It’s Demons!

www.bible.com/1713/jas.4.7.csb

Once in a while you come upon one of those cases where nothing works. Meds don’t work. Sound reasoning from the Scriptures does no good. What’s left? Behavioral modification, psychoanalysis, extended rehab, nothing is effective to change the heart. If you know Jesus, you know that Jesus is the only one who can change the heart, but a person must also choose Jesus. Jesus wants to change everyone, but only those who let Him can receive that change.

But you know who doesn’t want that change? Do you know who wants you to stay just the way you are in depression and anxiety, in anger or self-destruction? It’s Demons! The devil has every interest in seeing you destroy yourself. He wants to take you away from God and will do all in his power, as God allows him, to destroy your sense of self-worth, your feeling of forgiveness and grace, especially your peace. He will sense his henchmen to take you down, through whispers, through oppression, through others who will hurt you.

And yet here is this promise in the Scripture. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. You must choose God. And in that choice you have the power to resist the devil. You have the power to choose not to listen to him or his minions. You have the power to resist him and his spiritual poverty. It is in your power to choose, and in that choice, many find healing. Because sometimes it isn’t a biological problem or a thought problem, but it’s demons. Demons will steal your joy and impoverish your spirit. They constantly tell you that life isn’t worth living and that you are alone. They will isolate you and corral you to believe that you are the only one with your problem.

You must choose to believe the truth. Jesus loves you and had died for you. Jesus has given everyone because He loves you. Even now He longs for you. He calls to you. Amidst all of the voice of sorrow and despair, Jesus’ is the only one speaking hope into you. Resist the devil. He will flee. Resist the darkness, and light will flood in. Resist the voices. They don’t love you. Submit yourself to God and enjoy His love and grace.

Dear Father, I know I’m not much. But with you, I am something. All my life the enemy has tried to tear me down and make me feel like I am worthless. I know that’s not true. I am valuable because your Som died for me. I have been bought with a price, far more valuable than gold or silver. Help me see that today, to resist the darts and wiles of the devil, and embrace your grace in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Better Than One

www.bible.com/72/ecc.4.9-10.hcsb

I hate to have just one cookie, you know? I mean, if you are going to have a cookie, always have two. You can eat the first and enjoy it with a sense of knowing there’s another waiting. I usually power through the first one anyway. When I get to the second, I take a little more time, knowing it is the last one. Sigh.

But Solomon isn’t talking about cookies, or food, or wives. He is making an observation about life. Two people in a relationship are better than one person alone. He echoes God’s observation in Genesis 2, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Solomon. Observed that when one stumbles, the other can pick up.

Equally important, Solomon reminds us that we were not designed to be alone. We were designed for community. We need another person. Of course God solved that problem by creating a second gender, the female, to complement the male. I don’t see that necessarily here, but it is certainly possible. A man and a woman are complementary partners, and in marriage are even committed to each other’s well-being. But in view can also be fellow warriors, or best friends, or even two walking along the same road.

Who is he person in your life that fulfills this role, that picks you up when you stumble? Who do you help when they fall? We all need someone like that. As Christians, we are called to live in community, and not try to live our our faith alone. Even if it’s not in your nature, you need to make friends. I encourage you today to make as many as you can.

God bless you this morning a throughout the day!

Ready to Listen

bible.com/72/1jn.5.14.hcsb

Ever feel like you are talking to a brick wall with some people? You are talking and they are nodding, but they aren’t really hearing you. We suffer from isolation because of this. We feel like no one listens to us, to our wants and fears. We feel alone because no one truly understands us or gets who we really are.

It doesn’t help that the cell phone has become the medium of choice for conversation. Whether people prefer to type out their conversations with others, or a person sitting next to you is too busy with their phone to listen to your words, phones have helped to isolate us further. Ironically it is the phone which is taking away our ability to communicate.

This verse tells us that God is always ready to listen. I know the difference between hearing and listening. It’s a distinction we have in the English language between hearing the sound and listening to the content. But I don’t think that God ever just hears us talking. I believe God listens, both to our words and the murmurings of the spirit within us. He knows us better than our closest friend. He knows us better than our wives.

And this is the confidence we have. We know that when we talk to God, He has the time to listen to us. This ought to be an encouragement to prayer. I hope it is for you. As Christians we are never alone. His presence goes with us everywhere. As the Psalmist attests, if I go to the depths of the sea, you are there. He will never leave us.

So may I offer this: make time for God today as he has made time for you. It’s ok to put down the phone. Speak to the One who listens to you. You will feel better.

God bless you today.

The New Normal

Sitting at my computer looking through email. Reminded me of an earlier time, a different job, different names, but me still sitting and looking at my screen. I have been sitting in this spot, doing exactly the same thing since I started in ministry. It made me long for those days, those friendships and relationships I used to have. Made me wonder if I would ever have them again. Yeah, I get wistful sometimes.

From 2001 to 2009, I ministered in a Christian Church in Clarks Hill, Indiana. In Clarks Hill, IN, I was close enough to touch Lafayette, where much of my extended family lived. I could be at my parents’ house in 20 minutes. In 2009 I was asked to resign that position, which left me and family without a home within just a few weeks’ time. With God’s help, we had a call from a church in Palestine, Illinois, a former Disciples of Christ Church where they welcomed our family. We stayed there until early 2012 when we moved to our present location in Morehead, Kentucky.

At times, it hits me. Why did God move me so far away? I miss my family, being able to see my uncles and aunts, my parents and my brother. I wish I could be with them, spend another cheesy birthday party or family meal, especially when those feelings come over me.

But this is the new normal. Family is now a phone call away. I live four hours from my parents, and sometimes I feel very alone. Working in an area where extended families live together “up the holler”, I miss the validation that comes from family, to know that you matter to them.

I see families every day trying very hard to tear themselves apart through drug and alcohol use, abuse and divorce. I see men and women destitute because they don’t have any family. Why? Because they’ve destroyed every relationship they have. Their own family will not take them in, not again. It crushes me to hear that, every time.

But true family isn’t about blood, or surnames. It is about our common relationship with Jesus. Even folks who’ve lost everyone still have a family in Jesus. And this is a family that will stick closer than a brother.

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
(Mar 10:29-31)