The Plant, The Worm and The Wind

SCRIPTURE: Jonah 4:1-10, NLT

1 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry
2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love {unrelenting, unconditional}. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. 
3 Just kill me now, LORD ! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” 
4 The LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” 
5 Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. 
6 And the LORD God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. 
But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. 
And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed. 
9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!” 
10 Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly.
11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

INTRODUCTION

As we come to the close of our study in Jonah, there is so much I want to say but out of respect for you and the blessed Holy Spirit, I will discipline myself to share what I feel is most important.
  • Jonah is indeed a flawed character which reminds us that God can use whomever He pleases, however He pleases and whenever He pleases. The book reminds us that the MESSAGE is greater than the messenger.
  • The book of Jonah affirms God’s sovereign control over His creation. God is in absolute control of every element and every creature: He hurled the storm, He directed the fish, He caused the plant to spring up, He sent the worm to kill the plant, He sent the wind to bring discomfort to the rebellious prophet. God is in control: there is no need to panic. His KINGDOM will come. His will is going to be done.
  • Warren Wiersbe points out some interesting contrast between Jonah and Jesus
    • Jonah was willing to die for his sin–Jesus was willing to die for yours and mine
    • Jonah ministry was to one city–Jesus ministry is to the entire world
    • Jonah’s obeyed reluctantly because he feared God–Jesus obeyed willingly because He loved the Father.
    • Jonah did not love people–Jesus loved the world and died for sinners
    • Jonah waited outside the city and prayed for his enemies damnation–Jesus died on a cross outside the city and prayed for God to forgive His enemies.
  • In the book of Jonah, God has the first and last word.

TRANSITION: TONIGHT WE WANT TO LOOK AT THREE THINGS….

I. FIRST: JONAH’S ATTITUDE

This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry
2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love {unrelenting, unconditional}. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. 
3 Just kill me now, LORD ! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” 
4 The LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” 
Jonah is angry: anger is the emotion we fell when our expectation for justice is not met. Jonah believed that God was in error. He should not have forgiven the Ninevites because they deserved judgment.


James 1:19-20– Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.


There is a good anger and a bad anger but most of the time our anger is not good. There is a thing called righteous indignation [Jesus in John 2]. Paul told the Ephesians, “Be angry and sin not.” Matthew Henry said, “The only way to be angry and not sin is to be anry at sin.”


Jesus got angry when He saw others being treated unjustly but Jonah anger is personal: he feels that he is the victim of the injustice. It is the anger that arises when we don’t get our way. Jonah is mad because God doesn’t agree with him and did not cooperate with him to carry out his will.


Anger is the frustration of not getting the desired results that we wanted.


Anger is a two sided coin: On one side their is rage but flip it over and you find self-pity. Note what Jonah said, “I am so angry I could die.” Both rage and self-pity are desparaging, they deminish and deappreciate us. Rage is a gross waste of energy and nothing makes us appear smaller in the eyes of others than self-pity…poor pitiful me.


God asked Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry?”

II. JONAH’S POSTURE

5 Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. 
6 And the LORD God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. 
Some temptations abate as we grow older but some increase in intensity and one of those temptations that gets stronger with time is our “comfort.” We want to be comfortable. I am not an exception to the rule.


There are two things wrong with Jonah’s posture. [1] Like so many professed believers today, Jonah’s posture is passive…he is sitting and waiting.


Don’t get me wrong folks but I have very little patience with these bible study groups who want to meet and feed their appetite for more knowledge when we are not putting into practice what we already know. If you have a bible study group that is involved in ministry, missions and evangelism, that is a horse of a different color: I applaud such. What we Baptist like to do is meat, eat, blow and go…but we go home to our recliners. We don’t go to the hurting or to the lost. The Reforms are just as guilty of taking this passive position. They want to leave everything to God. Listen folks, God expects us to do what we can. He gave us brains and spiritual gifts so that we could serve others.


[2] Jonah is not only sitting and waiting: he is engrossed in his own comfort. He had made his comfort a top priority.


A part of this week has been God proding us to move out of our comfort zone.


I am not comfortable with interupting the lives of others. I have some neighbors who want to be left alone and I want to leave them alone but God is proding me out of my comfort zone. I am uneasy about this BLOCK PARTY.


What is God proding you to do this week? Teach, Sing in the choir, go on a mission trip, share Christ with a co-worker or neighbor or to give sacrifically, more than you can afford.

III. JONAH’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE LORD

But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. 
And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed. 
9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!” 
10 Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly.
11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
What is the old saying, “God sent me to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” Well, God sent a worm to afflict Jonah, to destroy his comfort. There is a purpose for everything, even worms. If God can use a worm, a plant, a fish and a rear end like Jonah, surely He can use anyone, amen!


Jonah got mad at God again: [1] because he did not destroy Nineveh and [2] now because He allowed the worm to destroy Jonah’s shade, or comfort. This is a sermon within itself but I am going to move on for the sake of time.


Jonah fell in love with the plant. It was a 24 hour affair and he was upset when the plant died. He was not upset by the people of Nineveh dying. He cared more about the plant than he did people. It is OK to love plants and even to talk to them but they are not more important than people. How do we get our priorities so out of whack?


How is it that we get so bogged down in the mire of this temporal world that we become enslaved to it cares and passions. Think of the world as a pit of quick sand and we are in it up to our shoulders. We spend all our energy trying to survive. We have nothing left for God. I one time, we owned a huge house with a huge yard [5 arces]. I had one little riding mower. It took forever just to cut the yard. [the bigger the swing set the more bolt and nuts there are to keep tight]. Now we don’t own a house but we are freer to go and to give. [story of Wang from Ruth Graham Lotz]

CONCLUSION

Did you know that repentance is mutual: We repent and then God repents. We turn from sin and then God [because He is merciful] turns from His wrath. The book of Jonah is about mutual repentance. The Ninevites turned from their sin and violence and God turned from His wrath. 


WHAT DO YOU AND I NEED TO REPENT OF THIS WEEK, TONIGHT?

  • Is our prejudice greater than our love for people, especially those who are not like us and who threaten our way of life?
  • Are we all tied up with earthy cares, so much so that we are not free to serve God.
  • Do we need to repent of our anger and frustration and asked God to fill us with love rather than anger and resentment. {Remember, Jonah’s disobedience robbed him of the joy of leading such a great crusade}
  • How close are we to Jonah’a attitude and how close are we to Christ. Who do we resemble most?
  • We we decide that we want to be more like Jesus and less like Jonah, we will have REVIVAL is some form. WHY NOT TONIGHT?                                                                                                              

 

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“Who Knows?”

Scripture: Jonah 3:1-10, NIV

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 
2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.
4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 
5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 
6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 
7This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 
8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 
9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

INTRODUCTION

The book of Jonah is about God’s redemptive purpose in this world and that is for all men to come to know Christ. We know because of Jesus teaching, that all will not repent but it is God’s will that all have the opportunity to repent. God wants the gospel shared with the world.

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

God said to Israel through Isaiah the prophet…“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be light to guide the nations.”

PROBLEM! The Jews misinterpreted their call: they did not want to share the gospel. They believed that God’s grace was for them alone. When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah refused, he did not go because he didn’t want to.

Why do we not witness, why do we not share the gospel? [We don’t want to, we don’t have a desire to]

Jonah ran from God which you can do: You can run but you cannot hide–God sought him out and brought him to repentance via the fish. He gives Jonah a second chance.

QUESTION: Why didn’t God get someone else?

  • Jonah had the courage to do the job
  • God wanted to use the prophets experience as a part of his message
  • God loved Jonah

Warren Wiersbe, who is very good at researching the history of these events suggest… 

  1. The ‘FISH STORY’ could have very well preceded Jonah…the story got to them before Jonah did. In other words, there was an eye witness who saw the fish spit Jonah on the beach. They saw Jonah unwrapping the sea weed from his body.
  2. Jonah had lost his complexion. After being in the belly of the fish, submerged in gastric juices for three days has bleached Jonah to an albino white. He looked like a ghost.

TRANSITION: Tonight, my first point is…

I. THE MESSENGER [V. 1-3]

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 
2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.
  1. Jonah is a Jewish prophet Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}, the prophet from Gath-hepher. [2 Kings 14:25]
  2. Jonah means “Dove.” The Jews believed the dove was a peaceful but feeble bird. Jonah was indeed a feeble bird and it is possible that he did not like confrontation. But God knew him and he knew Jonah had what most of us lack: raw courage.
  3. Jonah was not a perfect instrument: he was imperfect, flawed, even bigoted.
  4. Jonah was not the news, he was the news boy. He was not the message, he simply delivered the message.
  5. The Ninevites never discussed Jonah, they did talk about the message.

