Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Border War - Apples of Gold - January 11, 2017

The Christian is on fire!

He is full of the Holy Spirit and he is on fire.

His sins are forgiven. He's forgiving others, and the grace of God is flowing out of him. The Kingdom of God is literally expanding because of him!

The Christian is grateful and humble, running to God in prayer daily because he loves Him and he needs Him and he must have sweet fellowship with his Savior!

He is seeking God's will for every part of his life. He is shining God's light into every area of his own life and into every area of the world around him. He is holding everything up to the piercing light of Jesus and His Word, His double-edged sword.

The Christian is doing a world-dump. A world dump. He is dumping worldly things out of his life. Those things look the light of God and eternity. So cheap.

The Christian is offering his body to the Lord as a living sacrifice. “Jesus, use me; and O Lord don't refuse me...for surely there's a work that I can do.”

The Christian loves God and his heart aches to please Him. “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after Thee!”

He hungers and thirsts for righteousness, and the living water of the Holy Spirit is flowing within him, bringing revelation and understanding, bringing deep conviction of sin and deep adoration for Jesus.

The thought of taking Jesus' name in vain...or anything close to appalling. His love is so great for his Savior, he wants to do nothing that would hurt Him, or even disappoint Him.

To what shall I liken the Kingdom of God? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.

Because of the Christian, the Kingdom is expanding. The tree is growing, and neighbors are finding peace and rest and salvation in its branches!

He is like the nation of Israel in its best days. The nation was expanding and growing in power and influence. Foreign dignitaries came to marvel!

But then the people gave in to sin. They would relax their MORAL borders...then their PHYSICAL borders would be raided by enemies.

The Israelites really NEVER did a great job of establishing strong borders.

Listen to Judges 1:27. It's an awful passage, but we have to ask ourselves….is this a picture of our spiritual borders today?

27 However, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and its villages, OR Taanach and its villages, OR the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, OR the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, OR the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; for the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land.

So back to the Christian. He is on FIRE for JESUS!

But sin....but SIN, like the determined to dwell in his land.

Are his borders strong enough to keep sin out?

Or has the enemy already breached his borders and taken little bits of territory that rightfully belong to Jesus?

Listen to this. Sin is OBDURATE. It is stubborn. It doesn't want to be driven out. It wants to DWELL IN YOUR LAND.

Ephesians 4:22 says, “...that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the OLD MAN which grows corrupt...”

The Christian had driven out that old man in the past. Jesus had sent him packing!

But sin is obdurate. That old man is stubborn, and he wants to dwell in the land...and he is just waiting for his chance to cross back over the border and get back to work, making things corrupt.

That's a word you don't hear very often. Corrupt. “Whoa, Doug, it sounds so harsh.”

But you don't want your milk to be corrupt.

And you don't want your spirit to be corrupt, because the smell is even worse!

Judges chapter 1 ends with these fateful words, “Now the boundary of the Amorites was from the...” blah to the blah to the blah.

Wait a second. I'm wondering, “Why do the Amorites have boundaries at all? They are supposed to be GONE.”

But it's like the sin in our lives. It's supposed to be gone, but next thing you thing you know, we draw a little map. It's a wretched little map in our brain where we give some space to sin.

We set up a boundary for sin. On Saturday night....

On business trips....

While I'm single....

In Judges 2 the Angel of the Lord said, “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. 2 And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?”

The Christian doesn't make a covenant with sin. He tears it down! He gives it no space, no quarter.

Don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity against God?

So the fire of the Holy Spirit is still burning in the Christian...but it is being quenched. Sin is being allowed....and it is grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit who once set him ablaze!

The borders of the Kingdom are no longer expanding in this man, but they are contracting. They are shriveling.

In Judges 2, the Israelites allowed their borders to be weak and their enemies to remain; so their judgment would be that those enemies would be, now listen, “thorns in your side...and a snare to you.”

The Christian can't allow sin to remain! He can't draw up special borders for sin. It will be thorns in his side and a snare...a trap. Thorns and traps! That's what sin brings to the Christian's life....if he gives it space.

In Israel, the enemies were consistently creating breaches in their borders. They would invade and raid, ransack and plunder....steal, kill and destroy.

It started small, but grew larger as they grew bolder and the Israelites grew less resistant.

One of the Israelites' huge problems was their desire to fit in and be like the people around them.

So the Christian begins to allow border breaches in order to fit in with the people around him.

What borders does he relax first? The borders his neighbors have already relaxed. If it's okay with them, then it's okay with him!

Judges 5:8 offers a terrifying statement, “They chose new gods; then there was war in the gates.”

When we give way to sin, instead of being on fire for God, instead of offering our bodies as living sacrifices and seeking Him in every area of our life....if HE is not the God of that area of our life, then SOMETHING ELSE is the God of that area....and when they chose new gods; then there was war in the gates.

When we let anything but GOD ALMIGHTY call the shots for any area of our life, then we are allowing a border breach for sin....and we will have war in the gates.

That's not war afar off. That's not war on the other side of the ocean. That's not war down at the river. That's war AT YOUR DOOR.

To create a space for sin is to allow a border breach, and you will have WAR AT YOUR DOOR.

