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

 

Truth Bearer

Proverbs 25:9
“Debate your case with your neighbor, and do not disclose the secret to another;”

The Bible clearly teaches that we are not to lie. Truthfulness is a very important trait, and is the foundation for healthy relationships. We cannot have a relationship with someone we cannot trust and we cannot trust someone who does not tell us the truth. That being said, it is also important to remember, we are not required to divulge all the information to every one who asks. If you are walking casually through the local department store and make eye contact with a passerby who asks the common question, “how are you,” a simple, “fine,” would suffice. It is not necessary, for the sake of honesty, to give an elaborate backstory, or to share your deepest feelings. In the same way, some truths, have their best applications when they are concealed. There are matters that are best left to you and your spouse to discuss, and are not the business of others. Sadly, we have all had the experience of trusting delicate information to another, who does not treat it with the same care. Soon their lose tongue has shared the matter with others, and we are left to pick up the pieces. Being the first to know something, or share it with others, does nothing to improve your character, but sharing matters that are not yours to share, reveals a weakness in your character, and hurts those you are supposed to love.

If you have had a problem with releasing information that is not yours to share, perhaps the following reminders may help.

Proverbs 20:19
“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,  Therefore do not associate with a gossip.”

Psalm 34:13
“Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit.”

Proverbs 11:13
He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, 
But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.”

Psalm 141:3
“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Pastor Jim

 

Excuses Excuses 

Jeremiah 49:4
“Why do you boast in the valleys, Your flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? Who trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who will come against me?’”

Some things never change. The sun will always rise in the East and set in the West, water will always be wet, and a person in a backslidden state will always deceive themselves, about their spiritual condition. This was true 2600 years ago in Ammon, and it is true today.

When we drift from the Lord, we develop a skewed perspective about our spiritual condition and the reasons for it. There are a number of pretty common deceptions that keep a person from turning back to the Lord.

It is not uncommon for a person, who has backslidden, to have a list of excuses for their sin. They might have an elaborate story about how another Christian, or the church in general, let them down or treated them badly. In reality, by doing this, they are simply blaming their actions on someone else. This did not work for Adam in the garden, and it will not work today. Sometimes, the first step to getting things right with God, is taking ownership for what we are doing wrong.

Another common deception is thinking we have gone too far and God is no longer interested in us. I have even known backslidden believers to quote obscure verses out of context, convincing them it is too late for them. Keep in mind, the entire underlining message of the Bible is that God is in the business of bringing wanderers back to Himself. You may have made some big mistakes and gotten way off track, but the Cross provides forgiveness for that, and the Lord is waiting to restore you to Himself.

It is also typical for backsliders to think they have time to put off getting things right with God. We often realize we are not where we should be, and we have intentions of returning to the Lord, but we think it is something we will do later. Either we are enjoying our backslidden state, or we are not willing to do the work necessary to return to Christ.

The thing we are forgetting is, the longer we stay in our condition, the deeper our roots go, and the more difficult repentance becomes. Don’t put off repentance for another day. Keep in mind, that while the trip may seem far, it is really as simple as turning to God, and recommitting yourself to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Trust In A Lie

Jeremiah 28:15
“Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, ‘Hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie.'”

As far back as we have recorded history, we have people supposedly speaking for God. Here we find a self-proclaimed prophet named Hananiah, claiming God is OK with the behaviors of the people of Judah, and the warnings of judgment for sin should be ignored. He even went so far as to claim that the current lifestyle of the people would in fact result in the blessing of God, rather than His curse. It is interesting to look back and observe some of the things that culture has promoted as acceptable, while the Word of God has remained the same. There was a time when people of African descent were considered by culture to be less than fully human. This was never the position of the Bible, but of the culture. There were even those, like Hananiah, who twisted the Bible to fit their cultural view.

Today, culture has many views that are diametrically opposed to the teaching of the Word of God. There is no shortage of Hananiahs, who are willing to twist the Bible to make it support their view. I am not sure how much longer God will tarry before His Son returns, but I am sure that if He does, future generations will look back on much of what our culture claims as right, and be as embarrassed by it as we are of Manifest Destiny and slavery. Instead of letting culture shape the way we see life, let’s let the Bible shape our view of culture.

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

 

Check your Sources

Job 13:7
“Will you speak wickedly for God, And talk deceitfully for Him?”

Years ago some good friends of mine were involved in a business transaction that drew a lot of press. It was not long before the papers decided to go public with the story. As we cracked open the paper, it was almost comical to read their account because it was filled with so much error and had even misquoted certain individuals. They had not really paid attention to the facts, or those they chose to interview, and instead wove a story that they thought sounded good.

Sadly, this is all too common with people as it relates to God and His word. People seem to be completely unencumbered by the facts as they develop their viewpoint on God, or what they believe to be God’s viewpoint on the issues of life. It would serve us all well to keep in mind the words of Job.

Job 13:7
“Will you speak wickedly for God, And talk deceitfully for Him?”

One of the great values of the Bible is that it shines like heaven’s light, revealing how God thinks about the ways of men. As our culture pushes its value system upon us, we must go to the Scriptures, determine what God thinks, and in a loving way, filled with grace, push right back. Anyone who speaks for God without checking His Word is actually talking deceitfully for Him.

Cultures will collapse, value systems will change, but the truths found in the Word of God are timeless.

Pastor Jim

 

Truth & Lies 

Romans 3:4
“Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.”

A few years ago, I was returning home from one of my many visits to West Africa. Since it was a day flight, most of the passengers were wide awake, doing anything they could to pass the time. After a while, I struck up a conversation with the young lady sitting beside me. After covering the pleasantries: where we were from, our families, what had brought us over seas, I noticed an open door to engage her in the things of the Lord. After sharing the Gospel message, and even giving a few examples of lives that had been drastically changed by responding in faith to Christ, she grew disinterested. Realizing, that to push too hard would only turn her off to Christians, I concluded our conversation by asking her if she would do me a favor. I requested she simply read the Gospel of John, and pray if God was real, He would show Himself real to her. I was surprised when she responded, “I do not have time for that. I live in the real world.” I realized that her statement revealed a struggle we all face, between what seems to be “real” and the promises found in the Word of God. It is as though a battle is raging between the promise of God, and what we “know” to be true.

How often we doubt the Word of God over the claims of our circumstances, emotions, or the experience of others. Perhaps the biggest arena where the Word of God is brought to question, is in the realm of science. To some, it seems we have a choice of either being a critical thinker, or believing the claims of the Bible. To that Paul would say, “let God be true but every man a liar.”

History is filled with examples of Biblical promises that seemed unbelievable, only later to be worked out with precise detail. The Bible promised a Messiah that would be born of a virgin, have a ministry of the miraculous, be rejected by men, suffer and die by crucifixion, and rise from the dead. After four hundred years of silence, the promised Messiah appeared fulfilling the promises of God. The same Messiah promised the gigantic stones of the Temple would be knocked down, and the city of Jerusalem conquered. It seemed ridiculous to his disciples. How could such a massive building be leveled. Yet within a few decades, the Romans attacked, and the promises were fulfilled. In more recent times, we have seen the fulfillment of a promise so outlandish that even pastors and Bible scholars did not believe it. The Bible promised that the nation of Israel, that ceased to exist in 70AD, would be revived.

Now, Israel is a nation, and has celebrated its 67th anniversary. “. . . let God be true but every man a liar.” We have grown to question the authority of the Bible, while believing in the inerrancy of emotion, experience and science. It is as though we question every claim of the Bible, and believe without hesitation the claims of science. It might help to keep in mind, not everything that was once heralded as scientific fact still holds true today.

For instance, in the Nineteenth Century a French mathematician discovered a tiny planet between Mercury and the Sun, and named it Vulcan. His discovery became the buzz of much of the science community. Others came out with claims to have also seen the planet in its orbit. It was only after his death that his claims were proven false, and the planet Vulcan remains only the fictitious home of Mr. Spock. In more recent times, an Italian astronomer discovered a series of intricate “canals” on Mars. Many believed they were a detailed irrigation system built by Martians. Only after the development of more powerful telescopes, was it proven that no such canals existed. As recently as the 1700′s, many scientists believed life could literally spring out of nothing, when sun light struck the right environment. This theory, known as the Spontaneous Generation of Life, dates as far back as Aristotle who, seeing maggots appear in dead animal carcasses, thought that sunlight had birthed these disgusting little bugs.

Suffice it to say, science, experience, nor emotion are trustworthy foundations to build our lives upon. There is a Rock that will sustain us in the storms of life and through the test of time. That Rock is the authoritative, infallible, inerrant Word of the Living God. Read it, know it, trust it and live by it. His promises will never let you down.

Pastor Jim