Walking Dead 

1 Timothy 5:6
“But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.”

Back in the mid 1970′s, disaster movies were the big craze. Towering Inferno, Earthquake, The Poseidon Adventure, and Tidal Wave, were just a few of the titles that topped the charts. Nowadays, it seems people are fascinated with the concept of the undead. Not only have multiple movies and TV shows been released on the subject, but books, magazines and websites, are devoted to zombies and other undead creatures. There is even a popular TV show called “The Walking Dead.” While these all show mindless creatures, who cannot be killed by normal means, walking about with an insatiable appetite for blood, the Bible paints a different picture of the walking dead. Paul speaks of those who have not surrendered to Christ, as being dead while they live.

Ephesians 2:1 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins”

The Bible teaches, as long as we are apart from Christ, we live in a condition of being spiritually dead. We are capable of doing many things, contributing to society, even making life better for others, but we are not able to carry on a relationship with God. Our sins act like a giant wedge keeping us from knowing God; which is the primary purpose for our existence. As long as we continue in this condition, we are missing out on the life Jesus intended for us. If we die in this state, we will live forever separated from God. The way to escape death is to trust in Christ. When a person puts faith in Christ, the Bible teaches that his sins are forgiven, and he is made alive spiritually. Since sin is no longer an issue keeping you from God, you can begin to experience the life He created you for; a life of fellowship with God.

John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Jesus came into our lives so we might experience the life God intended for us. That life is found through complete surrender to Him. Speaking to His disciples, Jesus explained one of life’s great paradoxes. He said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) He was speaking about surrendering all to Him. Some of us have never experienced the life Jesus promised because we are holding on to some sin from our past. When we give that up, we will begin to find life in Christ like we have never known before.

Pastor Jim

Slaying Dragons 

Isaiah 27:1
“In that day the Lord with His severe sword, great and strong, Will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan that twisted serpent; And He will slay the reptile that is in the sea.”

The Bible often uses figurative language to enhance our understanding of spiritual things. Jesus is referred to as a Lion so we would reflect upon His power and a Lamb so we would understand His humility and willingness to be sacrificed for our sin. The devil is also represented with figurative language. He is referred to as an angel of light who goes about to deceive and a roaring lion who seeks to devour his prey. Here in this text it seems likely that Isaiah is referring to Satan as a twisted serpent who will ultimately be destroyed by the sword of the Lord. Satan is referred to as a serpent in other texts. In fact the first mention of him is in the garden where he appears as a serpent to deceive Eve and lead her into rebellion against God. Later, the book of Revelation takes us into the future where we see the dragon defeated, chained and cast into the bottomless pit.

I find it interesting that in the midst of the spiritual, social and economic chaos that Israel was facing during the time of Isaiah the he would draw the attention of the people to a time when the devil will ultimately be judged. I also find the weapon of choice quite interesting; He uses the “great and strong sword of the Lord.” The weapon that will ultimately defeat the devil is the same weapon that is needed to deal with his attacks on a daily basis. Paul referred to the Bible as “the sword of the Spirit” and Jesus used the scriptures to forge a counterattack against the temptations He faced in the wilderness. It is through the word of God that Satan will ultimately be defeated and it is with the Word of God that we will have victory over him on a daily basis.

The Bible teaches that Satan casts fiery darts into the mind of the believer. These darts come in the form of thoughts that are ungodly in nature. We are made aware of a situation and are immediately filled with thoughts of fear, worry, unforgiveness or even rage. It is at that point when we must wield the sword of the Spirit and counterattack our thoughts with what the Bible teaches. Instead of continuing down a train of thought that leads us to ungodly action we must choose to let the sword defeat the dragon. Because of the importance of the God’s word it is no wonder that the first spiritual attack recorded in Scripture was a frontal assault against the validity and trustworthiness of the Bible. The serpent said, “has God really said…”

What comfort there is in knowing that a day is coming when the dragon will be defeated and we will be free of all the trouble he has created.

Jim

 

Who’s The Real Enemy? 

Psalms 83:1
“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God!”

Prayer takes on many different forms. Sometimes it is appropriate to offer praise for the many blessings we receive from God, other times it is important to intercede for the needs of others; and we must never forget to take time to petition God for the issues that affect our personal lives. Here in Psalm 83, we find another essential element of an effective prayer life, as the Psalmist pleads with God to deal with those who have gathered themselves against God. He describes those who have consulted together with the goal of removing the influence of God and His people. In response, he pleads with God to intercede by defeating these enemies. It seems that his prayers are motivated by a desire to free the people of God from oppression, as well as a desire to see the enemies of God saved. He declares;

Psalms 83:16 “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord.”

Psalms 83:18 “That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

It seems we are in an age where the enemies of God are at an all time high. We are surrounded by those who want to silence the Gospel, or at least rewrite it. If we publicly declare the message of Christ, we may receive an onslaught of ridicule, or be marked as  bigots, and accused of inciting hate. Now is the time for believers to increase the kind of prayer recorded in the 83rd Psalm. It is important to keep in mind, the real enemy of the Christian is not the outspoken atheist or the unrepentant coworker. Our real enemy is the devil, who seeks to hold men and women captive in their sin. We are not praying for God to destroy those who oppose Him, but to reveal Himself to them for their own sake.

