Archive for the ‘Commands of Christ’ Category


The First Century Church Experienced the Power of Grace and Touched the World with the Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They did so because they were not ashamed of the Cross of Jesus Christ. They were not ashamed of following a God who had been cursed on the unspeakable Cross of Crucifixion. They were not ashamed because they were LIVING PROOF of the Power of the Cross over the corruption of the flesh. Jesus Christ was not only Savior of their Souls, He was the Savior of their LIVING! 

Church must emphasize a 24/7 devoted living in Christ and His commands, not just a segregated devotional (quiet) time.

Church must emphasize a 24/7 praying life not just a prayer time.

Church must direct Disciples how to bring their spiritual existence into touch with the physical reality of living.

Church must lead Disciples to put into daily practice what Christ commanded and taught.

Church is a Community of Love in Christ centered around a Grace Missional purpose to bring the lost and hurting into the reality and power of Christ.

Church builds Disciples not motivated by guilt but empowered by forgiveness and redemption.

Church builds Disciples who Share Christ with friends and neighbors because they Love and Trust Jesus Christ.

Church builds Disciples who Give because they Love and Trust.

Church is Powerful to the Community when it is a Powerful Community of Love that empowers people to Break Bad Habits (Spirit conquers Flesh).

Church is Powerful as Disciples grow past guilt to productive change built upon Confession and Abandonment to Jesus Christ.

Church preaches Repentance to Abandon the fleshly world and live in the Spirit of Grace

Church leads Disciples to Abandon themselves to God’s Grace and God’s responsibilities for them.

Church leads Disciples to Greater and Growing Trust in God, because mistrust leads to sin.

Church leads Disciples to the Dominion of God’s Kingdom over their own Kingdoms.

Church that Grows and Develops Disciples will constantly Apply the Truth of Redemption to the Disciple’s Life.

Church will constantly strive to bring ALL lives into Christ’s Life.

Church will Grow from a Growing Relationship with Christ’s Life.

  • Church can change if there is a goal that can be accomplished with specific steps of action.
  • That goal is to build Disciples who experience and share the Reality and Power of Christ’s Life in their daily living.
Advertisements

Moses with one wave of his staff was able to see the seas part and the seabed dry up. He was able to see the waters stand tall as if held back by a thick wall of glass. When the enemy army was crossing after them, with another wave of the rod of God, he saw the waters fall upon them and drown every soldier.

But when it came to leading this complaining horde of people across a desert land, Moses was at his wits end.

Moses and the Tent of Meeting

In Exodus 33, we find that Moses would take a tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the people, and there Moses sought the Lord. He called it the ʾōhel môʿēd (tent of meeting). This was the forerunner of the tabernacle. Here Moses would speak face to face with God (Ex 33:11)

When Moses would enter the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and God would speak to Moses.

When Moses went out to the tent, all the people would get up, go to their tent door, and watch. And when the cloud would descend, the people would worship, each at their tent door.

Later on, when they constructed the Tabernacle according to God’s commands, it was brought within the camp, and the people worshipped there. I can’t help but wonder if Moses longed to return to that tent outside the camp…

Letter to Concerned Jewish Christians

It is a reference to the Tabernacle that the writer of Hebrews is using to address the concerns of the Jewish Christians in Hebrews 13. Here the writer makes the foundational statement which should guide these Christians, and I believe it is the foundational statement for our church.

Foundational Statement of Hebrews

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore, let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:10-16

The Problem Facing these Jewish Christians

There were pressures from the world-pressures as to how they should worship, how they should not worship. It was so much easier to follow a hybrid Christ-one who was Jewish and Christian. One who was worldly and Godly.

On the other hand, the world was becoming more antagonistic toward Christians, especially those that really followed Him. So the struggles they were facing are the same ones we face in our lives.

Two Problems

1.  Driven by formalism-How they worshiped was more important than Who they worshiped.

2.  Paralyzed by Fear – Faced expulsion or persecution-wanted to have the glory of God and stay in the safety of the camp. Their desire for comfort overwhelmed the command to risk it all.

Remember:

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

If we insist on serving from a place of comfort, or a place of ‘tradition’, or a place of safety…we can not eat from the altar of Jesus Christ. We will lose out on the sweet abiding fellowship that is in Him alone.

Choice Number 1

  • Will we Die in our Religion or Die in our Devotion?

The writer addressed the plight of the Hebrews by calling their attention to those who wandered in the wilderness:

Num 13:31-14:4; Num 14:20-23, 32-34

Here the Jewish wanderers had the chance to believe in God’s Word, to embrace His power that they had witnessed first hand. However, they refused to see Him Who is able, and focused on their own weakness and inability. Instead of advancing into Canaan and trusting God to overcome the giants, they wept in bitterness and retreated from the mission God had given them.

They had two options:

  1. Retreat from the Mission

  2. Risk everything for the Mission

To risk everything requires the faith to see Him who is invisible. To risk everything requires a total disregard for personal comfort, personal safety, but an overwhelming CONFIDENCE in the power of God to allow you to finish the mission!

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

Choice Number 2

  • Will We Embrace our Comfort or Will we Embrace His Cross?

If you want to eat from this altar. If you want to experience God face to face. If you want to know the presence and power of God, you must go outside the camp. You must be willing to be disgraced just like Jesus. You must be willing to bear His disgrace.

Let us Go to Jesus …Outside the Camp

Dead and Dirty things

And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. Leviticus 16:27-28

Diseased and Despised

“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. Leviticus 13:45-46

Blasphemers

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:13-16

Dangerous

Murderers, blasphemers, adulterers were all kept and stoned outside the camp.

Do You Really Want to Follow Jesus?

Then you must go to Him OUTSIDE the camp!

  • Mission without suffering is like Christianity without a cross
  • Suffering is not a consequence of our mission: it is the central strategy for achieving our mission.

Moses met face to face with God outside the camp!

If you desire to fellowship face to face with Jesus Christ, you must meet with Him outside the camp, and bear His reproach.

Choice Number 3

  • Will We Live for Pleasure in this World or for Paradise in the World to Come?

The Truth of the Real Jesus

  • Jesus calls the church to live according to a radically different definition of success than the rest of the world.
  • Jesus calls me to live according to a radically different definition of success than the rest of the world

If we do not advance toward Jesus in our Christian walk, we:

  • Give way to formalism
  • Give way to paralyzing fear
  • Give way to a retreating spirit

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

Do we desire to stay inside the comfort of our camp? Do not count on feasting on Christ.

Believer’s can be forgiven but cursed to wander in the wilderness apart from the power and presence of God.

God does not need our church to gain glory for Himself. He will glorify His Name regardless of whether we go to the altar outside the camp.

Following Christ does not mean coming to the cross and then neatly carrying Jesus back into our safe and comfortable American lives. It means risking everything and going outside the camp to bear His reproach on His altar of total sacrifice. (A thank you to David Platt for the core points of this message)

Notation about my Faith Journey

In 2004-2005 I became burdened about the nation of Myanmar. I even went there in January 2006, and now serve as Treasurer on the Executive Board of the Friends of Burma, Inc. This all came about as I began to understand the true meaning of discipleship.

While going through a sermon series on Mark, I was struck anew with Mark 8.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:34-35

The greatest example of these verses was the life of Adoniram Judson. I was fascinated with the truth that what he risked with his life and family was the reason for the Christians in that forsaken country today!

His life led me to became so interested and concerned about Burma (Myanmar).

