We Ought to pray

THE LORD TAUGHT US that we ought always to pray and to not lose heart [Luke 18:1]. This parable tells the story of a woman who pleaded with an unjust judge to avenge her of her adversaries, which he eventually did due to her persistance in her requests. The lesson is explained in vs 7, 8; “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

Life is full of sorrow, said the preacher [Ecc 1:18]. If you’ve ever experienced the ocean waves, you may understand what I mean. The pains and troubles of this life sometimes overtake us, and keep on overtaking us as wave after wave of sorrow washes over us, preventing us from standing, oftentimes, suffocating us of all hope. Life on Earth is like that. We all have pain which makes it all the more imperitive that we ought to pray.

Lest we add sorrow upon sorrow, we need to stop and pray to the only one that can provide help. Let us remember the lesson, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

The Lord has taught us to pray. Go to a quiet place [Mat 6:6], and pray to the Father who sees in secret. When we study the comforting word [2Cor 1:3] we learn how to pray and for what to pray in difficult times.

It’s in these times that I pray….

Most gracious heavenly Father, my great master and most righteous friend. I know that you are full of all goodness, mercy and grace.
[John 15:14; James 1:17; 2Cor 1:3; John 1:14]

I Thank You Father for what has gone right in the midst of what is wrong. Thank you for the breath that I have, the food you’ve provided and the salvation given through Christ Jesus.
[1Thess 5:17-18]

You’ve commanded me to cast my cares upon you, for you care for me. Therefore, I bring to you my sorrow and worries, seeking your guidance and help, according to your will.
[1Peter 5:7; Luke 11:2].

I pray for wisdom and remembrance of Your godly instructions of what to do in difficult times. Knowing that You Father, give with all liberality. Help me to remember all that you’ve taught through your word that I may know how to proceed.
[James 1:5; John 14:15-24; 16:13]

May your peace come upon me as I think upon the good things of life helping me to think clearly that I may endure what has befallen me.
[Phil 4:6-9]

May a blessing be upon those that are fighting against me. Help me to do good to them that hate me and to love them and forgive them as you’ve forgiven me. Please forgive me of all unrighteousness.
[Mat 5:44; Mark 11:25; 1John 1:9]

May You grant unto me boldness that I may endure the difficulties of life and to take purposeful action knowing that as a child of Yours, You are always beside me.
[Acts 4:29; Hebrews 13:5]

Finally, I pray knowing that today will be a great day. Though every day is filled with some sorrow, it’s even more so filled with your goodness. Because You live, I can face the day! May my light shine through this darkness and into the darkness of this sinful place.
[Phil 3:1; John 14:19; 1Peter 2:15; Mat 5:16]

That’s what I would do. Then I get busy, for I fear boredom. It is the enemy to my thoughts. I get up and go do something of service. What can you do? According to the scriptures, there are many things you can do. God has given us a talent to serve Him, each according to our own ability [Mat 25:15].

We serve Him through…

Diligence in our vocations. Ephesians 6:5-8
Diligence in the raising of our children. Ephesians 4:1-4
Diligence in service for our brethren. Mat 25:31-46
Diligence in our display of hope during trouble, knowing that salvation is upon the true believer. 1Peter 2:15
And Diligence in our sowing the seeds of the kingdom. Mat 28:18-20

— Spencer

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Is Demon Possession Possible today? pt2

IN LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE, I showed through scripture how demonic possession is no longer possible today. For the sake of review, let me remind you of two references that deal with the binding of fallen / sinful angels. “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;” [2Peter 2:4]. And in Jude 1:6 “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Demons (fallen angels) are bound, awaiting the judgment.

Now we turn our attention to the verse in 1Peter 5:8; “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” What is being taught by this verse?

Before we proceed, let’s not undo the previous truth; DEMON POSSESSION IS NOT POSSIBLE TODAY. Zechariah 13:2 prophesied it, and the New Testament confirms it. So whatever 1Peter 5:8 teaches, it cannot include the demonic possession of one’s person.

THE TRUTH ABOUT SATAN

We first read of Satan in the book of Genesis. There is no information given about his origin, but the Bible displays his working throughout. He is called the “adversary” in our passage and seeks to supplant the authority of God [Luke 4:7]. He is a liar, and the father of lies [John 8:44]. 1John 3:8, says that the devil sinned from the beginning and has been condemned [1Timothy 3:6].

