Sunday, November 23, 2008

How Do You Treat Those Suffering In Their Trials? (Part Two)

For Part One, see Seek To Offer Comfort.

2) Remember Words Of Grief Are Often As The Wind, Spoken Without Meaning:

Job 6:1-5 But Job answered and said, Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder?

Job says, “I am crying out and you can see my misery and you show no pity at all. You act as if I’m not in trouble. I wouldn’t be crying out if I weren’t.” He points out that the longeared donkey out in the field doesn’t bray for something to eat when he is eating grass. So Job is saying that he wouldn’t be crying out if there were nothing hurting him. He says, “I’m hurting and I’m hurting bad.” [McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 2000, c1981.]

Later in the same chapter, Job states this:

Job 6:14-17 To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty. My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away; Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid: What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.

They were like an oasis in the desert that promised refreshing, but it never came, it was only a mirage - or like a frozen brook in the winter that looked safe enough to walk on, but instead cracked and broke underfoot.

The word for pity used in verse 14 means "kindness or mercy", and comes from a root word meaning "to bow (the neck only in courtesy to an equal), i.e. to be kind." Job's friends did not treat him like an equal - they looked down on him. Instead of having sympathy with what he was going through, they condemned him by their wrong assumptions about his situation. They mocked him, looked down upon him, accused him of being a hypocrite and a liar in his statements to them. Instead of seeking to strengthen his walk with the Lord, they despised the fact that he was struggling and his feet were ready to slip.

Job 12:2-5 No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you. But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these? I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn. He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.

Job 6:24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.

Job was saying he was teachable - he knew he was a sinner, but he also knew that he was not being chastised for some hidden sin in his life. Job wasn't afraid of answers, or of words offered in comfort and hope - but that wasn't what his friends brought him.

Job 6:21 For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are afraid.

Job 6:28-30 Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie. Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness is in it. Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?

Some commentators make Job out to be self-righteous, but he was not. He knew he could not stand before God in his own righteousness. The problem was he was not aware of any specific sin in his life that God would be judging him for. Job held fast to his integrity. His friends wanted him to admit guilt on his part - but he knew he wasn't being chastised for unrepented sin, and to admit the opposite would be to lie just to meet the approval of his friends (and THAT would be sin!). His friends were afraid of the possibility that God could bring someone through a trial for no specific sin on their part - if so, what happened to Job could happen to them too! In their fear, they dealt harshly with their friend, rather than be a source of comfort to him.

Later, we do find Job justifying himself rather than the Lord God. He did not know why God was allowing his trials, and he knew it was not due to specific sin on his part, so he started to question God's goodness and justice and started to justify himself. He needed to keep trusting in the Lord regardless.

Job 32:1-3 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.

Job 6:25-26 How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove? Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?

The Hebrew word for forcible means "properly, to press, i.e. (figuratively) to be pungent or vehement; to irritate," and also includes the meanings of "grievous, sore." Job states his friends' words were strong and pressing upon him, they were weighty and powerful - but did not apply in his situation. He was desperate and was just letting out hot air.

The word used here for desperate means "to desist, i.e. (figuratively) to despond," and is in reference to being "in despair and without hope"; despond carrying the idea of giving up and no longer striving. Webster's 1828 Dictionary gives the following definitions for this word: "1. To be cast down; to be depressed or dejected in mind; to fail in spirits. 2. To lose all courage, spirit or resolution; to sink by loss of hope."

Job was despondent and was just venting his grief, but his friends reproved him as if his vain words were something of substance, and were more important to deal with than Job's situation. Job was looking for hope and letting out steam, empty words; however, they were looking for reasons to condemn him - not offering Job answers, but attempting to place blame squarely on him for his trials.

It is sad and interesting to note that Bildad later rips Job's words out of context and, instead of having pity on him and overlooking his empty words, he casts them back in Job's face:

Job 8:2 How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?

Even though Job basically states he was without hope (confident expectation), he was actually filled with it (looking forward to seeing his Saviour face to face, looking forward to the resurrection, looking forward to coming forth as gold at the end of these trials, etc.). Perhaps what was on the inside came out in his frustration with his friends, but the book of Job is filled with words of hope. Though he may have thought of giving up on the Lord, he never did. Yes, he took his eyes off the Lord here and there in his trials, but he never turned from (ie. rejected) the Lord. Though he may have given up on living at times, as he stated in several places, he persevered (the meaning of patience in the following verse) in his walk with the Lord:

James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

We see that the Lord had pity on Job, even when his friends did not!

November 23rd/08
Jerry Bouey

How Do You Treat Those Suffering In Their Trials? (Part One)

As I was reading through the book of Job recently, I was thinking about our response to those suffering through trials or grieving. I have met various people that were not right with God and did not have the right (ie. Biblical) perspective on their trial or in their grief. Many times we hear vain or sometimes even blasphemous words from someone professing to be a believer, who is having a hard time trusting the Lord in their situation. What is our response?

Certainly we should pray for wisdom and do what we can to offer them Biblical comfort and hope - but how do we react to their words spoken in fear or pain? I agree, sin is sin - if someone speaks against God, it is not somehow excusable or acceptable because they are going through a difficult time in their lives. However, it is understandable. They need to repent of their words toward the Lord that were spoken out of rashness or anger. I believe it is wrong to simply overlook them (in the sense that we give the person the impression that it is alright to rant against God), and they need to be addressed - but in what way?

I have been thinking about some passages from Job, and I want to bring them forth for consideration.

1) Seek To Offer Comfort:

Job 2:11-13 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

Job's friends were to be commended for seeking out Job to offer him comfort; however, as the book goes on to show, they did not have the right perspective on his suffering and placed blame upon Job, and condemned him, rather than truly being a help or comfort to him. From the Scriptures, we can glean general principles on the why of trials (two main principles we can apply to every trial: it is to draw us closer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to make us more like Him) - though we ourselves may not know all the specific reason(s) why someone is going through a particular trial. Other reasons may be to chastise us, to test us, to strengthen our faith, to bring growth and development in a certain area of our lives, to produce Christlike virtues in us (such as selfless love, true patience/perseverance - which only trials can do), to allow us to experience something that the Lord may later use in our lives to be a comfort or blessing to others, etc.

We can encourage them to keep (or put) their eyes on the Lord, to cling to promises in His Word, to consider what the Lord is doing in that trial, to encourage them to repent if they themselves are convinced the trial was caused due to chastisement (the Lord will let them know - He doesn't chastise His children without revealing the sin to them), to remind them where their faith should be (ie. have the right perspective), to wean them from the world or worldly influences, to exhort them to be a blessing and a witness to those around them (rather than being self-consumed), to challenge them to dig deep into the Scriptures and to seek God's wisdom (James 1:5-8 is in the context of seeking wisdom in the midst of trials). There is so much the Lord desires to do in us and through us in each trial - we need to be steadfastly focussed on Him, and allow His Holy Spirit to teach us through this trial - rather than be so determined to get out of the trial that we are not open to His conviction and leading.