Adoniram Judson is why I am going outside the camp. Adoniram Judson went outside the camp and bore the reproach of Jesus Christ.

Adoniram Judson

Once when a Buddhist teacher said that he could not believe that Christ suffered the death of the cross because no king allows his son such indignity, “Judson responded, ‘Therefore you are not a disciple of Christ. A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is agreeable to his own reason, but whether it is in the book. His pride has yielded to the divine testimony. Teacher, your pride is still unbroken. Break down your pride, and yield to the word of God.’ (Anderson, To the Golden Shore, 240.)

Judson’s conversion to Christ was due in large measure to the same deist friend who led him away from Christ. After graduation, Judson left home to become a wanderlust. One night in a country inn, his room was adjacent to the room of a dying man. The moaning and groaning of that man through the long night permitted Judson no sleep. His thoughts troubled him. All night questions assailed his soul: “Was the dying man prepared to die?” “Where would he spend eternity?” “Was he a Christian, calm and strong in the hope of life in Heaven?” “Or, was he a sinner shuddering in the dark brink of the lower region?” Judson constantly chided himself for even entertaining such thoughts contrary to his philosophy of life beyond the grave, and thought how his brilliant college friend would rebuke him if he learned of these childish worries.

But the next morning, when Judson inquired of the proprietor as to the identity of the dead man, he was shocked by the most staggering statement he had ever heard: “He was a brilliant young person from Providence College. Ernest was his name.”

Ernest was the unbeliever who had destroyed Judson’s faith. “Now he was dead — and was lost! Was lost! Was lost! Lost! Lost!” Those words raced through his brain, rang in his ears, roared in his soul — “Was lost! Lost! Lost! There and then Judson realized he was lost, too! He ended his traveling, returned home, entered Andover Theological Seminary and soon “sought God for the pardon of his soul,” was saved and dedicated his life to the Master’s service!

In Burma

But opposition came, also. Finally, Judson was imprisoned as a British spy — an imprisonment of twenty-one months. Judson was condemned to die, but in answer to prayers to God and the incessant pleadings of his wife to officials (one of the most emotional-packed, soul-stirring stories in evangelism), Judson’s life was spared and finally British intervention freed him from imprisonment.

Following the missionaries in their holy adventure, we behold scenes too horrible for words. On one occasion Judson, pitifully weak and emaciated, was driven in chains across the burning tropical sands, until, his back lacerated beneath the lash and his feet covered with blisters, he fell to the ground and prayed that the mercy of God might grant him a speedy death. For almost two years he was incarcerated in a prison too vile to house animals. He was bound with three pairs of chains and his feet were fastened in stocks which at times were elevated, so that only his shoulders touched the ground. The room, into which he and many other prisoners were crowded, was without a window and felt like a fiery furnace under the merciless glare of the tropical sun. The stench of the place was terrible, vermin crawled everywhere and the jailer, Mr. Spotted Face, was a brute in human form. And, as Judson saw other prisoners dragged out to execution, he lived in terrifying suspense and was able to say with Paul, “I die daily.”

Surely, he would have fallen and perished under the weight of his cross, except for the tender, persistent, beautiful ministrations of Ann. As often as possible, she bribed the jailer and then, under cover of darkness, crept to the door of Judson’s den, bringing food and whispering words of hope and consolation. Finally, for three long weeks she did not appear; but, upon her return, she bore in her arms a newborn baby to explain her absence. An epidemic of smallpox was raging unchecked through the city and little Maria was smitten with the dread disease. Due to the double strain of concern for her imprisoned husband and the suffering baby, Ann found herself unable to nurse the little one. Tormented by its pitiful cries, Ann took her baby up and down the streets of the city, pleading for mercy and for milk: “You women who have babies, have mercy on my baby and nurse her!”

Near the prison gate was a caged lion, whose fearful bellowings had told all that he was being starved against the day when he would be turned loose upon some of the prisoners. But the lion died of hunger before the plan was executed. Thereupon, plucky Mrs. Judson cleaned out the cage and secured permission for her husband to stay there for a few weeks, since he was critically ill with a fever.

One of the most pathetic pages in the history of Christian missions is that which describes the scene when Judson was finally released and returned to the mission house seeking Ann, who again had failed to visit him for some weeks. As he ambled down the street as fast as his maimed ankles would permit, the tormenting question kept repeating itself, “Is Ann still alive?” Upon reaching the house, the first object to attract his attention was a fat, half-naked Burman woman squatting in the ashes beside a pan of coals and holding on her knees an emaciated baby, so begrimed with dirt that it did not occur to him that it could be his own. Across the foot of the bed, as though she had fallen there, lay a human object that, at the first glance, was no more recognizable than his child. The face was of a ghastly paleness and the body shrunken to the last degree of emaciation. The glossy black curls had all been shorn from the finely-shaped head. There lay the faithful and devoted wife who had followed him so unwearily from prison to prison, ever alleviating his distresses and consoling him in his trials. Presently Ann felt warm tears falling upon her face and, rousing from her stupor, saw Judson by her side.

And there were other sorrows. Before he had been in Burma fourteen years he buried Ann and all of his children. But “the love that never fails” sustained him. “If I had not felt certain,” he says, “that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.” Judson joined with Paul in declaring: “The love of Christ constraineth me … Therefore I will glory in reproaches, in persecution and in distresses for Christ’s sake.”[2]

The work progressed and gospel power began to open blind eyes, break idolatry-shackled hearts and transform the newly-begotten converts into triumphant Christians. On April 12, 1850, at the age of 62, Judson died. Except for a few months (when he returned to America after thirty-four years from his first sailing), Judson had spent thirty-eight years in Burma. Although he had waited six years for his first convert, sometime after his death a government survey recorded 210,000 Christians, one out of every fifty-eight Burmans! It was a partial fulfillment and a monument to the spirit and ministry of the man, who at Ava, the capital city, gazed at the temple of Buddha and challenged, “A voice mightier than mine, a still small voice, will ere long sweep away every vestige of thy dominion. The churches of Jesus Christ will soon supplant these idolatrous monuments and the chanting devotees of Buddha will die away before the Christian’s hymns of praise.”[1]

Will You Go Outside the Camp?

My question is, if Christ delays his return another two hundred years – a mere fraction of a day in his reckoning – which of you will have suffered and died so that the triumphs of grace will be told about one or two of those 3,500 peoples who are in the same condition today that the Karen and Chin and Kachins and Burmese were in 1813? Who will labor so long and so hard and so perseveringly that in two hundred years there will be two million Christians in many of the 10/40-window peoples who can scarcely recall their Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist roots?

May God use his powerful word and the life of Adoniram Judson to stir many of you to give your lives to this great cause!

We must keep advancing to Him, to His altar which is outside the camp!


Importance church covenantA mere two months after the Los Angeles Dodgers inked a new, two–year, $45 million guaranteed deal with power hitter Manny Ramirez, the slugger got hit with a 50–game suspension for using a banned performance–enhancing substance. The reason, a “Behavior” clause written into his contract. The 50 game suspension will save the Dodgers 8 million dollars.Manny Rameriz

Earlier this year Kellogg’s backed out of an endorsement deal with Michael Phelps because of a “Behavior Clause” they had written into the contract. You know them as “Morality Clauses”, but because of changing morals, they have become specific “behavior” clauses.

