From Devoted To Destroyed

Bible Book: James  5 : 9
Subject: Destruction; Backslidding

James 5:9

Deborah Downes sent me an encouraging excerpt from Gordon McDonald's book "Restoring Your Spiritual Passion." I think it will encourage us and help speak to the devoted. "I have met many passionate people. They come in all ages, from all backgrounds, with all sorts of personal capacities. No two look alike. But you know them when you see them. They are not hurried; they are not shrill; they are not out to impress. "You know them because when you come into their presence, they make you think of Christ. Somehow you feel that you have just understood a little more of what it was like to be in the presence of Jesus. "The energy that pushes them along is not the thunderous noise of a jet, nor the pressure of a Niagara. It's a quiet energy that you sense even if you can't see it. "I suppose what I am talking about is best seen up at Peace Ledge, our New Hampshire retreat. An enormous rock is in the woods. Rather, two rocks. There used to be one, but it is split in two. And it is clear why there is a split. "Long ago water seeped into a crevice, froze and created a deeper split.

Then a seed blew into the deepened crevice and germinated. From that tiny seed, a tree began to grow, now there are two rocks and a tree right in the middle. There is a quiet passion, quiet, indefatigable, powerful. "That kind of passion quietly splits apart the hardness of greed, hate and intemperance. It lodges in the crevices of the home, the church, and society. It breaks up things and starts something new. That is the kind of passion we need in this passionless world of ours. And it comes from people who have decided to take the time and go to the places and establish themselves among the people who can help us hear God speak.

"Steve Hale wrote an article that also speaks to me. "The Path To Destruction." "We have become a nation of strangers characterized by isolation and disconnection. The soul of American society is empty and lonely. We find ourselves grasping after the "toys" of life with the hope that something will make us happy. Our consumer indulgence mentality has us craving every new gadget and device that technology can provide and yet there remains an empty hole in the heart. We have every convenience conceivable to make our lives easier. Jet airplanes speed us across the world in a matter of hours and satellite television brings the world into our homes within seconds. Yet, the fact remains that most people are so busy these days they can't sit still long enough to enjoy the life they have." "Arthur Levine, an educator, describes today's student mentality as that of going first class on the Titanic. "They view society as a sinking ship that will never reach its ultimate voyage. Since they can't get off, they simply clamor for the first class seats on the top deck so they can enjoy the ride until disaster strikes. "Let's talk about some subtle steps leading to destruction.

I. Devotion

I am a learner, a devoted follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ. I nourish myself daily on the disciples of Christ. Commitment: "I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made, I'm a disciple of His! I won't look back up, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed vision, worldly talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions are few, my guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And, when He comes for his own, He will have no problem recognizing banner will be clear! "These words were found written on a sheet of paper on a young pastor's desk in Zimbabwe following his martyrdom for         his faith in Christ. "The problem with contemporary Christianity is that a vast majority of Christians have never made the transition from declaration to discipleship.

"Note: What God uses trials and sufferings for in the believer's life. 1 Peter 5:10, "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

"Note: Who suffers? 1 Peter 5:9, "Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. "Suffering is mentioned 8 times in I Peter 4:1-5:9. Principles on Suffering 1 Peter 1:6-7, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

II. Distracted

Instead of spending time with the Lord, you find yourself too busy. In "Spurgeon at His Best" "To neglect discipleship and spiritual disciplines for deliverance and sensual distractions is to give birth to an unholy church. Such a church is of no use to the world and of no esteem among men. It is an abomination, hell's laughter, heaven's abhorrence. And the larger the church, the more influential,  the worse nuisance it becomes when it becomes unholy. The worst evils which have ever come  upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church. "Fact: "If you resist the Lord, you will submit to Satan.

"In C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, we read, "Uncle Screwtape is displeased with Wormwood because his patient has become a Christian. However, says Screwtape, 'There is no need to despair: Hundreds of these adult converts have been reclaimed after a brief sojourn in the Enemy's camp and are now with us. All the habits of the patient, both mental and bodily, are still in our favour.' Screwtape knew full well that converts who failed to embrace spiritual discipline and discipleship would likewise fail to become Christlike. Put another way, unless and until a convert becomes a slave to righteousness, there is no need for the forces of darkness to be alarmed. "Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke out against easy-believism in "The Cost of Discipleship". However, Dallas Willard said, "The cost of non-discipleship is far greater."

III. Discontent

(something is missing)This means that we were not equipped to mine the treasure that is buried in God's Word. Proverbs 2:1-6, "My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; "Spurgeon said, "Let it never be said that God has recorded truths in His Word that you have not read. Study the Word and work out its meaning. Go deep into the spirit of inspiration. He gets the most gold who digs the deepest in the mine. The deeper you go under the Spirit's guidance, the larger the reward for your toil."

IV. Discouraged

You look for something new to satisfy your hunger. In the armor of God the breastplate of righteousness is a spiritual heart protector, the helmet of salvation is a spiritual head protector.

Remember: 3 Enemies: World, Flesh, Devil. Matthew 15:19, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. "These tempt us to cheat, steal and lie.

V. Deceived

You make decisions that once would have been blatantly forbidden. Ephesians 6:14, "having girded your waist with truth"

As your waist is the center of your body, so truth is central to the full armor of God. "Truth, like all the other pieces of the armor, is in actuality an aspect of the nature of God himself. Thus to put on the belt of truth is to put on Christ. For Christ is "truth" (John 15:6), and Christians are the bearers of truth.

As Os Guinness explains, Christianity is not true because it works (pragmatism); it is not true because it feels right (subjectivism); it is not true because it's 'my truth' (relativism). It is true because it is anchored in the person of Christ. 'The Christian faith is not true because it works; it works because it is true. It is not true because we experience it; we experience it - deeply and gloriously - because it is true It is not simply 'true for us'; it is true for any who seek in order to find, because truth is true even if nobody believes it, and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it. That is why truth does not yield to opinion, fashion, numbers, office, or sincerity - it is simply true and that is the end of it.'"

VI. Denial

You tell yourself that you'll stop and start fresh. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. "Paul did not fight the spiritual battle for men's souls using human ingenuity, worldly wishes, or clever methodologies. Such important weapons are powerless to free souls from the forces of darkness and bring them to maturity in Christ. They cannot successfully oppose Satanic assaults on the gospel. The formidable spiritual strongholds manned by the forces of hell can be demolished only  by spiritual weapons wielded (used with skill) by godly believers. They use the Word of God. You assault errors with truth. Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and   is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. "John 17:17, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth."

VII. Devastation

Your life is irreversibly harmed by a series of bad choices.

VIII. Destruction

You lose everything that mattered: family, job, home, faith, and life itself.