Curses

Zechariah 5:2-3
“And he said to me, ‘What do you see?’ So I answered, ‘I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits.’ Then he said to me, ‘This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole earth…'”

hqdefault-1.jpgOver the years, Hollywood has gone to elaborate ends to depict the results of a curse. The storyline of the hit movie “Pirates of the Caribbean,” is built upon the fact that a group of pirates stole enchanted treasure and were forced to live forever under its curse. The curse forced them to live forever, without taste or feeling.

The Bible teaches we are actually under the curse of sin. Paul explained, it was Adam’s disobedience which brought sin into the world, and each of us have followed in Adam’s footsteps by living a life of sin. Our nature causes us to sin, and our sinful actions condemn us to a life divorced from God. If this condition is not repaired we will end up eternally separated from God.

The message of the Bible is a message of redemption. From the very beginning, it tells the story of God providing a means for sin to be pardoned, and the strength of the curse broken. After fulfilling hundreds of prophecies, written over a period of fifteen centuries, Jesus paid the ultimate price to free us from sin’s curse.

Paul put it this way,

Galatians 3:10
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written,’Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.'”

Galatians 3:13
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written,’Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)”

Any of us, who have broken the least of God’s commands, are condemned under the curse of sin. If you have ever lied, taken something that does not belong to you, coveted someone else’s stuff, become angry without cause or looked at a woman with lustful eyes, then you are sitting under sin’s curse. The only force strong enough to break the curse of sin, is the power of God; that was demonstrated on the cross. It was there, on that tree, that Christ bore the curse for us,so we could bear the righteousness of God, and be free.

The only means of escaping the curse of sin,is to receive the forgiveness of Christ. Have you accepted His generous offer? Will you ask Christ to pardon you and give you eternal life?It is free for the asking.

Pastor Jim

 

 

Turn Back Time 

Lamentations 5:16-17

“The crown has fallen from our head.
Woe to us, for we have sinned!
Because of this our heart is faint;
Because of these things our eyes grow dim”

Sin is a funny thing. It promises pleasure, but can only bring pain. Day after day the Word of God was presented to the people, and day after day they rejected it. It was not until the walls of the city were breeched, and the city lit on fire, that many realized their mistake. The sin they thought was giving them life, was actually leading them into bondage.

It is highly doubtful that an army is encircling your home, waiting for you to turn from the Lord for a pursuit of the flesh. But it is certain, fleshly pursuits will lead to bondage. Everyone who is enslaved to drugs, alcohol, pornography or any other vice, began their journey thinking their sin was bringing them pleasure. The key to ensure we do not end up bound to these things, is to never get started. I am certain, if you never take the first drink, you will never be bound to a bottle. But what about those who find themselves enslaved to sin? Is there any hope ?

Lamentations 5:21 “Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old”

The wonderful promise of Scripture is that no matter how far we have fallen, if we turn to the Lord, we will be restored. Like the thief on the cross, there remains hope for us as long as we have breath.

Don’t wait another moment, turn to the Lord today. His mercies are new every morning.

Pastor Jim

 

Get Out Of Jail

Jeremiah 52:31

“Now it came to pass in the thirty- seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach, King of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin, King of Judah and brought him out of prison.”

Jehoiachin, the last King of Judah, will forever be known as the one sitting on the throne when the nation fell. The collapse was not entirely his fault, although his wickedness did play a part. While very few details are preserved regarding his actual reign, we are told that after 37 years in prison, he was suddenly released and treated favorably. Jeremiah does not give an explanation of the details leading up to his release, but as Scripture unfolds, we can uncover the heavenly reasons behind it.

Thirty-three years after Jehoiachin was released, Cyrus, King of Persia, allowed Israel to return to Jerusalem to repatriate the land and rebuild the Temple. The remnant that returned was led by Zerubbabel, who would serve as their governor and liaison between Israel and Persia. Zerrubabel was the grandson of Jehoiachin. That means, although imprisoned for 37 years, God still had a plan for Jehoiachin’s life. Although he failed as a king, he seems to have succeeded as a grandfather, by raising a son, who in turn, would raise a son, who would serve the Lord.

Zerrubabel would become a great leader in Israel. His ministry would combine the gifts of Moses, who led Israel into the land, and Solomon who built the first temple. In the midst of great opposition, he would find great victory.

None of us should aspire to take the route of Jehoiachin; a wicked life that results in bondage should never be our aspiration. However, if we have traveled a road that has cost us our freedom, and perhaps even our family’s, it is not too late to get off that road and determine, from this point forward, we will live for the Christ and His kingdom. It may be, in the time you have left, the Lord may use you to influence those who will influence the nations.

Pastor Jim

 

On Second Thought

Jeremiah 34:10-11
Now when all the princes and all the people, who had entered into the covenant, heard that everyone should set free his male and female slaves, that no one should keep them in bondage anymore, they obeyed and let them go. But afterward they changed their minds and made the male and female slaves return, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection as male and female slaves.”

As proof of true commitment to the Lord, the people were called upon to obey the Word of God by setting slaves free. Because of the intensity of the situation they were facing, the people quickly obeyed and emancipation began. Sadly, this obedience did not last. We read, after the slaves were freed, the people changed their minds. Perhaps setting the slaves free had intruded upon their lifestyle and they did not like it. Having to make their own beds, cook their own meals, and clean up after themselves, was too great an inconvenience. It caused them to choose instead, to disobey God and turn back to their former lifestyles. It is common for Christians to come to the altar, confess their sin, and leave it behind. Unfortunately, it is also common for Christians to turn back and get involved in the sins they had once left behind. As time takes us farther away from our initial conversion, we can forget how empty life apart from Christ really was. We can have a romanticized view of life before Christ. The devil is a master at making disobedience look like something that brings pleasure, satisfaction, and purpose to life. The reality is, life is really found in obedience to the Lord and His Word. Don’t turn back.

Pastor Jim

 

Free From Sin’s Control

Romans 8:
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

As we read through the Word, it is important to remember the chapter breaks were added later to make it easier to find specific passages. At times, they can create a break in thought not intended by the author. This often causes us to miss something vital in the text. The thoughts of Romans 8 are an obvious conclusion of what Paul declared in Chapter 7. He referred to himself as carnal, a word meaning worldly; and wretched, meaning deeply afflicted, or extremely bad. The reason for his dire view is that he found himself incapable of living a proper Christian life. The Word of God clearly expresses the kind of life which pleases God, and the particular behaviors, thoughts, desires and actions that are regarded as sinful. By his own admission, Paul knew what was right, but lacked the power to accomplish these things. He writes,

“For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Romans 7:19

Have you ever been sitting in a church service, hearing a particularly convicting message, knowing that you come short, desiring with all your heart to live up to it, yet walking out the door and failing again? Understand, you are not alone in this, even Paul faced the same struggles. While it is encouraging to know we are not alone in this battle, Paul did not write about his experience in order to make us feel better when we fail. Instead, he is writing his story to offer us help. He goes on to give the secret of his success; “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” While Chapter 7 describes the struggle Paul faced attempting to live for Christ, Chapter 8 gives the secret behind his victory.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

The life of victory over sin, results in a life filled with the fruit of the spirit, has impact upon others, and produces treasures stored up in Heaven; this is the life empowered by the Spirit of God. The Christian life was never meant to be lived in the energy of human strength. God requires that we learn to depend upon His Spirit for our strength. It is the one who sits daily before the throne of grace who will be filled with the Spirit of Christ. He will find himself with an increased ability to conquer personal sin and live well pleasing to the Lord. STOP trying to win the battle against the flesh with will power and human strategy. Instead, sit daily at the feet of Jesus, in the Word of God, and ask Him, nay, plead with Him, to fill you beyond capacity, with the Spirit of holiness that raised Christ from the dead.

Take a few minutes to ask God to baptize you with His Spirit. Ask Him to give you power to set down the sins you keep picking up, and to give you spiritual gifts that you might be useful for His Kingdom purposes. Then, read through the rest of Romans 8 to find insights into how to walk in the Spirit. Especially note what Paul says about the mind.

Pastor Jim

 

Bound

Judges 15:14

“When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.”


Whenever an artist attempts to illustrate Samson, he looks like a cross between an NFL linebacker and a competitive body builder. He is painted as bigger, stronger and more muscular than all those in in Israel or Philistia. You might find it interesting that no physical description of Samson is ever recorded in Scripture. What is evident is the fact that his strength and subsequent victories, were all directly connected to the Spirit of the Lord being upon him. It was not Samson’s ability that gave him strength, but the power of the Spirit. In this text, we find the Spirt of God enabling him to break the bonds that held him as a captive. Ropes that would hold the average man at bay were torn, as if they were wet tissue paper. 


This serves as a beautiful example of the work of the Spirit, in the life of a believer. We are all held back by the things we lack the power to overcome. For some, it is a difficult experience in our past, others, struggle with a particular desire of the flesh,  still others are consumed with addiction. Like Samson, we need a work of the Spirit to enable us to break the bonds that hold us captive. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is given to those who ask. However, Jesus explained that this asking requires persistence. If we are in need of God’s  intervention to set us free from any form of bondage, we must ask, seek and knock, until the windows of heaven open, and the Spirit is poured out upon us. 


Sadly, when Samson was set free, he went right back into the behaviors that got him in trouble in the first place. Many times, it is not that God has failed to provide the power for deliverance, but that once we are set free, we begin to take steps leading us right back into bondage. If you are struggling, take time to confess it, call out to God for help, and begin to remove those things which make it easy to go back into sin. 


Pastor Jim 



  

Not Strong Enough

Joshua 16:10

“And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.”

 

Both Joshua and the early chapters of Judges, tell the story of Israel’s occupation of the land of Canaan. After the initial strikes led by Joshua, the land was divided into twelve lots.  Each tribe was given the responsibility of possessing their territory. While we read of some great victories that illustrate dynamic faith, we also read a reoccurring theme where the tribes either did not, or could not, drive out one people group or another. Sometimes it was a failure on the part of the people to trust God and step out in faith, other times it was due to convenience. In the case of Benjamin, they allowed the enemy to remain within their borders because they believed they would personally benefit from keeping them around. 

   

Benjamin was not alone in this. Later, we will read of king Saul, who, instead of dealing with the Amalekites, chose to keep what he believed to be personally profitable. This did not end well for Saul, for in the end, he was killed by the sword of an Amalekite. 

 

The best approach to dealing with sin and temptation is to remove it as far from ourself as possible. As long as we think we are strong enough to keep it in check, we run the risk of falling back into that sin in a time of spiritual weakness. It would be like building high walls around an ancient city and leaving the gate wide open. History bears record of great cities falling for no other reason than failing to lock the gates, or close off an opening. Paul gave us his approach to dealing with temptation when he wrote,

 

Romans 13:14

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

 

Pastor Jim