Summary: It isn’t how you start that is important. IT IS HOW YOU FINISH! The Christian Life is learning to love Jesus more and more each day! The Christian Life isn’t a set of rules and regulations! The Christian Life isn’t about stuffing facts and informati

Cornerstone Church October 24 / 25 2009

Watch Out for Ambushes!

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

John Wesley Powell, lost his arm in the Civil War. This, however, did not stop him from becoming a hero.

“Back in 1869 conventional wisdom said that passage through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River was impossible. It couldn’t be done. The back country surrounding the Grand Canyon oozed with legends of doomed expeditions. No one had ever dared that stretch of river and come out alive. Out of all expeditions that had given it their best shot, there was not one survivor.

One army lieutenant who has explored the Colorado just on the southern side of the Grand Canyon believed that powerful river so treacherous that ‘the Colorado, along the greater part of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.’ (If you saw the River Wild, the rapids shown in the movie were a class nine rapids, which looked like a sprinkler next to these rapids).

But the one-armed explorer thought he could pull it off.

On May 24, 1869, Powell and a party of nine stepped into their four small boats to attempt the thousand-mile journey. Along the way, their party encountered numerous ambushes.

They were ambushed by legion killer rapids.

They were ambushed by waterfalls.

They were ambushed by boulders the size of cabins.

They were ambushed by the loss of boats, critical foodstuffs, and instruments.

Yet one hundred days later, Powell and five men emerged from two boats. All hope for their survival had been given up weeks before. They were suffering from exposure and near starvation. But they made it.

What happened to the other four men? One decided to go back. The other three, after numerous disagreements with Powell, left the expedition. They hiked to the rim of the Canyon...only to be killed by Indians.”

(Steve Farrar, Finishing Strong, pg. 24)

Important Truth:

It isn’t how you start that is important.


The Christian life isn’t a sprint!

The Christian life is a marathon!

Eugene Peterson says the Christian life is:

“A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”

We hold to the truth that we are saved:

• By Grace Alone

• through Faith Alone

• In Christ Alone

• For God’s Glory, Alone!

Praise God for our salvation!

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us

and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10 NIV

• Salvation is just the beginning!

• Salvation is more than just having “Fire Insurance!”

• Salvation is the beginning of a lifelong relationship with Jesus that continues on into eternity!

Jesus made it possible for us to have a relationship with God!

• The Christian Life isn’t a set of rules and regulations!

• The Christian Life isn’t about stuffing facts and information in our heads!

• The Christian Life is learning to love Jesus more and more each day!

Loving HIM

Becoming like HIM

Living for HIM!

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.

Romans 12:1 The Message



“…holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.” 1 Tim 1:19 NIV

• Disqualified because of Sin

• Walked away from Christ

• Bitterness overtakes some

• Trapped / Held in Bondage to some addictive behavior



“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Isa 1:18 NIV

Dr. Robert Clinton discovered while researching various individuals in the Word of God that they all finished one of the following Four Ways:

• CUT OFF EARLY (assassinated, denounced, overthrown)

• FINISH POORLY (on the down side spiritually)

• FINISH “SO-SO” (they weren’t all they could have been)

• FINISH WELL (walked with God)


They were ambushed!


1. The act of lying in wait to attack by surprise. 2. A sudden attack made from a concealed position. 3. a. Those hiding in order to attack by surprise. b. The hiding place used for this. 4. A hidden peril or trap.

Jack Maxson, a missionary friend of mine from Texas referred to these ambushes as a sidewinder. A rattle snake that strikes from the side!

• We can call these ambushes nets.

• We can become entangled in nets or we can refuse to let go of our nets.

• We need to know that these traps or nets can be hazardous to our spiritual health.

Dr. Joseph M. Stowell, in his book, Following Christ, asks the question:


The question was prompted when Dr. Stowell read an article given to him from the local paper the about Tom Wilson who died, gunned down as a member of a Neo-Nazi gang.

Tom had grown up in the church he of which he was now the Pastor

• Active in the youth group

• Professed Christ as Savior and was Baptized

• He was “A very good student and won many points for faithful memory work, lesson completion, and attendance” according to his fourth-grade Sunday School Teacher.

How did he fall so far?

“That first step was, more probably, a choice to not listen to

the voice of the Spirit, to love his lusts more than Christ, or to

choose a friend who encouraged his stepping off the path.”

Dr. Joseph M. Stowell, Following Christ, pg. 154

“This sad story of a life inflicting incredible damage on the

Name of Christ was played out, not by momentary,

Cataclysmic departure, but by the gradual erosion of a commitment to be a fully devoted follower of Christ.”

