Reject Corruption of ‘Worldliness’

Reject Corruption Of ‘Worldliness’

Chapter Two

Reject Corruption Of 'Worldliness'
Winning Great Battles 29 Jesus And Just Plain Folks 37
"Save Yourselves From This Corrupt Generation" 31 The Urge To Splurge 38
The Essence Of Contentment – Part I 33 Garage Sale 40
The Essence Of Contentment – Part II 35 Discussion Questions 42

Joshua 10:1-24

Winning Great Battles

As our years advance, we should be able to identify, in our lifetime, a critical event or series of events that was of great significance in determining how one lived from then on. I remember one such 'sea change' in my life.

At age 18, I was working in the field with my father, and he, quite unexpectedly, asked me what my plans for the future might be. When I hesitated, he urged me to consider deciding for myself which path I would follow, whether for good or ill, for Christ or the world.

I could not answer immediately, but over the next few days, the challenge was always before me. A battle ensued for my soul's destiny. Would I live for Jesus, or take the path of worldly gain and pleasure?

Bible history is set in primitive times, when what we would call 'proper procedures' for overcoming an opposite view were not available to Joshua and his forces. For them it was defeat or be defeated, and they were being attacked.

Joshua had the book of the law of Moses, (Joshua 8:31) which embodied spiritual truth as revealed on Mount Sinai; he had the concepts of truth and righteousness, of morality and religion; and he was bound by loyalty to establish them in the land to which God had brought them.

The five kings of Canaan had no revealed truth, and were devotees of false gods. Their culture was corrupted by polytheism, idolatry, fertility cults, immorality and barbarism. These kings attacked the forces of Israel, intending to destroy them, and the battle raged at Bethhoron. Historians tell us it was a decisive battle comparable to other great encounters, such as those that turned back the spread of error at Milvian Bridge, Portiers, and Tours, in the Middle Ages.

The defeat of wrong meant the establishment of right. Israel became a nation which would produce men like David, Isaiah, and in a few centuries, Jesus Christ.

I believe every person comes to a defining moment when error is seen for what it is, and right action may be chosen. It is then that the course of that, and the next, generation is selected! It is never an easy decision but we are not alone as we fact it. God, through His Holy Spirit, is our helper, and by His help we find the strength and courage to make the right decision and take the right path.

"O Lord, as the years pass, I often find myself in need of the divine direction. Will You stand at my side as the forces of evil make their attacks on me?"

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: With your Book in my hand and your Spirit in my heart, I will choose the right and defeat the wrong that would deflect me from serving you with honor.

– Eugene Stewart –

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Acts 2:36-40

"Save Yourselves From This Corrupt Generation"

While serving as a Missionary in Alaska, I lived in a coastal village along the Bering Sea. On one rather foggy and blustery morning, as an Eskimo friend invited me to go along for checking his salmon nets along the shores of the Sea. I was hesitant because of the unfavorable conditions, but decided to go. As we left the river and moved out into the Sea, the waves were uncomfortably high. About a half-mile out into these choppy waters, the engine on the boat stopped. There was no back-up engine, no oars for rowing, I can't swim, and even if I could, the temperature of the water would allow me to live only about 5 to 7 minutes. I began to sense some degree of panic.

You remember that Jesus once said: "You are in the world but not of the world." At that moment I realized I was in the Bering Sea, but desperately hoping I would not be of the Bering Sea.

A very important question is in order – just how important was it that I maintain a separation between myself and my environment? Simple answer: it was a matter of life and death!

It is just as important that we maintain a separation from the corrupt would in which we live. The world is trying to squeeze us into its mold and the only way to survive is to maintain the purity of our life and soul from this corrupt world. How do we do that?

That day in the boat, I learned some valuable spiritual principles that relate to saving ourselves from the corrupt, wicked, and dangerous environment. Think about these principles:

  • Stay in the Boat! That's the right place and the right position. Be sure to maintain the integrity of your spiritual position.

  • Keep the water out of the Boat! That's the right perspective. If you let sin in, you sink.

  • Throw everything useless overboard! That's the right priority. "Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us," Hebrews 12:1.

