Is your worship wandering? We cannot afford to let our worship of Almighty God wander like the Israelites of old.
This afternoon what I’d like to do is cover a topic that is a spin-off of the wonderful Days of Unleavened Bread that we just concluded. The Days of Unleavened Bread teach some very important lessons for each and every one of us. And the topic I’m going to cover today carries a powerful message to each and every one of us so that we never forget what the message of those days is all about.
Now when you look back at the Days of Unleavened Bread, you find it’s a marvelous story that is contained in the word of God about a birth of a nation and that nation was called Israel in the Old Testament. It was birthed under the mighty hand of Almighty God and He used marvelous miracles, wonders and signs to set those people who were in a state of slavery into a state of freedom. It was a birth of a free nation. Yet, the story continues that after they were delivered you begin to see the deterioration of that nation as a nation gone awry, that started out so good, but ended up in such a sad state of affairs. And it’s therefore our learning, as we are told in Romans 15:4 Romans 15:4For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
American King James Version×, everything that is written is written for our learning upon whom the ends of the age are come as it is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 1 Moreover, brothers, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be you idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur you, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Why let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
American King James Version×which is the case history in the New Testament by the apostle Paul showing us exactly what the Israelites did and how God worked with them and how that walk that was with them was Christ. And then it ends up telling us that all these things, verse 11, are written for our admonition and upon whom the ends of the age are come. So there is something in there that is extremely relevant to each and every one of us and I put it in this context — it’s a story that needs to be understood that is going to affect the end-time descendants of modern day Israel and we’re not talking about just the Israeli state of Judah. We’re talking about Ephraim and Manasseh — all the different nations that compose the Israelite people and it also carries a very powerful message to the end-time Church of God, the people who will be alive during this final period of time that will end in the glorious return of Jesus Christ.
Now when we look at this, we see it’s a very serious warning because verse 12 tells us:
So every man and every woman needs to take note of this and mindfully listen to what the word of God is all about. The Israelites started out so good. They went out with a high hand. Everything was going great. They had Moses as the leader giving information to them from God telling them how they were to move - ultimately to the place where the crossing of the Red Sea would occur and so forth. But something happened at the foot of Mt. Sinai. The Israelites went haywire. And where they went haywire is the fact that they came out of Egypt, yes as a free people by the mighty hand of God, but something happened to them along the way. They brought something with them, which we would call in modern terminology, baggage. And the baggage they brought with them as you read in 1 Cor. 10 is as follows: they brought attitudes with them that were not acceptable in God’s sight. They brought murmurings, which were not acceptable in God’s sight. And they also had wrong behavior in terms of the immorality that broke out at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Moses was so angry he destroyed the commandments of God in tablet form at that particular time. And then began a story of tragedy for a whole generation. It was the story of the wandering Israelites for forty years due to these very things — for the sin that they brought with them, which they refused to leave behind.
And what we want to look at today is something very important because it affects what you and I are doing here today. You and I are called by the grace of God in our lifetime to be here, to see and to understand what we never could understand unless a mighty hand from heaven above intervened in our lives. That was Almighty God. And when He did, He opened our eyes to see something — something why He called us — and through Jesus we find the answer in John, chapter 4 — if you would go to John 4 in verse 23 and verse 24. He is talking to this particular woman at the well and Jesus said that:
John 4:23 John 4:23But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.
American King James Version×— …the hour is come… He says …when the true worshipers… the true worshipers …shall worship the Father… You and I have been called to worship the Father and we come to know and understand the Father through Jesus Christ, who is the express image of God, the Father. It says He wants us to come to worship the Father in spirit and in truth for the Father seeks such to worship Him.
So you and I are here for what purpose? We are here to worship. What is the focal point of our worship? To God the Father via Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and we are reminded in verse 24 that God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth as He defines it, John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version×, Thy word is truth.
You and I have to be on guard for the very thing that happened to the Israelites. And there are many other elements we are going to go over very quickly just to show you how prevalent this problem is. And the question we are going to ask today is, Is Your Worship Wandering? Not wondering, but wandering - like the Israelites. Is your worship wandering? This is very important for us because God has commanded us to come to worship Him in spirit and truth. And I hope and pray that all of us when we walk through those doors and we come into the meeting hall to worship on God’s Sabbath, that that is the priority thing in our mind - that we are thinking about that and we are not just coming here to kind of while away the time. We come here to learn, we come here to worship God in spirit and truth, and we are told in Psalm 95 if you will turn there, please. Psalm 95 we have this information from the psalmist — Ps. 95 beginning in verse 6.
