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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Shields of Brass

John Bradshaw - Shields of Brass


John Bradshaw - Shields of Brass
John Bradshaw - Shields of Brass
TOPICS: In The Word

I'm glad to have this opportunity to open up the Bible with you. Let's pray before we do that and expect God to speak to us from His Word.

Our Father in heaven, we're thankful that together we can open the Word of God and, and have You speak to us. Guide us, bless us, give us open hearts, willing ears, and might today we be blessed as we discover something encouraging or insightful or something that would guide us. Bless us, please, to this end, we pray. Speak. Give us grace to hear. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen.


Let's open the Bible, or open a device, to 1 Kings chapter 10, and we'll begin at the beginning of the chapter, 1 Kings chapter 10. That would put us right there in verse 1. "Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions". Where did she come from? Sheba. Where was that? Don't know. Some people say Yemen; others say Ethiopia, some, Zimbabwe, but we don't know. What we do know is that it was more than likely a good journey to get from Sheba to where she came to. Where did she come to? Verse 2: "She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels that bore spices, very much gold, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart". And things got good for Solomon, because it says in verse 9, "Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness".

That's a very important point. Verse 10: "Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in great quantity, and precious stones. There never again came such abundance of spices as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon". Verse 11 says that "the ships of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought great quantities of almug wood and precious stones from Ophir". Can you imagine the wealth that was flowing into the treasury? Pick it up with me in verse 14: "The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six", interesting, right? "...six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold". Annually, that's a lot of gold. Verse 15: "Besides that from the traveling merchants, from the income of traders, from all the kings of Arabia, and from the governors of the country".

What do you do with all that wealth? He'd have to have his own Fort Knox. What do you do? Well, he did plenty, including what we are about to discover here. It says in verse 16, "King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of gold went into each shield". Verse 17: "He also made three hundred shields of hammered gold; three minas of gold went into each shield. The king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon". Verse 18, you may be a little conflicted reading or hearing this, it says, "Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold". I'm certain the ivory came from elephants that died of old age. That's what I want to think. This was a man who was wealthy. Verse 21 says, "And all King Solomon's drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon".

Solomon was wealthy. Notice this: The silver meant nothing. It was like nothing. There was so much gold; it was gold that mattered. Solomon was fabulously wealthy, and, and why? God blessed him. Why? Because he was faithful to God. No, no, no, that does not mean that if you're faithful to God, God is gonna see 666 talents of gold come to your house every year. No. But God will bless you. And this blessing came to the king, the king over God's people, in a very evident and abundant way. The shields of gold were worth a ton of money. And yet that gold that went into the shields of gold was just a fraction of Solomon's entire wealth. Remind yourself again, why was he so blessed? Solomon clearly was faithful to God, and God had said to Solomon, "If you are not faithful, the consequences will be very, very significant. Follow this through. If you're faithful, I'll bless you". He was faithful. The wealth came flooding in; to the extent, he said, "What do we do with all this gold? Make some decorations. Make shields. Two hundred like this, three hundred like that. We've got so much gold we might as well do something with it". God said, "If you're not faithful, the blessing will not be extended to you".

Okay, let's see what happened over in 1 Kings 14, starting in verse 21, 1 Kings 14, verse 21: "And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king. He reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. His mother's name was Naamah, [she was] an Ammonitess. Now Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel".

Let's stop and think about this. God said, you get on down there to the Promised Land. I'll run those people out. You go after them, and I'll chase them out like, like I would do with hornets. You'll expel them from the land. They're mighty, they're great, they're powerful, sure they are, but I will drive them out. Why? Because they're wicked, and they're sinners, and they do abominable things, and they're corrupt. And here, not very long after the fact, God's people, the Israelites, are following after the very customs of the people who were so wicked that God chased them out of the Promised Land. They were doubling over backwards to embrace the wicked customs of the world. I've got to tell you this. You can take this, well, I was about to say you can take this a little too far, but don't take that too far.

We live in a sinful world. We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. In the world, but don't embrace the sinful culture of the world. Don't let the world mold you so that you're no longer what God wants you to be. It's really important. These guys went to the Promised Land and became like the people that God ran out of there. You don't want that to happen to you. You just don't. What does the Bible say happened as a consequence of this? We are in 1 Kings chapter 14, and we'll read verse 25: "It happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem". Interesting. When Israel left the Promised Land, God gave them favor with the Egyptians, and they took a ton of Egyptian wealth with them. Where do you think the valuables came from that made the sanctuary in the wilderness? It was Egyptian gold. But now the Egyptians are saying, "We want it back. We've come for that". And on this particular day, Shishak king of Egypt had a good day at the office.

