Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Enemy’

Look Deeper

And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.

And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,

Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.

And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.

For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.

Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.

And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.

And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.

And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.

And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.

And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.

Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.

And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.  ~~  Mark 5:1-20

In our modern and “enlightened” age, we tend not to think in terms of spirits. Anything which has to do with aberrant behavior must be some form of psychosis or chemical unbalance that we can treat with counseling or medication.

But if the Bible is true, it is all true. That includes this story about the Gerasene. The man was not psychotic or chemically unbalanced. He was demon-possessed.

There are such things as demons. There is spiritual warfare. We need to be aware that we have a spiritual enemy who seeks our eternal destruction.

If we believe in God, we must believe that the devil exists. We see him in conversation with Eve in Genesis 3.

We are told of his fall in Isaiah 14.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.  ~~  Isaiah 14:12-15

There are multiple references to Satan in the New Testament. And the entire Book of Job is a chronicle of spiritual warfare.

It is part of Satan’s first lie in the Garden of Eden, that mankind can know all things, find answers comprehensible to the finite mind for all questions, discover cures to all diseases and maladies.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. ~~ Genesis 3:1-7

When we buy into this arrogance of the intellect, we fall directly into the enemy’s hands.

Not everything is part of our physical, tangible world. There is a spiritual plane of which we know far too little. But all we need to know of it is contained in the Bible. We’ll not find it in psychology texts. Nor will we find beneficial information in books of new age spirituality.

Our hope and our confidence comes from the fact that God is Lord of the spiritual realm, just as He is Creator and Lord of this world. When we serve Him, when we rely solely on Him, He will preserve us from the wiles of the enemy.

Father, God,

Stop our ears from hearing the enticements of the enemy. Shield our eyes from the lust to which he would tempt us – whatever form it may take. Fill our eyes and ears and hearts with Your Holy Spirit so that there is no room for anything else.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Advertisements

Identity

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  ~~ Genesis 1:26-27  (KJV)

Do you really know who you are? The verse above says we were created in the image of God.  We are to have dominion, to be in charge of the earth. But we are not God.

We have limitations, limitations set by God. But we have an enemy who will continually try to get us to violate those limitations. He is always questioning us “Did God really say…?”  (Genesis 3:1)

That question is designed to make us dissatisfied with who we are. And the enemy is cunning. He will pose that question in whatever form he thinks will prod us to question God.

The enemy was successful in getting Adam and Eve to question God and to violate the stipulation God had set for them. That violation created a separation between man and God.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Have you ever been homesick? Lonely for someone absent? Then you know what that hunger is. There is something missing – a part of you that is missing.

We are created with a God-shaped hole in our hearts. We run after things to fill that hole, but nothing satisfies exactly. Oh, we can rationalize “if I just had a little more money” – “if my family loved me more” –  “if I had just a little more success” – “if I could have one more drink” – “if I could win (fill in the blank)” – “if…  if…  if…”

None of those things will really satisfy. Only a restored relationship with God can ease that hunger. In His generosity, God has made a way for us to bridge that separation.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. ~~ John 3:16-17 (KJV)

We don’t need to let the enemy steal our identity. God has given us a path to friendship with Him again.

Father, God,

Help us to see the wiles of the enemy for what they are – the desperate ploys of a vanquished foe. Remind us of who we are and Whose we are. Grant that we may seek to fill our lives only with You, not with empty things.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

 

 

The Power of Words

A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.    Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. ~~ Proverbs 18:20, 21    (KJV)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We all remember that old sing-song from childhood. But it is a lie. We have all been hurt by words at one time or another. And we have all probably said hurtful words to others as well.  Words have power. Look at the beginning of The Book. In Genesis we read “And God said….  ”    He created everything, beginning with light by speaking it forth.

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. ~~Job 1:5   (KJV)

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. ~~  Job 3:25   (KJV)

See the words of Job. He sacrificed for the well-being of his children. Then he confesses that he was afraid of losing them (and everything else). He didn’t know that the enemy was listening and taking all these things from him because God was allowing Satan to test Job’s faithfulness to God.

Then scripture tells us of Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   The same was in the beginning with God.   All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  John 1:1-3    (KJV)

And we are enjoined by Paul’s letter to the Ephesians….

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  ~~  Ephesians 4:29   (KJV)

Words can teach and words minister grace.

What do our words do? Do they teach or minister grace? Do they express fear rather than faith? Let us watch our words today to see that they reflect only the will of God.

Father, God,

Help us to set a seal on our lips. Fill our hearts with Your words. Grant that our words may reflect only Your words and Your heart in this world. Use our mouths to edify and minister to Your world.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

How Do You Know?

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 

~~ Genesis 3:1-5 (KJV)

Judging, discriminating and discerning are words that sometimes get a bad rap in our politically correct society. They can be used to describe either positive or negative aspects of character.

I don’t think they had that problem in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening. They communicated directly, face to face. God told them what they needed to know. They didn’t have to puzzle it out for themselves.

Evidently that wasn’t enough. The enemy slithered up beside Eve and began to question her. “Did God say…?” But that isn’t the most egregious thing he said. In the next breath, he called God a liar. “You won’t die. You will be as smart as God.”

Wisdom and knowledge are not bad in themselves. They are qualities to sought and cultivated. However, the idea that one can be as wise as God is fallacious. God is infinite. There is no end, no beginning. He is the always in our universe. He has been here, will forever be here, unchanging, immutable, permanent, eternal.

