This one only comes out by fasting and praying

Living often means facing challenges, problems and obstacles. We often enjoy confronting these situations and overcoming. It confirms our self worth and validates our belief that we are intelligent and capable. But none of this teaches us to depend on God and trust in his power. Occasionally God allows situations that seem insurmountable.  Situations that nothing in our past has prepared us to deal with or problems that are just too great for us to solve. We are forced to turn to God for help. It is a wonderful thing when we can approach him with faith. But what if we can’t?

Perhaps this is a problem too great for God. Blaspheme you say. Well isn’t that what we are thinking, when we surrender and give up all hope? We are saying this problem will never be solved. This obstacle cannot be removed. God can’t do it.

Jesus explains that what we lack is faith. He also sends us to do something that has become less and less popular these days, pray and fast. We have become adventurers in a fast paced world of digital wonder and bright lights. Who has time for a quiet moment with God? But for all the wonder of our generation it does not compare to the power and glory of God. This is not discovered in virtual reality, but in spiritual reality. It is discovered on our knees.

This power can transform, heal, and enlighten. It turns sinners into saints, and the weak into conquerors. The foolish become wise and the enslaved are set free.

In Matthew 17 a desperate father brings his child to Jesus. He believes Jesus can set him free. The boy was afflicted with demons that caused the boy to have seizures, throw himself into fire and other times into water.  This evil spirit had every intention of tormenting and destroying this child.

The man reported that the disciples had tried and failed. Jesus rewards the man’s faith and sets his child free, but not before these words ” O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.”  Later he tells the disciples that to cast out this demon they needed to fast and pray more.

Taking time out regularly to pray and fast is not like doing an extra credit assignment. We shouldn’t do it if there is time and when we feel like it. We should purposely make the time to pray and fast. This should be quiet time where we worship God and present all our cares. This is time we spend remembering all the needs of those around us and our entire community.

The problems we face are great and real. Many we will not solve on our own. Faith in God will be required. The kind of faith prayer warriors and those that fast will have.

 

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The Sin of Pride

They were perfectly made.  Perhaps the finest human specimens the world has ever seen, literally formed by God’s hands one at a time.  The Garden of Eden, a paradise without flaw was their home. All of earth was theirs. They walked with God and with none of the evils of our society whatsoever to be concerned about. Sickness, death, pollution, violence and crime were not known to them.  What more could Adam and Eve desire? They certainly didn’t deserve more. But thanks to the devil, their imagination was sparked and they must have thought “what if we could be like God?” (Genesis 3:1-7) One could argue that their first sin was pride. They believed that they were more than what they truly were and somehow had the capacity to be like God.

The devil also had the same problem. He too was made by God to be brilliant and beautiful. (Ezekiel 28:12-18) His original name was Lucifer. He was the Angel of Light. However this was not enough for Lucifer. He too thought he could be like God and sought to set his throne above God’s stars. (Isaiah 14:12-18) When we think so much of ourselves we start to believe that we deserve more and must have more. This leads to many more sins as we take or attempt to take what we should not. Lucifer attempted to take the heavens, Adam and Eve took the fruit and disobeyed.

Perhaps one good defense against sin and pride is to understand that we most likely already have much more than what we truly deserve. We must consider all that has been freely given to us. From the moment of conception our life is a gift from God, nurtured by our Mothers. We come into this word defenseless and in need of constant care happily provided by our parents or guardians. We were not only fed food for our bodily consumption, but knowledge, ideas and opinions fed our minds. Many of us learned from young of God’s great love and received one of the greatest gifts, the knowledge of His word. However all of these gifts pale in comparison to the gift of eternal life provided by our lord and savior Jesus Christ when he paid for our sins on Calvary. After all we have freely received, how much more can we say we deserve? Let us combat prideful notions with sincere gratitude for what we have been given and all we have been divinely promised.

Armed with gratitude we can safely pursue ambitions. Pride should not be confused with ambition. God gave us talents, abilities and intelligence and it is our responsibility to develop them. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve our position in life or our well being.  However we must make such attempts with the right attitude and for the best reasons. We should maintain our humility, understanding that while we aspire for more it is not because we deserve more, but that God has provided us with many more opportunities. God willing someday we will earn a greater position after much honest work and education. Hopefully our purpose for such ambitions is to benefit not only ourselves but our loved ones and all those around us.

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The Devil and his tricks

Paul discovered a demon possessed clairvoyant girl who had great value to her owner. (Acts 16:16-40) I asked my New Testament class. Did she really know the future? Could she have read the minds of her customers? Could she have had the power to look into your past and see things clearly? Perhaps demons are truly powerful creatures that can help us?”

The bible relates that Paul was able to cast the demon out and then she no longer had value. As Christians we believe in the power of God, and we have experienced it in our lives. But often we forget that the devil has a few tricks up his sleeve. There is much he can do.

One student in my N.T. class commented “Well the devil can influence other people in your life. (Mark 8:33) So if the girl would have told her client you are going to meet a tall dark handsome fellow, the demon could whisper into the ear of such a fellow and convince him to take certain actions that would lead to such a meeting.” In truth the devil does this all the time. He is constantly trying to influence people. Another student had this to offer “Well if the girl had told someone you are going to get a promotion, that person might believe it so strongly that he or she would work harder, and with more confidence make it happen. “In this manner a demon can influence your life.”

Demons also have another advantage. There are legions of them all over the world. (Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39) They can’t be seen and apparently they love to watch us. They know “what we did last summer,” and the summer before and this morning. They also know what catches our attention and what makes our heart race. When a clairvoyant tells you that what your father told you when you were eight years old is still haunting you, it is only because the demons using this person were actually there and saw it.

Therefore there is no doubt demons can impact our lives. However scripture makes it clear their intentions are only evil. The devil comes to destroy devour, deceive, murder (1Peter 5:8, Revelation 20:10, John 8:44). He shows up as the Angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), offering to give us advice or help, but his true intention is the total destruction of our lives.

The bible directs us to flee from demonic influence. (James 4:7) Instead let us learn to trust in God. He knows our future and has great plans for us. His intentions are to bless us and be with us until the end.

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