Only JESUS Is Enough

“And they laughed at Him [JESUS], knowing that she was dead. But He took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then He directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.” – Luke 8:53‭-‬56 NRSV

“Once when JESUS was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The MESSIAH of GOD.” Those who are ashamed of Me and of My words, of them the SON of MAN will be ashamed when He comes in His Glory and the GLORY of the FATHER and of the holy angels.” – Luke 9:18‭-‬20‭, ‬26 NRSV

I see a major recurring theme around JESUS and His ministry. He never does anything for the glory or recognition of it. When He heals someone, He invariably says something to the effect of “Go, and tell no one.” Looking at the big televangelists, it’s all about showmanship and ratings and money – bigger and better. That’s not the Way of JESUS. Personally, I want to be like Billy Sunday or Billy Graham or Bill (‘Billy’) Henry. Not the crowds that gathered to hear them speak, and I’m pretty sure they would each scoff at being described as eloquent or charismatic; instead, they were humble and gave all Glory to GOD. There are countless other preachers and teachers, past and present, who display the humility CHRIST shows. The song “Only JESUS ” by Casting Crowns is one I believe all Christians could use as a theme song. In an interview with frontman Mark Hall by TheChristianBeat.org, he said: “There’s much talk these days about legacy. How do we want to be remembered? The more I think about it the more I’m reminded that anything in me that’s worth remembering are the things that Jesus has worked on, and is still working on in me. On my own I have nothing to offer the world, but Jesus does – so don’t mind me. Jesus is the only name to remember.

When I die, it doesn’t matter if people remember my name, but my prayer is that they will remember me as ‘that woman who loved JESUS.” When He returns in His Glory, I pray that I have shown that I was not ashamed of Him, so that He will not be ashamed of me. Like Mark Hall of Casting Crowns says, so do I, On my own I have nothing to offer the world, but Jesus does – so don’t mind me. Jesus is the only name to remember.

AMEN!

Are Satan and Demons Real?

“As He [JESUS]stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw JESUS, he fell down before Him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have You to do with me, JESUS, SON of the MOST HIGH GOD? I beg You, do not torment me”— for JESUS had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) JESUS then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him.” – Luke 8:27‭-‬30 NRSV

According to the records of the disciples of JESUS, demons were very much alive and among them – and they acknowledged that JESUS was (is!) in truth the Son of GOD, MESSIAH. For centuries before JESUS lived, there are stories of demons and evil beings in opposition to mankind, beginning with the serpent in the Garden of Eden who subverted the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. http://www.Britannica.com has this to say about demons: Malevolent beings—demons, fallen angels, ghosts, goblins, evil spirits in nature, hybrid creatures, the daevas of Zoroastrianism, the nārakas (creatures of hell) of Jainism, the oni (attendants of the gods of the underworld) in Japanese religions, and other such beings—hinder man in achieving a proper relation with God…”

The story above of the man who was possessed by ‘Legion’ (“many demons”), is just one of many such stories recorded in the New Testament. On numerous documented occassions, witnessed firsthand by many people, JESUS and His disciples commanded demons to leave a person. There were demons who mimicked insanity, and others who caused illnesses and deformities and even death in their victims. You can Google the words demon or evil beings and get lots of hits. Many of the references of these beings are from hundreds of years before CHRIST. He didn’t make them up to make Himself look good! Listen to Isaiah and what he said to Satan:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn*! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of GOD; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the MOST HIGH.” But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit.” – Isaiah 14:12‭-‬15 NRSV *Lucifer, known as the Day Star, son of Dawn, Morning Star – his name is changed to Satan, which means Adversary. Reference also Ezekiel 28:18, Job 1:6-12, Zechariah 3:1-2, Luke 10:18

In Revelation 9:1, Satan is described as “…. a star that had fallen from heaven to earth,” and in Revelation 12:4a,7-9 “His tail swept down a third of the stars* of heaven and threw them to the earth {*angels; also Hebrews 12:22} ….. And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

Dragons, demons, devils, fiends, evil beings, imps, incubus…. there are so many words, euphemisms, for the followers of Satan. They are real, Satan is real, and HELL is real. Are you prepared? Do you believe? Do you have the Assurance of Salvation from this very real threat that you can only find in JESUS CHRIST? Evil frightens me, but Satan doesn’t scare me.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD is the Strength of my heart and my Portion FOREVER.” – Psalms 73:26 NRSV

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of GOD in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” – Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NRSV

Lindwurm (means dragon) fountain, c.16th century, Klagenfurt, Austria – is it the sculptors imagination, or is it based on reality?

Under Judgement

“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ” – Luke 7:33‭-‬34 NRSV

Which are you? Are you judged by the people around you because you don’t eat bread* or drink wine, or are you being judged because you do eat bread and have a glass of wine or beer? ‘Bread’ can be changed to many other foods – different meats, or any meats; being vegan or vegetarian or gluten-free or Kosher or avoiding any number of different foods – for many reasons. Just because I have wine or beer with my meal doesn’t make me a drunk, and if I should choose to eat a certain way my reasons shouldn’t be questioned or cause ridicule….. and yet it is. Not me in particular, although it has happened. Christians are not alone in judging other people. Look around at the negative posts on social media, the absolute ugliness and denigrating of each other in politics, the so-called ‘reality’ shows on television. So much name calling and general put downs. It’s really disgusting that so many people calling themselves Christian participate in this behavior.

JESUS said this to His disciples: “If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for My sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23‭-‬24 NRSV

I’m not very good at denying myself. Looking at myself and those around me, it doesn’t appear that many of us are any good at it. Credit cards maxed out, huge mortgages, vehicle loans, personal credit lines, store credits…. where does it all end? We are judged for what we have – and we are judged for what we don’t have. For it to end, we have to make a beginning. As we go through each day, beginning now, whenever a negative or judgemental thought forms, take a second to realize that you don’t know how or why that person is the way they are. The wealthiest person can be the most emotionally miserable and bereft, and the one whose appearance is of extreme poverty might be content in their soul. Until we know that person, we can’t understand their pain.

And In Conclusion….

“Now may the GOD of Peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our LORD JESUS CHRIST comes again. GOD will make this happen, for He Who calls you is Faithful. Dear brothers and sisters, pray for us. May the Grace of our LORD JESUS CHRIST be with you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:23‭-‬25‭, ‬28 NLT

What a beautifully written, eloquent conclusion to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church. Wouldn’t it be outstanding if we really treated each other with the respect that Paul treats the early churches? Respectful and loving, blunt and truthful – with love – when we have strayed from the teachings of JESUS. Wouldn’t it be amazing to show our total belief in JESUS, that He can perform miracles in our lives, the way the Roman Centurian did?

“……. And Jesus went with them, but when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to Him, “LORD, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to You. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When JESUS heard this He was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed Him, He said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” – Luke 7:6‭-‬9 NRSV

I want to hear JESUS say that about me.

Photo credit http://www.weheartit.com

Are You Listening?

I follow Graham Allen on Rant Nation. Yes, he uses rough language at times, and yet I listen to him. He has lots of tatoos, and I watch him anyway. He posted a video (“The Light of the Lord,” in case you want to watch it 😁 ) about a comment a woman – who said she was a Christian – said to him about his tattoos. She didn’t like the tattoos; therefore, she “couldn’t stand to look at him.” Really??? Woman, did you hear yourself? Are you even listening? I’m working really hard not to be judgemental here…. JESUS has something to say about it, too.

But I say to you that listen, LOVE your enemies, DO GOOD to those who hate you, BLESS those who curse you, PRAY for who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. GIVE to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. DO TO OTHERS as you would have them do to you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

But LOVE your enemies, DO GOOD, and LEND, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be MERCIFUL, just as your Father is Merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. FORGIVE, and you will be forgiven; GIVE, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” – Luke 6:27‭-‬38 NRSV

If that last sentence didn’t grab your attention, perhaps you should read it again. I did. I think maybe we, meaning every single person who claims the name of Christian, should print out those verses and post them on our mirrors so that we see them Every. Single. Day. You might not need it, but I need the reminder. Me. The person who doesn’t love my enemies (I hold grudges and have a hard time letting go of hurts), who has trouble doing good to people who don’t like me, and especially doesn’t want to pray for blessings on any of those people!! Then I read that sentence again ” ….. for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.Whatever I do will – and does – directly affect me. Not ‘karma’, JESUS. Thank you, Graham Allen and Rant Nation, for reminding me what, and WHO, is really important.

