The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 17, 2014

Don’t allow a spiritual winter to cloud God’s promises

From the Pulpit

By Rev. Jim Erb

- — Winter is over! What? You’ve got to be kidding. We had been experiencing record-low temperatures. On our calendars, winter is just getting started. This is true, but I am talking about the season from a spiritual perspective.

Usually we acquaint spiritual winter experience as a time of difficulties, struggles hardships, trials and such things. It can leave us discouraged, disappointed, disillusioned and at times depressed. Problems plague our nation. Economy shakes, government gridlocks, and Christian freedoms seem to be slipping away. Problems may plague us personally – family, sickness, financial pressures, just to mention a few.

To make things worse in “winter,” many of us have had God downloads from our past that have spoken promise and  encouragement, giving hope. For example:

Ever have some truth “jump off the page” of your Bible and you know it is just for you? Ever listen to a sermon and the truth hits you in life-changing fashion? Ever heard God’s still small voice, or have a life-changing dream or vision? Often in our winter seasons we say, “Where is that promise God gave?” Seeds of hope from the past may seem to be dead.

Careful now! Seeds can lie dormant as if resting for long periods. Corn seeds several thousands of years old have been found in Egyptian pyramids that, when recently planted, grew.

Remember Lazarus, Jesus’ friend? Word came to Jesus of his sickness, seeming unto death. Jesus, after consulting His Father, declares, “His sickness is not unto death. He is just sleeping.” From God’s resurrection perspective he was just sleeping. Having gone back to where Lazarus lived, Martha met Him saying, “If you had been here, Lazarus would not have died.” Jesus responded, “He will arise.” Martha said, “I know he will rise in the coming resurrection day.” Jesus retorted, “I am the resurrection.” Mary came out to meet Jesus with the same statement. Then, having removed the stone from the tomb, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Lesson learned: Don’t call dead what God says is alive. If God really has spoken seeds of hope, encouragement and life to you in days gone by, don’t allow your winter experience to cause you to discard life-giving promises. They, though seemingly dead, are simply waiting for the spring rains of the Spirit to bring life. Hang on. The springs rains are beginning to come.

In the past couple of months, I have been stalked by two individuals. God has revealed to me their names. They are goodness and mercy. Several times daily God has been reminding me of how good He has been to me and my household and that His mercy is readily available as needed. That was King David’s testimony in Psalm 23: “... surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord (His presence) forever.” Download that into your spirit on a daily basis and the fresh, life-producing rains of the Spirit will water those dormant seeds of life.

Many Christians’ lives are exemplified by past/present. Presently they are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). But they carry much excess baggage from the past into their new life. They are controlled much by negative criticism, judgmentalism and unbelief. They lack the joy Jesus provides for us in the new life. We need to unpack that baggage. Those negatives are part of the old man that has been crucified with Christ on His cross (Roman 6:6).

Now repack your luggage for life, i.e. present/future. Ask God to give you what is necessary to live His new God-life in us.

Let the baptism of fire provided by Jesus burn out the excess baggage and give us a passion for Jesus and His plan for our lives.

Things may be troublesome all around us, but Jesus is still on His throne and in control. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord. Good things lie ahead.

Rev. Jim Erb is overseer of Antioch International Ministries, New Wilmington.