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THE LUKEWARM SHEEP
Now, for the sake of my illustration, I want to break a flock of sheep down into 3 groups.
1. The first group of sheep had DECIDED to look to Shepherd & follow Him wherever He leads.
These are the "Good sheep" who follow the "Good Shepherd. Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 KJV
2. The 2nd group wants nothing to do with the Shepherd. They want to run their lives their own way and they deliberately DECIDE to walk away from Him. These are the pagans and atheists of society. They don't want to hear Jesus' voice... they don't want to follow.
3. But the 3rd group DECIDES that they like the Shepherd. They want to hang out with Him... but they don't want to get TOO close to Him. They still want to keep their options open. They want to look for their own grass once in a while. They want to nibble at a little of this and a little of that....
George Orwell once observed: "On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time."
That's the problem with this 3rd group of sheep.
They like being close to Jesus... just not too much, and not just all the time. And because they have this "loose" connection to the shepherd they're the ones who end up wandering off. They're the ones that end up getting lost. They're just close enough to the Shepherd to feel secure. And just far enough away to not hear His voice.
"My sheep hear my voice... and they follow me." says Jesus. John 10:27
And so, they wander off into their own little world, and they end up getting hurt and making bad decisions. And those bad decisions cause them pain and heartache.
As Proverbs 13:15 says, "...the way of transgressors is hard." (KJV)
Because they've chosen NOT to listen to the Good Shepherd and to follow Him closely, they are without the protection of that Shepherd and open to the attacks of Satan and this world.
SPIRITUAL RIVER RAFTING
The necessary safety equipment for river rafting and spiritual river rafting:
i. The Helmet Ė Helmets protect the most vital and vulnerable part on a person their head Ė their thinking!
1. Spiritually: We need to be wearing the helmet of salvation as we ride the wave of the spirit because the river is full of obstacles, rocks, river hydraulics, hot spots, whirlpools, and drop offs.
a. The helmet is placed on our head by the Lord to protect us on our river journey.
b. The Lord made it to fit our exact size head.
ii. Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
1. Life jackets Ė life preservers Ė breast plate of righteousness Ė wear it will keep you afloat in the water if you get knocked out of the raft.
2. Spiritually: Life jackets keep you from sinking as so does your righteousness. Your right standing with God.
iii. Rafting Clothing
1. In rafting you need to wear the right clothing to stay warm and dry.
2. Spiritually: In spiritual rafting the Shield of Faith or faith is what we are to wear so as to stay warm and comfortable in our long wet journey of life, it will protect us from the elements and keep us warm and secure.
iv. Sunscreen ĖTo me this is the anointing from the Holy Spirit which keep us protected from those un-for-seen damaging ultra violet rays which can burn you .
1. The sunís rays off the water do more damage than from above so you need sunscreen to protect your skin.
2. Spiritually: The anointing of the Holy Spirit protects you from the unseen elements of life and empowers you to move forward.
v. The oar represents - the Bible- the Sword of the Spirit
1. They give us the ability to direct the raft and to help maneuver it down the river of life.
2. Bit notice we only get one?
3. It only works in conjunction with other peoples oars.
vi. A patch kit
1. You need to carry a patch kit for your raft in case it gets a hole in it so you can fix it.
2. Spiritually: The patch of forgiveness is what all of us in the church should carry to patch any leaks in the raft.
vii. Pure drinking water Ė usually they recommend a water pack that you were.
1. You must bring good clean drinking water to prevent dehydration.
2. Spiritually: You need to have the Holy Spirit in you to stay hydrated.
a. If no spirit then you will dry up
viii. The safety rope
1. You need one to throw out to someone in need to pull them to safety if they get caught in a whirlpool or undertow.
2. Spiritually: Belt of truth is our safety rope to throw to those caught in whirlpools in the river, or rough water.
ix. Water Shoes
1. Protect your feet from getting cut up and helps protect them the elements.
2. It also helps your feet get better traction under the water.
3. Spiritually: The Gospel of peace is the covering we need to be able to keep our traction on the slippery rocks in the journey and we need itís protection from sharp objects found under water. Itís essential to protect our feet in the journey so we can keep moving down stream to our destination.
x. The raft - is the church Ė He gave us this boat given to helps us float and manage the ride or the flow of the Holy Spirit.