Job went through his trials without knowing the why behind them. He did not know they were a test allowed by God. His three friends were wrong in assuming that Job was involved in unrepentant sin and that was the reason for the trials. We know that was not the case because of the testimony of Job given by God Himself in the early chapters of the book. Job's words of grief, confusion, and perhaps anger were spoken without knowledge:

Job 42:3 Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.

Job assumed God was against him and wanted to cause him affliction and questioned God's goodness or fairness toward him as a result. Yet, we see both Job and his friends were wrong - and this book gives us many answers that they did not have during the trial itself. Yes, Job had great faith in the Lord - but it needed to be tempered, and he needed to keep trusting even in the dark, which at times in his trials he failed to do. We need not be harsh or condemning of Job for this as far as I know of Scripture and life experiences, next to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, I don't think anyone else will ever go through as great a trial as Job did. Maybe I am wrong, but I think God gave us a worst case scenario and showed us He was still in control and we can still trust Him regardless of whatever we may go through.

Eliphaz, the first of Job's friend to speak, made these comments:

Job 4:2-6 If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but who can withhold himself from speaking? Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled. Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?

I have read this book over and over in the sixteen years that I have been saved and I fully believe Eliphaz was right to rebuke Job's lack of faith or trust in the Lord here. But lately I have been considering how he stated this - as that would have made all the difference. Was it as a friend, trying to lift up his fallen brother? (See Upheld By The Lord) "Job, don't forget about all that God has done for you. Remember all the times you upheld and strengthened others that were falling? God is still the same, He is still as faithful today. Keep looking up to Him, Job!" Or was it more of a condemning nature? "Job, what is wrong with you? Where is your faith? What happened to all your words of comfort and hope for others? Was that all just talk? Was it easy to talk without having experienced these trials for yourself? Were all your words of faith just vain and empty now that you are going through hard times?" Knowing how his three "friends" had condemned Job, I am starting to think perhaps this is how he began his conversations with Job.

About a month or two ago, I had a man come to my office for "counselling" who had very recently lost his wife. I tried to share some of what I experienced with the loss of my parents and several friends within the last few years, and how the Lord comforted me and gave me hope in those dark times. Unfortunately, this man really did not want to hear anything, he did not want to put his eyes back on the Lord - he just wanted to have a pity party, which was sad. To everything I said his response was basically, "I know all that. Your losses don't compare to mine, and you are really not a help," though it was him who had sought out me. I did not condemn the man in any way for his grief or his loss. I did ask him some questions about the situation that led to the loss of his wife, and to determine where they both were spiritually. They both professed to be saved by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation - so I focussed on the hope we have in Christ and that he would see her again at the rapture. I shared how God's Word and His Holy Spirit comforted me, but it wasn't what he wanted to hear. Who was I to compare my insignificant trials to his!! No, I don't know everything, but I have been through some fiery trials. They may not compare to the trials of some others, but they are what the Lord has allowed in my life to be a source of comfort and strength to others, as 2 Corinthians speaks about:

2 Corinthians 1:3-6 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

It is not all about me - it is about our Saviour and the promises in His Word! Being able to identify in some measure with the afflictions of others is of tremendous benefit in being a source of comfort to them.

November 23rd/08
Jerry Bouey

Note: This theme ended up being a bigger subject to tackle than I had originally anticipated. To make it a little easier to read, I have broken it up into smaller sections.

Part Two: Remember Words Of Grief Are Often As The Wind, Spoken Without Meaning

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Arise, And Come Away

Song of Solomon 2:13b Arise, My love, My fair one, and come away.

The Lord is calling His children away from the world to fellowship with Himself. In this Song by Solomon, Jesus (pictured by King Solomon) is the believers' Beloved, and we are His love. (This distinction is clearly used all throughout this song.) In His eyes we are fair - in fact, in Song of Solomon 4:7 He praise His bride in stating, Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee. All true believers (who have placed personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, believing and receiving the Gospel according to 1 Corinthians 15:3-4) have been washed in the precious blood of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19 and Revelation 1:5) and credited and clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Romans 10:4); therefore in the Lord's eyes there is no spot in them. When our Heavenly Father looks at His children, He sees them through the righteousness of Christ, in whom there is no stain of sin or blemish.

Do you arise from your busy pursuits, come away from the hustle and bustle of this dreary world, and spend time daily in fellowship with the Lord? Do you spend time listening to His voice as He speaks to you through the Word of God? Like the Shulamite, do you rejoice in the voice of your Beloved? (See Song of Solomon 2:8-10)

Song of Solomon 2:14 O My dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let Me see thy countenance, let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.

O My dove... "She is Christ’s dove, for he owns her and delights in her; she can find no rest but in him and his ark, and therefore to him, as her Noah, she returns." - Matthew Henry.

...that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs... Jesus is the Rock portrayed all throughout Scripture. (See 1 Corinthians 10:4) Is He your hiding place, your refuge? Is your soul hid in the cleft of the Rock?

For a study on this theme of the cleft of the rock, see my study The Rock Of Horeb.

...let Me see thy countenance, let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. The Lord delights in His children, and wants to hear their voice. It is precious and sweet to Him. Many Christians treat prayer like a duty, rather than a delight. But, like any relationship, for it to grow and prosper there must be regular communication between both parties. Are you seeking the Lord regularly? Does Jesus hear your voice? He longs to!

When we neglect prayer, we are not only missing out on the blessings our Heavenly Father wants to give us (needs met, peace, joy, assurance, contentment, boldness and souls saved), we are depriving the Lord of His delight.

Proverbs 8:17 I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me. (In this passage wisdom is speaking, but I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is here pictured symbolically.)

Proverbs 15:8b The prayer of the upright is His delight.

Psalm 27:8 When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. This verse is stating that there are times when the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray, times where He is longing to hear our voice right then and there. Do we heed His tender prompting? Do we answer His call to intimate fellowship?

Song of Solomon 2:15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

It is the "little sins" that disrupt our fellowship with the Lord; it is the "little compromises" that cause Him to remove His peace and joy from our hearts; it is the "little things" that we allow to take root in our affections that prevent the Lord from having the first place in our hearts and lives that He so desires. It is these little foxes that spoil the vines, that damage the tender grapes that we produce - the fruit of our service to Christ. Don't let the little things mar or destroy the good that He is doing in your life. Don't let compromise and sin hinder your effectiveness in His cause.

James 4:8a Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.

