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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Abundant Life

John Bradshaw - Abundant Life

John Bradshaw - Abundant Life
John Bradshaw - Abundant Life
TOPICS: In The Word, Abundance

I'm glad to be with you today. We're about to open the Bible and get in the Word. So, we'll pray first, and we'll anticipate the presence and the blessing of the Spirit of God and that God would lead us in the way that He would have us go. Let's pray.

Father in heaven, we're grateful for the opportunity to gather around the Bible. We know that we are in the presence of heaven, in the presence of Your Holy Spirit. So lead, speak, bless, instruct, encourage, we pray, and we thank You, in Jesus' name. Amen.

I don't know if you would be as shocked as I was to read the research findings of a certain physician, a Dr. Jagger from Newcastle University in England, Great Britain. She said that within 20 years, now, I want you to see if you can get your head around this, "Twenty years from now," she, she postulated, "today's middle-aged Britons will be suffering from an average of four significant diseases". They refer to this as multi-morbidity. Now, I'm not suggesting one of four or two of four, or these four diseases will simply be prevalent. No, Dr. Jagger said that today's middle-aged Briton, 20 years from now, will in her or his senior years be suffering from a total of four significant diseases. She mentioned they would be cancer, heart disease, dementia. She talked about people who would suffer from strokes. And what she said was, speaking to a generation of people in Great Britain, within 20 years from now, you will be suffering from four of those conditions.

If you were to pick four of those types of illnesses that you would like to suffer from, you would pick none, none, none, and not a single one. Now, you might think, this research was conducted in Great Britain; maybe it was faulty. Yeah, but maybe it wasn't. You might be thinking, it's on the other side of the Atlantic, if you're on the American side, or the other side of the world, if you're in another part of the planet. But you know that if you are in a Western country, we're all pretty much in this together, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, many European countries, much the same. In fact, I'm going to say, the same. How do you think God feels when He looks down upon this planet, and He sees that His children are suffering under the weight of illness? Well, we know how He feels.

The Bible begins with these famous words, Genesis 1 and verse 1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". He made us, and we read over in the New Testament where the Bible says you are "the temple of the Holy Spirit". Your body is the temple of the Spirit of God. In the beginning, we were created to live how long? We were created to live forever. The oldest man who ever lived, well, you might call him the oldest man who ever died, Methuselah, lived to be 969 years of age. He lived for almost an entire millennium. The last person you heard about who died was how old? Might be 16 or 26 or 66, maybe 106. But maybe 6, or 6 months. It was never meant to be this way.

I wonder if you would look with me in your Bible in 1 Corinthians chapter 9, and we'll pick it up in about verse 24. First Corinthians chapter 9, verse 24, and here's what the Word of God says: "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? [So] run in such a way that you may obtain it". Another translation might say, "So run to win". "And [that] everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but imperishable... Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified," or cast away. Isn't that fascinating? The Bible calls us to live a temperate lifestyle. Somebody once defined temperance as being moderation in that which is good and abstinence from that which is harmful.

Now, here's what I know. When you start to talk about health, even from a biblical perspective, you'll find people who fold their arms; they get defensive. "Don't meddle with what's on my plate". "Don't snoop around inside my pantry". "Get your hands off my refrigerator door". I understand. However, there are other people who perk up; their ears kind of open wide. They're, they get the, the look of alertness and keenness on their face because they're looking for answers. They're looking for solutions. We don't want to die unfortunate deaths. We don't want to die early. You don't want to get to your funeral any sooner than you need to, and some people are saying, "Tell me more. I know I need to experience something better". And the truth of the matter is a vast amount of people have no idea that God is interested in their health.

Well, God wants to save me from my sins. That's true, amen. God also wants to save you, listen carefully to my next words, where possible, where possible from elevated blood pressure. God also wants to save you from diabetes, where possible. God also wants to save you from cancer and heart disease and from a stroke and dementia, where possible. Too many people live thinking, "Well, I'm just kinda gonna get that. And my neighbor was unlucky, and the guy on the other side of me got lucky and didn't get that". No, it's not a matter of luck, even though you can be genetically pre-dispositioned to better health. Let me tell you something that I almost don't want to tell you. In fact, it's something that I don't want to tell you, but maybe it fits here.

So let me, let me roll it out. My mother is 92 years of age, ninety, no, well, that's, so I don't mind telling you that. That's something she doesn't want me to tell you. My mother would like to think that even God doesn't know her age. She just acts like it's a state secret. And that's fair enough. But she's 92. So if you see my mother, don't tell her what I said. I suggest that one of the secrets to her longevity is that she quit smoking. In fact, in fact, I'll state it categorically. One of the reasons, a primary reason, that my mother lived to the age, or has lived so far to the age of 92, is that she stopped smoking. The question you ought to ask me is, well, Pastor, when did she stop smoking?

Now, the answer I give you, I have to tell you the truth. She stopped smoking at the age of 85. At the age of 85. If she had never smoked, she might live to be 185. But she quit smoking at 85. She got around to it at least, and finally she did a wise thing. I said to a physician friend, "How has my mother managed to live so long after having smoked so..."? And she wasn't the "I'll have a cigarette when I'm out with friends". She was a smoker. My physician friend said, "Good genes". Hmm. I wonder about that. I said, "No one's genes can be good enough to ward off about 50 years of constant smoking". Her lungs had to have been like lumps of coal. I put it down simply to the mercy and the providence of God and maybe good genes. So, what we know is there are exceptions to the rule. And I tell you that not so the 14-year-old kid can say, "Ha! It worked for Mrs. Bradshaw; maybe I can get away with it".

You can't. She is the exception to the rule. But what we have to keep in mind when we start talking about good health, even from a biblical perspective, is that one size does not fit all. We both know people who have lived very clean lives, very healthy lives and died at the age of 53 from cancer. We know that that can happen. We know that people who are in good shape can have heart attacks. It happens from time to time. So if you are the exception, or if you feel like you're the exception, please don't feel like I'm needling you in any way. And let's not make this prescriptive for everybody, as though everyone walks the same road. But at the end of the day, the likelihood is that we are pretty much the same, most of us. Whether we are or are not, the Bible speaks to us and gives us solid counsel.

The Apostle Paul just said, if you're in the race and you're wanting to win, be temperate, in fact, "temperate in all things". He's referring to athletes which competed in the ancient games. And they are competing to receive a laurel, a crown of perhaps, uh, wound-up leaves or branches. They weren't going to walk away with a gold or fakey-gold medal. They weren't going to get an endorsement deal. They weren't going to get a spot on the lucrative celebrity speakers' tour. Just the laurel, just the crown. What are we competing for? And I'll use the term because Paul sort of used that term. We are after the crown of life, which never fades away. We are planning on one day walking on streets of gold. We are gonna eat the fruit that grows on the tree of life. We will be in the presence of Jesus. It's too much to squander. You want to prepare for that. It's too much to fritter away.

That's why the Bible says to us in 1 Corinthians chapter 6, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's". The Bible says, Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly". John 10, verse 10. Now, we don't want to point the finger at anybody else, but we do want to ask ourselves the question, are we living temperately? Am I treating the body temple as though it actually is an habitation for the Holy Spirit of God?

Now, before we're done, we'll resolve this; we'll come back around to the how, so hang in there with me. Because for some people, they want to make some changes in their life; they just feel like they're too weak. They've tried; they've failed. It's up and it's down. It's lose a few pounds and it's gain them back, plus interest. It's, "I have this unfortunate lifestyle habit, and I just don't seem to be able to break it. I'm addicted. I just can't live without this". We'll come back around and we'll talk to that in just a moment. Their body, our bodies, the body, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It's important to know that. The Bible says, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God". First Corinthians 10, verse 31. Now, if you look at that passage, it's not primarily referring to, in context, diet. However, it does include that. If you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to God's glory.

Do you think there's a way to eat and drink that's not to the glory of God? Sure there is. And when we get over into Revelation chapter 14, the Word of God says, the first angel says, carrying the everlasting gospel, "Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come". Isn't that something? We are called to give glory to God in all things, and one of the ways we do that is how we eat and how we drink. So isn't it time to start thinking about some of the damaging effects of the things we put into our bodies? Isn't it time to just admit that alcohol is a poison that no one should have anything to do with, least of all Christians? It challenges me on a personal level to think that a person who drinks alcohol is supporting an industry that is responsible for, in the words of some, about 90 percent of all the crime that's committed.

