Why Is Marriage So Honorable?

July 16, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; [and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Hebrews 13:1-8

Marriage is honorable in all, but Hebrews 13:4 seems seems like a strange place for a principle about marriage. The surrounding passage is dealing with the difference between how Christians are supposed to live, and the way the ungodly, by default, live unloving lives. The word translated as “honorable” is usually translated as “precious,” and it reminds us that our marriages are very valuable things. They are to be cherished and cared for and never taken for granted – analogous to the effort that some people put into protecting a family heirloom or some great treasure that has come into their possession.

Sadly, most married Christians know more about the gadgets on their phones than about the intricacies of how our marriages are supposed to work and look. Marriage is supposed to be reflective of the love between Jesus and His Church. Therefore, adultery and whoremongering are things that are certainly antithetical to this relationship and image.

Marriage is supposed to be conducive to contentment, which is also reflective of Jesus and the Church. Therefore, covetousness would not accurately reflect that relationship.

Marriage is supposed to remind us to rely on God, not on our own faculties.

Marriage is where we learn headship and submission, authority and obedience. In the crucible of marriage we kill our selfishness and learn the joy of serving.

Finally, marriage is a good reminder that no one makes a good Jesus except for Jesus Himself.

Give Good Advice: Content Yourself with God and His Plans

July 23, 2012 at 9:50 am | Posted in Biblical Advice, Selected Psalms | 12 Comments
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Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalm 4:4-5 (emphasis added)

Someone comes to you for advice. “Should I do this or should I do that?” What you have to determine – and what this person has to determine – is this: Is the reason you are contemplating doing this thing because you are not content with what God has given you? Or not content with where He has placed you? Or not content with what He is doing with you? Or not content because of what He is not doing with you? Or not content with what He is allowing to be done to you?

If you believe that God is perfect, then you must also believe His will is perfect (Romans 12:2). Some of us need to stop trusting what everyone else is doing or what “common sense” says to do, and trust in the Lord. If you don’t have a Bible reason for doing what you are thinking about doing – then don’t do it. It might feel right or it might feel wrong, but:

“Feelings come and feelings go
And feelings are deceiving.
Our warrant should be the Word of God.
Nothing else is worth believing.”

A.void sin
D.elay taking rash action
V.ow to be sincere with God
I.nquire of your own heart
C.ontent yourself with God and His plans
E.

Darkness Under the Sun

April 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 16 Comments
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King Solomon was looking at life from an earthly, temporal point of view, and he came to these conclusions:

1. Life is vain because of its monotony.
2. Life is vain because of the limits of wisdom.
3. Life is vain because of the limits of wealth.

I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:8-11

Solomon was the richest man in the Bible – maybe of all time. He was the Bill Gates of his day. However, no one can buy his way into Heaven or out of eternity. Somebody once said that if money can’t buy happiness, at least it will allow you to afford your favorite kind of misery. Money can be a valuable tool. You can’t eat cash, but you can buy food with it. You can’t keep warm with it, but you can buy fuel with it. This quote once appeared in the Wall Street Journal: “Money is a universal passport to everywhere except Heaven; and a universal provider of everything except happiness.”

For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Ecclesiastes 1:21

You may have seen the bumper sticker that says, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but this is not true. When you go to see God, you won’t be judged for how nice a boat you have, or how impressive your music collection was. The Apostle Paul described life as if it were a race, but that race is not a race to financial security. It is a race to become more Christ-like. The preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us that, not only can we not take it with us, but we can’t control it anymore after we’re gone. Some of the most agonized-over and detailed legal documents are wills and trusts. There is nothing wrong with wanting to provide for your family after you die, but when we spend so much energy trying to make sure our descendants have an easier time of it than we did, we might be doing them a disservice. Sometimes, working to achieve things for ourselves is how God makes us into who He wants us to be.

King Solomon felt that:

4. Life is vain because it has an end.

We know that this is true only in a limited sense.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 2:14

The idea that we’re all going to die can be a depressing thought. It is one of the reasons why there is so much “escapist” entertainment.

