I grew up with guns. Like a hammer or a shovel they were just another tool that had a purpose. No one considered them dangerous.
I raised my sons the same way. Guns in our house were not leaning in the corner, but they were always accessible. When the boys were old enough, I took them to a requisite two-day “Hunters Safety Course” required for any person in Missouri born after January 1, 1967. (If you were born before ’67 they must assume you either grew up shooting your dinner, or you’re too old to be considered dangerous!)
A few years ago, Joshua began insisting the two of us spend some time in mountain country hunting elk and mule deer. Knowing we would be in big cat and bear country, far from civilization, we were encouraged to carry side-arms for personal protection. The only pistol I owned was of the .22 caliber variety, only capable of aggravating an animal intent on eating you, so I began to inquire about more powerful weapons. I was raised to borrow something you planned to use infrequently, but evidently the government looks down on “loaning” powerful handguns to people without the proper permits. Who knew?
One thing led to another. I discovered I needed to acquire a Conceal & Carry permit just to strap a Glock on my belt, even if I intended only to use it while walking in the Rocky Mountains. Evidently just transporting a powerful handgun in your car or on an airplane can get you arrested and jailed if you don’t do it properly.
I soon found myself in another class. I had not even purchased my handgun yet, thinking the class would help me better understand what gun would best fit my needs. I’m not sure if I or the instructor was more surprised to discover that nearly everyone in the class was already carrying a loaded weapon in their waistband or purse before even opening their books! Crazy stuff.
I came to appreciate the value of my training more and more as we studied the pertinent laws and the proper and improper ways to handle a handgun. The value of instruction and range-time became more obvious when one of the ladies in our class fired her weapon into the concrete inches from the instructor’s left foot. If it had been me it would have been grounds for dismissal, but he took it in stride, made sure she was alright, and went on with the session. Wow. Can you say, “subculture?”
Training and practice have made all the difference. You don’t have to own a gun to appreciate its power. Nearly every news cast contains at least one story of gun violence—many of them only a few miles from my home. Handguns have no mind of their own. They are just as powerful in the hands of an idiot as they are in the hands of an expert. If you a going to spend any time around guns, it pays to know what is safe and what is not.
The same can be said for the devil and demons. They are powerful spiritual beings on a mission to reek as much havoc as God will allow. If you are going to be around them, it pays to know what is safe and what is not.
In Acts 19, Luke tells the somewhat humorous story of some Jewish exorcists who were using Jesus’ name like some kind of magic potion. They did not believe in Jesus as God’s Son, or their Savior, but they had heard of the success Paul was having doing miracles in Jesus’ name. Unfortunately for them, they came upon a shrewd demon who was not easily deceived. When they attempted to work their “magic,” the demon said, “I recognize Jesus and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then he caused the man whose body he was using to beat the exorcists, strip them naked and send them packing.
As Christian followers of Jesus, we acknowledge the power of the devil and his fallen angels. (See Revelation 12:7-12) And we know the two mistakes people make about demons is to 1.) dismiss them as a figment of someone’s imagination, or 2.) take them too seriously. They have power but they have no power over baptized Christians who believe in Jesus and wield the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) against them. If you would like to know more about the defensive and offensive weapons that you can use against the devil and his demons, take a moment and read Ephesians 6:10-17.
The formula for success is not difficult but the sequence is important. The Bible says,
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
To the best of my knowledge you don’t need a Conceal & Carry license to engage in spiritual warfare, but some basic training would be helpful. It’s preferred to getting beaten and running naked through the streets.
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” Acts 19:13-16
- Have you ever felt you were the object of spiritual warfare? Is so, explain.
- Read Ephesians 6:10-17. What is the only offensive weapon described there? What’s the implication?
- What did John means when he wrote, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world?”
When it comes to Demons:
A. Popular movies have convinced most people of their actually existence.
B. Popular movies have caused people to think it is an absurd concept made up to sell tickets.
C. I believe the devil and his ilk prefer anonymity.
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(Luther's Evening Prayer)
My Heavenly Father, I thank You, through Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, that You have protected me, by Your grace. Forgive, I pray, all my sins and the evil I have done. Protect me, by Your grace, tonight. I put myself in your care, body and soul and all that I have. Let Your holy angels be with me, so that the evil enemy will not gain power over me. Amen.
- Our Spring Congregation Meeting is May 27 at 7pm. We’ll be approving our budget for the next fiscal year and sharing other information about our ministries with you. Join us in the Next Generation Center, Lower Level.
- Early bird registration for Weird Animal and Extreme VBS ends on Sunday, June 1. Don’t wait any longer! Register for Weird Animal Vacation Bible School (3 years old-5th grade, fall 2014) June 16-20, 9am-12noon.
- Register for Extreme Vacation Bible School (6th-12th grade, fall 2014)
June 16-19, 12:15pm-4:30pm (6th-12th grade, fall 2014).
- Volunteer for Weird Animals Vacation Bible School.
- Volunteer for Extreme Vacation Bible School.
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)
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