The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

Scripture: Revelation 22:1-5, Genesis 2:8-9, Isaiah 55:2
Date: 09/23/2006 
This sermon speaks about the tree of life in both Revelation and Genesis. We once had access to the tree of life, but lost that privilege. The Bible is about God's plan to bring man back to the tree of life. One of the teachings of Scripture to help us begin to enjoy a healthier life is to take care of our bodies and eating good food. The Bible actually has guidelines on healthy living.

Death in The Kitchen (PB) by Joe Crews

Death in The Kitchen (PB) by Joe Crews
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Is it possible to see into the future? What's in store for planet earth? Crime, war and natural disasters appear to intensify with every passing day. Do they herald some approaching cataclysmic event? Could the ancient texts of Scripture reveal events yet to come? Discover secrets in the Bible that will change your life as we explore "the most amazing prophecies." Our study today is dealing with the subject of the Tree of Life. And I'm very excited about our presentation this morning. It's a study that I hope that you will find both informative and edifying beginning, as we do, with an amazing fact. Oldest living thing on the planet is said to be a tree.

More specifically, it's a group of trees that you find in the white mountains of, oh, central California. They're bristle-coned pine trees. One sad fact is that the oldest tree in the world was accidentally cut down last century. Back in 1964, a geologist named donald curry, a young student, was taking some core samples from these very old bristle-coned pine trees, and his coring tool got stuck in this one large tree. So he went to the forestry service and said, "you know, I need permission to get this tool out.

It's expensive. Is it okay if I cut that tree down to recover my tool? And I'll also take some slab so we can measure the annual rings." And they gave him permission. So they cut down this tree. And as they went to count the rings, they found out that it had 4,844 rings. Up to that time, the oldest tree was 4,600 rings.

That tree is still around. It's called the methuselah tree which now holds the record. The sad thing is they cut down the oldest tree so they could count its rings. Those trees managed to survive under some very grueling conditions. But when you think about the Tree of Life, how many of you would like to eat from that Tree of Life? You think about living forever.

You know the Bible tells us in Isaiah 65:22, "for as the days of a tree, so shall the days of my people be." Right now our lives are three score and ten, and that was never part of God's plan. God intended for us to live forever. Well, in our prophecy this morning, we're going to the last book in the Bible, last chapter, last book, first two verses and you read in Revelation 22:1... You know, one sign I know that we're living in the last days is that everybody pays for their drinking water. It's so sad.

Everybody's gotta tote around our bottles of water paying a buck a piece, sometimes more for drinking water, something that just should be flowing through our communities. And the next verse tells us about our tree. "In the midst of the street of it and on either side of the river--" now this is a little bit of a mystery. Listen carefully. "There was the tree.

" Either side of the river, the tree. One tree, both sides of the river. "The Tree of Life which bare 12 manner of fruits and yielded her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." And some have wondered, "does that mean there are 12 kinds of fruit on the tree annually? Are there 12 different kinds each month making it like a baskin-robbins tree? It's got all these different varieties of fruits which would be 12 times 12, 144 different kinds of fruit. There's probably good arguments that it's only 12, but I'll still be happy. On either side of the river.

Well, this river that flows from the throne of God--keep in mind, the Bible says, "there is no more sea in the new earth. There are bodies of water." This river that flows from the throne of God is the primary source of irrigation for the new world. And you think about the big rivers we've got in the world today. It's the amazon. You've got the Nile.

You've got the Mississippi and Missouri which, of course, runs into the Mississippi. The yangtze, yellow river. Put all those together and picture this enormous--any of you been to iguazu, iguazu falls there near argentina and brazil? Boy. Who was it? Queen elizabeth said, iguazu falls makes niagara falls look like a tear drop. Just incredible.

Picture all that and multiply it and that's the river that flows from the throne of God. Now, you've got this one tree on either side of the river. Well, it starts making sense because, for one thing, the whole world eats from one tree. So it's not like a shrub in your backyard. It's a big tree, bigger than any redwood or sequoia.

And you're saying, "Pastor Doug, now you're starting to get into fantasy." Well, you know, the Bible tells us when you think about the new earth, and I'm talking more about that in our last presentation tonight, "the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard. Neither has entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those that love him." Meaning, "you can't imagine it!" So I've got every right to dream big. And you know what? It's probably still even bigger and better than what I could paint for you. To understand the Tree of Life, it's good for us to go back a little bit. Let's go to Genesis 2 and find out where it first appears.

It says... You know someone once observed--we just went to the last chapter of the Bible and here we are at the beginning of the Bible. The story of the Bible is how to get back to the Tree of Life. The first three chapters in the Bible tell how God creates a paradise, but it was lost because of sin and man was restricted from access to that Tree of Life and death entered the world. The last three chapters of the Bible tell how sin is destroyed, paradise is restored and man once again has access to the Tree of Life and is in the garden again.

The whole idea is to get back to the garden. Well, it's sad to tell us, but man began to eat from the wrong tree and that how we got into trouble. Genesis 2:17, God had warned them. He said, "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it." Now right at the very beginning, even before sin entered the world, God said, "you should eat this, and you shouldn't eat that." We're going to be talking a little bit--we're gonna be talking a lot--during our presentation this morning about what to eat and what not to eat. And this is something very close to my heart because it does interact with your comprehension of the Gospel.

It's a very important subject. Genesis 3:22, "when man ate what he was not supposed to eat, then the Lord God said, 'behold, the man has become like us, one of us, to know good and evil. And now lest he put out his hand and take also of the Tree of Life and eat and live forever.' So God drove man out and he placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the Tree of Life." Man was evicted from his paradise home and he could no longer eat from the Tree of Life because he had disobeyed God. Evidently, there was some essence, some enzyme in that tree that perpetuated life. And when man no longer had access to that tree, he began to die.

You know, from what I understand, scientists still believe it's a mystery why we age. Especially if evolution is supposed to be true, you'd think that we'd get to the place where we could at least live as long as a turtle. Right? Why do our cells--i mean, for years in our lives, we have this vitality and our cells are replacing themselves. Why haven't we gotten to the efficiency yet where we can live a few hundred years? The Bible really tells us evolution is happening in reverse right now. Man used to live hundreds of years.

The farther away we've gotten from the Tree of Life, the shorter our lives became. And God told adam, he says, "you're gonna have to now work. The whole creation was altered because of sin... You can't eat from the Tree of Life anymore. Now you're gonna eat bread and the sweat of your brow and you will return to the dust.

Man began to die. You know, it's amazing how many times in the Bible God talks about eating. We're gonna talk a little bit about the practical side of Christian life and it is in prophecy, friends. I want to get to heaven and eat from the Tree of Life. Jesus said, "we will sit down with him and he will serve us and we will sup with him.

We will eat with him." He stands at the door and he knocks. He wants to come in and abide with us and eat with him. There's something it, eating. Often covenants were made in the context of eating; a feast in the Bible. The new testament was made in the context of eating, wasn't it? "Eat my flesh, drink my blood or you have no life in you.

" So we're gonna take some time. This is a Bible subject, and it will be a blessing to you. Do you want to hear what the Bible says on this subject? You know I was gonna do it anyway. Number one, "what was God's original diet for man?" Well, we already know it was the Tree of Life. But because of sin, that changed a little bit.

But even before sin, the original diet, Genesis 1:29... And the word "meat" there is the King James' way of saying food, like the meat of a nut. They were to eat fruits and grains and nuts. That was the original diet for man. Number two, "after man could no longer eat from the Tree of Life, what did God ultimately add to his diet?" You read after they were evicted, part of the curse was God said, "thou shalt eat the herb of the field.

" Now, the herb of the field means any part of the plant other than the fruit and that would be vegetables. What kid here doesn't know that vegetables are part of the curse? We all know that, right? I did my best to hide it under my mashed potatoes or under the table and--but I'm doing better now. I like--yeah, I just--i still just, I can't--don't invite me over and serve peas. Ooh, I'm eating at the nelson's house today. I hope Karen's not making peas for dinner.

That's probably the whole meal, pea soup and peas and cooked peas and frozen peas and-- then, as you go down a little further--oh, wait a second. Let me do a quiz for you real quick. Do you know the difference between a fruit and a vegetable? All right. Eggplant? Fruit. Tomato? Fruit.

Amazing fact, did you know it was only about 100 years ago, people thought that tomatoes were deadly? That's right. And now it's the number one--just about, I think it's one of the number one fruits that's produced. Most of them in California. We got a lot of fruits and nuts in California. [Laughing] take my word for it.

I was born there. Zucchini? Fruit, fruit. Anything that is the fruit of the blossom is the fruit. That's right. Pumpkin? Fruit.

Whoever thinks of pumpkin as a fruit? Now, this could help you, parents when you hand your kids a zucchini, tell them it's a green banana. See, it's a fruit. Just enjoy it. All right, number seven, then with the deterioration of sin, man began to eat animals and God specified that some were clean for food and some were not clean. Keep in mind, the Lord established the sacrificial system there in the Garden of Eden and there were some animals that they were to sacrifice to the Lord.

And the unclean animals were never to be offered to the Lord. And so man was, then, allowed to eat of the sacrificial animals. That's why when they took the animals on the ark, you notice they took them by sevens. The clean animals. The Bible tells us, "you shall take unto thee by sevens," the unclean animals; they were to take by twos and there you got that verse.

"Seven of every clean animals, two of the animals that are unclean." And yet, so often when they sing The Song, "the animals came two by two," they never say, "seven by seven." But the clean animals all came by seven. Now, I think it's interesting to notice what happened to the life span of man immediately following the flood? Keep in mind, after the flood, all of the vegetation in the world had been destroyed, correct? And so they probably, for a while, had to eat more of the animals, eating the clean animals. If they had eaten any of the unclean animals, all those species would have been extinct. And the life span of man--look at the life span of Noah up until his time and look how it drops down. All of a sudden, it went from 900 years almost across the board.

Then it goes down 500 years, 400 years, 300 years, 200 years. Abraham lived 175, Isaac actually lived longer than his father. I have a theory about that. That's because Isaac had one wife and his father had many. Isaac lived 185 years.

Jacob was 147 years. I think Joseph, a 110 years, Moses 120. But you see the life span's beginning to go down with a few exceptions. Every now and then they jumped up again. I think johoya lived 130 years, the high priest.

But most of us have our three score and ten average. And if by reason or strength and good doctors, you make it to 80 or 90 or 100. We've got a lady in our church we just celebrated her 100th birthday, and she gets herself, wheels herself into church every week and we wad a celebration for her. And we were gonna give her the details and she said, "e-mail me because I can't hear very well." And I got such a kick out of that. This 100-year-old grandma says, "just e-mail me.