Verse 26: "And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made". So what did Rehoboam do? Those shields of gold represented the blessing of God that came as a result of Israel's faithfulness. Now they're gone. And what does Rehoboam do? I mean, anybody who came into that beautiful house would say, "Oh, Rehoboam, where are the shields"? And Rehoboam, of course, didn't want people to notice that the shields were gone. He did not want people to see empty spaces on walls where shields of gold had once hung. So, desperate to keep up appearances, desperate to live a lie if it meant people wouldn't think less of him, desperate to pretend and play a part, the Bible says, "King Rehoboam made bronze shields", or brazen, brass shields, "in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king's house. And whenever the king entered the house of the Lord, the guards carried them, then brought them back into the guardroom".

Brass, it's copper with zinc added. Bronze is similar, copper with other ingredients, typically tin, sometimes arsenic or phosphorus or aluminum or manganese or silicon. Now, I may use the term, the, the terms interchangeably, brass and bronze; they're similar. The dynasty of David went from gold to brass in just five years. Solomon died, and five years later, the gold was gone and had been replaced by brass. You know, there's no substitute for the real thing. A substitute is that; it's a substitute; it's not the genuine article. Some work. I mean, not that I drink 'em, but you can't hardly tell the difference, I don't think, between 7UP and Sprite. You could shop at this supermarket or the next supermarket, and they're about the same really. Ancestry.com and 23andMe, eh, they're the same, basically. You know what I'm talking about? Some substitutes don't work quite as well. McDonald's will never substitute for a home-cooked meal. That imitation Rolex watch you, you got offered for $20 when you were vacationing in a foreign country? Nothing like the real thing.

You thought, "Ah, it's only 20 bucks. Maybe it'll go for a while. I'll wear it to the office, and they'll see the 'Rolex' watch". And so you wore it to the office. It was 18 degrees outside, Fahrenheit, you wore short sleeves and a "Rolex" watch so somebody would say, "Ohhh, that's a nice watch! Is it a Rolex"? And you didn't answer yes or no, because you didn't wanna say "yes," because it wouldn't be right; you didn't wanna say "no," because then that wouldn't be right, either. That "Rolex" watch worked for about a day, and then it stopped, and then the hands fell off, and the face fell off, and the strap fell off, because some imitations are just not like the real thing. You can understand the thought process that leads a person to substitute or replace one thing for another. You drove a Ford; now you drive a Chevrolet. Ehhh, you know, you can dicker all you want, but there's not that much between comparable new cars today.

Maybe preference is the biggest thing. You can understand why someone would make that sort of change. While someone is, is wearing Puma running shoes, and now they wear New Balance running shoes. Uh, understandable. They, they were gonna go to Burger King; instead, they went to McDonald's, understandable, you see. Very similar, but some substitutions you just cannot understand. They're baffling. Spiritually we can make baffling substitutions. There are some people who have the Word of God. They trade it in for tradition. You'll meet people who give up on God and embrace a God-less life, as though having God out of your life is going to get you ahead. It won't. It'll get you further back. "But I feel happier, I'm freer, I don't know what I am, but I don't have God in my life".

Why'd you make that decision? You just exchanged a shield of gold for a shield of brass. Some people are worshiping the world and making gods out of money and things and pleasure. And there are those who choose to reject the righteousness of Christ and satisfy themselves with self-righteousness, which is not righteousness of, at all. And this is a problem. Let us understand something. There is only one way of salvation. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. When we deviate from that Bible truth, we make ourselves slaves of the most miserable kind, servants of the most tyrannical master. "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved".

Only the name of Jesus. When we reckon there is another means of salvation, when we think for a moment that our own deeds are somehow meritorious, we are in a disastrous form of spiritual bondage. The Apostle Paul described our own righteousness as being "of the law". But he said that he rejected that in favor of "that which is through the faith of Christ", listen, "the righteousness which is of God by faith". This is the righteousness he told us in Philippians 3 that enables us to "know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death". In fact, let's look at that passage in Philippians and chapter 3. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians. Okay, I'm in Ephesians. I've got to go one more book over. Philippians chapter 3, and we shall read starting in... where? Where do you think?

