Posts Tagged ‘cistern’


Dancing with the Stars is starting soon. I know that there are a few fans here. One Dance you will not see the contestants performing is the “Dance of the Moron”. And no you will not see this couple performing either. We laugh, but there really is a dance of the Moron that God says describes as the forbidden dance, one which He is Passionately Opposed to.

The Dance of the Moron looks exciting and wonderful to other morons, but to God, it is very deadly.

This Dance of the Moron is described in the verses we will look at in Romans 1:18-23.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:18-23 (ESV)

Terms Defined

Before we examine this Dance of the Moron and God’s Passionate Opposition to it, it would help us to define some terms:

Moron (moraino-vs 22)

  • A person who is notably stupid or lacking in good judgment.
  • In Psychology. a person of borderline intelligence in a former classification of mental retardation, having an intelligence quotient of 50 to 69.

God does not quantify morons by their IQ. God classifies people as morons based upon how they respond to the next term we’ll define. God is the one who determines who is a moron or not.

Revelation (apokalyptō – vs 17 & 18)

  • The act of revealing or disclosing; disclosure.
  • Something revealed or disclosed, esp. a striking disclosure, as of something not before realized.

I. God’s Case Against Mankind

    Why God Responds With Wrath? From Romans 1:18-23.

A.   God has Revealed Two Things to Mankind

1.    He Is and He is Righteous (vs 17)

Verse 17 says “For in it (Gospel God) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. This Gospel that we saw last week, that Paul surrendered his life to, is revealed in the Greatest Power this World has ever known-the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. By faith in God’s Message, we see, we know, we possess the very Righteousness of God. Gospel God is opposed to all those who by intent or by ignorance or by stupidity refuse to Honor His Righteousness.

Righteousness is “what God requires; what is right, uprightness, justice; righting wrong; (God’s) putting (man) in a right relationship (with Himself).”

God is not content being Righteous by Himself. This World, everything that is in it, including you and me, God desires with all His heart to set it Right once again. He created it RIGHT, but sin happened. He has revealed His Righteousness to us, His way of setting it right again, and it is by FAITH that this RIGHTEOUSNESS can be ours. Jesus Christ has made everything possible, and we must simply life in FAITH in what God has done through Him. IN THE GOSPEL, God has REVEALED HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOW IT IS AVAILABLE TO US!

2.    He is and He is Passionate (orge-desire – vs 18)

Various translations translate ‘orge’ in this way:

  • The wrath of God (KJV, ESV, NIV)
  • God shows his anger (NLT, GW, TEV, NCV)
  • God’s angry displeasure erupts (MSG)

Orgē is from orgaō, to teem, to swell. It is the temper of God towards sin, not rage, but the wrath of reason and law (Shedd).

Passion from Dictionary.com:

  • any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
  • strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor.
  • strong sexual desire; lust.
  • a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music.
  • violent anger.

Instead of viewing ‘wrath’ as some angry outburst, we should see it as a passionate display of His Righteous character. The same way married couples respond to unrighteous threats to their marriage.

  • “Wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness.”
  • God is not passive but active in response to sin.
  • This attitude and exercise of righteous indignation against evil is no vice but a virtue which God perfectly displays against sin.

B.   God is El Qanna – I am Jealous

  • for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” Exodus 34:14
  • God desires His Creation to Worship Him, to Walk With Him, and He jealously injects Himself into our life.

Police will tell you that the most dangerous situations they often face are domestic conflicts. Passions and Jealousies ignite tremendous rage at times.

PERSONAL WITNESS: One of the most dramatic things I have ever witnessed was as I was a freshman in Bible College at a Laundromat doing my laundry. It was Thursday evening, I was watching Kung-Fu. All of a sudden I hear a screeching of tires as a car slammed on its brakes. Into the Laundromat a gal comes stomping, screaming, “you been messin with my man. You better getta away from my man”. This other gal doing her laundry starts screaming back and before I know it these two women are down on the ground pulling hair, punching at each other, biting. Before long the police come and drag them away. Now, I don’t know who the guy was, but he obviously had ignited a lot of passion between these two women. That passion led to violence. Their passion was based on their own selfishness.

God’s Passion does not grow from selfishness but from His Righteousness…

  • Because He is Righteous, he cannot tolerate people who deliberately turn away from Him, from His righteousness, and then declare their own! They are Morons to Him. God’s angry displeasure is against all morons, because THEY JUST DON’T GET IT, IN FACT THEY REFUSE TO GET IT. They simply keep on dancing the dance of a moron.
  • The Passion of God is not an emotional outburst as people imagine. His desire is such that we know His righteousness, that we are Holy as He is Holy. When we are not, his desire for us is kindled to the point that He would do anything to get us to turn to Him.
  • No exact form of judgment is specified; the present judgments of God are seen in a variety of ways–“natural” calamities, local disasters, etc.
  • Whether or not you believe God had a hand in the natural disasters that have been so prevalent recently, and have been revealed from the heavens, the results have been that many people have turned to Jesus Christ.

