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The Way of the Faithful
As I have mentioned, during this year we’ll be exploring in more depth those doctrines that I’ve identified as being covered over by Satan in a sermon series which is the basis of the book I’m presently writing called “Wells Of Living Water.”
And the point is that we as the church and believers need to open them back up if we’re ever going to see that revival and renew that we’ve been praying for.
Today we’re going to be looking the Rechabites during a time when the nation of Judah had turned its back on the Lord and His ways as outlined in the Torah, or God’s word and commandments.
What we’re going to be looking at is God’s object lesson on faithfulness as the prophet Jeremiah invited the Rechabites to have a drink, and through their example of faithfulness we’re going to see God’s blessing, but also God’s pronouncement of judgment upon the nation of Judah for their unfaithfulness.
Read Jeremiah 35:1-2, 5-19
To get a backdrop on why God chose the Rechabite tribe for this demonstration, it’s necessary to understand their history.
It began two hundred years earlier with Jonadab, the head of the Rechabite family. He lived in Israel during the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. It was a sad time in Israel’s history as the nation turned even further away from their worship of God, along with the idolatrous worship of Baal, whose worship involved lavish rites, drunkenness, immorality, and even child sacrifice.
After Ahab’s death, his son acted just as wickedly with his mother Jezebel at his side. After 12 years the prophet Elisha anointed Jehu as the next king over Israel, and Jehu was joined by Jonadab to rid the country of Ahab’s family and friends.
In essence Jonadab had a bird’s eye view of the destructiveness of this sort of lifestyle. To protect his family in the years and centuries to come he had them swear an oath to keep themselves from wine, and forbid them from building homes or planting crops. Instead they were to live in tents and raise livestock.
And after two hundred years his family remained faithful to their oath. In like manner God is testing our faithfulness as well. Will we remain faithful? Notice again what God says to the people of Judah.
Read Jeremiah 35:12-16
What we see is a sad parallel to today’s church. You see, there exists a temptation that happens over time, and that is our zeal, faithfulness, and obedience to God and His word begins to wane, which is what we see throughout the history of the church.
The Methodist church is no longer as Wesley had envisioned, and if Martin Luther saw what had become of the Lutheran church, he’d probably post his challenge on its doors as well as the doors of the Catholic Church.
But the same can also be said for almost every Protestant denomination out there. That’s because we’ve left that first love relationship for religious tradition. But the church isn’t a bunch of denominations; rather it’s individual Christians gathering together to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.
So how’s our zeal, faithfulness and obedience been holding out?
When we look at the first church we see they began well. They were faithfully sharing the faith and people were being added to the church, or saved on a daily basis.
Unfortunately this is one area that today’s church has been less than faithful in. We’ve received the blessings of salvation and now it’s like we want to hoard it all to ourselves. We get healed, touched by God hearing His words of life, but we’re keeping silent not sharing all the wonderful things God has done and is doing in our lives.
It seems like we’ve bought into the lie and world’s philosophy that faith is something that’s personal and needs to be kept personal. But it’s not. It’s active and alive, and the Bible continually commands us to be sharing our faith to everyone and at all times.
But this isn’t something new. After such a good start, the first church soon found itself in the same boat. They were keeping this good news to themselves, or better yet, only telling it only to those of the Jewish faith. They weren’t faithful to the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations.
And because of their unfaithfulness God sent persecution to get them up and out, and the gospel then spread to the four corners of the earth.
So how faithful are we?
And so God test our faithfulness, and He does so through time. Will we remain faithful over the long haul?
Norman Geisler, A Christian apologist, co-founder of Southern Evangelical Seminary and author and co-author of over sixty books, was invited as a child to attend a Vacation Bible School. He kept going back to that church for the next 400 Sundays. Each week the same bus driver faithfully picked him up. Yet Geisler never accepted Jesus during this time. Finally in his senior year he committed his life to Christ.
Now consider what would have happened if that bus driver got tired and gave up after 399 Sundays?
Will we remain faithful over the long haul? Will our commitments be as strong next year, or in 20 years?
The church in Ephesus was well known for its good works, for its teaching and promotion of the faith throughout Asia, but Jesus said,
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5 NKJV)
Jesus tells them that while He sees all the good they were doing, He said that they hadn’t remained faithful to the most important thing. They allowed their love relationship with Him grow cold, replacing it with formality, tradition, and legalism.
Literally they were so busy doing the work of God that they stopped being faithful in their relationship with Him.