Let's start in verse 4. Paul says, "Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks that he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day", that's the right day, "of the stock of Israel", that's the right nation, "of the tribe of Benjamin", the right tribe, that's the tribe that King Saul came from, more than likely the man after whom he was named, Paul was named, because he was Saul before he was Paul, "a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless". And he says, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ".

The King James uses the word "dung," which is a very strong way of describing something he says is worthless. Verse 9, what we looked at a moment ago: "And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through [the] faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [of] the dead".

Now, let me tell you something. What makes a piano sound good is, A, a good piano player, but if a good piano player played a piano that was out of tune, you'd just have, well, a tuneless mess. You know what I mean? What makes a piano sound really good is when it's been tuned correctly, when the strings are at the right tension. There's a little tension in the gospel. You've gotta get the tension right between faith and works, between presumption and faith, not that you should ever get near to presumption. We must avoid the Scylla of legalism, while at the same time shunning the Charybdis of carelessness. You know, it was said over there in Europe that the two rocky outcroppings on either side of a certain strait, the Straits of Messina, were called Scylla and Charybdis. In fact, it was said that sea monsters were there: on the one side, Scylla, on the other side, Charybdis.

So if you got too far in one direction, Scylla would get ya. If you veered too far the other way, Charybdis had ya. And it can be like that in faith. You get too legalistic, boom! Scylla. You get over here, Charybdis, carelessness in your faith. Someone told me recently about a kid who was raised in a very restrictive home. He said, "When I have children of my own, I will give them room to work things out for themselves". So he didn't intervene, didn't explain his beliefs, didn't share his faith, took them to church, but the kids grew into adulthood without a clue as to what their church or faith actually stood for. You don't want to be over there. This thing that says, "How you live doesn't matter, God has no standards, as long as you believe, and that's all, then you're gonna be okay with God," that's a deception, too. You've got people over here who are working and striving and struggling, and if they eat too many almonds, they feel like it's a sin and they're gonna go to hell and they fell out of favor with God.

You can go to one extreme, or you can go to another. You don't wanna go to either extreme, except being extremely all-in with God. Rehoboam, walking around the palace, "Come and see my bronze, everybody," looking at these shields, and what he knows is that they represent unfaithfulness, the blessing of God removed. Rehoboam, who are you kidding? There are several things we can learn here. One, it doesn't take long to fall when you turn out of God's pathway. I could point to person after person, and I'm sure you could, too, once rejoicing in the Lord, then they turn from God. Where are they years later? Is life ever going better? No. You turn from God, and you go from gold to bronze, just like that. But like Rehoboam, there are people everywhere settling for shields of brass. God wants to give you gold. They're settling for bronze. "I'll have bronze. I'll have brass. I don't want gold", who would do that? Who ever wanted an Olympic gold medal and said to the third-place getter, "Look, I really want a bronze. I'll give you my gold medal if you give me your bronze medal"?

But in the church, people do it. Some of them, you know, they feel like they're living the high life; they're free from God; they don't have to worry about that old church stuffiness. You know something? God wants you to have a faithful existence, a good existence. You can be successful in this world, and you can have God. If you're successful in this world and you don't have God, then you have a shield of brass. You can have the best 401k, the best retirement plan. You can have the biggest bank balance. You can have the biggest home and the fanciest cars. Nothing wrong with those things. If you have wealth, God bless you, that's fine, but if wealth has you, that's another thing altogether. If wealth has you, then you don't have gold; you have, you have brass. There are people who are academic, and academics becomes God for them. Nothing wrong with being educated. Without education, the Reformation would never have happened. Those individuals were brilliant and well-educated.

But some people get too smart for God, and they decide, "I want to put my own particular twist on the Bible. I want people to follow me, not God". And so you're smart and you have degrees and you have wealth, and one day you say, "I thought that was worth pursuing, but it wasn't what mattered most". Parents will find out one day they didn't spend enough time with their children. Husbands who didn't invest enough time in their wives, and wives in their husbands. Christians who discovered they didn't spend enough time with God. What tricks some people is that they think they have gold, but it's merely pyrite, iron pyrite. You know, fool's gold looks like gold. People find it, they're all happy; they think they've struck gold. But as Shakespeare wrote, "All that glisters is not gold".