II. THE MESSAGE [V.4]

4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 

  1. “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” Eight words in English, five in Hebrew. Can you believe it, a five word sermon. [the kind my family would love]
  2. The sign…Jesus said Jonah was a sign, a sign of what. A sign is an uncommon phenomenon. The star was a sign to the wise men but the heavens are filled with stars. The star they saw was uncommon. Jonah was not common. Can you imagine how stunned the Ninevites were when they seen an albino Jew walking down main street.
  3. Message was from God. It was not Jonah’s message.
  4. Paul said, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power [dü’-nä-mēs] of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

III. THE MESSAGE BELIEVED [v.5]

[v.5] The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 

  1. Note: the Ninevites did not believe in Jonah, they believed in God.
  2. The Ninevites believed across the board from the greatest to the least.
  3. Jonah could not reach the entire city but his message was shared, it swept through this huge city like wild fire. [huge city, three days just to walk through it]
  4. Their faith lead to repentance, put on sackcloth. Repentance is a change of mind–they changed their minds about God, about sin, about life.

IV. THE MESSAGE OBEYED [v.6-8]

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 
This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 
8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 
  1. The King stepped down from his throne and sat in ashes and dust.
  2. He issued a proclamation: fast and pray.
  3. Let everyone give us their evil way and their violence. No testimony greater than a changed life.

CONCLUSION

Look at verse 9, “Who knows.” Will God send a great REVIVAL in three weeks…WHO KNOWS?  I do know that God is sovereign and He can move upon people by the power of His Spirit. I pray for the Ruach to sweep across this land, convicting us of sin, stirring us to pray and to repent like the Ninevites.

2 Chronicles 7:14…Recipe

If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

My pastor use to refer to this verse as the Recipe for Revival but technically, there is no such thing. We cannot work a revival up and we cannot pray one down. God and only God, can send REVIVAL….

BUT

When God’s Spirit moves, He will move us to pray. Before every revival in history, people got a burden to pray. You see this here in Jonah. Every revival in history has also been accompanied by the preaching of the word…which you have here.

WHAT IS GOD DOING IN AMERICA TODAY?

He is at work. I’m not saying “I personally know what He is doing,” but He is at work. Did you hear the President’s speech last Friday. Be honest, did you ever think that we would hear that kind of speech from the president?

I’m with the King of Nineveh, “Who Knows” what God will do?

Just remember this: He is a CREATOR, not a DUPLICATOR…Our awesome God seldom does the same thing twice.

  • Only one Garden of Eden
  • Only one Flood
  • Only one Red Sea
  • Only one Calvary
  • Only one Pentecost
  • Only one Revival like Nineveh

So, I am not praying for another Pentecost: I am asking God to do something fresh. I’m just longing for Him to move among us and stir us, to give us a burden to pray and to give us the spirit of repentance because I don’t see either.

Do you have a burden to pray? [I will gladly meet with you]

Do you have a spirit of Repentance?

The Perfect Storm

Scripture: Jonah 1:1-16

1 The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}: 
2 Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” 
3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD . He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish. 
4 But the LORD hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 
5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 
6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.”
7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. 
8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?” 
9Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” 
10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the LORD . “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned.
11 And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?” 
12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” 
13 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 
14 Then they cried out to the LORD, Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” 
15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 
16 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD ’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. 

INTRODUCTION

Jonah was a character to say the least: He was certainly different.
  • Jonah is one of the most popular books in the bible. Practically everyone loves the book of Jonah and there is a reason: Jonah had a bad attitude. He is a unique creature who did not fear God or love people. It is easy for us to feel superior to Jonah.
  • Jonah was such a rear end that we don’t mind comparing ourselves to him. I know my attitude is not right but at least, I’m not as big of a jerk as Jonah.
  • Jonah is the only prophet not quoted in the N.T. Jesus spoke of him but did not quote him.
  • How many verses have you memorized from Jonah?
  • How many people do you know with the name Jonah?
  • Jonah is popular but for the wrong reasons. He is more of a villain than a hero. No one worships Jonah. No one idolizes this prejudiced prophet.
  • Yet God, Yahweh, used this misfit to ignite the greatest revival in human history. Unparalleled even in modern times. Jesus Himself did not see such a massive response. Billy Graham has never had a revival like Nineveh. There is only one way to explain the REVIVAL at Nineveh–God!
  • The Revival is a fact but the glory does not go to Jonah or his five word sermon that is 8 in English: “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed.”
  • I’m not professing to be better than Jonah. I am timid compared to Jonah, I don’t have his boldness or audascity.  Jonah was a ball of courage: he feared nothing. True: he hated Gentiles, especially Assyrians but he was not afraid: [1] to rebel against God [2] storm [3] Sea [4] To go to Nineveh which would be like me going to Iran and telling them that God was about to destroy them.

Oh to see God work here like He did in Nineveh: I pray that He does!

Tonight we are going to talk about the gospel, the good news and Revival.

I. THE PREAMBLE OF THE GOSPEL IN VERSE 1-2

The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}: 
2 Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” 

I was saved at age 9 and my primary motive was to escape hell. I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and attended a bible preaching church so I had heard about hell all my life and I knew for certain that I did not want to go there. As we will see in this chapter, fear is the basic instinct that drives us to God. God used a violent storm: not only to get Jonah’s attention but to bring the pagan sailors under conviction.


The sailor aboard this vessel that Jonah was on were heatherns. They believed in multiple gods. Many sailors in this part of the world believed in dagon, the Philistine fish god. When this violent storm hit, these sailors feared for their lives. They all began crying out to their gods but the storm was getting worse. Their prayers were ineffective. Had there been no storm, there would have been no fear; had there been no fear, they would not have awakened Jonah who told them about the real God. It was their fear of perishing in the storm that drove them to Jonah who told them about the One True God who hears and answers prayer.


Verse 14… Then they cried out to the LORD [YHWH], Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” They are no longer praying to a idol, they are praying to the one true God.


THE FIRST TENENT OF THE GOSPEL IS JUDGMENT…ACCOUNTABILITY FOR OUR SINS


Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce My judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” 


Before God is anything else: He is holy and His wrath will be poured out on sin and sinners. Because He is righteous and always does what is right, He will hold us accountable for our sins.


God told Jonah…this is the message, I have seen their wickedness and I will destroy them if they don’t repent. Jonah kicked off this evangelist campaign with a stern message on JUDGMENT.


I know what you are thinking: Bro. Jack, shouldn’t we first announce that God loves them? I know where you are coming from but God told Jonah to announce JUDGMENT. It is true that God loved the wicked Ninevites and they were indeed a wicked and cruel lot. They were inhuman, savages who were not content to steal and kill, they enjoyed torturing people before finally executing them. They were the scum of the earth. You would be hard pressed to find a worse sort which is one reason Jonah despised them.


You have to understand that sending Jonah with the message of Judgment was an act of love of Yahweh’s part. Had God not loved these pagan butchers, He would not have warmed them to repent. You cannot divorce Salvation from Judgment. The cross is proof of this statement. The two great judgments to this point was the FLOOD and the CROSS. Both were stern judgements that resulted in salvation. To save us to heaven–God must save from sin and our selves. The CROSS is an instrument of death: it crucifies the flesh. It is the instrument of our spiritual circumcision.

II. THE PROBLEM WITH THE GOSPEL

But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD . He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish. [v.3]


God told Jonah to get up and go but Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction. Jonah, the prophet of God, rebelled. He disobeyed God’s direct command to go and preach. God told him to go East and Jonah went West. He may have thought, I will get so far away from Nineveh that it will not be possible for me to go until its too late and God judges them for their sin. Jonah did not want the Ninevites to be warned: he just wanted them to be judged.


Here is the problem: God loved the wicked Ninevites and Jonah did not. God wanted them to have a chance to repent: Jonah did not. He wanted them to be annihilated. Instead of longing for their salvation, he longed for their damnation.


The greatest problem with the gospel these days is not the message. The gospel still has power: the problem in not the content or the message, the problem is that we do not want to share it with those who need it most.  When it comes to sharing the gospel, we have cold feet and cold hearts.


Although he did not intend to, Jonah did bear witness to the sailors. He didn’t say that much but what he said was effective… “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” Jonah said, I worship Yahweh, the God who made made the sea and the land.