Someone has wisely said, "You can be as close to the Lord as you want to be." Do you want to be even closer, then remove whatever hindrances may be standing in your way. Capture the foxes and remove them from your garden; wipe out the Canaanites in the land; cast down the idols on the altar of your heart; tear out that root of bitterness - let nothing, great or small, hinder your walk with the Lord.

If you desire to have a more intimate relationship with Jesus, then like King David, ask the Lord to reveal whatever sin or compromise might be in your life. Then make the choice to deal firmly with it today.

Psalm 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.

John 14:21-23 He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Song of Solomon 2:16-17 My Beloved is mine, and I am His: He feedeth among the lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved and be Thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

The Lord delights to walk in His garden in the cool of the day and fellowship with His children - in other words, the times of fellowship are refreshing and peaceful. (See Genesis 3:8 and Song of Solomon 6:2-3) He feedeth among the lilies (see Revelation 3:20 and Matthew 18:19-20), with the believers He is making like Himself, conforming them to His image (He is the Lily of the valleys, we are as the Lily - see Song of Solomon 2:1-2; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Bether means "division." While our sin can cause the Lord to turn His face from us and our fellowship with Him is temporarily broken - much like a roe or a hind, being suddenly startled, leaps away (see Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 8:14) - when we confess and forsake the sin that drove Him away (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:7, 9) our Saviour quickly restores that sweet fellowship - like a roe or a young hart gracefully leaping over the mountains back to us. Jesus is that Hind of the Morning that Psalm 22 speaks about (see title of Psalm), and will turn back toward us the moment our hearts draw nigh unto Him.

One day Jesus Christ is coming back, in like manner as He went away. I can't wait until the day break and our Saviour comes leaping upon the mountains and skipping upon the hills back to us, to take us (His bride) home to Heaven (see 2:8) - how about you? (See 2 Timothy 4:8 and Titus 2:13)

Leaping over the mountains that divide this land of shadows from the land of eternal light, Jesus will come back and receive His bride unto Himself. He will take us to the mansions that He has prepared for us in glory, where we will be forever abiding in His presence. (See John 14:2-3; Revelation 3:12; 21:23; and 22:3-5) Then the words in Song of Solomon 2:13 will have taken on an ever greater meaning as they are fulfilled in the rapture of the church, Arise, My love, My fair one, and come away.

"She begs that he would not only turn to her for the present, but hasten his coming to fetch her to himself. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Though there be mountains in the way, thou canst, like a roe, or a young hart, step over them with ease. O show thyself to me, or take me up to thee." - Matthew Henry.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Revelation 4:1a After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither...

Revelation 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Study written September 20th, 2004
Jerry Bouey

For a list of studies that use the Song of Solomon as the springboard:

Song Of Solomon

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Running The Race Of The Christian Life

The Bible uses different metaphores to describe the Christian, such as a farmer, a workman, a soldier, a wrestler, etc. One of my favourite is that of a believer being pictured as a runner in a race, the race of the Christian life.

Note that the race is for believers, and they are running against themselves to determine their rewards - it is not a race to determine whether someone will get to Heaven or not. That is determined on what you do with the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. If there was a time and place when you turned from your sin and turned to Jesus Christ to save you from your sins, believing in your heart that He is the only Saviour and that He paid the complete penalty for your sins when He died on the cross, then at that moment you entered into this race.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Unlike a regular race, where only one prize is available or offered to all, in the Christian life the prize is available to everyone that competes in the race - all believers have the same opportunity to be faithful and rewarded by the Lord. In this race, we are not racing against other believers, and hoping we are the best one serving the Lord - we are racing against ourselves. We are exhorted by the Apostle Paul to run in such a manner that we will win the prize, win the rewards our Heavenly Father is offering (and wants to give) to each one of us.

The Greek word for strive in the above passage is: agonizomai, meaning "to struggle, literally (to compete for a prize)." It is this word we get our English word "agonize" from. As we can see, winning the race will involve some discipline (temperance) on our part, it will involve agony, it will involve us striving against ourselves and our sinful natures, if we hope to win the prize. We are not competing for a corruptible crown of laurel leaves, but for the victor's crown, one that is eternal and incorruptible. There is a definite aim and discipline involved if we hope to attain the prize.

Philippians 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

The word for strive here is athleo, where we get our word athlete from, meaning "a contest in the public lists; to contend in the competitive games." We cannot win the victor's crown, unless we are striving according to the rules - and the rules for the Christian life are found in the Word of God. If we hope to be rewarded for our service to the Lord, we need to run according to the plan He has for our lives, according to His will as revealed in His Word.

The last passage comes right after Hebrews 11, the victory chapter where we see how the heroes of the faith all conquered by their faith. In light of these witnesses and the testimony we find of them in the Word of God, we are exhorted to run the race:

Hebrews 12:1-4 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Patience here means "to persevere, endure." We are to lay aside those weights and sins that would hinder us in our Christian life, lay aside those things that sidetrack, lay aside our unbelief, lay aside anything that dampens our devotion or cools our fervour. We are to persevere in this race - how do we do so, when at times we may stumble and falter, grow wearied and faint? By looking unto Jesus.

As a younger believer, I thought the emphasis of the Christian life was in putting out those sins and weights - but now I realize more than ever that our focus is to be on the Saviour, and as we run this race with our eyes steadfast on Him, He gives us the grace to lay aside those weights and sins that are in our lives. The difference is the focus - not on putting out the sins, but on running with the Saviour. As He gives us wisdom and strength, we take the necessary steps in our lives to draw closer to Him and cast out those weights. Where is your focus?

We can see the exhortation to persevere in the Christian life comes from looking unto Jesus. He came to fulfill the will of His Father for His life (which was in fulfilling the law, and shedding His blood and dying for our sins on the cross of Calvary). Even so, when we are tempted to give up or slow down in the race, we need to remember what Jesus endured for us, knowing that He can identify with all of our struggles - and give us the grace and strength to overcome in all of them. We can fulfill the will of God for our lives if we keep our eyes on our great Example, on our Saviour.

Further Bible passages on this theme:

Galatians 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

Galatians 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

Acts 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Acts 13:25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Revelation 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

To cap off the message I preached at the Gospel Mission, I read the following poem. As you read it, though it is describing a physical race, think of it as a spiritual race - think of yourself as the runner, and the father in the poem as your Heavenly Father. The last stanza makes a reference to the race of life, but I want to focus on the race of the Christian life, which starts the moment a person truly turns to the Lord Jesus Christ to save them - then the race begins.

The Race

Whenever I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face,
my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
A children’s race, young boys, young men; how I remember well,
excitement sure, but also fear, it wasn’t hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope, each thought to win that race
or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
Their parents watched from off the side, each cheering for their son,
and each boy hoped to show his folks that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they flew, like chariots of fire,
to win, to be the hero there, was each young boy’s desire.
One boy in particular, whose dad was in the crowd,
was running in the lead and thought “My dad will be so proud.”

