Sermon Title: "The Living Dead"
Theme: Reignited for Christ!
Speaker: Pastor John Coaxum
Main Text: Mark 5:1-20 but mostly highlighted Mark 5:1-5
Each of us as Christians experience what the pastor called spiritual coma which is an existence where there is no passion or burning in our hearts for Christ and our relationship with God.
During this season of spiritual coma Christians might also experience what is described as a spiritual drought which is a period of time when one doesn't feel like reading the bible or praying or cultivating a daily prayer life or relationship with God.
There is a dangerous trend going on in Church's across the country and can be seen in congregations regardless of denomination or church affiliation, according to the pastor. The trend is that many church leaders are unfortunately emphasizing RELIGION or Doctrine OVER a Personal Relationship with God. He said the church sadly specializes in behavior modification rather than relationship cultivation as the motivating factor. Church leaders often unintentionally attempt to bind the youth in the chains of behavior captivity. Simply put, if there are no outward signs of sin then there must not be too many issues. But actually this idea couldn't be farther from the truth because our entire personal relationship with God is an "inside job".
However, once God starts to take control there will be evidence of this in our lives and it will be able to be seen through the fruits of our lives. Doctrine will never be a tie that binds one to God or the church. LOVE is the only motivating factor that has the power to keep us dedicated over time. The reason why the ideology of doctrine without relationship is so detrimental to the church, is because from the perspective of the pastor this is one of the major reasons why the YOUTH leave the church or don't feel welcome. He went on to say that the church should be viewed ALWAYS as a hospital. The very fact that there are church members in any church congregation is an open admission of the fact that we all have issues and are in need of constant grace and mercy!
My side comments brought on my the Sermon....
I personally was really glad to hear that I am not the only Young Adult church member that has come to the above conclusion. For YEARS I have felt unwelcome in my OWN church communities! I have felt pressured to confirm to life style standards and dress guidelines that honestly aren't reflective of my current spirituality or relationship with God. Therefore, I have taken what some may feel is a defiant stance in my walk with God. I NO longer CARE about what church members think about my spirituality because I've finally realized that NO ONE has a HELL to put me in but God Himself! So I'm not concerned any longer with what anyone thinks about me or my lifestyle or my personal relationship with God. I know this may sound like I'm upset or bitter about something. But I'm not. I'm just tired of appearing to live a double life. For years I attempted so much to "conform" to what I felt everyone expected of me that I totally lost my individuality along with my desire to even be apart of any church affiliation.
Sure I always loved the music ministries of various churches but that's as far as it went. I didn't pray and I didn't even try to cultivate any type of relationship with God. At that point in my life I had been disappointed by too many church leaders and family members who all CLAIMED to have such a direct connection with GOD yet their lives where a total contradiction to what they were preaching and attempting to shove down my "throat". I couldn't stand church people and to be honest there are still many that I can still do without. But I am so happy to report that the above mindset is being chipped away bit by bit by my new zeal and desire to work towards a more healthy view of the church and my overall relationship with God. I'm excited to wake up each day and have my private time with God and I'm beginning to enjoy going to church every Sabbath!
But there are still times when the words of some start to dig up some of the things that kept me away from the church BUT when I feel myself starting to allow others to influence my walk with God I simply separate myself from them until I'm strong enough to with stand their "christian criticism" of my life. I finally understand the bible text that says, "He who has begun a good work in me is faithful and just to complete it". Amen! Isn't that a BLESSING! All I have to do is submit to God each day and moment by moment when necessary and God will do the inside work on my heart, mind, and character! The key is I have to submit and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit when I'm convicted of issues in my life that God wants to address. So the process of Christianity isn't a DESTINATION its a LIFE Journey!
*Now back to the sermon!
The pastor said that many of us in our Christian walk are in need of the defibrillator of grace which represents the jolt that we each need at some point in our lives to bring us back to the passion that we once had for God and our relationship with Him.
***He said there are many members in the congregation that are in the middle of the church and the world but are no where close to Jesus! Wow... Deep right!
The central text of the sermon highlighted the encounter that Jesus had with the Demoniac which was a term used in biblical times to describe one that was demon possessed.
The pastor pointed out that there are a three things that make each of us venerable to demonic possession.
1. Being an Empty person
2. Being a Person who hasn't chosen to be on either God's or Satin's side
3. A lack of Passion for God
He went on to break down why each category above is at a high risk when it comes to demon possession. The reason why the speaker described the three categories is because he said he researched how one can become demon possessed or what could lead to a higher risk in this regard.
The reason why empty people are a good target is because obviously they are searching and looking for something. And the bible clearly says "The Devil is a roaring lion looking for whom he may devour" or "We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places".
He went on to say that in the story of the demon possessed man the village people represents the church often times because rather than addressing the problem of sin we attack the person. He said the bible says that the village people bound him with chains but he broke out each time. He said the chins represent doctrine without love, or religion without relationship with God, or just sins in general. Rather than repeating the cycle of attempting to bind the man the pastor suggested a different approach which entailed allowing love to penetrate the life of the man.
In God there is true FREEDOM! God in His infinite wisdom allows us to have the freedom to choose Him actively day by day and moment by moment.
FACT: The Devil and his angels NEVER take a break or vacation or lunch break their 24 hour existence revolves around getting us to take our eyes off God for even a Moment. The Devil isn't a respecter of person just like God. Therefor the Devil offers EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to all humans. The Devil is REAL and he doesn't discriminate! The Devil doesn't mind sharing us with God because he knows if he has a part of our minds or hearts that God doesn't have ALL of Us!
FACT: "Our God is a Jealous God"! He isn't EVER satisfied with just a small part of our lives or our hearts. God wants us entirely! He desires to have all of our hearts!
FACT: Being a "good person" doesn't equal a good Christian. The bible says none is good but the father and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God so that means EVERYONE including the CHURCH leaders! The good works that we do is done only when the Holy Spirit does it though us! In and of ourselves we are incapable of doing any good act. Because the bible says we are born in sin and shaped in inequity and its only through the acceptance of Christ death for our sins which causes one to die to self that we can ever attempt to do any positive act.
FACT: Darkness and light can't co-exist. By not making a decision for Christ we are choosing to take a stand for Satin by default because there is no MIDDLE ground there are only two choices two sides. Either the side of Christ and His side or the side of Satin and his side.
The demon possessed man in this story lived among dead people. The pastor pointed out that our circle of influences has a lot to do with the state of our spirituality. Simply put, if we surround ourselves with people who are dead on the inside we too may as well have one foot in a grave and one on a banana peal.
Finally, when Jesus saw the demon possessed man He saw a man first because when you read the text it points out that fact! Wow! Isn't it amazing that God sees us for what we can become and not what we are today. He sees our potential and is passionate about captivating our entire attention! Jesus sees beyond the sin to the heart! Wow...
So in regards to being empty or full of the wrong stuff there is a simple enough suggestion to address this problem which is to replace sin with obedience to God's will!
FACT: Sin is like cancer its self replicating.
I pray that all who read this are blessed! Please leave your comments!