Dr. Joseph M. Stowell, Following Christ, pg. 154


Who among us has not gone astray and indulged our flesh in some manor?

Who among us has not taken a detour after a driving ambition?

Who among us has not flirted in their mind with adultery?

Who among us has not risked stepping beyond the parameters of what is right?


The Bottom Line:

So, if you think you are standing firm,

be careful that you don’t fall!

1 Cor 10:12 NIV


1 Corinthians 9:24 – 1 Corinthians 10:5

The Apostle Paul links his discussion on the danger of Spiritual Privilege back to his illustration on running a race:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Cor. 9:24-27 NIV

Why did he say that? He understood the danger of overconfidence and self-sufficiency.

The world record had been shattered. Canadian Ben Johnson’s mark was a mind-numbing 9.79 seconds. American Carl Lewis had clocked 9.92. In the end Johnson was disqualified for steroid use and Carl Lewis won the medal!

It isn’t how you start that is important.



Deliverance (1 Cor 10:1)

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.


• They had lived as slaves in Egypt for 400 years

• They prayed to be delivered from slavery for 400 years

• They were delivered by the 10 Plagues that the Lord placed on the Egyptians

Approximately 2 Million Jews left Egypt

They were led by the Skekinah Glory of God!

• It led them as a cloud by day

• It led them as a pillar of fire at night

Divine Leadership (1 Cor 10:2)

They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

Moses was appointed by God to lead the people.

• God’s blessing was upon Him.

• Moses followed God’s orders each step of the way – from deliverance to the Promised Land.

Daily Supply (1 Cor 10:3-4)

They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.


Just think of two million Jews living in the Wilderness for 40 years.

God fed them Manna (what is it?) Exodus 16:15

God also gave them enough to drink all along the way.

Exod. 17:6 NIV I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

God called His people (Israel) out of bondage and slavery

to be a people wholly devoted to Him

God freed them

God led them

God fed them!

Israel was a Covenant Community of Believers set free by God to be HIS witness to the world!

God has called out His Church by setting us free

to be a people wholly devoted to Him

We are the New Covenant Community of Believers called the church purchased with His Blood to be HIS witness to the world!

What happened to Israel?

They forgot where they came from and Who it was Who set them free!

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them;

their bodies were scattered over the desert.

1 Cor. 10:5 NIV

That sounds like a euphemism!

• Body bags were needed. Approximately 90 individuals died daily (this is allowing for the many who died in the big calamities – the plagues and serpents).

• A population group the size of: Sacramento, Placer, San Joaquin and Sutter Counties died in the Wilderness!

• Two Million Started the Race and only two were not disqualified (Joshua and Caleb)! Even Moses whom God used did not make it.


WHAT CAUSED THIS? The Ambushes and nets!


1 Corinthians 10:6-10


Now these things occurred as examples to keep us

from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.


Hebrews 11:24-26 NIV By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Money is a net some won’t let go

1 Tim. 6:10 NIV For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Money = security/significance for some

Greed for money, cars, and homes leads to other ambushes:

The Ambush of lost integrity

The lust for more can cause people to steal from their company. Others might cheat on their taxes.

The Ambush of financial irresponsibility (charge it!)

This leads to bondage and the yoke of a terrible task master. Bankruptcy results!

The Ambush of the neglected family

The pursuit of financial gain leads individuals away from their home. Endless overtime and career chasing are costly.

Many men in this room would give a warning and testimony to the fact that as they look in the rearview mirror of life they regret chasing after money and a promotion which took them away from their wife and children.

Doing too many “guy things” is equally wrong! You know fishing, golf, basketball, hunting if they are in excess are wrong!

Mal. 4:6 NIV He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Neither James Dobson, Tim Kimmel or Jim Burns said the following:

“I believe the family was established before the church,

and that my duty is to put my family first.

I am not to neglect my family.”

Dwight L. Moody


Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”

While Moses was up on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights receiving the Law the people formed a Golden Calf and worshipped it.

“indulged in pagan revelry” NIV = orgies broke out.

Idols are everywhere in our culture: Materialism, excessive preoccupation with health and the body, sex, power, greed, craving, and so forth. It is even worshipping the true God in a wrong manner!

“The seductiveness of a nearby idol for the Christian is that it promises to get things done, to be powerful, to make good changes -- but by means that conflict with God’s means.”

pg. 44, Richard Keyes, No God, But God by Os Guinnius

“Idols are not just on pagan altars,

but in well-educated human hearts

and minds. The apostle Paul associates the

dynamics of Human Greed, lust, craving,

and coveting with idolatry.”

Pg. 30, Richard Keyes, No God, But God by Os Guinnius


We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.


