Grab a cup of coffee.  This post is pretty lengthy but I think worth the read.  It is a sermon I preached last month and I was really blessed by the preparation and my prayer is that God will bless you through it.

Luke 8: 26 – 39 is the story about the man possessed by demons and Jesus casts the demons into a heard of Pigs and they rush down the hill into the river where they drowned.  Afterwards the man asks Jesus if he can stay with him and Jesus tells him to go home and tell everyone what Jesus did.

We’ve all heard this scripture or read it ourselves or at least had the story told to us if not once . . . many, many times.

This story was always and fairy tale to me until I began preparing for this message and started studying it.   I simply couldn’t relate to the horrific description of the demons –  he was named “Legion” because of how many demons possessed him . . . ever wonder what other names his parents may have named him?  What if he had an acne outbreak when he was a teenager . . . did his parents name him “pizza face” until it cleared up?!  Sorry . . . I’m just sayin’!

Oh, I felt bad for the guy but no more than . . . That poor guy – sure sucks to be him!

Then I thought about what demons really are . . . are they evil spirits that bore their way into our souls and take us over?  . . . Perhaps . . . Are they evil thoughts or ideas? . . . Perhaps.

The working definition I came up was this:  Anything that keeps us from becoming God’s best . . . the person He created us to be in the first place is a demon.

Demons are, but don’t have to be limited to be the big stuff: Alcoholism, Drug addicts, Rapists and Murderers . . . demons are basically . . . our Achilles heel . . . our weakest point.  Demons are also; attitudes, ideas, fear, anxiety, need to control, pride, bad relationship with a friend or family member, over eating, worry . . . just to name a few.

Those of you who have read much of my writing or heard me speak will know that I am a big believer in the fact that there is spiritual warfare going on all around us all of the time.  The bible talks about and I envision armies of Stans minions and God’s Archangels flying around above us in constant battle with one another.

You’ve undoubtedly heard me talk about the various names used for Satan . . . the Devil . . . The Enemy . . . He who shall remain nameless . . . and even The Prince of Darkness.   Very appropriate since he does some of his best work in the dark.

On the other hand, look at what 1 John 1:5 says:
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (NIV) 1 John 1:5

In other words, God – is light!

Back to our bible story, the scripture says our friend Legion lived in the tombs . . . pretty dark huh?!

Let’s face it, we are not proud of our demons, so we hide them (keep them in the dark) and isolate ourselves just as Legion did . . . and THAT is when Satan has a hay day with us!

So, what do we do about our demons . . . have an exorcism?!  That may be necessary in some extreme cases.  But for the most part, there are some less dramatic ways to rid ourselves of our demons.

I used to have a horrific demon . . . SMOKING.  I had what I call a Death-Wish addition to smoking.  I smoked for nearly 30 years and half of that was 3+ packs of cigarettes a day.  See what I mean Death-Wish!  I tried nearly everything under the sun to quit . . . hypnosis . . . acupuncture . . . the latest stop-smoking devices . . . hypnotism again . . . the patch . . . therapy and oh I would stop for a week or so but soon I was right back to 3+ packs a day.

I didn’t have any success with stopping my smoking until I joined a 12 Step program; Nicotine Anonymous . . . Hi, I’m Pat . . . I’m a nicotine addict!

Nicotine Anonymous is based on the same 12 steps at Alcoholics anonymous.  Because God created us for relationships . . . with one another and Him, AA is a great model for affecting any kind of change in our lives.

Alcoholism and drug abuse is a terrible problem in the former Soviet Union. Before the collapse of the USSR, Soviet officials appealed to American AA members to help them set up AA groups throughout their country. However, because the Soviet Union was officially atheistic, they asked that these first three steps be omitted in adapting AA to them. The Americans refused, stating that those three steps are basic and foundational to their program. We need God to free us from our demons.

Let’s see . . . an 8 step program rather than a 12 step . . . sounds pretty watered down huh?!

Lets look at those first three steps:

 1.We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.

Members of AA also realize they not only need God’s help but the support of people around them.  As I said before, God wired us for relationships . . . with each other and Him. Becoming free from our demons is seldom a “do-it-yourself” project. We need help. We need God’s help, and we need the help of other people.
We’ve all tried it on our own.  As Dr. Phil would say, “. . .  and how’s that workin’ for ya?!”

Not so good!

When we take our issues out of the darkness and isolation and into the light (also called confession), THAT is when God can start to work with us.
It’s also a great idea to find a spiritual partner you can talk to about your demons or issues.  Look at what the bible says about this:

9 Two are better than one,
 Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
 But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
 For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
 But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can   withstand him.
 And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I could go into an entire message about this but some simple guidelines for having a spiritual partner are:
•    Someone who has a committed walk with God.
•    Someone you are confident can keep what you tell them confident . . . they won’t blab!
•    Someone who won’t have a need to “fix” your problem but will listen to you.
•    Someone to keep you accountable.
•    Someone who will pray with and for you.

