Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

An Oasis in the Desert

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An Oasis in the Desert

MP3 Audio (12.36 MB)


An Oasis in the Desert

MP3 Audio (12.36 MB)

God’s word is like an oasis in a desert. We should thirst for the truth. We must remember the great importance of our calling.


Today I want to talk to you about the church and about being in the church.

On the way over here from Phoenix , we drove through a portion, a small portion, of what is called the Great American Desert . The Great American Desert is created by these beautiful mountains you have that squeeze out all the water. Today it's cloudy here, and up in the mountains, they're probably having some showers. Snow was down on San Jacento; up at San Gregornio they have snow. But you go a little bit further east, and those clouds have disappeared. And out in the desert, just maybe a little puff or two. No water, dry as a bone out there. And this Great American Desert that we have, the Mojave, you just continue—Arizona, Nevada, keep going north through Idaho—that desert continues right on the eastern side of what's called the Cascade Range, up through Oregon. The state of Washington has the desert on the east side. When you think of beautiful British Columbia , do you think of cactus and sand and rock? It's there. This same desert goes straight up into Canada , as the moisture is sapped out by the coastal rains here along the Pacific Ocean .

There are other deserts, some I've had the pleasure to have gone and visited, like Mr. Register and some of you. How many of you have been to Israel , Jordan? Ah, you've seen the Negev . If you've been over to Jordan and some of the areas, perhaps, south of there, you've seen the great Arabian Desert . On the coast of North Africa, heading south, almost halfway through that continent, probably a good third of the way through that continent is the Sahara Desert. Over in Asia is the Gobi Desert .

There are many deserts on this planet. How many of you have spent time out in the desert? Any of you spend time? When I was a kid here, I used to almost live out in that Mojave Desert, shooting jack rabbits and driving around with my friends and doing things that were kind of interesting. But it's different in a desert, isn't it? It's different in a desert. The main thing missing in a desert is what? Water.

This last year the Great American Desert has received more water than anybody I know can remember, on a regular basis, and all that sand out there suddenly turned green and lush, and it began to grow. There are fences where only the top wire of barbed wire is even visible because of all the green growth as far as the eye could see in every direction. It is amazing what water will do.

You know, the Sonoran Desert, which is around the Phoenix area, the Sonoran Desert is the second most abundant natural plant environment, whatever you call that, flora—you know, the flora and fauna, the ecosystem—for plant species in the world. Number 2, next to the Amazon rainforest. The desert has the second most number of plant species anywhere on earth; and yet, when you go out there, you don't see anything. You see a bunch of rocks, a few cactus, some lizards; and yet, for the sake of water is the only reason why we don't see those species.

The title of the sermon today is, "An Oasis in the Desert." An oasis in the desert—do you ever think of the church as an oasis in the desert? People live in deserts. People enjoy them. Many people eke out their life in deserts.

Here's a picture of a desert. Deserts cover a huge, huge amount of the earth's surface. They're intriguing, they're interesting. The Sahara Desert pictured here covers millions of square miles, millions of square miles. Not all of it is covered in sand, only a percentage. There's not much living there, and { I've had } the privilege of flying over it now eighteen times, and in the daytime looking down, you can just look out the window and look out the window and look out the window at the speed of a jet, which is about 600 miles an hour, with a little tail wind, and there's just not much down there but this, in various shapes and forms.

People, as I said, tend to eke out a living in them. I don't know if you can see a place there that you would want to work, live; but, you know, there are those who wander around in deserts and take their houses with them, or their tents with them, and that's where they exist. You can see an individual there in the center. There's not much there. There's not much to exist on, and you would think, "Why?" Well, some people love the desert. I remember growing up, I loved the desert. It's compelling. It's interesting. It's curious. It's a little bit harsh. It's different.

