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JOHN PEARRELL: Follow God's Word, not your own inclinations

Jehoshaphat was a good king in ancient Judah. He was a faithful follower of God and saw religious education as an important key to the nation's security. One of Jehoshaphat's great strengths was his ability to trust God when everything spoke against such trust.His greatest weakness, however, was to depend upon his own devices when his back wasn't up against the proverbial wall. It is this self-reliance that lands Jehoshaphat in trouble time and time again.

If you want to read his story, read 1 Kings 15:24-22:50 and 2 Chronicles 17:1-21:1.

Jehoshaphat is like a lot of professed Christians today, and that is what got him into trouble repeatedly.

Jehoshaphat, it seems, had an affinity to make business deals and/or political decisions based on what he thought would be profitable to him and turn a blind eye toward the spiritual conditions of those he politically or professionally aligned himself with. This became a snare for good king Jehoshaphat and it has become a snare for many in the church today.

After one such debacle where, after asking to hear from a prophet of God, he decided to ignore the prophet and join the father-in-law of his son in a battle against Ramoth Gilead in Aram, he nearly lost his life. The King of Israel (Ahab) had set him up as a target for the enemy.

Ahab's plan didn't work and Jehoshaphat escaped and Ahab died, just as the prophet Micaiah had predicted.

Upon his safe arrival back to his palace in Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat is confronted by the prophet Jehu with these words, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is upon you." (2 Chronicles 19:2 NIV).

It seems to me that we have a lot of people like Jehoshaphat in our midst today. Jehu recognizes the good in Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 19:3), he knows that in his heart he wants to do the right thing, but he confronts the compromise in the man's life.

Today, we have a whole host of people who, like Jehoshaphat of old, have thrown in their support of things that we as believers should be standing against. We excuse ourselves by saying "Well, it's only one issue," (forget the fact that at least one of those "one issues" is an issue of life and death), "We're looking at the bigger picture."

Really, to you I say, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?" I like the way the Message translation renders those words, "You have no business helping evil, cozying up with God-haters." We in the church would do well to heed that message.

For all of his goodness, Jehoshaphat had an appalling record of "helping evil and cozying up with God-haters."

It is no wonder that his son, Jehoram, went in a way totally opposite of his father embracing the very things his father had opposed. It seems to be a case of "what you do speaks more than what you say."

The concern by many that we are losing our young people to the church can be resolved if we would but learn from history, and start taking right stands instead of always trying to appease wrong stances.

Dr. Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention is right: "Nothing can be politically right if it is Biblically wrong."

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.