But as he speeded down the field and crossed a shallow dip,
the little boy who thought he’d win, lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his arms flew everyplace,
and midst the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.

As he fell, his hope fell too; he couldn’t win it now.
Humiliated, he just wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
which to the boy so clearly said, “Get up and win that race!”

He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that’s all,
and ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
his mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.
“I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”
But through the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face
with a steady look that said again, “Get up and win that race!”

So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!”
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight, then ten...
but trying hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.

Defeat! He lay there silently. A tear dropped from his eye.
“There’s no sense running anymore! Three strikes I’m out! Why try?
I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought. “I’ll live with my disgrace.”
But then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.

“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “you haven’t lost at all,
for all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
Get up!” the echo urged him on, “Get up and take your place!
You were not meant for failure here! Get up and win that race!”

So, up he rose to run once more, refusing to forfeit,
and he resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit.
So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,
still he gave it all he had and ran like he could win.

Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.
They cheered another boy who crossed the line and won first place,
head high and proud and happy -- no falling, no disgrace.

But, when the fallen youngster crossed the line, in last place,
the crowd gave him a greater cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud,
you would have thought he’d won the race, to listen to the crowd.

And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”
“To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”
And now when things seem dark and bleak and difficult to face,
the memory of that little boy helps me in my own race.

For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
And when depression and despair shout loudly in my face,
another voice within me says, “Get up and win that race!”

Author Unknown

Study written March 18th/06
More verses added October 26th/08
Jerry Bouey

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why I Am An Ambassador For Christ

Many people ask why Christians are so concerned about what others believe about spiritual matters - especially in regards to salvation (where they will spend eternity). I have heard someone say, "What business is it of yours?" It matters to me and is my business, because God Himself has made me (and all true believers in Christ) an ambassador.

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.

What is an ambassador?

An ambassador is an official representative of his own king or country - often sent with a message. As a Christian, I am a representative of the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has saved me by His grace. Not only do I represent my King, He has also given me a message to declare to others.

Five Reasons Why I Am An Ambassador:

1) Because of my home in Heaven.


I am assured of and know of this country and how to get there (ie. how to have peaceful relations with it, and one day dwell permanently there).

2 Corinthians 5:1-4, 6-9 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

My current body is a tabernacle (tent), a temporary dwelling. It is getting old and decaying - but my permanent home is in Heaven. I know the way there and can show others how to get there. How? Because I walk by faith - I trust the Word of Another, who has given assurance that those who believe in Him will have this eternal home. The moment they place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they are made citizens of that same Heavenly country. Though our temporary bodies (tabernacles) are decaying, all true believers have an eternal home in Heaven - that is the first reason I am an ambassador for Christ, sharing the hope that is laid up for me.

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.

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.

2) Because of future judgment.

2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

One day I will have to give account for my service to my King. Have I represented Him faithfully? Have I told others how they can have peace with my Lord? Have I carried this message of salvation to those around me, or have I neglected this area of service? One day all my work will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (where only believers will be judged) - not my salvation, that has already been determined the moment I received the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in His finished work upon the cross of Calvary. Will I receive rewards or lose them based upon my faithfulness of lack thereof? Out of fear and reverence toward my Heavenly Father, I am an ambassador for Him, representing Him to others. Because I love Him, I don't want to sin against Him - and when I do, it grieves me afterwards. That is one type of the fear of the Lord, having utmost respect for my Lord and wanting to serve Him faithfully. This fear will keep me from sin and clinging close to Him, will keep me in His Word and in His will. This is the fear that our Heavenly Father desires that all His children have.

There is another type of fear. That is the fear or terror the lost person has of one day being judged by God for their sins, being judged by the Saviour they rejected. In Revelation 20, the Bible talks about the Great White Throne Judgment (where only unbelievers will appear and be judged) - where all the lost will be judged for their evil deeds and rejection of the Saviour and His gift of salvation. That is the terror of the Lord. The only way to avoid this terror and learn the proper fear of the Lord, is to repent of your sins and to trust the Saviour to save you from them. He already bore your penalty and died in your place - now it is up to you to turn to Jesus and receive Him as your Saviour.

That is the second reason I am an ambassador for Christ - I do not want to have to give account for neglecting my service to my Lord; nor do I want other believers to have to give account for their lack of faithfulness to Him, or if they are unsaved, for rejection of the Saviour.

3) Because love compels me to.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Because of the love of Christ, I am an ambassador. God's love constrains me, compels me, convicts me to go out and speak to others about Him. Because of the fact that my Saviour died and rose for me, I should die to myself and live for Him. Because of all that Jesus has done for me in saving me and providing for all my needs, I should present my body as a living sacrifice, and in love serve Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. When my love for others wanes, I need to be quickened and revived at the thought of my Saviour's love for me, and then I am constrained once again to be an ambassador to others.

4) Because I am a new creature.

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.

I am an ambassador for Christ because when I placed my faith in Him, He saved me forever, gave me eternal life, and made me a new creature in His sight. I no longer have the same desires, I have new ones - everything has been changed, my sin has been forgiven and cleansed, washed away in Christ's blood. Now I have the Holy Spirit indwelling me, teaching me from His Word, giving me grace and power to live acceptable to Him, filling me with His love to reach out to others.

I know the difference salvation makes in my own life, and I am an ambassador because I know the Lord desires to save others and make them new creatures in His sight. If you have never turned to the Lord Jesus Christ, you can turn from your sins and receive Him today - then He will cleanse you, make you new, give you a new beginning and a new purpose in Him.

5) Because God gave me this ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 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. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

I am an ambassador because the Lord gave me His message of salvation to carry to others. I don't carry my own message, but one which He has given me in His Word - the ministry of reconciliation, telling others how to be reconciled to God.

Reconciliation carries this idea: through sin man has turned his back upon God, and out of holiness and righteousness, God had to turn His back upon man. But out of love for fallen man, the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. When Jesus died upon the cross, the Father was in the Son reconciling the world unto Himself - because of Jesus' sacrifice for our sins, because of His shed blood, the Lord turned back to man and compels man to turn back to Him. My ministry as an ambassador is to tell you how to be reconciled to the Saviour, how to turn to Him - so that you and God may be face to face, reconciled and at peace with one another. (By the way, it is only through Jesus that you can have this peace with God - that is the only way the Lord has provided and will accept.)