God has done so much for us, he is shouting at the top of HIs Voice, I am Your Creator, Your God. Why won’t you give your lives to me? Why do you insist on ignoring me, on living your own way? Why do you insist on being ungodly and unrighteous? Because of my Righteous desire for you, here is a taste of my Power. Wake up and turn to Me!

Look at What Has Happened as the Result of His Wrath in the recent earthquake in Haiti:

In Haiti: A reported 40,127 Haitians have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ since a major earthquake hit the impoverished nation in January, according to pastors and directors of missions within the Confraternite Missionaire Baptiste d’Haiti (CMBH).

“Haiti is ripe for a spiritual movement from God,” said Craig Culbreth, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s partnership missions department, which coordinates the work of the CMBH, upon his Feb. 22 return from Port-au-Prince.

During a Feb. 16-17 citywide holiday observance in Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, Culbreth saw “thousands upon thousands filling the streets where people are seeking God and asking Him to spare them from what happened in Port-au-Prince. For me, it was a New Testament expression of what it looks like when the Spirit of God shows up. I have never seen anything like it.”

God’s Passionate Desire is For Us to Walk in His Righteousness

You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. Psalms 89:13-16 (ESV)

Men May Complain That God is Not Fair and that He is so Hateful…Yet one day we will all see that His Acts Have all Been Based upon His Righteousness:

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:2-4 (ESV)

God Reveals Himself in His Righteous Acts, even though they may seem like wrath.

II. GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS VS. MAN’S UNRIGHTEOUSNESS

A. Man’s Reaction to God’s Revelation

1. Ungodliness (asebeian). Lack of Reverence because of an innate wickedness – wanting to do things their own way.

2.Unrighteousness (adikía).

  • Injustice. What ought not to be, that which is wrong. In 1 John 5:17, “all unrighteousness [adikía] is sin [hamartía].”
  • Lack of right conduct toward men, injustice  This follows naturally from irreverence. The basis of ethical conduct rests on the nature of God and our attitude toward him, otherwise the law of the jungle (cf. Nietzsche, “might makes right”).
  • Unrighteousness will result in deeds which violate law and justice
  • Immorality

B.   The Result of Man’s Reaction:

1.    Men Hold Back (Suppress, repress-Katechonton) the TRUTH by their Unrighteousness

  • The conduct of men that is a result of their lack of reverence for God actually hold’s back God Truth.
  • Just as disobedience caused Adam and Eve’s eyes to be opened to see their nakedness, so sin blinds our eyes to God!

2.    Sin blinds us to our need for God!

Now the holy anger of God is disclosed from Heaven against the godlessness and evil of those men who render truth dumb and inoperative by their wickedness (Philips Translation)

C.   Man Chose to Ignore the Truth of God

1.  God  Reveals Himself to Man

  • God Reveals Himself in Blazing Neon Signs
  • Men deliberately chose to be irreverent toward God
  • Men deliberately chose their own morality which leads to injustice, disobedience, partiality, greed, selfishness, and every kind of immoral behavior.

For what can be known about God is plain(phaneron) to them, because God has shown(phaneroo) it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20 (ESV)

  • phaneron  phaneroō

That which can be known about God is phaneros – (to shine, to make to shine or to cause to appear. Apparent, manifest, plain –  it is that apparent!) You cannot escape the obvious revelation of God!

2.    His Invisible Attributes Shine Big and Bright

JBPhilips: It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed he has made it quite plain to them. For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and divinity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse.

Paul is speaking of what man can see in the created order because of the knowledge he inherently possesses as a creature made in God’s image.

  • Special revelation shows God as Redeemer;
  • General revelation shows God as Creator!
  • Special revelation is the norm for the church;
  • General revelation is the norm for society!
  • Special revelation is the means for salvation;
  • General revelation is the means of condemnation!

3.    Men are Without Excuse

Even if Jesus had been preached to them, they would have rejected Him, because they reject God Himself!

III. Why Are Men Without Excuse?

THEY REFUSE TO KNOW THE TRUTH IN THESE THREE WAYS:

A.   Men Refuse/Fail to Glorify God as God

1.  They know (ginosko) there is a God.

  • to know by personal experience.
  • En autois suggests intuitive knowledge, the sphere in which God is known (phaneron), our heart and mind.
  • Murray combines the two ideas: God is known “in them” (en autois, v.19a) because He revealed Himself “to them” (autois, v.19b) in creation.
  • This knowledge of God in man is a result of God’s own self-disclosure. All men possess clear (albeit limited) knowledge of God, for He has made Himself known to them.

Paul addressed the Greek Philosophers on Mars Hill:

that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Acts 17:27-28 (ESV)

God made us with the capacity to recognize that there is a God, that this God created us, designed us, and desires to have a relationship with us.

2. They Refuse or Fail to Render Proper Glory to God.

  • doxázō: To honor, bestow honor upon, exalt in dignity, render glorious. CWSD
  • Proper Honor means to render glory to Him, recognize Him for Who and What He is, to celebrate with praises, worship, adoration. CWSD
  • Proper Glory means we seek to Worship Him with our substance, with our hearts, with our hands, with our lives.

Whatever we do we do it with the Glory of God in Mind! How many people would murder, steal, lie, cheat if they lived to give proper Honor to God?

3. How Does Mankind Refuse or Fail to Give Proper Glory to God?

  • Act like He doesn’t exist.
  • Ignore His Message
  • Complain about What Happens
  • Depend upon yourself or your friends or the Government
  • Fail to acknowledge Him as you work and play
  • Act as if He doesn’t exist.
  • We are not just talking about Heathens, Hooligans and the Hell-Bound!

“Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord.” Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’ And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit. “Therefore I still contend with you, declares the Lord, and with your children’s children I will contend. For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see, or send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:2-13 (ESV)

B. Men Refuse/Fail to Give Thanks to God

1. Wonders of Creation

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalms 19:1 (ESV)

2. Provisions and Blessings

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count. Psalms 40:5 (NASB)

3. In the Way they Treat Others and their Environment

God’s Law had amazing provisions for care of the blind and lame, as well as taking care of refuse and trash.

4. In the Way we Treat our Possessions

  • Look at the way God wanted His Tabernacle constructed and maintained
  • Do You Tithe, do you treat your money as your own?
  • One way God says that we fail to give Him thanks is to Rob Him of His Tithe. Malachi

C. Men Become Vain in their Thinking

Became vain” is mataioō. The noun is mataios, “devoid of force, truth, success, result.” The word “vain” today means “proud.” The Greek word did not have any idea like that. Mataios refers to that which is in vain, futile, that which is without result or success. It refers to the unsuccessful attempt to do something or be something. It refers to that which does not measure up to that which it should be.

1.  In scriptures becoming vain usually means to become corrupt and wicked.

Vain conversation and living is CORRUPT when contrasted with God

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 1 Peter 1:18 (KJV)

Vanity is a Wicked Walk away from God

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. Ephesians 4:17-19 (KJV)

2.    They think of Themselves

a)   Look at me,
b)   Look at what I can do,
c)    Look at all that I have accomplished.

3.    Man attempts to become something, and instead becomes NOTHING!

  • Solomon said, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” That is, “futility of futilities, all is futile.” All that he tried was futile, unsuccessful, in giving him complete satisfaction.
  • Men and Women, refusing to glorify God and be grateful, became futile, unsuccessful in their reasonings (imaginations). The word is dialogismos, “the thinking of a man deliberating with himself, deliberation.”Wuest

4.    Man’s Thinking Gets Messed Up

  • Men, in refusing to recognize the true God, entertain foolish and wicked thoughts of who God is.
  • The implication is they become evil and wicked
  • The thoughts of men were continually evil before the flood.
  • They become foolish in imagining there is no God.
  • They become foolish and start worshipping other gods, idols, things, even themselves.
  • Mental Disease is also the result.
    • Depression
    • Schizophrenic
    • Anxieties

IV. The Result of Man’s Choice

They Dance the Moron Dance

“their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:21-23 (ESV)

  • They lost the light of divine knowledge;
  • foolish heart: ἀσύνετος, Without insight or understanding, unintelligent, foolish. CWSD
  • Their heart becomes darkened so they no longer have any insight into God.

The Hebrews in the Wilderness

This is how the Israelites could be the way they were in the wilderness. In spite of all God had done and was continuing to do, they were clueless when it came to the need to worship and honor Jehovah God.

God had Moses take the Jews the long way around Edom. It was desolate land, not plush and green like the many oasis in Egypt. Even as slaves they had a choice of food, stores they could go to, nice things they could buy. Water was plentiful. Clothing was beyond compare. The ladies could buy the latest slave fashions. They had nice homes to live in, stoves to cook on.

Now they were forced to march in the desert, going who knows where. No stores, no variety of food. None of those Egyptian delicacies they had grown so fond of. All they had now was this Manna that they had to pick up off the ground. Water was scarce and had to be rationed. The heat was unbearable. They had to pitch tents all the time. No cushy commode to sit on and relax. You had to fight off the insects and wild beasts when you went to the bathroom. No fancy Egyptian makeup or Spa treatments in the wilderness.

They got to thinking they were better than this. They deserved more! They started complaining against Jehovah and against Moses.

“Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”

So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. Numbers 21:4-6 (NLT)

  • Have you ever seen someone trying to avoid an aggressive, striking snake?
  • They start dancing a silly, stupid, moronic dance

When the snakes started attacking, there was a lot of dancing going on.

Paul wrote: Claiming to be Wise, they became fools-moraino. That’s that word we learned about a few weeks ago. Jesus said that salt can become “moraino” insipid, bland, useless, good for nothing.

God says to you and me:

I created you in my image. I meant you to be so wonderful and so marvelous, yet you refuse to honor me, you refuse to thank me, you put yourself first. You’ve become a moron, you’ve become useless to me, and to top it off you are doing a stupid end zone dance saying “Look at me, look at what I’ve done, Look at how great I am!”

  • You start doing the moron dance, and then you dance around your idols, your stuff and you say look at all my great stuff.
  • You start dancing around at a football game and say look at how great our team is.

God says, “OK, you want to dance the Moron Dance, go ahead. Here I’ll help. How about an earthquake. How about a Tornado? Can you dance in a hurricane? How about some aggressive snakes?

The Dance of the Moron is the dance of someone who refuses by intent or by stupidity to Honor God as God, to Thank God, and instead put themselves on the pedestal.

They become moraino and exchange the Glory of God meant for them into something stupid and temporal like a car or a house or a football team or a soft pillow on Sunday morning. Or they create their own God, their own religion.

What Can I Do?    –   Have a New Focus!

We think that Romans 1:18 – 32 applies only to heathens, gentiles, those that reject God. But if you read Scriptures, Christians can become darkened in their heart, carnal in their heart, fleshly. Christians can even do the Dance of the Christian Moron.

You supposedly know better. You supposedly have been made alive to God. You supposedly have God’s Holy Spirit living in you?

Why then are you not honor God, Honoring His Word, Obeying Him? Why are you robbing God? Why do you pay him lipservice, but go out and do what you want to do?

Why are you so ungrateful to HIm? Why do you hold on to your money and your possessions like they are yours?

Why do you pat yourself on the back so often, and think how well you have done.

Could you heart be getting dark? Could your soul be getting hard toward God? Is that your leg starting to quiver, to move. Is that your arm starting to wave?

Christians can dance the Moron Dance as stupidly as any heathen. How do I stop? How can I become useful to God? How can I experience this Glory of God?

Journey to the Cross for New Life

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The Great Con in JoshuaWe’ve all heard the word “con”. There are many synonyms: bamboozle, bilk, bluff, bunco, cajole, cheat, chicane, coax, crime, deception, double-cross, dupe, flimflam, fool,  fraud, gold brick, graft, gyp, hoax, hoodwink, hornswoggle, humbug, mislead, mockery, rip off, rook, sweet-talk, swindle, take in, trick, wheedle. Today we will look at the great Gibeonite Con and how Joshua overcame it with wood and water.Con Tweedle Hoodwink

The Leagues we make can be dangerous. They can be destructive. Perhaps you have heard the term “In League With the Devil?” Just so you will be relieved, here is a headline straight from the news:

Procter & Gamble Not In League With The Devil

Not in League with the DevilMarch 21, 2007: Procter and Gamble does not worship Satan, according to a court ruling that revolves around a decades-old urban myth targeting the world’s biggest consumer goods company. P&G said March 19 it had won $19.25 million in a civil suit brought against four former distributors of direct-selling company Amway who were accused of spreading false rumors.

On March 16 the Salt Lake City jury award represents the latest in a long line of court battles between P&G and Amway over the devil-worshipping claim, which has taken on new currency in the Internet era. “This is about protecting our reputation,” said Jim Johnson, P&G chief legal officer.

The former distributors were accused of rehashing a rumor that dates from at least 1981, to the effect that P&G is in league with the Devil. According to the false urban legend, the global company’s logo contains a “666” symbol, its bosses have appeared on television talk shows to declare their love of Beelzebub, and part of its profits go to the Church of Satan.

Amway has itself been forced to debunk accusations that its business model amounts to little more than a “get rich quick” pyramid-selling scheme. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

League:  To join in a league; to cause to combine for a joint purpose; to combine; to unite; as, common interests will league (Bowling League, Baseball League)

I know that none of you has knowingly and willingly made a league with the devil. But I would venture that you entered into a contract, a friendship, perhaps a marriage, that turned out to be destructive and detrimental, or at best that you regretted. Hopefully you have healed and come to see how God worked the character of Christ through your mistake. If not, then listen carefully toward the end of this message.

The truth is that a dentist’s mistake is pulled out, a lawyer’s mistake is imprisoned, a teacher’s mistake is failed, a printer’s mistake is corrected, a pharmacist’s mistake is buried, a postman’s mistake is forwarded, and an electrician’s mistake can be shocking. The novelist Joseph Conrad wrote, “It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes.”

If you are going to do anything in this life, you will make mistakes. This is exactly what happened to Joshua and the leaders of Israel. They made a serious mistake that threatened their inheritance. But they overcame it, and we will learn how.

  • If thou hast never been a fool, be sure thou wilt never be a wise man. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray (English novelist)
  • “Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.” ~ Sacha Guitry
  • “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon, English preacher
  • “There is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man.” Aristotle

Have you ever signed a contract and then regretted it later?

Regret Signing a ContractContracts come in different forms. There is the obvious contract such as a real estate or auto purchase contract. There is the financing note contract. There are also less obvious contracts. A Wedding license is a contract that both bride and groom must sign to give them legal standing in the state in which they live. A credit card receipt is a contract stating you will pay for the items you received. A sales receipt is a contract that states you received these items for such and such an amount. Behind all purchases is a warranty contract unless you buy something “as is”. There is not much that you bring into your home that does not have some sort of contract attached to it.

