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Keeping the Faith

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Keeping the Faith

2Corinthians 11            January 11, 2004


Scripture Reading:




A few years ago a young girl by the name of Sofi was born in Siberia, a bitterly cold and desolate area of Russia. A difficult place to be a child but Sofi's life was going to be even rougher than most. She was an orphan. Then suddenly at the age of 2 she was adopted, sight unseen, by Laurie Collis a single mother in Scottsdale, Arizona.


She is now in the third grade and doing well. So well that she entered an essay contest last year and out of 10,000 applicants, she won! Toy maker “Lego” and “The Planetary Society” sponsored the event. As a result of winning, her family received an all expense paid trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the lift off of the Mars Rover.


While there she was asked to read an excerpt from her winning essay. Here is part of it: "I used to live in an orphanage. It was dark and cold and lonely. At night, I looked up at the sparkly sky and felt better. I dreamed I could fly there. In America, I can make all my dreams come true. Thank you for giving me the 'Spirit' and the 'Opportunity'."


Today on Mars a little robot named Spirit and next week another named Opportunity will be exploring opposite sides of that world. By now you have figured out that the contest Sofi entered and won was to name these two Martian vehicles. But what you don't know is that "Spirit" and "Opportunity" are not just the names of the rovers. They are also the two feelings she said she experienced 6 years ago, in a cold Siberian orphanage, when she learned she was coming to America.


Rev. Brett Blair,, Jan 2004.

Do you want to be a winner? I know you do. Nobody likes to be a loser.

That’s what New Year’s resolutions are all about – Spirit and Opportunity.

We want to be winners over against all things about ourselves that personally hinder and constrain us.

We want to reach out and make a new landing – to adopt a new way of thinking and living – to have a new spirit and a new opportunity.

Actually, that is what the Bible is all about – that any time we want the victory of a new way of thinking and living that is ours by faith in Christ, it is ours.

Christ won the victory over sin and death and hell on the cross as proven by His resurrection from the dead three days later.

So that is why the Bible tells us in 2Cor. 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.”

Our faith is rewarded by victory.

Last week we learned in 2Cor. 10:

How can I apply God’s reward of Christ’s victory in my life and ministry?

I can be just as confident in actual battle as I am in my resolve to do battle because Christ is in control of the victory.

I can have so much confidence in Christ’s victory in me that I can warn the opposition of Christ’s victory over them through me.

I have spiritual advantage in battle because my resources for victory in Christ are invincible beyond the understanding of this world.

I have enough spiritual and moral authority in victory through Christ to maintain the victory.

I have enough personal credibility in victory through Christ not to compromise it at the expense of myself or others.

I have experienced such victory in Christ that I will not be threatened by any challenge in carrying that victory as far as I can around the world.

These things are very brave to claim and say.

But we all know our human weakness – that it is one thing to know this victory, that is, to claim it, and yet quite another thing to keep it going – like New Year’s resolutions founded upon deep convictions of knowledge yet easily broken.

There are many threats to our resolve. It is hard to pinpoint a landing on Mars, so to speak. It is only possible through the divine “science” of faith in Christ.

And so Paul doesn’t let us down after the bravado. He is writing to the Corinthian church and he knows the threats they face.

They are just like the ones we face; different time, different place, same scene.

We turn this morning to 2Cor. 11 to find the answers.

Paul ends chapter 10 by boasting of his victory in Christ.

He is so sure of Christ’s victory, and Christ’s victory in him, that he can boast freely of what has been accomplished.

It is not in his own flesh that he boasts, but in Christ and Christ alone.

Therefore he himself is not threatened. But he is worried about the Corinthians in whom the victory of Christ is still immature because their faith is immature.

There are six things he warns against as threats to keeping our victory.

It’s about keeping faith.

Big Question:

What are some threats to Christ’s victory in my life that I must guard against?

I must guard against spiritual adultery.

I must guard against spiritual wastefulness.

I must guard against spiritual imposters.

I must guard against spiritual ignorance.

I must guard against spiritual disqualification.

I must guard against spiritual arrogance.

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 1-6)

(sex in the city) (secondary virginity)

(lost first love? - super model)

(I have more going for you than you think)

          B.      Implication

I must guard against spiritual adultery.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 7-12)

(squandering sacrificial resources)

(would I unite Christ with a prostitute?)

(not to waste heroic sacrifice by giving up freedom gained on the battlefield)

          B.      Implication

I must guard against spiritual wastefulness.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 13-15)

(recent request to do social work)

(false shepherds/deceitful leaders/double agents/terrorists in an ideological battle)

          B.      Implication

I must guard against spiritual imposters.

          C.      Illustration


>>  'Led by God,' Episcopal Priest Resigns Over Homosexual Bishop

Jim Brown, Agape Press

A female Episcopal priest from northern Mississippi has become the first

rector in the state to step down over the ECUSA's ordination of an

openly homosexual bishop. On Christmas Day, Sandra DePriest delivered

her final sermons at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Columbus and St.

John's Episcopal in Aberdeen.  The former lawyer says her decision to

resign revolved solely around her denomination's approval of openly

homosexual Bishop Vicki Gene Robinson, who now oversees the Diocese of

New Hampshire. "I stepped down because I felt led by God to step down,"

DePriest explains.  While the Mississippi minister is not alone in her

decision, there have not been many others in the Episcopal Church USA

who have taken the step she has taken.  DePriest says she understands

why more of her conservative colleagues in the ECUSA have not resigned

as well. "The reason they have not been [resigning] is that they're

financially tied to the church," she says, citing such things as

pensions and church property.  "I've called it 'ecclesiastical

blackmail.'" Several members of her former congregations have decided to

leave with her, but DePriest says she has no intentions of forming a new



The Modernist Preacher - Entering Hell

by Oscar C. Eliason

He was an ordained minister, but modern in his views.
He preached his twisted doctrines to people in the pews.
He would not hurt their feelings, whate'er the cost would be,
But for their smiles and friendship and compliments sought he.
His church was filled with wicked souls that should be saved from sin,
But never once he showed the way or tried a soul to win.
He preached about the lovely birds that twitter in the trees,
The babl'ing of the running brooks, the murm'ring of the seas.

He quoted fancy poetry that tickled list'ning ears
When sorrow came to some, he tried to laugh away their tears.
His smooth and slipp'ry sermons made the people slide to hell.
The harm he did by preaching goes beyond what we can tell.
He took our Holy Bible, and preached it full of holes,
The Virgin Birth, said he can't be believed by honest souls,
The miracles of Jesus and the resurrection tale
For educated ones like us, today, cannot avail.
We're living in an age, said he, when wisdom rules and reigns,
When man's intelligence is great and superstition wanes.

He said, we're all God's children who live upon this earth,
No message of salvation, no need of second birth.
His coat was bought with money that he had wrongly gained,
For through his twisted sermons his wealth he had obtained.
He was just like the Roman soldiers that watched at Jesus' grave,
For money in abundance, to them, the people gave;
It all was theirs by telling what was a sinful lie -
A resurrected Savior, they, too, were to deny.

The day at last had come for the minister to die,
When to his congregation, he had to say good-bye.
His form lay cold and lifeless, his ministry was past,
His tongue with all its poison was hushed and stilled at last.
His funeral was grand; he was lauded to the skies-
They preached him into heaven where there are no good-byes.
Upon the lonely hill, underneath the shady trees,
His form was laid to rest in the whisp'ring of the breeze.

A tombstone was erected with words: "He is at rest,
He's gone to heaven's glories to live among the blest."
His body now is lifeless, but Ah! His soul lives on,
He failed to enter in where they thought that he had gone.
The letters on the tombstone or that sermon some had heard,
Could not decide his destiny, 'twas not the final word.
He still had God to deal with, the one who knows the heart;
While others entered heaven, he heard the word, "Depart."

He pauses for a moment upon the brink of hell;
He stares into a depth where he evermore will dwell.
He hears the cries and groanings of souls he had misled,
He recognizes faces among the screaming dead.
He sees departed deacons which he had highly praised.
Their fingers pointing at him as they their voices raised:
"You stood behind the pulpit, and lived in awful sin,
We took you for a saint, but a liar you have been."
Accusing cries! He hears them, "Ah! You have been to blame,
You led us into darkness when you were seeking fame."

"You preached your deadly doctrine, we thought you knew the way.
We fed you and we clothed you, we even raised your pay.
You've robbed us of a home where no tear-drops ever flow,
Where days are always fair and the heav'nly breezes blow.
Where living streams are flowing, and saints and Angels sing,
Where every one is happy, and Hallelujahs ring.
We're in this place of torment, from which no soul returns;
We hear the cry of lost ones, we feel the sizzling burns;
Give us a drop of water, we're tortured in this flame;
You failed to preach salvation to us through Jesus' Name."

