Sharing the love of Jesus with one another & the world

Author: Jim Clayton (Page 1 of 2)

Jim Class – Period 7

All our lives we have heard about the importance of the basics.

“Keep your eye on the ball!”

“Use both hands to catch the ball!”

“Run through the base!”

I was asked to take a coaching position a few years back (I was unable to do it because of my schedule) and I instantly began formulating a coaching strategy. I decided it would be my goal to drill three things into the hearts and minds of the team.

  • Sportsmanship above all else. No disrespecting the other team, no back-talking to coaches or refs, shaking hands with the other team (win or lose), and even complimenting the other team or assisting them if they fell or were injured.
  • Fundamentals in everything. The ABC’s. Like Norman Dale in the movie Hoosiers. Drill, drill, drill. It was even in my head not to let them touch a basketball for the first two weeks of practice. To run and condition without the ball. That would really test their meddle.
  • Playing mistake free. Don’t make bad passes, only shoot when you’re open, pass the ball four times on every offensive possession.

These are largely foreign practices in sports today, particularly at the college and professional level. I am convinced that if those concepts were followed any team, in any sport, at any level would show noticeable improvement.

I don’t think the idea of learning the fundamentals is lost as a concept, but it sure seems to have been put on the back burner when it comes to practical application.

I am going to visit the idea of Christian Fundamentals this week in Jim Class this week.

Last Sunday during my sermon I made a statement that I’m confident was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I said, “You will not be able to do what Jesus did until you do what Jesus did!”

I referenced John 14:12 in my sermon, which tells us, John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (NKJV)

I wholeheartedly believe this to be true, but I don’t believe people are going to get there by osmosis. You can’t just rub the Bible on your forehead and have the truth of God’s Word jump into your memory banks.

We’re told repeatedly to study and meditate on the scriptures, Joshua 1:8 being the preeminent reference, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but youshall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (NKJV)

(Also see II Timothy 2:15 and Philippians 4:8-9)

My point is this, Jesus must have had some practices in His life on Earth that enabled Him to be able to tap into what God has clearly provided for His people. Let’s look at three of those practices (pun intended) and call them the base paths.

Luke 4: 31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. (NKJV)

Luke 2: 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.  (NKJV)

Why were the people astonished at the words of Jesus? Even the leaders of the temple found what He said as an eleven-year-old to be impressive.

What draws you to certain preachers and teachers? For me it is usually a mastery of the Bible. I’m drawn to their ability to expound on things in scripture and make them interesting and, more importantly, make me want to hear more.

I believe it’s clear that Jesus had a deeper understanding of the scriptures. Not because He was the Son of God, but because He spent time meditating on God’s Word, as we all should.

I emphatically believe that time in God’s Word is required to walk the walk to which we are called as Christians. This has to be first base. But there are other factors as well.

Luke 4: 16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. (NKJV)

Second base is church attendance. Jesus wnet to church, “as His custom was.” We could also say, “as He regularly did,” or “as His habit was.” This verse also combines point one, “and (He) stood up to read.”

I don’t think it highly likely Jesus would have been given the opportunity to stand up and read in the synagogue had He not been known to have a good grasp of the scriptures.

We’ve rounded second and are heading toward the hot corner.

Luke 5:15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. (NKJV)

This tells us that He ‘often’ went into the wilderness to pray. The word wilderness here means, “solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited,” according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

He spent the vast majority of His waking hours around people. It would seem that there were commonly thousands of people around Him to hear His teachings or to receive a healing touch from Him or, in the case of the ruling council of the day, to catch Him in some sort of wrongdoing

This had to be exhausting. But His solution wasn’t an afternoon nap, or a stroll on the beach. He intentionally went off to an isolated place and spent some time in prayer. In communication with His father. Talking to God.

So, to continue the baseball analogy, third base is prayer. And, if first and second are going to church and reading/studying the Bible, what is home?

From my perspective, and to thoroughly overuse baseball analogies, home plate is filling the seats. Reaching the people with the Gospel in order to rescue as many as possible from the depths of Hell.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson used an excellent tie-in along these lines when he eulogized the great Jackie Robinson who accomplished much as a professional baseball player.

