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Faithful to the End

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Faithful to the End

 Six things that you should guard your heart against. And to be forewarned is to be

forearmed. But these six things… any one of them has the potential to cause a person to draw

back, to fall away, to give up.

1. Dwelling nostalgically on the past.

Hebrews 11:13, talking about these great heroes of faith that made it all the way to the end.

These all died in faith. My friend, that's the way to die.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were

assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the


14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.

15 And truly if they had called to mind…

That means if they had rehearsed, if they had recollected.

…that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.

16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be

called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

I want you to just notice, in particular in verse 15, but it is true in verse 16, as well. The word

"country" in your Bible will be italicized. It is not in the same kind of print as the other words, and

the reason for that… any time you find an italicized word in your Bible, that is just an indication

that it is something that was not in the original text. It is added by the translators, in their mind, for

clarity. But because it wasn't part of the original text, they wanted to let you know that. This

literally reads this way. Verse 15, "Truly if they had called to mind that from which they had come

out of, they would have had opportunity to return." The Amplified Bible puts it this way: "If they

had been thinking with homesick remembrance of that country from which they came out, they

would have had constant opportunity to return to it."

You listen to some believers talk and reminisce, and it is as if they are homesick for their old life.

They talk about the old days: "Oh, man, we used to get so wasted! We used to rage! And I had

this homegrown in my backyard, and we had all these women (or, I had all these boyfriends)," or

whatever it is, and people talk as if they are longing for the old life. Friend, that is not a wise thing

to do. If you do that, if you constantly rehearse the past, you will have constant opportunity to

return. Don't be thinking about your old girlfriend! Don't be thinking about your old boyfriend and

the stuff that you used to do!

I'm convinced that is why some people are always plagued by these opportunities to go back and

are constantly battered by temptations in certain areas because of what they fill their mind with.

They keep running these edited movies of the past, and they remember all of the pleasure and

none of the pain. And, friend, that's what the devil will do. He will remind you of all the pleasure of

sin but none of the pain.

It is sort of like the Israelites. They got to reminiscing and thinking about all the leeks and the

garlic and the onions we had on the shores of the Nile River… and the fish we used to eat… Oh,

it was so good! And they forgot they were slaves back there, and they had to make bricks.

Listen, you were a slave to sin in your old life. There was no presence of God; there was no

peace. But we tend to piece together… we embalm our past in honey and forget that underneath

is the stench of a corpse! Some of you, you just need to stop the movie and burn the film! And it's

your biggest problem. You need to shut your mind to that kind of thinking because, my brother

and sister, this life is short. We are sojourners and pilgrims here, and we need to set our affection

on things above… not on things of the earth… where Christ sits at the right hand of God, because

you died, and your life is hidden with Christ and God. Don't go dreaming about the old time. It

wasn't that good, anyway.

Yeah… "Oh, we used to rage with our friends!" Yeah, and you used to throw up in the toilet and

pass out on somebody's bathroom floor, too! It is only by the grace of God that you survived long

enough to get saved, but we tend to forget about that part of it.

2. Conflict. Some people don't know how to cope with conflict.

Look back with me in the Book of Matthew, chapter 10, verse 34… some very interesting

statements that fell from the lips of Jesus here. Matthew 10:34,

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

35 "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a

daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';

36 "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'"

What do you think of that? When you get saved, yes, peace comes into your heart; but you also

enter a conflict. And sometimes it turns out to be those of your own family, those who are closest

to you. Surprise, surprise! Everybody is not going to be thrilled with your conversion. Some of us

found that out firsthand. And, in part, it is because suddenly… I mean, your life has changed. This

light is shining on other people. They are not ready to change. They don't want to give up the old

stuff. And a light walks into the room, shows up everything that is there in the dark, and their only

thing is to sweep the light out. That's the reason some people have a problem with you.

But Jesus talked about there being a sword, about there being conflict. In fact, look in Matthew

13. He is sharing the parable of the sower, how a preacher is preaching the word. One of the

results: When the seed of the word is received, people get saved. Forgiveness of sins. But look in

Matthew 13:20. Jesus said this:

"But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately

receives it with joy;

21 "yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution

arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles."

Another translation says he is repelled and begins to distrust and desert Him whom he ought to

trust and obey, and he falls away.

Tribulation and persecution come because of the word. Pressure, conflict. If somebody told you

when you got saved that all of your problems were over, they lied. Being saved does not exempt

you from the storms of life. It just means that the Creator of the universe walks with you through

them… which is a huge difference, believe me.

But your life is not going to be free of temptation or free of rough patches. It rains a little bit on

everybody's parade. And if you thought otherwise, you are in for a rude awakening. But some

people just can't handle the conflict.

And sometimes you will get saved, and you are just taken by surprise because it happens in the

home… members of your own family, people who are close to you. Sometimes it may be at work.

They find out you are a Christian… you throw your Bible on the desk at lunchtime… they go, "Unhuh."

And they start pushing your buttons and pulling your levers and doing everything they can.

And most of the time when people are harassing you like that… I think most of the time they are

just hoping that you are for real. But they reckon you are just going to be another house of cards

that is going to blow over if there is a little bit of pressure, a little bit of storm. And they are just

hoping you have got something real because they haven't seen the real deal yet. But, on the

other hand, sometimes you have maybe got some boss, and he knows you are a Christian gal,

and he is just trying to break you down. He is hitting on you all the time, giving you a hard time

because of your Christianity. Sometimes you are going to have conflict on the job. Face it, friend,

we live in a hostile world.

And sometimes just when you make the decision, "Man, I'm going for God," it seems that all hell

breaks loose! It's like you get attacked in your body, and there is stuff going on with the finances,

and the kids are going haywire, and you're going, "What's going on?" Does anybody know what I

am talking about? Anybody feel like raising both hands? Well, welcome to the club!

But you must realize you are a soldier, and there will be conflict. But the good news is we win if

we don't quit. Jesus settled the issue of victory forever when He died upon the cross. Friend, let

us not be of those that turn back in the day of battle. I want to get across the finish line with you.

And you are going to go through a few storms, you are going to have a few rough patches in life,

you are going to go through a few battles, you are going to have a few scars by the time you get

to the other side. You may as well just get ready for it. But, I'll tell you what, when I look at what

goes on with some of our brothers and sisters throughout the world and some of the tribulations

that they have, I want to hang my head in shame for whining over some of the little stuff that goes

on with us. Don't let conflict knock you out of the saddle, partner. You keep going on with God.

3. They don't understand. Questions. John, chapter 6. Look there with me. Facing things

they don't understand. John, the sixth chapter. Jesus is talking to His disciples. A very

interesting little sermon He is preaching to them here. John 6:53,

Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of

Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.

54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last


55 "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.

56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him."

Look at verse 59,

These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can

understand it?"

61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does

this offend you?

62 "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?

63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit,

and they are life."

In other words, "Boys, this is spiritual lesson. This is an analogy I am trying to get across." But

they didn't get it. They didn't understand. And look at verse 66. Here is the result:

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

What do you think of that? They have got Jesus in the flesh; and, from that time, many of them

turned back and walked with Him no more. I mean, "What is all this 'eat My flesh, drink My blood'

talk? That's crazy talk! We don't get that! We are going to be known as the 'eat My flesh' people!"

And many of them fell away from the Lord and walked with Him no more because they couldn't

understand this doctrine that He was bringing forth.

And you know what can happen over doctrine today. Somebody gets saved, comes into the

church… maybe some lady. She is a liberated woman, but finds Jesus as her Savior… comes

into church and pastor is preaching about marriage and wives submit to your own husbands as

unto the Lord. She's going, "Time out! Time out! I'm not putting my head on no chopping block.

Excuse me! I've had it. No more."

Or it may be tithing: "Give ten percent of my income? I don't think so! I work hard for this."

Or even something like, "Don't be unequally yoked together with unbelievers." And some girls

think, "Wait a minute! I've got a really cute boyfriend."

And, see, people will do that, and they don't have understanding… just like these disciples. It rubs

them the wrong way, and they say, "I'm out of here." Rather than taking the posture that says,

"Lord, I have given you my life. I don't understand this. In fact, it seems wrong to me." And God

wants you to talk to Him that way. He knows you are thinking it, anyway. You may as well just

say, "Lord, this seems whacked, just to let You know. However, I'm going to trust You, and I just

ask You to help me understand this because right now it just seems wrong. But I'm going to obey

You." Friend, that's the right stance to take. But, some people, it's just like, "No, thanks." And they

leave. They don't understand.

Sometimes maybe a prayer didn't get answered. Someone was molested as a child: "God, why

could You let this happen?" They don't understand, and so they want to just walk away saying, "I

can't handle this." You need to come to God with your questions and everything. Just lay it all at

His feet.

I remember a couple came to our church years ago. They were Christians. And I don't know

where they had been before, but they came here to the church, and one of their children was in

the last moments of a terminal illness. And we prayed for them and prayed with them, and their

child slipped into eternity, went to heaven. It was a rough thing. And if you are a parent and you

have experienced that, words can't touch you where you hurt. It is something that God has got to

do. But it was rough. And I watched that family disintegrate after that. We tried to help them. The

husband got bitter against God: "God, why did this happen?" He backslid, went back into the

world. The wife did the same thing. They broke up. And she started sleeping with every guy she

met and bar hopping and doing that whole thing. It just destroyed their lives over this, "We don't

understand why God could let that happen."

I got a letter some time ago from another couple that actually had rededicated their life to Christ

on this very church altar, and they shared a bit of their story with me and said, "We used to serve

God. There was an issue that we had prayed about…" It basically boiled down to God didn't

answer their prayer when and how they thought He should, and they got offended and backslid

over it. Thank God they came back and rededicated their life to God. But you can't let questions

keep you from Him.

It was like Mary and Martha. They sent word to Jesus, "Our brother Lazarus who You love is sick

and getting sicker. Come!" And Jesus doesn't come. He stays two more days, waits until Lazarus

dies, and then turns up, and you can hear Mary. She falls at Jesus' feet. There is agony in her

voice. There are questions, "Lord, if You would have been here, my brother wouldn't have died!

Why didn't You come?" She had questions, but it didn't keep her from coming to the feet of

Jesus. You need to just come to His feet with your questions and all. He will give you answers

that will satisfy your heart.

4. The love of money. First Timothy, chapter 6. The fourth thing that I think commonly causes

people to drift away, fall away, to draw back is the love of money. First Timothy 6:9,

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and

harmful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith

in their greediness,

Notice that. Because of the love of money some have "strayed from their faith in their greediness,

and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Jesus said that the deceitfulness of riches has succeeded in many lives in choking the word of

God out of their life. Money is a tool, period. But some people become so consumed with getting

it and the things that it can buy… it becomes such a focus in their life that God is squeezed out of

their life. And Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters. You can't serve God and mammon,"

which was the Chaldean god of money. You are going to love one, hate the other; cleave to one,

and despise the other. You cannot serve two masters. Money makes a wonderful servant. It

makes a terrible master.

I'm all for prospering. I'm planning on prospering more than I am right now. However, I also

understand that prosperity and an unsanctified soul is a combination for disaster. I have seen

prosperity destroy some folks. I've seen poverty destroy a few folks, as well.

A friend that I had, involved in ministry, was… as many people are, especially in the early days of

ministry… was living kind of hand-to-mouth but loving God, had a lovely wife, and in the will of

God. And his wife made up her mind, says, "You know what? I don't want this, anymore. I want

money." She divorced him. He begged her not to, but she divorced him, and she married some

rich guy. Left her husband, left the ministry, left the Lord over money. And she succeeded in

marrying a really rich guy. It pretty much wrecked her life. You know, and the funny thing is, the

guy that she divorced went on and God ended up blessing him, and he became fabulously well

off… all of the things she wanted. She just didn't wait around long enough.

I understand… I think there is this innate thing in every woman that she wants to be taken care of,

that she wants to have stability financially. And any guy that is worth his salt is going to bust his

rear end to take care of his family. It is not good to push a man beyond what he is able to do

because there is enough pressure out in the world besides that, but any guy that's worth his salt

is going to work hard and do everything he can to take care of his family. And I think that is a

"God thing" that God puts in the women to want to be taken care of, for there to be stability. I

mean, that's why God brought the woman to the man… brought Eve to Adam… but first He gave

Adam a job. And then He gave Adam a wife. It's good when it is in that order.

We are encouraging the business people in our church. We want them to succeed in just a wild

fashion. And I believe God is going to raise up people in our own ranks that are going to handle

fabulous sums of money, but for the sake of the kingdom… with a view for advancing God's

kingdom. Friend, if you will keep a generous heart and keep in mind the reason for prosperity and

keep first things first, I think God can bless you beyond anything you have dreamed of. But when

money becomes the focus of your life… I'm about to say something, and I don't know if I will be

sorry or not, and I'm going to say it anyway:

It might surprise you: I don't watch much Christian TV. Sometimes I will listen to preachers on

there. Whenever I watch it… you know, because my heart is to reach unchurched and unsaved

people. And I realize that a lot of people, they gear their thing just strictly for the believers, and I

think that's cool. But I'll watch, and I figure, "Okay, I'm 'Mr. Unsaved Joe'." And I turn it on. Okay,

I've already got a bit of an attitude. Here's a preacher, and I think, "Okay, how long before they

mention money?" Fifteen seconds. And I listen to most of the stuff, and you know what? To me, it

seems that the majority of things don't talk about Jesus at all. Redemption is not preached at all.

And sometimes I wonder how it would go over with the Apostle Paul… if this is really what his

emphasis was… or how it would go over with the Lord Jesus Christ. And, friend, we need to

understand about financial prosperity, and the Scriptures certainly teach about it, and we do. But

our message is the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

5. Wrong relationships. First Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be deceived…" All right, don't get

this wrong. "…evil company corrupts good habits."

The Amplified Bible says evil companionships corrupt and deprave good manners and morals

and character.

That doesn't mean that you should not have friendships with sinners. In fact, if as a Christian you

do not have some sinners in your life, I don't think you are really following Jesus. Jesus said,

"Follow Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." Most people want to fish in the

baptismal tank, but there are no fish in there. And most people are won to Christ through

relationships. And that's why Jesus was always catching it from the religious crowd… the

Sadducees, the Pharisees, the couldn't sees and the wouldn't sees… because He was hanging

out with sinners and having dinner with the sinner, and they didn't like it. With their antiseptic

religiosity they had to stay away from the dirty sinners. We do need to build relationships with

people, but with a purpose of letting our light shine, with a purpose of showing them that there is

a higher way, with a purpose of letting them know that there is a heaven and that there is a hell.

And, yes, we can enjoy stuff with them, but if it is just for the purpose of "hanging out" and there is

no spiritual influence or no spiritual input, friend, that is dangerous. And the Bible says don't be

deceived about it. Evil companionships will corrupt good morals, manners, and character.

So it is one thing if you have a relationship and you are building a friendship with someone in

order to bring them to Christ and to let your light shine, and it is something altogether different if

that is where you are just hanging. I'm going to make a statement to you: You let me see your

friends, and I will prophesy your future to you. You better choose your friends carefully because

you will become what they are. The Bible says in Proverbs 13:20 he that walks with wise men

shall be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed. Get you some wise-hearted, God-loving

people, and get some fellowship there. In fact, one way to get up higher, you just need to hook up

with some people who are farther along the road than you are. It is an important thing. But wrong

relationships have dragged people away from God. And, again, let me make the distinction. I

think we all need to have relationships and friendships with people that are unsaved. But if it is

just strictly a matter of hanging and there is no spiritual intent there at all, it will drag you down.

You won't drag them up, friend, they will drag you down. The Bible says don't be deceived about

it. If you think anything else, you are wrong.

6. Spiritual laziness. We all have a friend that this one applies to. Spiritual laziness. Hebrews

2:1. It says,

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

That means lest we drift away from God.

We must give the more earnest heed. That phrase "more earnest" in the Greek language means

super abundant, excessive. And the word "heed" means just to pay attention, to apply yourself. In

other words, over the top we need to give excessive attention to the things that we have heard.

We must concentrate, apply ourselves, and pay attention to the things that we have heard

because if we don't, we will drift away. And that indicates it is something that happens by degree.

Almost imperceptibly at times that just, little by little, we begin to drift until we are miles off-course;

and we don't realize when it happened, if we realize that it has happened at all.

Where are you right now in your life? Think about it. We should be living like the crucifixion

happened yesterday, the resurrection happened this morning, and Jesus is going to return


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