  • Use anything and everything you have to row! That's the right stewardship.

  • Try to get the power motor going! That's the right use of our resources.

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  • Keep your eyes on the shore! That's the right goal. If you lose sight of the goal, you'll invariably go the wrong direction!

  • Recognize the security of boat! That's the right sense of peace. Our only security is Christ.

All of these principles applied to our spiritual life can help us "save ourselves from this corrupt world."

"Dear Lord, I need your help today to maintain the purity of my life and to maintain a spirit of saving myself from the corrupt environment surrounding me."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God has provided a place of safety and security even when your environment is wicked, cold, and dangerous.

– Edward Rickman –

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Hebrews 13:1-6

The Essence Of Contentment – Part I

The "Quest for Contentment" may be the most illusive quest in life. Indeed, contentment is one of the most desired qualities in life. Everywhere you turn, there is a symbol of "contentment" which leads you to believe that it can be acquired through the acquisition of certain products, visits to the right places, vacations in the most modern resorts and environ, and a host of other possibilities.

For example…

  • A baby wearing the right disposable diaper.
  • Sipping a certain brand of iced tea.
  • Wearing a particular brand of clothing.
  • Watching the sunset from a beautiful beach.
  • Lying in a hammock with the right brand of sunglasses.

You get the picture!

The advertising world has discovered that the depiction of "contentment" will sell a multitude of products. The public proves them right by working hard to acquire enough resources to purchase the products that will produce the "contentment." Invariably we discover that the contentment is very illusive:

  • The right diaper doesn't prevent a stomach ache.
  • The iced tea needs more ice.
  • The right clothing doesn't match.
  • There are mosquitoes on the beach that spoil watching the sunset.
  • The sunglasses don't help when it rains.

Others have hoped that contentment would come with reaching a certain age. Retirement is often pictured as the epitome of contentment when all our cares are in the past and our days are filled with blissful contentment and no responsibilities. Of course, I'm not there yet, but some of my friends who are have confidentially told me that it isn't as blissful and as unhindered as they might have hoped.

Still others have hoped that a certain status in life would produce contentment. When we get to the top of the mountain, all will be contented.

However, it is again discovered to be illusive. As someone has written: "When you climb the ladder of success and get to the top, you usually find out the ladder is leaning against the wrong building."

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Yet others have expected the acquisition of wealth to produce contentment. But the illusive "contentment" is always hiding around the corner of "I've got to have more!"

Now, contentment is a virtue which Christians are supposed to experience:

"Be content with what you have" Hebrews 13:5
"I have learned to be content" Philippians 4:11
"I have learned the secret of being content" Philippians 4:12
"Godliness with contentment is great gain" 1 Timothy 6:6
"…Be content with your pay" Luke 3:14

It's an important and much to be desired virtue, but how do we get it? Where can we get it?

Contrary to the materialistic and acquisitional approach to achieving "contentment," it is to be described as "a state of being" rather than a "state of possessing." A "state of being" relates to an inner quality of character or spiritual disposition. Consequently, it is normally only achieved through a change in our malleable moral nature, i.e., a spiritual transformation.

"Dear Lord, please take away the desire for more material things and help me to learn the peace and joy of contentment."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Contentment is the only route to true peace.

– Edward Rickman –

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Philippians 4:11-19

The Essence Of Contentment – Part II

Paul makes it clear that his own personal contentment was not related to the state of his environmental circumstances. In fact, no matter which extreme of circumstance existed in life, he declared he had found the secret of being content. The secret is summed up in his great declaration that "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." It was a state of spiritual understanding, dependence, and trust in the sufficiency of God's strength to see him through any eventuality in life.

Over the years, I have come to believe that the essence of contentment can be summed up in just three words: "I have enough!" Think about it! There is no other state of mind whereby contentment could be experienced. Beyond that, I have come to believe that the essence of JOY in contentment is summed up in the words: "I have enough, TO GIVE!"

When Jacob succeeded in robbing his brother Esau of not only his birthright but also of the blessing of their father Isaac, a long-term grudge was established between these two brothers. But, as often happens, the exigencies of life finally brought Jacob to the realization that his own greed, deceit, and "me-firstness" had to end and a reconciliation with this brother Esau was extremely important. The first thing Jacob did was to send major gifts of his herds ahead so that Esau would accept him. When the two finally met in an emotional and tearful embrace, there was an interesting exchange between them.

Esau inquired why Jacob had sent all the gifts. When Jacob replied that it was "to find favor in your eyes," Esau said, "I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself." (Genesis 33:9) Jacob replied: "No, please! …if I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, not that you have received me favorably. Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need." And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.

After all the years of struggle, a reconciliation revealed a spiritual transformation in both brothers, which is expressed in "I have enough", and "I have enough to give." Contentment came with the realization that relationship surpasses all the benefits of acquisition of wealth and that relationships require "giving".

To find "contentment" will require each of us to reach a point of spiritual affirmation and transformation which creates in us an expression of "I have enough." "I even have enough to give," will produce joy in my contentment.

To hold any other attitude such as "I'll soon have enough," or "I almost have enough,"

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Some of the happiest, most contented, and most generous people I have ever met have been those who had few possessions but had learned the secret of contentment which recognizes their total sufficiency in the strength of Christ. The expression of their contentment is "I have enough to give." Contented JOY is their reward. Joyful giving can only emanate from this attitude of "I have enough to give."

"Lord, help me to understand that I have enough, even enough to give. Let me single-minded in gratefulness for what I have and be content."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: It's almost impossible to be a generous giver without being "contented." It's almost impossible to be contented without being a generous giver.

– Edward Rickman –

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Matthew 12:1-6, Matthew 12:38-42

Jesus And Just Plain Folks

My wife and I were in San Antonio for our 32nd wedding anniversary. Her favorite write is Max Lucado, who pastors a church in that city. We decided to attend the church were he preaches. Also, he was away that Sunday. One of his young associates brought a very fine message. We were, however, a bit disappointed. After all, we had come to hear Max Lucado.

Shortly before the service began, two young children in front of us became very excited and began pulling on their mother's arm. "Look, mommy, look! It's him! It's him!" They were pointing to a very tall man walking toward the front row with his family. At first I did not recognize the man seated four rows in front of us. Then it registered "The Admiral", David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs! My first reaction was one of surprise and delight. I secretly began to plot how I might meet him without being intrusive. Other people seemed to 'have the same idea. It was then that I wondered how things would be if Jesus had walked into the auditorium. What kind of awe would register on the faces? Would children be excited? Would adults be delighted? Would our collective breath be taken away, and would we as one body drop to our knees in wonder? At that moment I was reminded that we did not come to church to hear Max Lucado or to be impressed by David Robinson. Someone Greater was present. We came to worship Jesus, and that we did.

As I followed the text of the choruses on the video screen, Mr. Robinson was in my line of sight. Along with the rest of us, he was singing, "I Exalt Thee", "Majesty", "Mighty Is Our God." Like many other parents, fifteen minutes into the service he had to take one of his boys to the restroom.

As we pulled out of the parking lot, my wife wondered, "Why do you suppose David Robinson walked all the way to the front row to be seated?" I answered, "That's the only place with room for his legs". We concluded that there was a more worthwhile reason. He wanted to bear witness to his faith and to testify that his life is not governed by the accomplishments of his career but by his walk with the Lord. In all of life, Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The rest of us are just plain folks.

"Grant me grace this day to acknowledge Someone Greater in my life."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As I am nurtured and inspired by the plain folks who cross my path, I will remember that Someone Greater is among us.

– William Jenkins –

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Matthew 6:19-34

The Urge To Splurge

The word "splurge" means to spend money self-indulgently, especially on something luxurious and showy. A splurge is a buying binge big enough to create an adrenaline rush, a physical surge which is exciting, and if we create a big splash of attention from other people, especially if we can cause a few people to envy us, it's even better!

It is the self-indulgence of a splurge that makes it a problem. Whenever we operate on the basis of pride, such as lavish pampering of our bodies, or causing other people to feel inadequate, the benefit of our cheap thrill comes with considerable cost – we injure our relationships with others and put our future welfare at risk. So, splurges are expensive in more ways than just their cost in dollars.

It is natural to want to have a good. We know that Jesus wants that for us because he said; "I have come. that they may have life, and have it to. the full" (John 10:10). Jesus wants us to have an interesting, pleasurable, meaningful life, but sometimes we create problems for ourselves by the way we go after the good life. The most common mistake is to seek to get pleasure by pursuing it directly. That doesn't work.

Splurging, whether in the form of throwing money around foolishly, or in the form of gluttony, lust or promiscuity, drug or alcohol addition (which can be thought of as splurges of eating, sex, or substance use), or any other form of excess, doesn't bring lasting gratification. There are two strong reasons why it doesn't: 1. Too much of anything becomes repulsive. Says Proverbs 25:16: If you find honey, eat just enough – too much of it, and you will vomit." 2. When some parts of life are given too much attention, other part are ignored. Life gets lopsided.

Here in Jesus' words, are the instruction on how to get the full life he offers: "Seek first his (God's) kingdom and his righteousness, and all things will be given to you aw well" (Matthew 6:33). What things? Our needs (6:25-32) "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks find; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened". (7:7) What things? Good gifts (7:11).

When we go straight after what we think is good for us we end up with the wrong stuff, inferior stuff, too much of this and too little of that, and a trail of mistakes that hurt other people and boomerang back to hurt us. But when we go straight after knowing, serving, and enjoying God – doing so with the respect he deserves – we receive God's help. He "works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13). As we offer ourselves to God, sin shall not be our master because we are under grace (see Romans 6:11-14).

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What a difference! What a deal! What a Savior! What wonderful love and never-ending care!

"Heavenly Father, again and again I treat myself to tacky, physical and social over-indulgences that are disgusting to you. I repent. I want to know you and have a sense of your presence and participation in my life. You are my Creator; you are Lord of all things. You are worthy of praise and honor, which I offer as I ask:

Breath on me, breath of God, 
Fill me with life anew, 
That I may love what you do love, 
And do what you would do.

Edwin Hatch, 1886

I pledge myself to live for you in every way I know how, and I praise your blessed, holy name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God is with me, teaching me about Himself, and increasing my self-control.

– Richard Walters –

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Exodus 20:1-11

Garage Sale

We are in the process of building a Family Life Center. After the building had been "dried in", the ladies of the church wanted to have a giant garage sale and donate the proceeds to the building fund. As we are making plans for this big event I innocently asked, "What time will it start?" One answered, "Seven O'clock". I responded with "Isn't that rather late?" A few of the ladies looked at me as if I were an alien from another planet, completely devoid of earthly understanding. "That's seven o'clock in the morning, Brother Bill," replied aloud in a tone that implies, "Don't you know anything?" The truth is I didn't know anything about garage sales; had never been there, had never done that. I had seen signs that advertised them. I had even driven down streets and seen them in progress… between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. I had no idea they could start at 7:00 a.m. Curiosity drug me out of bed at 6:15 on the Saturday morning of the garage sale. I arrived at the church before 7:00 and was greeted with, "Well, it's about time you got here." My mind-was rebelling against this early Saturday insanity; I saw people like trees walking in the early dawn. They were lined up to get into the building and spend their money on GARAGE SALE.

Later in the week I looked in the ad section of our local paper under "GARAGE SALES". START TIMES WERE LISTED AS 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. (There was one sensible ad that announced 9 a.m.) I couldn't help but wonder about people who go to garage sales. Why don't these people sleep in on Saturday morning? Do they go to bed early on Friday to be rested and on time for GARAGE SALE!? How did GARAGE SALE become such a dominate motivation in their lives? What do these people give as an excuse for not going to Sunday School or Church? "I'm too tired!" "I don't have time!" "I only have Sunday to sleep in!" "It starts too early!" What do they say when asked to give to the church: "I can't afford it"!

It is perplexing to observe how people relate differently to their other activities than they do to their church. There appears to be a loyalty and a devotion to other things that is greater than loyalty and devotion to the church of their Savior and Lord. Has GARAGE SALE attained the status of a religion?

There is a word that describes how we make decisions about where our loyalties will be. It is the word "PRIORITY".