Now, John, where do you get that statistic? Well, I have spoken to police officer friends. And I've said to them, several of them, "How much of your work would disappear if there was no such thing as alcohol"? One police officer said to me, "Oh, 90 percent". So I spoke to another police officer friend, and I said, "My friend said 90 percent. What do you think"? And this one said, "I think your friend was wrong". I was waiting for the moment of truth. He said, "I think it's more like 95 percent". Interesting. What was the question? How much of your, your work as a police officer would disappear if there was no alcohol? I spoke to another, law enforcement officer, and she said, "Oh, I don't know if it's 90 or 95, but I do believe it's at least 80 and maybe 85".

So let's agree that 80 to 90 percent of crime boils down to alcohol use, at least in this admittedly unscientific study I conducted polling members of the law enforcement community. And by the way, if you are one of those, thank you so much for what you do for our society and for your community. We are grateful. Would you like to just imagine how much domestic violence, how much sexual abuse, how much marital infidelity would disappear if there was no alcohol? This is not something granted by God for the blessing and betterment of society. It's ruinous. Does the Bible say, "Thou shalt not drink"? Oh, it says, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: ...whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise". We read that in the book of Proverbs. And there are other similar verses that make abundantly clear that alcohol and human beings, alcohol and professed believers simply shouldn't mix.

Now, of course you wonder, how do I tell that to somebody? Maybe you don't. Maybe you pray for that person. Maybe you speak very gently about it. Or maybe if you want to help that family member of yours, you might say, "Have you stopped to consider that alcohol causes cancer"? It's carcinogenic. No, most people haven't stopped to think about that. Have you stopped to think about the health challenges? And that individual who wonders how he or she can ever put down alcohol, I want to remind you of what the Bible says. It says in Philippians chapter 4 and verse 13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". All things. It doesn't say, all things, except for putting alcohol away. And have we established the case that we ought to put alcohol away? Yes, we have. It damages the body, it damages the body temple, therefore it damages your mind, and it certainly does.

You will discover that, alcoholics, and even people who use alcohol moderately, damage the frontal lobe of their brain. We want to put it out of our lives. It doesn't honor God. We want to live forever. And I've heard people say, "If I couldn't smoke, if I couldn't eat" a certain something, "my life wouldn't be happy". Yes, it would. It absolutely would be happy. "Did he say 'smoke'"? We hardly even need to talk about that. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not kill," and nicotine ingestion, smoking, tobacco use is simply self-murder. It just is. It damages you. We haven't spoken about the stewardship aspect. Your money's going up in smoke. No, it's not, God's money is going up in smoke. "But you said your mother smoked for 65 years". Yes, that's right. Her friend smoked for about 45 years and died an awful death, cancer-ridden.

There are people who smoke for far less and check out far earlier. We aren't going to appeal to the exception to the rule to make our case. The Bible is our case. Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. John wrote in 3 John, verse 2, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth". Third John, verse 2. It is God's wish and will that we be in health, our minds clearer, our ability enhanced to receive the blessing of God. Good question that you're thinking, or if you're not thinking of asking this question, someone near you is: Well, where do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line? The Bible doesn't say, "Thou shalt not eat candy". Okay, that's right. But there are some people who might have an otherwise good diet who are damming them, uh, damaging themselves with dessert.

Okay, that's true. But remember, he or she "that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things". And so you might say, "No chocolate cake is the very best". But then you might say, "A piece every now and then, I'll let myself go that far". Okay. Sure. This is a matter of judgment and prayer. "Well, he's not talking about salt, and people drive up their high blood pressure by using too much salt". Temperate, temperate in all things. "Oh, he's not talking about exercise". Uh, actually I am, as a matter of fact. I'm not gonna major in that, but shouldn't we look after our body temple by getting some exercise? Sure we should. Sure we should. How much exercise? Talk to a physician. Ask a exercise physiologist.

