He Rebuked the Devil

Matthew 17:17-18, “Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil: and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.”

I don’t think we really have a true concept of how dramatic these events were. Sometimes, the art I find seems a bit too much. This one comes under that category.  Then I studied it more carefully, and decided to use it. This was an epic battle between Jesus and Satan.  It wasn’t just a little skirmish.  It was huge, because it involved the life and soul of the young man who was possessed.  It also could have been a breaking point for at least some of the disciples, who could not cure him.  It was a test of the father’s faith. It was a direct, public confrontation between absolute holiness and absolute evil.

Today, we are still seeing direct confrontation by Satan against God and His church. As we drift more and more to worldliness and “culturalism” in our churches, Satan gets a stronger hold all the time. God has called us not to be a part of the world, but to come out from the world and be separate, different, peculiar.  The lie is that we can reach the lost by doing what they do and using worldly styles and methods to reach them. It’s sort of like getting people off heroin by offering them methadone.  It’s replacing one unhealthy thing for something a little less unhealthy.

To clarify, what I mean by culturalism has nothing to do with race. It is simply the idea that we have to appeal to the popular culture in order to reach people with the gospel.  That’s a very dangerous path to travel. There are way too many movies and songs being put out there as “Christian” that twist the truth of the Word of God to make it more appealing.

If we’re not careful, we’ll be just as powerless as the disciples were.

Jesus wasted few words and even less time in healing the boy. He rebuked Satan, and the demon left.

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Have Mercy on my Son!

Matthew 17:14-16. “And when they were come to the multitude, there came to Him a certain man kneeling down to Him, and saying, Lord have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for oftimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him.”

As soon as Jesus and the three disciples came down from the mountain and neared the crowds, a man came and knelt at Jesus’ feet. He had a sad story to tell.

“Teacher, my son behaves like a lunatic.  He keeps falling into the fire and the water, and someone has to be near him at all times or he would destroy himself. I brought him to Your disciples, but they haven’t been able to do anything for him. Lord, have mercy on my son!”

Whether this boy was afflicted with epilepsy or was demon-possessed has been long debated. My personal sense is that he was possessed. The frequency of his behavior is not consistent with epilepsy; also, as far as I know, people with epilepsy do not seem to make attempts to harm themselves when they are having seizures.  We’ll see more about this question tomorrow.

Today I want to focus on this father, who, it would seem, was doing everything in his power to help his son. We don’t know for sure how old this boy was, but it seems clear that he was well past the toddler stage.  Yet, he still needed constant supervision to prevent him from doing serious damage or even causing his own death.

I wonder about the faith of this father, who obviously hoped for a miracle.  When he took his son to the disciples, they weren’t able to help him. How disappointed he must have been!  Buth then, he decided to wait for Jesus.  He would go to the source and  get the help he needed there.

Can you imagine that the disciples must have been chagrined, to say the least, when their efforts turned up empty?  Jesus had given the power they needed, and yet the boy was beyond their ability. They were a company of believers with a powerless testimony at that moment.

We are the same when we don’t remember the Source of the power, when we lose our focus, as Peter did when he tried to walk on the water.  We pray and get nothing, we work and witness and teach and preach, but our return is very small.  It’s easy to become discouraged and to walk away.

Tomorrow, we’ll see what Jesus had to say about the disciples, and the boy.

Elijah and John the Baptist

Matthew 17:10-13. “And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all t hings. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples undeerstood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist.”

The last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, prophesies the coming of Elijah.The last two verses of the book say: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

The disciples had seen Elijah in his glorified form, but there was no light spreading across the land of Israel; no restoration, no turning of fathers to children and children to fathers. So they did the smart thing, as we should learn to do but for some reason we always think of it after we’ve tried everything else–they turned to Jesus and asked Him.  And He provided the answer, as He always does when we seek Him with all of our hearts. 

Jesus confirmed the prophecy that Elijah would come. Then, he told them that indeed Elijah had come, and had been largely rejected by the people, who had “done with him as they listed.” That is, they had imprisoned him and eventually beheaded him at Salome’s request.

The disciples understood, then, that Jesus was speaking of John the Baptist; however, the Malachi prophecy had not yet been fulfilled. Before Jesus returns to earth in all His power and glory, another forerunner, another Elijah, willcome, and his testimony will not be rejected. He will be followed by the coming of the King. 

The questions remain, then: When, where, and what?  When will this Elijah appear, where will he appear, and what will his work be? 

When: It is not possible to pinpoint an exact date. We know only that he will appear during the end times, after the removal of the Church, when  when Jewish history resumes as the nation is gathered back to Israel. It will be at some point during the Great Tribulation.  

He will appear in Israel, not in any other nation.  His work will be directed to Israel, exclusively to the remnant of Israel. He will preach repentance, and his testimony will be received. He will fulfill Malachi 4:5-6. 

 

 

Can’t Sleep

Ah, sleep. One never appreciates the beauty of sleep until the years begin to pile up. With the years, I’ve also gained achey bones, jumpy legs, and for the last five months, an awful sinus problem.  It’s pretty hard to sleep when you can’t breathe.

This whole mess started in January, when my Germany family came to stay for a week. It was wonderful to see them, so I won’t send them cold germs in an envelope or anything. A couple of the kids picked up nasty colds from relatives they’d seen in Ohio, and guess who found those germs.

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In the last maybe ten years or so, my colds almost always result in swollen tissue up high in my nose. Can’t breathe through my nose, and it’s not pretty. Mouth-breathing is something one should do only in private, and not in front of a mirror! So as the cold symptoms began to clear up, I started using a popular nasal decongestant spray.  Works like a charm to reduce swelling and allow me to breathe,  but you really aren’t supposed to use those things much more than three days in a row.