That is not much of a witness: matter of fact it is pitiful but God used it. While I was in Seminary, I pastored a very small church in East New Orleans. I was doing a follow up visit on a profession of faith and I encountered an angry mom. When I told her that her daughter had been saved, she too offense. She informed me that her daughter had been raised right and did not need saving. I saw that she was upset and I began back peddaling trying to get off her front porch but I couldn’t leave without telling this woman the truth. I told her that every person was a sinner and that we all needed salvation in Christ. Trust me, it was not a slick presentation. My mouth go dry and I struggled to find the words. I felt so bad about my presentation that I pulled over to the side of the road and cried. The next Sunday, the mom was in church sitting by her 16 year old daughter. She didn’t look happy. You can imagine my surprize when she responded on the first verse of the invitation. God had been dealing with her and she wanted to be saved. This sweet lady has been my friend now for 46 years. She is 90 years old and still lives in New Orleans.

III. THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL

The sailors were awestruck by the LORD ’s great power, and they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him. [v.16]

I know you are probably thinking: this is jail house religion or boot camp religion or fox hole religion– I have no way of knowing how many of these sailors were sincere but they prayed to Yahweh the ONE true God. I have no idea what they sacrificed but had it not been acceptable, I think the scripture would tell us and they vowed to serve the LORD. I would have been thrilled just to get them praying instead of cursing.

GOD GETS ALL THE GLORY

Let me tell you what is wonderful about the book of Jonah: “God gets all the glory”. God called the prophet, God gave him the message, God sent the storm, God convicted the sailors, God transformed the sailors, God sent the fish, God showed mercy to the rebellious prophet, God got him to his location, God moved the Ninevites to repentance. God did it all. Greatest Revival in history and God did it through a rebellious, hard headed, back slidden preacher.

I am going to say something that you might find shocking: we are not going to work a revival up, I can’t preach one down nor conjure one up. None of our formula’s will work. I believe with all my heart that REVIVAL is a sovereign act of almighty God: He and He alone can ignite spiritual renewal or awakening. I do confess that history bears witness to the fact that REVIVAL is accompanied by prayer but this prayer is a part of the revival itself. The sailors prayed, the wicked Ninevites prayed but who moved them to pray? When God stirs us up to pray? Is God about to do something in our generation?  I don’t see that burden today. Prayer meeting are no longer popular.

When I see people burdened to pray, I know God is up to something.

The sobering question today is: How many of us really want REVIVAL? How many of us want to see the fire fall and burn up everything that is not like Jesus? How many of us want to see God do something that we can’t explain?

Perhaps a better question is: How many of us are willing to make a vow tonight, a vow to serve Yahweh. Tonight, I am going to challenge you to do just that: to make a public vow to serve the LORD. When I was growing up we called this a rededication, something we don’t do anymore and I think this is one reason we do not have REVIVAL

The Sailor’s prayed: the Ninevites prayed but both did more than pray. Both repented and made vows to serve the LORD. {Jerry}

The Prodigal Son and The Flesh

1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 

2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! 


11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 
12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. 
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 
14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 
15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.

such sinful people—even eating with them! 

16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. 


INTRODUCTION

I love Luke 15…Actually I love the stories that Luke recorded that are not found in the other gospels. Stories like the Rich Fool, the Good Samaritan, The Rich Man and Lazarus, The Pharisee and the Tax Collector and Zacchaeus. Today, I want to introduce a series from Luke 15. I will be speaking to you three times and LORD willing I will talk to you today about the Prodigal Son, then next The Loving Father and last The Elder Brother. To understand any of the three messages we have to begin with verses 1-2…


As I speak today, our convention is divided. The reform movement has made a huge surge into Southern Baptist circles and I yet to hear a hype-calvinist preach from Luke 15. The Reforms are fond of quoting a statement the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” When you here this quoted more than John 3:16 beware. Jesus stated clearly in Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” There is no debate about God’s love for sinners–“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”


The Pharisees and Scribes were the Reform of their day, at least those in the Baptist Church. Our Presbyterian brothers do not press the analogy so far as this group in our convention. They did not believe that God loved sinners and they were upset that Jesus was eating with them. Tax collectors were hated by practically all Jews but these folks the Pharisees are refering to our Jews who have abandoned Judaism. They have stopped the practice of keeping the laws of Moses. In other words, they don’t attend church and make no pretence of being religious. The Pharisees did not see themselves as sinner but they labeled others as sinners. They refused to have any dealing with these sinners. They would not associate with them, do business with them and they certainly would not eat with them.


Jesus tells three stories in succession about things that are lost. First there is a lost sheep which of course had value. Many of the Pharisees were invested in livestock and they understood the worth of a sheep. The second story is about a lost coin and again, they understood the value of money because they were lovers of money themselves. The third story which we call the Prodigal Son actually has several parts and three main characters. 


The first two stories are to get the Pharisee’s attention: they can identify with these stories but the third story is an indictment against them. They are profiled in the third story in the person of the Elder Brother. The Tax Collecters and sinners are profiled in the Prodigal and God is the loving Father. So our plan is to talk about the PRODIGAL today, the LOVING FATHER next Sunday and then the ELDER BROTHER on September 17.


We have three sermons on the Prodigal but the good news this morning is that I’m going to do only one and it’s the shortest of the three.


When Adam and Eve fell in the garden, it left us with a selfish, self-centered nature. The bible refers to this nature as the ‘flesh’and we see it up close and personal in this story.

 Note verse 12 to begin with… The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’

I. FIRST OF ALL: THE FLESH ‘WANTS’ 

{A gluttonous appetite for things}

Note his words: ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’

  • The flesh wants its way. Isaiah said, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have each turned to our own way…”
  • The flesh wants independence…This boy wanted some distance. He wanted to be away from his father, the power and influence of his father. He didn’t want his father telling him what to do.
  • The flesh wants things…My share of your estate…which he was going to liquadate immediately. The flesh has an insatble appetite for stuff, for things.
  • The flesh wants pleasure…it craves pleasure. Those who give into the desires of the flesh live undisciplined lives and go from one pleasure to the next just like Esau.
  • The flesh wants and it wants now…the flesh does not want to wait.
We have a four year old granddaughter who wants practically everything she sees. Every time I walk in the house, she asked for something…Chucky Cheese, Targets, money for her piggy bank, go swimming, Chick-Fil-A, etc. She is never satisfied. The more she gets, the more she wants. She is a child but unfortunately, some people never grow up and they continue to indulge the flesh. As we will learn today: it is not a good idea to give the flesh everything it wants. I would weigh 300 pounds if I gave into the flesh.

II. SECONDLY: THE FLESH WASTE

Verse 13…“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. The Greek word for Estate in verse 12 is bios, if you have the King James it is translated as living. The young man quickly converted his share of he estate to cash, money which is father had spent a life time earning. He packed all his belonging and moved to a distant country and there he wasted all his money on wild living.

  • First lets look at the word waste. The Greek word diaskorpizō means to scatter abroad, to disperse, to strew, to squander or to waste. It is the picture of a farmer scattering seeds, only in the case of the Prodigal, he was literally throwing money to the wind.
  • To waste to use use or expend carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose.
  • Now lets look at the word ‘wild living.‘ The KJV translates this word ‘riotous’. The NKJV uses the word ‘Prodigal’. The ESV translates it ‘rckless.’ The NASB reads ‘loose living.’ Really, what does the word riotous mean? According to Strong, the Greek word could have been translated three ways: riotous, dissolutely, or profligately. The problem is: I don’t know what any of these words mean. Well riotous means without order or disorderly. Dissolutely means lacking restraint; especially, over indulgence.  Profligately means careless, foolish and reckless. I think all of these characteristics apply to the Prodigal: He was disorderly, over indulgent, lacking discipline or restraint, careless, foolish and reckless.

 WASTE

  • Waste is a sin. At the top of my daddy’s list of sins was wasting food.
  • It is also wrong to waste money which this young man did.
  • But he wasted more than money, he wasted a part of his life…He was living without purpose. He spent all the money but to what purpose?

When he got to this distant country, he should have found a job but he didn’t, he began living it up and wasted all his money. When the money was gone, he was not only broke, he was alone. He didn’t even have one friend. Note the last line of our text…But no one gave him anything. 

All this time and he had not built one enduring relationship. How sad!

III. THIRD: THE FLESH DOES NOT SATISFY, IT ALWAYS LEAVES US EMPTY

Verse 14-15…. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.

  • Ironically, the KJV says, “he began to be in want.” The NIV reads, “he began to be in need.” NLT hits the nail on the head, he was hungry, starving. So hungry, so empty that slop was tempting.
  • The flesh is big at boasting but it cannot fulfill what it promises. It will leave you empty, hurting and dissatisfied every time.