You see, beyond where the Bible specifies clearly, we are to use our judgment. The Bible doesn't say anything about caffeine, for example, except it does indirectly. Caffeine is a mind-altering drug. It's not very fashionable today to talk about its harmful characteristics, but they are still there. "Well, didn't I read some research..."? You can find research to support anything. Caffeine damages your body. Caffeine ramps you up. You just watch your coffee drinker go without coffee for a while, and then see the effect it has on her or his life. I don't care how fancy Starbucks has made coffee seem, and by the way, if you're dropping $5 on a coffee, more power to ya. I would suggest there are better uses for that $5. And someone said, "Five? It costs us even more". Which makes my point. We want to say, not "What do I want?" but, "Lord, what pleases You? Lord, what honors You"?

And we want to be prayerful, as balanced as we possibly can be, and we want to be Christian. The reason we want to have a healthy body is so that we can have an increasingly clear mind, and we want that clear mind so that we can hear more and more the voice of God, the will of God so we're in a place to surrender more to the Spirit of God in our life. We don't wanna do anything at all that dishonors God. And we want to preserve the body temple in a way that pleases God, honors God, and glorifies God. If you are addicted to a substance, that's not bringing glory to God, because you have voluntarily signed up for a certain form of slavery, where God, has not been allowed to keep you from these physical crutches, these damaging things that will make you less of a person. Less of a person? Physically, absolutely. And all the energy you're putting into negative health could be energy that is channeled into another direction.

Well, the Bible, I'm gonna go a step further here and take you to where the Bible speaks about the diet that we ought to enjoy. You know, way back in the beginning, Adam and Eve didn't eat animals. There was no killing in the Garden of Eden. No animals died to provide them with food. They were vegetarian, seemed to work out pretty well. When you're living to be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years old, that should be a recommendation for the dietary plan. And so God said in Genesis chapter 1 and verse 27, let me turn there with you, Genesis chapter 1 and verse 27: "God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them". And then verse 29, after the Creation, He said, here's what's on the menu: "God said, 'Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat,'" or for food.

Later on, it became permissible for human beings to eat animal flesh. After the Flood, it seems that the dietary guidelines were relaxed a little bit. But there's something that didn't change. We're going to Genesis chapter 7: "And the Lord said to Noah, 'Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.'" So rather than going onto the ark two by two, some went on in twos, and some went on in sevens. The unclean went on in twos; the clean went on by seven. Why do you need seven of the clean? Because when Noah and his family got off the ark, they would want to offer something to God in sacrifice. They would not sacrifice something unclean. Also they would want to perhaps eat animal flesh. And here they would be able to eat a clean animal without, well, causing the animals to become extinct.

So in the beginning there were clean animals, and there were unclean animals. You know something? The church is missing out on an opportunity by not talking about this more loudly. We ought to be making hay while the sun shines. The New Age folks are into it. Go to your local shopping mall, if you're in a city of any size at all, and you will see vegetarian this and vegan that. Go to your supermarket, and sure, there's the, uh, there's the, gluten-free and there's the low-fat, but now more and more vegetarian and vegan, more and more and more. This thing has become mainstream. In some countries it's very big. It's easy now to say, good health? We've got some answers. Good health? We've got some principles. Good health? This is the message of the Bible. God wants to bless you, yes, God. He wants you to live, an optimal existence. He wants you to live above so much sickness and disease, which you could avoid.

Remember, I'm not saying you can avoid it all. But much disease could be avoided if we just lived a little different, ate a little different, exercised a little more, drank other stuff than what we're drinking. Nobody needs to drink soda. Do you know how much sugar there is in a can of Coke, not to mention the caffeine? Do you know how much damaging substance there is in 7UP and Sprite? Man, you can live without that. We feed it to our children. Okay, not we, some people will feed it to their children. What do you think Junior's gonna do with 8, 10, 15 teaspoons of sugar just poured down his or her throat? Surely they're gonna climb the walls. No, they're not gonna sit quietly in church. No, they won't mind. They're jacked up on sugar! It's really interesting, I'm not claiming causation. I will claim correlation. Not causation, correlation.

If you look at the increasing rate of cancer, at least in the United States, and then you look at the, at the increasing rate of sugar consumption, you'll see an interesting parallel. No, no, no, no, no. I didn't say causation. I'm not being that irresponsible. I'm simply saying it's fascinating that one and the other seem to be moving in a very similar trajectory. Back to these unclean animals. God said, "Some are clean; some are unclean". This clearly wasn't something just for Jews, because God spoke about this to Noah. So we're gonna go to the book of Leviticus. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and we'll start in chapter 11 and verse 1. This is wonderful news. God wants you to live a healthier, better, abundant life. That's what Jesus wants for you.

