Even Demons Believe

Did you know that Martin Luther wanted to delete the book of James from the Bible? It was a surprise to me!

“You believe that God is one* [One early missive reads there is one God]. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected …… ” – JAMES 2:19‭-‬22 NASB

James wrote about faith and works. Is faith complete without works? Can you do the works without the faith? The book of James is focused on these questions, but my laser eye (hahaha!!) focused instead on verse 19: “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” How often do we recognize this? When confronted by someone who insists that there isn’t a god, how do we react? Do we react? Or do we respond? I think this verse from James is the perfect response to such a statement! An even better response is the one we live in our daily lives. If demons believe in the One True God, and still go about their business of bringing evil into the world, then isn’t it up to us as believers to bring the opposite into the world?

“And [Jesus] said to him, ” ‘you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” – MATTHEW 22:37‭-‬39 NASB

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “vengeance is mine, I will repay,”says the LORD.” – ROMANS 12:9‭, ‬17‭-‬19 NASB

If more Christians, Christ-followers, dedicated themselves to live life in opposition of the demons, the way Jesus commands us in Matthew and Paul shows us in Romans, think of the impact! Even the demons believe …… but while they hide in the dark and shudder in fear under the gaze of our God, we are privileged to enjoy the Light of His Son, and it is up to us to reflect that Light back into the darkness covering the world. No Fear!

Listen to Love and the Outcome sing King Of My Heart.

Of Money, Swords, and Stuff

Jesus spoke to His disciples as they celebrated the Passover meal together, instructing them and serving them,

“And [JESUS] said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘and He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” “

Later, as He and the disciples were in the Garden, praying, a crowd of people came out to find Him and arrest Him. This is a perfect example of submission to authority. Even though His disciples were armed, the LORD told them to stand down, because He knew this was part of GOD the FATHER’s plan for Him. Verse 53 is telling:

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” – LUKE 22:35‭-‬37‭, ‬52‭-‬53 NASB

You have probably figured out from past posts, especially if you follow me on FaceBook or Twitter, that I am a stanch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, whether they be swords or the lastest innovation in firearms. I don’t believe that the LORD intended us to be at the mercy of the evil and the depraved in the world (i.e. the Enemy, Satan). We are, however, subject to the authority of our government …… however wrong we believe it to be.

We – I – am blessed to live in a Republic, where every individual is bestowed with certain rights. We have the right to freely speak out against what we perceive to be bad judgement calls by the authorities with the 1st Amendment. The right to bear arms against a tyrannical government is the 2nd Amendment – which also protects our 1st Amendment rights. I’m not a militant, but I may be considered a radical conservative. In our quest to follow Christ, isn’t it also our duty to protect the innocent and the downtrodden? Not to rebel against our elected leaders (no matter how wrong we believe them to be), and not to bring war and violence onto those who disagree with us, but to aid and protect those who aren’t capable of helping themselves.

Our church is currently studying I Peter 2 and what the reality of Christ-patterned submission looks like today. Oh ugh, there, that dreaded word, maybe the most disliked word in the English language!! Submission. It becomes vital for us claimimg kinship with Jesus to understand when to use the sword and when to stop. Why? Because the Enemy is waiting to use our actions against us whenever we refuse to submit. When we submit to the authority of our elected officials, even when they are wrong, the cause of our LORD is strengthened.

“When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.” ” – LUKE 22:49‭-‬51 NASB

It can very difficult to determine when to fight and when to submit. All I can tell you is to follow the example of our Lord and spend time in earnest prayer. Follow the leading of GOD. He’s never wrong. (And His Angel Army is armed! Amen!!)

October 31, aka Halloween

In Psalm 11, David is lamenting on the crumbling of society around him. Despite his despair, or maybe because of his despair, he begins and ends this psalm with the LORD, his – and our – Refuge and our HOPE. As followers of JESUS, we can look at the state of our society and flee; run away from it, isolating ourselves into polar communities. Another option, and apparently the most popular choice, is to assimilate into the culture, becoming less visible as Christians, seemingly camouflaged from the enemy. Tolerance and acceptance of the things GOD hates are mostly easier than standing against the stampede of the Enemy’s forces.

Our final option is to infiltrate, but not to assimilate, into the culture around us. Infiltration means that like JESUS with the most despised of the Jews and Gentiles, the tax collectors, we are in the culture, while standing against sin. As our LORD counted tax collectors as friend, we should count the poor, the sick, the addict as friend, and show them JESUS in us. Spending time with the SAVIOUR showed the tax collectors where their salvation lay. JESUS didn’t sin, He showed sinners how to live in this life by His example, and to anticipate an eternity in Glory with Him. As flawed humans, we sin every day, and it is through our brokenness that we can let the LIGHT of the LORD shine into other’s lives. This is by far the most difficult option, and it requires daily foundation building with GOD. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 NRSV) Like JESUS, we are to “go into the world.” (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20)

Are we surviving the stampede, participating in the stampede, or being trampled in the stampede? To survive, we need to take heed of David’s words: “In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to the mountains; for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” ” – Psalms 11:1‭-‬3 NRSV

Being assimilated by society is easy. Infiltrating is difficult and dangerous. It is so easy to fall into the Enemy’s traps! Paul writes in Romans 1: “…. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge GOD, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, GOD-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know GOD’S decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.” (Romans 1:28‭-‬32 NRSV)

Sound familiar? We Christians need more agonizing and less anger. The world isn’t going to change until JESUS returns, but we can make changes for good, wherever we are, by shining the LIGHT of JESUS on the darkness. New morality celebrates everthing GOD hates – We have become a nation, a world, addicted to hate; we live in ugly, perilous times where Evil is mushrooming. BUT remember this: GOD is sovereign and His Throne is not empty. (Read Psalm 45:6; 15:3; 103:19)

What do we do in these times? How do we as Christians treat this pagan holiday? Are we decorating our houses and our bodies with ghouls, goblins, ghosts, skeletons and zombies? And how does this allow the Glory of the LORD shine for the lost?

“The LORD is in His Holy Temple; the LORD’s Throne is in Heaven. His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of MAN, His gaze examines humankind. The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, and His Soul hates the lover of violence. On the wicked He will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is Righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His Face.” – Psalms 11:4‭-‬7 NRSV

GOD is immovable, the Rock of Ages, the shelter for the righteous. He is the only One Who can make us Righteous through JESUS CHRIST; and GOD credits faith with righteousness.

“The Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10 NRSV

Stabilize your soul with the Sovereignty of GOD, and a solid foundation; find a fresh vision of GOD every day. We should be happy warriors, not sad or longfaced. We have Joy the world doesn’t have. GOD sees to us, He sees through us – His gaze examines us. WE are not the judge, GOD is the Judge, and His Judgement is coming. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? (Genesis 19:24)

Ultimately, whether we celebrate tomorrow with Halloween or with Harvest parties is up to each of us to decide. I personally have witnessed too much of the occult and satanic focused on October 31 to celebrate it as anything except another day to be alive and Praise the LORD. Honestly, I’m fearful of the Judgement of the LORD! We are in the midst of the battle, friends; this is WAR.

“I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth. calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the Face of the One seated on the Throne and from the Wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of Their Wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” – Revelation 6:8‭, ‬16‭-‬17 NRSV

Bitter, Wrath, Anger, Chaos, Slander

Sounds a bit like today’s society to me! Seems like every time I turn around, someone is spewing these at someone or something. How did the 1975 song by the group War go?