And fool's gold isn't gold. Ever look in your life? Is that the real thing, or is it fool's gold? God speaks to His people in earth's last days, telling us that He wants us to have the real thing. Now, listen. There are many people today who assume that since they go to church, and don't kill, and don't commit adultery, then they must be righteous. "I went to a church school, I graduated from a church-run university or college. I've done just about everything I need to do". That would make you about as good as a Pharisee, if it's just outward observance, a high profession, a great amount of dedication to what undoubtedly, what is a good cause. If you think that's going to get you to heaven, then you're fooling yourself. "I'm a good person, right"? I mean, based on how the world judges you, maybe you're a great person. Based on how God looks at you, you aren't good at all. Because as Jesus said, "There is none good but one," and that's the Father. "There is none [that does] righteous, no, not one".

Paul didn't see it that way. He said that, far from his good attributes recommending him to God, he came to the place where he considered his own righteousness, which he said was "of the law," to be "rubbish," or "dung". Righteousness involves an awful lot. It isn't just saying the right words, making the right movements, doing the right things outwardly. No question, righteousness is right doing, and I'm not trying to muddy the waters and give you the impression that somehow a righteous person doesn't do right. Of course she does, or he does. But when it comes to being righteous, the Word of God tells us, and Paul tells us explicitly, that the righteousness we need is the righteousness of God.

Now, stop and think about that. What sort of righteousness is the righteousness of God? That's some pretty righteous righteousness. Could we call it complete righteousness? I think we could. Could we call it perfect righteousness? Oh my goodness, you're going to call it imperfect righteousness? We would have to call it perfect righteousness. If not, we'd find ourselves in the place where we're saying that there's something incomplete or imperfect about God's righteousness. So what Paul is telling us is that it's God's plan to give us God's own perfect righteousness. Now, mention this too loudly, you'll make a lot of people very nervous, because we all know that sort of righteousness is very, very righteous, and we are tempted to say, "I could never imagine myself that righteous". But God evidently does imagine you that righteous.

Let me just digress here for a moment. I'll be with large gatherings of people; I'll be, you know, from the front I'll say, "How many people here are prepared to say they're converted? How many people are converted"? And there's a fellow down here in the front row, "Amen"! And a lady back there who, you know, sweetly puts in, she says, "Amen". And there's somebody in the back going, and you don't know whether that brother coughed or said, "Amen". He was sort of hedging his bets. When the Bible says that Christ will give you His righteousness, it's perfect righteousness. And I'm going to ask you if you are saved or if you are converted, and you're gonna say, "Hmm". That's not humility. It's just really bad theology. It's not humility that says, "Well, I'd hate to say that I'm saved". That's a lack of faith. John wrote and he said, "I write these things to you... [so] that you [can] know that you have eternal life".

Here at It Is Written, just today, we were going through prayer requests that people send to us. We pray for them. And we were reading them out, and one said, a lady says, "I hope", something like, "I hope that I have a place in God's kingdom". You hope? Why would you hope? You are to believe. Did you accept Jesus as your Savior? Yes. Did He accept you as His child? Yes. Did you change your mind? No? Okay, did He change His? Absolutely not. Don't be hoping. You be believing. God wants you to have confidence; that's what faith is. It's confidence. When Jesus says, "I forgive you," takes away your sins, He gives you His righteousness. You ought to say, "Amen! I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ". We want the real thing in our churches.

The story of the shields of brass tells us of a substitute, a cheap substitute. But God wants for us the gold. He wants for us the real thing. It's important that we have it and that we claim it. God wants you to have the gold, the genuine article. We want our churches to be genuinely alive and on fire for God. We remember the goal is, you know what's really interesting? Let me share this with you. I don't know how I came across this video. It was on, it was on YouTube, a YouTube video. You might have seen this. Someone in a restaurant ordered squid. I've no idea why you'd want to eat squid. None at all. I did try octopus once, many years ago. I didn't know any better. It was a lot like chewing on a shoe, the bottom of a shoe, except the bottom of a shoe would have actually tasted better. Nothing much to it.