‘Perfect’ Christians

Perfect Christians don’t exist, nor do perfect churches, and anyone who tries to say differently is a liar and possibly a fool.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to His [JESUS’] disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” JESUS answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:30‭-‬32 NIV

Do you find a sense of relief in this passage? I do! Knowing that JESUS came for me, the bruised and the broken, full of faults and cracks, it’s amazing, …. and unbelievable??? Why would the King of Heaven, Who created this amazing universe, care about an insignificant being like me? I say inappropriate things, I want to be the center of attention, I keep getting involved with men who just want to use me. I’m selfish and self centered. All these faults, and JESUS Loves me??? I used to be one of those people who thought that I had to be perfect for GOD to Love me. You know, wear the ‘right’ clothes, act the ‘right’ ways, don’t smoke or drink or curse or dance. Be in church for Sunday school and training union (Sunday evening classes) and services, and Wednesday prayer meetings. I was pretty self-righteous and judgemental, and it can still creep up on me at times – I have to be on guard against it.

There’s a song from Hilary Scott (of the group Lady Antebellum) called “Thy Will” that seems so appropriate for me – and probably many others – right now. Here’s the first verse:

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

Sound like anything you’ve been through, like feelings you’ve felt, thoughts you’ve had? Then I follow it with this beautiful song by Lauren Dagle, who sings from her heart:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory,

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe

I think that sometimes we think, we believe we are following GOD’s Will, but maybe it becomes more what we want more than what He wills for us, and maybe, sometimes, it is His Will that we go through the hard time so that we remember that He is GOD, not me or you. I don’t like being told I’m wrong, or that what I’ve done wasn’t correct, and I’ve never liked being called out or disciplined. It makes me bristle and want to argue, to show that I was right, dadgummit, even when it’s the LORD GOD Who is doing the discipling! Really, do I honestly think the CREATOR is wrong? Yeah, oops. I think it’s pretty obvious that I am far, far from perfect! But, perfection – and perfectionism – aside, the GLORIOUS Truth is that our GOD, our LORD and KING of Heaven, LOVES me, Loves us, anyway! He Loves us through our imperfections and our brokenness, He Loves us regardless of our silliness and stubbornness – HALLELUJAH! Remember what JESUS said: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

I thank my GOD every day for the gift of His Salvation, even when I’m felling down because of the situation! Can you say the same? Oh, I pray that you can! All the brokenness, all the junk and bad times probably won’t meticulously change for the better, although our LORD can do anything, especially the things that we see as impossible.

This is what God says to us, and whispers in our ear:

TRUST and OBEY

TRUST and OBEY. Difficult words. Trust defined: “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Trust is faith, and faith, well, faith is tough when you have had (or have) pain and betrayal in your life. Then there’s ‘Obey’. The word leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you have no trust, no faith, in the person or persons you are supposed to obey. Parents, siblings, classmates, friends, bosses, the list of people who might require us to obey them is long and varied. I have been betrayed countless times, and I know I have betrayed trust that was placed in me. Betrayal doesn’t have to be deliberate, but the hurt runs deep, making it difficult to trust again. We become guarded in offering our trust and faith, and that impacts every aspect of our lives. Every person who has ever lived or will ever live on this earth – from the first man, Adam, to the newest baby born – will experience betrayal. Even GOD the FATHER, our CREATOR, and JESUS CHRIST, our LORD, have experienced it!

How do we get past it? I submit that there is only one way to escape the unending treadmill of no trust, and that is to look at the perfect record of our LORD. Throughout the recorded history of the thousands of years of earth’s and man’s existence, GOD has never betrayed us. Even in the worst betrayals of man against Him, the FATHER stood with those who chose Him (remember, He gave man Free Will when He created him). He stood beside us even when we persecuted and tortured and murdered His Son, and He allowed it as the Sacrifice to end all sacrifice. He has used the Blood of JESUS to cover and cleanse our sins… past, present, and future, of those who make that choice to Trust in the LORD.

It’s a choice. Making the choice is simple, and it can be difficult for many of us, but it’s still a choice! Whether we like it or not, the truth is that we have to choose between the one who currently rules world or the ONE Who CREATED of the world. The enemy makes the way of world look all glam and glittery and enticing and easy, but it’s all window dressing. Once he gets you and you begin to see how truly ugly it is, it’s really hard to escape from his grasp.

Here’s the GOOD NEWS! It’s never to late to escape! All we have to do is look up, away from the enemy, to see JESUS and realize He has been right there all along, just waiting for you to ask Him for help.

“The Lord is my Strength and my Shield; my heart trusts in Him,and He helps me. My heart leaps for Joy, and with my song I praise Him.” – Psalm 28:7 NIV

Have you looked at JESUS and chosen to trust HIM over the enemy? Listen to the words of the old hymn Trust and Obey, and the way Big Daddy Weave sings it. Verse 2 says:
But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay
For the favor He shows
For the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey