Monday, September 9, 2019

Standing Up In A Falling Down World 2: God’s Heroes

Standing Up In A Falling Down World 2:
God’s Heroes

Text: Ezekiel 14:12-20

Our boy from East Texas, Bubba LeRoy, was invited to a dinner party by the richest man in his small East Texas town. This multimillionaire wanted to show off his new house, car and land, to all the poor folks in the little town. He sent out invitations and when everyone arrived he gave them  the grand tour. He showed them his big, beautiful mansion, his gorgeous gardens tended by a full-time crew of 5 workers. He then opened his garage, big as a warehouse and it was filled with dozens of exotic, and classic cars. Then they were all ushered to the pool so he could show off the biggest pool this side of Dallas.  Bubba LeRoy and the rest of the towns folk went to see the giant pool and lo and behold it was filled with 20 Louisiana bayou alligators, all of them at least 12 feet long and a couple over 15 feet.

The millionaire laughed at the surprise and worry on the local yokels faces as they tried not to get to close to the edge of the pool and the snapping gators.

 “Oh, now what are y’all afraid of? A few little 'ol gators. Why I put each and every one of those little lizards in that pool myself.” Then he added, “I tell you what. I'll give a million dollars and the pick of any of my cars to anybody who will swim from one end of this pool to the other.”

 He waited, knowing no one would dare to take up his dare. “Oh well, I didn't think so,” he said and turned away. Just then he heard a splash and looked back to see Bubba LeRoy in the pool swimming furiously for the far side.
A 13 foot gator caught him by the leg but LeRoy punched the gator so hard in the head, it was stunned and let go. Then he grabbed another gator that was in his way and tossed it up out of the pool. Finally he wrestled two of the bayou monsters at the same time, stacked on top of each other and using them for steps, climbed out of the pool!

The millionaire was astonished and simply said, “Well now, do you want cash or can I write you a check?”

Bubba LeRoy said, “I don't want your money!”

The millionaire said, “Okay, then, which one of my cars to you want? In fact I’ll let you take two.”

 Leroy said, “I don't want none of your fancy cars, neither.”

 “Well that’s amazing. Is there anything you do want?”

 “Yeah, I want the name of the dirty rotten low-down skunk that pushed me into that pool!”

 Some would say ol LeRoy was a hero, but what is really important to us is what makes a hero from God’s perspective? We can get a good idea by looking at a place in scripture where God names three people who were heroes to him. 

It’s found in Ezekiel 14:14 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,  Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:  Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.  If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts: Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.  Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it:  Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.  Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:  Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

Isn’t this an interesting scripture? God cites three men as examples, men who He holds in high regard, Noah, Daniel and Job and He tells Ezekiel why he regards them so highly. He says it is because of their righteousness. “They should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness” in vss. 14 and 20. The word righteousness here comes from the Hebrew word tsadaq, (te da kwa) and it means rightness, justly, to have moral virtue, to act and live rightly. In other words, in God’s opinion these were good men who lived the way a follower of God should live. They were righteous in God’s eyes.

Context. Ezekiel was God’s prophet and he was also a priest or at least of a priestly family. He was probably taken into captivity in 597 BC at around 25 years old and now lives with many other Jewish exiles in Babylon. When he turned 30, God began to speak to him as a prophet and it would be a difficult, painful and unpopular ministry. Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 597 BC. At that time around 8000 or so of the princes and nobles of Jerusalem were taken into exile. Jeremiah was left in Judah, but Ezekiel and Daniel were taken. Daniel may have been younger and perhaps judged better looking by the captors and taken to work in the palace, Ezekiel who was already married was left to settle in a town called Tel-abib at the river Chebar where many of his fellow exiles would be settled. God uses Ezekiel to speak to this large and still growing group of ex Jerusalem citizens, many who still believed that the city of Jerusalem would rebel and overthrow the invaders, many of whom had still not repented of the sin that had exiled them. Ezekiel worked with the exiles outside the capital of Babylon while Daniel, Shadrac, Meshac and Abednigo worked in the palace of the king through several generation.

In Ezekiel 14 God tells the prophet that Judah and Jerusalem will not survive and that any rebellions, of which there were two, would not be successful. He say that the punishment would be complete and that in the end none would be left untouched by His wrath and punishment. To amplify his point He uses Noah, Daniel and Job as examples of righteousness who would not be able to save any except themselves in His coming judgment.

Right, In the Middle of Riot - Gen 6:5-8, 7:1

6:5-8 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.  And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

Noah Stood Alone

God’s first hero of righteousness is Noah.
In midst of all wickedness, He was righteous. He refused to conform to the sinful world around him and did as God Commanded no matter the cost and ridicule to himself or his family.
Hebrews 11:7  By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Noah was God’s hero because he stood even when he had to stand alone against a world that had forgotten God.

Heroes, Dare To Stand Alone

Today it seems that, just as it was in the days of Noah, all the world is turned against God and against the people of God.

The news media, the entertainment industry, social media all mock not just Christians but anything that is even moral. The worst kinds of debauchery and moral insanity are being presented as normality. Babies in the womb are treated with less regard than animals. All the modern world brings pressure against the people of God to conform to their new standard and if you won’t conform than you better shut up.

We are told that same sex attraction, homosexuality, even changing your gender is good, positive and something to be desired. If it is not being taught in the public school classrooms it is being spread in the halls and by the lockers of the students. Drag Queens are reading homosexual books to 3 and 4 year olds in our public libraries and the shows we watch as entertainment all have at least one good, happy, homosexual family or couple. Our country is strongly divided between two social philosophies and two political parties. One of those parties promotes abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and is opposed to almost every value found in God’s Word for a society or a nation to prosper.

In the midst of our present world, will you be a hero like Noah, and do as God commands no matter the costs or the consequences? No only must you stand up but you must also stand out.
Be someone for God, wherever and whenever you have the opportunity. Be righteous like Noah and let the world laugh and pressure, you will stand for what is right. Be different enough to make a difference and in God’s power strong enough to stand.

Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.   Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
“One plus God is always a majority.”

Illustration: Christian and Faithful in Vanity Fair

Now, these pilgrims, as I said, must needs go through (Vanity) fair. Well, so they did; but behold, even as they entered into the fair, all the people in the fair were moved; and the town itself, as it were, in a hubbub about them, and that for several reasons: for,

First, The Pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was diverse from the raiment of any that traded in that fair. The people, therefore, of the fair made a great gazing upon them: some said they were fools (1Cor. 4:9, 10); some, they were bedlams; and some, they were outlandish men.

Secondly, And as they wondered at their apparel, so they did likewise at their speech; for few could understand what they said. They naturally spoke the language of Canaan; but they that kept the fair were the men of this world: so that from one end of the fair to the other, they seemed barbarians each to the other (1Cor. 2:7, 8).

Thirdly, But that which did not a little amuse the merchandisers was, that these pilgrims set very light by all their wares. They cared not so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears, and cry, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity,” (Psa. 119:37) and look upward, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven (Phil. 3:20, 21).

One chanced, mockingly, beholding the carriage of the men, to say unto them, “What will ye buy?” But they, looking gravely upon him, said, “We buy the truth.” (Prov. 23:23) At that there was an occasion taken to despise the men the more; some mocking, some taunting, some speaking reproachfully, and some calling upon others to smite them. –Pilgrim’s Progress

If ever there was a time when Christians are walking through Vanity Fair, it is the time we now find ourselves living in.

Transition. God’s next hero is Daniel.

Right, In the Middle of Wrong - Daniel 1:5-16

 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.  Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:  Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.  But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.  Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.  And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.  Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,  Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.  Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.  So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.  And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.  Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

Daniel Purposed In His Heart

Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel and was probably taken into captivity before the exile of the Jews, after Nebuchadnezzar invaded and took captives from Jerusalem around 606 BC perhaps 9 years earlier than Ezekiel. The Babylonian King set up new king in Jerusalem, took the old King captive and took the best of the palace and nobles to serve in his government. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better know as Shadrach; Meshach; and Abednego.

What made Daniel a hero in God’s eyes. In vs. 8 the Bible tells us he purposed in his heart.  He determined, he made a commitment to righteousness.

Not only did he have the right commitment, but he also had the right attitude. He was not belligerent; he was not demanding but he respectfully requested.

Then we see in vs. 12 that he was willing to be put to the test.  He was willing to trust that God would use them to prove what was truly good and right.

Heroes, Do right the right way

Not only must you take a stand but you must also take that stand in the right way. You must do right, but you as a child of God must do right in the right way.

First, like Daniel you must purpose in your heart, make a commitment to what is true and what is right.  

1 Peter 3:13-14 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Determine what is right in any situation you find yourself in and then commit yourself to do it.
Then also as Daniel did, you must share that commitment, and take your stand. Righteousness is not righteousness unless it is seen in opposition to unrighteousness.

