Archive for October, 2018

Demonic Possession

JESUS SPEAKING

        “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, he goes through dry places seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to the house from which I came.’ And when he arrives, he finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then he goes and takes seven other spirits, more wicked than himself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11: 24-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Evil spirits, although often considered to be a myth, are very real. They dwell within the hearts of those who deny God. When an individual receives Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, all demonic apparitions are expelled; the child of God is set free; the chaos and devastation of evil living subsides; the believer ceases to engage in self-destructive behaviors; their hearts are purified, and their minds are quieted. The dispossessed demons however, are not satisfied unless they are causing misery and pain. So, they often return to their previous hosts, stronger and more determined than ever. They tirelessly seek to turn the faithful away from God; sadly, some fall victim to their schemes and reject the Holy Spirit. Without the Lord’s protection, the blasphemer is again invaded by demons and their lives plummet back into destruction (a destruction far greater than any they had previously known.)
        I once met a man who had been a pastor for many years. After he had received the Holy Spirit, his life began to change in wonderful ways. He experienced an immense peace and began to preach the gospel with great enthusiasm. He served the Lord for some time before suddenly renouncing the faith. Soon after his denial of Christ, he joyfully began engaging in strange sexual deviancies with multiple partners; he also started smoking and boasted of his severe daily dependence upon alcohol. Additionally, as an atheist, he actively attempted to turn others away from the faith. I would occasionally see him out in the community from time to time; and he appeared to be physically and mentally deteriorating (a condition I could only attribute to demonic possession.) The words of Christ are true, in that this man’s situation is likely worse today than it would have been if he had never received the Lord.
        Demons are very real; they roam the earth, trying to possess those who are weak. Individuals who receive the Holy Spirit are no longer capable of being possessed. Unfortunately, some believers do eventually reject the Holy Spirit; in turn they are possessed and their lives plummet into even greater chaos. Maintaining our close relationship with God through prayer, bible reading, fellowship, and obedience, is the best defense against evil spirits [If you have never received the Spirit of God and you would like too, please contact me and I can lead you in a prayer of acceptance and faith.]
        “Lord Heavenly Father, give us more of Your Holy Spirit. Deliver us from the evil one and protect us from demonic attacks. Remain in us and continue to work through us; give us the strength to endure; may we never turn away from You; may we always continue in Your ways; and may we never return to the bondage of sin and death. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.” God bless all of you.

Gossip

JESUS SPEAKING

        The high priest then asked Jesus about his disciples and his doctrine. Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet and have said nothing in secret” (John 18: 19-20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHT

        After being arrested, the Lord was taken before the Jewish leaders to be interrogated. They sought to find something in his teaching by which to condemn him. Jesus was considered a Rabbi; Rabbi’s spoke publicly; they gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions and to cross examine them (In fact, the religious leaders sent many servants in disguise to ascertain the nature of Christ’s doctrine.) Jesus never said anything in secret that he did not also profess openly. Speaking in secret is a sign of ungodliness (Gossip for instance is a type of destructive, private communication. The Lord never gossiped, and he never slandered; instead, he spoke the truth publicly and without remorse.)
        One day a group of pastors began to talk. They all agreed that those who confessed their sins on a regular basis were more joyful. So the four men decided that they should meet and confess their sins to one another. Upon meeting, the first pastor confessed that he routinely called in sick so he could attend the theatre. The second pastor confessed that in the evenings he liked to smoke cigars. The third pastor confessed that he had a major gambling problem; he often flew to Las Vegas where he would lose large sums of money. The final pastor refused to confess. But the other pastors pressed him until finally he made his admission. He said, “Well, I confess that I really like to gossip, and I can hardly wait to get out of here.”
        Although this fictional illustration is humorous, Gossip is not. Jesus never engaged in gossip, and his followers should strive to be like him, ‘in thought, word, and deed.’ Everything we say must stand up under scrutiny. Our private communication must be congruent with our public communication; if what we say cannot be printed on the front page of the newspaper, perhaps we have no business saying it. Speak openly; speak truthfully; speak lovingly; and you will never be ashamed.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to avoid gossip; may we speak openly; may we never speak out of hate or contempt, but out of love. Fill our hearts with Your Holy Spirit, and may our mouths always speak the truth. May Your words be our words; may Your thoughts be our thoughts; may Your desires be our desires. May we glorify You in ‘thought, word, and deed.’ We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Making a Stand