Remember your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We want to honor God, and before we go any further, let's take a time-out...for this message from Pastor Bradshaw. Where are we in the stream of time? Are we getting towards the end of time, yes or no? That was a "yes". Are we getting towards the time when Jesus is gonna return to this earth, yes or no? Okay, that's another "yes," absolutely right. Are we getting close to "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation," yes or no? Okay, that's another "yes". You've got in the book of Daniel the example of Daniel, who said, we won't eat this stuff; we want to honor God. And then in the next chapter, chapter 2, God blessed him and prospered him spiritually. He was able to hear the voice of God and receive profoundly important prophetic communications. He'd made the decision first that his body would be the temple of the Holy Spirit.

My friend, we are getting closer and closer to the time of the mark of the beast. We want every advantage in that time. Late in the history of the earth, in a time of crisis, in a time of great need, in a time of extreme pressure, you are going to want your mind to be as clear as possible. You aren't going to want to say, "I can't live without my little crutch or my little vice". And you are gonna want to say, "I've surrendered everything to God". You think about it. Adam and Eve, where did they fail? Appetite. That was the first test, and they failed on it. "Why don't you eat this"? Eve simply couldn't resist. We do not want to be failing on appetite down near the close of time. Having said this, I know I want to go on, but there are some caveats. You don't want to be a fanatic or a crank. The gospel is about Jesus, not cheeses. You don't want to bash somebody into submission by criticizing what's on their plate. You don't need to take the health message and allow it to make you become unkind.

Too many people put "hell" in the health message. It's an H-E-L-L-T-H message, and it should not be. It should be wonderful news, a gracious way to reach out to people. Some people maybe you don't talk to about it, maybe you just model it, but you don't need to be a crank. You don't need to be a fanatic. You don't need to go around to everybody at church and say, "You can't bring that to potluck". No! That's just unkind. "But, Pastor, what about..."? What about? We still live in a free society, and I will boldly proclaim that the Bible says thus and so when it comes to our health, and I will boldly respect your right to choose to do something differently. "But what about the example for our children"? You mean you can't educate your children at home? There are too many people who use this as a premise to be unkind and to be cranky and to be utterly fanatical.

In your own home you can be as fanatical as you like; that's your business. It's not even fanatical; it's just what you want to do. But please be very careful how you would impose your standards on other people. It doesn't work out to be a blessing. It ends up being a curse. And if it makes you self-righteous, it's having the wrong effect. Okay, we're in the book of Leviticus, and we've got to hasten on apace. Leviticus chapter 11 and verse 2: "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, 'These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatever parts the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and chews the cud, among the beasts, that shall you eat.'" It's here in the Bible. "Oh, that's the old Jewish law".

Well, that is kind of old, that's true, but it wasn't just for Jews. "Well, that was the ceremonial law". Nothing ceremonial about a pig. "Oh, that was, that was for Jewish people". Whenever Christians want to get out of doing something, they blame the Jews. "I don't have to eat like that; that's for the Jews". Tithe? "That was for the Jews". Sabbath? "That was for the Jews". Come on a minute. You can't, you can't fool God with your "That's for the Jews" thing. If you look later on in the book of Leviticus, you will discover the Bible says these are the laws of beasts. These are the laws pertaining to animals. This isn't ceremonial. This is for your blessing and your betterment. So He goes on and says, "Nevertheless", verse 4, "these shall you not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, [it chews] the cud, but [doesn't divide] the hoof; he is unclean [to] you".

Verse 5, the coney, verse 6, the hare, verse 7, the swine, that's Miss Piggy. And the Bible says these things are just unclean. Bacon is unclean. What about turkey? Turkey's clean. What about chicken? Don't know why, but chicken is clean. What about duck? I don't know. I don't eat 'em. Let little Donald Duck have a happy day. There's no need for you to wring his neck and put an end to his joy just so you can eat some gamey-tasting fowl. No need for that at all. So the Bible says these are unclean. They're just not fit for human consumption. Why did God make 'em? Not for us to eat 'em. You think God made everything for us to eat? Here I see you looking admiringly at someone in church. No, God didn't make that person to eat, either. No, God didn't make everything to eat. You know that. Certain things are just not good for us, and God knows that, and He says, "Leave them alone. Let your body be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Honor me with your life".

Well, let's go on down. Speaks about the, the swine, and then it goes on to speak about sea creatures, or actually, those things that live in the water. And here's your, here's your statement from God. This is verse 9: "Whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall you eat". If they don't have fins and scales, the Bible says they're an abomination. You don't find anything in the Bible that God declares to be an abomination and later on He says, "I changed my mind". You don't find that anywhere. So if it has fins and scales, what would that be? Oh, I don't know, trout? Is that right? I think that has fins and scales. A fish like snapper, that has fins and scales. Sure, you can think of a bunch of them. Catfish? No, has fins, not scales. Shark? Has fins, not scales. Oysters? Oysters are perfectly good creatures, just not good for eating. Shellfish, they're filter-feeders. Chesapeake Bay, they introduced oyster farms to clean up the water.

Every oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day. Where do the impurities go? The shellfish retains the impurities, and then you eat the impurities. It's the only thing I know of that you eat complete with its entire digestive tract, and that ought to turn your stomach. God says, unclean, not good for food. Same for lobster, same for shrimp, same for, lobster would be crayfish in some languages, same for crabs. They're on the bottom of the ocean eating up the dead stuff, eating up the things that other fish leave behind. They're bottom-feeders. Bottom-feeders, some filter-feeders, others, they're just not designed by God for us to eat. And then you read about the birds that you should or should not eat. Basically, if the bird eats carrion, one should not eat it, if it's a scavenger that eats dead stuff. At Thanksgiving you're not gonna lift the big, silver lid and go, "Ta-da"! and announce that you have just prepared a vulture or a buzzard for Thanksgiving dinner. You knew that already.

You know, we know there are some things you don't eat: cockroaches and this and that. I know some smarties have, have decided, "Well, let's deep fry 'em. Let's cover 'em in chocolate. Let's sell 'em as delicacies". They're not delicacies. It's just kinda freak food, and there's no need to eat that at all. Why would you want that when God says, there's so much else besides, and you can avoid dishonoring me? You can live in faith. You can avoid so many, you know what God said to the Israelites? "If you would diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, that which is right in His sight, and...give ear to His commandments, and keep all [of] His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon [you], [that] I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee". That's God's will for us. We honor Him. The body isn't a garbage can.

"Ah," someone said, "but Peter had a dream and in that dream", well, we know what he saw, it's in Acts chapter 10, and so we'll turn there and look at it quickly. It's a long passage, but, we'll look at the salient points. Rather than reading the entire story, let me kind of give you a rundown of what happened in Acts chapter 10. A fellow named Cornelius, he was a gentile. He was told by God to send for Peter. Uh, God gave Cornelius a very detailed description of where he would find Peter. "Send some servants. Bring Peter here". Well, Peter, according to the Bible, was up on the rooftop praying. It was lunchtime. They were getting the food ready. He fell into a trance. And the Bible says, he "saw heaven opened," Acts 10, verse 11, "and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him," and the voice said, "'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.'" Peter said, Oh no, I've "never eaten any thing that is common or unclean".

Now, this was several years after Jesus died on the cross; this is proof positive that the death of Jesus on the cross did not change the unclean animals and make them clean. Peter had no idea about this. He called them unclean. It's very clear; the death of Jesus on Calvary didn't change pigs. He died to cleanse sinners. He did not die to cleanse camels and rabbits and oysters. It happened three times. "The vessel was received up...into heaven". He "doubted in himself what this...should mean". He wondered, what's this about? When suddenly, there were three men at the door, and they called out and said, is Simon Peter there? Verse 19: "While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said [to] him, 'Behold, three men seek [you]. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.'"

And so he goes with them on the instruction of God: Don't doubt. Just go. And when he gets to Cornelius' house, he said this, verse 28: "You know is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean". Had nothing to do with pigs. This was an object lesson. "Hey, eat this". "No! That's unclean". Three times it happened. Why three times? Because three men came to the door, and these were men that Peter would have considered to be unclean. No way would he go with them. But the angel said, "Go". And when we get down to verse 34: "Peter opened his mouth, and said: 'Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him.'"