One of those accomplishments is that he is in the top ten for most times stealing home, the hardest base to steal. He is also the only Major Leaguer to steal home in a World Series.

Rev. Jackson made the comment during Robinson’s funeral that he was, “safe at home.”

Our goal as Christians should be to get as many people as we can, “safe at home.” And, to get home, you have to cross first, second, and third!

Jim Class – Period 6

Two Things!

When we think of the life of Jesus most of what we talk about or read in the Bible is about the things that He did. He healed the sick – that’s wonderful. He was an amazing teacher – that’s inspiring. He was a strong leader – that’s encouraging.

Everything Jesus did was essential to our lives as Christians. But there is a certain aspect of Jesus life that doesn’t get the attention that perhaps is should.

I don’t recall ever hearing someone ask, “What didn’t Jesus do?” Or, “What things did Jesus avoid?” Both are legitimate questions.

We have heard from an early age that there are two types of sins, sins of commission (doing something we shouldn’t) and sins of omission (not doing something we should).

When I was a teenager, I was unbelievably bad at keeping my room clean. I knew I should. My mom drove it into my head from an early age. But the older I got, the less appealing it became to me.

It developed into a real point of contention between my mom and me when I was about 14 or 15. During the summer between my freshman year at Sarah Scott Junior High and my sophomore year at Terre Haute South Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Indiana it got to the point that she threw in the towel. She simply closed my bedroom door, went out to Spencer Gifts and bought a cardboard sign that said, “Enter at Your Own Risk,” (It also had a hazardous materials emblem or a skull and cross bones on it for emphasis) and she hung it on my bedroom door.

There are two points to this story. First, I should have obeyed my mother’s wishes and kept my room clean. It wouldn’t have taken much, and I could have gotten by with extraordinarily little considering the mess it eventually became.

The other point is, I felt bad about it. I not only knew I should have obeyed her, but I was also convicted in my heart. To make matters worse my friends made fun of me and teased me about how messy I was. That didn’t play well on the psyche of a fifteen-year-old Midwestern boy in the mid-1970s (this sounds like the beginnings of a song by John Mellencamp).

Sins of omission are usually things that are clearly evident. They represent things like good manners, or saying your prayers. No one really knows you’re not doing them until you demonstrate it with negative behavior.

Not cleaning my room was a sin of omission that everyone could see!

The Bible (and our parents) has many suggestions concerning sins of omission, but we tend to gloss over them as a general rule. That may be more harmful than we realize.

We have all heard Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” (NKJV)

But how many of you can recite verse 27? Not so easy is it?

Ephesians 4:27 “nor give place to the devil.” (NKJV)

Many times, ministers, parents, and even teachers and other influential adults in our lives have told us not to go to bed angry, but I don’t recall hearing those same adults tell me not to give place to the devil.

That may be because of the setting or that it might open a can of worms that some were hesitant to open. Well, I just opened it!

There is another phrase in this passage that seems to be closely related to, “nor give place to the devil.”

Ephesians 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (NKJV)

There’s another phrase we don’t hear very often, do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” There are probably not very many people around who would even use the word ‘grieve’ in that context. It is usually referenced in conjunction to a funeral service.

For the purposes of this blog, I want to look at two things Jesus didn’t do.

It might impact the Christian bracelet trade if I were to make one with the initials, W.W.J.N.D. (What Would Jesus Not Do). But we have to realize that there are things that Jesus refrained from as well as things Jesus did.

I believe I can comfortably assert that Jesus never gave place to the devil, nor did He grieve the Holy Spirit. That’s not a catchy thing to say. But what does grieve the Holy Spirit? What gives place to the devil?

The safe answer is sin. But let’s take a closer look at Ephesians 4.

Ephesians 4: 25Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (NKJV)

There are several things we are told not to do. We are not to let sin accompany our anger, and if we are angry, get over it before you go to bed. Neither are we to steal or use bad language.

Evidently, we should get rid of wrath (rage) in our lives, clamor (quarreling and unnecessary talk) and malice (spite and ill will).