Satan is also called the “god of this world” [2Corinthians 4:4]. “World” as used in this context is speaking about people who are separated from God, people who are doing what is right in their own eyes and not following the will of God. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1-2, that He (Christ) has made alive…those who previously had walked according to the course of the world. To walk the course of the world (Satan’s playground) is to follow Satan’s example of rebellion and disobedience toward God. Verse 3 points out that these in the world, “once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath...” This condition fits the description of the progression of sin in James 1:14-15.

Just as knowing God’s truth can set one free from sin [John 8:32], “He that committeth sin is of the devil” [1John 3:8]. Although Satan is a real being, HE CANNOT IRRISISTABLY CONTROL MEN. We act as his agents when we seek to do as he does, to pervert, corrupt, depart from or misrepresent the word of God [Mat 16:23; 2Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 1:6-9; 1Timothy 4:1-3].

Just as modern day Nazi’s or Marxists act as agents for their long dead leaders, so too those who wish to follow the workings of Satan. Because they don’t have a love for the truth, “God will send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie” [2Thessalonians 2:9-12].

Satan doesn’t physically possess anyone today. He has always been limited, [Job 1:12, 2:6; 1Cor 10:13]. Lies and all evil was introduced into this world by Satan, and this disease of sin is spread by wicked men who are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” who will lead astray the gullible [2Timothy 3:2-6].

God’s people can resist the devil [James 4:7], and the Omnipotent God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability [1Corinthians 10:13]. It is the gospel of Christ, the word of God, that is our defense against Satan’s teachings. Jesus combated Satan with “it is written” and we also have the same weapon in the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” [Matthew 4:4; Ephesians 6:17]. We are instructed to withstand the devil by faith [1Peter 5:9] and we know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God [Romans 10:17].

God is great, and His love is so great that He gave us His Son, to free us from sin, and “deliver us from this present evil world” [Galatians 1:4].

— Spencer

Is Demon Possession Possible today?

is demon possession possible

Folks today believe in the demonic possession of a person. They have this belief because of the many passages in scripture where people are possessed. [Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; 17:18; Mark 5:1-20; 7:26-30; Luke 4:33-36; Luke 22:3; Acts 16:16-18]

The teachers of this doctrine explain demon possession today by saying that a person “allows” the demon to enter them by rejecting God’s word, allowing your heart to be ruled by habitual sin, inviting Satan [or one of his angels] to enter.

They also teach that a “true Christian” can never be possessed, because they have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, [2Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; 1Corinthians 6:19], saying that the Spirit of God would not share residence with a demon.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

It is true that demon possession occurred in the OT [seldom, if at all], in the Gospels and in the first century church, but the question is; Can demon possession happen today?

First, it should be noted, that not every association with Satan qualifies as demon possession. For example, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” [John 8:44]. He was not speaking as if the devil gave birth to them, rather their actions indicated they were following Satan’s teaching.

Second, concerning demons, we are told: There are being called “angels” [Psa. 8:5; Heb. 2:7, 9] which are higher in nature than humans. Not knowing when, some of these angels fell / sinned [2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6]. These fallen angels seem to be the same angels as the devil’s angels [Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7, 9]. These may be called, “demons” [Luke 11:15], “evil spirits” [Acts 19:12-13], “unclean spirits” [Matthew 10:1], or Satan’s angels [Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7, 9].

Third, the bible teaches that evil spirits and demons would depart. In Zechariah 13:2, referring to the age of the Messiah, God promises; “… I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.” This is fulfilled in the Gospels as the disciples were able to cast out demons and Jesus said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” [Luke 10:18-20]. This shows the weakening power of Satan and his angels.

Finally, in the New Testament, there are two references to the binding of fallen / sinful angels. “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;” [2Peter 2:4]. And in Jude 1:6 “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” These are bound, awaiting the judgment.

Sound Doctrine provides comfort

I’ve shown these things to folks and some have gotten very upset with the idea that demon possession is no longer possible. What a strange reaction. The truth should provide us with much comfort, it does me. Imagine living a life where the possession of your person is possible.

Movies like “Damien” and the “The Exorcist” have generated fear, in the hearts of men, that it is possible to be possessed, but I find comfort in the Scriptures of God, clearly teaching that we should never fear Satan and his angels.

One final note, some people say, “The devil made me do it” when referring to some sin they’ve done. No sir, he did not. God teaches us in the book of James, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” [James 1:14-15]. We can follow the teaching of Satan, but we are accountable for the sins we commit. I don’t need Satan to help me to sin, I’m doing a fine job all on my own.

— Spencer

Reaching in, to reach out

WHEN I WAS A YOUNG BOY the neighbor girl asked for my help to wash her car. She was just a few years older than myself, and being the kind, generous person that I am, I quickly left my chores of weeding the flower beds and charitably assisted this helpless neighbor. Upon my return, some few hours later, my father pulled me aside and said, “Son, I appreciate that you want to help your neighbor do her chores, but you need to make sure your chores are done first.”

I’ve saved this lesson in my heart for all these years, uncertain how to apply it to my life beyond the immediate application of leaving all to help the cute neighbor. That is, until now. I’ve been emphasizing so much about outreach lately, that I thought it was time to pause a bit and make sure our home chores are done. A brother in Christ, Bryan Gibson, calls these home chores of which I’m referring as “INreach.”

There’s no such word as “INreach”, but the idea of it is very clear in the Bible. We’re talking about the efforts of Christians, both collectively and individually, those who are “inside” (1 Corinthians 5:12), “Of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10), “our people” (Titus 3:14) – in other words, Fellow-Christians, or fellow saints, to encourage and to edify the body of Christ.

Looking at the letters from Paul to the evangelists, Timothy & Titus, it becomes obvious how much emphasis is given to “INreach”. Paul instructed the two evangelists to “set in order the things that are lacking?” (Tit 1:5) – to appoint qualified men to serve as elders and deacons (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 3:1-13); to keep the church pure from false doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3-11; 2 Timothy 2:14-18; Titus 1:10-14); to instruct brethren how to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12); etc. If we fail to do our own chores of “INreach” for very long, then we’re certain to have problems creep into our homes and lead some away with divers lusts (2Timothy 3:6). Yet, if we give it proper attention, then the weeds will be plucked away allowing the fruit to grow, including a people better prepared to reach OUT.

If we continue to study our Bibles, it will be difficult to miss what it says about our individual responsibilities to “one another.” We’re commanded to…Love one another (1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12); be hospitable to another (1 Peter 4:9); admonish one another (Romans 15:14); weep and rejoice with one another (Romans 12:15); restore one another (Galatians 6: 1); comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18); etc. As we continue to be an evangelistic church, remember to REACH IN, for your brethren need you and you need them. “As we have opportunity, let us do go to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Look at these commendations to the early church: “God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). “The household of Stephanas… they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:15). Brethren in Thessalonica received strong commendation for “brotherly love,” but were then urged to “increase more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Serving the needs of the saints takes up a lot of time. How can we “increase more and more?”

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for overlooking the weightier matters of “judgment, mercy, and faith,” commanding them to do these, without leaving “the other undone” (Matthew 23:23). Putting these lessons together, we Saints need to strive to do ALL of the work of the Lord, balancing our duty to outreach to seek and to save the lost, with our “INreach” in teaching and strengthening our brethren. A spiritually strong, and loving church leads to a strong and loving outreach (John 13:35). The teaching of the New Testament clearly states this principle; “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12), showing us that a balanced church is “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2Timothy 3:16-17).

It can be easy for us to criticize others in the church for their lack of outreach. We ought to remember that some of these are also doing the work of the Lord in their “INreach”. For a period of time, my baby doll and I were dedicated to bringing up our boys “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This is a vital duty of parents, lest we lose the next generation of Christians from among our own families.

A final word, it is easy to turn “INreach” into selfishness, looking ONLY at your own personal needs. Yes, we have a duty to care for one another, but that duty doesn’t begin AFTER your needs are met. If I’ve learned anything it is this, when I’ve sought to “bear one another’s burdens,” that my burdens were also lifted (Galatians 6:2). Job had all restored to him AFTER he had prayed for his friends (Job 42:10).

If Christ is living in us (Galatians 2:20), we shall become a growing church. Growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18) AND growing in size from those that are outside as we preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).

-Spencer