On the other hand, an oasis is a striking anomaly. Oases are islands. As you can see, they're islands of shade—the water, food, cool, rejuvenation. There's a state park in Palm Springs that really always just surprises me. I think it's called Indian Springs, something like that. I forget the name of it. I think it's Indian Springs State Park, but there's an old grove of palms there; and it may be 110 degrees out and you walk down toward this bunch of old palms as you start up the trail, and when you get underneath the palms, the temperature drops. It even gets cold down there. You can wear a jacket in there. Those trees, you see, suck moisture out of the ground that is seeping and weeping out of the soil, and they pump it into the air; and the air is then humid and begins to evaporate, and the evaporation process makes it even chilly under those palms. It's an amazing thing. And you walk out from them and you think, "I was never there. It's so hot!"

Temperatures can reach 123 degrees where I live. Out in the desert next to our subdivision, there's basically nothing except a little stream. Year-round, that stream just flows and flows. I've measured it at about three gallons a second, maybe a hundred gallons a minute or so, 150 gallons. It's small. But along that little stream is life—plants and rushes and reeds, little animals, birds, every conceivable type of plant. Life takes place where there is water.

Today I want to discuss the contrasts of wet and dry, water and sand, life and death. I want to show a link today between the physical oasis and the church and between the dry barren desert and society around us.

A physical desert is spiritually dead; and yet what you and I are all looking for is life, eternal life and also a good happy life now inside what we might call a particular oasis. Looking at the Sahara Desert , which is in Africa , looking down on it from the airplane, hardly anything grows there. The Bible often speaks of a wilderness, which means an uninhabited place. The Israelites marched around through a wilderness, with nothing to eat except what God gave them in manna and in water that He miraculously brought for them, provided for them. God was their source of food and water for forty years in what is called the "wilderness of Sin," and the people lived and died in that particular environment because they were disobedient.

God calls people out of a similar wilderness. In Leviticus, chapter 20, in verse 24 , let's notice God's calling.

Leviticus 20:24 Leviticus 20:24But I have said to you, You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess it, a land that flows with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.
American King James Version×
; "But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.'"

This is an interesting statement for a people who lived in a barren wilderness, but it's talking here about a land flowing with milk and honey. In other words, it's going to be easy to find food, it's going to be easy to find water. The necessities of life will come easily.

Verse 25 ; "‘You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean,...'" etc., etc.

In verse 26 , ; "‘And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.'"

So God is calling some people to a special oasis with spiritual food; and they are to be separate, they are to be holy, they are to be different. This is the unique thing about the church that you and I have been called to join, this congregation that is very unique. It needs to remain unique. The only difference, really, between those outside and those inside this room is one thing: water. Water! The water of God's Holy Spirit, the living spirit, the living water that God offers us, you and me, to know, to understand, to be motivated by that Spirit, to put away sand from our life and become fruitful and productive.

The Bible uses the term "water" as synonymous with the Holy Spirit. In John, chapter 14 , Jesus said, " Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again ," talking about physical water, " but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst. " This is a special kind of water. " The water I shall give him will become a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life."

This oasis, as it were, away from the dryness that exists in society around us, is very special; and without God's Holy Spirit, we couldn't be here. It would not exist. There were many times more the number that are here today, that were once in this congregation, that there ceased to be some water; and when that water dried up, the individuals who were previously here could no longer remain. You and I need to treasure this precious resource called water.

In Revelation 7, verse 17 , it says:

Revelation 7:17 Revelation 7:17For the Lamb which is in the middle of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
American King James Version×
; ...for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water.

That is what you and I are drinking from, springs of living water. Our goal is paradise. Our goal is the Kingdom of God , which is associated with abundance and things that are beautiful and fruitful and wet and moist—not things that are dry and barren and where pain and suffering exist.

It says at the end of verse 17, And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.""

Today God's church is marching out of the wilderness of sin. It is interesting that that was the name of the wilderness that Israel was marching around in. We, through the knowledge of the Days of Unleavened Bread and God's word, are dedicating our lives to coming out of sin, to coming out of a waterless, fruitless environment, where there is only misery and death and heat and dying and sorrow, and coming into the shade, coming into the oasis, coming into the paradise. Here we have water, we have food, we have the word of God, we have growth, overcoming. Paul describes life in an oasis in Colossians, chapter 1, and verse 9 . Let's turn there.

