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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Merritt » James Merritt - Pergamum, Dealing With The Devil

James Merritt - Pergamum, Dealing With The Devil

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    James Merritt - Pergamum, Dealing With The Devil
TOPICS: This is Your Captain Speaking, Seven Churches of Revelation, Persecution

Well, how many of you either have heard the story or saw the Brad Pitt movie, Troy? How many of you even read the book or, all right, how many of you don't know anything about that at all? All right, I'm talking to you. When I was a boy the first time ever heard this story, I was mesmerized. There was an ancient city called Troy and they were battling the Greeks, and it was a fierce battle. They hated each other, but the Greeks just could not overtake the city, they just could not conquer the city. And so Troy withstood their charge. And so the Greeks, they all got back on their ships and they headed out to sea. So the Trojans thought, we've won the battles. Matter of fact, they were standing on top of the fortress watching in relief as these Greeks sailed away, and they notice the strange object that was just outside the city gates, it was the largest wooden animal they had ever seen, ever. It was a wooden horse, the Trojan horse.

So you heard about the Trojan horse. Well, the council veteran elders decided that you know, what do we do with this? What is this? And so they finally decided we know what this must be. This is their way of saying you win, we lose, we give up, we are leaving, won't fight anymore. We're done, we surrender. So they open the city gates and the garrison of soldiers go out to this horse and they pull the horse inside. The whole city came out and they're admiring this beautiful horse and the workmanship and how big it was and how large it was. And they were commemorating this great victory. And so you can imagine what they decided to do that night. The whole city throws a big party and they drink and they eat and they dance and they shout and they play games. And they're celebrating this magnificent Trojan horse late into the night. And they fall asleep.

When all was dark and all was quiet, just before sunrise, this wooden horse came to life and a secret door underneath the belly of that horse opened and a head peered out to make sure the coast was clear. And a squad of Greek soldiers came out of that horse and they went to strategic places inside the city waiting for a signal to attack. In the meantime, the entire Greek fleet during the night had returned, surrounded the city. And the Greek army was in full force. The signal was given, the soldiers slung opened the gates. The Greeks marched in without any resistance. They killed every man in the city. Troy was destroyed and the horse would be a reminder forever that what used to be a great civilization and what used to be a great people were destroyed, not because of an attack on the outside, but because of compromise on the inside.

There was a church 2000 years ago in a place called Pergamum, that's a city in Turkey today. And there was a Trojan horse inside of that church and like a termite, it was eating away at the foundations of that church. And when we read about this church, and by the way, if you brought a copy of God's word, I want you to turn to Revelation chapter two, the last book in the Bible. This church is a perfect picture in my mind of what is going on in the church today. Because more and more churches are allowing the same Trojan horse that that city allowed in. And the same Trojan horse that church allowed in is the same Trojan horse many churches are allowing in today.

We're in a series that we're calling this is your captain speaking. This is your first time here, we are in a series on the seven letters and seven, in the book of Revelation. Jesus dictated seven letters to seven churches. And those letters are a reflection and a symbol of our church Today, the church today, Christians today. As a matter of fact, Pergamum was a lot like modern day cities today. Let me give you an example. Every major city in America, without exception, has at least one major university. Every major city has at least one university. Pergamum was no different. They had a library. They had at one time the largest library in the world. They had over 200,000 volumes in that library. People came from all over the world to study and to teach at Pergamum.

But there's something else interesting about this city. The use of parchment, that's animal skin as writing material was invented in Pergamum. Pergamum came, parchment came from Pergamum. What happened was there was a time when people used to use papyri. It was made out of reeds. That's the way they would write things down. Well, the Greeks got into some kind of a conflict with Pergamos, They shut off the supply for papyri. So they had to have something to write on 'cause they had that library. They had teachers, they had professors, they had students. So they invented what's called parchment. They took sheep skin and invited parchment where they could begin and continue to write.

Today, if you got a diploma from a college or a university, sometimes they refer to it as your sheep skin. That's where we get that term. Well, there was one other thing about this city that really makes it a lot like our city. And like a lot of cities. They had two problems, same two problems Atlanta's got, same two problems New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, New York, LA, same two problems. They had a problem with idolatry. They had a problem with a immorality. So if you want to kind of bring this up to modern terms, when you think Pergamos, think Las Vegas. Perfect analogy. Jet-setting, lot of fun, lot of excitement. There was only one difference. What was said in Pergamum didn't stay in Pergamum. Everybody knew about Pergamum, especially Jesus. So in verse 13, Jesus refers to Pergamum this way. He said, "this is the city where Satan lives".

Now can you imagine that being said about your city, right. Oh, I know where you live. That's where Satan lives. In other words, this city was right in the middle of Hell's headquarters. It was a, I mean it was a satanic stronghold. Every bakery in that city was baking the devil's bread. His influence was found everywhere. As a matter of fact, today, let me just say this while I'm in the neighborhood, and I know people laugh and I know there are PhDs that go that's why I don't take you guys seriously. I'm telling you one more time and I hope these kids listen. I hope these teenagers listen. The devil is alive and well. He is on the prowl. He is after the church and he's gonna make sure the church always faces two threats, criticism from the outside, compromise on the inside.

Now here's the problem with this church. The main problem with the church was not outside criticism. The main problem was inside compromise. There was a battle that was going on, but this church didn't get it and that's why they lost the battle. That's why when you go to Pergamum today, there is no church. And it's a battle going on today that most Christians don't even understand. See, here's what we think and this is where we're wrong. We think the battle days between good and evil, that is not the battle that we face. Most people know, can generally agree what's generally good. And most people still agree on what generally is evil.

The battle being fought today is not between what is good and what is evil. The battle today is between what is true and what is error. That's the battle. It is between truth and error. We're seeing this battle fought out today like it's never been fought in the church before. One of my favorite authors to read is a guy named Os Guinness. He's a great Christian thinker, a great philosopher. Os Guinness said something in a book and when I read it, it almost made me literally start weeping because what he says is true, whether you want to admit it or not. And I mean it is damning to the church today, but he's right. Listen to what he wrote. "It is surely undeniable that only rarely in Christian history has the lordship of Jesus in the West been treated as more pliable or has Christian revisionism been more brazen, Christian interpretations of the Bible more self-serving, Christian preaching more soft, Christian behavior more lax, Christian compromise more common, Christian defections from the faith more casual, and Christian rationale for such slippage more spurious and shameless".

He is exactly right. And just like Pergamum 2000 years ago, the church is dealing with the devil. We're doing battle with the devil. If you're a parent, you're doing battle with the devil. If you're in a public school, you're doing battle with the devil. If you listen to Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington DC, you know you're in a battle with the devil. And when you know that, when you realize that, you better keep one thing in mind. This is the lesson we're gonna learn today from this church. And the lesson is this. Always stay true to the God in you. Always stay true to the God in you. Well how do you do that? You do that by remembering three things. Number one, Jesus desires personal conviction. Jesus desires personal conviction. Now we're in Revelation two, verse 12. We read already the church is under satanic attack. No doubt about it.

Listen, "to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp double-edged sword. I know where you live, where Satan has his throne". Jesus says look, I know what you're facing. I know you're living on the devil's doorstep. I know you are right in the shadow of hell's headquarters. I know the devil is your next door neighbor. I know he's on his throne. By the way, the throne literally means a seat of authority. There was no doubt about it. Satan was welding tremendous authority in that city. You could see his footprints everywhere that you went. Satan's firing every gun he's got at this church. But there's some good news about this church. They were holding fast to two very important things. First of all, they were holding fast to the truth about Jesus. Here's what he says. He says "yet you remain true to my name".

You guys, when you go to school tomorrow, I got a question for you. You gonna remain true to the name of Jesus when you go to school tomorrow, When you adults get in your car and go to work in the morning, are you gonna say true to the name of Jesus tomorrow? You say well, what does that mean? The name of Jesus stands for the character of Jesus. You know, back in that day you revealed who you were. Your name revealed who you were and what you had done. And what these Pergamum Christians were saying was you know what, we're gonna hold fast to the name of Jesus. We don't, we're not gonna back off that. Jesus is the unique perfect son of God who died on a cross, who came back from the dead. And they're not gonna keep, we're not gonna keep quiet about Jesus. Because if this church had just kept quiet about Jesus and just put Jesus on the shelf, we probably wouldn't be talking about this church.