There was once a time when an advertiser could get an agent to agree to the following clause: “If [Celebrity] has committed any act that offends the community or any segment thereof and/or public morals and decency, such behavior shall be considered a material breach of this Agreement incapable of cure, and if in [Advertiser’s] sole judgment such breach is likely to cause a diminution in the value of the [Advertiser’s] commercial association with [Celebrity], then [Advertiser] shall have the right, in addition to any other rights [Advertiser] may have as a result of such breach, to immediately terminate this Agreement on written notice to [Celebrity]. In such event, there shall be no further compensation payable to [Celebrity] and such termination shall not limit or effect any other rights [Advertiser] may have against [Celebrity] under this Agreement on account of such termination.”

Phelps breaks Behavior ClauseHowever, society’s views of morality have changed, so contracts have gotten to be very specific as regards the “behavior” of the celebrities. With Michael Phelps, public drug use was clearly prohibited.

These behavior clauses have even entered the world of Big Banks and Big Business. The latest banking crisis underscored the importance of not appearing greedy in the face of massive government bailouts at taxpayer expense. The government refused to give “Bailout Funds” unless certain behavior standards were met. Corporate executives lost their jobs and had their pay cut because of lavish extravaganza’s and exorbitant bonuses while Americans saw Billions of dollars in savings wiped out. Now the excessive compensation and perks of CEO’s is under scrutiny of enraged shareholders.CEO Behavior Clause

In the sports world, in the corporate world, in the banking world, how we behave and act is very important, so important that people lose millions when they fail to live up to certain standards.

AIG Bailout and BonusesEven in the church, our behavior is important.  George Barna has become well-known because of the extensive research and surveys he conducts. He has noticed some alarming trends in the church, particularly in regards to our “Biblical World view”. A Survey published in March of this year produced these results:

For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.Biblical Worldview

The same questions were asked of respondents in national surveys by Barna in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The results indicate that the percentage of adults with a biblical worldview, as defined above, has remained unchanged for more than a decade. The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now. Even among born again adults, the statistics have remained flat: 18% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 21% in 2005, and 19% today.

Varying numbers of Americans embrace the different aspects of biblical worldview thinking. The survey found that:

  • One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.
  • Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.
  • Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.
  • Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.
  • A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.
  • Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction.

troubling change in churchesGeorge Barna, who has directed this tracking research since the early Nineties, pointed out, “There are a several troubling patterns to take notice. First, although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of ten Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions. Second, the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have, and most parents do not possess such a perspective on life. That raises a third challenge, which relates to the job that Christian churches, schools and parachurch ministries are doing in Christian education. Finally, even though a central element of being a Christian is to embrace basic biblical principles and incorporate them into one’s worldview, there has been no change in the percentage of adults or even born again adults in the past 13 years regarding the possession of a biblical worldview.”Biblical_Worldview

Now why would any born again, saved child of God be anything less than 100% when it comes to a Biblical Worldview? I would guarantee that even in our church there are some members who would not score very high on Barna’s poll.

Why have Christians become so watered down when it comes to standards and behavior? Today you have more divorces in the church than in the world; you have believer’s living together; you have leaders of the church struggling with pornography and even getting divorced; you have homosexuality as an accepted behavior, even in many churches.

Should the church be held to higher standards of behavior? Should a church have a “behavior” clause for their members? Or should we concentrate only on our beliefs?

My Experience at Prairie Baptist Church.

Prairie Baptist churchI mentioned last week that my parents marriage was probably saved because they got involved and became members of a Bible teaching and preaching church. It was American Baptist and it was the early 1960’s. But by the time I was in ninth grade (1967) we started to have interesting discussions in youth group. Drug use – is it really wrong? The Bible – is it always right? Hell – is it literal or figurative? Sex before marriage – it it OK. But didn’t really try to present the definitive answer from the Word of God.

The one on Hell really was the last straw for my parents, plus the type of behavior our older youth we getting involved in. My parents became very concerned about what I was learning, but even more so for the type of behavior some of our youth were allowed to engage in. Standards were lacking, not even taught. The Bible was watered down and not taught as absolute.

James warns us that “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (Js 1:26).

In other words, if you profess to be a Christian, but you don’t live a changed life, you should take no comfort in your faith. In fact, the reality is that your faith (religion) should influence your behavior. If it does not, it is a sham, it is powerless. The reason the churches must demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives is evident in what is really happening in America.

Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter

Seve  Faith TribesIn this new book by George Barna, Mr Barna sees seven different faith groups that are influencing America. The two largest are of the Christian ‘tribe’. He distinguishes the tribes in this way: Casual Christians represent 66% of the adult population of the U.S. (The percentage of the adult population represented by the other half-dozen tribes included 16% who are Captive Christians, 2% Jews, 2% Mormons, 2% Pantheists, one-half of 1% Muslims, and 11% Skeptics.) Here are some of his answers to questions some have posed:

Question: You describe the Casual Christian tribe as spiritually middle-of-the-road, perhaps even ambivalent about their faith. Why, then, are they so important to the nation’s future?

Barna: Each of the seven tribes is important to our nation’s future because they include millions of American citizens. The Casual Christian tribe is especially significant because it represents a huge majority of the nation’s population – two out of every three adults. This particular tribe is comprised of significant proportions of minimally active born again Christians and moderately active but theologically nominal Christians. If a catalyst were added to this mix to deepen this tribe’s integration of faith and lifestyle, or even to simply create a more extensive sense of community and purpose within the tribe, unprecedented changes could occur.

Question: What have you found to be the appeal of Casual Christianity, as opposed to what draws people to the Captive Christian or even the Mormon tribes – that is, other tribes that are much more fervent about their faith?

Barna: Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.

Causual Christian vs Captive ChristianBarna: The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.

Why is it imperative that we reach out to casual Christians and impress upon them to become Captive Christians, (I CALL THEM COVENANT CHRISTIANS)?

Here is the Real World the Church is facing:

Sex Profanity Steal Lie Gossip Moral SinsAmerican society has become more intrigued by moral issues in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that 55% of adults discuss moral issues with others during a typical week. But a nationwide survey by The Barna Group indicates that Americans have also redefined what it means to do the right thing in their own lives.

A 2008 survey by The Barna Group asked adults which, if any, of eight behaviors with moral overtones they had engaged in during the past week. The behaviors included looking at pornography, using profanity, gambling, gossiping, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliating against someone, getting drunk, and lying. Of those surveyed:

  • Twenty-eight percent had used profanity.
  • Twenty percent had gambled.
  • Nineteen percent had viewed pornography.
  • Twelve percent had gossiped.
  • Twelve percent had gotten drunk.
  • Eleven percent had lied.
  • Nine percent had engaged in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married.
  • Eight percent had retaliated against someone.

One of the most stunning outcomes from the Barna survey was the moral pattern among adults under 25. The younger generation was more than twice as likely as all other adults to engage in behaviors considered morally inappropriate by traditional standards. Their choices made even the Baby Boomers – never regarded as a paragon of traditional morality – look like moral pillars in comparison.

For instance, two-thirds of the under-25 segment (64%) had used profanity in public, compared to just one out of five Boomers (19%). The younger group – known as Mosaics – was nine times more likely than were Boomers to have engaged in sex outside of marriage (38% vs. 4%), six times more likely to have lied (37% vs. 6%), almost three times more likely to have gotten drunk (25% vs. 9%) and to have gossiped (26% vs. 10%), and twice as likely as Boomers to have observed pornography (33% vs. 16%) and to have engaged in acts of retaliation (12% vs. 5%).

According to George Barna, who directed the survey, the results reflect a significant shift in American life.

“We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America,” said the researcher and author, who has been surveying national trends in faith and morality for more than a quarter-century. “Mosaics have had little exposure to traditional moral teaching and limited accountability for such behavior. The moral code began to disintegrate when the generation before them – the Baby Busters – pushed the limits that had been challenged by their parents – the Baby Boomers. The result is that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness.

“The consistent deterioration of the Bible as the source of moral truth has led to a nation where people have become independent judges of right and wrong, basing their choices on feelings and circumstances. It is not likely that America will return to a more traditional moral code until the nation experiences significant pain from its moral choices.”

  • Head Belief is no good. Being a Casual Christian is NO GOOD! Only a Heart Belief that changes your heart and produces right behavior does good.
  • This is what Jesus taught was the foundation for building you life, building the church.

Wise man and Foolish ManLook at Luke 6:45-49

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:45-49MATT_7_24C

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:21-27

Morality Rooted in Heart BeliefsJesus says it doesn’t matter what you believe in your mind. Your belief will only produce change when it comes from a changed heart. But a changed heart will always bring forth a changed life. Belief’s only have power if they change the way you live. The reason there is so little difference between sinners and saints is because the great majority of believers that think they are born again are not!

You can stand up here and confess your belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, that he was buried and rose again. You can even go forward and confess Jesus before men, be baptized, but if your heart isn’t changed, and that change starts to show in the way you live and obey the WORD of GOD, you are still in your sins, you are still on your way to Hell.

John says “We know that we have come to know him IF we obey his commands” (1 John 2:3).

In Short, How We Live Matters. How We As A Church Lives Matters.

By  the way, we do have a behavior clause in our Church Constitution.. It is called our “Church Covenant”

WHAT IS A ‘CHURCH COVENANT’?

What is Church CovenantBrethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Galatians 3:15

Purpose of CovenantThe Purpose of a Church Covenant is Five-Fold

  1. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A PROMISE – a promise made to God, to a local church, and to one’s self.
  2. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SUMMARY OF HOW WE AGREE TO LIVE.  While our statement of faith is a good summary of what we believe, our church covenant is a summary of how we agree to live – more importantly, it is a summary of how God would have us live.  It does not include every explicit command regarding obedience, but it does give a general summary of what it means to live as a disciple of Christ.
  3. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SIGN OF COMMITMENT – a commitment to God, to His church, and to personal holiness.
  4. A CHURCH COVENANT IS AN ETHICAL STATEMENT.  Historian Charles W. DeWeese writes, “A church covenant is a series of written pledges based on the Bible which church members voluntarily make to God and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith” (Baptist Church Covenants, p. viii).   One theologian calls church covenants the “ethical counterpart to confessions of faith.”  A church covenant can be an important part of applying a Christian worldview to every aspect of our lives.  Inherent in the purpose of a church covenant is the understanding that church membership involves being held accountable to live in a manner consistent with a common understanding of Scripture.
  5. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A BIBLICAL STANDARD. A church covenant is helpful in a church that is practicing Biblical church discipline.  As members of a church, we exhort one another to live holy lives, and we challenge brothers and sisters persisting in sin.

WHERE DO COVENANTS COME FROM?

Now that we know what church covenants are, where do they come from?  Well, not from the Bible – not, at least, in the sense of being able to turn to the Book of Covenants chapter 3.  But we do see examples of covenants both in the Old and the New Testaments – covenants between God and man, and between man and man.  Moses gives a covenant from God to the people of Israel.  Ezra and Nehemiah do so as well.   And in the NT we find that “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, which is the new covenant in Christ’s blood”.   Primarily, church covenants come from the understanding that churches are to be composed of people who are truly born again.  This is what we call regenerate church membership.

In the 16th century, men and women of deep conviction broke away from the Roman Catholic Church to form congregations who understood the importance of the doctrine known as justification by faith alone in Christ alone.  No longer did baptism or membership bring supposed new life.  Joining and being part of a church was no longer a civic duty or just part of growing up.  It was becoming what it was always intended to be – a response of faith to the truth of the gospel.  And in this response of faith we gain the most amazing callings: children of the living God, ambassadors of Christ, a royal priesthood; we become the bearers of God’s name in the world.  Listen to God’s word on this issue.  “I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.  Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes” (Ezek 36:23).  We are called to be living witnesses of God’s holiness!

How Important is Keeping Our Church Covenant?

church-covenantA friend of mine was called to pastor a Baptist church in a small town south of Oklahoma City in 1989. Not long after he was there an acquaintance in the community pulled him aside at a restaurant and asked him if he knew. He said “knew what”. His acquaintance said “Did you know the chairman of the deacons is a homosexual?” He confessed his surprise and then went to the deacon, who confirmed what evidently everyone in town knew. When he then brought it before the deacons, they said they knew, but didn’t see the problem.  He then approached the entire church, and they were OK with it. So, he resigned.

In the last church I pastored, we had developed a nice worship team lead by a couple of talented gals. One day I went and visited with a family that had been there the Sunday before. They enjoyed the church, but they wanted to know why one of these gals was leading the music. The reason was that he confessed going into the local bar (Wally’s) and this gal was a bartender there. He just thought it strange that she could be a bartender and lead church music on Sunday.

I told him that I would check into it. Sure enough, it was the truth. I talked with her and pointed out our church covenant, and said that she would have to chose what she wanted to do, serve liquor or serve on the praise team. She said she considered the bar her mission field, really enjoyed what she was doing, and so she resigned from leading music. Of course her friends resigned as well. They eventually left the church. Did it cause some pain? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. O, by the way, this same gal had wanted to meet with me to see if I thot it was ok to divorce her husband, simply because he didn’t communicate with her very well.

She no longer works at the bar, and we are still friends, and she is still married. By the way, Dennis Queen a few years later was able to lead that deacon to the Lord. He just this year preached his funeral.

All across the country church denominational leaders are being attacked by people pushing to allow homosexual pastors. Several denominations have split because they decided to allow such as pastors.

Churches must make a choice as to how they will believe and act towards each other and the world. Any church can act like a church, can talk like a church, but in their heart, there is no Power of God to live godly lives in the dark, in the areas where people aren’t looking.

Jesus cares that we live Holy Lives, that we walk in the Power of the HOLY Spirit.

Christianity is about living a different kind of life, not just talking about different kinds of concepts.

The church is called to live and act differently.  In agreeing to a church covenant, one is agreeing to be held accountable by a body of believers.  Likewise, one is agreeing to hold a body of believers accountable.  To hold accountable simply means “to take responsibility for.”

A CHURCH COVENANT, VOID OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY, IS A WORTHLESS DOCUMENT.

Scripture highlights our need for accountability.

  • Read Matt 18:15-17 – We do not have a license to sin.  More than that, if we do keep on sinning, we risk proving that we have not been given new life from God.  Matthew 18 gives us instruction about what to do with a persistently unrepentant sinner.
  • Read 1Cor 5 – If the Corinthian congregation allowed this man to remain a member of the church, he (and others) may get the wrong impression that his sexual immorality is consistent with what it means to be a Christian.  Weaker members of the body will be confused and hurt as well.  And the church will risk losing her reputation in the local community.

There will always be sin in the church because we all sin.  What we are talking about is how to deal with people whose lives are characterized by sin, people who agree with their sin against God and His Word, and who try to rationalize their sin instead of pleading before God for forgiveness.  The purpose of such accountability is not to judge people worthy of hell-fire – that’s never been the church’s role.  It’s to protect them from deceiving themselves about their own spiritual state, to protect the corporate witness of the church from being smeared by the non-Christian behavior of professing believers, and to restore the disobedient person to right relationship with God and warm fellowship with the church.

