Archive for the ‘World’ Category


Journey 2010 is about living in the will of God. It is about what John said in 3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” God’s Will, God’s truth will always be corrupted and thwarted by unrighteousness “Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

ABOUT END TIMES

I want to reveal the single greatest motivation we as Christians have for walking in the truth. This revealing involves “end times” teachings. Most of us are very curious about the “end times”. Most people respond to surveys saying they want to know more about the Book of Revelations.

Let me give you this about that. Curiosity is not the proper reason to study Revelations. Jesus gives us the proper reason to study the Word or the End Times Book of Revelations: “Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” If your study is motivaFrom the ted by your personal hunger and desire for righteousness, God will satisfy you, He will teach you. But if you are only motivated by curiosity or the pride of ‘knowing’, you will come away not knowing, not being satisfied. You will be confused.

Some may question my teachings as not being in line with what you believe is correct especially among Southern Baptists. But allow me to clarify: The Southern Baptist Faith and Message is extremely vague about the end time teaching in the Bible. Here is what the Southern Baptists believe about the end times:

“God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.” (2000 Southern Baptist Faith & Message)

Our belief’s must not be based upon what someone else has taught us, not even what I teach. Each one of us has the Holy Spirit as our teacher. What we must do is search and study the Scriptures. The truth must be within you and it must be based upon what you have studied and struggled with. Don’t accept at face value what I say or what others say. Study to show yourself approved  (“dokimos”) unto God, a workman who is not ashamed, but who rightly divides the truth!

OUR MOTIVATION

What is this Single Greatest Motivation for Walking in Truth and Following God’s Will?

1 John 3:1-3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

John says the truth of Christ’s 2nd coming and uor resulting change into His glorious body is the Hope That Purifies Us.

1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

So this truth of our FUTURE transformation when we are face to face with Jesus Christ is to motivate us in the PRESENT to obey His truth and in so doing become PURIFIED or CONSECRATED (agnízō – in 1 John 3:3) to God, which is what living in His Will and walking in His truth is all about.

I have read that in certain countries, hunters capture monkeys using a very simple but effective trap. They make a hole in a hollow tree and put a banana in it. The hole is big enough for the monkey’s hand to go in but not for its fist to come out. A monkey would then reach in and grab the banana. It then tries to pull its hand out while grabbing on to the banana to no avail. Its closed fist would be too big for the hole. For the monkey to be able to pull its hand out it has to drop the banana. But hunters are well aware that monkeys will not let go of the banana and that the monkeys will kick and squeal when the hunter approaches but they refuse to let go of the banana. They refuse to let go of the bait and so become captured.

LET GO

Today I want to challenge each of us to “let go”. If we are to Live in the Will of God, we must “LET GO”

Jesus was approached by a young man …

(The Message) Matthew 19:16-22 Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.” The man asked, “What in particular?” Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.” The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?” “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.” That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.”

The disciples were blown away. They thought “if a rich man doesn’t deserve heaven, who does? Then they reminded Jesus that they had left everything. And Jesus commended them saying:

(continuing in verses 28-29) “In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life.

The young man was told by Jesus he must let go of his riches if he wanted to have eternal life. Our churches would be a lot smaller if we told people that today! And yet, Jesus insisted that in order to follow Him, we had to be willing to let go of everything this world has:

Luke 14:25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

SO TO WALK IN GOD’S WILL WE MUST LET GO!

Let Go of What?

I believe we must let go of the salt! But Mudpreacher,  Jesus said we are to be the salt of the world, right?

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. Matt 5:13

If you consult with salt experts, they will tell you that salt never loses its taste. Never, not in a million years. It is a mineral and will stay the same. That’s why people who question the truth of the Bible cite this verse as one that proves their belief. Let’s consider this verse further.