Colossians 1:9-14 Colossians 1:9-14 [9] For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; [10] That you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; [11] Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, to all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; [12] Giving thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [13] Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: [14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
American King James Version×
; For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled, filled, with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding... that's what we're finding here, to be filled with God's will and His understanding... that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Let's take a glimpse at life, this life that God talks about that we have within God's church, within the oasis. This photo shows a city built on an oasis, desert on all sides. Oases are like this. I've seen many of them, and they have sudden borders, not gradual borders. You would think that you have green and then not so green and yellow and, you know, way out there finally brown You have water, you have no water. Life, no life. In this particular photograph, you can sort of see out there the edge. That's the way it is in Cairo . It's amazing. Flying out of Cairo one time, the edge of where the agriculture was and where the desert was, was a straight line. In just a few hundred feet lifting off from the airport, it's just a straight line; and as far west as you could see was nothing but sand; and yet, look the other way and it was green and city. It's amazing.

God's church is full of spiritual water and food. Jesus said in John, chapter 6, and verse 54:

John 6:54-58 John 6:54-58 [54] Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. [55] For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. [56] He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. [57] As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. [58] This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live for ever.
American King James Version×
; "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life..." There's a lot of food there. There's a lot to digest in what Jesus Christ taught us, in the Word that He was, and that He gave to us. So full... "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."

And Jesus Christ told us to pray every day, "Give us this day our daily bread," and the bread He was talking about is right here. It's on our laps. It's His word. It's the spiritual nourishment that comes through His Holy Spirit; not the bread that it's talking about here, where "your father's ate the manna and are dead." We need to feed of Jesus Christ; we need to feed on the word of God every day of our life. The oasis is full of food. This church, wherever God's Spirit exists in people, and He calls them His children, that body has food, plenty of food.

You know, a physical oasis is full of food. And you look at some of these trees. Most of these are Washington palms or various types of maybe Mexican fans. That's a queen palm in the middle. There are date palms in the desert. Date palm is an amazing, amazing tree. A date palm will grow where there is water, which means an oasis; but if it can tap its roots into some water, that date palm will provide several things. One is large shade. Another thing it will provide is cool. But the thing that the date palm is best noted for is dates. Now, what food can you take out in the middle of a desert, maybe at 120, 130 degrees, and store indefinitely in the hot sun? Anything in your fridge come to mind? Dates! A date can store easily on the North Pole, the South Pole, the equator, the hottest desert. No one ever thought of putting on a can or jar of dates, "Refrigerate after opening," or "Best before a certain date." A date's a date! And those little dates...a date packs 120 calories in one date. That's a lot of nutrition. And each date tree will average 900 pounds of dates around Feast of Tabernacles time. Nine hundred pounds of dates, 120 calories each. They're an amazing food. There's a lot to eat in an oasis, if you just look at dates alone.

But within God's church, there are many things going on. People are busy building their futures. if you just think of that little ecosystem, that little society there in the oasis and what all is going on, the life that's there. Compare it to what's in the background. Look at the barren, dry hills. There are people out there, too, wandering around with a camel or two and eking out a living; but they're not doing much, not like the towns and the commerce and the various political and familial systems that go on within the town. It's just like the church. It's exciting. People are fulfilling their futures. People are growing in character. They're growing into God's family and kingdom. They have fulfilling family, fulfilling careers, not because they're making a lot of money, but they're doing something fulfilling, meaningful, valuable. There are enjoyable relationships. There's activities, there's serving, there's teaching, there's helping each other reach goals, there's friendships, there's respect being built between all of us. God's church is truly like an oasis. It's pleasant. There's shade, there's swimming, there's sweet things, there's food, there's fun, you know. Look what all you can do in an oasis. It's good times. It's enjoyable, spiritually speaking. There's prosperity, there's constant development, there's character growth, there's change, there's good works going on, good works, efforts, both in the giving and the receiving end.

You know, one thing about an oasis, it's predictable. You get up tomorrow, it's still going to be the oasis. There's still going to be water, still going to be food, still going to be serving and giving. It's kind of constant. No big traumas, I mean, sure, there are tests and trials and traumas that come along in our spiritual life, but no major tragedies. But wait, look out on the desert. Let's look out of our oasis, through the palm trees, with the dates hanging on them, and what's that out there? "That's a little different. It's kind of fun. Wonder what it's like out there?"

Right beside the oasis, see, there's just desert. What's going on out there? We hear the TV, we hear the radio, we hear some friends. Outside people, they're having fun. They're sliding down the dunes and rolling around. I mean, look out there, just beyond where all the growth and all the fruit is being developed. Giant sand dunes. Wouldn't they be fun to just slide down, roll around on? Occasionally you can hear people out there, and it looks inviting. You know, when the people come rolling down those dunes, you kind of get a little sound there, { faintly } "Yeah!"

"Wow! Are they laughing? They must just be having such a good time, and look at us here in the oasis. It's kind of boring, isn't it? Shade and food and calm and fun and character development and, you know...but look at them! I hear noise out there. It sounds like they're having a good time. I wonder what we're missing? It's inviting. I don't see any work to be done out there on the dunes. I don't see any rows to hoe. I don't see any weeds to pull. No works to do either. I don't have to serve anybody." Just go out and do whatever you want. Pack your lunch and go out and have a good time—for you. Instant gratification. When you jump off of one of those dunes, you get this rush—whoosh—as you go flying down the hill. Looks easy. Maybe we're missing something there in the oasis.

You know, life out on the dunes isn't what we might expect. When the sun comes up in the morning, it quickly gets hot. And that sun burns right in at the equator; and within minutes, not hours, within minutes the skin begins to burn. There is no moisture out there, and what moisture the body has is being expelled with every breath. It's coming out of all of the pores to try to keep the body cool. It's racing out of the head, where the sun is pouring down and making the cranium, which has one of the hottest parts of the body and the biggest exchange of temperature on our bodies, is trying to keep the brain cool. It doesn't take long for dryness, cracking, blistering, the tongue to go dry. Have you ever had your tongue go so dry it splits on the end? Just a piece of dry leather with a split on the end? I have. It's painful. You know, it's not all it's cracked up to be when the eyes won't tear anymore and the little matter begins to stick on the lenses, and the eyes actually hurt when they get that dry. One hundred thirty degrees under the hot equatorial sun, and then the wind kicks up, the sand kicks up. It may look like fun, but it's really not. It's really not.

Back in the oasis, there's a fragile environment that's under constant danger. If it weren't for care, it could turn into this, which may look like fun; but that day is going to be a long, long day as that sun gets higher in the sky and as that wind whips up more and more, as the sand begins to blow. The winds of the Sahara Desert have special names. One is the haboob . The haboob is an Arabic name for a "wild, sand-laden wind." The khamsin is an Arabic name meaning "fifty days." That's another one of the annual winds that come up over there. This wind sweeps across the desert from March through May. It is pounding them right now, and it fills the air with sand. The harmattan comes from an African word meaning "to tear your breath apart." Does that sound like the kind of environment we'd want to be in?

The church—like an oasis that is subject to all of these outside environmental impacts, because it's so small—the church, also, is in danger. It's a fragile environment. Winds of change blow frequently. You've seen them in your lifetime. The church has experienced them ever since the church was founded back in 31 A.D. They come with great force at times. Some of the names of these winds have been Judaism, Rome , secularism, persecution, new truth, doctrinal change, other gospels, compromise. These are the winds that can blow down on the precious little oasis of God that exists within an environment all around that has no water, and these have repeatedly devastated much of the church down through history.

You and I sit here today as, maybe, fifteen percent of those who went before us a decade ago. Fifteen percent. Where's the other eighty-five? The church is a fragile environment. What's so bad about life outside the church? What's so bad about dating outside? What's so bad about enjoying the entertainment and everything outside? You know, life out on the dunes is lived man's way.

