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

Plan Ahead 

Isaiah 47:1
“Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon;
Sit on the ground without a throne,
O daughter of the Chaldeans!
For you shall no more be called
Tender and delicate.”

Sitting in the dust, like wearing sackcloth or throwing dirt in the air was a sign of mourning. It was not uncommon in the ancient world for a person stricken with grief to express it outwardly. Those who lost a loved one, or were burdened by personal sin were easily identifiable to the people around them.

At the time Isaiah is writing Babylon was on its way to becoming the most powerful and wealthiest nation of that era. They will soon topple Assyria and spread their empire from Iraq to Egypt. While on the rise it is often difficult to see our need for Christ so Isaiah takes them to the future when their nation, like all nations before them would fall. He describes a coming time when their mothers, wives and children will become captives and their land destroyed.

It seems that today a great emphasis is placed on planning ahead. I recently saw an advertisement for retirement planning that used blocks to show the value of starting now and setting a little aside each month for the future. While I am certain there is wisdom in planning for retirement their is even greater wisdom in planning for eternity. The first step involves turning to the Lord and away from a lifestyle that is unacceptable to Him.

How sad for the Babylonians who ignored the warnings of the word and continued on a path that led to their own destruction.

Jim

 

Teddy Bear 

Isaiah 46:6-7
“They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver on the scales; They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god; They prostrate themselves, yes, they worship. They bear it on the shoulder, they carry it and  set it in its place, and it stands; From its place it shall not move. Though one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer Nor save him out of his trouble.”

In Isaiah’s time, it was a common practice, among the people, to fashion gods out of metal, wood, or clay. These little idols formed by their hands, were a reflection, not of the God of Scripture, but rather of the imaginations of men. Their idols were designed to bring them comfort in times of trouble. When things became difficult, they might hold their idol close like a small child with a stuffed doll. The problem, of course, was the comfort these idols brought was merely psychological. These graven images could not heal a sickness, provide during times of need, deliver from oppression, or give eternal life.

Today, it is just as common for people to create gods who will give them comfort and ease their anxieties. The problem is, these manmade gods really provide nothing more than the comfort a child derives from a favorite blanket or a teddy bear.

Instead of fashioning a god to satisfy our emotions, wouldn’t it be better to get to know the God who created the heavens and the earth? He alone is the One who has what is necessary for us to make our way through life and into eternity,

Isaiah 45:22.
“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”

Pastor Jim

 

Clap Your Hands

Psalm 47:1
“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”

Sometimes knowing the setting in which a psalm was written is beneficial to understanding its content. Other times, like in this psalm, the setting is not given because the truth is universal. Whatever our condition, whether we would classify it as good or bad, blessing or trial, God remains the same and is always worthy of the highest praise. The truths tucked away in this psalm transcend every experience the child of God endures. Whatever state you are currently facing, it is a good idea to clap your hands and shout out the loudest praise.

The Psalmist declares that God is awesome because He is the great King who subdues all things under His feet. Our praise is often lost when we become frightened or overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control. We wonder how anything good could come from the difficulties we are facing. It is during those times that we must realize God is King of all the earth, and capable of moving mountains in order to accomplish His purposes. We can then learn to celebrate Him, even when are circumstances seem bleak.

The Psalmist declares that God will select our inheritance for us because He loves us dearly. For Israel, the inheritance speaks of the land allotted to each tribe. For the Christian, our inheritance is the blessed life God desires us to experience. Israel needed to trust God beyond fear and circumstance if they were to walk in the land. We must do the same if we are going to walk out the life God intends for us. We must be willing to set emotion and selfish desire aside, take up our cross, and walk after the things of Christ if we want to find the inheritance He has laid aside for each of us.

Finally, the Psalmist speaks of the shields of the earth belonging to God. What a blessing it is when we realize, the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. Sometimes, walking with the Lord will make us vulnerable and that can lead to worry and fear, unless we realize the center of His will is the safest place for us. Israel’s fear kept them from entering Canaan, which in turn put them outside of the protective care of God. What frightened them was the very thing keeping them from experiencing the protective care of God.

“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”

Pastor Jim

 

Guilt Free

Psalm 38:4
“For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.”

In this Psalm, we find David enduring the consequences of sin. Like all of us, he was drawn into something forbidden and chose to trespass, because sin always makes promises it cannot keep. He was, no doubt, hoping to find some level of pleasure by disobeying the law of God. Whatever enjoyment he derived from his sin, was soon eclipsed by the pain and sorrow sin always brings. Here we find David in travail of soul and under severe attack from his enemies. He describes himself as being pierced by arrows of conviction, being under the heavy weight of guilt, and even undergoing attack from others who think that he deserves the sufferings he is facing.