Groceries, Furniture, Electronics, Toys, Cable Service, Phone Service, Utility Service, all come with agreements or contracts, whether implied or written. In the Old Testament, when you invited someone into your home to dine with you, it implied a contract or agreement that meant you were providing hospitality to them. That agreement of hospitality meant that what is yours is theirs.

Marriage was never entered into lightly, because it involved the uniting of two families. That meant that the cultures, practices, religious observances were being united. It was a serious thing to marry someone of a different race or culture, because it could involve conflicts within the family.

Even at our church we have a contract, which we call our Church Covenant. When you join this church you are agreeing to abide by our church covenant. As Pastor I am charged with upholding this contract, and along with leaders, enforcing this contract.

We talk about the good ole days, when a man’s word was his bond. Yet with God, there has never been a change in that adage. With God, our Words are important. We will be judged for every idle word that comes from our mouth. God holds you to every thing you have told Him you would do. That is why many Christians suffer from guilt-because of not following through on what we say to God.

That is why God says to never use His name in Vain. Most of us think that means not to say a certain phrase. But actually it means to never use His name lightly, without purpose, or meaning. When we say the name of God, it is with reverence and love and the utmost respect.

Our words mean everything to God. Our words can bring health to our body, our words can bring death. With our words we confess Christ as Lord.

I think we all have horror stories of what happened to us when we signed something or said something we shouldn’t have, or perhaps not thought it through clearly, or rushed into, or didn’t read the fine print. I remember buying a home in 1997 and thinking I had a fixed rate loan and then two years later getting a big increase in my mortgage payment. Boy was I mad. Then there were those internet stock days when all these hot IPO’s were coming out and if you could just buy a few of the IPO shares you could turn around and make a killing. Well, when you purchase stock you are entering into an agreement. I entered into one of those agreements only to wish I hadn’t because the stock tanked.

Eye Irritants and Thorns in the sideJoshua 9 reveals a horror story that happened to Joshua and the leaders of Israel. If this had happened in America they would have taken the people to court and proved fraud. They would have gotten out of their league with the enemy.

God doesn’t abide by man’s laws. If you want to live your life by man’s laws, go ahead, but you are being a FRIEND OF THE WORLD. Being a friend of the world is being an enemy of God. This is what made Joshua’s League with the Gibeonites so dangerous. This simple league, this little agreement meant that the warning of God would come to pass:

Numbers 33:50-56 (NKJV) Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places; you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess. And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance among your families; to the larger you shall give a larger inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give a smaller inheritance; there everyone’s inheritance shall be whatever falls to him by lot. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.'”

Deuteronomy 7:1-4 (ESV) “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.

Agreements, Leagues, Contracts, Church Membership, can affect our lives and livelihood, our friendships, our walk with God, our inheritance, our eternity. God wants us to make the Right Agreements. He wants us to enter the Right Leagues. This is His purpose in wanting Joshua to destroy all the inhabitants, and destroy all their idols. But when we mess up, God can use our mistakes for His Glory!

David made Right AgreementsDavid was not permitted by God to build the temple. His hands were bloody. So Solomon built the temple. Yet his father David made all the treaties, agreements that gave Solomon all the materials he needed to build a glorious temple. Dad’s, your friendships, your agreements, your work habits, will leave an impression and imprint on the lives of your children. Wrong friendships can result in harm. Witness child abuse at the hands of boyfriends, step fathers, even day care centers. We must guard our families against the evil and the corruption that is in this world.

If you doubt the way God listens to what we promise, and how he holds us to it, consider what happened in Israel several hundred years after this League with the Gibeonites:

God holds us to our word2 Samuel 21:1-6 (ESV) Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord. And the Lord said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites. Although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to strike them down in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?” The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?” They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel, let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”

I want us to look briefly at what Joshua did wrong in making this ungodly League. Then I want to look at what Joshua did in order to turn this league into good for Israel, and see the lessons that we have for our lives, in turning bad decisions into good for our families.

Cons require Props and wordsGreat Cons Require Two Things:

  1. Deceptive Props (Bait)
  2. Deceptive Words (Con)

The Gibeonite Props:

Gibeon was located only twenty-five miles from the camp of Israel at Gilgal and was on Joshua’s list to be destroyed. In Deuteronomy 20:10-20, God’s law stated that Israel must destroy all the cities in Canaan. If after the conquest Israel was involved in other wars, they could offer peace to cities that were outside the land. (See also 7:1-11.) Somehow the Gibeonites knew about this law and decided to use it for their own protection. Since the enemy knows how to use the Word of God for their own purposes, God’s people must keep alert (Matt. 4:5-7).

Gibeonite PropsThe Gibeonites assembled a group of men and equipped them to look like an official delegation from a foreign city. Their clothing, food, and equipment were all designed to give the impression that they had been on a long and difficult journey from a distant city.

  • Satan is a counterfeiter and “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14; niv). He has his “false apostles” and “deceitful workmen” (v. 13, niv) at work in this world, blinding the lost and seeking to lead believers astray. It’s much easier for us to identify the lion when he’s roaring than to detect the serpent when he’s slithering into our lives.
  • We allow ourselves to get into wrong agreements because of greed, desire for fame, desire for popularity, desires of the heart that are not honoring to God.
  • The enemy knows our weaknesses, just as the Gibeonites knew that if they could trick the Israelites into making a covenant with them, they would have to honor it according to God’s commands.

