Friday, September 11, 2009

Pentecost 15 - Proper 19

Even the demons believe and shudder

Lord Jesus Christ, without whose blessing we are not able to please You, mercifully grant that Your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and govern our hearts.

Jesus does all things well. That was the statement made concerning His authority of sickness and disease. Today we see the Savior demonstrate His mighty power over the father of lies the devil himself. Yes, the devil himself will acknowledge that God exists. He’s more spiritual then the one who has convinced himself in his own mind that there is no God. Says, James in his epistle, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19) The devil knows that God exists. Jesus by His exorcism of the boy with an evil spirit demonstrated how far He will go to win for you salvation.

1. Man is powerless with respect to dealing with the devil and his hoard.

A. The teachers of the law and Jesus’ disciples were drawing a crowd as they were arguing.
1. One could only imagine what they were cussing, fussing and arguing about.
a. Possibly they were arguing about form, method or procedure. They could not exorcise the demon because they weren’t doing it properly.
b. Possibly they were arguing about some hidden or buried sin from the past. They could not exorcise the demon because their faith was lacking or some sin which had not been addressed was hindering a healing.
2. The devil is delighted every time we take our focus off of Christ and make something else of more importance.
a. Can we be found guilty arguing about such things that take our focus off of the main reason why we are here? Churches have split apart over such matters as worship forms, a building design, personalities, etc with each claiming to be “more spiritual” committed and “godly” then the other.
b. St. Paul’s encouragement needs to be our chief focus “I determine to know nothing among you save, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

B. Who today can stand against the devil and his wiles?
1. By our very nature we are found to be blind, dead, and enemies of God.
2. Our sinfulness has driven a huge wedge between any significant relationship between God and our neighbor.

Transition: Man by his very nature is powerless against the devil. The devil’s mark on this world can be seen by all.

2. The devil can make life a living hell on earth.

A. With this boy it had been a long painful struggle “from childhood.” How often had his family heard the indictments? “He’s a challenge. There’s something about him. You know, that boy’s not right!”

B. Each of us has struggles and crosses – those areas of our lives where the devil will strike us hard. Even in “secular” language we are comfortable saying “these are demons we must battle”. There are those places in our lives where the devil knows we are weak. Places, where if we would visit will not be a safe place but a dangerous place for we can sense his attempt to destroy us. Out of a sense of survival we might say “I won’t go there” and if we do a friend might say ‘she’s in a bad place.”
a. With this young man the devil tried to burn him in the fire and yet another time he almost drowned. These were not merely “battle scares” this young man had accrued. This was an onslaught the devil had leashed upon him. These were not isolated incidents but continued blows this poor man had received.
b. Do you know your weaknesses? The devil knows them – better then we know them ourselves. Our struggle, says St. Paul “is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:16) Know your enemy! “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Transition: Know your enemy well. Better yet, run to the safe arms of the Savior for salvation and life.

3. Jesus once again is able to heal, restore and destroy.

A. He alone is able to destroy. The spirit shook the young man violently. It threw him into convulsions. It shrieked as it came out. The crowd thought he was dead. As he lay lifeless on the ground how many thought to themselves – fool, idiot! Serves him right turning his son over to that itinerate preacher! He alone is able to heal. He is returned to his father whole.

B. He alone is able to restore. How long had this family had to live not knowing? Not knowing when the spirit would seize him next. Not knowing how the spirit would try to destroy him. Imagine not knowing what the day would bring. Imagine not being able to plan for tomorrow because you are so overwhelmed by the circumstances of today! Imagine not even knowing there would be a tomorrow. And if there were a tomorrow - how would it turn out to be?

C. The young man is healed at the Savior’s command – restored, redeemed forgiven!

Read the text again. Jesus takes His disciples aside to show them the “big picture”. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days He will rise. (v.32) That, my friends, is where the victory took place. That is where your redemption was won - for you – at the cross and open tomb. Of course, the disciples couldn’t understand it –and neither can you unless you are focused on Christ. The words of Jesus spoken then - are directed to you – “Everything is possible for him who believes!” Lord I believe help me overcome my unbelief! Kyrie Eleison!

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