Oppression and the Believer

Oppression and the Believer

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Mark 5:1-8

Jesus once again went face to face with a demonic spirit. This one seemed to be more powerful than the others. He had possessed the man for years and was ready to see his death.

Did Jesus get the rest and prayer He needed on the boat after He was disrupted? As he will say elsewhere, these kids of demons can only come out through fasting and prayer.

But Jesus being “prayed up” all the time was ready. Notice the man approached Jesus and not the other disciples. He knew who Jesus was even though they had never met before.

Quick primer: Demon possession and demonic oppression are very real even in our society. Obviously possession is much more real and in your face, whereas oppression is the overall sense that something isn’t right. For example, ever notice that arguing heats up on a Sunday morning before heading off to church? That’s clearly oppression because the principalities do not want you to have a fulfilling worship experience. Possession, on the other hand, is much stronger. A demon possessed person lays into on a Christian for the lamest of reasons and continues until restrained. It’s very obvious to the Christian what is going on.

As mentioned, oppression is much more subtle and insidious than possession. It’s therefore just as dangerous because it can happen any time and in any place. Recognize it for what it is early to pray and combat against it.

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The Cost of Following Jesus

The Cost of Following Jesus

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. Mark 4:33-34

The disciples had a let up, so to speak, on the common people. Well, they had many advantages because they got to walk and talk with the Creator of the Universe for three years. But they were special in that Jesus broke the parables down for them, especially if they weren’t understanding. I’m sure He went even further than Scripture records in explaining the stories. If they needed use cases or what ifs answered, He would have one or twenty ready.

This premium teaching came at a great cost. They didn’t know it but in a few years their lives would be turned completely upside down. They would be mocked, ridiculed, and tormented for their faith. These people would go down a very similar route Jesus walked down, but they didn’t know it yet.

He was preparing them for their road ahead. Yes, they had the awe-inspiring privilege of eating and laughing with Jesus, soaking in all his teaching, questioning Him, joking with Him. Their love for Him would be tested many time throughout the rest of their lives.

But in the end, they would build a church that the gates of Hell could not stand up against.

We, too, have the privilege of walking with Jesus every day. Whether we do or not is up to us. He only asks that we lay down our lives daily and follow Him.

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Wanted: Big Hearts

Wanted: Big Hearts

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32

This parable complements yesterday’s. We don’t know what we’re going to get when we plant these seeds. In fact, the size of the seed is meaningless. The smallest of seeds can produce the greatest of plants.

So, too, the smallest of selfless deeds you do can yield the largest of rewards. I am fond of saying, “You just never know.” It’s true with prayer, great deeds, faith, just about anything in life. When you do what you’re supposed to do, God sees, hears, and acts. The ending may be very different than what you imagined it to be.

Keep the faith, Brothers and Sisters. Your redemption is nearer now than it ever has been.

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A Seed Scatterer

A Seed Scatterer

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29

Sir Nicholas Winston, a very old man, was invited to a party. He didn’t know it but he was the guest of honor. What he didn’t know was that everyone – all 669 people – in attendance was there because he had rescued them when they were little children from the Nazis. Every single one of them were there because of him.

For sixty years or more he had no idea whatever happened to those kids. Like the seed sower in this parable, the farmer has no idea what happens to his seeds after they leave his hands. Will they grow? Will they take root? Will they be eaten by birds? He prays and waits.

The Kingdom of God grows because of the selfless actions of Godly men and women. You really never know what your fruit your actions will produce. You plant the seeds, trust God, and pray for a great harvest. That goes for the full time worker as well as the person in the pew.

God sees what you do, records it, and blesses you for it. Never give up doing those small tasks for others. It will bear fruit.

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Faithful in the Little Things

Faithful in the Little Things

24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Mark 4:24-25

Good managers will notice how well their employees are working with the tasks they are given and reward them accordingly. If they feel they can handle additional responsibilities, they’ll give them that along with requisite pay raises and titles. Two thousand years ago, Jesus taught this principle. Quite probably, it’s been a sound managerial principle through the ages but only recently been codified.

Like the Air Force instructor I”ve mentioned plenty of times, “If you can’t do a simple task I give you, why would I let you do something that’s 1000 times more complex?

Jesus was training His disciples for bigger and better things, but they first had to learn the basics of faith and love and sowing seeds and harvesting. It’s what professional athletes do best, the basics. Master the basics, and you’ll be rewarded with more advanced activities.

The principle is still relevant in 2021 as I write this. Be faithful in the things God gives us and He may bless us with greater responsibilities in the Kingdom of God. Of course that looks different for each person but the principle still applies.

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