When God looks at fallen man, He sees our unrighteousness - apart from Him, all our righteousness are as filthy rags in His sight (see Isaiah 64:6), compared to His perfect righteousness and holiness, any "good" that we do is corrupt and unworthy. That is why we could never earn salvation - we could never be good enough. We have already failed and broken God's laws, we have already missed the mark. The wages of our sin is death and eternity in Hell, separated from God forever. But the Lord Jesus Christ paid that penalty for our sins, He took our judgment when He died in our place. If we are willing to receive Him as our own personal Saviour, we will be clothed in His righteousness, and be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ bore our sin, and we can have His righteousness through faith - we can be clothed in God's sight, we don't need to be found naked when judgment day comes.

This is my message, my ministry of reconciliation, the authority I have been given by God to be His ambassador and represent Him to others. I am to tell others of my home country (Heaven) and how to get there; warn them of the dangers of Hell and its reality, as well as warn that we must all give account to the Lord someday; His love constrains me, and as a new creature I have the desire to win others to Him; and lastly, I have been given this wonderful ministry and message of reconciliation.

Are you reconciled to God? You can come to Him today.

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.

Written March 5th/06
(Preached March 4th/06)
Jerry Bouey

This study was partly based on several points my pastor brought forth in a sermon on Sunday, February 27th/06.

First 156 Messages Preached At The Gospel Mission

When I submitted to the call to preach* and started preaching in 2004, I kept a list of the titles/themes and main passages preached at the Kelowna Gospel Mission. Friday was the day I was scheduled to come in each week and preach before the supper meal (sometimes I was also given the opportunity on Saturdays, though I was not scheduled on that day - more as a fill in if someone needed me to do it). When my computer crashed in fall 2006, I thought I had lost this list, so I stopped keeping track of the messages preached, except to date the studies if I later typed them up and developed them. Looking through an old file folder tonight, I found that original list among some files that were recovered from my harddrive.

*(Ie. as a regular part of my life. During my four years as a bus runner - the man that ran to the doors to pick up and drop off the children - I had preached about two or three times to the children on our Sunday School bus [the two lessons I remember are "Loaves and Fishes," and Leprosy, where I put my hand in a jar of water then into a bag of floor to give the kids a gross picture of leprosy - which they loved!]; and I had also led several Sunday services, including preaching short messages, at a Senior's home during my one semester in Bible College. For a few months in 1999, I also wrote devotionals for a friend to preach at the Mission while I also was volunteering there.)

I am posting this list here as a reminder to myself of the messages God laid on my heart in my first three years of preaching, as well as an encouragement to others who may be called to preach. Perhaps you are just a friend or visitor who is blessed by the studies and devotionals posted on this blog (as well as Eagle's Wings Ministries), and are curious to know what some of those earlier messages are. (For the record: I prefer to use the term messages when referring to the devotionals I preached at the Mission, because to me a sermon is something that is preached for 1/2 hour or more - something more developed and fleshed out, not something you covered in perhaps 10-15 minutes. Overall, my average preaching time would be about 7-10 minutes. Below, there are two 20 minute "sermons" [20 minutes was about the limit of their attention span] that I preached at a local Senior's home, and there was a message I preached at a church service last year at the Mission that went exactly 30 minutes - and that was My Seven Most Used Passages.)

Devotions preached at the Gospel Mission (*ones later turned into studies - some of these were expanded and contain more material than was originally preached; **ones that were already studies before being preached - some of these were shortened or highlighted due to their length):

2004:

February 6th - Lessons In The Valleys: The Valley Of Trouble (Hosea 2)*
13th - Lessons In The Valleys: The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death (Psalm 23:1-3)*
14th - Lessons In The Valleys: The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death (Psalm 23:4-6)
20th - The Prodigal Son (Luke 15)
27th - Leprosy And How It Pictures Sin (Leviticus 13-14)*

March 5th - The Importance Of The Word Of God: five comparisons (like a love letter, last will and testament, a biography/historical book, instruction manual, a diary).
12th - Jesus, The Friend Of Sinners (John 15:13)
19th - Living Water (John 4)
20th - Repentance
26th - Is Your Name Written Down?**

April 2nd - Foundation On The Solid Rock (Matthew 7:24-27)
9th - He Loved Them Unto The End (John 13:1)
16th - The Promises Of God* (Not sure what study I developed this into, as I have no study posted on my sites by that name)
23rd - The Value Of One (Luke 15 - one sheep, one coin, one lost son - plus read an excellent song by that title)
30th - The Christian's Race

May 7th - Forgiveness (John 8:1-11)
14th - Abraham On Mount Moriah (Genesis 22)
21st - Isaiah 53
28th - My Hiding Place (Psalm 32)*

June 4th - Who Touched Me? (The woman with the issue of blood, Luke 8)
11th - Two Cries From The Cross (Luke 23:34, 43)
18th - Father, Into Thy Hands (Luke 23:46) - The example of Jesus' relationship with our Heavenly (Abba) Father.
25th - The Storms Of Life (Matthew 14 and Psalm 107)

July 23rd - God Has Not Forgotten You (Isaiah 49:13-16 and Luke 12:6-7) (Also preached at the Senior's home - about a 20 minute message)
30th - Three Appointments*

August 6th - The Simplicity Of Salvation*
13th - Lessons In The Valleys: The Lily Of The Valleys (also preached at Senior's Home - about a 20 minute message)*
20th - My Strength*
27th - Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church (Revelation 3:14-22)*

September 3rd - The Father's House (John 14:1-6)
10th - Two Debtors (Luke 7:36-50)
17th - The Great Supper (Luke 14:16-24)
24th - The Great Change Salvation Brings (Zacchaeus and the maniac of Gadara)

October 1st - What Is The Purpose For Trials? (Amos 4:6-12 and Romans 8:28-29)
8th - The Reasons Why Jesus Came*
15th - Romans 8:28 (contrast between Adam Aulin's and Brian's stories - probably posted within my Daily Devotionals, though I cannot find the specific entry right now. Adam's testimony is the Foreward to my second poetry book)*
22nd - Present Tense Salvation (ie. how the Bible states we are saved, are forgiven, are sanctified, have already passed from death to life, etc.; also shared some of my testimony)
29th - The Story Of Three Gardens: The Garden Of Eden*

November 5th - The Story Of Three Gardens: The Garden Of Gethsemane*
19th - The Story Of Three Gardens: The Garden With The Empty Tomb (John 19:41)
26th - Abraham - Following, Not Knowing

December 17th - Have You Any Room For Jesus? (Luke 2)*
24th - Immanuel (God is with us - dealing with depression, and the victory in the assurance of knowing that God is always with us) and Hosanna (O Save Us Now poem)


2005:

January 7th - Forgiveness and New Mercies (Micah 7; Psalm 103; Lamentations 3; Philippians 3)
14th - Jacob's Ladder (Started a series on Lessons From The Life Of Jacob, preached an intro* and Jacob's vision in Genesis 28 - how it pictured salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ)
21st - Jacob Wrestling With God** (Some of this message made its way into Wrestling Until The Daybreak and certain aspects of it were used to start and end my second poetry book - see the title poem, The Seasons Of Your Pilgrimage - when studying the life of Jacob out in November 2004, one of the primary lessons the Lord impressed upon my heart was how walking with the Lord will change you forever, and this has been one of the most life-changing messages I have learned - consider Hebrews 11:21 in light of Genesis 32 - why was Jacob leaning on a staff? Not because he was old, but because his wrestling with God transformed him and affected him for the rest of his life!)
28th - What God Did In Jacob (Jer 29:11; Heb. 11:21; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 1:6 - dealt with how Genesis emphasized the name Jacob when he was carnal or unbelieving, but Israel when he was walking in faith - and how this increasingly became his name as he walked more with the Lord)

February 4th - Why Paul Was Not Ashamed*
11th - One More Night With The Frogs (Plagues of Egypt contrasted with sin in our lives - the title of this message came from Hugh Pyles sermon/book on the same name; though I did not copy his message, I did use his general theme. This was the first in a series of messages I did on the 10 Plagues Of Egypt and the Lord leading them out of bondage.)
18th - Separation between God's dealings with the Israelites and the Egyptians (contrast between the saved and lost as portrayed during the Plagues Of Egypt)
25th - The Passover and how it was a type of Christ (the final message on the Plagues Of Egypt, and God's greatest deliverance)

March 4th - The Rapture (read Rising In The Arms Of Love)
11th - What Is Man? (Series on Questions from Job)*
18th - If A Man Die, Will He Live Again? (Questions from Job)
25th - Six Things The Lord Opened**

April 1st - The Touch Of Faith (the woman with the issue of blood)*
8th - Paul's Sermon On Mar's Hill
15th - Heart Disease*
22nd - Jesus Only (Mount Of Transfiguration)
29th - Jonathan And David's Friendship

May 6th - A More Sure Word (2 Peter 1 - His comments on experience of the Mount of Transfiguration)
13th - All Thy Waves And Thy Billows (Jonah 2 & Psalms - Developed into a study on Psalm 42-43)*
20th - God Would, But They Wouldn't
27th - Devotion from Days Of Praise (Make It As Sure As You Can)

June 10th - Lessons In The Valleys: The Valley Of Strength (1 Samuel 17)
11th - The Blood Of Jesus (Hebrews 12:22-24 and Genesis 4)
17th - What Jesus Takes Great Joy In*
18th - Matthew 6:24-34 (also read The Fifth Sparrow)
24th - All Our Tomorrows (Psalm 139:1-12)*
25thThe Lord Thinketh Upon Me (Psalm 139:13-18)*

July 1st - Jesus And Barabbas (How Jesus' substitution and dying in place of Barabbas pictures His substitution for the guilty sinner)
8th - My Personal Testimony (of salvation)*
9th - My Victory Over Depression*
15th - What Is Truth? (Pilate's question as the springboard to present the Bible as the source of all truth)
22nd - Lessons In The Valleys: The Valley Of Weeping (Psalm 84)

August 5th - When Life Doesn't Go As You Planned (Joseph's life)*
12th - The Lord Is Like An Eagle (Message written by someone else)
19th - What God Cannot Do (also read God Is)*
26th - Ye Must Be Born Again (conversation with Nicodemus)

September 2nd - The Crippled Man with No Man to Help Him (John 5)
9th - Jesus Washing His Disciples Feet (John 13)
16th - Jesus' 7 I Am statements
22nd - Shared some thoughts on John 11 and read Through This Valley (This was the day my Mom went home to Heaven - and these thoughts are what led to the Eulogy/Gospel message I was able to preach at her Memorial - Our Mom's Victory Through Faith)

October 7th - John 14 (Father's House, and the Comforter)
14th - The Fountain Of Living Waters*
21st - Does God Care? (Mark 35-39, and Revelation 4, about the rainbow around the throne)
22nd - Read excerpt from God's Abounding Love
29th - Paul's Defense Before Felix (Acts 24, with illustrations from A More Convenient Season)

November 4th - Paul's Defense Before Agrippa (Acts 25-26, with illustrations from Almost Persuaded)
11th - The Roman Guards - three types of responses (Matthew 27:27-38; John 19:31-34; Mark 15:37-39)
18th - What Is Written On Your Record?*
25th - Sinking In The Mire*

December 2It Is Well With My Soul (2 Kings 4; the story behind the hymn)*
16 - The Meaning Of Christmas*
30 – The God Of Second Chances (Abraham, Jonah, Peter, Mark)


2006:

January 6th – The Word Of God In These End Times (2 Tim. 3)
7thAbba, Father (Presented the Gospel by using the three times the phrase, Abba Father is used, then recounted the story of the Prodigal Son from the perspective of God's desire to have close fellowship with us)*
14thAbraham Offering Isaac (Genesis 22)*
21stDavid and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9)**
28th – The Bondservant (Exodus 21:2-6)

February 3rdSeven Benefits of Faith in Romans 5:1-11* (Most of the time when preaching to the crowd at the Mission I do not see immediate fruit - but right after this message, a coworker asked the crowd if there was anyone who wanted this peace with God that was just preached about, and if so to raise their hands and pray with him to trust the Lord for salvation. Several people raised their hands, but one that I noticed was a friend of mine who before that point in time was "just not ready to receive Christ" - but now she trusted Him for salvation, shortly thereafter following in believer's baptism. While I do not put a lot of stock in a "sinner's prayer" - ie. a "repeat after me" prayer - in this case, I know the person truly did get saved. Pat is one of the most attentive listeners to the messages at the Mission, and there have been some definite changes in her life. I can only trust the Lord with those others who prayed, as He knows whether they understood what was preached and were truly repentant when they prayed.)
10th – Doing God’s Will & Having Our Needs Met (Matthew 6)
17th – Living Inside The Veil (Hebrews – Christ’s death opened the way to God - Used the first part of this message: Inside The Veil And Outside The Camp - Harry Ironside)
24th – Wake Up Calls For The Lost And Saved (Jonah 1 - How God used the trial of the storm to awaken the lost mariners' to their need for salvation, and to chasten Jonah and wake him up and bring him to repentance)

March 3rdWhy I Am An Ambassador For Christ (2 Corinthians 5)*
10th – The Passover Lamb
17th – The Rich Young Ruler & The 10 Commandments
18thRunning The Race Of The Christian Life*
31st – John 14 (This was, I think, the message I preached just before I left to go to my Dad's funeral - God gave me tremendous comfort to pass on to my family.)