JESUS SPEAKING

         Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When he had made a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers money and overturned the tables. And he said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then the disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house has eaten me up” (John 2: 13 – 17.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

         Long ago King David prophesied that the messiah would be zealous concerning the things of God. Jesus, having witnessed his fellow Israelites using the temple for selfish gain, became enraged. After constructing a whip, he drove out those who were defiling his Father’s house. Today, we too will occasionally observe acts of unspeakable evil. In such instances, the Holy Spirit will eradicate our fears and fill our hearts with zeal; enabling us to publicly oppose those engaging in malicious conduct.
         One afternoon, while studying in the coffee shop, a man and his teenage son sat down beside me. Without provocation, the youngster began persistently berating and verbally abusing his Dad. As the disrespect escalated, my heart was filled with righteous anger. The boy eventually threatened his Dad, saying, “Have you ever been punched in the face?” I lashed out; telling the young man to ‘Shut his mouth!’ The boy fell silent. I proceeded to lecture him concerning the fifth commandment; honoring his father and mother. Embarrassed and afraid, he stepped outside; later returning to apologize.
         In this life, we will occasionally witness acts of such unspeakable evil, that Jesus will inspire us to intervene. In these moments, He will fill our hearts with zeal; giving us the words to speak and the strength to overcome our fears. The Lord will use us to rebuke, to exhort, and to correct many who eagerly violate the basic laws of God.
         “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the courage to speak the truth when necessary. May we love what is good and be zealous for Your ways. When great acts of evil are being practiced, may we stand against them; allowing our desires for righteousness to eradicate our fear of reprisal. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.

It is Finished

JESUS SPEAKING

       After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst.” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to his mouth. So, when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished!” And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit (John 19: 28-30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Jesus had come to the end of his suffering on the cross. He was betrayed, arrested, abandoned, beaten, humiliated, falsely accused, interrogated, publicly ridiculed and teased, spit on, and pierced by thorns; he was maimed by a whip about the neck, back and legs (the whip contained sharp shards which tore open his flesh;) a bag was placed over his head and he was struck in the face; Jesus carried a cross through mobs of people who hurled insults at him. Spikes were driven through his hands and feet. Despite the long list of pains, he endured, thirst was one of the greatest agonies of the cross. The condemned were denied water. Dehydrated and nearing death, Jesus said, “I thirst.” The soldiers responded by raising a vinegar-soaked sponge to his lips (vinegar is an extremely bitter tasting liquid—even the Romans mercy seemed cruel.) In his last moments, Jesus tasted the bitterness of man’s sin. He then said, “it is finished,” and he died. In a single day he had finished his greatest work; the salvation of mankind. He took the penalty of man’s sin upon himself. He suffered God’s wrath, so that those who would believe in him could avoid destruction.
       The following is a fictitious story which illustrates the work of Jesus on the cross: A girl and her mother lived next to a snake farm in India. From the time of her youth, the girl was told not to wander near the snake pits. One evening the girl began to argue with her mother; frustrated and filled with anger, she struck her mother; in shock the girl ran from her home; because it was evening she didn’t realize she was running toward the snake farm. Suddenly she plummeted into one of the pits. Seeing a single cobra staring her in the face, she screamed. Hearing the scream, her mother came running and looked down into the pit and saw her daughter’s distress. The woman jumped into the pit and lunged toward the cobra to save her daughter. The mother was bitten. The young girl reached forward to pull her mother away from danger, and the cobra also bit her. The owners of the snake farm heard the commotion and came running. They pulled the women from the pit and rushed them to the hospital. The mother went into cardiac arrest, but the young girl showed no symptoms. After a half an hour, the girl’s mother was pronounced dead. The girl began to sob uncontrollably. The Doctor approached her with a somber look on his face. The girl asked him, “How could this have happened? I’m completely fine; we were bitten by the same snake; why is it I am healthy, and my mother is dead?” The Doctor compassionately replied, “Well, your mother was bitten first; and the snake used all of its venom on her. When it bit you, it had nothing left to inject. Your mother saved your life.”
       Similarly, Jesus Christ has placed himself between God’s wrath and those who deserve to experience it. He has taken the full penalty for sin upon himself; he has paid the price; he has suffered death, so others may live. As Jesus endured agony, he thought of you, and he thought of me; he thought of us. Have you accepted his sacrifice? Have you allowed him to take your place? Give Jesus Christ the opportunity to heal your spirit and to wash your sins away. If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, you can do that today. Contact me, or your local pastor, or even another Christian, and ask about how you can partake in Christ’s offering and receive eternal life.
       “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You, and we praise Your son for his suffering. We thank You for allowing Him to take our place on the cross. Thank You Jesus, for enduring God’s wrath so our sins can be forgiven. Father, be our God; be our salvation; be the center of our lives; fill us with Your Holy Spirit, and help us to sacrifice our lives for others. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.” God bless all of you.

Loving Your Neighbor

JESUS SPEAKING

         “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered him saying: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise, a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he looked upon him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn and, and took care of him. The next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend when I come next time, I will repay you.’ So, which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 29 – 37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Samaria was a community of pagan individuals living within the borders of the nation of Israel (just north of Jerusalem); as non-Hebrews, they frequently engaged in immorality and idolatry; for this reason, they were despised by most religious Israelites. In fact, when traveling, many orthodox Jews would contemptuously journey around Samaria rather than through it. After Jesus had confirmed the importance of loving one’s neighbor, he was asked to define what constituted a neighbor. His reply came in the form of a story; in the narrative a man was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road; two religious Jews passed by, without stopping to help (one a priest, and the other a supposed man of God.) Soon after, a Samaritan happened by, and his heart was filled with compassion. In order to preserve the man’s life, he gave of his time, his money, and his resources. He showed true mercy and great generosity. Many today, like the priest and the Levite are so concerned with what lies ahead that they fail to stop and help those who are hurting and in need of assistance.
        Some time ago, during a cross-country meet in Minnesota, a young man named Mark Paulauskas was injured in the first half-mile of a two-mile race. He had been spiked by another runners’ cleats (a wound that would eventually require 20 stitches and a walking boot.) As Paulauskas cried out in agony, most of the other runners passed him by; they were focused more on the finish line than on the pain of an ailing opponent. Yet, one individual heard his cries and was moved with compassion. A runner named Josh Ripley willingly abandoned his vision of victory in order to stop and help; without hesitation he picked up Mark Paulauskas and carried him a half-mile back to the starting line. After handing his wounded competitor into the arms of the coaches, Josh Ripley sprinted off into the wilderness to complete his race. Although he didn’t win, he was victorious in the eyes of God.
         Our fleshly nature commonly causes us to become so focused on what lies ahead that we ignore those who are right beside us. If we are not careful we can pass by those who are hurting and ignore the call of God to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves.’ The world is cold and apathetic; yet in the midst of indifference, there are those who show great compassion and mercy; they give selflessly; they love unconditionally; they are examples of God’s Spirit in action; they are followers of Jesus Christ. They are friends; they are family; they are neighbors; and they are Christians.
         “Lord Heavenly Father, may we always show sympathy toward those who are hurting and in need. May we be relieved of indifference and filled with mercy. May nothing ever be more important than compassion, nor greater than love. Fill us to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit, that we might be examples of Your warmth in a world that is cold and apathetic. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.


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