If you were to take a look at the margins of my Bible in this section of scripture I have the list of sins highlighted and an arrow drawn from that list to the phrase, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,”  (actually mine says, “grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,”) and next to the arrow I wrote, “these must be the things that grieve the Holy Spirit.

I could add to that, “These must be the things that give the devil a foothold.”

Two things Jesus never did, grieve the Holy Spirit, or give the devil a foothold.

If you recall last week, I suggested encircling the things of the Spirit (Jim class Period 5) and getting to the point where we are there so much it is obvious to everyone.

Maybe, rather than hanging a sign on the door of our life that says, “Enter at Your Own Risk,” we could eliminate those things by spending more time in the ‘field.’

I heard a wise minister say one time, “If we spend our time doing the do’s, we won’t have time to do the don’ts!”

Don’t Be Selfish

Jim Class Period 4 07022020

I Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8a Love never fails. (NKJV)

One of the most often repeated clichés in any type of family counseling is, “The biggest problem in relationships is communication!” This statement has been made so many times and has become so ingrained in the ideals of those doing the counseling that it has become what I like to call, ‘counseling gospel’. It is not gospel, and communication isn’t the biggest problem in relationships.

The biggest problem in every relationship you will ever have is … selfishness. Being selfish is the opposite of being relational. If we are going to build relationships of any kind, we have to put self on the back burner. This is never truer than in the early stages of a relationship.

The second biggest problem in a relationship is that we are traditionally taught that communication is the biggest problem when it isn’t! Communication is critical in every relationship. But what we need to do is learn how to be effective communicators and that takes sacrifice. We must understand that not everyone communicates the same way. More importantly we must understand that many people communicate better than you do!

Realizing that you may not be the best communicator in the room is the first step toward selflessness (the opposite of selfishness). Coming to grips with the fact that people may not understand what you are saying because you could be saying it better will change the way you communicate.

We learn from an early age how to be effective communicators. It starts with our first words, and our first teachers are our parents. When a baby is learning its first words mom and dad are right there to repeat it back (over and over and over). And when they repeat it back, they usually do it a little louder than the baby did, and they always (especially moms) take the time to enunciate the word properly. So, instantly, we learn that we are not pronouncing the word right, and we are not saying it loud enough.

As silly as mom and dad sound when baby starts speaking, they really are helping that child become a better communicator. When my daughters first said, “Daddy.” I wanted them to say it loud and clear. But we are teaching an element of speech that we may not even be aware of during those precious moments. We are introducing our children to the nuances of nonverbal communication.

There have been many studies done on this subject. I used to be a trainer at a group homes where I worked. One of the courses I was certified to train was called C.A.P.E. (Controlling Aggression in the Patient’s Environment).

It was a therapeutic restraint technique used in situations where one of our charges was getting out of control physically and was a threat to harm themselves or others. We would wrap them up in a bear hug type hold and carefully lower them to the ground and continue to hold them until they were in a calm state.

The only way we would know that the child was calming down was through nonverbal cues they would give us throughout the episode. Their breathing rate would decrease, their pulse would decrease, they would become less rigid and more relaxed, they may even begin crying or fall asleep, all nonverbal signs that they were becoming less agitated.

The curriculum for this course stated that 97 percent of all communication is nonverbal. The message was, that through inflection, volume, body-language, and eye-contact the speaker could communicate opposite messages using the same words.

My tactic was to pick the person that had been most disruptive in the class and have them stand up. Then I would compliment them, usually on something they were wearing, “Wow, Bill (not a real person), that is a very nice sweater you’re wearing.”

I would use a very polite tone with a bit of a lilt, I would make good eye-contact while looking at the sweater a couple of times, the expression on my face would be pleasant and smiling. “Bill” would say, ‘Thank you’ and be taken aback that I complimented him.

Then I would turn the tables, I would use the same words, “Wow, Bill, that is a very nice sweater you’re wearing.” But with a sarcastic tone, my arms crossed, not eye-contact (I would usually roll my eyes in a dramatic fashion) and say it a little bit louder so everyone could hear. This clearly made the point about nonverbal cues and ‘Bill’ tended to be less disruptive for the rest of the class.

The point I want to make is this. Look at 1 Corinthians 13:408a. There are several statements in those verses that point to the fact that love, real love, is unselfish.

I Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8a Love never fails. (NKJV)

Being patient, kind, and not envying takes an unselfish person. It is hard for an unselfish person not to boast or be proud, the two seem closely connected.

Acting in a dishonorable fashion or seeking your own ways are also selfish.

I contend that every adjective used to describe love in this passage can also be used to define unselfishness. I encourage you to look through these verses and see if you arrive at the same conclusion.

If you do, and you see that you are not walking in these attributes, well, you could say your being selfish!

In Christ,

Jim

Fact vs Truth – Part 2

Pastor Jim continues on the sermon series Fact vs Truth

Jim Class 3rd Period

When I was in the sixth grade, my brother and I got to camp out one night with our friends from across the street. We pitched a tent (about ten feet from their back door) and began a night of roughing it. We told scary stories, ate junk food, and probably said some bad words which we couldn’t define.

In a house a few doors down we noticed a commotion. Actually, we heard a commotion that sounded like a loud argument. A few minutes later the man of the house, who had a full cast on his right leg, stormed out of the back door through the backyards which led him to the yard where our tent was pitched.

We were afraid, and his gait made him even more ominous due to the cast on his leg. As he passed, we noticed he had a rifle in his hand. He was carrying it with the barrel down next to his cast. This sight drove us out of the tent and into our respective homes–my brother and I across the street, and our two friends inside their home.

We informed our parents and I ran into my bedroom and got my dart gun (which had ceased to function some time before this), which resembled a real Colt Officer’s Model .45 caliber. The whole family, except my sister who was asleep through it all, when outside and stood at the top of the driveway.

My mom and stepdad stood in front, me (with my inoperable dart gun) and my brother stood very close behind them. Nothing further happened and we never saw “the man with the cast” (as he came to be known in the neighborhood) again. But all four of us fearless campers slept in our own beds that night.

Now would be a good time to remind you of our scripture for this current teaching.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (NKJV)

Psalm 34:1-4

There were three things that I sought that night during our camping excursion. The comfort and safety of home, false bravado given to me by a broken toy, and the security that came from standing close to (behind, but close to) my stepdad.

I had never heard Psalm 34 in my life or, if I had, it hadn’t stuck with me. We weren’t even attending church at this point in our lives. So, I did what my knowledge and instinct told me to do. First, run home to momma, second, grab a weapon, and third, hide behind my protector.

There is no mention of any of these things in this verse. The closest comparison is that David, “sought the Lord,” who is our protector, but that isn’t what I did.

We all have different defense mechanisms that come into play when we are faced with FEAR. But what I want you to get from this teaching is this, God is our protector, He delivers us from all of our fears, and our first response to anything, especially stressful situations, should be to run to Him.

There are three comparisons I would like to make for you. We are instructed in the Book of I Corinthians that our weapons are not what we think, not what our minds might originally tell us.  

My first response was to run home. Home was a safe place, but not as safe as God’s dwelling place.

Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.” (NKJV)

My first instinct should have been to run to God. I could have called on Him while I was running across the road. He, God Himself, should be our first choice of “refuge.”

My choice of weapon was wrong too! Running and grabbing a gun (especially one that is a broken toy) when trouble comes should not be your first instinct. Our first instinct should be something godly, not something carnal or fleshly.

I Corinthians 14: “3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” (NKJV)

This passage can be used in conjunction with Romans 12:1-2 which instructs us to renew our minds. This tells us to take our thoughts captive, which is a military term that implies making our thoughts prisoners of war, rendering them ineffective.

The first thoughts we have should be scriptural, which are mighty, and can pull down strongholds (also a military term). This skill can only be developed by renewing our minds with God’s Word, the Bible.

Finally, hiding behind my stepdad’s leg was smarter than trying to go up against “the man with the cast” by myself, but it really wasn’t the best choice.

Psalm 91:3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. (NKJV)

Instead of my stepdad’s leg, I should have sought the wings of the Almighty. Not because my stepdad was a bad person incapable of helping me, but because there is a better help, someone who can deliver me from all my fears which include “terror by night.”

God told us 365 times not to fear (Period 1). We have more than just a formula to use, we must make a personal effort to “come to Him” and access His power (Period 2). When we get there, we are safe (Period 3).

In a nutshell,  “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Jim Clayton is currently the pastor at Colchester and Hills Grove United Methodist Church in McDonough County, Illinois. He has over 20 years of ministry experience and is an avid student of the Bible. He also has 20 years of experience in the criminal justice field having worked law enforcement, juvenile corrections, private and retail security, and as a court liaison for Family Service Association of the Wabash Valley.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and attended a two-year Biblical studies program at Rhema Bible College and is currently enrolled in Asbury Theological Seminary’s MDiv program.

I’m Afraid Not! Part 2

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (NKJV)e verse that starts off the article

Psalms 34:1

I’m picking up where I left off last week, talking about the subject of fear. Our key scripture is from the Book of Psalms.

Bless the Lord, praise the Lord, boast in the Lord, magnify the Lord, exalt the Lord, and seek the Lord, we can do those things?  Yes. We are also left with the impression that to follow these steps to their logical conclusion would deliver us from fear. Simple, right?

The difficulty many of us have is twofold. First, we don’t have a connection to God like we should and secondly, we are often more influenced by “Christian tradition” than we realize.

Today I am going to look at the possibility of a direct connection between problems one and two. Like the old TV commercial that begged the question, “How do you get a job without experience and how do you get experience without a job?”

My question to you sounds like this, “How do I get closer to God with all this tradition in the way, and how do I get rid of this tradition so I can get closer to God?”

I’m sure you’ve figured out that I am going to zero in on one thing. One thing that I think will address both sides of this dilemma. I have three sections of scripture that will demonstrate what that one thing is (you’ll only get one today).

I asked several ministers, a writer, and two English teachers for feedback on my blog. The responses I received were eye-opening.

Something Anne Durant, one of my minister friends, told me really opened my eyes, she said;

“We must look for ways to connect our people to His empowerment in us to do the Word. Otherwise it just becomes another formula for success instead of the way God gives us success.”

I call that sage advice. So, over the next couple of weeks I am going to point to a largely overlooked tidbit in scripture that encourages us to make that very connection with God.

And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. 14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be withHim and that He might send them out to preach, 15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: (NKJV)

Mark 3:13-15

There are two statements here that reveal our “overlooked tidbit,” first, “they came to Him.”

The disciples responded when Jesus called. What did He call them to do? Follow Him. My favorite response to this comes from Matthew 4:20 “…immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” (NKJV)

They immediately left. What did they leave? We are told that they left their nets, but what does that represent? Their very livelihood. Their business partners, their boats, their coworkers (in the case of James and John, they left their father). This isn’t just a stroll on the beach, this was a calling to a life of dedication. They came.

But that dedication had another element. Mark 3:14 “Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him…” (NKJV)

We all know the Great Commission is a calling to go into the world and preach the Gospel, that part of it is there too, Mark 3:15“that He might send them out to preach, 15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:” (NKJV).

We have all heard sermon after sermon tell us of the responsibility we have to let others know about Jesus, but I don’t think I have ever heard a sermon point out the fact that we should, “be with Him,” first.

Follow Him. Immediately. Be with Him. Now. The power to fulfill the Great Commission comes from being intimate with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, and ultimately with God Himself.

But we must first shed the Garth and Wayne tradition that tells us, “We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy.” The Christian tradition side of things. Like generational sin, and being guilted into feeling or acting a certain way.

My Bible says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;” Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

I am convinced that the “power” to accomplish all we are called to do (see verse 15 of Mark 3) comes from time spent with Him.

The implication is that we don’t spend enough time with Him. Literally, with Him. Talking to Him like He is real, listening to Him as if He had something to say to us that isn’t written down somewhere. Getting in touch with Him through prompting and nudging of the Holy Spirit.