In Romans, chapter 1, and verse 28 , we find that living life man's way has a certain built-in pain. It may seem like the compelling, fun, enjoyable, logical way, but notice what Paul says here in Romans, chapter 1, and verse 28:

Romans 1:28-31 Romans 1:28-31 [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
American King James Version×
; And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge... they didn't want the water. They wanted everything else, but they didn't want the water. They didn't want God in their knowledge; and we, you know, as a nation right now, along with many other western cultures, have tried to get rid of God. We don't want Him in our knowledge, we don't want Him in our schools, we don't want Him in prayer, we don't want Him anywhere. Just get rid of Him! Well, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. And they have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful. They invent ways of doing evil. They disobey parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.

That is painful. That is not fun. And without God, without His laws, His commandments, but more than anything, His Holy Spirit, life becomes painful, not only to ourselves, but we become agents of pain for others. That's not really living. That's just struggling to survive, just getting through another day, materialistically, socially, economically, militarily. That's, that's not living. That's just getting by, that's doing time. That's almost as if we had a sentence.

Out in the desert of society, again, the dry winds sap the energy, the strength. They bring on the misery. Day after day, the body degrades, and death is certain. It's not a nice way to go. Jesus called it being dead, and Jesus Christ did not come to perpetuate a state of being dead, of pain, of tragedy, and spreading and sharing that pain and tragedy with others. Jesus said in Matthew, chapter 8, verse 22 :

Matthew 8:22 Matthew 8:22But Jesus said to him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
American King James Version×
; But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

Let the dead bury the dead. He's talking about living people burying people who died. But He called them dead because they did not have His Holy Spirit, and He was not there to perpetuate man's way. It's being a slave of sin, it's doing time in slavery to our old nature and our old captor. It's not real living.

You know, II Corinthians 4:4 talks about Satan being the God of this world, and that way leaves people hurting, empty, confused. You can just read through Galatians, chapter 5, verses 19-21 , and just think of the consequence of every one of the sins that human nature is so prone to, the fruits of living without God's Holy Spirit, living outside the oasis of God's church. And it says that those who live that way will not inherit the Kingdom of God .

John 3:5 John 3:5Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
; Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God ."

It's very important that we have the water, the Holy Spirit, in our life. Otherwise, we can't be in God's kingdom.

For the forty years that the ancient Israelites wandered around in the wilderness of Sin, Jesus Christ was a cloud by day. He was their shade. He was one who brought water to them and food to them and shade to them. Today He is our life. He is the way, the truth, the life. He is our shade, He is our food. He is the water for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and those will be in the oasis, if you want to call that paradise, the Kingdom of God , where water flows out under the temple, where twelve trees grow. It's a lush place, spiritually speaking; and I'm sure in can't say physically speaking because that will be in the spiritual Kingdom of God .

Here in the oasis, I can tell you what our lifestyles are like. We're putting sand out. There's a new one, putting sand out. You've got to fight it back. Otherwise, the oasis becomes not an oasis. Serving fellow man, respectability, loving God, helping out. That's what's going on here because we're part of the church. Examples out on the dunes, people without this Holy Spirit, fractured relationships, destructive motives, destructive habits and patterns, degeneration.

The United Church of God constantly receives letters from people from out on the dunes writing in, excited to find some water and some shade, who want to know more about it because their life is tragic and miserable and they've been hurting, no matter how old they are.

You and I are here, but we have a daily choice to make. Did you ever think of it as a daily choice? We have a daily choice to make. Am I going to be a member of the oasis or am I going to be a desert dweller? A dunes kind of guy. That's a choice that you and I have to make.

Look over in Job, chapter 8, verses 11-13 . Some have made the choice to leave the oasis. Sometimes our young people get a little more enchanted with some of the thrills of what may be out there, and they choose to leave. Some of our older people do as well.