Justice Scalia, in a Supreme Court decision involving the so-called ďseparation of church and stateĒ wrote: ďChurch and state would not be such a difficult subject if religion were, as the Court apparently thinks it to be, some purely personal avocation that can be indulged entirely in secret, like pornography, in the privacy of oneís room.
For most believers it is not that, and has never been. Religious men and women of almost all denominations have felt it necessary to acknowledge and beseech the blessing of God as a people, and not just as individuals, because they believe in the "protection of divine Providence," as the Declaration of Independence put it, not just for individuals but for societies.Ē
FAITHFUL FOR A PROMISE
A promise from God is a statement we can depend on with absolute confidence. Here are 12 promises for the Christian to claim.
Godís presence -- "I will never leave thee" (Heb. 13:5)
Godís protection -- "I am thy shield" (Gen. 15:1)
Godís power -- "I will strengthen thee" (Isa. 41:10)
Godís provision -- "I will help thee" (Isa. 41:10)
Godís leading -- "And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them" (John 10:4)
Godís purposes -- "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil" (Jer. 20:11)
Godís rest -- "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28)
Godís cleansing -- "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)
Godís goodness -- "No good thing will He withhold from them that work uprightly" (Psalm 84:11) ...
THE ODYSSEY: PROTECTION AGAINST TEMPTATION
According to Greek mythology, sirens (sea nymphs) inhabited certain Mediterranean coastal areas. As ships passed by, the sirens sang such enchanting songs that the sailors, drawn by the music, would jump overboard and drown.
Odysseus was on a ship that had to pass that way. Aware of the powerful allurement of those songs, he ordered that he be bound with ropes to the mast and that the crewmen's ears be sealed with wax to block out the tantalizing music of the sirens. Having taken such precautions, Odysseus and the rest of the crew were able to sail past without yielding to the lure of the sea nymphs.
As Christians, we should be prepared to resist any temptations to evil. We must hate sin and be so serious about not giving in to its allurements that we are determined to deny our desire to participate in it.
Are there recurring sins in your life that have been defeating you? Drastic measures must be taken. You must keep away from any enticements that you know would play into your weakness. The best protection against temptation is to heed the warning Paul gave to Timothy: "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness" (2 Timothy 2:22). That was good counsel then; it's still good today.
What think you of Christ? is the test,
To try both your state and your scheme:
You cannot be right in the rest
Unless you think rightly of him.
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not,
So God is disposed to you
And mercy or wrath is your lot.
Some take Him a creature to be,
A man or an angel at most;
Sure these have not feelings like me
Nor know themselves wretched or lost:
So guilty, so helpless am I,
I durst not confide in his blood,
Nor on his protection rely
Unless I was sure He is God.
Some call him Saviour, in word,
But mix their own works with his plan,
And hope he his help will afford,
When they have done all that they can;
If doings prove rather too light,
(A little, they own, they may fail)
They purpose to make up full weight
By casting his name in the scale.
Some style him the pearl of great price
And say Heís the fountain of joys,
Yet feed upon folly and vice
And cleave to the world and its toys;
Like Judas the Saviour they kiss
And while they salute him, betray;
Ah! what will profession like this
Avail in the terrible day?
If asked what of Jesus I think,
Though still my best thoughts are but poor,
I say heís my meat and my drink,
My life and my strength and my store;
My shepherd, my husband, my friend,
My Saviour from sin and from thrall;
My hope from beginning to end,
My portion, my Lord, and my all!
ĎWhereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, humbly implore his protection and favorÖĒ (1st Proclamation of a national day of Thanksgiving, Oct. 3, 1789).
God and the Spider
During World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire he had lost touch with his comrades.
Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.
As he waited, he prayed, "Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen."
After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, "Well, I guess the Lord isnít going to help me out of this one." Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.
ďHah, he thought. "What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor."
As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered for quite a while. "Lord, forgive me," prayed the young man. "I had forgotten that in you a spiderís web is stronger than a brick...
You just know that some things are going to happen sooner or later.