“moraino”

The word  for lose its “taste or savor” is “moraino”,  applied to the mind – stupid or silly (1 Cor 1:20 – God made foolish (moraino) the wisdom of the world); applied to the taste –insipid or bland; (as in salt losing its savor). Moraino is the root of our English word “moron” = very stupid person.

Elsewhere in medicine moraino is used of the slackness, fatigue or dulling of the nerves. Moraino is also used in respect of the sluggishness of animals in winter. With reference to men the use of moraino is predominantly psychological. In this context, moraino implies censure on man himself; his acts, thoughts, counsels, and words are not as they should be. The weakness is due to a specific failure in judgment or decision.

Now in this verse,most people believe it refers to normally ‘salty’ believers losing thier ‘saltiness’ and having no effect upon the world. It is true that Christians only lose their “saltiness”when they make wrong judgments and become like the world. In effect they are “contaminated”. This is how many Biblical scholars explain the salt losing its’ “moraino”.

Ancient Dead Sea salt, unlike our modern, refined table salt, did lose its flavor. The salt is not pure sodium chloride, but NaCl mixed with other rock and mineral matter; and if allowed to get moist, the NaCl would dissolve out and leave behind a pile of tasteless crud. Thus, in order for the salt to preserve its savor, contamination had to be kept out of it. This explanation makes sense to all but scientists, because to them, salt is still salt. It keeps its qualities 10,000 years, because it is a mineral.

There may be a better understanding of what Jesus had in mind, which will silence the scientists.

Recent Archeological Discoveries

In the Cultural Dictionary of the Bible, John J. Pilch, Ph.D. who teaches Scripture at Georgetown University, points out that the Hebrew and Aramaic word for “earth” may also mean “oven”. Many cultures of Biblical times used an earthen oven, an oven made of clay. Moreover, in the Mediterranean world, wood was a scarce commodity. They used abundantly available camel or other animal dung as fuel. Salt was used to dry out the dung patties, and a block of salt was placed at the base of the clay oven as a kind of catalyst to make the fire burn. Recent archeological discoveries confirm this use. “…in all the ‘salt’ passages of the New Testament, salt is presented in its function as an aid to making fires burn rather than as a  seasoning or preservative agent.” When the salt lost its ability to stoke the fires, it was thrown down as gravel on muddy roads.

Factoring into the translation these cultural connotations, Pilch translates Matthew 5:13 as “You are the catalyst (salt) in the earth oven. But if the catalyst (salt) has lost its catalytic ability (saltiness), how shall its catalytic ability (saltiness) be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by human beings.” (Cultural Dictionary of the Bible by John J Pilch, 1995)

This view of Biblical salt flavors these verses in this way:

  • “You, my disciples, are salt for the hearth (or earth oven)…  an image that reminds me that you are also the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-14)
  • “Salt is good [an excellent thing], but if salt has lost its strength and has become saltless (insipid, flat), how shall its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the manure heap; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him listen and consider and comprehend by hearing!” (Luke 14:34-35, Amplified Bible)
  • “You are the fire making and sustaining agent in the earth oven. But if that agent has lost its ability to maintain a fire, how shall that ability be restored? This salt is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out. People can step on this solid block of salt in an otherwise muddy road.” (Matt 5:13, with a very logical lead into “light of the world.”)
  • “For every one will be salted in order to burn. Salt is good, but if it has lost its ability to start and maintain a fire, how can that ability be restored? Be salty, but stay at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:49-50.  Notice the repeated mention of fire in the context from v. 42 to these verses. Another logical lead into the salt statement.)
  • “I came to light the earth oven; would that it were already kindled” (Luke 12:49, then notice the subsequent discussion of family conflict and division, vv. 51-53).
  • “Salt is good. But if salt has lost its ability to start and maintain fires, how can that ability be restored? This salt is fit neither for the earth oven, nor for preparing the fuel (the dunghill). People just throw it away.” (Luke 14:34-35).

If you doubt the fire making qualities of salt, go to YouTube and type in salt water into fuel and watch salt water burn: Salt Water into Fuel

So LET GO of the dung contaminated salt. When the salt can no longer change the dung, it’s time to let go. When the world is making the salt lose it’s saltiness, you must LET IT GO!

Jesus provides further insight into what it means to “LET GO THE SALT” in Luke 17:

Luke 17:20-37 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

When it comes to the end times, when it comes to Jesus Christ’s return, don’t worry about your stuff, don’t worry about your car, that precious music box your grandmother gave you, your unfinished chores, your crops needing to be harvested, the money in the bank or the gold buried in the back yard. No, when it comes to going to be with Jesus, he gives one and only one warning:

Remember Lot’s Wife!

If you want to go with Jesus, don’t look back. Don’t long for the world. When God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels warned Lot and his family, do not look back. It is all going to be burnt up just like useless dung. So when Lot’s wife looked back, God said, “O, you like that dung? Well then I’ll turn you into salt to help it burn even more!”

She was burnt up and became useless salt, contaminated by the dung of the world. Or perhaps God was saying “You Love that Stuff? Here, now you can help fan the fire!”

Now let me connect the dots, and scratch some saints.

  • 1. The return of Christ is our greatest motivation to live the Will of God
  • 2. Contamination by the world and all that the world offers will make us useless for nothing except road gravel.
  • 3. When it comes to the rapture, will we go to Christ if we look back?


To put it bluntly: If You Look Back Will You Drop Like A Block Of Salt?

Wait a minute Mudpreacher! All my Christian life I have heard about the Rapture. I have thought about it, desired it, wondered what it will be like! Everyone gets to go, don’t they? To answer that question, we must look at the warnings of Jesus:

WARNINGS

Let’s consider some other warnings that Jesus gives about the end times:

Don’t Look Back (Love not the World)

  • Genesis 19:26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
  • Luke 9:62 “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”
  • Hebrews 10:37 “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
The Apostle John made this bold declaration: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Do you think he believed that those Christians who loved the world would be raptured?

Do you think Paul, who wrote about the rapture in Thessalonians, thought Demas would be raptured with him? After all Paul said this about Demas: “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;” (2 Tim 4:10).

Wake Up and Watch

  • Matthew 24:36-44 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
  • Matthew 25:1-13 1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

They had oil, but it ran out. They had the Holy Spirit, but had He become Quenched to the point of no power to light their lamp? (If you Deny me to the world, I will deny knowing you, as the bridegroom said.)

  • Mark 13:35-36 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-7 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
  • Romans 13:11-14 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Scripture offers this about becoming sleepily involved with the world and its lusts:

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Titus 2:11-14 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Overcome and Endure

  • Revelation 2:26-28 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations–‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’– as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.
  • Revelation 3:10-13 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
(This is the one solid verse that promises the saints will not go through the tribulation, but it even lists conditions.)
As Christians, we are to have power over the world, not become enmeshed and tangled up in it:
  • 1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.  (they walk in the truth)
  • 1 John 5:4-5 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
  • John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Love His Appearing

  • 2 Timothy 4:8. “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.
  • Hebrews 9:28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Do not be ashamed of Jesus

  • Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
  • Hebrews 10:35-38 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:”For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back (ashamed), My soul has no pleasure in him.”
  • 1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

This expression is very peculiar. It means to “be ashamed from Him.” (Wuest) Sounds like you might not get to go!

DOES YOUR LIFE DEMONSTRATE YOU ARE WALKING IN THE TRUTH?

If we live our life in love with the world and all it offers. If we are so busy living that we forget Jesus Christ, we never mention to our friends we are His follower, if we get involved in sinful relationships and activities that the Holy Spirit shrinks from…You may even come to church and sing songs and look ‘Christian’. But God’s eyes are like a powerful MRI that can see inside every bit of us. He knows our heart. He knows our secret desires. He knows what you love. Your secrets will be exposed. I believe the Rapture could be a major step in that process. If anything is clear in God’s Word, it is that God is the one who judges, it is God alone who we must face. God will make known to the world the those ‘secret desires’ we may hide from others. What better way than to be left behind and have to explain to your friends who will say “I though you were a Christian! Why didn’t you get raptured?”