" But you know there's things that we can do that will prolong our life. the Lord wants us to have abundant lives now so that we could serve him better and more effectively. Some of you have heard of shangri-la. People want to know where's that fountain of youth? Is the Tree of Life still in the world some day? Ponce de leon was hoping that he could find the fountain of youth. And he thought it was florida, and there a lot of people that retire in florida but it's not the fountain of youth down there.

It's actually a hurricane magnet down in florida. You've probably heard of shangri-la. How many have heard of shangri-la? It's based on a book that was written by James hilton called, "lost horizon." And while the book is fiction, it is true that he learned about these people that lived in the valleys, the hunza valley, there up against the himalayas and they had unusually long life spans. Very common to find people who were up and around and active 100 years of age, some 110, 80 years of age, still have 20-20 vision. Doctors who have been there find almost no heart disease, no gout, no diabetes.

Many of the ailments that plague first-world countries like ours, don't exist there. They drink the water that comes from melted glaciers. They're in the high, clean air. They eat a lot of dried fruit. They're mostly apricot farmers.

Very little meat and animal products in their diet, and they enjoy these long, vigorous, active lives frequently beyond the first century. There is a connection between what you eat and how you feel and your health. Number three, "why does God give health rules to his people in the Bible?" Does God care what we eat? 3 John 2, "beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health even as thy soul prospers." God says he wants us to prosper spiritually and physically. John 10:10, again Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly." How many of you have heard of banana jack? The fellow on the screen there? He was water skiing into his 90th birthday barefoot. He is barefoot skiing right there.

One of the important things to prolong your life is getting good aerobic exercise. He used to--in his 80s, he would water ski barefoot with the rope in his mouth. Obviously, didn't have dentures. That's a pretty tough dude. Matthew 4, think about Jesus' ministry.

Christians are followers of Christ. What did Jesus do? It tell us... And notice... Jesus was very interested in people's health. Matter of fact, scholars have surmised that Christ may have spent more time healing people than he did preaching to people.

You just think about how he managed the crowds. God cares about how we feel. Matter of fact, the whole purpose of the plan of salvation is to save our lives. You cannot separate your spirit from your body. You are, together, one.

God breathed into the body of adam, his spirit, and he became a living soul. We are the two together. And yet, there are many Christians who think it doesn't matter what you do to your body as long as you believe in God with your spirit. That's a doctrine of devils. Jesus didn't teach that.

Jesus taught that the body and the Spirit are together and one affects the other. That's why he said, "the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." The two are tied together and we need redemption in both areas. Number four, "do God's health rules have anything to do with eating or drinking?" Sure they do. 1 Corinthians 10:31, "whether therefore you eat or whether you drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God." You know what that implies? That implies if we're commanded to eat and drink to the glory of God, it is possible to not eat and drink to the glory of God. So we need to know what the difference is.

Let me ask a question here. How many of you are parents? Okay. Just want to get that established. I know a lot of students are here. Have you heard people say before, "it doesn't really matter what you eat, you just pray and you ask God to bless your food and God will bless it?" All things are clean.

It doesn't matter. If that's true, what parents here would allow their children to get ready for breakfast and to take out their sugar frosted flakes and their fruit loops and their captain crunch and their count dracula, I just mentioned those because I know the number one ingredient is just sugar, pour that in a bowl, and while you watch, they then take chocolate syrup instead of milk, 15 teaspoons of sugar, then they get out the ice cream. And you say, "whoa, hey, what are you doing?" And they say, "mom, dad, don't worry. I'm gonna ask God to bless it." Now the reason I use that illustration is because I think all of us here know that that's absurd. That's called tempting God.

You can't do something where you know that there is a direct cause and effect and say, "there'll be no consequences because I'm not gonna pray. I'm gonna jump off the temple, and I'm gonna pray that angels will catch me. I'm gonna eat what I know is not good and just pray that it won't make any difference." And yet, you know how many Christians there are that live that way and they're dying because of bad theology? It does make a difference what we eat and what we drink. That's why Isaiah said in 55:2, "eat ye that which is good." That's also true of our spiritual food that we choose. Now the reason this is so important is because of the brain.

You know why you've got legs? You've got legs to carry your brain around. You have arms to do the bidding of your brain. You've got a digestive system to feed your brain. Your brain uses more oxygen than any other organ in the body. You are who you are because of your mind.

The brain is an amazing thing because all the nerves end in the brain, yet the brain has no nerves. Two and a half to three pound electrochemical computer that is absolutely miraculous. Even brain surgeons do not understand, yet, if a thought is tangible. God communicates with us, not through our stomachs. Though, sometimes you felt you were being led by your stomach.

God communicates to us not through the pump. We say, "as a man thinks in his heart," it's really talking about the mind. You don't think with your pump. You think with this. This is the holy of holies if you body is the temple, this is the holy of holies.

It is so important for us to keep our minds clear to take care of our bodies so that we can think clearly because you comprehend who God is, you worship God, you understand the will of God with your mind. And the devil knows that through bad living practices and bad eating and not getting enough exercise and not getting enough sleep and through living wrong, our minds are never operating at their efficient levels, and we have a problem comprehending spiritual things. This is one reason that the devil is campaigning so hard to get drugs into the hands and the minds of young people. Because at the most critical time in their life when they would comprehend spiritual truth and give their lives to Jesus, they're fuzzy and they're foggy and they're all doped up and they don't understand. A little personal testimony.