Why can’t we be friends, why can’t we be friends

The color of your skin don’t matter to me
As long as we can live in harmony
I kinda like to be the president
And I could show you how your money’s spent
Why can’t we be friends
Sometimes I don’t speak right
But did I know what I was talking about
I know you’re working for the CIA
They wouldn’t have you in the mafia
Why can’t we be friends

I thought they raised a really good question then, and it’s still a good question. Why can’t we be friends, and look past our differences to find our similarities? Skin color is probably the most divisive thing on the planet, whichmakes no sense whatsoever to me. We all bleed the same red blood, and although there are physical characteristics associated with certain societies and ethnic groups, they’ve come about to help us adapt to different climates and surroundings….. NOT because we are different races! Remember learning about the human race? How about that? And country pride….. for years we were simply American. Now, leaders are dividing us by insisting we call ourselves by country-origin, even if it was distant ancestors who came from that country. I could insist people refer to me as an Anglo-Saxon-American, or an Irish-American, or a German-American, or a Heinz 57-American. Why do we have to be hyphenated Americans? How many African-Americans or Chinese-Americans, Mexican-Americans or Vietnamese-Americans do you know who weren’t born in the U.S.? Doesn’t that make them just plain American? If I move to Bolivia, do I become an American-Bolivian? I don’t think so!!

As a nation, can’t you just imagine how much nicer, how much more peaceful it would be if we actually practiced the following verse in our lives?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31 ESV

Maybe you could try not reacting with any malice once today. See if it makes a difference ….. in your attitude. “Don’t worry; be happy!” How many times have you seen that on a bumper sticker, or said those words to someone? Mindless, really…. And it’s straight out of scripture!

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” – Matthew 6:26 ESV

The less we worry, the more peace we have. Since True Peace is from CHRIST, the more we worship and praise Him, the more peace we have! Getting rid of the bitterness and wrath and anger and slander and malice….. the more peace we have!

Sounds kinda like a no-brainer, right?

Artwork by my friend John Lawton, of Edmond, OK.

Does It Take Love To Achieve Peace?

That is a question I have grappled with most of my adult life. Does it? As a young adult, I rebelled against the discipline and structure I lived with while growing up. I was a rebel; following the path of my older brother, whom I idolized. Geographically, I didn’t stray as far as he did, but as for the rest….. but it wasn’t a contest then, and it isn’t a contest now. I threw myself into the quest for ‘love’. My brother didn’t love me, at least, not in the way I needed. I rebelled against the strictures of my parent’s teachings, searching for someone who would love me and protect me againt the world. Someone who would have my back. Remember the song, ‘Looking For Love’, sung by Johnny Lee?

I spent a lifetime lookin’ for you …..
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes
Lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreaming of
Hoping to find a friend and lover
I’ll bless the day I discover
Another heart lookin’ for love ……

The basic cause of both crime and war, of turning our backs on those who do love us, is the inherent sinfulness of human nature. The world cannot be reborn until men are born again and are at peace with God. I couldn’t be reborn and at peace with myself, or anyone else, until I could be at peace with GOD.

World peace. Who doesn’t want it? I know we won’t see any real, lasting peace until JESUS returns, but I pray for wars to cease, just as I pray for crime to stop. We can have at least a partial peace, if we can individually be at peace… And the only path to true peace is accepting Jesus as your Savior.
I know this from personal experience.

Reckless Love, by Cory Asbury, says:

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me ….

GOD is fighting for me, and He is fighting for you, because He LOVES us and wants the best for us. Heavenly Father, I pray for all the people who are searching, looking for love in all the wrong places. It is YOU Whose heart we are so frantically searching for. I pray for the peace of the world through individuals surrendering to Your Son, Jesus Christ. Bless all today who are spreading the Gospel, in their homes and workplaces and neighborhoods, as well as those working around the globe. I pray that we can all see that it is only through Your Love that we can acheive any measure of Peace. I pray for the rebel, that they will experience Your divine, inimitable Love, and understand that You are the source of true Love and ultimate Peace.

And JESUS said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the Authority of His Name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up to heaven.” – Luke 24:46‭-‬47‭, ‬51 NLT

“Therefore, since we have been made right in GOD’s sight by Faith, let us have Peace with GOD because of what JESUS CHRIST our LORD has done for us. Because of our Faith, CHRIST has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing GOD’s Glory.” – Romans 5:1‭-‬2 NLT