April 7th – The Trial Of Your Faith (Job 23:8-10; 1 Peter 1:6-8; Rev. 3:18)
14th – Psalm 22
21stBuy The Truth/What Is Truth?*
28thThe Prodigal Son (Tackled from the perspective of repentance and how it affected the Prodigal Son's life)*

May 5thHidden In The Cleft Of The Rock*
12th – The Lord Looseth The Prisoners (Ps. 146:7; Isaiah 61:1-2; 2 Chron. 33)* (Not sure what study I was using for this, unless it was something I never posted on my personal sites, but instead posted on a message board. I think in this message I touched down on how the Lord can free those from the bondage of their addictions.)
19thJesus, The Sinner's Surety (Genesis 43-44)*
26thMustard Seeds And Mountains*

June 2ndResting On The Promises*
9thEarthen Vessels (John 9)
16th – A Song In The Night/In The Dark (Job 23:8-10 and 35:10, 14)
23rd – Psalm 63 (plus 55:6-7)
30th – The Armour Of God

July 7thThe Apostles #1 - Simon the Zealot*
14th - The Apostles #2 - Bold And Rash Peter*
21stThe Apostles #3 - Thomas The Doubter*
28thThe Apostles #4 - Jesus Loved Them To The End*

August 4thJohn 3:16 - The Gospel In A Nutshell*
11th – When The Wicked Prosper (Hab. 1 & Ps. 73)
18th – Discouragement (Ps. 61:1-4 & 62:5-8)
25th – No Man Cared For My Soul (Ps. 142 – not the study, just the Psalm)

September 1stHis Banner Over Me Was Love (Song Of Solomon 2:4)**
8th – Matthew 14 (If I remember correctly, I focussed on Jesus' reaction to the news of His cousin's death - that even in His grief He ministered to others)
15th – Seeking And Searching
23rd – Read Devotional on Love by Paul Chappel (This was my first or second day as staff at the Gospel Mission; therefore my preaching opportunities greatly increased from this point on.)

October 1stPharaoh's Four Proposals*
3rdThe Lord Uses Clean Vessels* (After this message, I had one of the men from the Mission's Recovery program come to me and tell me he wanted to be one of those clean vessels the Lord could use. Encouraging results!)
8th – The Danger of Being Unthankful (Romans 1:19-22; 2 Timothy 3:1-2; Psalm 105:1-7)
9th – Why God Gives Us Another Day (Acts 17:23-28; 14:17; Romans 8:32; 12:1)* (Unsure of what study I was using for this, unless it was also something posted in my Daily Devotionals or on a message board)
12th – Safety And Rest Only Found In The Ark (Gen. 7&8, quote by Spurgeon - how the Ark pictured our rest in Christ)
14th – John 3:16 (Read from Commentary by Ironside)
15th – Childlike Faith
16th – The Samaritan Woman (John 4)
17th – Leprosy And Jesus’ Compassion
21stDavid and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9)**
22nd – God’s Guidance (Psalm 25)
23rd – David And Jonathan’s Friendship
24th – Proverbs On Friendships
25th - ? (I believe I tackled a third message on the theme of Friendship, but not exactly sure where I took the message or what passages I used)
28th - Love Your Enemies** (A childhood friend who I had not seen for 20 years came and stayed at the Mission. I opened up my home to him, lent him a key, then came home from work to find my house ransacked and various items stolen by him to sell for drugs. God taught me a powerful lesson on choosing to love my enemies.)
30th - Owe Nothing But Love (Romans 13:8)
31st - Are You Burdened?

November 1st - Don’t Worry About Your Daily Needs (Jehovah-Jireh - using Genesis 22:8 and Romans 8:32 to show that if we trust God with our greatest need - ie. salvation - we can also trust Him to meet all our other needs)
2nd - The Presence Of The Lord (Dwelling in God's presence, both in this life and in Heaven)
3rd - How To Understand The Bible (Probably some basic Bible principles and promises to claim while studying God's Word, such as John 7:17; 8:31-32; and James 1:5)
7th – The Lord My Shepherd (Names Of God)
8th – Jehovah, I Am (Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58)

156 so far...

A little later in November, I preached two messages consecutively. One on Hell (what it contained, and how to be saved from it), then another on Heaven (what it contained, and how to be assured of going there when you die). As bleak as the message on Hell was, more people attentively listened to that one than the one of Heaven! I think people take Heaven for granted. One man had gone through some serious health issues that brought him to the mission. The message on Hell got his attention, and made him realize where he stood before God. A fews days later, I preached a message on Romans 10:1-13, and 17, and calling on the Lord for salvation (looking through some of my notes, though undated, this one seems to be the one this man referred to), and this man trusted the Lord to save him. That week he went back into the hospital. While I was visiting him, he related what I posted above about those two messages that got his attention and brought him to the Saviour. I gave him a couple of studies to strengthen his faith. Very shortly thereafter, he went to some kind of care home, and I have not seen him since. I don't know if I ever got his last name - and all this time later, I can't even remember his first name. I was hoping he would contact me from his new home - but he never did, and the hospital won't give that kind of information out. I trust he did get saved - I don't think he was faking the peace and joy that I saw on his face - and that even if I don't know where he is, the Lord does - and I will see him in Heaven too one day.

List Of All Studies From 2008/2009

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 2006

Click here for the List Of All Studies From 2007

Click here for the List Of All Studies From 2010


February 2008:

For His Name's Sake *@

September 2008:

Was Hebrews Written By Paul?
When I Consider Thy Heavens @
Upheld By The Lord *@
Our Mom's Victory Through Faith @

October 2008:

Four part series: Our Calling In Christ
Part One - The Hope Of Your Calling *@
Our Hope In Christ (Follow up study) *@
Part Two - The High Calling *@
Part Three - The Holy Calling *@
Part Four - The Heavenly Calling *@
Lowest Common Denominator Gospel
Lessons In The Valleys: The Lily Of The Valleys *@
Building Up The Walls In Our Lives *@
Lessons In The Valleys: The Valley Of Trouble *@
When Life Doesn't Go As You Planned *@
First 156 Messages Preached At The Gospel Mission @
Why I Am An Ambassador For Christ *@
Running The Race Of The Christian Life *@
Arise, And Come Away *@

November 2008:

How Do You Treat Those Suffering In Their Trials? (Part One)
How Do You Treat Those Suffering In Their Trials? (Part Two)

September 2009:

Abba, Father @
Our Walk In Ephesians - Part Two (Walking In Good Works) *@
Our Walk In Ephesians - Part Three (Walking Worthy Of Our Calling) @

October 2009:

God's Word Is Forever

Our Walk In Ephesians - Part Four (Walking In Newness Of Life) (Ephesians 4:17-32) @ - Coming very soon
Our Walk In Ephesians - Part Five (Walking In Love) (Ephesians 5:1-2) *@ - Coming soon

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

Genesis
Psalms
Song Of Solomon

Expositional Studies

60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible

When Life Doesn't Go As You Planned

Joseph was born the eleventh son of a family of twelve brothers and one sister. He was the oldest child of his father Jacob's (Israel) favourite wife, Rachel. His mother died giving birth to the youngest son in the family, Benjamin.