Let me see if you can recognize this next picture. You know who that is? Want a profile? That's me. That's not a toupee. That's about more than 30 years, oh, it was about exactly 30 years ago, 30 years ago. I used to have my own steak business.

I sold meat. And, personally, I am a vegetarian. I advocate vegetarianism. The Bible does not say you have to be a vegetarian. But I know in heaven, we'll all be vegetarians.

There will be no burger king or Kentucky fried chicken. No one's gonna be chasing chickens around with a ax in heaven, so they can make their nuggets. They'll be no whoppers and big macs there, and so I'm just getting for heaven. Now, let me tell you why I'm telling you this. I grew up eating about as bad as anybody can eat.

I grew up a total pagan. Now, while my mom was a good cook and the food tasted great, we ate all kinds of weird things. My dad would take us out to restaurants. We ate snails and we ate turtle and we ate frogs. We ate lots of pork and meat and all kinds of things.

My breakfast, frequently, when I was growing up, my brother and I often had to get ourselves ready for school and so breakfast, twinkies. Sometimes fig newtons. And then coffee and tea right from 6, 7, 8 years of age. So I just had alcohol with our meals, even as children. Then after I went through some years of rebellion, I ended up living up in this cave in these desert mountains.

And while I was living up there, there's no refrigeration, so I had no meat or very little. If I had any meat, it was only when I went to town. I ended up eating a lot of beans and rice and bread. I'd go to the town and sometimes the fruit, apples and things would last awhile and I started feeling better. For the first time in my life, my mind began to get clear and it was while I was living in the mountains up there that I accepted the Lord, I read the Bible.

That's when God chose to put the Bible in my path. Because it was the first time in my life that my mind cleared up, and I noticed the difference. Then after living up there a couple of years and accepting the Lord, I moved down to town and got into this meat business. And I was eating steak three times a day. Because I was buying sections of beef.

I would butcher them into steaks and I sold them all around the desert cities. That was a picture you saw there of my little vehicle. And I started feeling--well, there's a scientific world for what happened. It started feeling, it's called yucky. That's latin.

I just--my head wasn't clear. I didn't sleep very well. I mean, I was eating steak and eggs for breakfast and New York steak for lunch and t-bone steak for dinner and then polishing off with a quart of ice cream, and I was still only 130 pounds. I had a very active metabolism then. I can't do that anymore.

But then I said, "you know, I need to start following these health things that I'm reading about in the Bible." I was also still smoking and drinking at that point, thought of myself has a Christian. And you know what? I started giving up those others things making the health changes in my life, not because a church taught it, but because I saw it in the Bible. And I noticed my head starting to clear again. My memory got getter. I was not groggy all the time, didn't get colds as often and I feel 100% better.

I've been a vegetarian now for 30 years. You know I have fun, I go to subway every now and then. I order a veggie and they say, "do you want the cheese?" And I say, "no." And they look at me like, "nothing? Just the veggies?" I say, "yeah." I said, "I've been a vegetarian 30 years." I love doing this to kids, and I say, "do I look like I'm 70 years of age?" [Laughing] you'll notice I didn't say that I was 70 years of age. Of course, I tell them I'm just kidding. They look at me like, "wow, you're 70?" Of course that backfires sometimes.

They'll say, "well, you look close." So you know, you could take care of yourself if you want to. Then you run into people that say, "well, Pastor Doug, you know, obviously, evolution tells us that we are supposed to be carnivorous because we've got these great big canine teeth here. That's for cutting and ripping flesh." "Oh, really?" That's a myth if I ever heard one. See this character? See his canine? Does anyone here have them like that? That's a vegetarian. Matter of fact, some of the biggest canines in the worlds belong to vegetarians, elephants, hippos.

Karen and I were at the australia zoo. This is the zoo, actually, of the late steve irwin. And while we were there, we saw an amazing fact. Let me give you a little history about harriet the tortoise, oldest living creature on earth right now, 175 years of age. History's amazing.

Charles darwin found three little galapagos turtles about a size of dinner plates back in 1835, brought them to england, named them tom, dick and harry. And they didn't do very well in the wet climate of england so they'd end up sending them to the botanical gardens in australia. Gradually tom and dick died and then for about 100 years, they tried to get harry to mate with another galapagos tortoise. They finally moved him to the zoo there, the australian zoo, and found out that harry was a harriet. And they felt really bad about trying to force all those unnatural relationships on him over all those years.

But vegetarian--you know, I don't always know that's the best illustration to give people because they think, "I'm not sure I want to be like a tortoise. Number five, "what class of animals does the Bible specifically identify as being unclean?" Now there's some categories God gives us in His Word. Leviticus 11:3 tells us, "whatsoever part of the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud." Those who characteristics needed to be present. That would be clean. That would be cows, goats, deer, sheep.

Those typical domestic animals, they chew the cud, they're cloven hoof. They usually have several stomachs. They have complex digestive systems. But then it goes on to say now there are some animals that might have one characteristic, for instance, the swine. It has a cloven hoof, but it does not chew the cud.

God says, "though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet it does not chew the cud, it is unclean unto you. Their flesh you shall not eat." Is that clear? "Their flesh you shall not eat?" "Oh, Pastor Doug, that's for the jews." Oh really? Was Noah Jewish? Did God tell Noah to make a distinction between the clean and the unclean animals? Yeah. How many here are related to Noah, just wondering? That's everybody. And pork is unclean. I always look for new words to try to explain to people that pigs are pigs and I can't improve on that.

