Birds Without Wings

Sermon by Bill Goff

Audio: MP3

I had a wonderful trip visiting some of our brethren out there in Arizona; my flight flew into the Las Vegas Nevada. After landing, it didn’t take long to see why Las Vegas is called “sin city.”

As you step foot off the airplane, Vegas greets you with row after row of the “one arm bandit” (slot machines.)

Then as you proceed to claim your luggage you’re surrounded by Giant size “flat screen TV’s” advertising to the lusts of the flesh, as they begin trying to lure you into some of the many night-life establishments.

Charles Post picked me up at the airport, and as we waited for my suitcase, he was apologizing to me for what the airport was showing on the TV Screens.

(Sad to say, we see that filth all over our Country theses days) although some places (Like Vegas) do a better job of shoving it in your face.

Well, we were both anxious to get out of there and begin our long 3 ½ hour trek back to “Cane Beds Arizona” where Charles and a number of other brethren live (It’s on the Utah/Arizona border.)

But exiting “sin city” was not an easy task,

1, (couldn’t locate my suitcase.)  (And they all look alike.)

(It ended up in the “lost luggage” department.

2, Trying to exit the parking garage, we kept following the “Exit” signs, but found ourselves going around in circles, and kept getting led back into more parking areas. (I think they do it to try and get you to stay & play their slot machines.)

Well we finally got out of there, but after paying the parking fee, we were confronted with another challenge, (Highway 15 if I remember correctly) is the road we needed to follow, to  reach our destination.

We got on 15 ok, and headed in the right direction at first, but some how (after driving for a while) we must have gotten distracted (Probably because we were doing a lot of talking)  I don’t know, but all of a sudden, we realized that we were headed right back into Vegas. (I think that City is like a magnet.)

Anyway, we got turned around, and finally began gaining some distance between us and “Sin City.”

Charles made a comment at that time about Las Vegas, he said: “the view of Vegas that I like the most is when I see it in his rear view mirror.”

We arrived in Cane Beds around 3:30 in the morning, and after some much needed sleep, woke up to a wonderful & inspiring spring feast, with around 8 brethren.

We met together every day, fellowshipping, bible studying, breaking bread, and we also took in some of God’s awesome Creation, out there at “Zion National Park” With its breathtaking scenery.

I don’t know if any of you have ever visited that area, but it is fascinating, to say the least.

(I had been to “Moab Utah” years ago, but the landscape there was nothing compared to “Zion”.)

So the trip went well, it’s always wonderful to spend time with brethren.

Well, with Passover & Unleavened Bread behind us now, and Pentecost (Our Feast, The Feast of First fruits) still ahead of us, I thought I would speak a little today about our journey, our “spiritual journey” through the wilderness of this world, as we trek towards the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes we need to stop and do a little contemplating to make sure that we are still on the right road, headed in the right direction, as we struggle to get out, and stay out of the Big “Sin City” the untoward or blemished world, in which we live.

We need to make sure that we see “Sin City” in our rear view mirror, and that we’re gaining more and more distance between us, and our old ways, the ways of this world?

Because just like Charles and I somehow got turned around, and found ourselves headed back into “Vegas” We always need to check and be circumspect, to make sure that Satan hasn’t managed to get us off course, turned around, and headed back to where we came from, our former ways?

In last weeks message given by Sanford Ba Tie, after edifying & inspiring us, as he spoke about Ancient Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, and their crossing of the Red Sea, Sandy concluded his message last week by admonishing us with his closing statement.

(I want to repeat what he said in his closing statement, because those words he used, are so vitally important to all of us.)

After ending his message where the Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea, Sandy concluded with this:

“And what happened afterward? Israel went three days into the wilderness, found a bitter pool of water, and forgot all of God’s miraculous deliverance.

They left Jericho, confident in their own ability to take the land, and were defeated at Ai. And Lot's daughters took matters into their own hands and became impregnated by their father.

Will we also forget the lessons of the Feast, and go back to our own carnal ways? Or will we learn the lessons of the Israelites and continue obeying and relying on God?” (End of quote.)

(How sobering a statement)  (We need to consider these words very deeply.)

Especially when we realize, that out of all those Israelites that left Egypt under God’s Almighty Hand (and Mighty it was) and after being baptized (if you will)  in the “Red Sea” only a mere two reached their intended destination, only two reached the Promised Land. (Joshua & Caleb)

And WHY, why did the multitude of God’s people perish in the wilderness?

Was it not because of “Hardened Hearts” & “Unbelief”? YES! And that particular ailment can be quite contagious.

We’re living at a time when many in God’s church today, seem to be in a similar (if not the same) condition.

A time when many seem to be lukewarm.

A time when many seem to have lost their 1st love.

(Maybe lost sight of the “miracle” that God performed in all of us, as He began opening our eyes and opening our ears to His Word, to His Truth.

Maybe lost vision of the True Promised Land that we all need to be focused on, and yearning for, the Kingdom of God.

Ancient Israel had a belief problem, and their unbelief caused them to perish in the wilderness, without ever reaching the Promised Land.

(And their journey was recorded for us to heed & learn from.)