Pastor Jim

 

Distorted View

Numbers 22:4
“So Moab said to the elders of Midian, ‘Now this company will lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.’ And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.”

The Moabites were descendants of Lot and ancient ancestors like Israel. They inhabited the land east of the Jordan and south of the Dead Sea. As a result, they were not under the same curse as the Canaanites, and they occupied an area of land that was not given to Israel. In God’s economy they were to be neighbors and allies with Israel. Isn’t it sad that they had established such a distorted view of what would happen to them if they submitted to the will of God and allowed Israel to pass through their land? They believed that submission to the Lord meant their lives would be ruined.

The bible teaches that the devil is a liar and a deceiver. His goal is to steal what belongs to God and destroy those who are precious to God. One of the ways he accomplishes this is by distorting the Word of God, to make it seem as if surrender to God will ruin your life. He convinces us that the plans we have for our lives are best and God wants to rob us of those plans and give us something of lesser value. As a result, we fight against God with almost every step. When He wants us to lay something down, we fight, thinking we cannot live without it. When He wants us to pick something up, we resist, thinking it is much too difficult to do.

Sadly, the Moabites continued to resist the ways of God, fought against the people of God, and were defeated. They lost so much, simply because they had a distorted view of God.

I think it is also important for us to realize that the world around us has developed a pretty distorted view of God. Most people who have not accepted Christ have never read the Bible or sat in a Bible teaching church. Their understanding of Christ and Christianity has come from TV and movies. They have no real idea of who God is or what the Bible teaches. It is the role and responsibility of the Christian to set a good example of what it means to be a follower of Christ. As long as someone has a distorted view of Jesus, they are very unlikely to give their life to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

The Key 

Revelation 1:18
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

The final book of the Bible is aptly called Revelation, for it is a compilation of things that were revealed to John while banished to the Island of Patmos. In it, we will be given key insights into the future, but before the future is described, John takes time to describe Jesus. Instead of seeing the humble carpenter, meek and mild, John describes King Jesus in all His splendor and glory and refers to Him as “the ruler of the kings of the earth.” As ruler, Jesus declares He holds in His hands the keys to hell and death. As I read this, I have to ask, why would Jesus unlock the door to hell?

We have all seen the images of satan as the king of Hell, ruling over the fiery underworld. That image is not found anywhere in the Bible, but is taken from Greek mythology where Hades, the brother of Zeus, rules as a tyrant over the dead. The Bible paints an entirely different picture. Satan is not the king of Hell, but will be the chief prisoner. After all the havoc he has caused upon the earth, he will one day be bound and cast into the lake of fire. There he will forever pay for his rebellion against God, and the destruction he has caused mankind. The key in the hand of Jesus is used to unlock the door of hell to imprison the devil and his cohorts.

There is another reason why Jesus holds this key. The Bible teaches that, prior to coming to Christ, we are held captive to sin. Like a prisoner of war held behind enemy lines, we are bound in our sin and have no way of escape. Jesus holds the key; the way of escape out of sin and it’s penalty. Whenever, whoever, and wherever we are, when we call upon Christ, we are set free from sin, death and judgment, and given the free gift of eternal life. Jesus is the one who unlocks the door and sets us free.

Whatever sin may have its grip on you, if you cry out to Christ, He will set you free.

Pastor Jim

 

Don’t Beleive That

Jeremiah 5:25
“Your iniquities have turned these things away,
And your sins have withheld good from you.”

The Bible portrays the devil as a dragon who seeks to defeat the work of God by destroying the followers of God. This fiery beast has opposed the followers of God since the beginning of time. While he is crafty and sly, he seems to revert back to the same old lie whenever he attempts to deceive us. In the garden, he convinced Eve that departing from the ways of God would make life better. She soon discoveredt that true life is not found in freeing ourselves from God, but in walking within the confines of His Word.

People in Jeremiah’s day were buying into this same old lie. In pursuit of life, they were leaving the commands of God and following their own desires. Tragically, they found sin cannot fulfill its promises. The lifestyles they hoped would give them pleasure, only filled them with pain, and led them away from the Lord who made them, and desired to save them. To make matters worse, their sins were ripping them off from life in God, and hardening their hearts against Him.

Thousands of years have passed since Jeremiah’s day, yet this lie is still the number one tactic in the devils playbook. So many refuse to come to Christ, thinking that to do so means to miss out on life. Others, drift from Christ in search of the pleasure sin promises, but can never deliver. It would do us good to remember, freedom is not found in removing all restraints, but in living according to the proper restraints. Just as our bodies cannot survive without air, water and food, so we cannot experience true life apart from Christ, and the boundaries determined by His word.

Pastor Jim