CONCLUSION

Don’t waste your life pursuing riches, things, stuff. Begin today, if you have not began already, to live with purpose and build relationship instead of building a bank account. I was at least 40 years old before I understood this truth. Relationships trumps riches every time. The highest relationship is one with Jesus. Repent of your selfish ways and come to Christ today.

If We Could Visit Heaven

Scripture: Revelation 21:1-7, NLT

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
2Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

INTRODUCTION

In November of 1986, I went with a delegation from Alabama to Nigeria, in the elbow of Africa. This nine-day visit changed my life completely. I bought a 35mm camera before departing and I took over a hundred pictures but my slides did not do Africa justice and I finally threw them in the trash. No description you can give will convey to others what you have seen with your own eyes.


How many of you have seen pictures of the grand canyon? How many of you have actually seen the grand canyon? I saw video of the Niagara Falls many times but when June and I visited the falls 1996, the sight took my breath. I stood there in awe and amazement and I tell everyone I see, “You have got to go to the falls.”


The same principle applies to heaven. I have never had a vision of heaven like John. God allowed John to stick his head through one of the portholes and take a quick glance and it changed Johns life forever.

I am sure that a visit to heaven would change us all…

I. A VISIT TO HEAVEN WOULD REASSURE OUR HEARTS THAT GOD IS ON THE THRONE

Africa was chaos, pure choas and it hasn’t changed. From what I understand, it is worse. But there is also chaos here, just not as much. In heaven, there is no chaos–there is perfect law and order because God is enthroned in every heart.

My father had a series of strokes before he departed this world. Back in 1994 he was in the hospital at Athens and I went up to see him on a Thursday night. Bill Clinton was the newly elected president and I had grown a full beard in protest. For some reason, Daddy had to explain the beard to everyone so when I walked into his semi-private room, he immediately began explaining to his room-mate why I had the beard. His room mate was black and his pastor was sitting by his bed. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I knew that black people are block voters and they vote democrat no matter who is running but Daddy would not hush. I tried in vain to change the subject but he was relentless….”My boy doesn’t like Clinton and he will not shave until Clinton is out of office.” By now, I am embarrassed and looking for a hole to crawl into. The black man’s pastor rose to his feet and he stood at least 6’8″, he was a giant of a man. I thought, “Oh no, he is going to pile drive me into this concrete floor.” He walked straight to me and I am thinking, “Gee, thanks Dad, you are about to see your son executed.” He reached out with his huge arm and grabbed my head and pulled it right up to where I was facing him. My heart stopped beating, I was terrified, then he said, “Son, don’t you be worrying about Bill Clinton. He is not in charge. My LORD Jesus is on the throne.” I’m too scared to speak but I was thinking, “hallelujah.” When I got my composure, I said, “I knew that but God sent me hear tonight so that you could remind me of the fact.”

This black pastor reassured me of something I knew…Jesus is in absolute control…God is on the throne. Everything is going according to plan. There is no panic, no chaos in heaven.

II. A VISIT TO HEAVEN WOULD REKINDLE OUR CHRISTIAN JOY

I know you know a lot of Christians, do you know any happy ones. I’ve been serving church since 1970 and I can tell you, there are a lot of unhappy Baptist. A visit to heaven would cheer us up. There is no sadness in heaven and what this earth needs, what this church needs, what you need is a little heaven. There are plenty of folks who want to give us hell but very few who want to give us heaven.

Dallas Willard was a great theologian and apologist of the last century. He was promoted on May 8th, 2013. His last words were to his granddaughter, before they took him into the surgery that he did not survive, he looked at Larissa and said, “Give them heaven.”

Many, many years ago I heard George W. Truett tell the story of John D. Rockefeller’s grandsons. Their grand dad went to work for 50 cents a day back in 1855 as a book-keeper in Cleveland, Ohio. But by the turn of the century, he would be the richest man in America, worth over 300 billion dollars. John D. Senior was raised poor and his parents talk him the value of hard work, honesty and prudence. John D. Rockefeller hated waste and that was the key to his success. Long story short, he didn’t want his grandsons corrupted by inherited wealth so he sent them to the iron orchards of Oklahoma where they had to work on oil rigs. He made them hire on under pseudonymous names and they had to work at entry-level jobs but the boys had a blast. They sang, cut up, joked and even whistled as they worked. It was irritating to others who hated the dirty gruesome job. Finally, one of the foremen, complained to the boss–“What with these kids, they have a good time, they enjoy this hard and grimy work, they even sing while they work. The boss, who knew the truth said, “You would be singing to if you knew that one day all this would belong to you.”

III. A VISIT TO HEAVE WOULD REVIVE OUR HOPE

Just this past Friday, I made a special trip to Huntsville Hospital to share the gospel with a young woman age 37. She has two children and a husband who will not work. In the last five years, she has lost both parents and battled two forms of cancer: ovarian and bladder. The treatment for the cancer has destroyed her kidneys and now she is on dialysis. She is hoping for a transplant but the chances are slim.

Week before last, I talked with a Daddy who had lost a son to suicide. The boy had medical issues, relational issues and he was head over heals in debt. He reached a point where he saw no way out and he took his own life.

I know a number of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren because their parents are on drugs. I know several who have used their life savings to rehab their children only to see the child go right back to the addiction. There are a lot of situations that seem hopeless.

Years ago, I had a friend named Charlie. Charlie was unique, he was a pistol but he had a stroke, a massive stroke. He could not talk, he could not walk, he could not feed himself. The stroke left him totally helpless. Charlies was a prodigal, he had lived on the wild side and the stroke left him with nothing. His mom wanted him to go to their family doctor and have test run and so they went. The doctor obliged them, knowing nothing could be done. After four or five days in the hospital, the doctor came to Charlie’s room and said, “Charlie, I am sorry, there is nothing I can do. There is no hope of you getting better.”

I felt so sorry for Charlie. I didn’t like the doctor telling him there was no hope. I had shared Christ with Charlie and he had affirmed his faith by gripping my hand. I went to his bedside and said, “The doctor is wrong Charlie, there is hope and that hope is in Jesus.” I began talking to Charlie about heaven.

If we could visit heaven, it would rekindle our HOPE!

IV. IF WE COULD VISIT HEAVEN, IT WOULD REASSESS OUR EARTHLY POSSESSIONS

I am sure you’ve heard the fable of the miser who converted all his wealth to gold bullion so he could take it with him when he died. The story goes that when he got to heaven was those bags of gold that St. Peter questioned him, “What in the sacks?” The old miser opens one of the sacks and Peter exclaimed: “You brought pavement, why would you bring pavement to paradise.”

We are supposed to love people and use things but we have it backwards: We love things and use people.

I know some of you are campers. You are not shocked when you pull into a camp ground and see tents or trailers, campers but what if you saw a couple drive in with a load of lumber and start building a house on a camp site? Would you say, “Wow, that is a good idea, I wish I had thought of it,” or would you think, “those people are nuts.”

For too many are trying to build a permanent home on a camp site.

V. A VISIT TO HEAVEN WOULD REAFFIRM OUR FAITH THAT SALVATION IS BY GRACE

I am running out of time so let me cut to the chase. Imagine on our visit to heaven, we interview some of the saints that are there. Lets start with Moses the Law Giver…Moses you had some unique experiences, you did some powerful things. You were God’s servant and God’s friend… Moses would then interrupt: “Jack, I am not here because of what I did for God, I am here because of what He did for me.”

Then I stop Peter, “Peter, you were one of the twelve and the leader of the church. You even died as a martyr for your faith in Christ…” but Peter would interupt…”Jack, I am not here because I died for Christ but because He died for me. Jack, I was ransomed by the precious blood of Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, without spot or blemish.”

Every testimony would be the same….JESUS…JESUS….JESUS…GRACE…GRACE…GRACE!

VI. A VISIT TO HEAVEN RELIEVE OUR ANXIETIES OF DEATH

Physical death is an illusion, at least to we humans. Remember the story of Jairus Daughter in Mark 5…

Jesus is on His way to Jarius house to heal his daughter but friends coming running up to Jairus and say, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” When they got to the house, the profession mourners were weeping and wailing until Jesus interrupted, “What’s going here, why all this commotion and weeping. You folks act like someone died, the girl is not dead, she is sleeping.”

So the professional mourners who see death daily are convinced that the girl is dead: Jesus on the other hand is convinced that she is not dead. He said, “She is sleeping.” and He went in the house and woke her up with these simple words, “Little girl, get up!”