There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

If we are not careful, we will focus so much of our time, our energy, our money, on entertainment, that we will not have anything other than shallow entertainment to offer the people we care about when we find them suffering. Movies, music, television, and pop culture are no substitute for Biblical comfort, counseling, and promises when someone is truly in pain.

However, there is an opposite extreme to mindless entertainment that can also be vain. If we become so fixated on our own sorrows that they swallow us up, we will become “depressed.” There is a plague of depression in our society today. I realize that some of this is caused by actual physical conditions or chemical imbalances in the brain, but a great deal of it comes from being focused only on what’s happening “under the sun.” Without the assurance of a life beyond this world with a kind and loving God, there is a tendency to think, “We know death is coming anyway, so we might as well stop living now and get used to it.” That’s the view “under the sun.” But “over” the sun – “above the sun” – God wants us to enjoy life and have peace and hope and contentment.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

I Timothy 6:6

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Psalm 115:15-16

The Lord does want us to have fun – but with Godliness. And He wants us to be content!

The Last but Not the Least – Part 3

September 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Jeremiah, Salvation | 5 Comments
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Last time we saw that: Being content brings gratitude, but being covetous brings gall.

Now we will see that:

Being content brings glory to God.

Jeremiah the prophet prophesied in a time much like our own. His description of Egypt in his day was very much like America in our day.

Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north. Also her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks; for they also are turned back, and are fled away together: they did not stand, because the day of their calamity was come upon them, and the time of their visitation.

Jeremiah 46:20-21

At the local fair, my kids like to look at the livestock in the 4-H exhibit. They enjoy seeing the plump healthy cattle, well-cared-for and sporting their blue ribbons. Little do they know that these cattle have been fattened for a slaughter. Why does the Lord let the wicked accumulate wealth? Why does He let wicked men and governments and corporations and nations oppress the weak and the poor? Could it be that they are being fattened for the slaughter? Could it be that they are being allowed to prosper and grow rich and fat – and believe themselves to be invincible – so that the Lord receives more glory when He strips them of everything they have coveted after, and casts them into the pit?

One of my favorite verses is James 4:10: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” This verse does not mean that it’s a good idea to be humble, but it’s not really mandatory to be a victorious Christian. No, let me tell you something – your humility may be delayed – but it is not optional. You will be humble before the Almighty God. But this verse says I have the option of humbling myself. If I humble myself, He will lift me up. If I don’t humble myself, then He will humble me. As my old Sunday School teacher used to say, God will get the glory from my life – one way or the other.

Being content brings glory to God, but being covetous brings grief to a generation.

God can take away what you love most if you love it more than Him. God may take away the people you love most if you worship them in place of Him. Lord, help me to get my focus off of me – and get my focus on You. Do you want your life to bring grief to your generation, or do you want it to bring glory to God? Do you want to be the best parent you can be? Then love God with all your heart. Do you want to be the best spouse you can be? Then love God with all your mind. Do you want to be the best Christian you can be? Then love God with all your strength. Do you want to be the best person you can be – to have your “best life now?” Then forget about your “best life now.” Instead of having your “best” life now, have your “blessed” life now.

Before his conversion Saul of Tarsus had his “best life now.” Read his resume’ sometime in Philippians 3. He had a great job. He loved his work. He was the best, the brightest. He had money, renown, a reputation. He was strong, swift, educated, intelligent. He was on the fast track to be the number one man in his field!

And he threw it all away – to become the scum of the earth: beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, roaming from place to place, hunted at sea, hunted on land, hunted by the Jews, hunted by the heathen, hunted in the city, hunted in the wilderness, attacked by false friends, tired, wracked with pain, hungry, thirsty, cold, and naked (II Corinthians 11)! AND HE WAS CONTENT!!!!

If you try to save up your life – to make your life about the abundance of the possessions that you control – that you think you own (Luke 12:15) – you will lose it. But if you lose your life for His sake, you shall find it.