"Dear God, help me to recognize and to resist the foreign gods, that clamor for my attention."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will give first class loyalty to my first class Savior.

– William Jenkins –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Can you 'identify' one critical event (or a series of events) which was of such great significance that it changed how you lived from that time on? Describe a "crossroads decision" in your life which 'changed the direction' of the rest of you life – for 'good' and for 'God', instead of for 'evil' and for 'self-centered living'.

  2. Give an illustration from your own life (or from the life of someone whom you know well) – which demonstrates the truth of the following statements: "I believe every person comes to a 'defining moment' when error is seen for what it is, and right action may be chosen. It is then that the course of that, and the next generation, is settled.

  3. Why is it so important for you (as a believer) to maintain a "separation" from the corrupt world in which you live? Is it possible for you to be "in" the world (of human relationships) and yet not be "of' the world (of sinful practices and sinful attitudes)? (Note John 17:11-26)

  4. Put a 'check' beside the following 'correct influences' which you have directly encountered, as you have sought to serve Christ in the context of "everyday living":

    1. ___ Secularism (living life with no 'eternal perspective').

    2. ___ Materialism (valuing material things as all-important).

    3. ___ Sensualism (believing that humans are essentially 'sexual creatures').

    4. ___ Hedonism (seeking pleasure to gratify man's physical senses is all that is ultimately important in life – 'eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!')

    5. ___ Scientism (science is to be 'worshiped', for science alone is able to answer man's questions and to satisfy man's needs).

  5. Tell with what degree of conviction you believe (or disbelieve) the following statement: "Our only security is in Christ."

  6. What are some of the "foreign gods" which clamor for your attention? (Note 1 John 5:21)

  7. Tell what 'answer' (response) you would give to people who offer the following 'reasons' ('excuses') for not going to Sunday School or church: (a) "I'm too tired!"; (b) "It starts too early!"; (c) "I don't have time!"; (d) "I only have Sunday to sleep in!"; (e) "I can't afford it!". Do you find it "perplexing" to observe how people relate differently to their other activities (such as "Garage

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    Sales") than they do to their church? Has "Garage Sale" attained the status of a 'religion'?

  8. In the "American context" of Materialism, share how you (as a sincere believer) have learned to live a 'simple lifestyle' (free from the 'clutches' of hurtful greed and the 'lust for things').

  9. Have you (as a believer, ever had "the urge to splurge" (i.e., the desire to spend money foolishly and self-indulgently on material things, or the desire to enjoy legitimate things like food and drink and vacation and sex in excessive ways)? Tell what you have done to exercise personal 'self-control' and 'wholesome restraint' in a hedonistic and materialist and self-centered society. Is it possible for you (as a believer) to enjoy life "to the full" (John 10:10; 1 Timothy 6:17), and at the same time, to live a selfless and sacrificial and compassionate life of service? Why or why not?

  10. What does the "world" (of unconverted persons) usually consider to be the "essence" of contentment (i.e., how does the "world" usually describe 'contentment')? Why is the world's quest for contentment a most "illusive quest"? If "contentment" is "a state of being" rather than "a state of possessing", how is such a "state of being" which brings contentment to be found? (1 Timothy 6:6)

  11. Do you believe that it's possible for you to experience a "state" of spiritual understanding, and a "state" of dependence and trust in the sufficiency of God's strength to see you through any "eventuality" in life? (Note 2 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Philippians 4:11-13)

  12. Tell with what degree of conviction you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "Contentment comes with the realization that having relationships with other people surpasses all the benefits of personal acquisition of wealth, and that having and maintaining relationships requires generous giving of one's time, resources, and material possessions."

  13. Have you ever considered that "ecclesiastical idolatry: (i.e., the near-worship of religious leaders and all-consuming passion for 'church growth') is a form of 'worldliness' which must be forsaken and rejected? Can a Christian be genuinely spiritual and, at the same time, have a deep respect for spiritual leaders and a fervent desire for 'Kingdom Growth' (reflected in numerical growth in local church membership)? (Note the Devotional entitled "Jesus and Just Plain Folks")

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