What we see, dread and fear is nothing more than a nap. I plan to take one this evening and I do not dread it.


Two sisters lived in Western Europe, one lived in Germany and the other in Austria. The one is Austria was sick and dying. The sister in Germany wanted to see her one last time but the only way of travel was the train and it went through a long tunnel. She was terrified of tunnels and darkness but she wanted to see her sister desperately so she booked passage. She worried about the tunnel for days before the trip began. By the time she boarded the train, she was totally exhausted but still afraid.  By God’s providence, she sat down by a younger Christian woman and she shared her fear with this Christian lady. She open her bible and began to read out of Psalms. The scripture worked like medicine and the anxious woman drifted off to sleep and slept for three or four hours. When she woke up, the first thing she ask her new-found friend was, “How much further to the tunnel?” The young woman smiled with delight, “We went through that tunnel two hours ago.” All that dread and fear and it all boiled down to a short nap.

The KING ‘Is’ Coming

Scripture: Malachi 3:1-5

1 “Look! I am sending My messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
2“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.
3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD .
4 Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.
5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

INTRODUCTION

If you recall last weeks message, we mentioned the five prophecies that the Jews were hanging their hat on…

  • They would return to the homeland
  • The temple would be rebuilt
  • The LORD Himself would visit the Temple
  • Israel would have a time of prosperity and peace
  • Israel would have prominence in the world

Two of the five prophecies had been fulfilled: [1] The Jews were freed from captivity to return home and [2] the Temple had been rebuilt BUT…

  • Where was the glory? “I will fill this place with glory.”
  • Where was the LORD?
  • Where was the prosperity?
  • Where was the prominence?

In response to the Jews question in Malachi 2:17, “Where is the God of Justice?” Malachi said, “He is coming, the LORD you seek is coming. He will show up suddenly at His Temple. The Messenger and Mediator to the covenant that you eagerly seek is coming.” 

Malachi goes on to say in verse 2…”He is coming but you will not like it when He gets here. Who will be able to stand and face Him when He comes? He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He’ll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.

I want to say three things to you tonight in regards to our text:

I. GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES

Whatever we find in scripture by way of prophecy has either been fulfilled or will be fulfilled. Lets look at one example:

Haggai 2:6-9

6 “For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land.

7 I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

9 The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”


You can see for yourself that Jesus has already fulfilled most of these prophecies.

  • He filled the Temple with Glory
  • The glory of Christ {the Temple} is greater than the glory of Solomon’s Temple
  • Jesus has already given us peace with God and someday He will establish peace on earth.

But you and I have the advantage, we are looking back through the lens of history. This prophecy in Malachi 3 was not fulfilled for 400 years, that is 20 generations. I never knew any of my great grand parents so three generations is as far as I can span. Thus 400 years is a long time to us but not to God. My point is: if God says it, it is history, it is going to happen.

One other example: Jeremiah 29:10…This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.

Guess how long the Jews were held captive in Babylon? Seventy years to the day. This is an amazing prophecy.

II. GOD GOES BY HIS OWN CALENDAR

The problem with a promise is that we humans expect immediately fulfillment and that is not how it works. In Genesis 3:15, we have the first Messianic prophecy…

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

The Messiah would come from the woman’s seed but biologically, the woman does not carry the seed, the male does. So this prophecy of an offspring from the woman giving victory over the serpent is also a prophecy of the virgin birth. Incredible! How in the world could this be done? Well 4,000 years later, God did it: a virgin gave birth to a son and they called His name Emanuel, God with us. If God says it, it is so. You might say it is so simply because He said so.

Eve got excited every time she got pregnant thinking, this may be the one. This Messianic expectation was strong among the Hebrews, then the Israelites and eventually the Jews.

III. GOD DOES EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY MORE THAN WE HAVE IMAGINED

Ironically, when Christ did appear, His presence went unnoticed by the entire Jewish religious establishment. All those years of waiting and then they missed it. This is why Malachi warns them about His coming. He coming but will you be able to endure it when He does? He could have said, “Will you recognize Him when He comes?”

God is not a predictable God. He rarely does the same thing twice. He is the God of wondrous variety and He is full of surprises. Jesus was nothing like what the Jews expected. The last thing in the world they were looking for was a suffering servant or a man of sorrows. Malachi’s prophecy is right on but they didn’t interpret him accurately. 

Malachi used two metaphors to describe the coming Messiah: He will be like a REFINER and like a FULLER. In other words, an intense heat and a powerful detergent. Both the refiner and fuller work to purify and cleanse the product; they just do it in different ways.

The refiner works via the process of heat. The ore goes into the melting pot and the heat is intensified until the ore melts into a liquid. At this point the alloys separate from the pure product {Gold or Silver}and the impurities come to the surface. Once this happens the refiner skims them off and throws them away.

None of us like the heat. We do not enjoy trials. We have been going through a bit of one this week but God has a purpose in it. I know there have been things in my life that I saw no harm in until the Refiner turned up the heat. Under this intense heat, the impure motives came to the surface. I saw them clearly for what they were. I would have never seen them otherwise.

In relationship to verse 3b, we are all Levites, we are all God’s servants. Christ has obliterated the distinction between those who can offer sacrifice and those who cannot. He has made us a kingdom of priest and we can present our own offerings but they will never be acceptable until we give them for the right reasons. Christ purifies our motives to the point that we offer praise for the right reason. We sing for the right reason. We give for the right reason. We do deeds of kindness for the right reason.

But for those who do not fear the LORD [verse 5], there is judgment…


“At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear Me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

The Rich Fool

Scripture: Luke 12:13-21

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?”
15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.
17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’
18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.
19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
21“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

INTRODUCTION

God labeled this man a fool. Why did God call him a fool?

I. BECAUSE HE THINKS LIKE A FOOL

  1. HE THINKS ONLY OF HIMSELF: This is an amazing story. The man Jesus describes is an egomaniac, he thinks only of him self. He has not the first thought for God who is the source of all blessings. This fool does not acknowledge God; he does not thank God for his bountiful provision. This is amazing to me: how could the fool not give God a thought. But neither does he think of anyone else. He never mentions family, wife or children. He never thinks of anyone other than himself.
  2. HE THINKS ONLY ABOUT THINGS: ‘Crops,’ ‘Barns’, etc. He never thinks about people.
  3. HE THINKS LIFE IS IN HIS POSSESSIONS: He believes the more he keeps to himself, the more he has. He believes success is measured by how much a person owns.
  4. HE THINKS ABOUT SAVING BUT NEVER ABOUT GIVING: There is a simple solution to his problem. Instead of spending all that money on tearing down old barns and building new and bigger barns–the wise thing to do would be to fill the old barns and give the excess away. This would save him thousands of dollars. How is it, that this fool never thought about giving? Because he was obsessed with his greed. Greed had totally consumed him and greed never sees giving as an option.
  5. HE THINKS HAPPINESS IS IN HAVING THINGS: This fool was not riding a white horse and shooting silver bullets, most Americans believe that happiness is bound up in things. If I can get this car…I will be happy. If I can just own my own home… I will be happy. If I can get this piece of property…I will be happy. Yet the more we get, the more we want.

STORY

I know what it’s like to want. I bought my first car when I was 19 years old. I bought if from a Baptist deacon. He told me what he wanted for the car but when I got there to pick it up, he upped the price $100 which was a lot of money in 1968. My daddy warned me, not about dealing with a deacon but about buying a foreign car: it was an Austin Healey Sprite. Daddy told me, “Son that car is wore out which is why he wants to sell it. You will spend more money on the car than it is worth. Don’t get the car.” Did I listen to my daddy? No! I bought the car and my daddy was right. The car became a headache, a nightmare to be honest. Things will not make you happy. Elvis had things, any thing he wanted but he died from abusing drugs which means he was not happy.

II. BECAUSE HE LIVED LIKE A FOOL.

This man was a practical atheist: He lives as though God did not exist. Not only does he refuse to show gratitude to God, he ignores his accountability to God. The man is a horrible steward. He lived like there is no judgment. Unfortunately, there are people today who think a lot like this man. Many of them do acknowledge God but they make the same mistakes with the resources God has entrusted to them that this man made. He was so intent on saving and hoarding that he lost everything. You would be shocked at the number of people who live without regard for others when it comes to sharing resources. GREED is a huge problem in the Baptist Church.

