Devotional 182: …But Who Are You?

Acts 19:11-20

Miracles Glorify Christ

11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”

1Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

This is a study in contrasts. Here we see that Paul doesn’t have to speak a word to the demons, but the items he touched and used had enough anointing on them to drive out to heal, and drive out evil spirits, and then we have those who used Paul’s name to invoke Christ, and then the sons of Sceva.

These others who invoked Jesus’ power through Paul were likely honored in their requests for their tertiary faith, whether they had the doctrine of Christ or not: “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”

We don’t have a written record of their success rates, but we do have the record of the spectacular failing of Sceva’s sons. They seemingly had the numbers and credentials to do great work as sons of a devout chief priest. Whoever sought them out would have likely taken comfort in such, and while we don’t know the exact reason for their failure, the demon who challenged them did.

One could imagine the chill that went through them as they heard its question: “… but who are you?”

Perhaps it was as Paul says (2 Corinthians, 5:12) 12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart.

What we have to remember is that even as Christ looks at the heart, so too, do his enemies.

Were the sons of Sceva after a reputation, money, or power? Were they prideful or boastful from a successful exorcism? The text doesn’t say, only that they failed, and that it became widely known, which would have been a shame to their father as well. They seemed to have brought nothing of Heaven’s anointing, only themselves, that they were so thoroughly, shamefully put to flight.

Today, during this holiday season unlike any other, be careful to look within and ask if the demon’s challenge is true of us as well. Does he know you as a child of G-d? Is he gone, or will he beset you and put you to flight, abandoning all you know of Him who wrote your name in the Book of Life?

Today, make time to boast in the heart, trust in the Name, and receive the anointing of Christ to speak to your mountains, and drive out your demons.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

In our frailty, this year has been harder than most for a lot of us. With losses on every side of loved ones, finances, help, and fellowship, we ask Your forgiveness for our lapses in faith, and in the Father’s goodness.

As we prepare to transition to a new year, new leaders, and new circumstances, let us hold fast to the hand of our Shepherd, who assures us no one can snatch us from His hand.

Increase our faith, help our unbelief, and gird up our legs that we might stand where we would fall. Renew our hearts, refresh our spirits, and speak to us in the watches of the night, that we might know You are with us and for us.

We thank You for bringing us to this moment in time, as some have gone on to eternity. We pray for our nation, that it be preserved after hearts of sinful men are done with striking it a blow, according to Your will, that we might turn to You and realize that the signs You spoke of about the end of the age are now truly upon us.

We would be redeemed and reconciled to our Father through You, that we might not falter in the days to come. You tell us that night is coming, where no man can work. Let us follow Your light to the narrow path, that we might enter into our Father’s rest. But while we are here, let us do as You did, and go about doing all things well to the Father’s glory, speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit, and faithfully speaking all that You tell us to say, that none may refute us.

In this holiday season, so detached from the divine nature it once knew, may we honor You in righteousness, peace, and joy.

Amen.

Devotional 175: Every Secret Thing

If the Earth is indeed the Lord’s, and everything in it, then there are no secrets.

Ecclesiastes 12:14

14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

Matthew 12:37

37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 15:15-20

15 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”

16 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

We live in an age where we are now ‘free’ to indulge in attacking and persecuting from the safety of wherever we believe ourselves to be safe.

Because of faithlessness and pride, we forget that we are all held to a higher standard. If the Earth is indeed the Lord’s, and everything in it, then nothing \is done ‘in secret.’

The conspiracies, lies, government schemes, dark web, trafficking, all of it is as bare to the sight of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a person on the walking down the street in the noonday sun.

Every slur, insult, dirty picture, and hateful comment of every tribe and tongue who lash out under the deception of darkness will stand before the judgment seat, their level of unbelief notwithstanding:

2nd Corinthians: 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

There will be eternity when time ends, and there will be nowhere else we have to go.

The thought of having to give an accounting of all we have thought, said, and done should give us pause as we currently find our nation divided, hurting, angry, desperate, and greedy.

We are in trouble indeed if the Lord has indeed given us over to the desires of our hearts, removed the Spirit who guides us into all truth, convicts us of sin, and checks our baser natures as love, temperance, compassion, empathy, civility and responsibility are replaced by pride in the things that compose the flesh, things that we had nothing to do with, being created beings capable of exercising dominion, but not operating on the same level with the Father.

Today, let us gather before Him in humility, repentance, and godly sorrow before the darkness completely overtakes us. Let us stand together, and through faith in His Name and by His power, tell the demons that plague this land to go, shouting from the rooftops that which He whispered to us in the watches of the night.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

Today, I confess to the sin of a rudderless tongue, conveyed through technology, that I have lashed out at those who meant no harm, who do not think the way I do, who don’t share my worldviews, who don’t look like me, or even speak my language. 

I confess to a heart of stone, and stopped ears, as my pride speaks to my flesh and drowns out the Spirit of holiness that dwells in me, imparting to me that which is of You.

There are times I lose sight of my Shepherd, content to graze in idleness when progress is called for, content to sleep when there’s work to be done, and prone to rebellion in wandering to spiritual strongholds that appeal to my sinful nature as the Father’s loving words call for me to turn back.

Today, Lord, I release my pride, and hand You my heart once again to heal and purify.

Let me feel the joy and power of the Holy Spirit awakening in me as the first time You sent Him when I surrendered to You, for their will be no hiding place, no secrets, no power of self, no pride in me before Your light, no chance for redemption without abiding in You, and  no justification for the evil I’ve done, standing convicted before Your wisdom. 

Make my repentance one of substance, lasting and true; I would not be among those who call you Lord, and yet be cast out from Your presence.

What light I may possess, though it flicker, make it increase. What faith I may yet have, cause me to remember the many times You delivered and restored me, as You have today. Open the pages of the books of my rememberance.

I take joy in Your mercy, and am thankful for Your grace. 

Today, I stand with the tempestuous St. Peter, and declare there is no other Name under Heaven by which I am saved, that You have the words of Life, that You are the Son of G-d,  and You know that I love You, in faith believing I have been likewise restored.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.