So why you'd eat squid, I don't know, especially if it's a whole squid. Maybe if you're gonna cut up a little squid into pieces and put it in a quinoa salad with arugula and, and lemon and couscous... I have no idea if that sounds good or not, if that's, maybe it's terrible. Maybe in a salad, but a squid? And so in the video somebody orders squid, and the squid is on what appeared to be a bed of rice, I'm probably not remembering very well, and it's dead. It's just there. And the diner takes what I think is soy sauce and pours or sprinkles it on the squid, dead squid. And suddenly, the squid starts to move, and sudden, and all those legs are moving, there's about 10 of them, you know, or are they tentacles? And the squid legs start moving, and it looks to all the world like the squid is going to disappear right off the plate. The squid, it seems, came to life. You look at the squid, you say, "Oh my goodness, what in the world! How can a dead squid be alive"?

The dead squid was not alive! The dead squid was dead. It had something to do with the chemical reaction when the sodium in the soy sauce got involved with the cells of the squid, and it just made it react, like, like Michael Flatley in Riverdance. Break dancing. You know, I just read that break dancing is being considered as a sport for the Olympic Games in 2024. I think that's a sign of the end of the world. It looked like it was trying out for the break dancing Olympics. The squid was dead, but it looked alive. We can be spiritually dead, but manage to look alive. We know what, we know what the right things to say are. We know how to make the right impression. We know how to fake it. But that would be a dead person acting like it's alive. As a matter of fact, sounds a lot like spiritualism. We don't want to fake it. God wants for you to have the real thing. Not a shield of brass hanging in your hallway, but a shield of gold, the real thing.

Isaiah spoke to this in the 64th chapter of the book that bears his name, verse 6: "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away". Now, I know you got that. "All of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags". Shocking, really, isn't it? My goodness, my works, my holiness, if it's mine, if it's self-generated, then according to the Bible, it's worth nothing more than filthy rags. If I think I'm pretty good, I got to think again. It is not that our righteousnesses are not good things. It's, it's not that it's not good to help a kind lady across a road, or to give somebody a lift to the grocery store, or to buy some, you know what I'm talking about. Good things are good things. It's simply that our righteousness cannot merit favor with God, cannot earn us salvation. Our best is not good enough for heaven. Stop and consider the crisis that you and me, that you and I both find ourselves in.

Remember Grandma Eve and Grandpa Adam. They were made perfect, but they sinned. Their sin separated themselves from God. So in order to make themselves acceptable to God, just pause a moment, listen. Here they were in the Garden of Eden, and they were clothed with what? Well, they were clothed with light. It's interesting, isn't it, that all the pictures you see, they're naked. Isn't that weird? We need to change that and start drawing some of those pictures of Adam and Eve clothed with lights. Someone once referred to the Garden of Eden as the land of "strategically placed" trees and bushes. There they were, lost the light, found themselves naked, and in order to make themselves acceptable before God, they sewed together garments made from fig leaves. They tried to remedy their own lack.

Now they had a fallen nature, and there wasn't a thing they could do to change their nature. The problem was within, and they needed help from above. Instead of righteousness, they were, they were now wearing rags. How typical of people today, to try to do something to conjure up righteousness of their own. To try to do something to ameliorate one's unrighteous state, try a little harder, should we? Try and do a little better, should we? Let's, pray harder; that'll make us better. Fast more, go to prayer meeting, that'll, that, that'll change me! But that's just making an apron out of fig leaves. Oh, no, no, good to pray, good to fast, good to go to prayer meeting, good to go to church. But none of those things save ya. We receive our righteousness from Christ. Adam and Eve's fig leaves were not going to help them an iota. They weren't clothed until God made them coats; then they were clothed. Where'd those clothes, or coats, come from? They were made out of skins. It's clear that something had to die in order for Adam and Eve to be clothed.

The death of the animal, or animals, that provided the skins for Adam and Eve prefigured the death of Jesus, whose death for us is our only hope of salvation, whose death for us provides us with the robe of righteousness we need in order to see eternal life. Adam and Eve needed something they couldn't originate. When it comes to righteousness, you and I need something we cannot originate. Jeremiah asked, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil". People who try to become good through their own efforts invariably end up either quitting on Christ, or, even worse, they stay in the church and, miserable as anything, make other people miserable. Or they invent a theology that somehow excuses spiritual failure. There's a lot of that about. But the solution for our unrighteous state is found in the righteousness of Christ. It's perfect righteousness. I don't need my own goodness; I need God's goodness. I get that in Jesus. The righteousness of Christ, mine free. We repent. We repent of our sins. What does God do?