But that was the problem. They didn't wanna stay out of trouble because to stay out of trouble, you had to kind of compromise the name of Jesus. And here's why. The Roman problem, the Roman empire had no problem with people believing in God. Everybody ought to believe in some God. They had a ton of gods you could believe in. That was not the issue. So you could believe in this God, that God, this God, that God. What got this church into trouble was when they said this. No, there's a man named Jesus and he was God. And that's the God that we follow. That's the God that we believe in. That's the God that we worship. That's what got them into trouble.

And see the same thing's true today. Let me tell you something. Let me help you guys out. You can talk about God today all you want to, you won't get into trouble with anybody. You wanna get in trouble, talk about Jesus. That'll get you into trouble. See, today you can talk about all, you know why you can talk about God nobody cares. 80% of people believe in God in America. So they don't care about you talking about God. But the moment you start talking about Jesus, praying in the name of Jesus, pointing people to Jesus, just let a Tim Tebow start talking about Jesus. And the reporter turns off the recorder and they cut to a commercial and people start staring at their feet so uncomfortable because people don't mind God. They just don't want to hear about Jesus.

You don't know this, but when they built the Gwinnett Civic Center many, many years ago, yours truly was asked to pray the dedicatory prayer. So I went over there and this was before they had all the proceedings. So I got up and I prayed in the name of Jesus. I got through, and I'm telling you, I saw him out of the corner of my eye, this well-dressed man, three piece suit. He was firing at me. He was like a bullet shot out of a gun. And I could tell he was not coming to invite me to his Christmas party. I just, something told me that. He came right up to me. He was a Jewish lawyer. He got right in my face. He said you are an insult. How dare you come to this place filled with Jews like me and Muslims and Hindus and atheists and agnostic. How dare you preach in the name of Jesus?

I want to tell you something, you are an intolerant, never-minded bigot. And you ought to be ashamed of yourself. I mean he wasn't letting up. I only had one problem. I knew exactly what to say. I said sir, I think you need to help me on something. I must be confused. He said what? I said I'm sorry, I guess I'm confused. Said what do you mean? I said have I somehow been transported to the Soviet Union? He said what? I said, excuse, I thought I lived in America. I thought I had the right and the freedom to pray anyway I wanted to pray. He didn't say anything. And I said you know, if you prayed, you could have prayed anyway you wanted to pray. They didn't ask you to pray. They asked me to pray. So I said while I'm in the neighborhood, got a word for you sir. You're an attorney. You stick to law, let me speak to Jesus, okay.

So here's my point. I'm not saying that because I'm a hero. I'm not saying that in any way whatsoever. I'm just simply saying, you gotta make up your mind you're gonna hold fast to the name of Jesus. But there's something else. They were not just holding fast to the truth about Jesus. They were holding fast to the trust in Jesus. Look in verse 13, "I know where you live. Where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true in my name". Now watch this. "You did not renounce your faith in me". They said to this city I'm sorry. We are gonna put our faith and trust in Jesus. No other God is worthy of our faith. No other God is worthy of our trust. We're gonna stand by who he was. We're gonna stand by what he did. And all I wanna say is I move on. Jesus wants from the church today what he desired from that church then. He wants us to hold to the conviction there's only one supreme master in the universe and his name is Jesus. And there's only one supreme message of salvation. And that is the gospel. Jesus desires personal conviction.

Now if that is true, then you'll understand the second thing we have to remember and that is Jesus despises moral compromise. He despises moral compromise. Now you're reading about this church and it sounds good, boy, this is a great church. You hold fast the name of Jesus. You don't deny the faith of Jesus. Wonderful, and then Jesus says that one word. And you just get a knot in your gut and you break out in a cold sweat. Nevertheless, that's the Greek word there is uh-oh. Nevertheless, even though you're a church of devoted loyalty, you become a church of doctrinal leniency. Because see this church had begun to do something that I guarantee you will kill every church. It doesn't matter if you're Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, non-denominational. I don't care. When a church begins to do this, it is the death nail for the church. The church began to compromise. They started tolerating false beliefs and false teaching that others were bringing into the church.

So listen to what Jesus says. He says "nevertheless, I have a few things against you. There are some things among you, there's some people, there's some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam". We'll talk about him in a minute. "Who taught Balak to entice Israelites to sin so they ate food sacrificed to idols and they committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans". Now what's going on here? The church itself was not holding to false teaching, but they were doing something just as bad, if not worse. They were allowing other people to bring false teaching into the church. They were allowing the other people to propagate false beliefs in the church. In other words, they were beginning to compromise truth for the sake of unity and peace in the church.

Remember they had two problems. Problem one was idolatry. Pergamum was the capital city of the Roman province. It was the center of season worship. As a matter of fact, in 29 BC Pergamum became the first city that the Roman Empire allowed to build a temple to Caesar Augustus. One temple, one God. You remember Caesar Augustus, to Caesar Augustus. He was to be the supreme God. You could worship any other God you wanted to worship, but at least once a year to worship Caesar. Didn't worship Caesar, you know we talked about it last week, big, big trouble.

Well the Christians you say, but I thought they didn't mind you worshiping other gods. They didn't. They turned a blind eye to it except you did have to worship that God. Well this church wouldn't do that. They wouldn't burn that incense. I'm sorry, we're holding fast to the name of Jesus. We're not denying our faith in Jesus because to do that would be to deny his name and deny our faith. We're not going to do that. But there was an even greater problem because the church had to deal with people in the church that was teaching the doctrine of Balaam. That is, they were talking about immorality.

Now we're gonna get to where it's really real in our world today. Now understand this, I know a lot of you have never heard of Balaam, and a lot of you have never heard of Balak. So you need to hear the story 'cause you wanna understand this passage if you don't, and it's a good story to remember. Balaam, Balak was a Moab king. And the Moabs were fighting the Israelites, but they couldn't beat them because Israelites had God on their side. Well, Balaam heard about this prophet, a gentile prophet named Balak. Balak was a true prophet. He was a true, he knew God, walked with God, loved God. He was a true prophet. So Balaam, Balak goes to Balaam. Balak the king goes to Balaam the prophet. He says look, I need you to get your God to curse the people of Israel.

Matter of fact, he tried to bribe Balaam three times with money to curse God's people. But God would not let him curse his people, wouldn't let him do it. The problem was Balak wanted the money. He was greedy. So Balak's trying to come up with a way. Okay, I can't curse the people 'cause God won't let me. But then he came up with this idea. So he goes to Balak and he said I think I can work this out. He said look, I can't curse Israel. I can't do it. Now tell you what I think I can do. I can corrupt Israel so God will curse Israel. So here's what he did. He goes to the Israelite people he says, I wanna tell you something. God has told me and revealed to me it's okay for you to marry Moab women.

Now wasn't. God told them not to marry Pagan women. But he tells these Israelites hey, it's okay to marry Moab women. So they begin to marry Moab women. And he says oh, by the way, let me tell you something else. God's cool if you do it in the name of religion, it's okay to go to the temple and have sex with temple prostitutes. God doesn't have an issue with that. Just make sure it's religious. So people are buying into this and all of a sudden they were eating meat sacrificed to idols though they were not supposed to. And they were committing sexual immorality even though they were not supposed to. And what did God do? God did exactly what you think God would do. He did curse the people of Israel and 24,000 people died in one day. Because they compromised. because they listened to a false prophet instead of listening to the word of God.

And you say what's that God do with us? Well if you haven't been Rip Van Winkle for the last 20 years, you know where I'm going. Because there are churches almost on a daily basis that are now saying, you know what? We think the world's right. You know, science has caught up. We've caught up with science. So what the scripture says about homosexuality is just wrong. And there's nothing wrong with gay marriage and God's okay, we're okay, we're all okay. And now there are churches today that just say you know what, you're right. We can either disregard the Bible or we'll just reinterpret the Bible to her own liking. So no marriage doesn't have to be confined to a man and a woman, and no, it's okay to have sex outside a marriage. And these churches, when they do that, they get what they're looking for.

People start saying about these churches two things. Oh you are an affirming church. Oh you are an inclusive church. And that's exactly what they want to hear. And I'm telling you that teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans, it is having a devastating impact on the church. And I've said this before and I'm gonna keep saying it. The reason why the church has the least influence in the world that it's had in my lifetime is because the world has had far too much influence on the church. Now if you don't, if you think I'm overhyping stuff and you think you know man, you're just, doc you're just too far out there. You're just way out there. Gotta ask you a question. I'm gonna see how awake these kids are right now 'cause I gotta put you to the test. So guys, wake up. I know you know the answer. I want you to imagine I give you an eight ounce glass.

In fact, let's make it bigger. I want you to imagine I give you a supersized, 32 ounce glass of water. But I've got this poison. It is the most powerful poison in the world that can kill a hundred men. All right, here's the pop quiz guys. Easy question. How many drops of water of poison will it take to ruin that glass of water? One drop. That's all it takes. All it takes just one tiny drop. Let me tell you something. One drop of compromise poisons a church. Poisons. It doesn't matter what topic. You may think it's a harmless topic. We're gonna talk about some of these things. I told you in January we're coming. Gay marriage, fornication, adultery, transgenderism. We're gonna talk about all of it in a loving way. Not gonna be popular, some won't like it. But I'm telling you right now, Jesus said to that church and to our church, not our church so much, but our the church today.

There are some inside of you that are tolerating and approving of false teaching and moral compromise. And you need to deal with it. And I want you to hear me clear as water, this is so important. I believe in the principle of compromise. I've been a pastor of 45 years. I would've never built the churches I've been allowed to build and have the places I've been able to preach if I had not learned the art of compromise. I believe in the principle of compromise. If you heard me say that, raise your hand. All right, I believe in the principle of compromise, But I will never compromise principle. I believe the principle of compromise, but I will never compromise principle. Look, compromise is important to get anywhere. Look, I'll prove it to you.

How many of you have been married over a year? You understand compromise. You didn't make it a year. You don't understand, I'm just telling you, compromise is necessary. In fact, I read about a married couple the other day. They went in to see this counselor and they were just, they were just at odds with each other and the counselor was talking to them and he just wasn't getting anywhere with them. And he said listen, let me ask you a question. He said have y'all ever tried the art of compromise? And the husband said well yeah, we tried one time. And he said well, tell me about it. He said well, I've always wanted to buy a boat. And my wife would always say we can't afford to buy a boat. She always tells me that. All I've wanted was a boat. He said one day I just said you know what, I've had enough.

So he said I just went out and I bought a boat. I didn't tell her about it till I bought it. I just came in said hey, I bought a boat. Well, she got really upset. And he said honey, I got an idea. He said in the spirit of compromise, why don't you name the boat? And she said to my surprise good idea. That's great. I'm happy now. I'll name the boat. The counselor said well, how'd that work out for you? He said terrible. He said terrible? He said yeah. He said well what happened? He said well, I went down to the dock, had the boat in the water and went down to the boat to see what she had named the boat. He said what'd she name it? He said for sale. There's some things you ought to compromise on. But I'm here to tell our church today when it comes to idolatry and immorality and iniquity and indecency, we will not compromise. It is a poison to the church, will not do it.

So Jesus, Jesus desires personal conviction, know what you believe and believe it. Stick by it. Jesus despises moral compromise. Here's the last thing. Jesus demands continual commitment. So what does Jesus say to the church? This church is compromised with a worldliness and weakness. What does he say? Well will surprise you, verse 16. Repent. Repent. You know there are a lot of people think that the last words Jesus ever said to the church was the great commission. What's the last thing Jesus ever said to the church? Go therefore and make disciples of all day. That's not the last word Jesus said. The last word Jesus ever said was repent. And I'll tell you something. That's what Jesus is saying to our church today. We need to repent. The church needs to repent. God's people need to repent.

We are the ones that need to get right because if we compromise with spiritual idolatry, sexual immorality, cultural indecency, personal inequity, listen to me, if we don't deal with it, Jesus will deal with us. If we don't deal with it, Jesus will deal with us. 'Cause remember, it wasn't so much the church was teaching false doctrine, or engaging in immorality. The problem is they were letting other people teach it. They were letting other people propagate it. They were letting other people practice it. They were not guilty of the crime. They were just an accomplice. Now somebody comes along and they say wait a minute, Why is Jesus so insistent about truth? Why is Jesus so intolerant about error? Why is it that Jesus doesn't even want one inch of compromise to come in under the door of the church?

I'll tell you why. You know why Jesus is so big about truth? Because he is the truth. He speaks the truth. He lives the truth. He breathe the truth. He taught the truth. He loved the truth. And he wants our church to stand for truth and live the truth because he is the truth. And his word is truth. One of the greatest preachers I've ever heard, I know some people say this, I get it. 'Cause I told you last week I'm gonna remind you. Compromise brings comfort. But conviction brings confrontation. And I'm gonna keep saying this for a while. Real Christianity is not for the faint of heart. If you're looking for an easy, comfortable, lazy, non-confrontational way to follow Jesus, you're not gonna follow Jesus. It is not for the faint of heart. Somebody says but if you do, if we do what you say pastor, we'll have people that will leave this church. Yes we will. We'll have people that won't even come to this church. Yes we will.

In fact, we'll have people that will lie about this church. Yes they will. And we could just do what a lot of churches do. Never talk about anything controversial. Don't do anything to upset anybody's apple cart. Have everybody come in feeling good, leave feeling better. We can do that. And we can compromise. But one of the greatest preachers I've ever heard made one of the greatest statements he ever made. He said this. "It is better to be divided by truth than united in error". "It is better to be divided by truth than united in error". And I wanna say something to these kids down here, and I say kids affectionately, I'm not talking down to you kids, I just say it affectionately. But I wanna say something to these middle schoolers and these high schoolers and these teenagers. Guys and gals, if you're gonna live for Jesus today, you can't pay attention to what Hollywood says or what Washington says, or what Wall Street says, or what a lot of NBA basketball players say.

You can't listen to that. If you're gonna live for Jesus and walk with Jesus and stand for truth and be what you ought to be and do what you ought to do, you just gotta keep asking yourself one question. What does God say? That's all I wanna know. With all respect, and I don't mean this, this is not a political statement. I couldn't care less what the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court says, I wanna know what God says. Well Lord, what do you say? 'Cause you mark this down, don't ever forget this. One day somebody else gonna be pastor for this church. One day I'm gonna be gone. One day I'll be retired, dead, or both. If I'm dead, I will be retired. I'll guarantee you that. But if you don't hear anything else, this, if you know I've thought about this, if I could say one last thing to our church, what would I say it would be this statement.

"When a church quits standing by the word of God, God will quit standing by that church. If you quit standing by the word of God, God will quit standing by the church". So he goes on to say this. He said all right, if you don't repent, look what he says. "Otherwise I will come to you. I will fight against them with a sword of my mouth". When I read that in my study, I put my pen down. I literally looked up and here's what I said. I said Lord, I'll tell you one thing. I sure would rather be on your side against the world than be on the world's side against you. I told my boys, my boys know this. One of my son's here today. I've told my boys this. I told all three of them. I love you guys with all my heart. I'm not the best dad you could have ever had. I've admit that. Got a lot of faults.

Wish I could do a lot of things over, can't do it. But you could have never had a dad that loves you as much as I love you, and I think I've proven it, but I've said to all three of my boys. But I wanna tell you right now, if you ever make me choose between you and Jesus, I'm going with Jesus. I'm going with Jesus. I'm gonna be on his side. So here's what Jesus says, we'll wrap this up. He says, now if you'll stand true and if you'll stay true, what's the promise he makes? This is so cool. "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the spirit says to the churches. To the one who's victorious. I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it".

Jesus promises two rewards, two things. He says I will give you, if you'll just stay strong, if you just won't compromise, if you'll say I'm gonna believe you, whatever you say in your book and live it no matter what it may cost me. He said I'm gonna give you two things. He said the first one I'm gonna give you hidden manna. Now many of you know what manna was in the Bible. Manna was the food that God fed the nation of Israel with in the word. It refers to fellowship. And here's what Jesus is saying there. If you'll stay true, if you won't deny my name, if you'll keep your faith in me, if you'll stay true to what God teaches, one day, you'll sit at my table. I'll be your cook, I'll be your host, I'll be your servant. And when you and I will dine and we'll eat together, we'll have fellowship that will never end. But then he says this. This is really strange if you don't really do your homework, I'm gonna give you a white stone. You know in a way you'd say well, that's what a first grade kid would give you.

Here's, hey, I found this white rock. Here's a gift for you. He said I'll give you a white stone. Well, that's a big deal because back in the day, here's what two men would that had a great friendship. Two men would find a white stone and they'd break that stone in half. One man would write something, a name or something, a word that nobody knew what was on that, but the other guy. And the other guy would take his white stone, he'd write down a name or a word that nobody knew, but the other guy. And then they would exchange the stones. It's almost like a code word that the two men would know together. And so what it meant was both men were saying everything I've got belongs to you and everything I've got belongs to you.

If you ever need me, you bring that white stone. If I ever need y'all, bring that white stone and we will be there for each other because they both, they both knew for all of their life any time I would go to that guy or he would come to me and present that stone, whatever he wanted, I'd give it to him. What Jesus was saying was if we'll stand by the truth, if we'll just keep going with Jesus, he's gonna give us a white stone. He's gonna write something on it that nobody will know, but the two of us. And what he's saying is we'll always have unbroken fellowship. You ever need anything which you want 'cause you're in Heaven, but if you do, you've got it. But all we've gotta do in dealing with the devil, we gotta stay true. We gotta stand true to the truth about Jesus and our trust in Jesus.

So I was trying to think about how do you, you know, the two most important parts of the message to me are the introduction and conclusion, right. Because in the introduction, I'm trying to make sure you don't fall asleep. And in the conclusion, I'm trying to make sure you stayed awake, right. Because you're only gonna remember the last thing I say. So I said how can I end this message? And boy, God was so good, I'm gonna end it talking about one of your favorite subjects. Mickey Mouse. How many of you have been to Disney World? Okay, a lot of you have been to Disney World. Disney World fascinates me, not for the same reason it fascinates kids. I'm over that stuff. You know why Disney fascinates me? It's because of all the things they do to make Disney World, Disney World. They don't miss a trick. They don't miss anything.

So you may not, I never even thought about this before, but you may not have known this. You know, one of the things I learned about Disney World, they have a rule at Disney World. You will never see two Mickey Mouses at the same place at the same time. So you can go to any one of those parks you want to go to. You may have Mickey on that side of the park, but if there's another Mickey, he'll be on the other side of the park. They will never ever, you'll never see two Mickey Mouses in the same place. You know why? Because they do not want to risk any child to ever quit believing in Mickey. Because if they ever see two Mickey's together, then they figure it out. So they say, no, no, no, no, no, no. It is so important that we make sure a child puts his faith in Mickey and puts his trust in Mickey and becomes a follower of Mickey.

We will never, ever let Mickey seen in two places at the same time. In other words, the one thing that Disney World is never gonna compromise on, they are not going to compromise on Mickey Mouse. Well, I've got news for our church. We are in a spiritual battle and there's nothing Mickey Mouse about it. We're always going to be dealing with the devil. But we need to make up our mind. We may as well do it today. We may as well do it now, we may to do it right here. We are not gonna compromise God's truth. We're not gonna compromise God's word. We're not gonna compromise who Jesus is. We're not gonna compromise what God has done through Jesus. And when we deal with the devil, you deal with the devil. I deal with the devil. Always stay true to the God who is in you. 'Cause you'll be eternally glad that you did.

Would you pray with me, with heads bound, with eyes closed? I want those of you who are followers of Jesus, would you just out loud pray with me 'cause we're all under pressure. Every one of us. We're all under pressure to compromise, go along to get along, follow the crowd, go with the flow. don't rock the apple, don't rock the the boat, don't upset the apple cart. But we can't do that if we're gonna stay true to Jesus. So would you just pray this out loud with me right now? If you mean it. If you don't mean it, just don't say anything. But if you mean this prayer, would you pray this out loud with me? Would you just say:

Heavenly Father, in this day of compromise help me to stay true to biblical truth. Help me to be a person of conviction. Help me to have the character to stay true to my conviction. Lord, I pray for our church specifically, may we be known as a church that stays true to your name. That does deny our faith in you.

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