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

LOOKING FOR OUR BLESSED HOPE

Regardless of our beliefs about the rapture, we can be assured that there will be a rapture. God’s Word is clear on that. As we seek to live in God’s Will, the one great motivation we must have is in Titus 2:13:

Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Holy Warriors

Why might some be taken and others left until His second coming?

He needs His Holy Warriors, to prepare them for the final battle. I believe Jesus will rapture His soldiers that He will need to battle the Beast and the prophet and the nations. He must put is through a heavenly boot camp to prepare us to battle. You go if you can make the cut. You are left if your heart is not ready. Jesus says, “If you love the world, why don’t you go through the tribulation and learn to despise it, learn that I AM GOD! As Jude says:

Jude 1:14-15 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

3000 years ago God gave us an example of what happens to His people when they don’t forsake the world. The Hebrew children wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until they died off and the youngsters came of age. The worldly Hebrews had to die because they would have made terrible soldiers. They would never have been able to take the Promised Land. God had to give an example to their children, an example of the need for obedience to Him. Joshua had his army, but they had to be warriors un-entangled with the world.  They had to hate the world. They had to war against the world. We must be of the same mind if we want to be raptured and join Jesus’ Army!

What about the wedding feast? I thought THAT took place after the rapture! We are the Bride and we will be married to Him! Read your Bible. The marriage feast is not mentioned until Revelations 19 and 21, AFTER the new heaven and earth.

Today, on Jebel Usdum (Hill of Sodom) on the Dead Sea’s western shore, stands a pillar of salt known as “Lot’s Wife.” This monument is a perpetual reminder of a woman who allowed her human nature to turn her from the express command of God. In a critical moment she took her eyes off the goal. Christ warns that we cannot allow the same to happen to us.

You can get all hissy at me and say, “I can’t believe you don’t believe all Christians will get raptured!” You can keep on thinking that you can live any old way you want, and it doesn’t matter. You can say you love Jesus and keep on living as YOU think is best, you can keep on following the world and living like the rest of the world. But you are closing your eyes to the warnings that God has in His Word. Jesus said “Remember Lot’s Wife!”

HEED THE WARNINGS

If you do you are reading a different Bible than I have. I read this Word and I am in fear, I tremble before this Holy God. I cling to Jesus as my righteousness. I cling to Him because without Him I am burnt toast, I am dung.

We must learn from those before us, who as the Hebrew Children, loved this world, loved Egypt, and did not let go. They did not enter into God’s Rest, they were too in love with the world, with Egypt. They were poor warrior who washed up in the desert boot camp. They missed the call to fight because as 1 Cor 10:5 says

with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. …. Paul warns us: Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Paul said in Phil 3:8 “I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ!
I don’t believe Paul ever took His salvation for granted. He never allowed His life in Jesus to make Him proud or arrogant or self-righteous. He was confident, but only in Jesus Christ and His living in him.

Are you walking before God in humility, in reverence, in Holy fear? Is your confidence solely in Jesus Christ and His righteousness? Or are you living your life as you think best? Are you so in to the world that you would hate for Jesus to come back right now and interrupt your plans?

Are you ready to Let Go the Salt in 2010?

I think this morning the best way we can remember Lot’s Wife is to visually let go of the salt. If you want to get serious with God about living in His Will and walking in His truth, I would like you to come forward and pickup this 50lb salt block and then let it go! Let’s tell God we are serious about living in His will and walking in His Truth! Everything else is Dung. It will all get burnt up-so why are you holding on to it? Do you want to be caught looking back when the Rapture happens? Are you willing to take that chance?

