North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

Week after week in many of the churches throughout America there are prayer lists filled with names of people with physical needs. Then there’s the spiritual needs list. What’s easier to say…”Your sins are forgiven” or “Rise and walk”? This is the question posed by Jesus in Matthew 9:1-8. Of course we know it’s easy to say “Your sins are forgiven”. Ministers proclaim this from the pulpit every Sunday. But how many are given strength to rise and walk Sunday after Sunday?

In Matthew chapter 9 it describes a paralyzed man who was brought to Jesus by his friends. Their personal faith was in Christ. For they felt he could do something about this man’s condition. Looking at him as being unfortunate and in physical need, Jesus addressed his spiritual condition first…. “Your sins are forgiven”, followed by “Arise and walk”. Only after the spiritual-side was taken care of did he turn his attention to the man’s physical distress and say “Arise and walk…take up your bed and go home” (Matt. 9:6).

Even though we experience the difficulties of sickness, health problems, and life-threatening disease; God is concerned about the plight of human suffering. And God’s mercy is a welcomed relief for us and those we love. However, there is much more to be gained by us if we would first desire to be healed spiritually.

We have taken for granted that our greatest problems are not spiritual, but physical. Through research and the advancement of medicine we have made great strides in providing health services and corrective surgery. Even now, with every passing year, we find our life span being longer than our grandparents and great-grandparents. At the physical need level, things seem bright; help is needed and sought after at great lengths. And because of the enlightenment in medicine, we can see recovery as a possibility, while at one time things would have been grim. But this hasn’t taken away the emptiness and fear that’s in the hearts of many. Though our physical health generally seems to be improving, our mental health is showing deterioration. It’s a great temptation to say that the present situation in this country is the worst ever from the spiritual needs point of view.

For some time now, leadership in world affairs has been placed in the hands of America. The plight of freedom in the world often times rests on the shoulders of our country that’s nervous, tense, and hardly robust like it once was. I love America; I still believe in her and I serve my country with pride. Yet, there is a very troubling tide that is hitting our shores. Our bodies have found comfort in our recliners and the softness of our minds has become restless and fearful and sometimes bored. Our spirits are frightenly empty. At this moment, we live longer than ever before, but we’re not sure of our purpose in living. Some couples I talk to are even wondering if it’s a good idea to bring kids into this world; as dangerous as it is. How are we to escape the bleakness that pervades us?

It’s the fact we have become casual with Christianity and comfortable with sin. This is causing our own soul-sickness; dogging the health of our spirituality and divine purpose. Our lives are fast becoming disfigured by the tensions, discontent, and frustrations of our minds. Don’t try to carve out your niche in life on your own terms. Take your sin, confess it, have it forgiven and your heart cleansed so that God may create within you a new heart and mind (Psalm 51); one that thinks positive and on a higher plain than the world. The Bible says, “…friends, keep your minds thinking about whatever is true, whatever is respected, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever can be loved, and whatever is well thought of. If there is anything good and worth giving thanks for, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). For many who have been affected by sin, and that includes all of us, forgiveness is our great need. Forgiveness also means acceptance and for this reason we are drawn to “the Cross”.

Those who go to the Cross, have an assurance and a “peace of mind” that will linger within them as long as they stay in its shadow. Come as you are; although it’s not easy. The cross that we must bear ourselves will cost suffering, rejection, and sometimes death. But if we accept it, put our ways and defenses to the side, God will give us life everlasting. And the new day will bring salvation, hope, and a reason to live. See you in church on Sunday!

  • This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at
Posted by on Jun 2 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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