I mean, that word is the epitome of something that is filthy. They are scavengers. You know, in the Bible, it talks about--compares pigs and dogs. Would you eat a dog? In some countries I know they do. They eat puppies.

Isn't that awful? Oh, listen to you. You're so sad for the puppies. Well, you maybe eat little piggies and they're in the same category. How many of you remember this? I remember this growing up. This little pig went to the Market, this little pig stayed home, this little pig had roast beef.

Even a pig won't eat pig, see that? "Newsweek," September 6, 1999. This I thought was a great quote. "What is the worst thing you could ever eat? Things got so bad that a few years ago one nutritionist--" he's talking about pork is the worst thing you could ever eat. "A few years ago, one nutritionist said that bacon wasn't technically meat anymore. It did not belong to any food group at all.

It was a salty, nitrate-ridden, fat-laden carcinogenic thing." I think that's great. You know they--pork, people have realized how bad it is and the sales plummeted and so what was happening is pork began to advertise itself as "the other white meat." They tried to brand and position themselves like chicken and fish. And that is really false advertising because chicken and fish, they were low in salt and low in nitrates and low in fat and pork is just the worst. Not to mention, when I was in my meat business, I was young, I was learning a lot. And when I first got into it, one of my customers--i used to sell, Doug Batchelor's corn-fed prime beef steak.

You know steak comes-- it can be prime. It can be choice. It can be fair. And it's graded by the u.s.d.a. That way.

And I went to a friend and said, "I got a customer." One of my butcher suppliers. "They would like some prime pork." And he laughed at me. He said, "you don't know very much." He said, the u.s. Department of agriculture actually doesn't grade it that way, they print pamphlets telling you, "if you're gonna eat it, you better cook it good." Because it's flesh is swarming with parasites, not just trichinae larvae. And you know what happens is--and not all pork has trichinae but some does.

Matter of fact, when microwaves first came out, they weren't cooking things very evenly and there was an outbreak of trichinae because more and more people were getting these cysts that they eat and they-- the cysts then hatch within the digestive system. And thousands of these little worms go to different parts of the body and they lodge and they end up getting aches in their joints, and it's very difficult to diagnosis. And there's a lot of people out there, they think they've got bursitis and arthritis, and they've pigitis is what it is from trichinae larvae. Number six, "how do we distinguish between the clean and the unclean among the fish and the fowl?" Now we now that among the mammals, cloven hoof, chew the cud. Needs both, camel chews the cud, but it's not cloven hoof.

That's why Jesus said, "they were hypocrites back then." He said, you're straining your water so you don't get a gnat in your water and you're eating camel that God says is unclean." And so he was pointing out the hypocrisy: "camel is unclean"; Jesus said that. Leviticus 11:9 he said, "these you shall eat of all that are in the waters. Whatever has fins and scales--" it needed both. "You shall eat them." And some people are wondering right now, "Pastor Doug, please tell me tuna has scales." Yes, it does. They're very small but tuna does have scales.

Those things that do not have fins and scales were to be an abomination. That would include shellfish? These things are bottom feeders. They are the scavengers. They live on the bottom. The oysters, they just take all the waste out of the sludge that's in the bottom.

The shrimp, lobsters, they crawl across the bottom and they--we used to trap lobsters and you just take something dead and decomposing and you try to get the lobsters that way. God does not want us eating scavengers. That's a simple rule. Sharks? Scavengers. Catfish? You know where you always catch the biggest catfish is near the mouth of the sewer.

They're scavengers. They're filthy. My brother and I used to catch and eat catfish right off our back porch. We were right on the bay. My dad had a mansion right on the bay.

We used to take a little hotdog, throw it in the water, come back after school and reel them in. And then our butler was from jamaica, he would dress them and we'd eat catfish. One day my brother caught a catfish and when he was trying to get the hook out, he wasn't careful enough and the dorsal fin stuck him, just a little bit, in his finger. It's so contaminated and infected his finger, he could never bend it again the rest of his life. They're very toxic.

These animals that are scavengers and pigs in that category. I make a big deal about the pig because, you know, I don't think I'm gonna have to spend a lot of time telling you, "you're not supposed to eat cockroaches, you're not supposed to eat rats. You gotta give up your skunk," because people don't eat that stuff. But pigs are very popular unclean food, and so folks need to hear me make a big deal of it. Among the birds, I told you about the fish, every--it's basically the foraging birds were clean.

The birds of carrion, like the "raven after its kind, the owl, the night hawk, the cuckow and the hawk after its kind," the buzzard. All of the birds of carrion, the raptors, they were unclean. The clean birds were the foraging birds, your turkey, quail, chicken. Now the way the raise most chicken I wouldn't eat them. Went to a chicken slaughterhouse one time and I got the victory back then when I was a teenager.

And, pigeons are clean. You're probably glad to know that. If you live in New York city, it's a great food source in a time of trouble. 1 Timothy 4, someone's gonna write this down and I don't know if we're gonna have time to get to all the questions. "Pastor Doug, here you're putting these people under bondage again with all these rules.

