Friday, August 14, 2015
Paul and Cindy Talley will be at First Baptist Church in Waverly this weekend!
I have mentioned to many people that Paul and Cindy have become good friends over the years, and I am excited to see them again. They arrived yesterday and Sandy and I had an opportunity to spend some time with them. And I'm very excited that you will have an opportunity to meet them, too.
They will be ministering with us on Saturday evening at 7:00 pm, and on Sunday morning at 11:00 am. Please join us for this time of ministry. I know that they would love to meet you.
Yesterday I looked at the healing of the demon possessed man in the region of the Gerasenes. The man had many demons, Jesus gave these demons permission to leave the man and enter a nearby herd of pigs, and the pigs, now demon possessed themselves, ran down a steep bank into the sea and were all drowned. Upon seeing such a miraculous healing and demonstration of Jesus' power over demonic authority, the people ultimately rejected Jesus and asked Him to leave.
There is one other part of this story that I think is really significant. After all this happened, the man who had been demon possessed, now completely healed, wanted to go with Jesus. He wanted to follow Jesus wherever Jesus went. I don't blame him. He will forever be remembered in his home town as the out-of-control man with the demons. People will probably reject him everywhere he goes in that area, remembering what he did, perhaps even fearing the demons may return. We do tend to dwell on the past. While we know of the change taking place in ourselves, we often struggle to recognize change in others.
What is significant about this part of the story, for me anyway, is that while this area had rejected Jesus and asked Him to leave, Jesus still had a plan for this region. When the man begged to go with Jesus, Jesus' response to him was, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." The man wanted to follow Jesus, and Jesus told him to go home and be a witness of what you have seen God do in your life.
Why I think this is so significant is that if we really want to follow Jesus today, I think He's going to tell us the same thing, "Go home and be a witness of what you see God doing in your life."
To be a witness means to tell other people what you saw. It doesn't mean you have to be an expert in the Bible. You don't have to memorize the Roman's Road. You don't have to have a ton of tracts to explain how to come to Christ. You just have to know what Christ has done for you. You have to see Christ's hand at work in your life. And you have to be willing to share that with others.
To see what Jesus is doing in your life, and to recognize it's Jesus, not just circumstances, you have to know Jesus. You have to spend time with Him in a daily quiet time. You have to spend time in His Word. You have to speak to Him, and let Him speak to you. And when you do, He will reveal what He is doing, and you will know it is Him. And you can share what you see. That's what it is to be a witness. We avoid witnessing because we aren't evangelists. But that's not what it means to be a witness. We just tell what we witnessed Jesus doing. People who don't believe don't care what Jesus did 2000 years ago. They want to know if Jesus can make a difference for them. They want to know if He can make a difference with what their struggling with.
The people of the Gerasene region had rejected Jesus. Jesus' response was to send one person to be a witness. It's impossible to know for sure what affect he had, but Jesus knows that one person most certainly can make a difference. And if you really want to follow Him, He's going to ask you to witness what you've seen, so that you can make a difference, too.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
I was reading this morning in Luke 8, and I came across the familiar story of the demon possessed man in the region of the Gerasenes.
This man had been through so much. Possessed by not just one demon, but many. When Jesus had asked the demon's name, He was told "'Legion,' he replied, because many demons had gone into him." (v.30) These demons had really tortured the man. For a long time his clothes were in rags and he lived in the tombs. In fact, v. 29 tells us he was "chained hand and foot and kept under guard." Still, he often managed to escape, breaking his chains and finding solitary places to hide.
It's interesting to me that the demons recognized Jesus immediately. When Jesus approached, the man "cried out and fell to his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?'" The demons recognized Jesus. And they feared Him, begging Him not to torture them. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into a nearby herd of pigs, and in verse 32, Jesus "gave them permission." So the demons not only recognized Jesus, but Jesus had authority over them, giving them permission to enter the pigs. The demons left the man, and entered the pigs. Upon entering the pigs, the entire herd ran down a steep bank to the sea and were drowned.
Now the story gets better. When those tending the pigs saw what happened, they ran back into town and told everyone what happened. That's good, right! They were witnesses to Jesus' power and authority, and they were sharing what they saw Jesus do! But here's the kicker, found in verse 37, "Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were afraid." (v.37)
This brings two questions to mind:
- Why were they afraid? Maybe they didn't want to give up what they had? Their lifestyle? Their property? Maybe they knew they were sinners and didn't want to give up their sinfulness or their evil desires? Jesus has the power to save people, but they were more afraid of change than they were of the demons.
- Why aren't we afraid today? Because of their fear, these people had rejected Jesus. Many people respond the same way today, but show no fear at all. Instead, they show a mixture of arrogance and ignorance, a very dangerous combination.