I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna let go the stinky salt!

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One upon a time three young men refused to follow societies expectations, and even refused to obey the King’s Law. They were following someone else, someone unseen, yet to them He gave meaning to their lives. These three young men faced a choice, to obey the King and deny the one they gave their lives to, or disobey the King and face a painful death by fire.

These three had a reason for living, and therefore had a reason for dying – faithfulness to the one they called Jehovah God. They gladly chose death, promising the King that “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning, fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Because their lives were centered upon this God, they willingly faced pressure that most men, especially young men, would avoid. And through the pressure of the fire, they were enlarged. When the king looked in, he saw FOUR men walking around, enjoying the fire.

When our nation sees young nine year olds afraid to face pressure, afraid to face the future to the point of taking their own life, we must sound the alarm, and blow the trumpet.

We have forgotten our God, the God who has the power to enlarge us through our pressures. The God who is relevant for our life and is why we should live and value life!

Woe to the nation who forgets God, for they will find themselves wandering in the wilderness, afraid of the future, afraid of the fires of life.
Nine-year old Montana Lance reveals what is wrong with America.

Life has no meaning unless God is our reason for living. This country became great because we had a purpose in living-following God. We viewed Him as Sovereign over our lives. We viewed our Nation as “Under God”.
Now “under God” is simply a motto rather than a way of life.

When pretense is revealed as reality, our children will lead us to see what we have become-a nation of people who have forgotten the truth, who have forgotten their God.

Sound the alarm!


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


Congratulations! You have made a life-changing decision! Perhaps you are asking, “Now what? How do I begin my journey with God?” The Six steps mentioned below will give you direction from the Bible.

1. Make sure you understand salvation.

1 John 5:13 tells us, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

God wants us to understand salvation. God wants us to have the confidence of knowing for sure that we are saved. Briefly, let’s go over the key points of salvation:

  • We have all sinned. Our sinful nature means we are separated from our Holy Righteous Creator God. (Romans 3:23).
  • Because of our sin, God has declared us “guilty” and the punishment for our sin is eternal separation from God in Hell. (Romans 6:23).
  • Because God loved us, He sent His only son Jesus to die upon the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserved. His resurrection proved that Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay for our sins.
  • God grants forgiveness and salvation to all those who place their faith in Jesus – trusting His death as the payment for our sins. Faith means that we have opened our heart to believe that which is unseen, yet we know in our hearts is true. (John 3:16; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:1).

Jesus-Salvation-in-No-One-ElseThis is the message of salvation! If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are saved! You have entered into a Covenant with God sealed with the blood of Jesus His Son. God will not break His Covenant. All of your sins are forgiven, and God promises to never leave you or forsake you (Romans 8:38-39; Matthew 28:20). Remember, your salvation is secure in Jesus Christ (John 10:28-29). If you are trusting in Jesus alone as your Savior, you can have confidence that you will spend eternity with God in heaven! Salvation is entirely because of what Jesus did for you. It is a totally free gift. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

There is nothing that you can do to make you good enough or worthy enough to enter into heaven. You are “saved” ONLY by what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. When your heart is opened to believe in Jesus as your personal Savior, you are born again and the proof of you being a new creation, a child of God, is the seal of the Holy Spirit who now lives within you.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

2. Find a good Church that teaches the Bible.

churchDon’t think of the church as a building. The church is the people. It is very important that believers in Jesus Christ fellowship with one another. That is one of the primary purposes of the church. Now that you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, we strongly encourage you to find a Bible-believing church in your area and speak to the pastor. Let him know about your new faith in Jesus Christ.