Sadly, David is not alone. This is a common experience for the child of God. We see something forbidden and desire it anyway, soon we find ourselves neck deep in sin and under its heavy hand. The pleasures of sin are quickly replaced with conviction and guilt, and those who we know best, may even keep their distance not knowing how to react toward us.

In those times, we must learn that there is only one place to turn. If we look inward or outward we will be defeated, but if we look upward, we will find that Christ has provided pardon, and we can be forgiven. The Lord will forgive our sins when we confess them, and as time goes on, will even remove the heavy hand of guilt that rests upon us. So often, we become paralyzed when we realize how badly we have messed things up through our failure, instead of allowing the cleansing work of Christ to wash us, and to begin the process of restoring all that we have destroyed.

If you are burdened by sin, be sure to take it to the Lord, who alone can remove its heavy weight and restore what has been lost.

Pastor Jim

 

Don’t Worry

Proverbs 12:25
“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.”

Anxiety can be defined as an abnormal and overwhelming concern over the reality of a threat, and our inability to cope with it. Similar words would be care, concern, fear, nervousness or worry. Anxiety is usually accompanied by an inability to focus on other tasks, difficulty sleeping, and either no appetite or one that seems to rage out of control. Solomon observed that unchecked anxiety can lead to a much worse condition, that of all out depression. No doubt, life is filled with challenges greater than we can handle, which bring us to the brink of anxiety. Many of us may feel as though we have already slipped off that cliff. Fortunately, the Bible addresses the subject of anxiety and gives us some clear cures for our common worries.

Jesus told us not to worry, but to observe how our Heavenly Father cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields (Matthew 6:26). He went on to explain that we are of much greater value to God than any other part of His creation, and He promises to meet our needs. The first step in curing common worries is to place your trust in the loving arms of God. Those who handle life’s challenges best, are those who have come to trust in the loving care of God. When all else fails, they remain calm because they know their lives are wrapped up in the arms of God.

Paul declared, instead of worrying about the challenges we are facing, we should pray. Worry does not have the ability to fix anything. In fact, it has been proven, worry can actually create physical problems. Jesus asked, “which of you by worrying can add a cubit to your stature?” (Luke 12:26) Worry does not help matters, but makes them worse. The clear alternatives to worry is to take my concerns to the Lord and allow Him to direct my steps.

Solomon adds an interesting step in curing worry. He reminds us of the value of a word carefully spoken. There are certain people who seem to have a gift for stirring up unwarranted concern, while others seem to be a calming voice of reason. We have all experienced times when a person opens their mouths and makes matters worse. The words that carry the ability to put gladness in the heart of the worrier, are the promises of God. In those times, when we are overwhelmed, we need to learn to cling to the promises of God.

Perhaps now would be a good time to set your worries aside and replace them with trust, by casting your cares upon the Lord, and filling your mind with His great and precious promises.

Pastor Jim

 

Overflowing Life 

Proverbs 9:11
“For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.”

Jesus promised, those who believe in Him would be the recipients of eternal life. He also promised we would have abundant life while we live.

John wrote in 1 John 1:5:12, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 

We will never experience the abundant life God intends for us until we first receive Christ and begin to walk with Him. Scripture promises the love of God will flood our hearts, the peace of God will guard our minds, and the life of God will well up within us like a fountain, flowing out upon others around us. Once we receive Christ, we begin to experience the abundant grace of God flowing into our lives. Paul knew this kind of life, and it enabled him to celebrate the Lord, even in the most difficult situations.

There are, however, many Christians who are failing to experience abundant life. They seem to be constantly downtrodden and defeated. In some cases, it may be a result of failing to choose the path of wisdom. Solomon explains that true wisdom has, as its goal, a desire to live pleasing to the Lord. When we walk that road (when all decisions are filtered through a desire to do what is right in the eyes of God), we will find “our days are multiplied and years of life are added.” Things are simply better when we follow the Lord and do it His way. So often, our will fights against the will of God. When we resist Him, we fail to see that His desires are best for us. The height of life is always reached when we surrender all to Christ, and live in obedience to His Word.

Let’s commit together to begin each day by offering ourselves to the Lord, and looking at our circumstances in the light of Scripture. Begin each day this week by dedicating yourself to Him, praying for the things you are facing, and reading His Word. End each day by examining your actions in light of the Lord and His Word. Let’s see how far He can take us down the road of abundant life.

Pastor Jim