March 9

Joshua 13-21, Psalm 68

Many may have heard of Carnival in Venice, or be familiar with its elaborate masks. Many are unfamiliar with what it represented. Originated in 1162, it represented a period of time before Lent when they encouraged license and pleasure, anonymously. They would wear their masks in "houses of ill repute", areas of gambling, while getting drunk, etc. The purpose was to sin as much as you wanted without anyone knowing who you were. At one period of time, this Carnival season lasted 6 months starting in October. Carnival would end with Ash Wednesday when they started their time of fasting from this behavior in anticipation of the Easter celebration. As licentious as this seems, currently in the United States we have all heard the familiar phrase, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Many don't realize that the biggest event every year for the sex-slave trade is the time surrounding the Super Bowl when women in huge numbers descend upon the city where the game is to be played, all anonymously.

We read in Joshua 15:63, "As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day." We read it isn't until hundreds of years later under the leadership of King David in 2 Samuel 5:6-9, that the city of Jerusalem was finally taken. We read in these passages of other groups in Canaan who were not conquered but allowed to cohabitate with the Israelites (13:13, 16:10, 17:12). Joshua realized this at the end of his life and said in 18:3, "Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: "How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?" " In Numbers 33:52, God's instructions were clear, "then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places." Partial obedience is disobedience. God knew that if the pagan people were allowed to remain within their borders they would eventually begin to influence the behavior of the Israelites and cause them to reject their God, which is exactly what happens as we will read in the book of Judges, and the rest of the history of Israel. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33, "Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."

We should all ask ourselves the question: which sins are we allowing to linger within us? Though the process of sanctification is a lifelong process, we shouldn't purposely allow areas of sin to remain, thinking that we will allow it and get to it later. Billy Graham tells the story:"of a Minister who went to his medicine shelf and brought back a bottle of strychnine marked "poison". He said, "...Suppose I take this 'Poison' label off the bottle and put on a label like 'Peppermint Candy'. Can't you see the problem? The milder you make the label, the more dangerous the poison's presence." It is high time we put a "Poison" label back on the poison of sin. We must not be afraid to be as plain as the Bible is about the tragic consequences of sin-or about the antidote for that poison: the blood of Christ. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord"". The Promised Land is a picture of the Spirit-filled life. We will battle in it our entire lives. God told the Israelites to be ruthless in dealing with those in the Promised Land. Likewise, we must deal ruthlessly with those areas which are prohibiting us from living to the fullest the Spirit-filled life that God desires for each and every one of us. When we realize there are areas of sin still lingering, deal ruthlessly with it. When we sin and fail, which we will all do frequently, remember 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster