It may explain a tremendous amount about why we tend to cycle through our repeated challenges over and over again. Have you noticed it? Those impulses and reactions we have; those internal messages of self-doubt, fear, or self-hatred; those troubles, difficulties, and sufferings we go through in life—they all seem to keep popping up time and time again. There may be a specific source to it all. And there is certainly a solution to it all. This is going to be a “don’t miss” Sunday as we discover it! I’ll tell you more in Deeper Thoughts below…
But first…a few quick updates…
· This Sunday, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Communion). Come with hearts prepared to worship with great thankfulness. And you online live-stream folks: get your crackers and juice ready and worship with us!!
· This Sunday night, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. – Trunk or Treat!! Join us--and bring all your neighborhood kids—for an uplifting, joyous celebration of fall with candy, games, costumes, prizes, hayrides, popcorn, and more… to include Chris Nicholson’s world-famous funnel cakes!! All are welcome—with or without kids. Come hang with our neighbors and have some fun!!
· Mark your calendars for a super-big Saturday, November 11:
· 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. – Church facility and campus workday: Help us spruce up the church for the holiday season and make some new friends!
· 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Ladies…join us as we make lotions and such for holiday gifts. More info to come!
· 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Old Ox Brewery – “Stories from the Street”: Join Pastor Will Cravens and others as they share stories and testimonies of ministering to the homeless. Click here for more info and to get tickets!
· Be sure to click here check out this week’s video testimony about prayer and the power of God from our very own Grace Robinson!
OK, that’s it today for you email skimmers and you who’d rather just keep getting pummeled without knowing why. BUT…
Some Deeper Thoughts…
I’ve been scouring the scriptures for a revelation from God about this. I have discovered something I hadn’t fully comprehended before, though I suppose it should have been super-plain to see.
I’m curious if you have missed it, too.
By now I am certain you’ve caught the teaching of Ephesians 6:12. I hammer on this fairly regularly in our Sunday teachings. It tells us that the things we battle with are not as they seem; that we are not really battling against our natural “flesh and blood,” but rather we are in the fight of our lives against “rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Besides the obviously spooky imagery this conjures up, do you know the real backstory to all this? I’m not sure that I did.
The Old Testament has a number of fairly vague references to these spiritual forces, most of which are a tad confusing and don’t seem to shed much light on the subject at all.
But then Jesus bursts onto the scene, and things change dramatically. Almost from the get-go, Jesus starts addressing these spiritual forces with stunning authority. And he addressed a lot of them. Scores of them in the Gospels, in fact.
The Greek and Roman culture of his day had long believed in dark spiritual forces. It was not hard for them to envision troubled people having some sort of demonic influence in their lives. In fact, the Greek word for “demon” was interchangeably used by the Greeks for all manner of spiritual realities—often translated in classical Greek as “god” or “gods”, with the idea that most divine activity in our lives is purely negative. (Gee, that’s uplifting, eh?)
So, when Jesus started calling out evil spirits in the troubled people around his town, the crowds were not at all startled by his identification of a spiritual source to their difficulties. It matched what they had always thought—that all those weird folks were suffering the unfortunate plight of being on the bad side of the always-negative “gods” who were looking for a few pitiful souls to pick on.
The crowds were stunned, however, that demonic spirits instantly submitted to his commands.
Right about now, I imagine you’re wishing you’d decided to be an email skimmer today. I know these concepts are way outside of our comfort zone. In our day, we’ve backed off any awareness or acknowledgment of the existence of evil spiritual power. Perhaps partly due to how spooky it can be; perhaps because we are so scientifically advanced that we can answer most people’s problems with far more natural explanations; perhaps because some religious groups have way overdone the whole demons and evil spirits thing. Whatever the cause, most Americans--and most American churches—simply ignore (or even reject) the idea that there might be certain spiritual forces influencing any of the things that are going wrong in life. We are 100% squarely ensconced in the idea that everything wrong has an entirely natural reason—be it physical, psychological, social, or political.
But does the life of Jesus reveal something different?
As we continue our fall teaching series, “Effective Faith,” we need to turn our attention to another “what’s next?” in the life and letters of the Apostle Peter. We are searching out God’s Word to reveal to us all the things that He has provided for us: “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
One of the things Peter reveals to us is quite victorious. He tells us that we have an “enemy, the devil,” who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).
“Um…Chris… Not encouraging. Spooky, bro. Spooky.”
Hold on. Keep reading.
The next verses: “Resist him, standing firm in the faith…and the God of all grace who called you…will make you strong, firm, and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:9-10).
If your image of the evil spiritual forces arrayed against us leads you in the direction of Hollywood’s imagery of devils and demons (think “The Exorcist”), then you’re not envisioning what the Bible describes at all. This is—in part—what I have been discovering this week in the Word of God. It’s way more encouraging, way more empowering, way more uplifting and freeing than I had imagined this topic would be.
So…if I haven’t scared you off just yet, and you’d like to get a firm handle on how, why, and what the spiritual realities around us are all about, then jump in with us this Sunday. I’ll make it very navigable and easy to comprehend, no matter what your background is.
If you’d like to do a little advance reading before Sunday, check out a few stories from Jesus and Peter: Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 9:27-10:1; Luke 4:31-37; Luke 10:17-21; Acts 5:12-16.
This will be good. I promise. God is SO good to us…
Mt. Hope Pastor