We need to take note of what caused their unbelief, so we can evaluate our level of belief, and rid ourselves of any unbelief.

Brethren, God is no respecter of persons, and He changes not, He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.

What He wouldn’t tolerate from Ancient Israel’s behavior, He won’t tolerate from us.

(Hebrews 11:6 please)

(Faith & Belief go hand in hand.) (And without them, we are spiritually dead in the water.

(Like birds without wings) (Or fish without fins)

Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith, it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarded of those who diligently seek Him.”

Ancient Israel was lacking in faith, and they did “many things” that God was not pleased with.  (Their behavior their actions their reactions to God’s works, caused them to perish.)

(Hebrews Chapter 3 please.) (I want to read V 8-19.)

(Considering Israel’s contagious condition, we need to take precaution, so we don’t contract that same fatal disease.)

(The author of the book of Hebrews is said to be unknown, but as we read verses 8-19 lets us realize that what is being uttered to us here, is coming directly from the mouth of God Himself.

Hebrews 3:8 “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness (The NIV says :) Do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,

9 when your fathers tempted me, provoked me, and saw my works for forty years.

10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, they do always err in their heart (the NIV says: their hearts are always going astray) and they have not known my ways. 11 So I swore in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my rest.

12 Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you and evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence, steadfast unto the end. (NIV says: We have come to share in Christ, if we hold firmly till the end, the confidence we had at first.

(Confidence means: “full trust” “belief in the powers”)

(I’m going to finish this in the NIV) V 15 As has just been said: Today, if you will hear His voice (and this literally means Today brethren May 4th 2013) If you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Where they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert?

18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest, if not to those who disobeyed. 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

(Ancient Israel did not enter in because of their unbelief) (Unbelief is a serious ailment that we need to guard against.)

(The church in the wilderness did not cross over to the other side because they continued to carry a lot of baggage with them when they left Egypt.

They continued trekking through the wilderness with hardened hearts & sinful ways.

Verse 10 said: “Their hearts are always going astray.”

(How’s our hearts?)

King James says: “They do always err in their hearts.” “Err” (The Greek means to roam or wander from, truth, or virtue, to be out of the way.)

Their behavior, their actions, their lifestyle (if you will) was not pleasing to God. (They couldn’t seem to find the straight gate or the narrow way, that would have led them to life.

 But instead, they followed the wide & broad path that led them to destruction.

(There hearts were not right.)

How about us brethren, how are our hearts? Which path are we trekking down in these latter days, when we see the day approaching? Are we waling down the straight & Narrow or the broad & wide?

(The books of Mathew & Luke tell us” “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

(Ancient Israel treasured the wrong things, causing their hearts to not be right.)

The church in the wilderness was not interested in the treasure that God had prepared for them; they were not interested in the treasure that God had waiting for them on the other side of the Jordan, their actions, their behavior,  ultimately, their hearts, caused them to fail.

Well how about us? How about our actions, our behavior, how about our hearts? What do we treasure down here on planet earth?

And Geography doesn’t matter when it come to allowing our hearts to go astray, perusing the wrong things.

I know a man in E. Africa who has been digging for Diamonds for many years (his heart is in that dig.)

I know another man here in USA whose heart is in digging for a lost silver mind. He is pursuing the wrong treasures, and looking in the wrong places.

Are we interested in the treasure that God has prepared for us on the other side? Are we interested in the treasure that God has waiting for us on the other side?

Or have our hearts been deceived by the materialistic world in which we live?

My job sometimes brings me into some homes in a Jewish community. And I’m always taken back, by their lack of material things… They have few pictures (if any) hanging on the walls, and only basic furniture.

On the other hand, when I go to the average American household, (which is Predominantly Christian) they have so much stuff, it’s mind boggling……..

I visit many homes here in NJ that have 3 car garages attached to their house, and even their Garages are packed to the gills with so many material things, that their cars have to stay parked outside in the driveway.

1 Timothy 6:7 “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be there with content.”

The NIV reads: “if we have food and clothing, let us be content with that.”

Now here this Jewish community don’t believe in Jesus being the Christ, and they have been waiting for their Messiah to arrive (I guess, ever since they were told about Him back in Moses’ time.) Yet there focus, their vision, their hearts are glued with anticipation of His arrival. There not focused on material things.

(Mat 8:20 please.)

We’re God’s Church, we’re suppose to be His disciples. Adherents to Him and to all of His ways.

Mat 8:19 “A certain Scribe came and said to Him, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

20 Jesus said to him, the Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air build nests, but the son of man, hath no place to lay His head.

Now I’m not suggesting that we move our families out into the street, but do we sometimes put too much of our heart into building our physical abode?

The church is supposed to be the salt of the earth. (But sometimes we get our priorities mixed up) I remember one brother years ago, who used to enjoy collecting salt shakers.

He had so many shelves on the walls of his kitchen filled with salt shakers that it was difficult to walk around his small kitchen (It was even his goal at the feasts each year to shop around, to add more to his collection.)

(Luke 14:15 please)

My hope today is to refresh our memories that we are (So-journers) down here on this Earth. (Our goals, our wants, our desires) should be different that those who are in this world.

This world brethren, and all that is in it (The lusts of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life) is soon to be flushed down the toilet.

But not us brethren, we are the church the ecclesia, the called out ones.) We have been bidden to a Great Wedding Banquet, by a certain King who has made a marriage for His son.

Many (including all of us) have been called to this Great Supper, which is now Prepared & Ready.

We know this story, and it kind of a sad story, because to many have asked too be excused from this Great Wedding Banquet. Too many don’t seem to value this invitation, because they have allowed their hearts to err, and go astray, by the cares of this world.

Luke 14:16 “A certain man (A King in Mathews account) made a great supper, and bade many, and sent His servant at supper time, to say to them that were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready.

18 and they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto Him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I have needs to go and see it, please God, have me excused from your supper.

19 Another said, I have bought five yoke of Oxen, and I go to prove them, please, have me excused.

20 I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come…..

21 So that servant came and showed his Lord these things, and the Master was angry, and said go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

22 And the servant said, it is done and yet there is room, so the master commanded him to go into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.

24 For I say unto you, that none of those men that have been bidden, shall taste of my supper……

I know we have read these verses over and over - But do we comprehend what they are saying, do we take them to heart?

Are we preparing to enter the Banquet Hall, or has the mundane cares of this present life, caused us to request exclusion?

Dropping down to verse 26 “If a man come to me, and hate (and we now that means love less by comparison) and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sister, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

27 And who does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

 33 So likewise, whosever he be of you (of us brethren) that forsake not all that he hath (what did He say?) forsake not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

34 Salt is good, but if the salt have lost his savor (If we, you & me in God’s church today, have lost our saltiness) wherewith shall it be seasoned?

35 it is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill, but men cast it out. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

Are we hearing brethren? Our actions, our behavior, our priorities that we have in life, tell it as it is.

Let us not think for a moment that we (the people of God today) are not trekking today, through a wilderness, where God is observing, and testing, and trying.

It has always been God’s method of perfecting His children through trials & testing.

And with us, our wilderness is not merely a 3 dimensional “physical” wilderness, like it was with Ancient Israel (at lease it shouldn’t be) the wilderness that we need to be trekking through, should be a spiritual wilderness, with other dimensions…

(Do you think that Peter’s walking on water was a physical thing?)

Peter walked on water because in his mind, he believed, he had no doubt.

We need to be spiritually minded, and void of doubt, pursuing spiritual things (because if we don’t, we will perish.

Brethren, sinners, will not inherit the Kingdom of God, and if we don’t walk in the spirit, but continue to walk in the flesh, we will never stop sinning, and we will never make it to the other side.

(Rom 8 please.)

Those who walk after the flesh, and mind the things of the flesh, will perish.

Rom 8:1 ‘There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.

2 For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us (fulfilled in who?) in those who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.

5 For they that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit, do mind, the things of the spirit.

6 For to be cardinal minded is death, but to be spiritual minded is life and peace.

7 because the cardinal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nether indeed can be.

8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

(Before we read in Hebrews, that: without faith, it is impossible to please God.

So if we want to please God, first, we have to have faith in Him, and second, we have to walk in the spirit.

How about us?  How about our lifestyle?  How much baggage are we are still carrying around, since our baptism & Hands?

(1 John 2:16 please)

1 John 2:16 (lets start in V 15) “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that s in the world, the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the father, but of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lusts there of. But he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”

The will of God, is for us to be believing, following, and adhering to His Son, our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Timothy 2:4 please)

We have a high calling; we are suppose to be disciples of Jesus Christ.) (To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, one has to be a warrior, one has to fight.) (And don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about physical combat.)

(I’m talking about spiritual combat, I’m talking about separating ourselves from the ways of this world.

2 Timothy 2:4 “No man that warreth, entangelith himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

(Please don’t get me wrong in my message today, I’m not directing this message towards anyone in particular (bar one, me.)

Faith & Belief is of utmost importance to the building of our character, to the changing of our ways.

(Many in God’s church today, seem to be content with this world – with the here & now, and the Cares of this life.)

We need to make sure that we are making progress towards our goal of coming out of this untoward or blemished world, and becoming like Christ, our Chief corner stone.

That takes faith, but faith alone is not enough to accomplish our mission of coming out of this world, and becoming like our Heavenly Father, who is Holy & Perfect.

We have to go beyond just saying we have faith, our faith has to be coupled with something else, to achieve that High goal.

(James 2:18 please) (I’m going to conclude there for today.)

James 2:14 “What doth it profit my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? Can faith save him?

(Ones belief has to be coupled with ones actions.)

Dropping down to V 17 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

(It’s like a bird without wings & and a fish without fins.)

18 Yea, a man may say, thou have faith, and I have works: Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God, thou doest well, the devils also believe, and tremble.

20 But will thou know, O vane man, that faith without works is dead.

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the alter?

(In another place it say that it is the doers of the Word that are justified, not the hearers only.)

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.

24 you see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, also was Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them another way.

26 For as the Body without the spirit is dead, So faith without works is dead also.