What then should we expect out of a church covenant?  Expect it to be Biblical – based 100% upon Scripture.  Expect it to be focused on the whole body of believers – it should be corporate not private.  And expect it to be clear and easy to understand by all who desire to join this fellowship.

The church covenant is equal parts promise, summary of expectations, ethical statement, and biblical standard. We summarize how we promise to live together in the covenant. It forms the ethics, or the moral principles, of our worldview and holds out a biblical standard by which we live.Joshua renews covenant

Why is this important? Just as Joshua led his people to affirm their following God’s Word, so I believe church’s should regularly affirm their allegiance to their Church Covenant. I believe a church should periodically have a Covenant Service. I believe it should be read at every communion service. The Covenant should be the binding and empowering force of every church.

Whenever people want to join our church, they should be willing to affirm our Covenant.

By featuring the covenant in our life together, we strive to protect ourselves from individual and corporate sin. Of equal importance, we spur one another on to live in light of a greater covenant, one initiated by love, sealed by sacrifice, and kept for eternity by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

There are just two final points to make about our church covenant.

  • First, our church covenant should be a challenge.
  • Second our church covenant should be a comfort.

1. Our church covenant is a challenge simply because there are times when living a godly life is hard. It is also a challenge because each member of the church now bears responsibility for the lives of other believers – this is that “accountability goes both ways” part.  This is serious responsibility.  Not the kind of responsibility you have just because you are somebody’s friend, but the kind of responsibility that comes from saying, before God, “I care for you and will work to encourage you in your discipleship.”  This challenge is a serious thing.

2. This covenant isn’t just about us challenging each other to be better Christians.  Our church covenant is also a comfort. A comfort to know you’ll be cared for and prayed for, not perfectly, but faithfully.  The comfort is that by joining a church and covenanting with other believers, you now have Christians who are going to build you up when you are down.  You have Christians who are committed, before God, to walk with you, pray with you, serve you.  You have Christians who are so concerned about your spiritual walk, that if they see you break the covenant you have made as a disciple of Christ, they will exhort you to turn back; and if you don’t, they’ll do all they can to make the gravity of your sin clear.  This is our ideal, our vision, what we strive for.

“A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Here is the “Champions Covenant” for our church. The numbers correspond to verses listed at the end:

The Champion’s Covenant

Introductionchampionscovenant_

B elieving that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and the church is the body of Christ, and that only by the Holy Spirit is one made alive to God and placed “in Christ” and believing further that the local church is the extension of the Body of Christ and can only be joined by those already “in Christ”, I make the following two affirmations:

  • I have been born again by the Holy Spirit, having personally repented of my sin before God, sought and received His forgiveness, believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, and resurrected—as my one-and-only Savior and Lord.
  • I have identified myself publicly as a Christian and have followed my Lord in baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Promises

Having given ourselves to God by our faith in Jesus Christ, and having adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, and as members of this local Body of Christ, we now give ourselves to one another in this solemn covenant. We hereby promise:

  • To be committed to each other in seeking to love and obey Jesus Christ1,5; and for His sake love2, accept3, and forgive4 each other with affectionate care and watchfulness.
  • To join with fellow members to seek God’s will in our common decision-making; to allow every member the privilege of seeking to influence the church in its pursuit of God’s will6; to accept congregational decisions without grumbling7; and to work to prevent division in the body8.
  • love_one_another_To help one another grow in Jesus Christ by building up one another 9, bearing one another’s burdens10, encouraging one another11, exhorting one another12, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, , teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another,  being kind and tenderhearted to one another.13
  • To work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we support and sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines. As we are being built up we will reach out to the lost and to the fallen, and through our love and service seek to bring them into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Through self-denial, faith and good works we endeavor to grow together in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.14-21
  • To practice Biblical stewardship22 of our resources, and to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.
  • To seek, by God’s grace, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to be an example in our speech and conduct24,25, purposing to lead new and holy lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially with regard to the following:
  • To use chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs only as informed by the teachings of the Bible26, wise medical counsel, and the dictates of the law.
  • To flee sexual immorality27; to shun pornography28; to reserve sexual activity solely for one man and one woman united in the covenant of marriage30;  to not initiate a divorce, unless the spouse decisively and physically deserts the relationship, commits repeated, unrepentant adultery, is guilty of protracted, unrepentant life-endangerment, or is guilty of physical and/or sexual abuse of a child or minor.31
  • To protect and defend the lives of our children from the moment of their conception; to bring up those in our home in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example seek the salvation of our family, teaching and encouraging them to love, follow and serve God.
  • To practice justice and compassion toward all people, especially the poor, the sick, the disabled, widows, and orphans.
  • To conduct all business in honesty and integrity32, counting it our chief business in life to extend the influence of Christ in society33.
  • To submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and pursue the fruit that He brings forth34and to work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, that the Kingdom of God may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Protection:

We enter into this covenant voluntarily and affirm the ambitions of this covenant as our own. We realize that we can only fulfill this covenant through the power of Jesus Christ living in us. We invite fellow members to pray for us, teach us, correct us and rebuke us, if necessary, in a spirit of gentleness and humility should we stray from the Lord’s commands. We voluntarily submit ourselves to one another and to the biblical authority of this church35. If we fail to live up to this covenant, we commit to yield to correction with meekness, to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and to turn from our sin, relying on God’s grace to lift us up. Should church discipline ever be required, it will always be undertaken for the purpose of restoration to fellowship with God and with this covenant community – and it will always be done in accordance with Scriptural procedures in Matthew 18:15-22 and Galatians 6:1. We further commit to never refuse forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of Godly repentance.36

If we find ourselves unwilling to try to fulfill this covenant, we commit to remove our self from this congregation. If relocation outside the community prevents us from fulfilling this covenant, we commit to unite with another congregation and to continue to pursue growth as a Christian.

The Blessing

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Be With Us All. Amen.37

PPBC-Champions Covenant

1brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

2and this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 1 john 3:23

3 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

4and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as god for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

5if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the father hath loved me, so have i loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:7-10

6hard waybut now hath god set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but god hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:18-27

7neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:10

8that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 1 Corinthians 12:25

9but ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the holy ghost, Jude 1:20

10bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

11not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

12but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

13And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

14 for we are the circumcision, which worship god in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3

15 and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8

16study to shew thyself approved unto god, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 timothy 2:15 till I come; give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13

17not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

18I speak as to wise men; judge ye what i say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:15-17

19now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, i would not have you ignorant. 1 Corinthians 12:1

20go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

21for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10 But  grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory both now and to the day of  eternity. Amen. 2 Pet 3:18

22moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:2 as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of god’s varied grace: 1 peter 4:10 Jesus said to them, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to god the things that are god’s.” And they marveled at him. Mark 12:17

23then came peter to him, and said, lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Matthew 18:21

24when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 peter 3:2 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:8 let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4

25for this is the will of god, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the gentiles which know not god: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For god hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but god, who hath also given unto us his holy spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

26not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 1 timothy 3:3 deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 1 timothy 3:8 (no longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 1 timothy 5:23 older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, Titus 2:3 and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit; Ephesians 5:18 for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of god; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; Titus 1:7 who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Proverbs 23:29-33 or do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit within you, whom you have from god? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:19

27flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

28for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. Matthew 15:19-20

Focus on the Family studies that have found that 43% of families say pornography is a problem in their home. And while she acknowledges that the spot has some fun at the porn-consumer’s expense (the last joke in the ad is about the porn-buyer’s mom finding out what he’s purchasing), she says that “many of these people’s experiences with pornography is not funny. Some of their families have been devastated by it.”

29likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 1 Timothy 2:9

30now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5

31and Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore god has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from god, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:6-16 then said he unto the disciples, it is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Luke 17:1-2 husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19

32in the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

33and as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31

34so then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the spirit of god are sons of god. Romans 8:12-14 but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Galatians 5:22 if we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Galatians 5:25

35obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 giving thanks always and for everything to god the father in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 1 Corinthians 16:13-16

“If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Then peter came up and said to him, “lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:15-22

36For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11

37The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14


A man asked God how long a million years was to Him. God replied, “It’s just like a single second of your time, my child.” So the man asked, “And what about a million dollars?” The Lord replied, “To me, it’s just like a single penny.” So the man gathered himself up and said, “Well, Lord, could I have one of your pennies?” And God said, “Certainly, my child, just a second.”

Joshua How Long a SLackerWe Americans are known for being impatient. From the very first time your child says “How Long Before We Get there?” – To your husband asking “how long will your mother be staying” we are always occupied with time and how long something takes. By the way if your mother in law is Jewish, you can ask her: kama z’man tish’hu kan? כַּמָּה זְמַן תִּשְׁהוּ כָּאן? (How long will you be staying?)

Everything about America is hurry hurry hurry. We have more time saving gadgets, we even have the internet on our phones so we can be instantly in contact with each other. Still everyone always seems tobe in a hurry, and everyone complains of not having enough time.

However, there is a counter-culture at work in America. It’s called the Slacker Movement. FYI: Slacker: One who shirks work or responsibility.Slacker Movement

The thinking goes that slacking allows more of your creative energy to flow out. You take more time to enjoy life, have fun. You take the easy way out in anything you do. There was even a movie that presented this philosophy. The real you comes out, and you spontaneously express yourself in whatever you see and do and feel. You are more relaxed, you feel great so you make the world a better place to be.

When a slacker lies happily on his couch thinking about what will make him and the rest of the world successful and happy, the world is immediately a happier place. His happiness radiates out like ripples in a pond, creating a happier, successful world. Supposedly, there is actually “Good Slacking”:

Slacking has evolved into an approach towards society, projects, and perhaps even life for those fully absorbed into the slacker movement. Slacking is now about harnessing the simple approach to complex situations. Instead of “reinventing the wheel,” the modern slacker presented with a complex situation will oftentimes examine what is already available,  assemble the provided basic components, and arrive at a solution – usually delivering a viable answer with increased efficiency, minimal fuss, less aggravation, and sometimes even decreased cost.

But Most Slacking is Just Laziness

Join Slacker MovementAnyone anxious to join the Slacker Movement? Lots of Cool Parties and Conventions where all you do is drink. Comes with a really cool T Shirt. You say no thanks? Are you Sure? What if we find out there is a bit of slacker in all of us? As we continue our journey with Joshua, we find that the book is getting boring. In fact, when you start reading in Chapter 15, you start skipping ahead, and you say “How Long” does this go on? What is happening is the division of Canaan to the Hebrew Families.Joshua Down to Business

Chapter 15 details the Tribe of Judah

Joshua 15:1 (KJV) This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast.

Joshua 15:13-14 (KJV) And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.

Chapter 16 details Joseph’s Children, esp Ephraim

Joshua 16:1 (KJV) And the lot of the children of Joseph fell from Jordan by Jericho, unto the water of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goeth up from Jericho throughout mount Bethel,

Chapter 17 details the Tribe of Manasseh

Joshua 17:1 (KJV) There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.

Chapter 18 details the remaining tribes

Joshua 18:1 (KJV) And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

There the allotment of the territory could be most conveniently made, north, south, east, and west, to the different tribes. But “the tabernacle of the congregation was also set up there,” and its removal therefore must have been made or sanctioned by divine intimation (De 12:11). It remained in Shiloh for more than three hundred years (1Sa 4:1-11).—JFB

Joshua 18_3 He is PerturbedAll of a Sudden We find Joshua sounding pretty PERTURBED!

Joshua 18:2-3 (KJV) And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance. And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?

Why Did Joshua Talk to them this way?

Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Ephraiam, and Judah had made their requests. They had been given their land by choice or by lot. But the remaining seven tribes-Benjamin, Zebulin, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Simeon, and Dan–were being a little too slow.

The language of Joshua is quite harsh and implies that they are openly dishonoring God’s commands.

Joshua is clearly perturbed that they seem to have settled down near Shiloh and are making no overt attempt to continue the conflict and subdue their own land.

Sure there could be simple explanations for the delays, moving to Shiloh, caring for wounded, harvest, livestock, but Joshua being in tune with the Holy Spirit (as he represents the Believer filled with the Holy Spirit)

Joshua is a Picture of the Holy Spirit

Why Do I say Joshua is an example of a believer filled with the Spirit? Because at the beginning Joshua united himself with the Captain of the Hosts of God. He demonstrates that the battle for our inheritance is not by our strength or power, but by the power of God’s Spirit. Joshua is acting as the Holy Spirit does in our lives. He gets busy in the life of God’s Children, and He starts moving us along.

Now what probably happened is this:

Joshua got busy preparing to move and set up the Tabernacle in Shiloh. Everyone got busy, plus they had been on a frenetic pace for at seven years.

One day he heard about Caleb’s great victory over the three sons of Anak, and in the midst of rejoicing he looked out and everybody was just having a big ol cook out, relaxing and playing frisbee and volleyball. Then it hit him, these people are getting comfortable here. They are starting to IGNORE God.

But Joshua was too much alive to the duty laid on him by the Lord to let matters continue in that state; and accordingly, since a general conquest of the land had been made, he resolved to proceed immediately with the lot, believing that when each tribe should receive its inheritance, a new motive would arise to lead them to exert themselves in securing the full possession. God never wants us to get too content in this world. He always wants us focused on the battle, upon His Glory and Purpose.

The churches of America fell asleep in the 50’s and 60’s. Life was good. The WW was over, economic prosperity was going great, tithes were rolling in, big churches were being built, but the old devil was working overtime. All of a sudden, prayer and Bible reading were out, sex and drug education were in, and abortion was government funded. Our great Nation was set on a course that we are living in today. We got slack!

That is what Joshua was reacting too, a slackness in spirit in the people, a contentment with the status quo. But their inaction was in direct violation of God’s Goals and Instructions.

Why do we need to go to church? Why do we read our Bible? Because we are all slackers at heart! We usually don’t want to do anything that involves conflict, confrontation, obedience to the difficult commands of Christ.

But Jesus said: “Why do you call me Lord Lord, and do not the things that I say?

Being a Christian is a RELATIONSHIP and NOT a RELIGION!

It’s very much like a marriage relationship…

Relationship Not a ReligionI can tell my wife I love her. O honey I love you so much. You are the cutest little thing! Oh you just make me all tingly inside! But if I just lay around and don’t help with chires, just lay around and don’t go to work, or worse yet, just leave and don’t tell her where I’m going, stay out all night carousing… Does it make it ok if I come home at four in the morning and go: “Oh honey, I just missed you so much! I love you so much!”

NO. In fact, I would be lucky if my wife even tolerated that behavior for a week.

You can use the same analogy about your conduct at work, at school, with friends. Words and smiles and high fives only get you so far. Pretty soon you have to back up your words with actions!

That is our God! That is our Savior! He did not sacrifice His perfect Blood so you could say I love you so much, come into my heart, be my Savior, and then just go out and do whatever you want, whenever you want, with who ever you want! No, You have been redeemed, bought out of the slave market so that you can be HIS Treasured Possession, His workmanship!, before ordained for good works! (Eph 2:8-10)

How Lons od ScriptureIn Order to Understand the Importance of Not Being A Slacker when it comes to God, we must understand the way God Works. To do that we must analyze and understand the  “How Long’s” in Scripture:

The “How Longs” in God’s Word take three different forms:

  1. Man talking to Man

  2. Man talking to God

  3. God talking to Man

Now understand this word that Joshua uses-rāp̱āh: it means to become slack, to relax, cease, to become discouraged, weak, feeble, disheartened, let go, forsake, abandon. It can also be used to imply laziness or complacency.

  • The Pharaoh used this word to justify his mean treatment of the Jewish slaves (Exodus 5:8,17)

  • Proverbs 18:9 (KJV) He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

  • Understand that Slackers are brothers to the destroyer, the corrupter!

Man to Man

  • Job 8:2, ‘How long will you speak these words?’
  • Job 19:2 ‘How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? ‘
  • Psalm 63:3, ‘How long will you imagine mischief against a man?’
  • Proverbs 6:9 ‘How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?’

Face it, we get weary of trouble makers, people who cause problems, people who never seem to get their life on track. We complain about the wicked,we complain about people not doing work when we are doing all the work. How many times have you become weary of all the horrible things that people do to good people, even their children, even their family? We live in a very messed up world.

This prompts us to ask “HOW LONG?” to God.

Man to God

  • Psalms 6:3 (KJV) My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
  • Psalms 13:1 (KJV) How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
  • Psalms 35:17 (KJV) Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
  • Psalms 79:5 (KJV) How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
  • Psalms 89:46 (KJV) How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?
  • Psalms 94:3 (KJV) LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?
  • Revelation 6:9-10 (KJV) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Cry Out HOW LONG GODWe take our complaints to God, we think He is leaving us in our problem far too long. We think he is letting the lions chew on us a little too long. We think He is hiding himself from us, not listening to our prayers. We think He is letting the suffering of the righteous go on too long. There is too much suffering in this world.

God means our complaints to cause us to look at Him, to see Him at His throne. He wants us to submit our petitions before the throne, to plead our case.


UNDERSTAND GOD”S PRAYER PROTOCOL

Prayer Protocol with GodThe truth is, we must each learn that God is Sovereign. God is King. He has a well ordered throne. There is a protocol involved when we pray before the throne.

Pray through the Blood of Jesus Christ.

  • Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; Hebrews 10:19-20

Pray in Confidence in His Righteousness

  • And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Hebrews 10:21-23
  • Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Pray in the Power of the Name of Jesus

  • Ephesians 5:20 (KJV) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
  • Phil 2:10 At the Name of Jesus every KNEE Shall Bow.
  • Acts 4:12 No other Name under heaven whereby men may be saved

But does that mean you don’t plead with God? NO. Sometimes We Must plead…

Luke 18:3-8 (KJV) And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Expectation: Faith hears the voice of the Beloved, and says, ‘Make haste;’ it hears His ‘Behold, I come quickly!’ and it says, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus!’ We ‘look for and hasten (unto) the coming of the day of God’ (2 Peter 3:12).

  • REMEMBER GOD PROMISES TO BE WITH US (Joshua 1:5) “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee”

BUT REMEMBER THAT GOD HAS EXPECTATIONS FOR OUR LIFE TOO!

Gods ExpectationsWe must always remember that our Relationship With God Comes With Certain Expectations… God looks at your relationship with Him and asks… HOW LONG?


God to man.

  • God to Pharoah- Exodus 10:3, 16:28, How long will you refuse to humble yourself?’
  • Numbers 14:11 (KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
  • Numbers 14:27 (KJV) How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
  • 1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
  • Proverbs 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
  • Proverbs 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
  • Jeremiah 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
  • Jeremiah 12:4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.
  • Matthew 17:17 (KJV) Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

God is:

  1. Long-suffering. ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’
  2. He is the infinitely patient God, as such most unwilling to smite. He speaks in pity to the sinner, ‘how long will you not be saved?’—like Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.
  3. Pleading, but Never Forces Your Obedience.Loving. It is not at random that God says, ‘How long?’ His are not mere words of course. ‘It grieves Him at His heart.’ Every moment’s continuance in unbelief is vexing and grieving the Spirit.
  4. Warning. As He warned the judges and princes in Israel, so does He warn us. How long will you deal unjustly? He said to them. How long will you persist in your unrighteousness and unbelief? He says to us. The day of grace is ending. The day of wrath is coming. Be warned. Flee from the wrath to come!
  5. MOST OF ALL God is NO PUSH OVER!

I have often heard somone who is back-slidden, or living in sin ask me, “why doesn’t God just send me a sign… why doesn’t He send a lightning bolt to wake me up and get me to do right?” But it is not up to God to Force us to Obey. God is after your heart, after your devotion, he is not building robots.

Sometime He brings us Goodness:

  • Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Sometimes He uses Fear:

  • Jude 1:21-23 (KJV) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:15 (KJV) If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

But through it all, God asks each of us, “How Long are you going to slack off from Your Relationship With ME?

  • How long are you going to slack off making a decision to put off coming to Jesus Christ?
  • How long are you going to slack off from putting God first in your life.

How to Claim InheritanceSure, you have tons of excuses. The demands of your job, demands of your family, demands for yourself. Fear of this fear of that. But God calls it what it is-laziness, slothfulness, lack of concern for His Word, apathy toward the eternity of your loved ones, lack of love for your loved ones. What kind of relationship does God require with us?

Jesus said there are really only 2 commandments you need to follow:

  • Mark 12:30-31 (KJV) And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

HOW CAN WE CLAIM OUR INHERITANCE, OUR ABUNDANT LIFE IN CHRIST? HOW DO WE HAVE A MARK 12:30 RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?

Sigmund Freud’s favorite story was about the sailor shipwrecked on one of the South Sea islands. He was seized by the natives, hoisted to their shoulders, carried to the village, and set on a rude throne. Little by little, he learned that it was their custom once each year to make some man a king, king for a year. He liked it until he began to wonder what happened to all the former kings. Soon he discovered that every year when his kingship was ended, the king was banished to an island, where he starved to death. The sailor did not like that, but he was smart and he was king, king for a year. So he put his carpenters to work making boats, his farmers to work transplanting fruit trees to the island, farmers growing crops, masons building houses. So when his kingship was over, he was banished, not to a barren island, but to an island of abundance. It is a good parable of life: We’re all kings here, kings for a little while, able to choose what we shall do with the stuff of life.—Illustrations Unlimited

Priorities & Focus:

  • “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt. 6:19-20).
  • And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” Colossians 3:23-25

1. God’s Inspired Word is the Final Authority for my Life

Bible is Final AuthorityLike Joshua led the Hebrews to do at Shechem, Mt Ebal Mt Gerizim , to embrace the blessings and the cursings of God’s Word. The were setting forth God’s Word as the Final Authority for their life. They were embracing the Blessing Power of God’s Word, but at the same time they were acknowledging the power to curse, to wall them up in the way.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Psalms 19:7-11

This means you are going to commit daily to reading the Word. You are going to make being in God’s Word your number one priority each day.

