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When I was in the U.S. Army, I remember we had to pull guard duty many times. The purpose of guard duty was to ensure that other soldiers, equipment, or areas were protected from the enemy. I can recall that in basic training, or boot camp, we had to memorize three General Orders and the first one was, "I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved."
When we were properly relieved, there was a password that was spoken between the person on guard duty and the one that was relieving them. If the improper password was given, you were not properly relieved. The safety of all that was being guarded depended upon you, the person on guard duty. If something went wrong or the enemy was able to get access into that which you were responsible for guarding, then you were held accountable and punishment was inevitable.
(From a sermon by Melvin Maughmer, Jr., Guard Duty, 5/25/2011)
1 John 2:15-2:17
1 Kings 3:16-3:28
2 Corinthians 9:12-10:1
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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
MARRIAGE: PREPARATION IS KEY
"Promises are no substitute for preparation in marriage. Just because you say 'I Do' does not make you able. Just because you say 'I Do' does not make you capable. It only makes you accountable. And when you are accountable for something you are not capable of doing, you become miserable. Preparation is the key, not promises."
(Andy Stanley in sermon "New rules for Love, Sex and dating: If I were you.")
This is a true story. Two guys in a church, Paul and William decided that they really wanted to become godly men. So they started meeting with one another to pray and encourage one another; they even set goals for themselves and their behavior, and then were accountable to the other one.
Paul decided he wanted to break his habit of using profanity. He decided he was going to put five dollars in the offering for every time he swore during the week. In order to stay accountable, he would tell William how many times he'd failed.
The first week cost Paul $100.
Now, Paul must've been doing ok financially, because that didn't stop his swearing. In fact, while he improved somewhat over the next couple weeks, he really wasn¡¦t having the success he wanted and was losing a lot of hard-earned cash.
After the fourth week, William told Paul he had decided that the deal needed to be changed for the coming week, but he wasn¡¦t going to tell Paul how it would change. He just said, ¡§Trust me. It will cost you both less and more.¡¨
When they met the following Sunday before worship, Paul admitted he¡¦d failed again. William put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Paul, I told you this was going to cost you both less and more. It’s called grace."
Bruce Larson, in There’s A Lot More To Health Than Not Being Sick, writes,
Behavioral sciences in recent years have expounded the simple truth that "behavior that is observed changes." People who are accountable by their own choice to a group of friends, to a therapy group, to a psychiatrist or a pastoral counselor, to a study group or a prayer group, are people who are serious about changing their behavior, and they are finding that change is possible.
Studies done in factories have proven that both quality and quantity of work increase when the employees know they are being observed. If only God know what I’m doing, since I know He won’t tell, I tend to make all kinds of excuses for myself. But if I must report to another or a group of others, I begin to monitor my behavior. If someone is keeping an eye on me, my behavior improves.
Chuck Colson, of Prison Fellowship, tells about a prison in Sao Do Campos, Brazil, which was turned over to two Christians more than twenty years ago. It is run according to Christian principles. The prison only has two people on its staff. The inmates do everything else. Each prisoner has another to whom he is accountable. Every prisoner goes to chapel or takes a course in character formation. Each prisoner is assigned to a volunteer family outside the prison that makes him a part of their family. The rate of return for crimes after release is 4% compared to 75% in other Brazilian prisons.
When Colson visited the prison to discover the secret of their success, a prisoner took him to what at one time was an isolation cell. When they got there, the prisoner asked Colson if he wanted to go in. He said, "Yes." When the door opened, Colson saw a beautifully carved wooden figure of Jesus hanging on the cross. The prisoner pointed to the figure of Jesus and whispered, "He’s doing time for all of us."
Blessed Are The Meek
As you study the character traits described in the Beatitudes, you can't help but realize one thing; these qualities are by no means natural to the human spirit. They are very foreign. Poverty of spirit, true mourning over personal sins against God and meekness does not come to us naturally.
The greatest preacher of all time, Jesus Christ, proclaimed "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." (Matt. 5:5)
The Greek word for "meek" means to be gentle; to be strong, very strong, yet be humble and tender. It is a man with all the emotions and ability to take and conquer, but he is able control himself in all ways. It is a state of being disciplined -- a man who is disciplined because he is God-controlled.
W. E. Vine writes: "Meekness is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercise of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good and therefore without disputing and resisting."
True meekness is a submissive and trusting attitude toward God. It is an attitude which considers all things that come your way as being for God's good purpose in your life. Meekness looks beyond circumstances, no matter how upsetting and hurtful, and humbly bows the knee to the Sovereign God.
Jesus is the perfect picture of someone who was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4: 1) and lived a life of true meekness. He had all the power needed to prevent His arrest and crucifixion, yet He surrendered to God's will. (Matthew 26: 53 - 45) He fully understood the sovereignty of God and the results of the free will of man. Jesus said to Pilate, "You would have no authority over Me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." (John 19: 11) Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot would betray Him. God used it to accomplish His plan of redemption, and yet Judas was and will be fully accountable before God. (Acts 1: 15 -19)
Man has strength to ignore God's will or to take God's gifts, talents, and abilities and use them for self or he may choose to use God's good blessings to glorify the Lord. Without meekness, he will squander what is given to him by God to gain earthly wealth, self-satisfaction and fame (little or great).
The Beatitude of meekness epitomizes the results of kneeling in total submission to God's will. It comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit and from allowing Him to produce Christ-like character in us. Are you craving that submissive spirit of meekness that bows and responds to the mighty sovereignty of God with joyful obedience? Meekness says, "not my will, but Yours be done." (Mathew 26: 39)
The Bible says, "...the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace." (Proverbs 37:11) Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29) The meek will rule and reign with Christ upon this earth someday. (2 Tim. 2:12)
True meekness is not a natural character trait. It can only be obtained by knowing Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord. Invite Christ into your life today a discover the joyful surrender of true meekness.
Excellent Congregations: Excellent Protestant Congregations, by Paul Wilkes and published by Westminster John Knox Press identified the following 26 common traits among the "excellent" protestant congregations.
1. A vibrancy about living a Christian life...living on the creative and holy edge of the New Testament...being a Christian is not a leisure activity but an adventure.
2. Entrepreneurial...risk-takers, self-starters, use what works and put aside that which does not.
3. Draws philosophically, rather than geographically or denominationally, by the spirit of a living and present God.
4. Reach beyond their comfort zone...not afraid of being uncomfortable and ask tough questions of themselves.
5. Regularly evaluate themselves...for effectiveness.
6. Have a clear, yet changing, sense of mission...a vision of where they want to be and willingness to redirect energies to be effective in their community and people’s lives.
7. Willingness to break up and reassemble...put aside old structures and coalitions when necessary to move forward.
8. Unafraid of being vulnerable and making mistakes.
9. Laity are integral in leadership...competence and a desire to serve, the ability to learn, the humility to admit mistakes and the courage to continue despite setbacks are more important prerequisites for leadership than formal training and ordination.
10. Preach and practice forgiveness and acceptance.
11. Relationship evangelism...personal contact is the key...most new people come to the church through word of mouth...friend, co-worker and neighbor.
12. See themselves as a unique community...not as a franchise of their denomination or even Christianity.
13. In transforming the culture, hold government, agencies and institutions accountable...see their work as not only serving their constituency but also transforming the world around them.
14. Believe in partnerships with other churches, agencies and interest groups.
15. Offer an ascent to God, a relationship...provide the tools and support to forge a real, living and enduring relationship with God.
16. Traditional without being traditionalist...their tradition is a beginning, a springboard, not a wall, not a barrier.
17. The Bible is at their core.
18. Innovative about different spiritual approaches.
19. Tailor liturgies and programs to various constituencies...reject one-size-fits-all approach.
20. Powerful, life-situation preaching...pa...
Little Johnny’s grandfather was something of a philosopher and never missed an opportunity to give out bits of sage advice to his grandson.
“Yessirree, Johnny,” he said one day, “remember, fools are certain, but wise men hesitate.”
“Are you sure, Grandpa?” asked Johnny.
“Yes, my boy,” said the old man, laying his gnarled hand on the youth’s head, “I’m absolutely certain.”
Bits and Pieces, January, 1990, p. 9
• Practice openness and accountability.
This is the one thing we desperately need the most, and the one thing we most resist. We need support. Some things in life are just too hard to do on your own. We need people to come along side of us and encourage us. Whether you are dieting, or exercising, or trying to change a bad habit in your life—we all need people in our lives to support us, encourage us, and to ask us some hard questions about whether we are really following
through on our commitment to change. This is going to be hard when it comes to our finances.
• 82% of us have never discussed our income with another soul.
• 89% of us have never discussed our family budget with another person.
• 92% have never discussed what we have given to the church.
Get this: The people who are least likely in this country to talk about their personal financial matters are Christians.
People who rarely go to church—1 out of 4 of them admit that they have talked to their friends about how much money they make. Do you know how many Christians have done that? 1 out of every 8.
Christians don’t talk about this. In fact, we don’t talk about a lot of stuff that really matters in our day to day lives: Sex, money, parenting, jobs. Let’s pop the top off our dirty little secrets and start holding each other accountable. Let’s start encouraging and edifying one another; life and money troubles are just to hard to go at it