hast known my soul in adversities;

3) Song of Solomon 1:4 Draw me, we will run after Thee: the king hath brought me into His chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in Thee, we will remember Thy love more than wine: the upright love Thee.

4) Isaiah 25:9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

5) Joel 2:21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.

6) Zephaniah 3:14-15 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, He hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

7) Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.

Seven benefits to bless the Lord for:

Psalms 103:1-5 A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
1) Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
2) who healeth all thy diseases;
3) Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
4&5) who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
6) Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;
7) so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

(Seven things - if you count being crowned with lovingkindness and crowned with tender mercies as two things.)