The idea I want to leave with this week is this. When you were a child and something scared you, or you were going to do something that you had never done before and were feeling butterflies and trepidation, what brought you peace and comfort? What alleviated that fear and reduced those butterflies?

For most of us is was when dad came into the room, or when we took his hand while walking into the new school. The presence of our earthly father brought us comfort and steadied our nerves. Being with our dad reduced our fear. Sound familiar?

”I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

In Christ,

Jim

Jim Clayton is currently the pastor at Colchester and Hills Grove United Methodist Church in McDonough County, Illinois. He has over 20 years of ministry experience and is an avid student of the Bible. He also has 20 years of experience in the criminal justice field having worked law enforcement, juvenile corrections, private and retail security, and as a court liaison for Family Service Association of the Wabash Valley.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and attended a two-year Biblical studies program at Rhema Bible College and is currently enrolled in Asbury Theological Seminary’s MDiv program.

Fact vs Truth – Part 1

What Is The Church – Part 3

Welcome Back

We are in the process of updating our website and learning how to navigate all we have available to us.

Please bear with us (mostly me) as we go through this process.

Philippians 4:13

Pastor Jim

I’m Afraid Not! Part 1

This isn’t my first attempt at doing a blog, but if this is posted, then it is my most earnest. I have set up a spot on the homepage of our church website (colchesterumc.com) called, “Jim Class”, which will be the new home and title for my blog.

I came up with this idea while reminiscing about a time in school, probably 8th or 9th grade, when I made a smart aleck comment to my gym teacher.

I didn’t dress for gym class one day and the teacher asked, “Clayton, where are your gym clothes?” I responded, “All my clothes are ‘Jim’ clothes.” Not surprisingly, I did some laps in my ‘Jim’ clothes, which included ‘hard shoes’. Thinking about this moment is what led me to the idea of calling my blog, “Jim Class”.

Fear seems to be dominating people’s thoughts over these last several months. With the Corona Virus, political and civil unrest, and an uncertain future, fear is an easy step for all of us at times.

Let’s look at what the Bible says on the subject.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel[a] of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (NKJV)

Psalms 34:1

Fear. What is fear? How often do we give in to fear?

The English word fear appears 501 times in the KJV of the Bible, and afraid shows up 189 times. So that’s a total of 690.  690 times, in the Bible, we are admonished concerning the subject of fear.

170 times it appears before the word, not, as in, “fear not.” 37 times we are told, “do not fear,” and 63 times we are told to be not afraid. 

That means 270 times, using the word fear or afraid, we are told not to do it. We are also told not to be anxious, or to be careful for nothing, or not to worry several times.

That means we are told in some way, specifically, not to fear, nearly 300 times in the Bible. When you add the synonyms for fear like, anxious, worry, and fret, or the phrase “take no thought,” the total is 365.

If God tells us not to do something and we do it, what are we doing? Sinning.

It is not my intention to bring condemnation on you, but I do want you to be convicted by what you glean from God’s Word.

“Fear is the enemy of logic. There is no more debilitating, crushing, self-defeating, sickening thing in the world–to an individual or to a nation.”

Frank Sinatra

Do you know the first time it shows up in the Bible?

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (NKJV)

Genesis 3:9-11

If the problem has been around that long it seems there should be an answer. How do we deal with fear?

Let’s look our text from the Message Bible.

 God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray. (MSG)

He gives us the answer before He states the problem!

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

Psalm 34:1-3

The following is a good place to start.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:8-9

The solution comes from God but putting it into practice lies with YOU! You are mentioned specifically nine times in two verses and you is understood three other times in verse nine (You be strong…, You do not be afraid…, and You don’t be dismayed…)

In Christ,

Jim

Jim Clayton is currently the pastor at Colchester and Hills Grove United Methodist Church in McDonough County, Illinois. He has over 20 years of ministry experience and is an avid student of the Bible. He also has 20 years of experience in the criminal justice field having worked law enforcement, juvenile corrections, private and retail security, and as a court liaison for Family Service Association of the Wabash Valley.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and attended a two-year Biblical studies program at Rhema Bible College and is currently enrolled in Asbury Theological Seminary’s MDiv program.
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