God wanted to get through to Peter a very important point: Peter, you are racist. There's no place for that. You are a bigot. There is no place for that. In fact, if you want to look in the next chapter, Peter is now speaking to some Jewish believers: "'I heard a voice say to me, "Arise, Peter; kill and eat". All this was done three times.'" I'm in chapter 11 and verse 10: "And all were drawn up again into heaven. 'The Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting,'" in verse 12. Verse 15: "'And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.'" Verse 17: "'Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?' [And] when they heard [this], they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, 'Then hath God also to the gentiles granted repentance unto life.'"

The vision was to cure Peter of his racism. It wasn't to suggest to Peter that now he ought to eat spareribs and oysters wrapped in bacon. Nothing to do with that. It was a lesson. It was kind of like a parable, an object lesson. So where are you today? You probably heard that story about the young man who was hiking in a slot canyon in Utah. His name was Aron Ralston. A boulder fell on him, pinned his arm. He was stuck for several days and realized he was never gonna get out, and no one would ever find him. So what do you do? He did all he could. He took his little knife, cut his arm off. And he left there, minus much of an arm, but with his life very much intact.

There are some things that we gotta cut off. Jesus said, "If your right hand offends you," "if your eye offends you", some things have got to go. There are some things in our life, our lives that have got to go. They offend us, and they offend God. They damage us. They weaken us physically and spiritually. They weaken our relationship with God. Some of these things have got to go. Can you make that decision today? Let's look a little deeper. There are other things that have got to go. Pride perhaps. Anger, irascibility. Someone can't talk to you without you getting all upset. Dishonesty, lust, unkind thoughts... they have to go, too. You know, somebody says, "But I can't quit smoking". Mm, okay, I'll, I'll buy that. But you unite your life with Jesus, and His "strength is made perfect in [your] weakness". "I don't know how to put away some of these things. I feel like I'm hooked".

It says in Philippians 4 and verse 19, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus". God will provide your need. Unless we think we're just moseying around the pantry today, let's go a little further and say, do you believe that God can take the sin out of your life? Evidently, Jesus came to save us from our sins. Anyone who is in Christ "is a new creature: old things are passed away; ...all things...become new". That's what the Bible says. The prophet Ezekiel wrote that God said, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: ...I will take away" your heart of stone. "I will give you [a] heart of flesh".

Now, you might not be able to, but God can. Paul wrote to the Galatians, chapter 2, verse 20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ [lives] in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me". What we look at today is indicative of a certain fact, that fact being we need Jesus. We need His deliverance. We need a real experience. We are closing in on the finish line. One day God is gonna separate the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares. There's no reason for any one of us to be on the wrong side of that. Through faith in Jesus we can receive Jesus Himself and receive that new heart and receive victory.

And, friend, maybe it'll happen instantaneously, and maybe it won't, but you hang on to Jesus. His life flows through yours. He will grow you. And when He's got you over one hurdle, He'll get you over another. And right when you think you're starting to do good, He'll reveal to you, well, there's a few more things in your life. And you say, Lord Jesus, cleanse me again. "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, ...lead me in the way everlasting". Psalm 139.

Would you pray the prayer with me today that says, "Lord, take my heart"? You might be thinking, "I, I haven't ever eaten pork, never will. I've never eaten any shellfish, or maybe even any fish. I wouldn't touch nicotine or caffeine or alcohol". All right. Praise the Lord. But there might be other things that have touched you. You might be mean, unkind, dishonest. We're certainly sinners in need of the grace of God. Why don't we pray now believing that the God of heaven would change us, remove from us everything that should be removed, and lead us in Jesus' steps. Can we pray that prayer? We can. Let's pray it now.

Our Father in heaven, we thank You today for a Savior who would deliver us from our sin, from life-destroying habits. Some of these habits lead us to sin, if they're not sin itself.

And I know there are...people all around the world right now who want to say, "Lord, take my heart and make it new". Is that you, friend? Can you say, "Lord, make me what I cannot make myself"? Can you say that? If that's your desire, just raise your hand wherever you are. If it's safe, raise your hand.

Lord, change my heart, take away the things that represent my brokenness, and replace it with Your sweet Spirit, which speaks of our completeness in Jesus. We thank You; we love You; we praise You. We pray in Jesus' name, say with me if you can, amen and amen.

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