Take Heart

Luke 10: 19

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

I have written to you recently about the authority of the church over the power of the enemy. This is a delicate and somewhat perplexing topic but by writing to you about it I hope to encourage clarity or at least inspired consideration. The problem is that as a body, we seem uncertain about our position relative to the devil. Does he have any power? Is he a defeated foe? Why is there any Biblical discussion about “the enemy” since Jesus marched into hell and took the keys from Satan?

These are all very good questions and important ones. If you actually have an enemy but are unaware that said enemy is plotting against you, then you are defenseless. If you are conscious of the enemy, is it possible to give him too much credit and subsequently fall victim to another deception, that of chasing demons? We are not naïve. We know by now, and the scriptures inform us, that there is an enemy and his name is Satan. He has been the enemy of humanity since the beginning. The real question seems to be, what power and/or influence does he wield today? The parallel question is, didn’t Jesus’ victory whip the devil forever? Good question – glad you asked.

Today’s verse encapsulates the answer. I will state it this way even though it is a bit of an overstatement, Jesus defeated the devil, but have you? What I intend to imply is that Jesus has done his part but there is still something we must do in order for his victory to be effective in our lives. Look again at today’s verse. Jesus said he has given power to us. Okay, that is easy enough to understand but why need he give power to us if he has already defeated the enemy? He said, “nothing shall by any means hurt you.” There is a huge assumption in this last statement though, the assumption being that we have employed the power he has given us.

Because of Jesus’ victory we too can stand victorious against the devil. Too many of us believe, erroneously, that Jesus’ victory gives us a free pass. That is to say, sometimes we think we do not have to do anything in order to live the triumphant life Jesus won for us. I thought the same thing as a young person. I thought being a Christian meant that I should live a, relatively, care free, trouble free life. Well, I learned better and frankly, that belief is not even scriptural. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble,” (John 16: 33). That is a clear statement of fact. However, it is not the end of the story and here is where Jesus’ triumph over Satan comes in. The end of John 16: 33 records Jesus saying, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In other words, yes, the world will bring you trouble and you will be troubled all the days of your life UNLESS you apply Jesus’ overcoming power. Jesus said being “in him” is the victory that overcomes the world. This is the key point we must come to understand. Jesus won the victory for us but it is we who must overcome using that which he has provided. In him is peace, perfect peace. So take heart and use all that Jesus won for you.

Halt, Thief!

Proverb 6: 31

But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold.

Restitution by a thief is what is being discussed in this passage. When the thief is discovered, he must repay seven times what he stole. There is an interesting connection from the New Testament. Jesus told us that “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy” (John 10: 10). Who is the thief? The devil, of course. He is the enemy of all who love Jesus and he would love to steal everything from you but you have the ability to stop him and even to make him repay seven times what he stole.

I wrote to you last week about how we are increasingly ignoring, or denying the existence of the devil and his minions. When we deny the existence and influence of Satan we begin to blame God for the bad things that happen. I find this tragic. Not only do we allow the devil to get off free when we hide in our denial but we don’t receive the restitution we are due. Worst of all, since we need someone to blame, we blame God. Obviously, these recriminations against God damage our relationship with Him. How can you have a close, trusting and loving relationship with someone you believe is doing you harm? Even if you try to justify the assumption that God is the one who is making bad things happen as His attempt to strengthen you, it will still destroy your relationship with Him.

I was exposed to this dangerous teaching like many of you were. I remember telling my basketball coach, “It’s too hard with God so I am going to have to be without Him.” I turned my back on God because people had me convinced that God was doing all these bad things to me. I sure wish someone had stood apart from the crowd and said, “Hey, that’s the devil who is evil doing those things, not God who is good.” I think I could have taken it from there and realized how foolish and broken my logic was.

I don’t know if people are just afraid of the devil so that is why they deny his existence or if he just has really good Public Relations people. None the less, our continual denial of his existence and his shenanigans is putting God, our beloved, right in the target sights. No one is throwing stones at Satan. They are all casting stones at God, the one who loved us so much that He sent His only child to die a horribly cruel death so that we might be saved. When you state it that way, it really defies logic but that is what so many of us do without really considering.

