Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking is one of those things that when it is portrayed in movies or television can be used as humor, but the truth is that it is a very scary and dangerous condition. I really do not know what would cause someone to sleepwalk, but I find it interesting that one could wake up all of a sudden and find themselves eating ice cream. Wait, maybe I do sleepwalk. In all seriousness I don’t think I have ever slept walk, but I have had times when stress is overwhelming me, and my mind will play tricks on me while I am sleeping. Several times I have woke myself up thinking there were snakes in my bed. I know it freaked me out too. Then one time my mind tricked me into thinking that I was sleeping in the wrong house and I didn’t wake up until I was at the front door getting ready to walk out. It was January and I was in my underwear so I am pretty sure that would have woken me up anyway.

The point is that when we have such things happen it can be dangerous and at the very least a little embarrassing. As followers of Jesus the same truths apply spiritually. We cannot afford to sleepwalk through our faith. What I mean is that we cannot afford to just stumble our way through our lives just getting by spiritually.

Paul challenges us in Romans 13:11 when he says, Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake up from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. His warning is that the time of the Lord to take us home is coming sooner every day. Church, look around, the days are becoming more and more evil. We cannot afford to sleepwalk and miss out on reaching as many people as we can for the cause of Jesus. There is one good thing about the days in which we are living. It should be an alarm clock blaring in our ears that we are running out of time. Let’s WAKE UP and RISE and march onward Christian soldier.



Offering

The whole idea of giving in the church seems to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. We watch television evangelists try to convince us that if we give a hundred dollars the Lord will repay us a thousand. Sure, because that is in the Bible. The question I would need to ask is even if that were true (it’s not) what is our purpose for giving in the first place? Do we give just to get something in return? The whole idea of giving is to show the Lord how much we love Him and how we trust that if we give to Him what is His to begin with that He will honor such faith. Not only will He meet our needs, but He will bless us in so many different ways. The blessing comes from the heart in which we give, not that we give.

King David ran into such a quandary when he chose to buy a threshing floor from one of his subjects in order to build an alter to God. The man that David wanted to buy the threshing floor from was willing to just give it to him. Sounds like a pretty good deal. The problem was that David understood something about giving to God and that was that giving should cost. David responded this way in II Samuel 24:24, “I will not offer burnt offering to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”

As we the church look to returning to worship together, getting back to regular services, and outreach opportunities, may I ask a question? Will you offer the sacrifice of your time to God in this new age opportunity? Will we learn from King David and understand that the offering of convenience is not really what the Lord is desiring, but the offering of sacrifice? Let me throw out a challenge to you as followers of Jesus. What if we would put the things of our Lord first in our lives? Do you think this would please Him? Do you think that is the kind of sacrifice that He would bless? Try it, I double dog dare you.



Traditions

As you read the title “Traditions” there were probably several things that went through your mind. Some good and some not so good. Just about everyone has family traditions that bring great memories to mind. Maybe it is going to a beach together every spring break, or the way you hold hands at every meal to pray.

But, sadly in church circles the word “tradition” can bring thoughts that are not so positive. The truth is that we should periodically evaluate why we do what we do as followers of Jesus. Is it biblical, or is it something we do just because it is the way we have always done it?

The truth is that traditions do not have to be bad or wrong. There are a couple questions we need to ask. First, what is the purpose of this tradition? Back in the 1900’s there was a sentry posted in a particular place at the Kremlin and it seemed to be for no apparent reason. One day when someone finally asked why there was a guard posted in such a strange place the answer was finally tracked down. It seems in the 1700’s Catherine the Great had a sentry posted in the spring to keep some flowers from being trampled. That flower garden no longer existed, yet the sentry still stood. Truthfully, there are probably a lot of things that are in our lives for similar reasons.

Second question, is the tradition biblical? Paul wrote in II Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” If anyone was against the religious traditions of man it was Paul. The traditions he is speaking of are not the extra biblical kind that the religious had placed on the backs of God’s people, but truths that were given by Jesus to be given to all His followers. Paul’s point is that man is always looking for biblical loopholes to excuse us from living the lives that we have been commanded to. Paul is telling us to stand firm in those truths that we know come from the Lord.

Let us then stand firm in the traditions of the word of God, but we must first know the word of God. Pray that we may be hungry for God’s word and know that which He has called us to.



Restore

One of the neatest things that I enjoy watching are shows about restorations. Whether it is an old muscle car that mechanics bring back to life, or old beautiful homes that are in desperate need of being rebuilt by great carpenters. I just find it amazing that people have the ability to fix and repair, restore the damaged and the broken, and make things not only functional but beautiful once again.

We understand that the reason these cars and homes, or whatever it is that is being restored, are in such bad shape is that they were not taken very good care of. There was some sort of neglect of upkeep and repairs. Then the owner looks at it one day and thinks, “what’s the use, this thing is too far gone.” And then they give up and just walk away. Then comes someone that can see the discarded and neglected and sees not only what it was, but what it could be again.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that could happen for people? If only there was a way to take all the mistakes and bad choices that we have made in our lives that have brought neglect into our lives and restore us and make us functional and beautiful once again? Oh wait, there is One that said that He can do that very thing. Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  Jesus is still the greatest carpenter to ever live and His specialty is restoration of the broken, damaged, and discarded. All He asks is that you give Him complete control of the project. You do this by asking Him to come into your life, forgiving you of what has gotten you where you are, and making Him the Lord of your life. Sin has brought death and decay into our lives; Jesus removes and restores what sin has destroyed.

What about those of us who are already followers of Jesus and have found ourselves in places we never wanted to be? We have lost our joy and our passion for our Lord. David, a man after God’s own heart, really pulled a boneheaded move by having an affair with Bathsheba and then having her husband killed to try and cover up the whole thing. That is pretty bad. Did David recover, was he able to get back into right relationship with God? Yes, he did. But he first had to acknowledge and deal with the sin that he not only allowed but welcomed into his life. Then he cried out to his God. We see this in Psalm 51:12-13 as David cried out, Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You.”

David cried out to be forgiven and have his joy returned to him, but he was also going to return to God with a purpose. This is not just about what we need in our lives, but what we can bring into other people’s lives. When the Lord restores us, let us go help one another to understand that they too can be restored to this wonderful and loving God.