There was once a man who was the wisest (except for Jesus) and the richest (up until that time and maybe even today) man who ever walked the face of the earth. He had everything you could ever want or even imagine. He had every trinket, every delicacy, every luxury, every entertainment, every experience that could be had. The darkest fantasy you’ve ever dreamed of in your darkest most secret moment of sin – the one you wouldn’t dare tell your closest friend in the world about – he had it. And he had it twice, just to make sure. But after all the excess – after all the experience – after all pleasures that this world had to offer – here is what he had to say: “Vanity of vanities – all is vanity!” He had it all – and he was miserable. There must be something more, he thought, there must be something different. There must be something deeper – a knowledge of something greater. There must be Someone Who can give me – Who can be for me – what I have never been able to grasp. There must be Someone who can fill the vanity – the emptiness – that I’m left with – that is inside my very soul!

If you are reading this right now, and identifying with King Solomon, I can tell you there is only One. And there is only One Way to Him. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is more real than just a plan, a path, or a purpose – He is a Person. He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

What has the Devil and the world talked you into believing is going to make you happy? Getting what you see and what you want? Being like the wealthy, the powerful, the famous? Jesus Christ took your sin on Himself, and He took the punishment for it in your place on the Cross. He was sinless and perfect, yet He was tortured and crucified for every sin you and I ever committed. The good news: God accepted Him as the perfect and only possible sacrifice for sin, and showed His acceptance by resurrecting Him from the dead. He lives today. You have only two choices: You must believe on Him, rejecting your own self-righteousness – or you must reject Him. You are not promised a certain number of opportunities. If you leave the room you are in right now without asking Christ to save you, you might very well leave this life without being saved. Do not tempt the Lord your God.

The Last but Not the Least – Part 2

August 20, 2010 at 10:05 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 7 Comments
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Previously, we saw that:

Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.

Now we will see that:

Being content brings gratitude.

What are you thankful for? “Count your many blessings – name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done,” says an old hymn. Do you ever feel like God has not really done so much for you? Do you ever think that your car isn’t the fanciest car, or maybe parts of it don’t even work that well? Do you ever get depressed because your house isn’t the nicest house? Do you sometimes think your marriage is not all you hoped it would be, and wonder, why did I wind up with this spouse? Are there times when your kids are behaving like heathens, tormenting you to death, and you think, why can’t they be like so-and-so’s kids? When that happens, grab your steering wheel and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the car You’ve given me – it gets me from work to home and home to work – thank You for it!” Husbands, when your wife isn’t always nice and sweet – or when you wish she looked like she did when you first married her – or when you wish she looked like that Hollywood actress or model – look at your wife and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the wife You’ve given me!” Wives, when you think, why can’t my husband be more romantic – why can’t he spend more time with me or with the kids, why doesn’t he ask me how my day was, or why is he too tired to talk after working all day – look at your husband and say, “Thank You, Lord – thank You for a husband that works, that supports the family!” Parents, look at your kids and say, “Thank You, Lord, for these kids – these are the kids You’ve given me – I love them – help me to be a help to them!”

When you are not satisfied with your husband, your wife, your job, your home – when your children don’t make good grades like someone else’s children, ask God to change things – but THANK HIM for what He’s given you already. Contentment is when a Christian draws on Jesus Christ for his or her joy. Covetousness is when you blame God because you think deep down He didn’t know what was best – that He gave to somebody else what He should have given to you. Be very careful about thinking you know better than God. He sees things we don’t see – and He knows who can handle what. I once heard an evangelist named John Bishop say, “If we took all our problems and hung them on a line, you’d choose yours, and I’d choose mine.”

Being content brings gratitude, but being covetous brings gall.

What is gall? It’s the Bible word for bitterness. When God brought His people out of Egypt He warned them not to covet after all the things and the possessions and the ways of the Egyptians and the Canaanites.

(For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;

Deuteronomy 29:16-18

According to God, the water of covetousness is poisonous water. This poisoned water waters a poisonous little root – a root of bitterness. And bitterness, when it grows into full bloom, doesn’t just defile you – the Bible says beware of a root of bitterness because many therewith will be defiled.

The things and the people in your life that tempt you to covet may be ordained by God to make you like Christ. Don’t spit in God’s face by being covetous – by wanting what He’s given to someone else. The grass is not always greener on the other side – sometimes the grass is Astroturf – and you’ll die trying to digest it.

Next time: Being content brings glory to God, but being covetous brings grief to a generation.

The Last but Not the Least – Part 1

August 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Jeremiah | 27 Comments
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Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:11-13

To covet is to have a sinful desire directed toward what someone else has. Is it a sin? Yes (“Thou shalt not covet“), but let’s be honest – how many of us have coveted at least once this past week? Most, if not all.

If you are not covetous, what are you? What is the opposite? To not be covetous is to be content. It is to be satisfied with what God has given you and done for you.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11 (emphasis added)

In the Old Testament, priests and Jewish scholars, and those serious about obeying God, bound the Word of God on their arms, on their foreheads, on their chests. It might be good for us to put Philippians 4:11 on our refrigerators, on the dashboards of our cars, on your coffeemakers, on our bathroom mirrors, on our alarm clocks, on the covers of our Bibles.

What is the opposite of contentment? It’s covetousness. Covetousness is a sin. It’s not one of the 10 Suggestions; it’s one of the 10 Commandments. It’s number 10. It comes after commandments like, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Most people won’t voluntarily admit it if they commit adultery – or murder – but if you ask a group of people, “Come on, how many of you have coveted this week?” most will be willing to raise their hands. We consider covetousness to be, not only the last of the 10 Commandments, but also the least – thus the title of this message: “The Last but Not the Least.”

Is it really that bad to covet? Let’s look at a few places in the Bible and see how God looks at the “little” sin of covetousness:

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Mark 7:21-23 (emphasis added)

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Romans 1:28-31 (emphasis added)

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Ephesians 5:3 (emphasis added)

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11 (emphasis added)

How does God classify the sin of covetousness? He classifies it along with murder and fornication and theft and extortion and adultery and all the worse types of behaviors that sinful man can dream up in his sinful heart. “Thou shalt not covet” is not the 10th Commandment because it’s the 10th in importance. It’s the 10th Commandment because it is the sin that leads men to break all the nine other ones. It’s the last, but not the least.

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Treat it as a command. BE content. We’ve been led astray by psychology. We’ve been taught to think we have no control over our feelings or our emotions. So we say, I either am content, or I’m not – I can’t just make myself ‘be’ content.”

But we can:

… bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:5

“Let” in that verse means “make” or “cause.”

Being content brings generosity.

Jesus Christ had the right to act like God – to take control and enjoy everything He owned. But He took on the form of a Servant and He was content. There is a freedom that comes with wanting good things for others, and not for ourselves. Children think they will be happy if they win the fight they are having over who will get the front seat of the van, or who will get to use a toy over the exclusion of his brother or sister, but that type of squabbling really enslaves them and makes them miserable. The world says that if you do not covet – that if you don’t make sure you get what’s coming to you – you won’t get anything good. But as Christians, we don’t want “what we have coming to us,” anyway. We don’t want what we deserve. God gave His Son for me. How freeing it is to remember that, and to try to be like Him – to get excited about giving instead of getting. There are bumper stickers that say, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but that’s not true. Life is not a race to see how much we can get. It’s a race to see how much we can give. It’s not, “He who gets the most, wins.” It’s, “He who gives the most, wins.”

Life is for living, not for making.
Life is for giving, not for taking.

(Couplet I made up, which proves I stink at writing poetry, but which helps me to remember a Bible principle)

Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.

How many sermons have you heard about supposed solutions for the problem of how “empty” we are? I said earlier that Christ Jesus took on the form of a Servant, and was more of a giver than a taker – and yet, according to Scripture, He was not empty. Up until the days when He was preparing to go to the Cross, He was full. He was constantly full. I’m not one of those “prosperity” preachers, but from what I can see in Scripture, the Lord wants us to be continually full. We are to be like Christ. Why are we so empty, and always trying to get more things, and always wanting more and better? Why are we not full? It’s not because we don’t have enough. It’s because we have too much: too much vanity.

Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

Jeremiah 2:5

The Lord is telling these people that their fathers became vain because they walked after vanity. Jesus was never empty because He never walked after emptiness. His meat was to do the will of His Father (John 4:31-34). When I am vain – when I am empty – it’s because I’ve been walking after vanity – after emptiness. When I am walking after the things of God, I am content – I am full. And when I am full, I not only have the ability to bless others, but I am reminded to be grateful to God. This point will be developed more in Part 2.

Arise: Naboth’s Vineyard, Ahab’s Vice, and God’s Vengeance – Part 1

October 29, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Arise | 18 Comments
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To “arise” means to get up – to get moving – to stir, and to get busy.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria…

Matthew 4:18-24

And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Matthew 8:21-22

When Jesus got ready to recruit disciples, He had been preaching repentance and the Kingdom of God, but when He called disciples, He didn’t give much of a sales pitch. “Follow me,” He said. Have you ever wondered why they did it?

The answer, I think, lies not in the command “follow.” There’s no shortage of people who want to tell you what to do – to give you a command. The answer lies in the “Me” – that short little two-letter Word is more than just the direct object of the sentence. The ME is the King of Glory – the Son of God – the Prince of Peace – the God over all gods – the King over all kings – the Maker of Heaven and of Earth – the Alpha and Omega – the Author of Salvation.

They really didn’t need the “follow” to be convinced. All we really need is the “ME.” When you begin to understand the greatness of Jesus – His infinite worth – you want to – no, you have to – be with Him. And you put the Person – “Me” – together with the “follow,” and you’ve got a Person and a Path.

He says, “Arise. If you want the ‘ME,’ you’re going to have to go places. But it’s okay – because you’ll be going with ME.”

The disciples followed, and it seemed great at first. Matthew 4 says Jesus did miracles. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, and gave sight and the ability to walk. And they became famous, and crowds followed, and people loved them – as if someone said, “Here, free candy – just for coming to church.” Most everybody likes candy. Why? Because it’s sweet. It doesn’t require much effort. It sort of melts in your mouth. But once in a while you get a surprise – a different kind of candy – the kind of candy that, when you say, “Hey, you’re giving me candy, I’ll follow you” – suddenly things turn sour.

Jesus says, If you’re going to follow Me, sometimes things are going to get sour. Sometimes you’re not going to have a bed or pillow or shelter. Sometimes you’re not going to be able to be loved by your family. Sometimes you’re not going to be able to do all the things you want, because you are a follower – and a follower follows a leader – and a leader is in charge – in command.

When a leader says, “Let’s go, you don’t have time to bury your father – let the dead bury the dead – we’re following hard after my Father now…” Do you spit it out? Give up? Too sour? Not what you bargained for? Or do you just keep sucking it up – knowing that one day things will be sweet again – sweeter than ever?

I hope – when things in your life seem too hard – too hard deal with the way a Christian is supposed to deal with them – the way the Bible says to deal with them – that you’ll remember this simple little lesson – you’ll remember Who you are following. Don’t shy away from doing the hard thing. Jesus – if you are really His – loves you even when you taste bad. He is worthy to be loved and followed through any circumstances, trials, troubles, and hardships.

I. The Pious Patriarch

Naboth was the owner of a vineyard in the little town of Jezreel. (A vineyard is a piece of land used for growing grapes.)

So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers.

Numbers 36:7-8

Naboth, years later, was the patriarch of one these families in one of these tribes. A patriarch is the male leader of a tribe. Naboth’s vineyard had come to him, through his forefathers, directly from God. It was really God’s vineyard. Naboth was a steward over it for God, and for the good of those that God had placed into his care. Every one of us are stewards over the gifts God has given us, and we are to use these gifts to help others, so that God is glorified. Naboth had a command from God: Keep this land in your family. He had a blessing from God: You may enjoy this land.

We have every reason to believe that he did enjoy it. Perhaps in his own childhood, he had played there. Perhaps his wife’s family had worked and played in this vineyard. Perhaps Naboth and his fathers and sons had driven out lions and foxes from this vineyard. Perhaps Naboth enjoyed watching his own children frolic in the rows of grapes, and play in the soft fertile dirt. I call Naboth the Pious Patriarch because when there was a strong temptation to do what was easy, Naboth, instead of doing what was easy, did what was right. But he did so because of a devotion to God.

And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

I Kings 21:1-3

Saying no to a king is a dangerous thing. Saying no to certain people today – saying no to certain things – can seem very dangerous to us. It can be very difficult. Someone might tell you the same thing Naboth was told: “Give up what God gave you, and you’ll get a fair price for it.” Or, “You’ll get something better in return.” How much more popular could you be with your friends if you would sell your purity – your devotion to God? How much more money could you make if not for having to attend, and serve in, church? How much more rest could you get? How many fun and entertaining things could you see and do?

Naboth said no. He didn’t say, “In my childhood I played here. My wife’s family worked and played in this vineyard. My father and sons have driven out lions and foxes from this vineyard. I love to see my own children frolic in the rows of grapes, and play in the soft fertile dirt.” He didn’t say all those things, but he could have. Instead, he let it be known that he feared God more than the king. He loved God more than men.

Do you love God more than men? That’s the question you’re going to have to ask yourself every time someone tells you to give up what God gave you, and you’ll get something better, or you’ll get a fair price. Will you sink down into the muddy pit of conformity? Or will you arise and say, “The Lord forbid it me.”

II. The Pouting Potentate

A “potentate” is someone with “power” – someone who is “potent:” a king, a ruler, an emperor. King Ahab is the “Pouting Potentate” in this account.

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.

I Kings 16:30

… Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

I Kings 16:33

Ahab married the wicked Jezebel – from Sidon – and, at her prompting, instituted and encouraged the wicked worship of Baal among the groves. The worship of Baal involved sexual debauchery, child sacrifice, and worship of “nature” instead of God. It happened long ago, but it sounds very familiar today. It’s just that we don’t call it “sexual debauchery, child sacrifice, and worship of nature instead of God.” We call it “hooking up, abortion, and environmentalism.” R.G. Lee called Ahab “the vile toad who squatted on the throne of a nation.”

And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.

I Kings 21:4-6

Ahab, the King of Israel, who had lands beyond number, who had livestock, gold, jewels, money, orchards, palaces, servants, maybe 100 vineyards, was pouting like a spoiled little baby – or an over-indulged teenaged child – because he couldn’t have one little garden of herbs right where he wanted it!

Are we much better? Are we always wanting more? Do we worship things, or do we worship God? What is our energy devoted to obtaining? Clothes? Electronics? Cars? Nicer, more expensive luxuries? Or righteousness?

What could make the king of God’s Own people so depressed? As Christians we have access to the eternal riches of glory in Christ Jesus. And the wonderful thing is that God has made us stewards over everything He has given us, but He remains the Owner! The devil comes to you, and whispers in your ear – the way we will see Jezebel do it in Part 2 of this message – and he says, “Disobey God – just a little – and you can have this – you can enjoy that.”

But you say, “Devil, you can’t give me anything – because I have everything I could ever need or want in Christ Jesus!

He says, “Fine, you can’t be tempted with the promise of gaining something you don’t have – but I’ll take something away from you!”

And you say, “Go right ahead, I don’t own anything for you to take from me – this all belongs to God, not me.”

Vance Havner used to say, “What are you gonna do with a man like that?” You can’t give him anything because he has everything – and you can’t take anything away from him because he doesn’t have anything. You can’t head him off if you cut off his head!

I know the world laughs at this, but “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6) I know whom I have believed – though He slay me, yet will I trust Him! (II Timothy 1:12; Job 13:15)

Ahab should have been arising. Rising up to praise God. But instead he was sinking down into a bed of sorrows – discontent, grumpy, pouting.

In Part 2, we will see Jezebel enter the scene.


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