Job 8:11-13 Job 8:11-13 [11] Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water? [12] Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it wither before any other herb. [13] So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish:
American King James Version×
; Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh? Now, here's a little warning to anyone who thinks that you can survive out there, after being in the oasis. Do you think that you can grow up in the church and then leave the church and do just fine out there? Here are some questions that Job puts forth to you. Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh? You've been growing in the oasis and I've been growing in the oasis. We're used to water. A papyrus is a reed. It's a marshy reed that grows right out of the water. Can you take that out in the desert and expect it to continue? Can the reeds flourish without water? You know, the cattail reeds and various reeds that grow on the edge of a lake or a stream, can they just, "Oh well, we've been here all our life. Let's go try it out in the desert." While it is yet green and not cut down, it withers before any other plant. We are actually more susceptible to destruction if we were to leave God's church than those who are maybe a little more reinforced to it, is what I believe the example is here, because it withers faster than anything else. It's used to something else. It's used to God's way, God's mentality. It's used to character growth and overcoming. It's used to Jesus Christ being there to feed and God the Father to love and lead us. And without that, we'd wither before anybody. So are the paths of all who forget God, who once knew God but forget God, and the hope of the hypocrite shall perish...

These are pretty strong statements. You know, some have also chosen, "Well, I don't want to leave the church. I'll just bring sand into the oasis." Try to play it both ways, you know. Have a little water, have a little sand. Enjoy both. Swayed by society's self-serving concepts, hedonism, sensuality, whatever it may be. Personal choices that people are encouraged to make because we're bombarded by some 10,000 ads every day. We have all these media influences on us, movies and books and schools. All this pressure about value-neutral concepts. A generation has grown up as friends of homosexuality, adultery, fornication, lying, cheating, stealing. These values are pushed on TV sitcoms. Pushed in almost every imaginable form of influence to where it's almost normal. It's just normal, and yet it's an abomination, and people want to bring that into the church. Sometimes people want to bring this into the church. They want this sand to come into the oasis.

Do you know what fertile, productive oasis land looks like with sand on it? Does that look normal? Does that look, "Oh, well, that looks good. Yeah, it's kind of a modern farmland. That's the church in the 21 st century." No, there's something really sick about bringing sand in on top of productive oasis land. And yet, you try it and I try it, we all try it. If we're not careful, we'll allow the sins of this world to impact our lives. And sand spoils the oasis. Gradually, if it continues, there would be no oasis left.

Let's go look at Jude, chapter 1, verses 10-12...actually Jude 3:10-12 Jude 3:10-12
American King James Version×
. I'm messing with you. There is only one chapter in Jude. Notice here, verse 10:

Jude 10-12 ; But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are spots in your love feasts... people in the church, sometimes you and me being spoken of here... while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots...

That can be us, right here in the church. "Oh, I'm in the church. I attend the Los Angeles congregation. I'm in the church." Well, so what? You see, so what? You may be "in the church," and I may be "in the church," but if we are not letting God's Holy Spirit purge us of our sins and our sand and if we are not growing up into what Jesus Christ is and devouring with great hunger and thirst the water and the food that God has for us, then all we're doing is, we're letting sand come in. And we're actually harming the church. We're spoiling that and encouraging others around us to degrade their relationship with God. Sand and sin spoil the oasis.

Let's go to II Peter , just a few chapters back, II Peter, chapter 2, and verse 17 :

II Pet. 2:17-20 ;; These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. These have come out of the desert and now they're convincing people to bring the desert in. And they're saying, "Oh, it's nice, it's fun, it's cute, it's hilarious, it's this, it's that, it's OK, it makes sense." While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption...For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.

Verse 22 ; But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit..." They came out of the desert, and then "we brought the desert in. We've returned to our own vomit..., "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.

It's encouraging for us to see and hate this and use the Feast of Unleavened Bread as a reminder that we need to hate sin. We need to keep special this thing that God has called us to be a part of, the body of Christ. We need to get rid of any traces of anything other than the love for God and the love for our fellow man that we need to have. We need to come to abhor it and see it for what it really, really is.

Ephesians, chapter 4 and verse 16 , we find that there are many who appreciate their part within the body, who love the beauty of the oasis.

Ephesians 4:16 Ephesians 4:16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
American King James Version×
...from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in agape, in love.

The fruit of God's Holy Spirit. The real true members of the body are getting rid of this scene and moving it into a rich, wonderful productive fruitful oasis. You can read on through the rest of this chapter, and it shows us how to do this.