I met a man just last week who is being cared for by one of his daughters who is doing it with his money but her sister is upset that she is spending their inheritance taking care of their father. Our church is in partnership with Guatemala where we build houses for $400. It is actually a shed, something we would used to store tools in here in America. I know a man who not only has wealth in banks, he has old cars, barns filled with old cars, washers, dryers, refrigeration. This scrap metal that is rusting is worth thousands but he will not part with it. It isn’t helping him, nor is it helping anyone else. He could build 4-6 houses in Guatemala by just getting rid of scrap but he will not allow you to touch it. This is horrible stewardship. No one is getting any use of these wasted resources. Like the unfaithful Steward, he has buried God’s resources so that no one can benefit from them. All misers are miserable: there are no happy misers.

 

What would you call a person who built a house on a camping spot? It would not be intelligent or wise. If you drove into a State Park and saw camper after camper and then some dude building a house on one of the camp sites, you would laugh and say, “What a fool?” You can’t build a permanent home on a campsite. You don’t have a deed to the land. Sooner or later, the park ranger is going to show up and your little mansion is coming down. You may not like my analogy but this world is a “camp ground” not our home. We are here for only a short time. Abraham understood this principle and that is why he lived in a tent; even then he didn’t drive his tent stakes too deep. He never settled in this world and neither should you.


III. BECAUSE HE DIED LIKE A FOOL. 

This man was a fool because he prepared to live but made no preparations to die. As John Newton said, “We live in the land of the dying.” Earth is a dying planet and the evidence is everywhere. Grave yards and funeral homes dot the landscape. I personally don’t know how a person can miss it but greed has a blinding effect on our minds and we fail to see the inevitable.

This man was an absolute fool because he made no preparations for eternity. Have you made preparations for eternity? Are you laying up a treasure in heaven? Do you love money more than Jesus? Do you understand that money has no future? They use gold to pave streets in the next world. In the world to come, things that are of value here will not be worth anything. Are you spending your times hording manna that will canker and rot?

Man of Iron

Scripture: 2 Samuel 19:31-38

31 Barzillai [bear-zi-lie] of Gilead had come down from Rogelim [Ro-gee-leem] to escort the king across the Jordan.
32 He was very old—eighty years of age—and very wealthy. He was the one who had provided food for the king during his stay in Mahanaim.
33 “Come across with me and live in Jerusalem,” the king said to Barzillai. “I will take care of you there.”
34 “No,” he replied, “I am far too old to go with the king to Jerusalem.
35 I am eighty years old today, and I can no longer enjoy anything. Food and wine are no longer tasty, and I cannot hear the singers as they sing. I would only be a burden to my lord the king.
36 Just to go across the Jordan River with the king is all the honor I need!
37 Then let me return again to die in my own town, where my father and mother are buried. But here is your servant, my son Kimham [Ken-hum]. Let him go with my lord the king and receive whatever you want to give him.”
38 “Good,” the king agreed. “Kimham will go with me, and I will help him in any way you would like. And I will do for you anything you want.”

INTRODUCTION

Barzillai {Bear-zi-lie} was a highlander from Gilead. He lived in the mountain village of Rogelim {Ro-gee-leem}. I’m sure the village was located on a mountain stream because the name Rogelim means “place of the fullers,” which means the place where they washed clothes. We don’t know a lot about Barzillai other what we have detailed in this story. We do know he was a SENIOR ADULT. I don’t understand why some have such a problem admitting their are SENIOR CITIENS: I love it. I enjoy being a Senior Adult. Why would I enjoy it when so many make fun of the way I walk, my failing memory and my lack of a filter. They made fun of me long before I became a Senior Adult. Most of them are not mean spirited when they make fun of me, they are just having fun and I have fun along with them. One guy did tick me off the other night at a ball game. Some of my friends and family were picking at me about my construction ability and this guy who I do not know chimed in with…”Yeah, he is a jack of all trades and master of none.” I wanted to go slap him but he is bigger and younger than my self.

TRANSITION

I have an idea, lets find a better example of a SENIOR ADULT than myself to talk about today and I think Barzillai is just the man. Alexander Whyte describes Barzillai and as a “Lovable old man with invincible charm.” His name means, “Heart of Iron.” This doesn’t mean he was hard hearted, he had a committed and courageous heart. Actually, he was all this and more.

I. BARZILLAI WAS COURAGEOUSLY LOYAL

David was his king and he loved him. David probably never recovered from the betrayal of the elders of Judah and Israel. All were solidly behind Absalom. David was literally run out-of-town in a shameful and disgraceful manner. Where as he had a large and loyal support among the military, he had become immensely unpopular with the public and the policy makers. Things did not look good for David. Everyone thought he was as good as gone. His enemies cursed him and his fake friends deserted him.

It is easy to be a friend with someone when things are going great for them but can you be a friend to those who are being persecuted, falsely accused, caught in a web of shame and scandal? Many are capable of being fareweather friends but few have the courage to stick with you when you are headed for the gallows. With the risk of facing scorn or even death, Barzillai brought necessary provisions to the hungry, thirsty followers of David. Are we as loyal to our heavenly Monarch as Barzillai was to King David? 

II. BARZILLAI WAS GENEROUSLY KIND

When David and his weary antorogue crossed the Jordon as they flead from Absolom, Barzillai and other were their with provisions. They brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, butter, sheep, goats, and cheese for David and those who were with him.

Some times Senior Adults have the tendency to grow selfish in their old age. We have this fear of running out of money before we run out of life. It is a legitimate fear but we cannot allow it to control us. The bottom line is we must trust God. How many times has He failed us in the past?

There are two things we Seniors can do better than anyone else: We can give and we can pray. How many of these young people are head over heels in debt. They drive $50,000 automobiles and live in $300,000 dollar homes. Some of them have mortage payments that are higher than our income. On the other hand, how many of you SENIOR ADULTS are in debt at all? What these kids owe for, you have in a saving account. Guess what: some of you are still saving. How foolish! You are going to lose it all. You say, “I would help if there was a legitimate need.” No you wouldn’t, you would come up with another excuse. Where there is a will there is a way but where there is no will, there is an excuse. Do you not consider the ministries of DBC a legitimate need? Do you think that a $400 dollar house in Guatemalla is not a legitimate need? YOU ARE NOT TOO OLD TO GIVE. Why aren’t you giving?

The second thing we should be very good at is PRAYER. We have more time. I can’t spend time playing ball anymore. I don’t spend time jogging. I can barely walk. My knees hurt so bad I have a hard time going to sleep. I can still work a little but not like I could. My body is old and it demands more rest. I love being retired. I go to bed when I want to, get up when I want to, work when I want to and quit when I want to. It is not uncommon for me to come in at 3:00 or 4:00 oclock and take a shower and a nap. Sometimes I don’t make it until 3:00. Don’t give me excuses, you have more time. What are you doing with the time you have?

I can tell you what we Seniors do best or at least what are number one past time is: its COMPLAINING. If the Senior adults in this church prayed to God as much as we complain to others, we would have revival.

Look at how much complaining Barzillai did:

  • I can no longer enjoy anything.
  • Food and wine are no longer tasty.
  • I cannot hear the singers as they sing.
  • I would only be a burden to my lord the king.

Seniors, it is OK to complain a little, that is who we are but lets make an effort to balance the board: let covenant together to pray as much as we complain.

III. BARZILLAI WAS HONESTLY NOBLE

The King said to Barzillai…“Come across with me and live in Jerusalem and I will take care of you there.” Barzillai had pleased the king and David wanted to reward him. Are we living to please the KING? Little else matters if we do not please our LORD and KING.

David wanted to provide for Barzillai in his old age but the noble and independant Barzilla would have no part of that: he refused the king’s request. Barzillai realized that it was not about himself. He couldn’t really be a lot of help to David on account of his age. He was afraid he would be a burden on the king so he gave the king his own son. He gave him to be king david’s servant. Of course David, out of respect for Barzillai does not make his son a servant. He gave him title to property in Bethlehem where the son built an Inn. Possibly the same Inn that had no room for Jesus.

We SENIOR ADULTS are known for our honesty. One of the kids from the band was in shock the last time I preached on Sunday morning. He came to me after the service and said, “Brother Jack, I enjoyed the message. You are really blunt.” I would have preferred him to say “You are really bold or brilliant” but he said ‘blunt.’

Barzillai was honest and a bit blunt but he knew that the kingdom did not revolve around him. He had no grand illusions about his own importance. His highest allegience was to the king and his welfare. He simply reminded the king, “Things will be OK now, you no longer need me, you need someone younger so I will give you my son. I prefer to go back home and sleep in my own bed. I want to depart this world from my humble abode and to be buried with my parents.”

Noble men and women are rare: they stand on principle. They give no credence to opinion polls. They have no affinity for popularity or praise. Barzillai told David, “If you want to honor me, let me cross the river with you and then return to my home. That will be honor enough.” Wow, these are the words of a NOBLEMAN. Barzillai felt his services were trivial and unworthy of any recompense from David.  He did not want rank or riches: he simply wanted the honor of being in the presence of his king.

John Trapp said of Barillai, “He was a rose that had lost its colour but not its fragrance.” May the grace be ours to grow old gracefully and beautifully! We may lose our color but may we never lose our fragrance.

Five Kings In A Cave

Scripture Text: Joshua 10:1-8

Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured and completely destroyed Ai and killed its king, just as he had destroyed the town of Jericho and killed its king. He also learned that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel and were now their allies.
2 He and his people became very afraid when they heard all this because Gibeon was a large town—as large as the royal cities and larger than Ai. And the Gibeonite men were strong warriors.
3 So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent messengers to several other kings: Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon.
4 “Come and help me destroy Gibeon,” he urged them, “for they have made peace with Joshua and the people of Israel.”
5 So these five Amorite kings combined their armies for a united attack. They moved all their troops into place and attacked Gibeon.
6 The men of Gibeon quickly sent messengers to Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. “Don’t abandon your servants now!” they pleaded. “Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us.”
7 So Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon.
8 “Do not be afraid of them,” the LORD said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”

INTRODUCTION

Five Amorite kings conspire against Joshua and Israel. They join forces to attack and destroy the people of God. The good news is: there conspiracy failed and Joshua [a type of Christ] prevailed. Understand what is going on here: the Israelites are in the land but they have to fight to keep it. It is a fact of life, although we are saved, we can still become enslaved just like the children of Israel in Egypt. It is not God’s will for us to live in bondage to sin and Satan. In Israel’s case, there bondage did not alter who they were, they were God’s chosen people but they were enslaved to Pharaoh, a type of the flesh. They were not free to worship or serve Yahweh. God working through Moses delivered them from Pharaoh and lead them into the wilderness for training but  even though that had vivid images of Pharaoh’s death in their minds, they still thought and acted like slaves. It is God’s will to deliver us from the power of sin.

Dr. James MaHoney in his book, JOURNEY INTO FULLNESS, said, “If I could teach a new convert only one truth it would be this fact; your battle with Satan is not over when you get saved, it’s just beginning.” Simply because you gave your heart to JESUS, does not mean that Satan walks away and abondons his plan to destroy your life. Whereas it is true that he cannot touch your soul, he can still wreck your life, destroy your testimony and rob you of peace and joy. Satan doesn’t spend his time with those walking in darkness, his hatred is for the children of light. He hates Jesus and he hates all those who follow Jesus.

In today’s scripture {story}, the Israelites have already won decisive victories at Jericho and Ai but the natives of the land, the Amorites are not happy with their presence. So they conspire to defeat the Israelites and re-enslave them.

The five kings represent the stronghold of the flesh that rear their ugly head and try to dominate us and keep us from living the victorious Christian life. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” It is not God’s will for us to live as slaves to sin and our fleshly nature. 


Let me inform you or remind you that we are in a war and it is a spiritual war. Paul said to the Ephesians 6:12…We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

It is a spiritual war. Paul also told the Corinthians… We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. {2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NLT}

It is a spiritual war which means, we cannot see our enemy but he is there and he is real: his goal is to enslave us, destroy our testimony and disable our ability to worship God and serve others. 

Paul made it emphatically clear in Romans 6…

11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
12 Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.
13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.


When Jesus died, He broke sins grasp on our lives so that we no longer have to serve sin or bow to the power of sin.  We should consider ourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. We cannot let sin control the way we live; we must not give in to sinful desires of the flesh. BUT these sinful desires are there embedded in our flesh and trying to destroy our peace and joy. The presence of sin in our flesh and the world creates a struggle, a war, a spiritual war. As surely as Joshua and the Israelites were in a war, you and I are in a war.
These five kings are symbolic of the POWERS OF THE FLESH that conspire together to enslave and destroy us.

I. THE FIRST KING IS PRIDE

The first king is Adoni-zedek {At-a-knee-sedek}. Adoni means LORD and sedek means rightousness. Together, they mean “Lord of Righteousness”. This king was neither LORD nor righteous but he thought he was. He was not filled with righteousness, he was filled with himself…he was reeking with pride.

Pride is the mother of all sins. There is no sin without pride. Pride turned Lucifer into a demon. Pride is no respector of people. It tempts the good as well as the evil. There is no greater pride than to glory in our morality or accomplishments. Right in the middle of PRIDE is the unbended, stiff necked I [ego].

The following is a list of prideful features: only the Holy Spirit can help us see this inordinate pride that lurks in the shadows of our life: as I list them, examine yourself in the very presence of God. Are you ever conscious of:

  • A secret spirit of pride—an exalted feeling in view of your success or position; because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities. An important, independent spirit?
  • Love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had success.
  • The stirrings of anger or impatience, a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproval of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at another?
  • Self-will; a stubborn, unteachable spirit. A headstrong disposition.
  • A critical or judgmental disposition.
  • A peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?

Since humility is the chief Christian virtue, the one upon which all ministry, evangelism and missions is carried out; it stands to reason, pride is our greatest foe. We must constantly guard against pride. Sin itself is deceptive and pride is the most subtle of them all. It can be present in our life and us not even know it. Pride is the one disease that everyone knows a man has except the man himself. It can cause the greatest to fall.

II. THE SECOND KING IS GREED

Greed, like jealously, is an unpopular sin: no one ever confesses greed. Does this mean no one is greedy? Does this mean that none of us have been enslaved by greed? You know better. The greed bug or virus lives inside every person. There is no exception.


Giving is down across the nation and across the board. The average protestant gives only $10 per Sunday, a little over 500 per year. I don’t know of anyone making less than $5,000 per year. In a recent Barna survey, 69% of protestants said they were giving less and it is reflected across the nation. Mega churches had some increase last year but the average church did not. Yet, go to an Alabama or Auburn football game and observe the money being spent.


Robby Gallaty, the author of this years January Bible Study book is a pastor in Tennessee. A church member came to him and said, “Pastor, I want to volunteer to do the sheetrock work on the new building. I cannot afford to tithe and this is my way of giving back to the church.” The wise young pastor said, “Since you have confessed that you do not tithe, do you mind if I share with you what the bible says about this subject.” Reluctantly, the man agreed and the Pastor opened his bible to Malachi 3:10…

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

He said the LORD is challenging you to put Him to the test, so do you have a financial problem or a faith problem? The young man thought for a few moments and then confessed, “I guess I have a faith problem.”

Attendance at our church is sporadic to say the least because on any given Sunday, we will have a dozen families on vacation. I’m not talking about their only vacation of the year, I am talking about the first of twelve. Our pastor has challenged us to commit 48 Sunday to DBC. There is no telling what we could do if we were faithful to attend and faithful to tithe. Why don’t we?

If you are not proactive, if you do not attack your greed, your greed will ultimately control your life and with it will come many sorrows.

III. THE THIRD KING IS PLEASURE [hedonism]

We as a society have gone nuts over entertainment and pleasure. We are becoming a nation of hedonist. Like Esau, we live for pleasure. I don’t have anything against sports or entertainment these things are not to be our driving passion. Like Esau, we are more focused on happiness than we are holiness. Entertainment is to be one aspect of our life but not life; it is not to be our god.


Americans spend 6% of their income on entertainment. Not bad, right. That is almost twice what we give to charitable causes. The average church member gives only $10 per week or about $500 per year. When spend far more than $500 dollars on cable TV, not to speak of internet, Nexflix, computer games and etc. We all need a little entertainment but we don’t need to be entertained all the time.

IV. THE FOURTH KING IS ADDICTION

There are a wide range of addictions; not just drugs and alcohol. Porn is addictive and so is gambling: we will get to pornography in a moment. Right now, I want to talk about a huge problem in today’s society and that is substance abuse.

In the USA, we spend 700 billion dollars a year on substance abuse: this includes loss of work and rehab. Drug abuse is epidemic; if you don’t believe me, visit our Morgan County court house and observe what is going on in our court rooms. I would venture to say, 90% of the cases are drug related.

