KEEP YOURSELVES                                                                                                                     Andy Hollifield 9-24-17

Joshua 6:18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.

Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Keeping ourselves. Sounds real simple but it is probably the hardest thing as a Christian we have to do. We somehow have got a tendency to believe that once we accept the Lord, we don’t really have to do much because the Lord takes care of everything. To some extent that is true but when you look at it in another perspective; you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. A horse will drink if it gets thirst enough because it has “horse sense” enough to know that is how it “keeps itself” alive. In order to stay where God wants us to be spiritually, there are some responsibilities that we have. These four verses, as well as some others, clearly indicate that we may have eternal life by the work Christ done at Calvary but to have the abundant life that Christ wants us to have, there are some things we have to do for ourselves. I had a calf once that would not take a bottle. I mixed up the milk, took it to the barn, put the bottle in its mouth, but it would not try to drink it. I used all the tricks I knew and done everything I knew to do but it still would not drink. As it got weaker and weaker it no doubt knew it needed nourishment but it did not survive because it would not do what was necessary to keep itself alive. It’s death did not change the fact that it was a calf or the fact that it could have had milk. Had it done what it needed to grow and mature, it might have still been alive today with calves of its own. That is how we wind up when we expect God to open our heart and mind and pour in what we need. He will put it in front of us and may even try to feed us some but if we won’t take it, we will never grow and mature as a Christian.

As we look at the verses I listed, it was amazing to me that three of the four times “keep yourselves” is used, it is to keep away from or out of something. The last time it is used, it is to keep yourselves “in” something. The first verse in Joshua is from the story of Achan that we all probably learned in Sunday School. The story continues in chapter 7 with a battle that took place in which 3 dozen men lost their lives because of one man’s sin. We should learn from that our sin don’t just hurt us but it cost those men plus Achan’s family and his livestock their lives. If Achan had of just kept himself from the accursed thing as he was commanded, all of them would have lived. Let me add this too; there may not be anything wrong with the things you desire, but if God says “no” you will wish you had never sought them to start with. God won’t strike us down for making wrong choices but we will have to suffer the consequences of those choices. Another example is David and Bathsheba. Had David only “kept himself” in the battle, none of the rest of the story would have happened like it did. A man and a baby died because David didn’t keep himself where he should have been. To sum it up, the first three verses are all pertaining to accursed things that Achan made idols in his life, and anything that pertained to idols or idol worship. I could cite case after case from scripture where lives would have been drastically different had someone simply kept themselves.

The last one is the one I want to focus on. “Keep yourselves in the love of God looking for the mercy of our Lord…” To stay in a close personal relationship with anyone, you have to talk to them on a regular basis and also visit them regularly or they won’t count you as a close friend. That being said let me say this; God’s mercy will only be found from him through prayer and the best way to maintain that relationship is “…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is…”(Hebrews 10:25) If you go to his house regular, you are apt to develop a closeness with him that you won’t get no other way. If you “keep yourselves” around God’s house and his people, you are more apt to grow in his Spirit and mature as a Christian. You can’t get that at the ball field or bowling alley or at the lake or the beach or in the woods hunting. That kind of growth comes from nursing from the mother church and getting your nourishment from there.

Paul told Timothy to “study to show thyself approved…” (2 Timothy 2:15) Timothy wouldn’t have had to study if God just poured it in. He also told the Ephesians to “put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand…” (Ephesians 6:11). Paul didn’t say that God would put it on us or that he would cause us to stand. He told us to put it on ourselves so that we would be able to stand. Jesus even said in Matthew 6:33 “seek ye first the kingdom of God…” He didn’t say he would give us all the enlightenment we would ever need, he told us to do the seeking. He also said in James 4:7 “Submit yourselves” and then “resist”. We have to do it ourselves.

The good part of all of this is this one thing; God will give us the grace we need to do what he tells us. He didn’t save us and then leave us to sink or swim. James 4:10 tells us to “humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time…” Again, we have to do the humbling. Peter said in 1 Peter 5:5 that God “giveth grace to the humble.” God never tells us to do anything but what he equips us to be able to do it. Whatever you are dealing with right now, if you are trying to fix it, you will likely only bring frustration and disappointment to yourself. But, if you will keep yourself humble, and keep yourself close to God, and listening for his instructions, and put on his armor, and resist the devil and assemble yourself in his house; you might be amazed at what God could do in your situation. When you are trying to bang on walls and kick down doors, you are making so much noise in your own life that you can’t hear that still small voice trying to speak peace to you and bring you comfort. You just keep marching around those walls quietly until God says shout and then you will see them crumble down flat just like Joshua did. I hope this helps someone. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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