What the Gibeonites said (Josh. 9:6-13).

Gibeonite WordsSatan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44), and human nature is such that many people find it easier to tell lies than the truth. With tongue in cheek, the American political leader Adlai Stevenson said, “A lie is an abomination unto the Lord—and a very present help in trouble.” The Gibeonites told several lies in their attempt to get out of trouble.

They lied about their origin.

  • They said they were “from a very far country” (Josh. 9:6, 9) when they actually lived twenty-five miles away.

I have to tell one story about Christians. I would never hide the fact that I was a Christian businessman and that my company had been given to the Lord. But I never made that the basis for why you should do business with me. I have had people in the past approach me about buying this or that, and want me to extend credit without the proper reference check. They even dropped names of good Christians I knew. I remember one guy in particular that got me to extend about 600 in credit for hose (when I was at Tompkins Industries). He went on and on about being a great Christian. But he never paid his bill. In fact, we could never find him. To even try to collect.

  • My caution to you: if someone wants you to do business with them, invest with them, give them money because they are a Christian, be doubly wary. They may be lying about their origin.

They lied about their clothing and food

  • “This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is” (v. 12, niv).

Words alone could not deceive the Jews. Everything about their clothing, their property and provisions had to look the lie. Con men know they have to look the part, act the part, talk the part. They take great care to look exactly as they think you expect you to look. They will arrange all the props to be exactly as they think you would want them to be.

They lied about their purpose

  • called themselves “your servants” (vv. 8, 9, 11),

In reality they were the enemies of Israel. But they puffed up Joshua by caliming to be his servants. Note: I have never been to a time-share presentation where the presenter did not pretend to be my closest friend. I even had one guy take me by his home and met his wife and kid. They try to establish that connection that makes it difficult to say no. The Gibeonites were doing just that by twice saying they wanted to be their servants.

They lied about wanting to Follow God

  • “because of the name of the Lord your God.  For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt”

When they said they had come “because of the name of the Lord” (v. 9), it was blasphemous. Con men, Satan, have one thing in common: they have no conscience when it comes to God. They will blaspheme, they will lie, they will excuse. Bernie Madoff, who could receive up to 150 years for the billions of dollars he conned people out of, requested only 12 years. His lawyer said this should be sufficient.

WHY THE CON SUCCEEDED

Joshua 9:14-15 (ESV) So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

The Con Succeeded because of two things:

  1. The Pride of Life
  2. The Prayerless Flesh

The Pride of Life

Pride of LifeDid success go to their heads? In spite of all the alarm bells sounding, Joshua and the leaders bought the con and made a covenant with the strangers. Their ego got in the way. Their recent successes had gotten into their head.

Struggling actors that all of a sudden make it big, child actors used to having their way, average Joes that when the lottery, anyone who starts to get attention because of some success, they are all prey for the devil, for con men, for being defrauded.

The sad news is that 1 in 3 lottery winners are in serious financial trouble or even bankrupt within 5 years. Why? The suddenly wealthy often never learn to manage their money. Financial windfall coupled with reckless buying and no concept of money almost always leads to trouble. This is especially true for people who decide to use their winnings to create a new business, said Birke, a psychologist on retainer with Lexington Wealth Management.

Andrew Jackson “Jack” Whittaker was already a millionaire when he won the multistate Powerball lottery in December 2002. At 55 years-old, he was president of a contracting firm in West Virginia; he had a beautiful family, a big house, and drove a Lincoln Navigator. On December 25, 2002, Whittaker became the biggest single lottery winner in US history, winning a $314.9 million jack pot. His initial expenditures consisted of building churches and beginning a foundation for the less fortunate. But things spiraled out of control, very quickly.

Whittaker was robbed numerous times, once of more than $500,000 at a strip club. He became a heavy drinker. He and his wife divorced. He was accused of bouncing checks at Atlantic City casinos. And then to make matters even worse, his granddaughter Brandi, whom Whittaker bought four cars for and was very close to, was found dead of a drug overdose. A drug problem that was easily funded with the $2,100 per week allowance he gave her.

The Gibeonites kept saying “We are your servants” We heard what mighty things Your God has done. You guys are amazing, you are rock stars and we want to be in your entourage! Joshua and his men bought the deception.

The Self-Sufficient Flesh

Self Sufficient Flesh ColumboJoshua had just renewed the commitment to God, and yet at the very first test, He didn’t go to God. He figured he could handle this decision on his own.

I loved to watch Columbo. He always played dumb, he always asked dumb questions, he always acted as if he was a bumbling fool. He would always catch the criminal off-guard. They thought they were smart enough to get away with it, they thought this stupid detective could never figure it out, so they let their guard down. He always got them in the end.

When ever you think you’ve got this life figured out, you don’t need God, you get up without praying, with out reading the word, you are letting your self-sufficent flesh run your life.

God calls this evil. He says in Jeremiah 2:

Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV) “my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

You don’t just commit one evil, you commit two. The first evil is to forsake “Relinquish, Let Go” You literally let go of God. You rely on yourself. But the second evil is when you use this self-sufficient flesh to live your life. Your plans, your job, your house, your contracts. The things you do become “YOUR WORK” your hollowed out cistern. God says, it is full of holes.

For the leaders to make that covenant, to sign that agreement, to make that league without first going to the Lord was committing evil in the sight of God. As Christians we are to abide in Christ. We are to cling to the branch. When we make any agreement, sign a contract, without checking with God, we are committing evil, we are “letting go” of God, and beyond that, we are hewing out cisterns of our own making.

I have even had a timeshare salesmen tell me they are going to go get some coffee so they can give Lydia and I time to pray about it.

The thing that God wants us to understand is that He wants to be involved in the minutiae of our life. He wants us to depend upon Him, even when it comes to signing contracts, making agreements with others, even in our friendships. There is nothing too small for you to depend upon, and nothing too small to trip you up.

The Challenge is to Walk by Faith and Not by Sight.

After listening to the strangers’ speech and examining the evidence, Joshua and his leaders concluded that the men were telling the truth. The leaders of Israel took the “scientific approach” instead of the “spiritual approach.” They depended on their own senses, examined the “facts,” discussed the matter, and agreed in their conclusion. It was all very logical and convincing, but it was all wrong. They had made the same mistake at Ai (chap. 7) and hadn’t yet learned to wait on the Lord and seek His direction.

Proverbs 3_56The will of God comes from the heart of God (Ps. 33:11), and He delights to make it known to His children when He knows they are humble and willing to obey.

We don’t seek God’s will like auto buyers considering different options, but like servants who listen for orders. “If any of you really determines to do God’s will, then you will certainly know” (John 7:17, TLB) is a basic principle for victorious Christian living. God sees our hearts and knows whether we are really serious about obeying Him. Certainly we ought to use the mind God has given us, but we must heed the warning of Proverbs 3:5-6 and not lean on our own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

The Rest of the Story

The story doesn’t end here. Soon someone spilt the beans and the Israelites discovered they had been duped. They immediately set out to find out if it was true.

Joshua 9:16-23 (ESV) At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.” And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them. Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us? Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.”

WoodCutters and WaterBearersThe army wanted to wipe out the deceivers, but the leaders said no, we must honor our word or run the risk of receiving God’s wrath. They told them to let them live, and the army grumbled. But here is what they did. Since they said “we are your servants” they gave them what they said. From that day forward the Gibeonites, these mighty soldiers as we see in chapter 10, would be woodcutters and waterboys.

You say that was tough, that was mean. While it may be mean it certainly was wise on the part of Joshua and the leaders.

Remember how God had warned them that if they let any Cannaaites live they would become thorns in their side. They would draw their hearts away from God. Well, by making the Gibeonites wood cutters and water bearers, Joshua was making sure it did not happen that way.

The Death of the Wood Cross, The Living Water of the Word.

Satan wants to deceive us to get us away from God. The only way to maintain a heart that keeps true to God is to apply two things to it: The death of the Cross and the Living Water of the Word.

Wood is kind of scarce in Canaan. You have to work hard to get it. And yet wood was needed constantly for sacrifices. The wood was set on the altar and lit on fire to consume the sacrifices. The wood is a picture of the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is on the Cross that our mistakes, our sins have been nailed and forgiven. It is on the cross that we die to self, die to pride, and live to Jesus Christ.

Water was needed in daily worship. Water was needed to was the blood away, it was needed to cleanse people coming to worship. It was needed for life itself.

So too we must depend upon the Word of Life, the Word of Living Water that washes us and cleanses us and brings life to our spirit and soul.

Jesus Carried the Wood and Bears the Water of Life

Jesus Carried the Wood and the WaterWhen Joshua discovered their deception and confronted them, he said “Now therefore you are cursed”. But by making them woodcutters and water bearers, he was giving them a way to escape the curse of Satan.

By making them wood cutters and water bearers, Joshua was guaranteeing that they would constantly be exposed to the worship of this Awesome God, this Powerful God that they had expressed an interest in. Their hearts would become converted and cleansed by the sacrifices and the testimony of the Word!

We are going to make mistakes. We are going to get conned now and then. We are going to give into pride, into the flesh. But we must become servants to the wood and to the water. We must give our hearts and lives to the Cross and to the Word!

I encourage parents with children to enter into agreements when it comes to dating standards, driving standards, friend standards. Do it before the need arises, do it based upon what your child believes is reasonable. Involve them in the process, and then get them to agree to it, and sign on the dotted line. That way when they are tempted to do something they shouldn’t, you both can get out the agreement and say here- this is what we agreed upon, and here are the consequences.

God has a similar agreement with us. We really had no part in drafting it, but the consequences of disobedience are well stated. We call it the Law, the Ten Commandments. Most of us know most of them, but, don’t really give them much thought.

