Written and preached by David P. Nolte

MARK 9:38-50

Someone once published a list of things not to do. Some of the items on that list are, "Don't name a pig you plan to eat;" "Don't sell your mule to buy a plow;" "Don't corner something meaner than you;" "Don't drink downstream from the herd;" and "Don't squat when you're wearing spurs." "Don't play leapfrog with a unicorn!" And here are some "no-no's" for those on a job interview: Never shake the interviewer's hand with a dirty left hand; never tell the interviewer to hurry up because you have other things to do; never respond to a question with "What business is that of yours?" And never tell the interviewer he or she would be stupid not to hire you. Many "no-no's" are just common sense. Don't a read a novel while you are driving (though I have seen a couple of people doing that); don't a spit into the wind; don't a throw a brick straight up; don't donate more than one kidney; don't kick a porcupine when you are barefooted, and don't put a cat on your head - it hurts read bad. Now, in relationship to discipleship, there are three "n-no's" too. They come from Dick Staub of KGNW TV in Seattle. Here are three "no-no's" for disciples:
    1. That means don't seek to separate yourself, or cloister yourself away from contact with the world. The disciples wanted to keep their group exclusive. "Those people are not part of our group, so they shouldn't be doing what they're doing."
    2. Some want to insulate and isolate themselves from evil influences because:
      1. They consider themselves too holy to be touched by society. Speaking to the idolaters, God reproved them for saying, "Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!" Isaiah 65:5 (NASB).
      2. They fear that they will become defiled by society. The Pharisees criticized Jesus for having anything to do with sinners and the ancient Jews kept separate from gentiles for fear of contamination.
      3. They tried sharing their faith once and failed. They fear further failure and rejection.
      4. They just don't want to be bothered with evil society. They just don't care.
      5. They are afraid of persecution and harm from the secular society which is increasingly anti-Christian.
    3. Jesus said, "Go into the world preaching the gospel" - not "hide from the world hogging the gospel."
    4. A 64-year-old woman, whose body was found in her dilapidated Houston home recently, was discovered frozen to death. She had been there for five months. She was forgotten all winter and spring by neighbors and family members. Neighbors described her as someone who "didn't have anything to do with anybody, and nobody had anything to do with her." Her children had grown up and moved away, and her husband had died. One of her two children lived about 10 miles from his mother's house and never took care of her needs. Too many, like the woman, don't have anything to do with anybody. And too many are like the neighbors and children who had nothing to do with her. That's cocooning.

The first "no-no" is "don't cocoon!" But there are two more. The second:

    1. The disciples were antagonistic toward these others who they thought were infringing on their territory and they told them to "cut it out!" They wouldn't tolerate any heathens! Remember James and John? Here's their combative stance against the Samaritans who rejected their message, "Lord, should we order down fire from heaven to burn them up?" Luke 9:54 (NLT). Jesus rebuked them and nicknamed them "Sons of Thunder!"
    2. When you feel like "socking it to" evil people, putting them in their place, and trampling them into the ground, remember:
      1. Nobody is browbeaten into the kingdom.
      2. Whenever you point an accusing finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you.
      3. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the host of spiritual enemies all around us.
      4. To be as gracious to them as you want God to be to you.
      5. To follow the example of Jesus, Who "never sinned, and He never deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when He was insulted. When He suffered, He did not threaten to get even. He left His case in the hands of God, Who always judges fairly." 1 Peter 2:22-23 (NLT).
      6. That Jesus said, "You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too." Matthew 5:43-45 (NLT).
    3. We must be uncompromising on Biblical doctrine, but we need not be offensive in delivering it to others. We need to be tough on issues but tender on people. We must be inflexible in principles but reasonable with opinions. We must remember who our real enemy is!
    4. Two preachers were arguing about some point of doctrine and procedure. Things were getting pretty hot. And you know, the more heat there is the less light there is. One of the men finally said, "Well, brother, after all we are both trying to do the Lord's work. You in your way, and I in His."

The second "no-no" is "don't become combative." The third:

    1. Don't lose your saltiness. Don't become insipid. Don't be such that you fail to influence your surroundings. Don't be influenced by the world.
    2. Don't conform!
      1. Micah said, "Even though the nations around us worship idols, we will follow the LORD our God forever and ever." Micah 4:5 (NLT).
      2. Paul urges, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Romans 12:2 (NLT).
      3. "Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers. But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants;" Psalms 1:1-2 (NLT).
      4. "Do not join a crowd that intends to do evil. When you are on the witness stand, do not be swayed in your testimony by the opinion of the majority." Exodus 23:2 (NLT).
    3. Some things are made to blend in, to conform to their surroundings and it is well and good that they do.
      1. Chameleons for instance. But the Christian is not to be a chameleon trying to blend in.
      2. Certain bugs which look like tree bark or branches for another example. But we are not insects trying to hide.
      3. Camouflaged vehicles are colored so as to blend in and not to be easily spotted. But we are not to camouflage our Christianity.
      4. Christians are non-conformists when it comes to being like the godless society - instead of conforming to it, we are to convert society.
    4. Some people just want to conform to whatever group they are with. Solomon Asch performed an experiment with groups of 12 people. They were brought into a room where four lines of unequal length were displayed. They had to decide which two were the same length and publicly vote for their choice. Person after person after person (11 in all) voted for the wrong line - because they had all been told to ahead of time. The one individual who was in the dark couldn't imagine how in the world all these seemingly normal people could all choose the wrong line. When it was his turn to vote, he had to decide, "Do I go with what I know my senses are telling me, or do I go with the crowd?" One third of those tested caved in to group pressure and changed their vote to agree with their peers.

Dare to be different. If we heed these "no-no's:" Don't cocoon; don't be combative; and don't conform, then these "Yes's" will be evident. "Yes" we will reach out to others and help them know Jesus. "Yes" we will be kinder to those with whom we disagree. "Yes" we will be more and more like Jesus and less and less like the world. If you say "No!" to sin and wrong, you should say "Yes!" to Jesus! "Yes" I believe! "Yes" I will turn from sin! "Yes" I will obey you by confessing you before men and being baptized for the forgiveness of sins. And "Yes" I will endeavor, throughout all my days, to live a Christian life. It's no longer the world, it's heaven that counts. It's no longer the flesh, but the Spirit that compels me. It is no longer self, but Jesus who rules my life. "Yes! Yes!" I will be His disciple! You can say your own "Yes" to Jesus as you respond to the invitation to confess Him, to obey Him, and to serve Him from this day forth. Do that as we sing. "Make Me Like You!" / "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus!"

Old woman from SermonCentral.Com/Experiment from Em Griffin in his book The Mindchangers

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