2. SURVEY YOUR LIFE


Joshua 18:4-6 (KJV) Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me. And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north. Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.

Survey Your LifeMake a list of your needs, the needs of your wife, the needs of your children. Learn to think in character qualities. List your assets, list your debts, list your concerns list your fears, list your health problems. List those loved one in your life that you don’t know where they will spend eternity

3. COMMIT IT ALL TOTALLY TO GOD

that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.”

commit all totally to GodTake your list, commit it all to God. Give Him all your expectations. Don’t be envious of what you don’t have. Understand God has different expectations for each of us. Count on Him to bring His will to pass

  • We are a Living Sacrifice – Rom 12:1,2
  • My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psalms 62:5-8

4.By Faith to Go Forth in the Power of His SPIRIT

Power of the SpiritThen he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

  • The Inheritance is conquered by God, because we can claim none of the glory before Him. Romans 11:36 – of Him, through Him and unto Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.

  • He will show us our life, and only that which we have allowed Him to accomplish will last for eternity. He alone is our silver and gold!

  • Are YOU READY TO STOP SLACKING FOR GOD? ARE YOU READY TO COMMIT TO HIM TODAY!


Sunday Morning I will preach a “VBS Kickoff” Sermon on Lifeway’s Outrigger Island Theme. The verse for the week is Ps 86:11: (ESV) Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. It is all about following God’s Unshakeable Truth. If you saw our church and listen to the cool songs, you would think we were off for a Hawaiian Vacation. In reality I believe we are off for a battle in the Pacific, a battle which has the hearts and souls of our children as its prize. Increasingly our Nation is moving away from the TRUTH of God’s Word.
We live in a country where people openly question the authority and truth of God’s Word. Many of you have heard the following quotation from our potential future President:

“And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is okay and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount — a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our Bibles now. Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles.” Barack Obama 6/28/2006

I have nothing against Barack Obama, but he represents the problem with Christianity today. There are too many smart, intelligent people who think they know more than God, and they think they know better what the truth is. And they are fooling many smart intelligent people.

We have something similar in Acts 13:4-12.

(NKJV) So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant. Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Obama claims to be a Born Again Follower of Christ?

Barack Obama is very similar to “Bar-Jesus” because he is using his version of the truth (pseudo-Christianity) to influence voters, especially in light of his ‘Christian Brochure’.

Obama claims to be a Born Again Follower of Christ?

In Acts 13, Elymas (Aramaic for Wise) thought he knew the truth, but he was a false prophet. He was Bar-Jesus (False Jesus). He tried to fool Sergius Paulus, who himself was an intelligent man, a man of authority given him by the Roman Senate.

Along comes Paul & Barnabus preaching and teaching the doctrines of Jesus Christ. Sergius was fascinated by this truth and was about to become a convert. Elymas (about to lose his sugar daddy) withstood them (got in their face) trying to turn the proconsul away from them.

Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, who is TRUTH. Paul locked his eyes on him and spoke this truth: withstood him (got in his face) and said: “You son of the devil, you enemy of all true righteousness, you monster of trickery and evil, is it not time you gave up trying to pervert the truth of the Lord? Now listen, the Lord himself will touch you, for some time you will not see the light of the sun – you will be blind!” (Phillips)

Then Sergius believed, but Acts 3:12 says he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

I believe Christianity is so watered down because we have failed to teach the Truth of Jesus Christ. The truth is not just doctrine. The truth of Jesus is never meant to be intellectual and theological. The Jews had all that with the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducee’s. Jesus stood on the steps of the temple and cried out: You will not come to ME that you might have life”. The truth of Jesus Christ will produce LIFE that can be seen by everyone. It is not just theological doctrine. Here is evidence that perhaps our way of teaching the Bible is not working.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life between May 8 and Aug. 13, 2007, among a representative sample of more than 35,000 Americans, found the following disturbing result about “TRUTH” (see chart)

IS THERE ANY TRUTH? Even among Evangelical Christians there is doubt and unbelief about Jesus when He says I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me! We have BAR-JESUS’s like Alexander McClaren & Barack Obama encouraging us to read our Bibles and yet being “OPEN” to what the Truth of God’s Word is. In fact they will tell you it is impossible to know truth!

The reason that I am so concerned about our children, and our grandchildren, is that People Walk according to the Truth they believe. If we do not know what the Truth is, then we will walk to whatever we want. Gay Marriage makes sense to someone who doesn’t believe in truth. Mercy killing makes sense to people without truth. Abortion makes sense to people without truth.

I’m afraid that even attending Bible-teaching churches that my grandchildren will grow up not knowing the truth of God because we parents and grandparents don’t know the truth of God’s way. We can quote Psalms 86:11 all we want. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. But God has already shown us His Way. His Way is His Son Jesus Christ. We are to Walk in Him, Abide in Him.

But I’m afraid that the words of Jack Nicholson are echoing across the churches of our land: “You can’t handle the truth”

The truth is that God’s Truth is meant to Guide our lives. It is meant to be Practical, Walkable, Livable. The Truth of God will IMPACT the WAY YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE. And it is meant to impact you in Extraordinary Ways.

But when we Christians aren’t Living the Truth of God’s Word, then Truth starts to be subjective, open to your own interpretation.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NKJV) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

I’m not talking about truth’s such as the Inerrancy of God’s Word, the Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, Salvation by Grace and on and on. Those are important Theological Truths that I believe most of us share. But with Jesus it is not about Theology, it is about Livology. Jesus came that we might have LIFE, and that ABUNDANTLY!

I’m talking about Living the Life that Jesus Taught!

If Jesus is the WAY & the TRUTH, how do we Learn of Him so that we might have LIFE? The key is what Jesus told us was our Great Commission:

“Teaching them to (KEEP) observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).

So what were all the commands of Jesus? A survey of the Gospels will produce about 49 general commands that every believer should follow. This, then, is the curriculum for carrying out the Great Commission and being a disciple. These Commands are the TRUTH, They Are the WAY They Will REPRODUCE HIS LIFE IN US!

The Greek word translated keep is tereo, which means “to guard, to watch, to observe closely, to hold fast.” This same word is used to describe the care that the Philippian jailer was to exercise in keeping Paul and Silas from escaping.

During the times of wind-driven ships, navigators would use the phrase keeping the stars. This meant that they would use the stars to chart a course across the ocean. This is precisely how the commands of Christ are to be used: as dependable lights for charting a course throughout life.

THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING THE COMMANDS OF CHRIST:

1. Showing Our Love for Christ

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

2. Abiding in God’s Love

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

3. Perfecting God’s Love

“Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (I John 2:5).

4. Having God Live Within Us

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).

5. Experiencing God’s Love

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father…” (John 14:21).

6. Knowing Christ Intimately

“…And I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

“Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (I John 2:3).

If you are serious about learning and following the commands of Christ, I suggest you enrol in the FREE Daily Success Program of daily emails sponsored by the Institute in Basic Life Principles. You can do so at www.IBLP.org. Bill Gothard has done exhaustive research and application into the 49 commands of Christ. While it is geared toward men, women can enroll as well.

Churches that call themselves Christian must return to following the Commands of Christ. He is our Way, our Truth and our Life. No man comes to God but by following Jesus and His commands.