That’s the way it was with Michael Parfit, a writer for Smithsonian magazine. For a feature article on the mighty Mississippi River, Parfit rode in a twelve-foot rubber dinghy down the Mississippi from Memphis, Tennessee, to the Gulf of Mexico.
Parfit learned of the incredible power of this giant river. The Mississippi gathers its water from 41 percent of the continental U.S., catching water from Montana to New York. Half a trillion tons of water flow down the Mississippi every year, carrying downstream sixty-three thousand tons of soil a day.
A river this big is a threat to the surrounding countryside. That’s why engineers have built levees to pinch the mighty giant and keep it from flooding the farmland and towns nearby. The levees on the lower Mississippi stand, on average, twenty-five feet high and run 2,203 miles on both sides of the main river and its tributaries.
"As the wall was built over the years," writes Parfit, " people came to live under its protection. They tore down the forest and planted cotton, and the floodplain of the Mississippi became the expanse of farmland known as the Mississippi Delta."
More than eight million people live in the Delta. But at what risk? Parfit flew in a plane over the Mississippi Delta and saw plainly the river’s tracks on the land, where it once had flooded the delta.
"The levee…cages the giant, or appears to," writes Parfit. "And no one but birds and an occasional light-plane pilot notices the long sweep of the river’s indelible script. What the river has written in the mud again and again is simple: ’Someday soon.’ "
Someday soon will come another flood. That’s what Parfit warned in February of 1993. Someday soon will come another devastating flood like the ones in 1882, 1927, and 1973.
"People in this valley get a sense everything is totally controlled," one engineer told Parfit. "That’s a false sense of security. We haven’t seen anything yet in this valley as to what this river can do. We’re not in control of anything."
"The river," wrote Parfit in February 1993, "moves brown swift, unpredictable, enormous, always murmuring ’Someday soon…’"
In February 1993 when his article was published, Parfit could not have imagined how right he would be. Only months after the publication of the article, in the summer in 1993, came one of the worst floods of the history of the Mississippi.
God’s Word warns that someday soon, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, Christ will return to the earth, bringing the terrible wrath of God on all who have not prepared their lives for His coming. Nothing can stop Him. The wise person gets ready.
SOURCE: Jack Voss, Crossroads Christian Center, Collinsville, OK. God’s Secret(A Study On The Book Of Acts).
ANTIVIRUS: HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus said in verse 7 of John 16, "For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
Jesus was God in the flesh, of course. He could have spoken this world out of existence at any given time, but, I would like to use an illustration of the Holy Spirit to those who use the computer and realize what a great tool it is for the cause of Christ.
Before you accept Christ as your Saviour, you are full of sin without any hope of living the life that Jesus calls more abundant. You have been given a death sentence. While you are here on this Earth, you learn and fill your memory full of things--even good things--that will get you nowhere with God. Itís like a computer with no protection and full of viruses and things that are not useful and headed for self destruction.
Satan, the extreme virus that invades your mind. (Hard drive) When you accept Jesus as your Saviour, there are a few things that happen when you do:
First of all, God sends the Holy Spirit to live inside you. Jesus said He comes: he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. The Greek word for "reprove" is elegchŰ which means "to convict."
Number 1. He convicts us of our sin. (He scans us and calls for removal)
Number 2. He was raised from the dead that you and I could not only have our sins subtracted, but so we could have His righteousness. added. (Sin is deleted and the antivirus takes over)
Number 3. He convicts of judgment: Itís not the judgment that is to come. This world has already been judged, and itís guilty of sin. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. We are guilty, and the Holy Spirit speaks to us and shows us that we are only filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) in the sight of God, but because of Jesus, we are accepted and forgiven by His grace and mercy. (We see the need for a antivirus because we are vulnerable to all)
Once you ask Jesus into your heart, itís as if you would download a file in your computer for an antivirus program, except this is a living holy being called the Holy Spirit and the subscription will last forever.
Itís the third of the trinity, Father (God), Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (indwells the believer) We need the Holy Spirit as our computers need an antivirus. There are many brand names of the program, but there is only one that works. There is only one that never needs updating, always the same yesterday, today and forever. Best of all its free for the asking. Romans 10: 9-10
The only way truth and life, Jesus Christ our Lord.