Do you love your family? Then do not bring the war to your door by allowing sin to have space in your life.

So where might the border be breached?

What about media? Do you allow things on your screens that taint, that desecrate the holy place within you. As I asked a group of Christian young men recently, “Is there anything you won't watch?”

So the Christian begins to let his morality loosen. After all, why be so judgmental and legalistic. That's not what Jesus came and died for, good grief. Loosen up, man!

The Christian was once concerned about his witness, about shining the light of Jesus as brightly as possible to a hurting, lost world. He didn't want to waste any time or opportunity to plant a seed for eternity.

But that drive has slipped. After all, who really cares? If the world's salvation is hanging on one little witness, we're in big trouble anyway.

So he pulls back and allows a border breach, because it doesn't matter!

Now he's thinking about intoxicants. I mean, really, where does the Bible say he can't? And the next generation is completely forgotten, ignoring that the small border breach in his life is likely to lead to a larger border breach in the next generation because when they are young, they rarely have the power on their own to rush in and reestablish a border that their parents and grandparents GAVE UP.

So he in-takes a little intoxicant.

And the war is at his door.

Another border is breached. His language. God set the Christian free from bad language, bad words, foul words, cursing, swearing, taking the Lord's name in vain, using sexual phrases, vulgar phrases, excrement phrases, bawdy jokes, double entendre....wait a minute... How clever! How cute! How witty and funny. In the ballrooms, the dance halls, the clubs, the bars, it doesn't matter where...from the crack house to the White House, WHY WATCH YOUR TONGUE? It's about FREEDOM, man, FREEDOM.

And in the name of freedom, another border is breached.

Another border is breached.

Look. If you have to redraw the map in your brain to account for the border losses to sin, YOU MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM.

The sanctity of the marriage bed. The holiness of a Godly, Christ-centered marriage and family. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In good times and bad. 'Til death do us part. What God has joined together, LET MAN NOT PUT ASUNDER.

Put asunder. The striking words of the sword of the Lord.

Make a vow to the Lord and keep it.

Except the marriage vow, which what is marriage anyway? Why, it's malleable! It's changeable. Shapable. Expandable! Shrinkable…..just like our borders.

The Christian's borders are shrinking. His borders are shrinking, and the war is at his door.

There is a devil and there are demons, and the Christian forgot. And he forgot their intentions, to steal and to kill and to destroy.

And he forgot that the devil is a roaring lion, and that lions go for the weakest in the herd, WHICH IS THE CHILDREN.

But now the Christian thinks he's a Lion Tamer. Strong in himself, doing what is right in his own eyes, redrawing boundaries, even thinking they are getting LARGER. After all, he's doing more, saying more, experiencing more. His life is getting bigger! Yolo, man! Live like you're dying. Tackle that bucket list. And if you get hurt, well don't be a burden, man. Let's have assisted suicide and just let Jesus welcome you into heaven on His magic carpet, with a little stash of your favorite intoxicant.

Forgetting that the middle word is TOXIC, as in poison, as in harmful and hurtful and the borders are eroding like sand, and now his children are wasted.

And his wife has Momma's Little Helper.

Now unforgiveness crashes through the border and takes up a stronghold in the Christian. It started with a few unforgivenesses, people that Jesus told him to forgive, but he wasn't quite ready know, like his favorite Disney song, Let It Go. So he held on to it, but he had to keep it quiet, because those judgmental Christians down at the church would have told him to forgive, and that's the LAST thing he felt like doing.

And now he won't forgive the driver that isn't driving the way he wants, meaning mostly get the blank-blank-blank out of his way, because his language border was breached a long time ago, and where better for a good language breach than when you are in the car, alone, and someone doesn't MOVE THE INSTANT THE LIGHT TURNS GREEN GOOD GOD THEY'RE ON THEIR PHONE. And he tells himself, while redrawing the map in his brain, “Well, I meant it, because God is good,” but then he doesn't say that anymore, and pretty soon he drops the “good” and he's just screaming “Oh God” about every INFRACTION.....and his border is shrinking and his life is getting the name of freedom.

And you know who the worst people are, that he might never forgive just for spite? The Christians who won't GET OFF HIS BACK about these LITTLE SINS.

But really, he doesn't even think about that word anymore...sin.

And he's not really thinking about going to church anymore, either.

And now his marriage bed has a gleaming wall of unforgiveness right down the middle of it.

Now the question is….what about us?

Where have we allowed border breaches?

Where have we redrawn the map in our brains, giving sin a little space, telling ourselves we will let it go this far, and no farther?

It's time for us to do a “world dump” and to return to the Lord with all of our heart!

Judges 10:10 says, “And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against You...”

Judges 12:3 says the Lord delivered them and gave them the victory.

And He will do the same for us!

So ask the Lord to show you any border breaches, where you have allowed sin to creep in and take space...and then repent! Ask God for forgiveness and deliverance! Give all that territory back to Him! Let's reclaim those borders for Jesus!

Let us be the people who give no space to sin, but are full of the Holy Spirit and on fire for Jesus!

Let us be the people who are forgiven and walking in forgiveness, forgiving everyone.

Let us be the people who are literally expanding the borders of the Kingdom of God!