Look, you don’t have to be afraid of the devil. You’ve got Jesus and his victory. All you have to do is catch the thief. He has to pay back seven times if you will catch him instead of blaming God. God is the one who will make him pay restitution because He is a righteous God. There are any number of weapons Jesus has provided for you, all of them effective. Praise music, reading your Bible out loud to the devil (he loves that), giving money to a ministry (one of my personal favorites), prayer and more. Just remind the devil of the blood of Jesus. Figuratively, bathe your business, ministry or family in the blood. Dedicate everything in your life to Jesus, whatever the devil is torturing you with or messing with, see yourself go put it on Jesus’ altar. Then dare the devil to mess with it. Install Jesus as CEO, but really do it, not merely mouth the words. Let Jesus run your business for a couple of weeks and see if the devil doesn’t take his hands off of it.

Give over leadership of your family to Jesus. He never meant for you to be the leader of your family. That’s how it gets messed up. He wants to be head of the household. As long as you are, the devil is going to get in your stuff. Give it to Jesus. It really is his problem afterall, because he is the shepherd, not you. You are one of the flock.

Whatever area of your life is being challenged. Go put it on the altar and sprinkle Jesus blood on it. Remember, this is how Abraham became the Father of us all, by putting his son on the altar. Releasing control to Jesus is the quickest way (not the easiest mind) to get the devil out of it. Where ever there is the blood of Jesus, the devil will flee. He hates the Word, and he cannot bear even one drop of the blood.

I want you blessed and I am so tired of watching the devil steal from Christians. God has prepared a way for us and has given us all of the tools necessary. Put blame where it is due and make the devil pay; make him pay back seven times what he stole.

Fear Not

2 Corinthians 2: 11                     God’s Word

I don’t want Satan to outwit us. After all, we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming.

Or are we? That is, are we ignorant about his scheming? I want to talk about Satan today. This is not to elevate him but rather to edify you.

The Apostle Peter said that Satan is “like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” and he warned us to “be of sober spirit, be on the alert” because our adversary, the devil is prowling around looking for prey (1 Peter 5: 8). Is this a scary thought? I have really been around the block on this. I used to shudder when people talked about demons and the devil. I did not want to be involved in that discussion so I ignored it, but to fail to have this discussion is to give Satan and his cohorts a free pass.

I am reminded of playing peek-a-boo with small children. When they cover their eyes, you really do cease to exist. We have tried to do the same thing with Satan. Our internal mechanism has operated to remove him from our presence by closing our eyes to his existence and/or his operation in the earth. I have noticed and increase in the avoidance of the subject of the devil and great discomfort when reference to him comes up. I even had one person tell me that there is no such thing as evil. Are you kidding me? Have you looked at the world recently? How can anyone believe there is no such thing as evil?

The truth is that this topic makes us uncomfortable. The other part of the truth is that we are afraid. Oh sure, not many of us will admit it and in truth, we may not even realize that we are being driven by fear. I want to tell you, though, that you have nothing to fear. Christ, our own beloved, is far bigger than Satan and has already defeated him. So fear not. However, be ignorant neither. We are not ostriches. There is no gain by sticking our heads in the sand and pretending there is no enemy. Your defenses are not strengthened by making believe there is no ravenous beast roaming the earth seeking those whom he may devour. We are no longer children, we don’t need to play make believe. There is a devil out there but we have the ability to deal with his schemes. That is why he must roam around seeking whom he may devour. Not everyone makes a good target for him because they are, as Peter advised, on the alert.

You will note that today I used the God’s Word translation for the verse. The New American Standard shows us that Paul’s teaching is relevant “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” Paul, in writing to believers in Corinth, did not want them to be ignorant and their ignorance pave the way for Satan to take advantage of them. The wise thing we can, and should do, is to be aware of our enemy, learn where and how he has influence and understand what Jesus did for us so that we do not needlessly become victims of Satan’s schemes. You have nothing to fear. Do not be afraid to accept that there is a devil in this world doing his best to upset God’s perfect plan but don’t think that you are a defenseless lamb. Far from it. Christ has laid the sword of Satan’s defeat at your feet. The defeat is already embedded in the sword. We only need to realize there is an enemy and then stoop down and lift the sword and let the gleam of Christ’s victory shine in the mirrored reflection of his glory. Oh glory, Jesus has won; he has overcome. Now it is your turn.

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