But we’re no different as we speak swelling words about our love for God and our faith, and we sing great hymns declaring His glory, but when it comes to putting our lives on the line for Godwe end up saying, “I’m too busy,” “I’m too tired,” or “That’s not my gift.”
There’s an evil developing within the church where we’re getting so busy with all our stuff that our relationship with God has suffered. We’re getting so busy that we have no time for God or for His people. Instead of serving God, we’re serving the god of possessions and busyness.
And what’s even sadder is when we say that it’s okay and that God understands. Yes God does understand, more than we know, and He will act according to His righteousness. Consider the Jews in the time of Haggai. Listen to how God responds to their busyness.
“‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?’ Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.’” (Haggai 1:4-6 NKJV)
God’s desire is for His people to remain faithful, which brings us to the question, why?
Why is Faithfulness Important?
“A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28:20 NKJV)
God promises blessings when we remain faithful, but when we try to take shortcuts on this journey of faith, this journey towards spiritual transformation; we’ll end up suffering the consequences.
God told the Rechabites that because they were faithful to their oath, that God would allow them to live in the land, and the Babylonians never took them captive. But because of the unfaithfulness of Judah, not only did they go into captivity, but it also resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and God’s temple.
This has always been God’s way, blessing faithfulness while disciplining unfaithfulness.
Through the prophet Malachi God said that when we’re faithful in giving the tithe, then God would open up the windows of heaven, but when we’re not he’ll send the devourer.
This devourer is seen in Haggai’s warning in that while they ate they were never full, clothed but never warmed, and while they earned a good salary, their pocket had holes thus losing everything they gained.
In short, faithfulness guarantees or secures God’s blessing.
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)
This is from the parable about how a wealthy landowner giving money to his servants before he went on a lengthy trip. When he came back two of his servants faithfully invested the money and gave the landowner his money back with interest. And the landowner rewarded them accordingly.
But one of them went and hid the money, and while he gave it back, he wasn’t faithful with it when he had it, and so the landowner punished this servant saying, “Cast him in outer darkness where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
And so when we are faithful with what God has so graciously given to us, our salvation, and investing our lives in God’s kingdom, then we’ll hear the words after the life is over in the afterlife, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”
But to those who are unfaithful, … well I think you know the story by now.
3. It’s A Requirement For Ministry
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” (1 Timothy 1:12 NKJV)
God isn’t looking for the talented; rather He’s looking for the faithful.
Now this whole subject of faithfulness may have you feeling queasy about your own faithfulness, but please know that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and the Bible tells us that there is no one who does righteously and there’s no one who doesn’t fall from God holy and righteous standards for life.
And so while we might not be as faithful as we should be or would like to be, and by the way this doesn’t excuse our sins, but even though we may not be as faithful as we should, God still remains faithful to us.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV)
Knowing then the faithfulness of God, what does this mean to our relationship with God?
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV)
God has given to us great and precious promises, with our salvation and an eternity in heaven as the most wonderful of them all. Yet it’s still our responsibility to make them ours.
Let me share a story from the Bible that will make this evident. It comes from Esther.
Esther had just become queen over Persia when King Ahasuerus’ Secretary of State pronounced an edit that would have meant the complete annihilation of the Jews people living in Persia.
When her uncle, Mordaci heard of this he went to Esther saying she needed to intervene with the king to stop this genocide. But Esther was afraid because to go before the king unbidden would mean her life.
But her uncle Mordaci warned her saying,
“Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14 NKJV)
In other words, God’s promise would be accomplished; the choice is whether or not we’ll participate.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV)
Jesus knows what you and I are going through, because He was tempted in the same ways, but because He didn’t succumb Jesus is now our faithful High Priest and is able to bring us aide in our time of need.
And so we can boldly come before God’s throne of grace to obtain God’s mercy and to find grace to help us in our time of need, Hebrews 4:16.
Even though we might not be as faithful as we should be, Jesus remains faithful providing both grace and help when we need it.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)
God’s desire is to pour out His blessings, but He needs us to seek His forgiveness, confess our sins and repent. He wants us to put away our excuses and compromises and turn our lives back over to His control.
And so what’s required of us? To be faithful! The Lord said,
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)
If we desire to see our land, our marriages, our families, the church healed, then God has called us to be faithful in prayer, repentance, humbling ourselves, and returning to that first love relationship; then He’ll bless us and bring that revival we so desperately desire.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study