Doesn't the Bible say, 'for every creature of God is good and nothing is to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving.'" You gotta read that whole verse. It says, "for it is sanctified by the Word of God." That means the Word of God is going to say it's appropriate. That verse had to do with people who were having clean animals but in the pagan Marketplaces they always slaughtered the animals before their pagan deities. And so the jews were saying, "you can't eat that sheep or that goat or that cow because it was offered to jupiter in the pagan Markets." And Paul is saying, "look, you didn't offer it to the God." I mean, when you buy your food at the Market, if you happen to buy your food from somebody who is a pagan, you say, "look it's canned peas." Well, it doesn't matter to me. Well, it'd mattered to me.

It's canned peaches. I don't care whether it's a hindu company or a buddhist company, right? That's what Paul's saying. He's saying, "if you don't offer it." It had nothing to do with saying, "you can eat anything," because some people who take that verse to its ultimate conclusion, every creature of God is good. Nothing to be refused. Look at the person next to you for just a second.

Go ahead. Do it. That's a creature. Is God advocating cannibalism? No. People who take that, that would mean that you could just have a maggot sandwich.

It doesn't matter. God doesn't care. Just pray over it. Oh, does that gross you out a little bit? I'm sorry. I was trying to get your attention.

And I already told you, God is not mocked. Don't be deceived. Whatever you sow, you're going to reap. Looks good, doesn't it? Yeah, part of what is intertwined in this message is God is wanting to give us self-control just as well. Now, some things--when it comes to the health message, I like to categorize things this way.

Biblically, you've got things that are red light, yellow light, green light, just like in our driving laws. Green light would be, go. Things are good. Fruits, grains, your nuts, you're vegetables, your legumes. Those things are God for you.

Yellow light would be sugar. There's no Bible command that says, "don't eat sugar." Matter of fact, it says, "eat honey, but don't eat too much or you vomit." And so there needs to be moderation there. If you're gonna eat meat, they have to be the clean meats and it should be done sparingly. Does everybody here know that so much of the disease in our world today comes from too many animal products. How many of you know that? So you gotta be intelligent about that.

And then, of course, the red light would be the unclean animals. Now some are saying, "Pastor Doug, what about Peter's vision there in acts 10?" I hope you'll go home and read that. Read the whole thing in context. Peter's praying on the roof and he has this vision. This sheet comes down from heaven and it's full of all these creepy, crawly animals that are unclean.

And this voice comes from heaven and says, "arise, kill and eat." And you know what Peter says? This is really proof for my point. Peter says, "not so Lord, I have never eaten anything common or unclean." That's means even after Peter, James and John following Jesus 3 1/2 years, they never got the idea it was okay to eat unclean food. Even--and he has this vision about 34 a.d., Still had not eaten anything unclean. Three times the vision comes down, Peter never takes anything out of the sheet. First of all, I don't know that you can kill and butcher a vision.

Right? How do you eat a vision? It's all a symbol. And then the sheet goes up to heaven and says, Peter is wondering what this means. Then some gentiles came to his house to ask him to preach to the gentiles. Then he realized what the vision means. And if anyone is gonna be honest about this, the answer's right there in acts 10.

Peter said, "God has shown me that I should not call any--" pig unclean? Food unclean? "Man unclean." The jews were calling the gentiles unclean. God used something the jews could relate to about the difference between clean and unclean food to teach this point. But Jesus did not die on the cross to suddenly make pork healthy. I mean, jews will not eat it. Muslims will not eat it and actually some of them, they are offended.

They think it's an abomination that Christians think they can eat anything because if you really think about it, there is a cause and effect in the world. It does matter what we eat. It does matter how we take care of our bodies. You are not your own. You've been bought with a price.

Your body's the property of God. He wants you to take care of it. It's not for your own selfish indulgence. And it doesn't mean it's wrong to, sometimes, have a treat. I think God gives us these things sometimes, but they should be the exception.

Does it matter what we eat? Genesis 2:17, think about it. You know why there's sin in the world today? Because somebody ate something they weren't supposed to eat. You say amen? Now, there's a lot of speculation out there about what exactly was the fruit on that forbidden tree. I've done some research and I found out what it was. The tree was actually called a chocolate tree.

Number seven, someone's thinking, "but doug, I like pork. You mean, you know, is it a sin? Will God punish me if I eat pork?" And I'm just using pork, making a big deal out of that because I know you're not going home to take the camel steak out of your freezer. What's the Bible say? This is a prophecy, amazing prophecy, Isaiah 66:15, "for behold the Lord will come--" speaking of the coming of the Lord-- "with fire and with his chariots like a whirlwind to render his anger with fury." Remember the wicked are destroyed by the brightness of his coming. They that sanctify themselves--" sanctify themselves, not by God. They say, "oh, it's okay.

Everything's holy." "They purify themselves eating swine's flesh and the abomination and the mouse." So if you're gonna justify your pork, make sure you do it with your mouse too. It says, "they will be destroyed together." I think God is saying, "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit." When the Romans wanted to offend and when the Greeks--antiochus, epiphanes, when they wanted to offend the jews, the ultimate insult was they brought a pig into the temple and sacrificed it. To bring an unclean animal before God like that was the opposite of worship, it was an insult. Your body's the temple of the Holy Spirit. The book of Daniel begins with a test regarding what they would eat and what they wouldn't eat.

They were invited to eat the Babylonian food that consisted of things that were unclean and alcohol. And they said, "we will not defile ourselves with the food that the thing eats," and God blessed them because of this. Number eight, "what does the Bible say about alcoholic beverages?" By the way, Daniel and his friends were ten times wiser than the wise men in the Kingdom because they were careful about what they ate and what they drank. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Look at all the trouble in our culture that's caused by alcohol. Now you're looking at somebody that tried all the drugs.

