“Jehoshaphat said to Ahab, ‘please inquire for the word of the Lord today.’ Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred men, and said to them, ‘shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?’ So they said, ‘go up, for God will deliver it into the kings hand.’ But Jehoshaphat said, ‘is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?’ So the King of Israel said to him, ‘there is still one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil. He is Micaiah the son of Imla’ And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Let not the king say such things!’…
Then the messenger who had gone to call spoke to him, saying, ‘Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Therefore please let your words be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement!’ And Micaiah said, ‘As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak.’“
~2nd Chronicles 18:4-7, 12-13
DON’T COME TO THE WORD WITH PRETENSE
While I was reading this I felt the Spirit of the Lord convicting me of something that I believe has taken hold of our hearts, especially with potential pastors, preachers, teachers, and evangelists; coming to the Word of God in pretense; perhaps to hear encouragement or blessing, or in so many other ways, we have come to the Word of God in pretense. 400 prophets lied to Ahab and blessed him, but only 1 spoke the word of the LORD to him. We mustn’t harden our hearts as he did, coming to the word of the Lord to hear that we’re “ok”, or looking for affirmation, comfort, or consolation, but we must, with humble and soft hearts, come to hear what the Lord has to say to us, willing to even weep or be rebuked by the Lord.
The Lord is speaking today, but will we listen? I fear that many are not.
We come to hear the desires of our hearts fed, to reinforce what we already think, or to defend against the prick of conviction that we felt when someone preached to us the unadulterated word of God. I was even grieving that so many people can no longer tell the difference between being convicted by the Holy Spirit and the sensual draw of the flesh (I don’t limit the word “sensual” in this case to “sexual”, but use it in a broader sense). It is why so many today are being enticed and drawn away through covetousness by false teachers who pretend to preach the gospel; the pretense of our heart is why the Word of God is twisted and the Way of Truth maligned in our generation.
I pray, and hope you’ll join with me, that we as brothers and sisters would open our hearts wide to the word of the Lord!
PREACHING WITH LOVE
There is a temptation to confuse speaking comfort and blessings equates with love and mercy. But I want to exhort you in the truth, brethren, that we should “not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1st John 3:18)!
Let us look to the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ, and we shall see love!
For He was humble and lowly, emptied of all power and reputation, and He took upon His flesh no beauty (Isaiah 53:2; Philippians 2:7-8); with abounding love He became despised and rejected by men as a man of great sorrows, and became intimately acquainted with grief! And those whom He loved hid their faces from Him who suffered greatly for them! Carrying our woes and sorrows, we whom He loved, declared Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted, like jackals mocking a great lion fallen to save them! But for our sin, He was pieced, for our evils He was crushed, and for our peace He bore chastisement that by the blows that ripped His flesh we would be healed! Therefore, because we all had gone astray and turned, each one, to our own way, the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:3-6)!
I want to encourage you that “preaching with love” does not come from the softness of the words used but in the reflection of Christ demonstrated.
My dear brethren, if we preach with love then we will surely tread the same footsteps that Jesus trod.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. ~2nd Corinthians 4:7–11 5:13–15
You will suffer on account of those whom you love; you will sweat and bleed, endure pain and receive hatred for your love. You will be hard pressed on every side, perplexed, and persecuted for Who dwells in you.
So, what does it mean to let the “love of Christ compel you”?
It means that the same love that compelled Him will compel us; that which He loves, we will love. His desires are our desires. It means that we will lay our pride on the ground to be trampled upon by mockers today because He was trampled on. Because He was stripped naked it means that we will bear shame and reproach for the glory of Christ in this wicked generation.
It means that “wisdom calls aloud in the street; she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out on top of the walls, and at the city gates she speaks her words!” (Proverbs 1:20-21)
The heart that preaches with love mourns for those it preaches to; it can no more withhold repentance than God could withhold Christ from us! It can no less expose darkness than the Light drives it out!
I hope that we have eternity stamped on our eyeballs and look forward, as Peter instructed, saying “beloved… have your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1st Peter 2:12).
Let’s not be short-sighted, believing that the preaching of the gospel is effective for fruit only in this age, but with understanding, let us know that the preaching of the gospel is mighty and powerful to bear fruit unto the age to come as well! That in your honorable conduct, suffering as Christ suffered, loving as Christ loved, preaching as Christ preached, those who observe will glorify God in the day of visitation!
How magnificent is that? They may mock you, spit in your face, imprison you, reject you to the uttermost, but the gospel will still bear fruit in the age to come!
Let them imprison me,
and Christ I will preach in the jails,
for His glory unto eternity!
Yes, “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1st Peter 1:24-25).
Therefore, “while it is still called today”, and while the souls of this world are still naked, broken, crushed, bleeding, blind, and cold, let us glorify Christ and preach Him crucified! Amen!