Health Insurance

Auto Insurance

Home Owners Insurance

Life Insurance

Title Insurance

Insurance companies look for good risk individuals and avoid bad risks. All of us like hearing, we are a Preferred Risk!

Dr. Howard Hendrick’s relates that he knew of 246 men who fell from the ministry over a twenty-four month period for reasons of immorality.

246 men

10 a month

3 a week

Dr. Hendricks discovered they exhibited the following traits:

• None were involved in a personal accountability group

• Each Ceased to invest time daily in Prayer, Bible Reading and Worship

• Without exception all said, “It won’t happen to me.”


Do you spend personal time with the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture at least 3 times per week? Yes or No?

Do you have at least one or two friends who you are close enough that you cannot con and who will tell you the truth? Yes or No?

Are you spending a significant time with someone other than your spouse?

Yes or No?

Are you absolutely sure you will finish strong? Yes or No?

1 Wrong = At Risk

2 Wrong = Moderate Risk

3 Wrong = Bad Risk

4 Wrong = Dead Meat!

Is there a hook lodged in your emotional jaw? Asks Randy Alcorn

Do I look forward in a special way to my appointments with this person?

Do I seek to meet with the individual away from the office in a more casual environment?

Do I prefer that my co-workers or others not know I’m meeting with this individual again?

Randy Alcorn, Strategies to Keep from Falling, Leadership (Winter 1988), p.44



We should not test the Lord, as some of them did

—and were killed by snakes.

You might want to rethink how far you want to test your “Christian Liberty.”

Num 21:5-6 NIV they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.


And do not grumble, as some of them did

—and were killed by the destroying angel.

Murmuring and whining is almost a way of life for many these days. How sad that it also is found in the church upon the lips of people who are commanded by Scripture to love one another.

People murmur if the service is too long

People murmur if the service is too short

People whine over which songs are sung or not sung forgetting - our audience is, God Himself!

People murmur and criticize God’s appointed leaders the Elders and Deacons of the church.

“We’re kind of a crazy army sometimes. We get so bogged down worrying about where we are marching and how we’re marching that we have forgotten why we’re marching. Complaining is simply the darkroom of our life where we go to develop the negatives.

You tell me: What good comes of it? Does it solve anything? Does it even make you feel better? Does it help anyone else? The truth is there is nothing good about it. And if there is nothing good about it, why are we doing it? Murmuring is the great, unchallenged sin of the church. But if we’re filled with the Spirit, He will challenge it. God brought judgment on the Israelites after leaving Egypt because of their constant gripping and whining. Do you think he likes it any better today?

THE CHURCH: WHAT WE ARE MEANT TO BE, pg. 229 , by Ken Hutcherson


1 Corinthians 10:11-13

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment

of the ages has come.

1 Cor. 10:11 NIV


So, if you think you are standing firm,

be careful that you don’t fall!

1 Cor. 10:12 NIV


No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Common to man = No Super Heroes or individuals here, just fellow strugglers

Mohammed Ali

“Mohammed Ali was once on a plane and was not wearing his seat belt. The Flight Attendant asked him to buckle his belt. Ali responded by saying, ‘Superman don’t need no belt.’ To which the wise Flight Attendant responded, ‘Superman don’t need no plane either.’”


• We blame our society for our actions

• We blame our parents for our actions

• We blame the Devil for our actions

• We blame the church for our actions

Bottom line:

I am my own problem

You are your own problem

We need to take responsibility that we sin because we give in to temptation.

James 4:7 NIV Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.


It is the humble, poor-spirited before God, individual who makes it to the end!

Matt 5:3 NIV “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 5:6 NIV Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Luke 18:13-14 NIV “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The reason that John Wesley Powell accomplished his mission was because he knew what he was getting into. He was keenly aware of his environment!

• He wasn’t on a Cruise!

• He hasn’t on a sightseeing trip!

• He was aware of his surroundings.

• He was alert to the ambushes and dangers around him.

It isn’t how you start that is important.


This applies to churches too! Starting well doesn’t guarantee our finishing strong!

• As a church we cannot live off of the victories of the past or yesterday’s Manna.

• Neither can our good reputation keep us beyond today!

• Finishing well or strong as a church means remaining committed to the purpose God established the church to accomplish. Reaching people with the Gospel! Then teaching those reached!

God has given us a way of escape. Will we use it? Or will we forget His goodness and succumb to the Danger of Spiritual Privilege losing our effectiveness as an individual and as a church? Just think, two – Joshua and Caleb out of two million were not disqualified.

Do you want to finish well? Watch out for ambushes! Stay in love with Jesus

It isn’t how you start that is important.