Psalms 95:6 Psalms 95:6O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
American King James Version×— Oh come, let us worship… that’s what we are here for …let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
We are here to be reminded that He is our maker and that we walk on this earth by His gracious hand.
Verse 7 — For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand… Now …Today… which is a reference to the Sabbath day, a capital letter ‘T’ …Today, if you will hear His voice:
Notice what he calls our attention to. Verse 8 — Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness…where a whole generation would have to wander.
Verse 9 — When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
Verse 10 — Forty years long was I grieved with that generation… All right, forty years is a good basic note how God views a generation. Other people view it somewhat differently, but we have this definition of what a generation is. It says, …and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
Verse 11 — Unto whom I swore in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.
So there is a great lesson to be learned in this situation. They wandered away from God by bringing those sinful behaviors with them — the attitudes, the murmurings. The story is there for our learning and we also find back is Ps. 100, just a few more over. And notice what you and I are commanded to do. It says,
Ps. 100: 1 — Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all you lands.
Verse 2 — Serve the LORD with gladness and come before His presence with singing.
That’s what we do when we start with our song service. And I’d like to encourage all of us to remember, that’s not just something we do just out of form and ceremony. We come because it’s asked of us to sing — to sing, to put our hearts into it and to sing. And notice what it goes on to say.
Verse 3 — Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves… neither did we evolve, by the way …we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
But you know, everyone understands that sheep do what without a shepherd? They wander. They cannot stay on a fixed program. And so the Bible warns us that as His sheep, we must give heed to the shepherd of our souls, Jesus Christ, and listen hard to the word of God. And he says,
Verse 4 — Enter into his gates with thanksgiving… When we come in the door and come in to worship God in spirit and truth, our heart should be absolutely filled with thanksgiving that we, in our lifetime, should be so-called out of this world to worship the God of heaven and earth or, as the song says,
Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from Heaven above
With wisdom power and love
Our God is an awesome God!
We must never forget that, otherwise we are just playing church. We’re just doing our little routine like other people go and do their church routine — they do their bit for the Lord. You and I are not called to do our bit for the Lord, we are called to be His servants, to serve Him with all our heart, with all our soul all our life and being. And it says, …and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Verse 5 — For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations. Yes, everyone who has ever received the truth has always received the same thing we receive, the very wonderful words of God.
Now, the problem we have as human beings is that our nature is such because of the sin that we not only have committed, as the Israelites have committed, we are just as guilty as they were of wandering. Every one of us needs to understand that as we approach the days called now the Holy Days and Pentecost. We came out of sin by the grace of God through the Passover. We acknowledged our sins. God forgave us our sins. But now as we come out, it is going to be extremely important for all of us that we don’t start wandering and forget the lesson of the Days of Unleavened Bread. That is why it is an ongoing situation. Our hearts, according to the Bible, are fickle. We can wander. We can follow other gods, other bypaths, and when we get our hearts off of Jesus Christ we are in trouble. There are plenty of examples of that in the scripture because it shows our old nature has not died. It is still there running counterbalance to the Spirit of God. We are commanded to walk in the spirit, but we can also walk in the flesh if we are not careful and wander back to the old ways. We have seen people who have done that. The moment we quit walking with dependence on the Spirit of God, then we are in trouble.
Now what I want to do in the time we have remaining, I want to take you to some very quick examples and conclude how we can avoid wandering if we put our shoulder to the plow and stay the course. But here’s what we want to take a look at. We want to go back in time and think about some of the examples of individuals that God has worked with. These are powerful examples in the scriptures and in these situations, you will begin to notice something — that it has happened to others just like it happens to us — that we are no different than anyone else.
Let’s, for example, go back and take a look at Noah because he was the progenitor of the human race this side of the flood. After the Genesis flood took place, we find that he was farming and he was a vineyard keeper. And one of the things that we discover — and that’s found in Genesis 9:20-24 Genesis 9:20-24 20 And Noah began to be an farmer, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him.
American King James Version×— I won’t turn there for sake of time, but I’ll give you the scriptures. And only key scriptures will I turn to for — again as I say - for sake of time, but what ended up happening, of all the things that happened in the life of Noah, we are focused in on one particular case. And that particular case is the situation where it says that Noah had a vineyard and apparently he enjoyed the fruit of the vine. And what ended up happening was, he ‘out’ — or we would use the term, ‘three sheets in the wind’? He was completely inebriated. And he was knocked out because of the alcoholic overdose. And the lesson of this is very important to us today because today alcoholism is a great problem in this world and we cannot afford to let it invade the Church of God. We cannot afford to fall under the — what do they say, ‘driving under the influence’, the DUI’s that they have to pull people over. It’s a shame to see young men at the side of the road working, and all they are doing is working out their debt to society because they have had too many DUI’s and they are on the side of the road picking up debris and that. At least it’s a constructive thing, but they are having to work that way because, again, they didn’t have sufficient understanding: stay away from excess. A little bit is fine. ‘Drink a little wine for your stomach’s sake,’ Paul told Timothy. But you don’t want to get caught up into it.
So here we have Noah. What transpired? We find that that situation brought about a family scandal - a family scandal. I’m not here to go through all the details of the family scandal, but it shows you very clearly there that a terrible event transpired. And it is focused in to show us. And you say, “Well, why that?” It started with excess alcohol and then a serious problem erupted. Problems have erupted in people’s lives because they have run to the bottle of spirits rather than the Spirit of God, which can take away those attitudes, those desires of the flesh because God is capable of anything. All things are possible with Him and if we ask Him to do that, He’ll do it. So there you have Noah. He starts the ball rolling.
But now, let’s go to one that we put high on the roster of success: the father of the faithful, Abraham, a servant of God, one who God was going to use now at the beginning, the birthing and building of a nation called Israel. And there are two incidents that are focused on. As good as Abraham was, and as faithful as he was to do what God had asked him to do, something happened when he entered into a foreign land, a foreign culture, and he had his beautiful wife, Sarah, with him. Now, foreign cultures basically in that area of the world, they look upon women as possessions, not like the Israelitish nations. Israelitish women have a tremendous amount of freedom that is not granted in other societies and cultures. It was not that way even in that day. And so what happened? He began to look and say, “Uh-oh, we are going here into this foreign culture” — Egypt it was at the time — “and Sarah’s a good looking woman. And if they get their eyes on her, I’m in trouble. They’re going to slit my throat and I’m history. And some guy’s going to take her and she’s going to be gone into somebody’s harem.” And so what ended up happening? He fudged a little. He wandered from the commandment that says you shall not bear false witness, which we’ve all done so we’re not throwing stones at Father Abraham. We’ve all fudged at times, you know, but does God say that we are to worship Him in half-truths? No. Truth. So we all have to learn to repent about those areas where we stumble and fall. God is not throwing stones at us. He’s just calling us to repent. And He says if we do that, He is more than willing to forgive us. He knows our weaknesses. He knows what we fight, what our struggles are. Abraham did this twice: Gen. 12 is this occasion and Gen. 20. They are the two chapters dealing with that. In Gen. 12, it is in verses 10 through 20 that we find the story and verses 1 through 18 in chapter 20.
So what that tells me and what it tells you is this: does your worship wander. Well, he was a worshiper of God and yet in this particular case, he wandered in a moment of weakness and he did what? He stumbled and caved in and did not bear a true statement, which we’ve all done from time to time - not maliciously, but sometimes out of fear, out of worry, all of those things — God is the judge of our heart. But it happened to the Father of the Faithful. Now, he’s the top of the list. We look on ourselves sometimes down here and we think, boy, he was really close to God. Well there it goes, it just shows you that there are lessons to be learned no matter who it is and anyone can wander in their worship from God. That’s a great lesson to be learned. If you think you stand, take heed lest you fall. People are still wandering in their worship of God even today in the Church of God. They are still having problems getting a handle on where they belong, who they worship, how they understand their relationship with other people. And all these things are struggles that we are going through today.
We move on to Gideon — a story of Gideon — and how God used him in the book of Judges, chapter 8, verse 27. And God used him as one of the judges in the book of Judges to help his people because every time they disobeyed, then they cried out to God and God had mercy and He would send a judge. In this case, He sent Gideon. And Gideon’s army, you remember the story of that and how with less, God accomplished much more. And then there was a problem. Gideon took gold and used gold to make an ephod, it says. And you will read back there in Jdg. 8:27 how that was done and how he set it up in a particular city and it became a snare to Gideon’s family and the house of Israel. Again, idolatry can slip in and things can happen and we can wander from what God intended.
