Which Direction will you go?

“Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town.  But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. – Mark 6:10‭-‬12 NLT

Do you welcome this message or refuse it?

Which direction will you go, having heard the truth?

Will you walk proud as ruler over your own life, putting your own opinions and feelings first?

Or will the Word of God be your one way?

In Sickness and In Health

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. – 2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NLT
I’ve been sick for a week now. Worn down physically, out of work, even a short bit of activity leaves me drained. Sinus pressure, yuck sealing my eye lids closed,  blowing and coughing and hacking up all kinds of combinations of mucus, blood, etc. I haven’t been studying and sharing and teaching like I usually do because I am sleeping, resting, recovering. 
Yes, this old body is in its process of dying. But my spirit is being renewed every day. So even in times of sickness and weakness, even when I appear on the outside to be the most frail and exposed to the elements and circumstances of this world,  I lift up praise to my God, to the LORD, to the God of Abraham,  Isaac, Jacob,  and Joseph, to the God who came in the flesh to die on the cross as the perfect, blameless blood sacrifice necessary to pay for my sin, and as the example of the first raised to eternal life, and as the anointing spirit that comes and lives in the hearts and lives of those who believe and are called according to His purpose.
Sickness is a small struggle in comparison to what He went through on the cross, so I lift my praise while I still have breath in my lungs to sing. 
We didn’t go to church today because I am sick. But we still got together and watched a sermon together as a family. We still prayed together. We will sing his praises throughout our day today – as much as our bodies will allow. But we will also understand that there are times of rest and recovery that are necessary for these weak and failing bodies. 
We are no so much worried about exercising our outward bodies, building up muscles and healthy flesh for the world to see and admire with their eyes – but seeing our hearts renewed by Christ who lives in us. So if we must be sick at all, let it be in our flesh and not in our hearts, knowing which of the two is eternal and which is perishing. 

LORD, fix our eyes on those things eternal and truly valuable, and may the veil of this world be lifted from our eyes to walk in the spirit of truth and love. See that we run this race to its completion, see that your mercy is triumphed in the lives of the believer. LORD, remember me. Have mercy on me and lead me in your way. LORD, have mercy upon those who do not know what they do, and discipline those who do know. Teach us that it is not our own conscience that dictates sin, but your will and your Word that never changes. Do not let us do what is right in our own eyes, but teach us to do what is right in the eyes of God. Reconcile our lives to your holy service for your name’s sake and for your glory and honor. Thank you,  LORD, for loving even me, and sticking with me through sickness and in health, through rich and poor, for all the days of my life. Amen.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 NKJV

http://bible.com/114/rom.6.23.NKJV

TRUTH

Billy Graham shares a beautiful illustration of truth about this verse:

After a minister had spoken strongly against sin one morning, one of the church members said, “We don’t want you to talk so plainly about sin,  because if our children hear you mention it, they will more easily become sinners. Call it a mistake, if you will,  but do not speak so bluntly against sin.”

The minister went to his medicine shelf and brought back a bottle of strychnine marked “Poison”. He said,  “I understand what you want me to do. You want me to change the label. Suppose I take the ‘Poison’ label off the bottle and put on a label like ‘Peppermint Candy’. Can’t you see the problem? The milder you make the label,  the more dangerous the poison’s presence.”

It is high time we put a “Poison” label back on the poison of sin. We must not be afraid to be as plain as the Bible is about the traffic consequences of sin – or about the antidote for that poison: the blood of Christ.

EXAMINATION

Yes, sin leads to death – but the Son leads to life. And one or the other is master of our lives. One or the other is ruler of our heart and drives our underlying desires, which affect our resulting thoughts, actions, and words. And we are promised the same eternal fate as that of our master. So our eternal hope is to live with Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives,  with the Holy Spirit guiding us in His ways, and with His resurrection from the dead as the example of what will happen to us.

The prince of this world, that enemy of God, whispers in our ear that there is no life after death, that our bodies will simply return to dust and that our spirit will simply cease, stop,  disappear forever. What hope is there in such a purposeless life? It doesn’t surprise me that such hopeless people who don’t know Jesus Christ would happily swallow daily what they even acknowledge is not good for them,  with the simple excuse,  “What does it even matter?”

But the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Lords, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, He has a differing message that He has for us – one of hope and love and eternal life.  The one who served as the blameless example of God’s perfect will, in the face of the blame worthy example of how the world treats God – He extends mercy and love and forgiveness and redemption to a world unworthy of redemption. We realize the contrasting example of the Grace in His Passion played out at Gethsemane, at the cross – set starkly against the example of utter depravity of man’s denial of Him in those same places. We instance the example of the world not just denying Him two thousand years ago and placing Him on a cross – but our own denying Him and being the reason He went to the cross each time we sin in our lives.

So it should be clear to us by now, that if we put our trust and hope in ourselves,  in our own abilities, in our own strengths, in our own works,  that we will continue placing those thorns upon His head, lashing Him with that cat of nine tails, driving those nails into His body, thrusting that spear into His side. Do not be so eager to point the finger at others, whether it be “the men of the past”, “the Jews”, “the Romans”, or whoever else you would foolishly lay blame on for His death. No, it is you – it is your sin that did each of these things friend.

But He was  wounded for our transgressions, He  was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was  any  deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:5-12 NKJV

http://bible.com/114/isa.53.5-12.NKJV

His body was crushed for you, and if we don’t accept that and believe it, and understand the consequences of sin, how can we say that we’ve heard the Good News and received it in our hearts?

Do you understand today the consequences of your sin?

Does your grattitude for what He did at the cross lead you to an attitude of hatred of disgust towards those temptations that face you during the trials ahead?

Do you recognize the poison of sin and want to see it gone from your life?

HOPE

I’m so thankful that “He who knew not sin” was made sin for you and I so that we might become the righteousness of God(2 Corinthians 5:21). I’m so thankful that John tells us that if the Son sets us free,  that we are free indeed(John 8:36). I’m so thankful that Jeremiah reminds us that God know the plans He has for us, for good and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope(Jeremiah 29:11). I’m so thankful that God came in the flesh as the perfect and blameless example,  not to condemn the world,  but to open our eyes to see that we have been blind in the darkness,  far from God, and in great need for His touch upon our lives (John 3:17). I’m so thankful that it is the opening of the soil through belief, so that the seed of His grace could be planted in my heart, to grow into the ongoing faith that strengthens me as I press on towards the upright call of following in His footsteps,  so that His work,  His ministry, His love might be manifest in my life even today.

SURRENDER

Lord, you are perfect and righteous and holy and loving and merciful. And we come to you as an unworthy child that has returned from the vomit of the dogs and the slop of the pigs, returning from drinking in the ways of the world as the very poison of sin that has been killing us. We know that your precious blood, poured out on that cross is the only antidote,  the only cure. We want to believe,  we want to walk faithfully, we want to follow you,  Lord,  because we know that you are the Christ,  and we ask ourselves,  “Where else can I go? He is my portion and prize, there is nothing in this world worth trading for my eternal soul. My only Hope is in clinging to Christ.” Lord,  this is our safe place, humbly at your feet, confessing our sin and accepting your forgiveness, seeking you ever closer in our lives as you teach us your ways and lead us along this narrow path to our final destination. Lord, keep it fresh on our minds the high cost of grace that was paid for us, the high pile of sin that has been cast to the ends of existence, not so that we will walk anymore in shame or guilt,  but so that we can kneel or hearts in humble grattitude, even as we strive to walk bold and upright in your ways. We give you our lives, Lord. Let us rise today in life and walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Let us be the light set on a hill so that those who see might hunger and thirst for your righteousness and for the abundant life of purpose and value eternal that you have set, aside for each of us. Amen.

FAITH

So,  if the Word of God tells us that sin is poison – if it tells us that it is a snake that will bite us, a snare that will entrap us, a hindrance spiritual that will sear and harden our hearts and that grieves the Holy Spirit and causes separation and isolation in our relationship with God – and if we believe God, and are seeking Him, and are living Him with our everything, shouldn’t we avoid this enemy of God’s will and purpose for our lives?

A life of faith is a life of surrender,  repentance, trial, and testing. Rinse and repeat. But this life of faithfulness produces a new type of treasure that is so much more valuable than the things that we used to chase.

How much would someone burdened daily by anxiety and worry give for a life filled with peace that passes all understanding? I’m talking about the peace that only comes from trusting that God has a purpose in mind even when we don’t understand it at the moment. I’m talking about the peace that Job demonstrated when he found out that he had lost everything,  family,  loved ones, riches,  and his response was to fall on his knees and bless the name of the Lord.

And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord  gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord .” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

Job 1:21-22 NKJV

http://bible.com/114/job.1.21-22.NKJV

I’m talking about the peace that one of our church friends demonstrated when she lost her 11 year old son to an unexpected accident in their home, after her youngest daughter find her brother lifeless in his room, and the mother shared her testimony at the school and on the news, giving glory to God and warning other parents of the dangers of social media “dares” and “challenges” that put our little ones at risk of unexpected calamity.

Who else can offer us such peace?

Who else can overcome what the enemy intended for destruction and chaos to turn it for good?

Because her son,  who was baptized and who loved the Lord is with His Father in heaven now,  and their story is helping shed light on an important and dangerous evil that had been lurking in the shadows.

We can’t buy things like love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, or long suffering with silver or gold or money or credit. But Christ offers us these abundantly when we trust in Him, believe in our hearts, and follow in His footsteps.

The life of the faithful is not a life free from burdens, trials, and sufferings – it is a life empowered by the Holy Spirit of God,  so that we don’t just have to survive them begrudgingly, we can walk through them in victory,  praising the Lord,  with our eyes set on things eternal,  because the veil has been torn to reveal what truly matters.

LOVE

Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV

http://bible.com/114/mat.22.37-40.NKJV

This is the commandment of the Lord, our God. This in one of those “Thus says the Lord” moments,  when He lays down His terms for our belief, for our faith, for our lives that are now His to guide and use for His purposes – which just happens to also result in the fullest and most abundant life that we can experience.

Jesus taught that there is victory in sacrifice through the example of His life , His death,  and His resurrection.  And that love is putting away our selfish, prideful, short sighted ways to follow in that example. Love is asking how can I give instead of focusing on what will I receive.

Jesus demonstrated that perfect love to us, proved how far about and beyond our natural ways it truly is when He set the bar even higher than the law demanded,  saying things like if you look with lust you have committed adultery in your heart. God is so great at getting right to the root of the problems that we try to dance around, because He always goes straight to the heart of the matter. He’s concerned with the state of our heart, not just the appearance of our lives – while also pointing out to us that if our hearts are right, our desires,  our thoughts, our actions, our words, our obedience and our faithfulness will grow out of that changed heart.

He calls out to us – come and learn love – true, sacrificial, godly love – and find that it fulfills the law,  because the law existed both to confirm Christ who we did not know, and to confirm Love that we did not have.

Fact or Fiction

Fact: Jesus Loves you.

[2 Peter 3:9]

Fact or Fiction: You love Jesus?

[John 14:15-31]

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  

“I will not leave you as orphans;  I will come to you.  Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.  

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.  And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.  I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,  but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. – John 14:15-31 ESV

Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
But without faith it  is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.- Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. ” Then Jesus left them and went away. – Matthew 16:4 NLT
One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” – John 20:24-29 NLT
Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” “Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them. But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him. – Matthew 20:30-34 NLT

Small Group Prayer/Meditation

Father God, you are Holy and Righteous and are TRULY an AWESOME GOD! [Matthew 6:9]

Your mercies are new every morning, [Lamentations 3:22-23]

and we hear your voice calling us. [John 10:27]

We want to see your will being done in us and through us.

Forgive us of our shortcomings in the same measure that we are forgiving towards others. [Matthew 6:10-15]

Lord, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! [Psalm 133]

Today, we gather together so that we may be unified in one voice to glorify God. [Romans 15:6]

We seek to be led by the Spirit of Truth that the world cannot receive because it neither sees nor knows you. [John 14:17]

Lord, we rejoice together!

Our aim is for restoration of your spirit,

to comfort one another in love,

to agree with one another in truth,

to live together in peace;

We seek the God of love and peace

to be with us, to guide us, and to lead us. [2 Corinthians 13:11]

By the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

we all agree that there should be no divisions among us,

but that we should be united in the same mind and the same judgment as Christ. [1 Corinthians 1:10]

We pray for unity of mind,

sympathy towards each other,

brotherly love,

a tender heart,

and a humble mind [1 Peter 3:8]

Above all things,

we put on love,

which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [Colossians 3:14]

We were once prisoners to sin and wickedness [Romans 6:18]

and to pride and the ways of the world,

we were enemies of God because we were friends with the world, [James 4:4]

but now we are free in Christ, free indeed. [John 8:36]

As we are now prisoners for the Lord,

we ask you to stir us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling,

with all humility and gentleness,

with patience, bearing with one another in love,

eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body and one Spirit —

just as we were called to the one hope that belongs to our call—

one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

one God and Father of all,

who is over all and through all and in all. [Ephesians 4:1-6]

Lord, let our manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,

so that whether we are together with one another or away from each other,

that we may hear about each other that we are standing firm in one spirit,

with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel [Philippians 1:27]

Let your Word be planted in the Good Soil

that you have tilled up,

and don’t let it be stolen away,

don’t let it wither away to dust,

and don’t let it be choked out. 

May your Holy Spirit come to abide with us,

convict us of our sin,

teach us the way of righteousness,

lead us in right judgement,

teach us to believe,

to trust in the LORD faithfully,

and to live bearing the fruit of your Holy Spirit, [John 16:8-11]

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,

gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, [Galatians 5:22-23]

for these fulfill the Law through Christ,

and surpass the Law of Moses that cannot save,  [Matthew 5:17]

for they are your work in us,

this is the Good News of the Gospel

of Christ who is risen and lives in us. [Galatians 2:20]

May the LORD bless you and keep you;

May His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

May the LORD lift up His presence upon you

and give you peace. Amen.  [Numbers 6:24-26]

Here Where You Have Chosen

​Like Ephron, I don’t see the need to be paid for this tomb of mine to be inhabited by what is precious to the LORD – I am honored that it is not empty or filled instead with something less honorable. The greater blessing is the honor of my vessel being chosen as the resting place for something so valuable, any rewards are trinkets in comparison that are graciously accepted to honor the giver. 
“No, my Lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” Ephron answered Abraham, “My Lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.  So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.

Genesis 23:11‭-‬20 ESV

Whole Bible

Interested in reading the whole Bible through from beginning to end? 

You might be surprised to learn that even at “pulpit speed”, reading aloud,  it would only take about 70 hours. If you split it up over a year, that would take less than 12 minutes a day.

More than half of Americans think the Bible has too little influence on a culture they see in moral decline, yet only one in five Americans read the Bible on a regular basis, according to a new survey.

More than three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) think the nation’s morality is headed downhill, according to a 2013 survey from American Bible Society.

The survey showed the Bible is still firmly rooted in American soil: 88 percent of respondents said they own a Bible, 80 percent think the Bible is sacred, 61 percent wish they read the Bible more, and the average household has 4.4 Bibles.

“People realize the Bible has values that would help us in our spiritual health, but they just don’t read it.”

If they do read it, the majority (57 percent) only read their Bibles four times a year or less. Only 26 percent of Americans said they read their Bible on a regular basis (four or more times a week).

One in five of all American adults have read the Bible from start to finish. While it might not be shocking to discover well over half (61%) of evangelical Christians have read the Bible from start to finish, it may be surprising that nearly one in six (18%) of people with a faith other than Christianity and about one in eleven (9%) people with no faith claimed to have done the same.

Approximately one-third of politically conservative adults say they have read the Bible, compared with one-tenth of political liberals. Nearly one-third (29%) of black adults say they’ve read the Bible from start to finish, more than Hispanic adults (22%) and white adults (19%). 

Why do I hate sin? Because I tasted its poison and drank it down by the gallons at a time before I knew what I was doing to myself. Because a new flavor attracts my desires and it is the wonderful aroma of the Holy Spirit of my Lord and Savior. Because I have seen the destruction and devastation of sin in my life and the lives of others once the pretty mask is slid aside to reveal its true wages.

I am eager to speak gratefully and graciously of my Lord and Savior,  and I am eager to rebuke the wickedness of this evil generation (that may not be doing any more than I have done myself) – only because I have decided not to play around anymore. I’ve ridden the fence before and all it left me with was splinters in the painful places of my life.

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. – Hebrews 11:24‭-‬26 ESV

Do you not know this from of old, since man was placed on earth,  that the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment? – Job 20:4‭-‬5 ESV

Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely, who say in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children”:  These two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day; the loss of children and widowhood shall come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and the great power of your enchantments.  You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, “No one sees me”; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.”  But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, for which you will not be able to atone; and ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing. – Isaiah 47:8‭-‬11 ESV
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.  The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.  You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. – Psalms 5:4‭-‬6 ESV

What leads to [the unending] quarrels and conflicts among you? Do they not come from your [hedonistic] desires that wage war in your [bodily] members [fighting for control over you]? You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God]. You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives [out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires. You adulteresses [disloyal sinners–flirting with the world and breaking your vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend [that is, loving the things of the world] is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. – JAMES 4:1‭-‬4 AMP

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord]. – MATTHEW 6:24 AMP

If it is unacceptable in your sight to serve the Lord , choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord .” The people answered, “Far be it from us to abandon (reject) the Lord to serve other gods; for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs (miracles) in our sight and kept us safe all along the way that we went and among all the peoples among whom we passed. The Lord drove all the peoples out from before us, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the Lord , for He is our God.” Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the Lord [if you serve any other gods], for He is a holy God; He is a jealous God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His]. He will not forgive your transgression [of His law] or your sins. If you do abandon (reject) the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume and destroy you after He has done you good.” The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve [only] the Lord .” Joshua then said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the Lord , to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” “Now then, remove the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your hearts toward the Lord , the God of Israel.” The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and we will listen to and obey His voice.” So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance at Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was in [the courtyard of] the sanctuary of the Lord . Joshua then said to all the people, “Look, this stone shall serve as a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us; so it shall be a witness against you, so that [afterward] you do not deny your God.” -JOSHUA 24:15‭-‬27 AMP

Hot or Cold

​May the Word of God be like a refining fire burning away the dross and like a healing flame coterizing our wounds – not as something far away to be wondered at over how it is working in the life of another, but close, near, dear to us, and active in our lives. 
May the Living Waters be like a bubbling hot spring that cleanses and disinfects and kills bacteria and disease or as a cold stream down from the mountaintop that refreshes and renews – not something still, dead, stagnant, putrid and lukewarm of no real use at all. 

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!  But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!  You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.  So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.  I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

Revelation 3:15‭-‬19 NLT

Are we more comfortable laying around in the complacency of the lukewarm waters, away from the fires that refine and heal?

Do we let the trials of this life choke out any evidence of godliness that we hoped to claim and mimic under our own strength — instead of presenting ourselves humble, destitute, and fully surrendered to Christ, following Him gratefully and fearfully and faithfully into the fiery trials and see Him prove Himself faithful and true?

So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. Do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God], so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness], holding out and offering to everyone the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to rejoice greatly because I did not run [my race] in vain nor labor without result.

PHILIPPIANS 2:12‭-‬16 AMP