A second purpose of the church is to teach the Bible. You can learn how to apply God’s instructions to your life. Understanding the Bible is key to living a successful and powerful Christian life. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

A third purpose of the church is worship. Worship is thanking God for all He has done! God has saved us. God loves us. God provides for us. God guides and directs us. How could we not thank Him? God is holy, righteous, loving, merciful, and full of grace. Revelation 4:11 declares, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”word

3. Set Aside Time each day to focus on God.

prayerintimacyIt is very important for us to spend time each day focusing on God. Some people call this a “quiet time.” Others call it “devotions,” because it is a time when we devote ourselves to God. Some prefer to set aside time in the mornings, while others prefer the evenings. It does not matter what you call this time or when you do it. What matters is that you regularly spend time with God. What events make up our time with God?

(a) Prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. Talk to God about your concerns and problems. Ask God to give you wisdom and guidance. Ask God to provide for your needs. Tell God how much you love Him and how much you appreciate all He does for you. That is what prayer is all about.

(b) Bible Reading. In addition to being taught the Bible in church, Sunday School, and/or Bible studies – you need to be reading the Bible for yourself. A good place to start is with the Book of John. John presents the majesty and beauty of Jesus in the flesh. In John you will discover the Love of Jesus for His disciples.

The Bible contains everything you need to know in order to live a successful Christian life. It contains God’s guidance for how to make wise decisions, how to know God’s will, how to minister to others, and how to grow spiritually. The Bible is God’s Word to us. The Bible is essentially God’s instruction manual for how to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him and satisfying to us. You have a new Teacher living within you – the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to teach you as you read the Bible.

4. Develop Relationships with people who can help you spiritually.

friendswalking1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” The Bible is full of warnings about the influence “bad” people can have on us. Spending time with those who engage in sinful activities will cause us to be tempted by those activities. The character of those we are around will “rub off” on us. That is why it is so important to surround ourselves with other people who love the Lord and are committed to Him.

Try to find a friend or two, perhaps from your church, who can help you and encourage you (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24). Ask your friends to keep you accountable in regard to your quiet time, your activities, and your walk with God. Ask if you can do the same for them. This does not mean you have to give up all your friends who do not know the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Continue to be their friend and love them. Simply let them know that Jesus has changed your life and you cannot do all the same things you used to do. Ask God to give you opportunities to share Jesus with your friends.

5. Be Baptized.

baptism pictures death burialMany people have a misunderstanding of baptism. The word “baptize” means to immerse in water. Baptism is the Biblical way of publicly proclaiming your new faith in Christ and your commitment to follow Him. The action of being immersed in the water illustrates being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection. Being baptized is identifying yourself with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism also makes you a part of a local church, and assures you of the watch care of a group of believers who will have your best interests at heart.

Baptism is not what saves you. Baptism does not wash away your sins. Baptism is simply a step of obedience, a public proclamation of your faith in Christ alone for salvation. Baptism is important because it is a step of obedience – publicly declaring faith in Christ and your commitment to Him. If you are ready to be baptized, you should speak with one of the Pastors at the church you attend.

6. Allow Christ’s Holy Spirit to Control Your Life.

Realize you can chose how you will live your Christian Life. These two diagrams illustrate in a simple way the struggle we will have to allow Jesus to lead our life, or to follow our own ways:Christ-Directed-versus-Self

In order to live a Christ-Directed Life you need to be filled (controlled) by the Holy Spirit. We must realize that this is what God designed us for when we are “Born Again”.

1. God Has Provided For Us an Abundant and Fruitful Christian Life

  • Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10).John10_10
  • “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
  • “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23).
  • “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
  • The Spiritual (Holy Spirit Controlled) Man – Some spiritual traits which result from trusting God:Holy-Spirit-Directed-Life

    The degree to which these traits are manifested in the life depends upon the extent to which the Christian trusts the Lord with every detail of his life, and upon his maturity in Christ. One who is only beginning to understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit should not be discouraged if he is not as fruitful as more mature Christians who have known and experienced this truth for a longer period.

    • Why is it that most Christians are not experiencing the abundant life?