Hope in our Faith:

All this talk about spiritual warfare and demons is pretty dark (pun intended) and scary.  But that is only the first part of our Bible story.  The story continues with God’s miracle . . . Ahh . . . there IS hope!

Kris and I have been reading a New (to us) daily devotional since about February or March
“Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence” Sara Young

This is one of the best devotionals I have read in a lot of years and the premise is this:  the author, Sara Young attended L’Abri Christian Study center in Switzerland which was founded by Dr. Francis and his wife Edith Schaeffer back in the 60’s.  While at L’Abri, Sara spent a lot of quiet time with God . . . many days two or more hours.  Her book is what she reports she heard as messages to her from God.  Each entry is written in first person as if it is God speaking.  Look at the entry for March 6:

March 6:

Continue on this path with me, enjoying My Presence even in adversity.  I am always before you, as well as alongside you.  See Me beckoning to you: Come!  Follow Me.  The One who goes ahead of you, opening up the way, is the same One who stays close and never lets go of your hand.  I am not subject to limitations of time or space.  I am everywhere at every time, ceaselessly working on your behalf.  That is why your best efforts are trusting Me and living Close to Me.

Ceaselessly – Isn’t that an interesting word . . . I couldn’t find it in the dictionary but hey . . . if God said it I’m good with that . . . it’s a word!  The word DOES get the point across; Ceaselessly

Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

Now get this.  I need to lose some weight.  I believe that if He wanted to, God could zap me and transfer my extra  poundage to one of you who needs it . . . though I can’t identify with having that issue!

Now, I don’t think that’s going to happen.  I think God is going to make me work and be disciplined and rely on Him for my strength in accomplishing my goal.

It will be a work in progress AND there will be a lot of little miracles along the way . . . I didn’t gain any weight last week . . . I worked out one day rather than just sitting . . . I walked one day . . . I only ate one cookie from that plate!

Let me give you some perspective on little miracles:  Many of you know that Kris and I attended The Crystal Cathedral for 7 years during the 90’s.  I have to tell you that during period of time both of us experienced the steepest growth in our faith than in any other time of our lives.  Dr. Schuller wrote about a zillion books and I think I have read most all of them.  One of the more obscure of his books was “The Peak to Peek Principle”.

I want to share a quick synopsis of the book with you because I think it is a great mental picture for us all to have when dealing with becoming the persons God created us to be.

Schuller writes that as we are working on becoming all that God created us to be, we will achieve many milestones . . . minor and major.  Each little achievement takes us to a level just above where we were before . . . a “Peak” if you will.  It is from this “Peak” that we are able to get a glimpse “Peek” of what new accomplishments this little achievement could lead to.  As we achieve those things we go to a little bit taller “Peak” giving us a more inspiring “Peek” of things to come.  And the momentum continues.

Have hope in your faith, knowing God has gone before you in EVERYTHNG
That regardless of the negative stuff in your life or things holding you back . . . He is working “ceaselessly” behind the scenes and on the main stage of your life to bring you closer to Him!

Perhaps something just came into your mind that may be holding you back . . . that is a miracle itself . . . a “Peek” at part of God’s vision for you!

Tell Others what God Has Done:
Look at what happened at the end of our story:

     38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

This guy was stoked . . . hey Jesus, how about I hang with you for a while, that was cool what you did . . .  I mean pigs . . . who knew and then that whole drowning in the river part – AWESOME!  I’d like to stay in your safety and . . . maybe get to see a few more miracles!

It’s easy for us to stay in the safety of other believers.  We don’t have to deal with challenges to our faith and we can just hang!
But God wants us to share with everyone – believers and non-believers what He has done in our lives
He sent this guy Legion off with the great commission

Mathew 28:19-20
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Oh, and by the way, that is basically step 12 of AA:

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

But I enjoy the fellowship of my friends we all think!  That’s great and as we discussed the fact that we are made for relationship . . .  with God and others . . . all others.

So how do we do that?!

You don’t have to put on a white shirt and ride a bicycle around to people’s houses knocking on doors parroting someone else’s script.  Though you may if you want!

What I have found to be the best approach for me is to just tell people the truth in your life.  Like I just did about my smoking addiction . . . that’s REAL – not contrived.  If we tell our own stories . . . who can argue with us?  They weren’t there.  You were!

Going Forward:

•    Pray that God will show you the things in our lives that keep us from being all that God created us to be
•    Look for and discover the miracles in your life . . . big and small and remember the fact that He is “ceaselessly” working behind the scenes and on the main stage of your life . . . going before you.
•    Tell somebody about it!

 

Thank you for tuning in!!

Pat

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