Only drug I didn't use was heroin. I used cocaine and ups and downs and speed and lsd and hash and pot and alcohol. And just for the record, more of my friends were killed by alcohol than all of the other drugs put together. I'm not endorsing the others. I'm just saying, some Christians think, "oh, well, Jesus turned the water to wine, alcohol must be okay.

" And they misunderstood that he turned the water into grape juice. That was a symbol of his blood. The bread was to be unleavened, the juice was to be unfermented. It's a type of the body, the pure body and the pure blood of Christ. Jesus didn't make a bunch of booze for a party.

Judges 13, when Samson is gonna be raised up, this superhuman strength God was gonna give him, what does the angel say to his mother? "Behold you'll conceive and bear a son. Now, there is physical results of what you eat and drink," the angel says. "Drink no wine nor strong drink nor eat any unclean food," because some of the people were doing what the church does now. They were migrating away from God's Word. He said, "you be careful to follow my laws about health because you're gonna have a man that's the strongest man that ever lived.

" When John the baptist was born in the new testament, what did the angels say to his father? "For he will drink neither wine nor strong drink." Why? Cause he's gonna be filled with the Holy Spirit. You know sometimes you'll see a liquor store and it says, "wine, beer and spirits." You know why? Because when you drink that stuff, you get different kinds of spirits. But if you want the Holy Spirit, the Bible says, "do not drink wine which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." You can't be filled with both at the same time. Number nine, "what are some other valuable health principles that we find in the Bible?" Now, I'm gonna go through some of these quickly. A, you know the Bible teaches quarantine, that certain disease, sicknesses, if you isolate the disease and separate that person, it can help create cleansing.

A little amazing fact: during the 13th century when the bubonic plague was sweeping across europe, they didn't realize how to stop it. Finally some of the church leaders opened up the book of Leviticus. They understood principles of quarantine. They began to burn the clothing of those that were infected and started implementing those principles. That's what stayed the spread of the bubonic plague was the church leaders finally turning to the Bible.

B, washing. We all know that. The body and its clothing, it controls germs. God's people should be a clean people. When the Gospel cleans your heart, you'll immediately know it because the environment starts getting cleaner.

I've seen it just as soon as a person finds Jesus, all of a sudden, they start combing their hair, assuming they have it. They start brushing their teeth, if they have them. Their yard starts getting a little cleaner. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. That's not in the Bible, but it's true.

That's Benjamin franklin. C, "moral living is a good health practice." Look at all the disease in our world today from sexually transmitted diseases, the sickness and many for which there is no cure. And if people would consistently follow God's guidelines regarding morality, they'd save themselves a lot of sickness and a lot of heartache. Some places, these diseases are epidemic and the reason they're epidemic is because of promiscuity. If two people didn't fool around until they got married and it was only with each other, you wouldn't have the epidemic of aids that you have.

It doesn't matter whether you're talking heterosexual or homosexual, it's through promiscuity. I know there's rare exceptions where it's through blood transfusions, but those are the exceptions. D, "the importance of work." Now, not only does God say on the Sabbath day we should rest. What does he say before that? "Six days thou shall labor." What did God say to adam even after sin? Part of prolonging his life, he said, "in the sweat of your brow, you will till the ground." Meaning, it's good to sweat. It's good--we don't all want you to start right now, but it's good to do exercise that is aerobic that will get your heart pounding and perspire.

It's cleansing to the body. It's good for the heart, keeps the arteries open. And we, especially in our culture, we've got such a sedentary lifestyle. Man, you know, you rent a car now. I was in st.

Louis going to 3abn and I was checking out my typical rental car. And a gal there recognized me and she said, "oh, you're that pastor on tv. We're gonna give you an upgrade." And it was so nice. Sometimes there's perks, and I appreciated that. And so for the same price, they gave me this executive upgrade.

And it was nice because they said, "this cadillac has a heated steering wheel." And it was freezing. I thought, "well, it's heated-- who wants a heated-- what weak people?" Boy, it was kind of nice, you know, 'cause it was cold outside when I got in there, warm steering wheel. And there in the steering wheel it's got the volume button and you've got the cruise control and you can change channels. And boy, you don't have to hardly move. You can put on the cruise control, you can take a nap.

Nobody even needs to move anymore, you've got-- Karen laughs at me because, you know, we've got a satellite dish at home and then you got the dvd. And I got this stack of remote controls you gotta juggle. And she says, "I don't know how to make anything work." We're so used to sitting there and just pressing our buttons and we're out clicking our mouse. And our health's suffering because of it. "Our bodies need proper--" what? "Rest.

" That's part of the Sabbath commandment. People work too much. Not only do you need good exercise. You exercise better, you'll rest better too. F, a positive attitude, state of mind, is good for your health.

You know what the Gospel gives you, is God forgives you, that makes you have a better attitude. And you can forgive others, that gives you a better attitude. Some people are sick. No so much because of what they're eating but because of what's eating them. And they're constantly bitter and they're stressed or they're angry and they destroy their health because of their attitude.

Furthermore the Bible tells us, and this is new testament as well as old testament, "animal fat and blood should not be eaten." Well, one of the first things that we know is that disease can be transferred from animal to animal by the blood and that so much diseases is from animal products you don't get--it's funny, now people are trying to capitalize on Marketing different things. And you know, it will say, "cholesterol-free peanut butter." And I thought, "was there ever any doubt that there's no cholesterol in peanut butter?" Some people are fooled into thinking, "oh, that's the kind I want. I'm not getting that cholesterol peanut butter." There's no such thing. And I'll spend a moment on this. It's sensitive, but it is important.

"Overeating is harmful." Proverbs 23:2, "blessed are you, o land, when they eat for strength and not for drunkenness." And I say that because we are living in a time where, right now, those in medical industry are saying that our treasury that pays for medical, the insurance companies, are gonna go bankrupt if we don't do something because so much disease is connected with obesity and nearly half of all Americans are overweight. And there's a lot of disease that are connected with eating too much. Matter of fact, we're now at the first time in the world's history when there are more people getting sick from overeating than under eating. You can read here in national geographic. You saw this article in August 2004.

"For all the Americans who blamed bulging bellies on a slow metabolism, the jig is up. A report, earlier this year by the centers for disease control and prevention, finally confirms what many of us didn't want to admit, we're fat because we eat a lot, a whole lot more than we used to." And most of it comes from carbohydrates. I threw this picture in. Someone e-mailed this to me. Only in California will you have an escalator taking people up to work out.

Is it any wonder? We've got the illusion, "oh, I'm part of a gym, yup, and take the escalator and get on my automatic rowing machine. It rows for me." Number nine, "what solemn reminder is given to those who ignore God's rules?" Answer, the Bible says, "you are the temple of God. If any man defiles that temple, him shall God destroy." Remember when Jesus cleansed the temple? And again, "your body's a temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore glorify God in your body." I don't know if I've got time for this. I'm probably gonna have to rush along here. While I'm at it, isn't it clear we should stay away from those things that are addictive? Here's a clue.

Have you ever seen somebody who's--? "What's the problem?" "I need a banana quick." Or ladies, has your husband ever got up and he's tiptoeing towards the kitchen. "Where you going, dear?" "Oh, I just feel like brussels sprouts." No, people get addicted to that which is not good for them. And we drink an awful lot of caffeine in our culture. You're not gonna find a Scripture that says, "thou shall not drink caffeine," because it's, you know, chemically derived these days. Number ten, "what should every Christian, sincere Christian, endeavor to do at once?" Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.

" This is your reasonable service. You belong to him by virtue of sacrifice. What do you think? It says on every pack that this stuff will kill you. "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." And that would also include being temperate in even the good things, don't overdo it. Every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things.

How many of you would like to eat from the Tree of Life? Where is the Tree of Life today? The Bible tells us it's still in existence. It wasn't destroyed in the flood. The Bible says, "the new Jerusalem's coming down." You know what that means? If God can bring a city down, he can bring a garden up. And probably before the flood, he took his garden back up to heaven and that tree is still there, and I want to eat from that tree someday, don't you? Revelations 2:7, "to him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the paradise of God." It is there today, waiting for your along with your mansion. How many of you would like to eat from the Tree of Life today, today? You know, God still has a Tree of Life.

Christ was crucified on a tree. Amen? The artist for this beautiful, new painting, nathan green, is right here in the community. Jesus died on a tree. His body is the fruit, his blood is the nectar and when you accept Christ, he gives you new life. That new life, that new spirit, that new power enables you to be a new creature.

You know, I've covered a lot of ground today, and I know some of you are feeling a struggle. Even if you knew these things, I'll venture to bet that some of you are saying, "you know, Pastor Doug, I need to make some changes in taking care of the temple that God has given me." And it takes the power of God's Spirit to make these changes so that our minds can be--and ultimately, you can serve God better. It's because of love. If you're healthier, you can serve him better. You can serve your fellow man better.

It's because of love for God and love for your fellow man and love for yourself. You want to obey these health principles. Amen? It's good for you. I'd like to invite John to come up, and he's gonna sing about that Tree of Life. The cross of Christ is a Tree of Life and first you must eat from that tree if you want to eat from the Tree of Life in the garden.

[Music] I am thine, o Lord. I have heard thy voice, and it told thy love to me; but I long to rise in the arms of faith, and be closer drawn to thee. So draw me nearer, nearer precious Lord. To the cross where thou hast died. And draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord to thy precious bleeding side.

I want to eat from the Tree of Life, friends. I want to live forever with Jesus, don't you? If you're going to eat from that Tree of Life that's in the paradise of God someday, first you must reach out by faith and take hold of the fruit that hung on the cross. That is the Tree of Life. You realize it was from a tree that zaccheus saw Jesus. And Jesus saw nathaniel under a tree.

It all happens at the tree. How many of you would like to say, "Lord, I know I need to make some changes in my life today; I want to be set free by your spirit; and I know the only way I can do it is by getting that power that comes from eating and drinking from the cross, the cross of Christ"? Is that your desire, friends? Amen. Let me pray with you. Dear Lord, I know that the word has not gone forth void, that the Holy Spirit is working in people's heart, both those here and those who are watching. And we want to have a revival.

We want to present our bodies a living sacrifice. We want to be in your kingdom. We want life, eternal life and better life here now. We want our spirits to be healed and we want our bodies to be healed. Lord, I pray that we can reach out by faith, take the salvation that Jesus provided on that cross that we might have the power to live new lives to represent you and someday be in that kingdom and eat from tree.

We ask in Christ's Name, amen.

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