The preacher turns in horror, he tries to leave the scene,
He knows the awful future for every soul unclean,
But there he meets the devil, whom he has served so well,
He feels the demon powers as they drag him into hell.
Throughout eternal ages, his groans, too, must be heard-
He, too, must suffer torment-he failed to heed God's Word.
He feels God's wrath upon him, he hears the hot flames roar,
His doctrine now is different, he ridicules no more.

By Oscar C. Eliason, c1960


cultural commentary with Prison Fellowship's Chuck Colson


January 6, 2004


At the Foot of the Cross - A Story You Haven’t Heard


Angel Tree, our Prison Fellowship program for prisoners’ children, is

one of the great unheralded volunteer outreaches in America. Over the

Christmas holidays these past few weeks, approximately 100,000

volunteers delivered Angel Tree gifts to more than 525,000 children of



You didn’t read about this in the newspapers, nor would I expect that

you should. It’s not really that newsworthy that Christians help people

in need. But there are two of our volunteers, who delivered forty

presents, that I think you should have read about but didn’t. For

reasons best known to themselves, the media ignored the fact that two of

the volunteers were President and Mrs. George Bush. And they delivered

gifts to forty inner-city kids in a church basement three days before



President and Mrs. Bush arrived at three-o’clock, Monday, December 22,

at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Now, presidents

don’t move anywhere without a great deal of fuss. The police were out,

the roads blocked, and Secret Service were roaming around the church.

And when the president arrived, he was accompanied not only by his own

team, but also by a pool of reporters, forty or so members of the press.

For ten minutes they popped their flashbulbs, scribbled their notes, and

then were ushered out.


I remember from my days with President Nixon what photo opportunities

are: Get the picture and leave. So I thought the Bushes would shortly

depart, but they didn’t. They stayed long after the cameras were gone to

greet every child, to have their picture taken with them, their mothers,

and their grandmothers, to talk with them, and to ask questions. Though

the press didn’t report it, I noticed that both the president and Mrs.

Bush talked to the Hispanic children in Spanish.


Just before the president left, I introduced him to Al Lawrence, a

member of our staff. I told the president that I had met Al more than

twenty years ago in a prison. Jesus had got hold of Al’s life, and he’s

been working for us ever since. Then I told the president that Al’s son

was now a freshman at Yale. At that point the president stopped,

exclaimed, “We’re both Yale parents,” and threw his arms around Al

Lawrence—an African-American ex-offender being embraced by the president

of the United States in a church basement. The ground is indeed level at

the foot of the cross.


I tell you this story because it’s a wonderful Christmas story, and you

probably haven’t heard it. With all those reporters who crowded into

that basement, the visit resulted in almost universal media silence.


I suppose there are many explanations for this, but I’ll offer mine. The

president is a Christian who really cares for “the least of these,” who

does this not for photo ops, but because he’s genuine. That is something

that his detractors in the media simply can’t handle. Conservatives

caring for the poor? Never. It dashes the stereotypes.


But surely Christians ought to be rejoicing that the most powerful man

in the world and his wife, a couple of days before Christmas, had a

wonderful visit with the most powerless people in our society.


After all, that echoes the Christmas message, doesn’t it? The most

powerful came to be with the least powerful to give us hope.

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four


          A.      Narrative (vv. 16-21a)

(discrediting yourself or Christ)

(Ten Keys Bible Study)

 (yearly Bible reading plan)

          B.      Implication

I must guard against spiritual ignorance.

          C.      Illustration

ILLUS: Decision Magazine, Jan. 2004, “A New Song”, page 34-35

          D.      Application

V.      Cycle Five

          A.      Narrative (vv. 21b-29)

(what could disqualify you?)

(finish well)

          B.      Implication

I must guard against spiritual disqualification.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

VI.    Cycle Six

          A.      Narrative (vv. 30-33)

(pride comes before a fall)

          B.      Implication

I must guard against spiritual arrogance.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application


Big Answer:

What are some threats to Christ’s victory in my life that I must guard against?

I must guard against spiritual adultery.

I must guard against spiritual wastefulness.

I must guard against spiritual imposters.

I must guard against spiritual ignorance.

I must guard against spiritual disqualification.

I must guard against spiritual arrogance.

Timeless Truth:

“Homeland security” takes on a whole new meaning when it involves your own spiritual well-being.

What color is your threat level? What measures will you take? How will you guard your most precious possession – your very own soul? Is Christ’s victory going to be complete in you this year? Will you keep the faith?

Next message, “Flying Higher”

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