We rise to resurrection — LIVE in that immense power

Exodus 12:1-14
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2 This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. 4 If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 7 They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. 10 You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Advent Reading — He is our strong deliverer

The Sunday we announced our resignation as pastors of Heights Church, the Lord had me share from Acts 16 when Paul came to Troas. He had been trying to get into new territory to preach the gospel and a couple of times the Spirit kept him from heading in particular directions. Finally, he came to Troas and it was there the Lord showed him what was next.  Continue reading “Advent Reading — He is our strong deliverer”

The toleration we have for “the devil we know”

Mark 5:1-20 tells the story of the demoniac in the Gerasene region. What strikes me each time I read this story is the toleration the villagers had for the bondage this man was under and when he was actually made whole, they wanted Jesus out of the region.

They had “the devil they knew” and could “manage” the bondage at that point. At least, that was the lie they were working with day after day. Then, when real deliverance showed up, they had a power they didn’t know.

Too often we tolerate the bondage of the enemy because it’s somehow “known” to us. It’s “manageable.”

But when Jesus walks into the room… we can’t manage him. He sets people free, but HE is in control. We prefer the illusion of our own “management” skills.

This is a story that haunts me. Do I tolerate the activity of the enemy in my life or around me too much?

Do we settle for the dominion of the enemy?

I can still remember parts of a sermon I heard many years ago from Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM, on the passage Matthew 8:28-34. The message was called “Swine over the Savior.”

The people of that region seemed to have “settled in” with the idea of the demoniac men running wild. They could at least “contain” them in some way. It’s amazing how we will reason pain in our lives. We don’t like change so we settle in with “compromises” and allow something besides King Jesus dominate us.

When Jesus delivered the men, the town asked Jesus to leave. Jesus was more wild to them.

We may settle far too often for the dominion of the enemy rather than the radical freedom of our Savior. He is not just “meek and mild.” He is untamed in our eyes. But HE is King. HE is powerful. HE loves us.

There is the saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”

What a lie of the enemy. What a horrible way to keep people in bondage.

I pray we wake up to the “devil we know” and realize the power of the SAVIOR we may not know is loving and GOOD. Let’s not settle any longer for the “devil we know” and the dominion he holds. Let’s wake up to the incredible power of the One who truly can reign with power and love.

Do I irritate the enemy?

We are good at irritating each other. Liberals irritating conservatives, both Christian and political… and the return fire is done with equal zest.

But how about the REAL enemy?

He doesn’t mind if we think he doesn’t exist and we want to go with the mantra, “Evil is the absence of someone doing good.”

As a great professor of mine once said, “Some say there is a devil. Others say there is no such thing. Either way, he doesn’t care.

I am reflecting on Luke 4, but have moved on past a week in the Temptation in the Wilderness. I am now reflecting on Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum. Jesus is teaching and then a demon manifests itself through a man sitting there.

I am only reflecting lightly on this passage, but it is my estimation that the man was probably a regular attender of the synagogue. Jesus comes with authority, and the demon manifests. All those other times in the synagogue, not one leader with authority…

The question here today is this: Do I irritate the enemy when I come into a place? I know I irritate other people, but do I irritate the enemy?

Is the presence of Jesus so real in my life that the enemy gets agitated when I’m close to something he’s held on to for a long time?

It’s time to live life on purpose and with power.

Stand

Daniel 3 is one of those great kids’ stories. The fiery furnace. Standing up to the king. Not bowing to idols.

As I prepare this chapter for preaching, I am coming to really not like this chapter. My series is looking at the example of Daniel in hostile territory and learning how that speaks to us in our ever-changing culture. Facing idols and the possibilities and repercussions just isn’t pleasant.

We can rejoice in the fact that God delivered the three Hebrew men. We can shout out about deliverance.

But I find two difficult truths surfacing in this passage:

1. We really CAN believe God for deliverance in moments of intense confrontation, but that means we must be willing to stand. 

2. While God is ready to come through in those moments, he is also looking for his people to be ready for the “but if God doesn’t deliver” reality.

The challenge is this: We should be ready to stand, and we certainly should ask for God’s gracious and powerful deliverance. We can be ready for God to deliver, but can God count on us for the boldness to stand even if he doesn’t deliver. 

I am not liking this passage.

Don’t Settle for Status Quo Bondage

One of the notes I made on the passage in Mark 5 where Jesus heals the demoniac: “Don’t settle for letting people stay in bondage.”

Sometimes it is hard work seeing people set free. It might be pray. It might be fasting. It might be counseling. It might be a huge combination of many things.

Don’t give up. Don’t let up. Jesus had to deal with the demoniac to some extent because his name was Legion. There is indication that this conversation took a little more time than “normal” for Jesus. Yet, he stayed at it.

Don’t settle for bondage… in yourself… or others.