But I think we need to bring the Ten Commandments into the Age of Grace, and see them through the eyes of the woodcutters and water bearers.

Overcoming the Devil and the World With Heart Agreements:

Gueards against the Great ConHere is a modern application of the Ten Commandments:

1. “You shall have no other gods before me.” = The Bible is the Inspired Word of God and the final authority for my life.

2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” = My purpose in life is to seek God with my whole heart and to build my goals around his priorities.

3. “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” = My body is the temple of God and must not be defiled by the lusts of the flesh.

4. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” = My church must teach the foundational truths of the Bible and reinforce my basic convictions

Guards against the Con 25. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” = My children and grandchildren belong to God and it is my responsibility to teach them scriptural principles, Godly character, and basic convictions.

6. “You shall not murder.” = My activities must never weaken the Scriptural convictions of another Christian.

7. “You shall not commit adultery.” = My marriage is a life-long commitment to God and my marriage partner.

8. “You shall not steal.”  = My money is a trust from God and must be earned and managed according to Scriptural principles.

9. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” = My words must be in harmony with God’s Word, especially when reproving and restoring a Christian brother.

Guards against the Con 310. “You shall not covet” = My affections must be set on things above, not on things in the earth.

Blessing of the Water with the Cross

Hold the Cross Up HighEach year at Epiphany, the Greek Church performs the “Blessing of the Water”. An Orthodox priest throws a wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first toretrieve the cross. Along with Blessing the Water, the victor reeives a special blessing for good health all year long. Here the winner, Evaggelos Kargiofilis, holds up the wooden cross during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the water in Greece’s northern port city of Thessaloniki on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. He is holding high the Croos of Christ. He is living large in the Living Water.

Are you holding high the wooden Cross of Christ? Are you dying to self and living to Jesus your Lord? Are you Living Large by the Living Water? Only by bearing the cross and the water will you overcome the deception and wheedle’s of the devil and the world.

Are you zealous of God? Do you love Him with all your heart and soul and strength?

Is there anything in your life which you are putting before God? We make all kinds of compromises with the world, with our possessions, with our desires. We allow them into our lives, and before long, they have stolen our love for God.

1 John 2_15-17Do you desire the Cross above all? Do you desire the Living Water above all?

1 John 2:15-17 (NIV) Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

If there is any love of the world in your heart, it robs you of your love for God. Any of these cravings of the flesh, of our eyes, of our boasting do not come for God, but is the great Con of the Devil. He is enticing your heart to make a leagu with him, and with his stuff. All this stuff is only for a moment. Only the man who does the will of God will live for ever.

The will of God is that you come to the Cross and carry the wood, that you die daily to the world, and live daily with a heart totally in love with God. That love leads you to the Living water of His Son, the word of God. Do you love Jesus this morning. Are you in love with His Word? Does He live in your heart and life?

What is Evil?

Posted: October 16, 2008 in Evil, Jeremiah
Tags: , , , ,

My heart was stricken today as I read in Jeremiah. How could God have done to His people that which He did. The Jews were His beloved people, chosen to represent God to the world. Yet God called the kingdoms of the north to lay Judah waste. What evil had they done to warrant the destruction of their nation? Had they committed terrible sins of debauchery and perversion? After all God had told the world to be astonished, to be horribly afraid at what they had done! (Jer 2:12)

The horrendous evil of Judah was revealed in Jeremiah 2:13. They had committed two evils or raʿ which  usually means sin in the sense of destructive hurtfulness. In other words, what Judah had done was destructive and hurtful to themselves and their nation. God says:

13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13 (NASB)

The hurtful destructive thing which they had done first was to forsake and turn away from the true source of living water and all which living water signifies-sustenance, prosperity, well being. They turned from trusting Jehovah God for their livelihood and peace of mind.

The second hurtful destructive thing they did was to dig their own cisterns (broken at that) to rely upon for their livelihood. They collected their own water, using their own hands. In other words, they were depending upon themselves for their livelihood and prosperity. They were not depending upon God.

What Does God Consider Evil?

Jeremiah puts a different “spin” on what God considers ‘evil’. God says any walk, any action that is independent of Him is evil. God is the source and the sustainer of our life. We must drink continually from His fountain. We must depend daily upon God. To forsake Him and His provisions for us is evil. To depend upon our own cisterns, our own means for our life and sustenance is likewise evil.

They are each destructive and hurtful.

I believe America is a hurting nation with hurting and sick people because we have walked in the evilness of independence. We no longer depend upon God. We may include Him occasionally in our plans, we may offer Him lip service in our praise and prayers. But when it comes down to living, we depend upon that which we can see, touch, make and do with our own eyes and hands. In fact, we most often depend on the Government which we have created. Especially in these frightful economic times.

However, we must heed the warning of Jeremiah. For he says in verse 19, that our own wickedness will correct us, and we will discover that it is an evil and bitter thing to forsake the Lord our God.

We must rediscover the fear and reverence of Almighty Jehovah God. We must turn away from the cisterns of our own making, and come to His fountain of living waters.