    2. Christians who follow the Flesh Cannot Experience the Abundant and Fruitful Christian Life

    The self-directed man trusts in his own efforts to live the Christian life: He is either uninformed about, or has forgotten, God’s love, forgiveness, and power (Romans 5:8-10; Hebrews 10:1-25;1 John 1; 1 John 2:1-3; 2 Peter 1:9; Acts 1:8).

    • He has an up-and-down spiritual experience.
    • He cannot understand himself – he wants to do what is right, but cannot.
    • He fails to draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Romans 7:15-24; 8:7; Galatians 5:16-18)

    The Fleshly (Self-Directed) Man – Some or all of the following traits may characterize the Christian who does not fully trust God:Self-Directed-Life

    The third truth gives us the only solution to this problem…

    3. Jesus Promised the Abundant and Fruitful Life as the Result of Being Filled (Directed and Empowered) by the Holy Spirit

    The Spirit-filled life is the Christ-directed life by which Christ lives His life in and through us in the power of the Holy Spirit

    • One becomes a Christian through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, according to John 3:1-8. From the moment of spiritual birth, the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit at all times (John 1:12; Colossians 2:9, 10; John 14:16, 17). Though all Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not all Christians are filled (directed and empowered) by the Holy Spirit.
    • The Holy Spirit is the source of the overflowing life (John 7:37-39).
    • The Holy Spirit came to glorify Christ (John 16:1-15). When one is filled with the Holy Spirit, he is a true disciple of Christ.
    • In His last command before His ascension, Christ promised the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be witnesses for Him (Acts 1:1-9).

    How, then, can one be filled with the Holy Spirit?

    4. We are Filled by the Holy Spirit by Faith

    Then We Can Experience the Abundant and Fruitful Life Which Christ Promised to Each Christian.

    holy_spirit1Please remember that this does not mean your life will always be great. The Holy Spirit will take you through times of testing and tribulation, just as He did Jesus, but always with the goal of producing the Character of Jesus Christ in your life. Faith holds on when things are darkest. But whatever God takes you through, He will never abandon you there. He will bring you through the valley and you will find increased faith and strength of character that is more precious than the purest gold.

    You can experience the filling of the Holy Spirit right now if you:

    • Sincerely desire to be directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 5:6; John 7:37-39).
    • Confess your sins. By faith thank God that He has forgiven all of your sins – past, present and future – because Christ died for you (Colossians 2:13-15; 1 John 1; 2:1-3; Hebrews 10:1-17).
    • Present every area of your life to God (Romans 12:1-2)myjobmyrelationshipsmyfinances
    • By faith claim the fullness of the Holy Spirit, according to:

    1. His Command – Be filled with the Spirit. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

    2. His Promise – He will always answer when we pray according to His will. “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14, 15).

    Faith is expressed through believing prayer:

    We are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith alone. Sincere prayer is one way of expressing your faith. The following is a suggested prayer:

    “Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have been directing my own life and that, as a result, I have sinned against You. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I now thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.”

    worshipBeing Filled and Controlled by the Holy Spirit is not a one-time event like being Born Again (Becoming a Christian). It is a daily, moment by moment walk with the Holy One who lives within you.


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

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

    Procter & Gamble Not In League With The Devil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Cons require Props and wordsGreat Cons Require Two Things:

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

    The Gibeonite Props:

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

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

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

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

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

    They lied about their origin.

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

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

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

    They lied about their clothing and food

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

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

    They lied about their purpose

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

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

    They lied about wanting to Follow God

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

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

    WHY THE CON SUCCEEDED

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

    The Con Succeeded because of two things:

    1. The Pride of Life
    2. The Prayerless Flesh

    The Pride of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Self-Sufficient Flesh

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

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

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

    God calls this evil. He says in Jeremiah 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Rest of the Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Jesus Carried the Wood and Bears the Water of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Overcoming the Devil and the World With Heart Agreements:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Blessing of the Water with the Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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