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us [of] all unrighteousness". God does what we can't do for ourselves. He meets our sincere repentance with forgiveness and cleansing. He took away the fig leaves Adam and Eve wore and gave them something prefiguring that their clothing had come at a great price. Ultimately, the true Lamb, Jesus, would die so they might live and be pure, cleansed from sin. Similar with the story of Joshua, the high priest in Zechariah. Filthy garments taken away, he's given clean garments. Think of the prodigal son. He returned to his father. The father said, "Kill the fatted calf," and "bring forth the best robe and put it on him". Did he deserve that robe? No. What made him worthy of wearing the robe? His own great need and his father's love, and do you know that that prodigal son represents me...and you? It's important for us to recognize that in us dwells no good thing.

It's important to know that we are entirely dependent upon Jesus for our righteousness and our salvation. When you think about that, that'll make you appreciate Jesus more than ever. This prods me a little bit, it does. How can I be entirely dependent upon Jesus for my salvation and yet not have much to do with Jesus? It's true God wants to do something for me that I cannot do for myself; it is. And that being so, then shouldn't He be entirely prominent in my life? What about this thing where I'm not spending any time with Jesus? I'm not praying; I'm not reading. And I'm not depending on Him at all for anything. We come to Jesus in great need. What we need is Christ. God gives us the gift of Jesus. He takes away our sins. He clothes us in His righteousness, and He lives His life in us, and we are growing from that moment on towards the kingdom of heaven.

Revelation chapter 3, you notice here what it says. Revelation chapter 3, and we'll pick this up in verse...15. Jesus says, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot". Interesting. "Hot" would be all the way "on" for Jesus; "cold" would be all the way "off," and Jesus said, I wish you were one or the other. If you're not gonna be hot, He says, I wish you were cold, against me. Why does He say that? Verse 16: "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold or hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth". And I don't want to get too agricultural here, but vomiting is an involuntary act. Not that the person says, "You know what I think I'll do"? It just comes, and you can't hardly prevent it. And Jesus said, I've got to do this. I've got to.

Verse 17: "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing', and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, I counsel you to buy from me gold [tried] in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see". What's He talking about? He's talking about the gold. Someone once called that "faith that works by love". Gold. He's talking about the white clothing, the righteousness of Christ. You get that by faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit, the eye salve that will come. Jesus says in verse 19, "Be zealous therefore, and repent". And in verse 20 you have that beautiful illustration of Jesus standing at the door and knocking, saying, if you hear me, open the door, and I'll come in to you, and I will dine with you, and you can dine with me. Not, not, not bronze tried in the fire. Gold tried in the fire.

Jesus will give you the gold. You want the gold. In a city in Japan, the city of Suwa, Suwa, city officials discovered something of great value in the last place you'd ever expect. For years the city of Suwa was paying to have its sewage hauled away, but then, then they started incinerating it. It was then somebody made an incredible discovery. Barrels and barrels of ash turned up glimmering with gold. You see, Suwa is close to the city of Nagano. And, and Nagano has an abundance of natural hot springs, which contain a lot of minerals, including gold. And there's a manufacturing plant in town that uses gold in a lot of its processes.

Seems obvious that some of that gold would end up going down the drain. These days, Suwa's waste, once incinerated, contains gold at a concentration of 40 times one of the world's leading gold mines. They take that gold, and they sell it for lots of money. Out of, well, out of, um, nothing, something of great value. When Adam and Eve sinned, they gave away everything they had that was valuable. God pledges to give it back. We can have that which is so valuable, that which fits us for eternity, free of charge. Out of the nothing of our lives, God brings true gold, the true gold of the character of Jesus. When we have Jesus, when you have Christ as your righteousness, when we have Christ our righteousness, we have everything. Do you want that? You want the, the gold of Christ's righteousness? I believe you do. Come on, let's pray:

Father in heaven, we don't want shields of brass hanging in our halls, but shields of gold, the real thing. Don't let us, Lord, fool ourselves for a moment by relying on ourselves or thinking we can work our way to heaven, or thinking that if we just do this, that You accept us. Would You remind us again that You accept us as we are? And when You've taken our heart, You reassure us that You accept us and that salvation is ours. And then when You've saved us, Lord, grow us, grow us into everything we can be for Your glory. We thank and love You. We pray, asking Your blessing. We thank You for shields of gold, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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