Next, we move to another powerful individual in the Old Testament, one that I think all of us admire because of the tremendous strength he was given — Samson. Samson was quite an individual. He could take a jawbone of an ass and he could literally wipe out an army coming at him. He was so divinely filled with power from on high, but he was a Nazarite. He was given a special commission and he was to, again, be a judge among his people, Israel, but there was a problem. He had supernatural strength. It was given to him by God for a very special purpose, but somewhere along the way, he began to lose the vision of his purpose and why God gave him that power. And as the book continues to tell you the story of Samson, Samson began to wander. He had a wandering eye and he had plenty of opportunity because his parents said, ‘Look, aren’t there beautiful women here in among your own people?’ And there were. But he had a hankerin’ for this particular type of gal that he saw, kind of had a different way about her. Her name was Delilah. You know the story. Tom Jones sang a song about that some years ago, you know. “Oh, oh, oh, Delilah!” Well, Delilah was quite a gal! She brought this powerful man to his knees. And because he lost his vision of what God had and he was determined to have this woman, she began — because of money and promises from the Philistines — to do what? To find out the secret of his strength. And here comes the nagging.
“Samson, where’s your strength?”
“Well, if I do this, this will happen.”
“Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
“Well, Samson, you didn’t tell me the truth.”
And then here again, “Well, if you do this…”
“Samson, you didn’t tell me the truth.”
What you begin to witness is that a man can fall prey to the weakness of tears and a woman’s plea. And finally, what ended up happening in this case, he finally relented and said,
“Nobody’s ever cut my hair because I was dedicated to God this way.”
So she soothed him with words and what happened? He never realized that the Spirit of God had departed from him. Once the hair had been cut - the symbol of that relationship with God — then Samson ran out to meet the Philistines, but this time he was overpowered. This time he was captured, taken as a prisoner, and finally not only lost his vision of God, he lost his physical vision of life. He was never able to see again in the latter years of his life.
What a sad story! But it’s all there for our learning. What is it telling us? It’s telling us that you must be careful and not let your passions lead you astray. The physical desires — his desires overpowered him and he began to lose his sense of direction.
Then we come to the most tragic story of all, the story of a man after God’s own heart, a man who was the number one leader that God used to strengthen the nation of Israel and to be a role model. That, of course, was King David. Now, what did King David do? He did marvelous in his early beginnings and he was able to be used and exalted. Saul — he lost his relationship with God, and so he was replaced by King David. And in this particular case, David was the one who said, O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth! And then, what did he do? He allowed himself to wander away from the things of God, the laws of God, the very things he was inspired to write in the Psalms — many of them — and he brought shame upon the name of Almighty God.
And you and I are to learn a lesson that we must watch our conduct because we can bring shame on the name of Almighty God. You and I are told we are not our own. We are bought with a price and we are not to be the servants of men. We are called to be the servants of God. This is a tragic story because it’s a story of sin and its awesome consequences and what it did — not only to David, but it’s a story of adultery, a story of a murder and a cover-up — powerful breaking of the Ten Commandments. No wonder Psalm 51 is such a heartfelt cry to God, ‘Please, please forgive me. I have greatly sinned against you.’ And because he did that, his sins were forgiven, but the consequences of his actions stayed with him all the days of his life. His family was dysfunctional and fell apart. There were all kinds of terrible things going on. You read the rest of the story for yourself. What is the lesson we learn? Ps. 119. David asked this question in the longest psalm recorded. Ps. 119 beginning in verse 9.
Psalms 119:9 Psalms 119:9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to your word.
American King James Version×- Wherewithal shall a young man… a young woman …cleanse his… or her …way? How do you keep yourself clean in a dirty world? Plain and simple, …by taking heed according to thy word.
And verse 10 he says — With my whole heart… notice, not half a heart. This is when he was really crying out to God with his whole heart, …have I sought you: O let me not wander from your commandments.
He wandered and it got him in trouble. Today people are in grave trouble in society and in the nations of the world because they have not heeded the commandments of Almighty God. It makes no difference — Jew or Gentile — who it is, all people are under the command of God. And not all are obeying God, and as a result, terrible things have resulted in the lives of so many people down through time. Many of the battle scars we carry ourselves are mainly because we have not listened to God. We have wandered when we shouldn’t have. We have wandered from our prayer, we have wandered from our Bible study, we’ve wandered from fasting and then we wonder why we have problems and difficulties. Why would this happen? We need to remember what it says: it is by the fear of God that human beings depart from evil. And how do you fear God? You realize He is a great and a merciful God, a loving God, but He is an awesome God — a God who loves to do what? Give mercy to those that repent, but will punish the daylights out of those who defy Him.
Now you and I were not called to defy Him. We were called to see where our faults are, our shortcomings, and to cry out to our God, which brings us to another individual in the scripture that is set for an example for us. His name is King Solomon. Boy, did he start on a hot and zealous beginning. As a young man coming on as an individually who suddenly is thrust into the office — a kingly office - he was overwhelmed. He went to God with all of his heart and cried out with an intense prayer, not just a haphazard prayer, but with an intense prayer. He was thunderstruck by the fact that suddenly now, ‘My Dad is gone. I don’t have him here, now I’m the king. How in the world am I going to be able to evaluate the needs of all these people? They are such a great people and they’ve got so many kinds of problems and difficulties. Who in the world am I? I’m just a young kid. I don’t know how to come in. I don’t know how to go out. And now, here I am. Please, God, give me wisdom that I might know how to rule these people according to Your laws and Your commands.’ God was so impressed with that prayer that He said, ‘Solomon, I am amazed. I’m amazed that you would ask that. Most kings would say that they want long life, they want riches, they want this, they want that. You asked for wisdom so that you could help your subjects. Well, I’ll tell you what, Solomon, because of that, I’m going to not only grant you your wish and give you a wisdom above and beyond all the wisdom of the area, but I’m also going to give you what you didn’t ask for. You’re going to be the richest and most beneficent king by the grace of God that has ever existed.’ And Solomon’s reign was a reign of peace. He just absolutely had it all — more than you could possibly ask for. He started out great, in the right direction, but something happened as time went on. The march of time began to take its toll. He began to have a problem, a weakness in the flesh. His eye began to wander. It says Solomon loved many women. Women have that capacity to devastate a man. You ladies are beautiful. God made you so. Everything that God did, He had a purpose in mind. But, remember what happened to mother Eve? Why did she get in trouble? She wandered and Satan got a hold of her, took advantage of her. Adam was not on top of things. But bringing this up to our time with Solomon, Solomon had a relationship with God. He had talked to God through dreams, but the problem was that as time went on, his wives — we are told and this is in 1 Kings 11:4 1 Kings 11:4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
American King James Version×— his wives turned his heart to other gods. Uh-oh. His loyalty to God began to wander. It began to wander. He was not 100% with God anymore. He got sidetracked. And, certainly, Satan took advantage of King Solomon at that time. What’s going to happen? Only time with tell. The outcome is in God’s hands. But it doesn’t portend good for Solomon because he understood. He had a relationship and then he did what? Went to other gods? When the commandments say what? You shall have no other gods before me. Wow, these are powerful examples!
All right, then we move to the New Testament. Here we come to the apostle Peter — right at the right hand of Jesus Christ, seeing many of the things that Jesus was doing. And Jesus said on one occasion that He was going to have to go to Jerusalem — it is found in Matthew 16:23 Matthew 16:23But he turned, and said to Peter, Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense to me: for you mind not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
American King James Version×— and that certain things were going to happen to Him because of the fact that the opposition against Jesus was pretty strong. And they were going to finally do things to Him that would take His life. Peter jumps in and says, ‘No, Lord, be it not so. You’re not going to go there. That’s not going to happen.’ Now he might have had all of the best intentions in the world when he said that, but he didn’t realize that it was not compliant with God’s will — that the Son of God had to go to Jerusalem, had to die, had to be mistreated according to the prophesies to become the Lamb of God. And what did God’s answer come through Jesus Christ?
Matthew 16:23 Matthew 16:23But he turned, and said to Peter, Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense to me: for you mind not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
American King James Version×— He said, Get thee behind me, Satan..you savor the things of men, not the things of God…
So sometimes our speech, our intentions, can wander from the will of God. We can mean well, but we can go about it the wrong way. And God was showing here that Satan had slipped in and when Peter wasn’t looking, got a hold of his thoughts to inject something that was not in harmony with God’s will. And you and I must constantly be on guard. Where there is a lion that seeks to devour — Satan the devil is always on the prowl seeking who he can get a hold of.
Then Paul said he had problems with a young man who was working with him at the time in the early days of the ministry. His name was Demas. He accompanied Paul on his journeys and finally the story says he forsook Paul. He turned on him and went back to the world. That is found in 2 Timothy 4:10 2 Timothy 4:10For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
American King James Version×. What is the lesson there? The lesson there, again, does your worship wander? Demas had worship. He started out, but he wandered back to the world because the pull of the world is very strong. It’s stronger than we sometimes give it credit for. We think we are pretty much in control, but the truth of the matter is, only God is in control and we have to be extremely careful that we don’t lose our relationship with God or otherwise we fall under a different control that is not going to be beneficial.
When we come to the book of Revelation, chapter 2 and verse 4, we are told about the church in Ephesus. Now Paul, Timothy and John were ministers that were prevalent and had influence in the churches at that time. John was the last of the original disciples who became apostles. And Jesus, according to the vision given to him, Jesus said, ‘I know your works and I understand what you’ve done. I’ve seen the good things you’ve done, but there’s something I have against you. You’ve lost your first love.’ You can wander from your relationship with God when God is not your first love. What Jesus is saying is verse 7 - He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches… meaning this: that you and I must never lose sight of what our mission is: to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength — to keep God front and forward in our thinking because the world is going to pull at us from every direction and what better example when Jesus said, ‘Go the straight and narrow way that leads to life.’ He says, ‘Few there be that find it,’ He says, ‘because broad is the way’ and how many go in there? Many go in there. In other words, people are wandering all over the place, but they’re not staying on course with Jesus Christ. And the church’s admonition in Revelation is ‘stay on course with Christ’. He is the head of the church. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled away from His guidance. The message here is that it can happen to anyone. Nobody is exempt. If you think you stand, take heed lest you fall, the scripture reminds us.
And so with that in mind, what happens when we wander from God? Then we are not developing the Christ-like nature that we are called to develop. That’s why we’re on this calling at this particular time.
Let’s go to the book of Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 24. Verse 23 tells us that we are to
Verse 24 — And that you put on the new man, which… notice …after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
So as men and women, what is God’s purpose? To create within us righteousness and holiness, to be like God, to think like God. But, you know, the world is filled with many false gods and they arise in many forms to cause us to wander. All of us need to evaluate our own lives. No wonder God tells us to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith, to check yourself out as the Passover season comes because did you wander this past year? We all have, brethren. I include myself with everyone, for if I say I have no sin, then I lie and the truth is not in me — and the same with you (1John 1:8 John 1:8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
American King James Version×). I know we wander. This warning is here for a reason. It’s here because Satan is always like a magnet trying to pull us, lure us back like he lured mother Eve and deceive us with self-deception and make us think, ‘Hey, we’re okay.’ When in reality we’re not. We have wandered from God’s commandments.
So how to avoid — how does one avoid wandering from being wholehearted? Let’s take a look at what Solomon learned and wrote in Ecclesiastes chapter 12. But if we don’t read and study and remember these things, you know it’s sad to say, but people today devote more time to their cell phones than they do to the word of God. Did you ever notice people? They’ve got their cell phone with them all the time. I saw a young lady this morning as I was going to services, she was running and she had a cell phone in her ear, talking while she was running. I thought, boy, they can’t get away from it. They’ve just got to have that phone. If it’s not the phone, then they’ve got to text — they are texting. So, do we have that same kind of love affair with the word of God?
In Ecclesiastes, we are reminded of this in chapter 12 and beginning in verse 13.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Ecclesiastes 12:13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
American King James Version×- Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter… when it’s all said and done, if you want to understand the course that we have set ourselves on by the grace of God, it says we are to …Fear God, keep his commandments: for this is the whole man… as well as woman — or ‘duty of’ is in italics which means the sense of it is: this is what your duty is. Your duty is to live every day to the glory of God.
Verse 14 — For God shall bring every work into judgment… Listen to that. That’s everything we do — how we think, how we operate, how we function …every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Well, if there’s anything evil that has transpired in our lives, we’d better pray that it is all under the blood of Christ so that only good remains — that He has erased and blotted out this very thing. So keeping the commandments of God front and center in one’s life is very important - keeping them front and center, thinking about them constantly and rededicating ourselves to Christ every day — rededicating ourselves to Christ: not what we think, but what Christ says. And He guides us and tells us very plainly that there is a course of action that we can take. Let’s take a look at it in Colossians, chapter 3. This is very important for us. It gives us the specifics of where we are to keep our point of focus.
Colossians 3:1 Colossians 3:1 If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
American King James Version×— If there be any risen with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sits at the right hand of God.
Verse 2 - Set your affections… in other words, this should be your mindset, where your heart is - affection. There was a song years ago, many of you probably never even heard it, called ‘The Object of My Affection’ and what it shows is that when we show affection to things, there’s an object involved. And in this particular case, our affection should be set on …the things above, not on things on the earth. God’s kingdom is where it’s at and we are to pray, thy kingdom come. Set your affections there.
And then verse 3 says — For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Verse 4 - When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory.
Then it goes on and it takes us all the way to verse 10. And it says,
Verse 10 - And have put on the new man… the new woman …which is renewed in the knowledge and in the image of him that created him… and her — where God, in Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×- And He made us male and female.
So that is our destiny. That is our course of action to rededicate ourselves. And that is in the context of being proactive. Our calling is proactive. It’s very important to stay in that mindset. Again, 1 Corinthians 6:20 1 Corinthians 6:20For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
American King James Version×and chapter 7:23 remind us that we have been bought with the price and if we have forgotten that already, then the Passover really didn’t mean that much to us, did it? If it did, then you realize somebody paid a terrible price so that you and I could be set free from the terrible slavery that has enslaved us mentally, emotionally and physically in many areas — with addictions and problems that we have had to fight from day one.
Now we are also told to replace wandering with wondering. Well, what do I mean by that? Psalms 8:3 Psalms 8:3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
American King James Version×he says,
Psalms 8:3 Psalms 8:3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
American King James Version×— Consider the heavens… Consider the heavens as David did. And he says, they are the work of Your fingertips. Stand out at night and look at the heavens and just marvel at the way those things are arranged out there. Take a look on the History Channel or some of the public channels where Nova shows you what the Hubble Telescope shows what they are discovering out there. It is absolutely mind staggering. And you will begin to see how small we are and why David said,
Verse 8 — What is man… what is woman …that He is mindful of us?
Answer: we are the whole purpose for which it was all created — to become the sons and daughters of God and ultimately inherit all things — according to the scripture. What an awesome purpose for life. No wonder the adversary works overtime to blind the eyes of people so that they don’t get to see this. He doesn’t want this. Lose the vision. Wander here. Wander there. In fact, if you want to really get hip, why don’t you sing songs about wanderings such as — remember ‘The Happy Wanderer’: “
I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.
It sounds so good, but if the world only understood. If you could put God in that context, it would be the most wonderful thing of all to wander underneath the wonderful hand of Almighty God. But instead, mankind has wandered away from God and continues to go away from God and what it is doing, it is bringing the whole house down on us. And if it weren’t for the mighty hand of God that will come at the strategic hour according to prophesy, there would be no flesh saved alive, dear brethren. I love every one of you. I want you — I want all mankind to be a part of that. I want to be a part of that — to be a part of the kingdom of God. You and I have been called to be a part of the ground floor of this great kingdom. But we’ve got mad people out there that are so self-centered and driven by the devil that they would destroy everything. You sit here by the grace of God because you are privileged to come and worship God in spirit and truth that you might see and understand what God has purposed for all of us. You give tithes and offerings because it says in Matthew 6:21 Matthew 6:21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
American King James Version×:
And where is our treasure? It is to preach Christ and the gospel of the kingdom of God. How do I know?
Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
American King James Version×— Christ entered into Galilee, preaching the good news of the kingdom of God…
People do not understand about the kingdom of God. You and I have been called to grasp and be a part of the kingdom of God. They think the kingdom is maybe the church and we’re all going to work to make the world a better place. One large denomination believes that and if you’re a part of that, you are a part of the kingdom of God. Oh, the kingdom of God is coming. We are part of the kingdom of God in embryo because we are to be born into that kingdom and follow Jesus Christ and establish the kingdom of God on this earth. And what, of all things, is going to go out of Zion at that time? What will people learn? They say, “Uh-oh, the Law of God will go out of Zion. We thought the law was done away. Surely we have inherited lies. We haven’t been told the truth.” Our mission: to tell people the truth. What a precious commodity has been placed in our hands that we have so much out there that is causing pulls on the flesh trying to cause us to wander from the truth of God. No, we have to recognize that when we come to church, leave that cotton-pickin’ world out there. Don’t bring it in here with you when you come within the building to worship God in spirit and truth. Humble yourself. Present yourselves that you might receive the blessing of God. That’s why you sing the hymns you sing. That’s why you give God the praise, the glory. You come to hear a sermon. Be sure you pray and ask that God will feed you through the sermons that you hear, that you will get what you want — but everybody gets different things. Everybody takes different notes. Some people don’t take any notes. It doesn’t matter. You come to hear what you need to hear because the scripture says take heed how you hear. Listen carefully. Find out what it is that you need. Don’t be sitting there pointing to someone else. “Well, I’m glad so-and-so heard that. I hope that’s going to set them straight.” No, God is setting us all straight. We all need to be made straight and we need to maintain our personal devotions like it says in 2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 2:15Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
American King James Version×which means you need to open the book, to study the book to know what it says so that when people throw falsehoods at you, you’re not intimidated by them, but that you understand — rightly dividing the word of God, as it says.
Then, of course, Philippians 2:12-13 Philippians 2:12-13 12 Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
American King James Version×tells us how it’s done. You and I have the charge to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, but knowing that it is God who works in and through us to accomplish His will.
Now what does that mean? That means when you come and you come to church, you don’t sit here passively. You sit here actively. You are actively seeking God in your thoughts. You are actively seeking God’s Spirit to feed your through His word because that’s the only way we get our nourishment spiritually. You have to pray and ask God to help you to always be active in what you do in your worship to Him. In fact, in the Old Testament when it talks about blessed are those that wait upon the Eternal, that doesn’t mean you fold your hands and twiddle your thumbs.
It’s like, if you remember, in a race what do you do as you begin the race? On Your Mark, Get Set, and you are waiting for what? Go! You don’t just stand around like this and say, ‘on your mark …. get set …. oh, you mean I’ve got to go?’ No! On Your Mark, Get Set, and you wait on God to give the order, Go! I wonder what Jesus Christ is doing at the right hand of the Father. Is He on the mark? Is He getting set? Is He waiting for the word from the Father to say, “Now, Son, go!” And aren’t we thankful He’s going to come because if He didn’t come, you and I would have no future whatsoever.
Mankind is going down the tubes because he is so caught up in his selfishness. That’s why Jesus said ‘as it was in the times of Noah’; you’re seeing it happen, dear brethren, before your very eyes. I hope and pray that there might be time still to go on and maybe turn things around. But I see that the last hope of mankind’s freedom in this world, the United States of America, is going down the tubes. And unless God allows a massive change to stir the hearts of the people, and they get up out of their passive way and actively do something, we have had it! We are going down the wrong way and will be ending up like the rest of the world and who’s going to come to our aid? Nobody except Jesus Christ. I dread to think of what’s coming down the way in light of Biblical prophesies. I hate to think of people suffering - that’s going to happen — suffering such like you couldn’t imagine. You think you saw things on the World War II Nazi death camps and some of these things? That’s going to seem like a picnic because I’ve talked to individuals, who are deceased now, who said if this ever comes again, may you not know the truth of God if you’re caught in the middle of it because that individual who told me that — he was an elder — deceased. He was there in WWII. He was a prisoner. He saw people eat rats. He saw the terrible things people can do when push comes to shove. May God have mercy on us all. We all have to maintain our personal devotions with God and not allow anything to misplace our affection. God comes first — our love for Him and Jesus Christ. And what was the other thing that we were told that would identify us in the eyes of the world? If you have love one for another and it talks about the brethren and the love of the brethren.
This is going to be a very important time: relationship goal, confessing ourselves to God on a daily basis. What you and I must guard against ever so much, dear brethren, we cannot afford to let our worship of Almighty God wander like the Israelites of old. If we do, I fear the consequence.