When we listen to the voices around us, we can be drawn away from God’s purposes for our lives. God did not intend the serpent to tempt Eve, but He knew it would happen. And He had already decided upon the outcome. Before the serpent posed the question, He had decided to send Jesus as redeemer to a fallen world.

When we want to know, we need a double dose of discernment – the ability to separate the true from the false, the wise from the foolish.   Dr. David Sills from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a wise word for those who would know the will of God.

We have one other advantage

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. ~~ John14:26 (KJV)

The Holy Spirit is our ace in the hole. If we learn to hear His voice, we will not fall for the partial truths of the enemy.

Father, God,

Help us to learn the voice of Your Holy Spirit. Keep us from error as we seek Your truth for our lives. Grant us the will and the perseverance to seek Your face first and foremost.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

Giving Thanks

2 Samuel 22:50 (NKJV)
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

Psalm 18:49 (NKJV)
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

Living in central Kansas, I am accustomed to seeing the hand of the Lord in things of nature. Spectacular sunrises and sunsets begin and end our days. The single petal of a rose exhibits wondrous veining and subtlety as well as exuding exotic fragrance. Myriad shades of green, gold, amber and russet clothe the trees of autumn.

Within 24 hours this week we have had blizzards, tornadoes and earthquakes.  Things are never dull.

Our headlines scream of terror and tragedy perpetrated by an enemy who wishes to subjugate the entire world to a religious extremism.

And yet, we are enjoined:

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – First Thessalonians 5:16 -18 (NKJV)

Rejoice? When we have an enemy who can strike, serpent-like, from any place at any time. Yes! We rejoice that nothing surprises our God. He is before us, behind us, and around us. This world is not all there is.

Pray? Pray constantly. Brother Lawrence practiced the presence of God, communing with Him constantly no matter what chore occupied his hands. If we are aware of the presence of God with us at all times, there is no terror. God is in control, and we can trust Him with our lives and the lives of those we love.

Give thanks? Yes! We are thankful that nothing surprises our God. He knew our last breath before we took the first one. He is with us, around us, within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is our security, our source, our present and our future. We have much for which to be thankful.

Father, God,

Help us to take our eyes off the temporal and put them on the eternal. Grant us the grace to see through seeming tragedy to eternal joy. Fill our hearts and mouths with praise and thanksgiving for You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

The Insidious Sin of Forgetfulness

Focus Verses: Jude 1: 3-5 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

The history of God’s people is spotty. Sometimes they were filled with faith. Other times, they forgot his benefits and were drawn to the things of the world.  When those times came, the Lord was patient with them until they went beyond the point of no return. Then he allowed the other nations to chastise them.

Those who had lost the faith eventually remembered or died. And a new generation began believing again. But the destruction between the loss of faith and its rebirth was costly.

But how did it happen that the nation lost its faith? “Certain men crept in unawares..” The disbelief comes in slowly through people who water down the word of God. Look at the original deceiver. He began with a question:  Did God really say…? 

Then he started rationalizing. He explained away God’s direction to Adam and Eve.

When we start believing that we know better than God what is needful, we are in danger of being led into disbelief and infidelity. That is why we must earnestly contend for the faith.

We must be on the alert to the minor deviations from God’s word that, if followed for any length, will lead even the believer totally astray.

Father, God,
Help us to stay on the straight and narrow. Keep us mindful of your fidelity and your promises. Remind us of your mercies from the past. Shield us from the wiles of the enemy. Help us to guard our minds.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

The Question Each Must Answer

Focus verses: Matthew 16:13-23

This scripture is the heart of the gospel. Exactly who is this Jesus?

Peter gives the correct answer. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” At least that’s part of the correct answer. The other part needs to add: “You are the Lord of my life.”

You see, even Satan knows that Jesus is the Son of God. All the demons of hell know that He is the Anointed One. But it makes no difference to them. They go on their merry way, making their fiendish mischief, wreaking havoc wherever they can.

Only when Jesus is the Lord of our lives can we be pleasing to Him. We hear His voice and obey His wishes. We can do things in His name, just like the apostles did if we have the faith the apostles had.

Look at Peter in this passage. He gives Jesus the answer to “who do you say that I am?” And Jesus calls him blessed because the Father has revealed this truth to him. And in the next breath – or at least the next few verses – we see Peter being chastised.

Jesus has just told them that He will be persecuted, prosecuted and executed, that He will die and be raised again to life. Peter takes Him aside to argue with Him.

Excuse me!! You want to argue with God? How profitless is that! God and therefore Jesus knows all that was and is and is to come. His knowledge is limitless and perfect. He never forgets to put the right name with the right face like so many of us do. He knows how many hairs we have on our heads.

When we argue with God, we become the enemy. God wants our love and our loyalty, not our disobedience and dispute.

Peter answered the question correctly, but he didn’t put it into practice. He had his own ideas of what the Messiah should be and was very upset at the picture Jesus painted.

When we give God first place in our lives, we must be willing to give up our preconceived notions and listen to what He tells us about the present and the future.

Father, God,

Give us the wisdom to answer You correctly when you ask Your place in our lives. Grant us the dedication to seek only Your will, not our own, at all times and in all circumstances.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.