Young people listen to me, 90% of those addicted to drugs began by smoking and drinking. There are a wide range of drugs on the streets: marijuana, heroin, Crack Cocaine, Stimulates, prescription drugs, Opiates, Cocaine, Tranquilizers, PCP {Angel Dust, anesthetic, sedatives, hallucinogens and inhalants. Yet the number one problem continues to be alchohol. Every 53 seconds, someone is killed in an alcohol related accident. One out of every three automobile accidents is alcohol related. We spend 300 billion dollars a year trying to clean up the mess that alcohol leaves behind. You can visit the FOUNDRY or any drug rehab facility you choose and you will discover that alcohol is the number one drug problem in America. You will not hear the truth on Channel 19 or from the Decatur Daily, they profit from the advertizements but Alcohol is extremely costly to the tax payer and society as a whole.

Patrich Means an expert on drug addiction said recently, “When we want something badly enough, we’ll deceive whomever we have to in order to get it.” All sin is decietful by its very nature but addiction is extremely deceitful. Those addicted always convince themselves of two lies: {1} I don’t have a problem {2} I can handle this on my own. I don’t need intervention.

Satan is a clever stratigest, he is fighting to control your mind, the way you think. He wants you to think that your situation is hopeless, you are too far gone, you cannot change. He wants to trap you in toxic shame and endless regret. If you allow him to, he will make your life a living hell. He will engulf you with guilt and shame. Guilt is related to what we do but shame is how we feel about ourself and it is toxic, it can poison your entire system.

V. THE FIFTH AND FINAL KING IS LUST

Lust like greed is prevelant yet seldom confessed. Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America and young people are often the victims. Pornography is rampant thanks to the internet. Porn is one click away. Some estimate that 37% of internet sites are porn related. Some estimate that there are 260 million different porn outlets on the internet. Porn is highly addictive. The two addiction I fear most are porn and gambling. I had childhood experiences with both and I know what they can do. I stay as far from them as possible.

Conclusion

You will never get victory over these kings until you follow the biblical example in Joshua 10:22-26

22 Then Joshua said, “Remove the rocks covering the opening of the cave, and bring the five kings to me. 

23 So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon.


[1] Bring them out of the darkness into the light


24 When they brought them out, Joshua told the commanders of his army, “Come and put your feet on the kings’ necks.” And they did as they were told.


[2] In obedience to Christ command, take authority over them


25 “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged,” Joshua told his men. “Be strong and courageous, for the LORD is going to do this to all of your enemies.”


[3] Exercise courage…this takes guts which is why most folks try to keep their sins hidden. They lack the courage to confess, to be honest.


26 Then Joshua killed each of the five kings and impaled them on five sharpened poles, where they hung until evening.


[4] Give your sin, shame, addiction to Jesus, He will execute them for you.

Victory is accomplished by His glorious grace…verse 25 “The LORD is going to do this.” You and I will never be able to execute the powers of the flesh, we don’t have the stomach for it but Jesus does and he will carry out the execution the moment we surrender our will to Him.
A family had a little dog get hit by a car. The dog was injuried internally and could not recover. The vet told the family, the dog must be put to sleep, it is the only humane thing to do. The children began crying and the dad said, “I don’t think I can do it.” The vet said, “You don’t have to. I will do it for you but you have to give me permission. Sign this sheet paper, say good bye to your pet and walk out. I will do the rest.”

BOTTOM LINE: “Do you want to be free to worship and serve Christ? Or do you prefer to be a slave to your sin?

Irresponsible Priest

Scripture Text: Malachi 2:1-9, NLT

1 Listen, you priests—this command is for you!
2 Listen to Me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart.
3 I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile.
4 Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites can continue,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered Me and stood in awe of My name.
6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from Me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with Me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.
7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
8 But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”

INTRODUCTION

Chapter two of Malachi is an indictment against irresponsible priest: they were not doing their job. They were not living up to their call. They were accursed in the Mosaic sense. Note Malachi’s words in verse 2….

Listen to Me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart.

The curse Malachi is referring to is in Deuteronomy 28…

15 “But if you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you:
16 Your towns and your fields will be cursed.
17 Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be cursed.
18 Your children and your crops will be cursed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be cursed.
19 Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be cursed.
20“The LORD himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me.


The word Moses uses in Deuteronomy 28 for curse is kel·ä·lä’ and it comes from the root word kä·lal’ which is a very interesting word. It means to treat lightly, to trifle, to water down, to lightly esteem, to treat something holy as common. The priest were taking worship too lightly, they were taking their responsibilities too lightly, they were trifling with holy things and in so doing, they were dishonoring God’s name.

Dr. Page Kelly, whom Joe David knows personally, wrote the Broadman Laymen Commentary on Malachi: Dr. Kelly says: “Humanity’s highest duty is to hallow God’s name.” Needless to say, these levitical priest were not treating God’s name with reverence and respect.

I imagine someone in the congregation today is asking this question–“What does the irresponsible Levitical priest have to do with me, I am not a priest.” My answer would be, yes you are. If you are saved and under the blood–Jesus Christ has made you a priest….

I Peter 2:9

 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.


Jesus has changed everything. The Levitical priesthood is history, passe, they don’t exist anymore but Jesus transformed the Levitical Priest into Royal Priest. Every believer is a priest but we do not go back to Levi, we go back to Christ our High Priest. We do not serve a patriarch, we serve the King of kings, thus we are Royal Priest.

The GOOD NEWS is– Jesus made us priest and we have all the privileges of a priest. Actually we have much more than the Levitical Priest: we can approach the throne of grace any time day or night. BUT the BAD NEWS is–we also have all the responsibilities of a priest. About now, you are thinking, “Oh no, I thought he was going to be preaching to himself.”


In verses 8-9, Malachi levels five complaints against the priest. Let’s look at those and then draw some parallels.

8 But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”
  1. They had strayed from the path. The ESV reads, “You have turned aside from the way.” [The way being God’s way] When we turn aside from His way, we turn to our way.
  2. They had become a stumbling block–They caused man to stumble into sin.
  3. They had corrupted the Levitical Covenant by violating it. They were not living up to their call.
  4. They had not obeyed the LORD.
  5. They were showing favoritism.

One other thing before we get to the heart of the message….What are the inherent responsibilities of the priest? They are listed in verses 5-7…

5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered Me and stood in awe of My name.
6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from Me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with Me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.
7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
  1. They were to convey life and peace.
  2. They were to reverence and stand in awe of God’s name.
  3. They were to pass on God’s instructions.
  4. They were to live lives of integrity [no lying or cheating]
  5. They were to walk with the LORD.
  6. They were to embrace right and turn away from sin.
  7. They were to turn others from sin.
  8. They were to preserve the knowledge of God before the people.
  9. They were to be people you could go to for help and instruction.
  10. They were to be God’s messengers.

I am going to simplify things for you: our basic responsibility as PRIEST are two-fold: [1] We stand before God in behalf of men [2] We stand before men in behalf of God. The first responsibility has to do with prayer and worship and the second involves our witness and ministry.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, let me ask you some questions:

  1. Are you walking daily with the LORD. Are you on His path or your path?
  2. Are you faithful in your ministry to HIM. {standing before him in prayer}
  3. Have you become a stumbling block. People are watching you and me. Who do we need to apologize to today? {Because we’ve been a bad example}
  4. Are we living up to the responsibility of our calling, or are we shirking our responsibilities as a PRIEST?
  5. Are we obedient? Will you be willing to OBEY God during the next five minutes?
  6. Are we loving our neighbor as we love our self… we cannot be instruments of life and peace unless we love each other and treat each other fairly.

    I close with a story to illustrate the point:

In the book, “A Promise Kept”, is the story of Robertson McQuilkin, a former missionary and seminary president who gave up his post because his wife Muriel had Alzheimer’s disease. He dedicated himself full-time for as long as the Lord deemed necessary to take care of his wife. He wrote of traveling with his her:

Once our flight was delayed in Atlanta and we had to wait a couple of hours. Now that’s a challenge. Every few minutes we’d take a fast-paced walk down the terminal in earnest search of what? Muriel had always been a speed walker. I had to jog to keep up with her.

An attractive woman executive type sat across from us, working diligently on her computer. Once when we returned from an excursion she said something without looking up from her papers. Since no one else was nearby I assumed she had spoken to me, or at least mumbled in protest for our constant activity. “Pardon?” I asked. “Oh,” she said, “I was just asking myself, ‘Will I ever find a man to love me like that?'”

McQuilkin turned to the woman and said, “Oh yes, you can find a man like that. You can find a man like that, because I’ve found a man like that. The only reason I love my wife the way you see me loving her is because the man Jesus first loved me. The only resources I have to draw upon to love my wife the way I do are the resources He gives me. Mirrored in my relationship here with my wife you can see the faithful love of God for me.”


We share life and peace in our love and ministry to others: it is the strongest aspect of our witness. May God help us to be responsible priest who share life and peace with others.