Five months later, I’m still gasping like a beached fish.

Now add to that misery the difficuties I’v had getting a Medicare card.  You can read about all that, if you like, here and here. The bad news is that the second post, in which I felt hopeful of success, may lead you to believe it was all settled. Yeah, well, that didn’t happen.  I’m telling you, folks, if you really think government can take care of our health better than the private, free enterprise system can, you just wait. One of these days you’re going to need a card or a document that you won’t be able to get your hands on.  My nose could have fallen OFF before I finally got my Medicare card!

We finally returned to the Social Security office (that’s where you apply for Medicare) in which we originally applied. We were assisted by a fine woman who had been there for 40 years. Amazing!  I had my card, with all the right numbers and letters, in three weeks. Sad that it took until mid-April, but hey. I owe this lady big, and I’m going to send her a thank-you card.

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At last, I can go see my doctor. In the meantime, I’ve been supporting all the people who work for the paper tissue companies, as well as all the families who work in the company that makes my nasal spray.  

Anyway, my wonderful and patient doctor put me on a typical combination of inhaler and steroid nasal spray, and told me to take a daily antihistamine. She also orderd a nebulizer treatment right there in the office.  Never had one of those before, and I was amazed at how much better I felt right away.  I went home with high hopes. 

Alas.  Nose is still all swollen up inside.  I waited a full day, hoping things would improve, but they didn’t. So I called the doctor’s office and spoke with the nurse, who gave me the sad news that the spray will take two or three days before it begins to kick into full gear. In the meantime, I’ve used saline spray (helpful for a few minutes)  a neti pot (helpful for maybe half an hour, once the solution was able to trickle through my swollen sinuses) and a cold pack on my nose (Rudolph effect, but not much help).

When suddenly, I felt the AIR going into my nose when I breathed in!  Oh joy! Oh happiness!  I can breathe, I can breathe!

For a while.Using the inhaler does help with the sinuses as well as the wheezy pipe organ in my chest, on which I can play Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor!  No, really.  You should hear it–amazing!  I probably should be in Ripley’s Believe it or Not 🙂

 

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All this to say, it’s Sunday morning here on the east coast of the USA. I’ve been awake since 3:30. It is now 4:30 a.m. and I can use my inhaler again soon. Maybe then I’ll be able to get back to sleep for a while.

 

 

What is a Sociopath, # 2

Glib and charming, sociopaths often seem like the most fun people you could ever be around.  When you are around them a little longer, though, you find that they are totally self-involved. Everything they do is centered on what the gain for themselves will be.  Far from lacking in self-esteem, they think very highly of themselves indeed.

These folks are full of a grossly inflated view of their own abilities and importance, truly believing that all eyes should be focused on them all the time. They are opinionated, cocky braggarts. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

They are often easily bored, and seek constant stimulation, something new, something just a little riskier than what they’ve already done.  They are risk-takers, and may seem very exciting to be with. However, once the excitement goes away they’re often restless, angry, and sarcastic. Easily bored, they look elsewhere for stimulation. They’re not much good at relationship once the shiny new has worn off. They are experts at finding ways to not do tasks they find boring.

They lie. As Dr. Phil would say, if their lips are moving, they’re lying. The lying can be  shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; they’re expert at concocting stories that have no shred of truth, but are completely believable. At their worst, they are deliberately deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative.They do and say what they have to in order to gain the result they want—and are entitled to. If you are hurt by their lies, then you shouldn’t have gotten in the way.

Final Post on the Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-9.

It is significant that the three disciples who were there immediately recognized Moses and Elijah.

Their identities and personalities were not obliterated by death or removal from the earth. We, too, will be recognizable.  We of course will know Jesus instantly, because He will be supreme above all others. We can look at I Cor. 13:12 and I John 3:2 for assurance that we will know one another.  I get excited thinking about all the wonderful men and women of God that I’ll be meeting for the first time, characters in stories I love, stars of books of the Bible that have held their places in history for centuries!  All our questions will be answered, all our arguments settled, all our theology straightened out.  That in itself will make heaven wonderful.

There is more that could be said about this passage.  I can’t encourage you enough to study it out on your own, to glean everything you can from this event, until you fully understand how important it was and still is.  Just be careful about your sources.  There are many different interpretations of this passage that are not consistent with the rest of the book of Matthew, or with prophecies of the end times and Jesus’ return. Always read and study with discernment.

The next few verses carry on the theme of Elijah’s presence and purpose.  We’ll be looking at that next week.

More on the Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-9.

Was Mount Hermon the site of the Transfiguration?  We don’t know, and it’s probably a good thing.  If we knew, we’d probably put some sort of shrine up there, as Peter wanted to do.

Think about this:  The One Who had come to earth in the form of a servant suddenly burst into glory, His OWN glory, and His brightness was like that of the sun!  Just for a few moments, the disciples saw Him in His fullness, and it put them flat on their faces. Indeed!

It is exciting to know that one day we shall be like Him; transformed into His own image, His glory, His brightness.  It won’t be because we have earned or deserve such an honor, but because He has purchased our salvation with His own blood, and washed us to be whiter than snow.

That He is described as brighter than the sun is no mistake. He is the Sun of righteousness. The sun is the great light that rules the day; the moon, which some see as a type of the church–is the light when night rules. We are in the night now, waiting for the coming of the Sun Who will rise with healing in His wings! Psalm 19:5-6 says, “. . .Which is as a bridegroom  coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”

We poor arrogant souls think so highly of ourselves down here.  We plot and plan and grasp for power and wealth, but when the Bridegroom comes it will all be for nothing. There will be nothing hidden from the heat and the light of the Sun of Righteousness!