Genesis 37:2-4 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

In the book of Genesis, we can see four major disappointments in Joseph's life - things that he did not plan on, but that had a major impact on his life and future plans.

1) Unexpected Affliction - Sold Into Slavery

The first was his brother's jealousy, which motivated them to betray Joseph, when he was 17 years old, and sell him into slavery - something which was not in Joseph's plans at all, and affected him for years to come.

Genesis 37:23-24 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.

Genesis 37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

There are times in our lives where we may meet with an unexpected affliction, ranging anywhere from an accidental injury to severe illness or disease, from a lost job to a financial crisis.

What was Joseph's response during all this? He kept trusting in the Lord his God. He did not know why God allowed this trial to come into his life, but he chose to trust his Heavenly Father - as a result God blessed him in all he did.

2) Falsely Accused And Imprisoned

Genesis 39:1-4 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.

When Potiphar saw how the Lord blessed the work of Joseph's hands, he was made overseer over Potiphar's house. Until Potiphar's wife set her eyes upon him, and laid in wait for him. Because she did not get her desire fulfilled, she turned on Joseph and lied about his actions to Potiphar.

Genesis 39:20-23 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

In times of ill treatment by others, we have the example of Joseph choosing to be faithful to the Lord no matter what - even if it caused him further affliction! He refused Potiphar's wife's advances and fled from her. See verses 7-9.

Though tried in prison and bound in fetters (see Psalm 105:18-19), he was later exalted by the keeper of the prison. All through this period, we again see that the Lord blessed Joseph and was with him.

3) Dashed Hopes And Expectations

Over time, Pharaoh's butler and baker were imprisoned and had dreams which saddened them. The Lord gave Joseph wisdom to interpret these dreams - and they were fulfilled as declared by Joseph. The chief butler was to be restored to his place, and therefore Joseph petitioned him as follows:

Genesis 40:14-15 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.

Joseph was now 28 years old. After 11 years of being sold into slavery and his time of imprisonment, it now looked like he might be set free. After getting his hopes up, rejoicing in his possible freedom, anticipating his release, we read this sad report:

Genesis 40:23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

When our plans don't come to pass - what do we do? Joseph kept his trust in the Lord and still remained faithful. Eventually two more years passed, and then Pharaoh had two dreams which greatly troubled him. He called the wise men, but none could interpret his dream, until the butler remembered Joseph. As the course of events unfolded, Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams, gave God the glory, and praised and thanked the Lord, and was exalted to a place of honour at 30 years old - after 13 years of slavery.

Genesis 41:38-44 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

There was a final point I want to mention regarding the things in Joseph's life that he did not plan:

4) Separation From His Family

This was not something that he had ever intended or planned upon - he never dreamed that it would be 22 years before he would see his brethren (and a little later, his father) again. Though, no doubt, this disappointment greatly affected him during those years of slavery, imprisonment, and was even remembered during his years of being exalted as second in command over all of Egypt. See Genesis 41:51-52.

Though all those years of Joseph's life did not go as he planned, God worked behind the scenes to set things in motion to protect the tribe of Israel by sending Joseph into Egypt ahead of them, to prepare the way - though Joseph did not see or know God's plan at that time. The Lord worked it out that Joseph would see his whole family again.

Psalms 105:16-17 Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:

17 years later (see Genesis 47:9 and 28), when Jacob/Israel died, Joseph's brethren began worrying about whether Joseph would now take vengeance upon them for their betrayal (39 years before - Joseph is now 56 years old). But Joseph did not let his years of hardship make him bitter - he let them make him better! Disappointments are His appointments, as Joseph goes on to relate:

Genesis 50:19-21 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

During this reminder (by his brethren) of his previous afflictions, Joseph testified to his brethren of the Lord's goodness and love in his life.

Even though Joseph's life did not go as he planned, Joseph learned that they went as He planned. His Heavenly Father was in control all the while, working out His perfect will and plan in Joseph's life - as He does in the lives of all His children! The New Testament parallel of Genesis 50:20 is Romans 8:28.

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.

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

The Answers Why

I asked the Lord one day why there were so many mountains in my life,
So much grief and heartache, so much trouble and strife?
I read His Word very carefully, looking for the answers why,
And deep within my soul, I heard His Spirit reply.

I am working all things out for your good;
Removing the debris that shouldn't be there.
There is so much damage that sin has done,
There is so much I need to repair.
There are works that I am doing - if you could only understand -
I am fulfilling all My promises according to My Plan.

The mountains are for reminding you of My goodness and My love,
The weakness is to cause you to lean upon My arms above.
Rest upon My provision, and trust that I will guide you along Life's way,
And rejoice in My grace and mercy that will lead you safely Home one day.

There's a work I am doing inside your very heart,
So one day up in glory, My likeness to you I will impart;
So don't fret about the things that you don't understand,
Just trust my eternal wisdom, and know it's all according to My Plan.

Poem written December 20th, 2002
Devotion written August 5th/05
(Preached August 4th/05)
Jerry Bouey

"GOD MEANT IT UNTO GOOD"

"God meant it unto good"--O blest assurance,
Falling like sunshine all across life's way,
Touching with Heaven's gold earth's darkest storm clouds,
Bringing fresh peace and comfort day by day.

'Twas not by chance the hands of faithless brethren
Sold Joseph captive to a foreign land;
Nor was it chance which, after years of suffering,
Brought him before the monarch's throne to stand.

One Eye all-seeing saw the need of thousands,
And planned to meet it through that one lone soul;
And through the weary days of prison bondage
Was working towards the great and glorious goal.

As yet the end was hidden from the captive,
The iron entered even to his soul;
His eye could scan the present path of sorrow,
Not yet his gaze might rest upon the whole.

Faith failed not through those long, dark days of waiting,
His trust in God was recompensed at last,
The moment came when God led forth His servant
To succour many, all his sufferings past.

"It was not you but God, that sent me hither,"
Witnessed triumphant faith in after days;
"God meant it unto good," no "second causes"
Mingled their discord with his song of praise.

"God means it unto good" for thee, beloved,
The God of Joseph is the same today;
His love permits afflictions strange and bitter,
His hand is guiding through the unknown way.

Thy Lord, who sees the end from the beginning,
Hath purposes for thee of love untold.
Then place thy hand in His and follow fearless,
Till thou the riches of His grace behold.

There, when thou standest in the Home of Glory,
And all life's path lies open to thy gaze,
Thine eyes shall see the hand which now thou trustest,
And magnify His love through endless days.

--Freda Hanbury Allen

(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)