Second, you must deal with those in the wrong with compassion, love and respect.
Whether its abortion, sexual impurity, paganism, socialism, humanism or just plain sinfulism, the only way to win is to stand for the truth and in that stand show them God’s love.

Finally, Don’t be afraid to put your commitment to the test.
If what you believe is true, then it must be tested and if it is tested it will not fail.

What the World Needs

The world needs Christians who cannot be bought; whose word is their bond; who put character above wealth; who humbly but faithfully possess strong opinions and an unbending will; who are bigger than their jobs and stronger than the worlds influence.

Christians who will not lose their individuality in a crowd; who will be as honest in small things and in great things; who will make no compromise with wrong; whose ambitions go beyond this world and into eternity itself.

Christians who will surrender to peer pressure nor popularity; who are, true to their God, true to their church, true to their family and true to their friends.

Christians who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth even when it is unpopular; who will say "no" to sin, though all the world around them says "yes."

Christians who will be heroes of righteousness in the eyes of their friends, their family and especially in the eyes of God.

Transition: God’s last hero is Job, probably the oldest character in all the Bible. Let’s look at his story in …

Right, In the Middle of Ruin  - Job 42:7-10

 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.  Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.  So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.  And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Job refuses to turn against God

You remember the story of Job and all the calamities, catastrophes, sorrow and sadness that came into his life. So bad was situation that all around him said, you just need to die. His wife gave up on Job and told him to “Curse God and die.”

His friends gave up and told him “Confess your sin to God, you deserve what happened.”
In the midst of such advice and unfaithfulness, Job was filled with sorrow, he was hurt and he even become bitter toward his God.

But remember this, he never walked away from God. He never quit talking to God. He never cursed God.

In the end God strongly reprimanded those who had wrongly advised Job. God told them you better ask my servant Job to pray for you, because I’m not happy with you at all. In the end of Job’s righteous stand he personally fellowshipped with God and the Bible says he was twice as blessed by God as he was before.

Heroes, Stand Back Up  After Being Knocked Down

Job was a hero to God because he stood back up after being completely knocked down.
What will happened to us when catastrophe strikes? And believe me you can’t live in this sinful, rebellious world without some terrible and painful things happening to you. What will you do when they come? Will you walk away from God? Will your heart become so hardened that you quit hearing God? Will you quit your church, quit your family? Will you quit God? Many do, many have.
Instead be like God’s hero, Job and know the power of standing back up when the trials of life have knocked you down.

1 Peter 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

Job 17:9 The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

Will you hold on knowing that the deeper the trial now, the higher you’ll walk with God when its over? Will you stand back up knowing that the darker the sorrow now, the more clearly you’ll see God, when its done? Will you be faithful knowing that the more bitter the pain now, the sweeter will be the fellowship of God when the pain has ceased?

I believe that just like Job, if you faithfully walk with Him and you don’t give up on Him,  you will experience a double blessing from Him in your life when the trial is over.

Be one of God’s heroes today. In this present wicked world of ours, there has never been a greater need for heroes.

"I Am A Soldier" 

I am a soldier in the army of my God;
The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer.
The Holy Bible is my code of conduct.
Faith, prayer and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity and tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this army and I have enlisted for eternity.
I will either retire from this army at the rapture or die in this army; but I will not get out, sell out, be talked out or pushed out.
I am faithful, reliable and dependable.

If my God needs me, I am there.
If He needs me in Sunday School to teach children, work with youth, help with adults or just sit and learn.
He can use me, because I am there.

If He needs me in church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday, revival or special services, I am there.
I am there to preach, teach, sing, play, pray, work or worship.
God can use me because I am there.

I am a Soldier. I am not a baby.
I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up or pepped up
I am a Soldier. no one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me or lure me.

I am a Soldier, and I am committed.
I cannot have my feelings hurt badly enough to turn me around.
I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.
I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit,

I am a Soldier , I am committed, I will win.
My God will supply all my needs.
I am more than a conqueror, I will always trimuph.
I can do all things through Christ .

Devils cannot defeat me. People cannot disillusion me,
Weather cannot weary me. Sickness cannot stop me.
Battles cannot beat me.  Money cannot buy me.
Governments cannot silence me and Hell cannot handle me.
I am a soldier. I am committed. Even death cannot destroy me.

When my commander calls me from this battlefield
He will promote me and then bring me back to rule this world with Him.
I am a Soldier in the army of the Lord and I am marching, claiming victory.
I will not give up and I will not turn around.
I am a Soldier marching Heavenbound.

 I am a Soldier. Will You stand with me?

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