Verse 17 ; I say to you, therefore...that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind...

And it starts to say some things there that it's painful, it's awful. Let's get rid of this. Let's move it out. Don't be there. Don't try to mix the two. We had a former conduct.

Verse 25 ; Therefore, putting away lying...

Verse 26 ; Be angry, and do not sin...

Verse 27 Don't give place to the devil...

Verse 28 Don't steal anymore...

Verse 29 Don't let corrupt words come out of your mouth...

Verse 30 Don't grieve the Holy Spirit...

Verses 31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice and be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another...

For the last 2,000 years in the church, a lot of sand has blown in at times. Huge raging storms that could just bury an oasis. Yet, Jesus Christ said that this church will not die out. It will not be buried totally.

An oasis is usually a very small area that maybe an artesian well or surface water of a small amount shows up and it's constant there and it's stable and it permits life in a very small, defined area; and that's what God's church is. It's a very small, well defined area.

Constant effort is required to fight back the shifting sands. Will you help? Will you be a part? Are you a part? Do you want to be part? Do you appreciate what you have? What you are? What you're a part of?

There's a future of the dry desert. Let's go to Isaiah, chapter 35 . Well, I'll just read it to you. It's just a brief statement. For water shall burst forth in the wilderness. You know the whole passage there. Water shall burst forth in the wilderness. In fact, let's go back to Isaiah 35 and read a little bit more of this. We often think of this in relationship to the millennium, and physical waters bursting forth out in the deserts, and that's true. It's going to be a wonderful contrast to what we see now. It says:

Isaiah 35:6 Isaiah 35:6Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
American King James Version×
For water shall burst forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

Imagine the difference. Add water, add streams, what do you have? A whole change of an ecosystem. What's the effect?

Verse 7 ; The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water... that's amazing. It says, ...the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.

You cannot have reeds and rushes without standing water. What's being spoken of here is not just the physical surface of the earth, but rather the spiritual knowledge and understanding of God will be filling the earth.

Notice in verse 1 : ; The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice...the excellence of Carmel and Sharon . They shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God. That's the difference.

If we drop down to verse 4 , Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear!"

Verse 5 ; Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened... those eyes that were dried, they're going to moisturized, they're going to be opened . And the ears of the deaf... The eyes of people and the ears, they're closed. Satan has blinded them; they can't see. The ears are closed; they cannot hear the truth. Then the lame, who could not walk in God's ways, shall leap like a deer. They'll run in God's ways. And the tongue of the dumb who had nothing to say, nothing useful whatsoever, nothing spiritual can now sing ...and the thirsty land springs of water...

That's what's going to happen in the future. You and I will witness a whole world that will become a physical and spiritual oasis. It's a wonderful thing. We can say, "Congratulations." You and I are invited to live in an oasis. Do you know how precious that is? This oasis that is so small, called the body of Christ; it's so small and there are so few people in it that you are one in 325,000 people. That's what we are. The members of all the churches that we know of who keep God's Sabbath and holy days and we believe His Spirit is involved in many of us, could be numbered to where one in every 325,000 people is invited to be where you sit and I sit. How precious is that? That's pretty special.

Revelation 22:17 Revelation 22:17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
American King James Version×
says: ; And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!"And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

That's what we have and that's what we will one day be offering to all humanity as we live and rule and reign with Jesus Christ, an opportunity to share the oasis and to open the eyes and bring people into the cool.

I hope that this sermon helps you develop a greater thirst for the spiritual water of life that Jesus puts before all of us and invites us to drink of and the food that He invites us to eat of every day. Let's learn to thirst for that and hunger for that more and more and appreciate what we have. Jesus said, " Blessed ," (and that word in the Greek means "oh, how extremely blessed"), " are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." We are being filled. Let's appreciate this opportunity. Let's protect this oasis, and let's prepare to share it with all whom the Father will draw.

It's been a pleasure being here with you today and sharing this with you. I'll look forward to meeting many of you with my wife Mary afterward.