My God is so Big, So Strong and So Mighty

In Mark 5:1-20, we meet a man named Legion with an unclean spirit.  Legion lived in the tombs.

As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him.  He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore – not even with a chain because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles.  No one was strong enough to subdue him.  Mark 5:2-4

This man could not be restrained even with chains.  Either the demons that possessed him were “crazy strong,” or the chains were weak.  Unlike the plastic handcuffs at stores today, we can pretty much say these chains were metal chains that were not easily broken.  Scripture also states his name is Legion because the number of demons that possessed him were many.  I don’t know about you, but this guy was scary and uncontrollable.   NO ONE could control him.  Other things we know about Legion is that he would cry out at night and cut himself with stones (verse 5).  What torment and anguish he must have gone through and he could not do anything about it.  . . until one day.  Let me say it again, until one day when JESUS crossed the sea to the region of Gerasenes.  That day would change this man’s life forever.  Let me just stop right here and shout while doing a victory dance just thinking about the power of Jesus.  I know where this is going and can I get a HALLELUJAH in advance?!  Jesus commanded the demons to come out of Legion, and they obeyed!  The Lord then sent the demons into a herd of pigs nearby.  Let’s continue.

Once Jesus sent the demons to the 2,000 pigs, Legion was in his right mind and dressed.  I wish I could insert the shocked emoji right here.  What a God!  Strong chains that were weak for strong demons, but those strong demons had nothing on our Great God.  So think for a minute with me.  What does this mean for you and me?  In what areas do you need healing?  With what areas do you need a “right mind?”  I have those areas that can temporarily have some control over me.  People pleasing, fear, anxiety to name a few.  I have had situations where I have been on the floor crying out to God.  God is stronger than the strongest of issues in our lives.  Let me say it again.  GOD IS STRONGER!  Claim that truth today that Jesus has all authority to send your demons to the pigs.

“Lord, heal our hearts.  When life is out-of-control, control us, focus us on who You are and the power You have over sing and darkness.   Open our eyes and hearts to freely worship You, oh Lord.  We give You praise, Jesus, because when you come there is freedom.  Thank You for being Lord over all.  Amen.”

About the Writer:
Jourdan has been a member of FBD for 11 years and sings in the Celebration Choir. She works as a full-time physical therapist and has a heart for medical missions. She loves encouraging others in the Lord.

 

Just a Little Bit More

Have you ever gone to the mall shopping for the one thing you really needed, and come back with 4-6 other things just because they were such a great deal?  Or, have you ever shopped for a new pair shoes for that special event; and returned home with more than one pair?  The other two you purchased were just “such a great deal.”  Not too long ago, I read the average American woman has over 30 pairs of shoes in her closet.  I could not believe that, and went to count mine.  Lo, and behold, I was embarrassed to confess the number was quite accurate.  (Do flipflops really count as shoes?)  How many pairs of shoes can a girl have?  Just a little bit more.

How on earth did we get this disease of discontentment?  We can go all the way back in the Old Testament to Genesis, Adam and Eve.  Eve knew they weren’t to take of the tree of life, but she did anyway, for just a little bit more knowledge.  More is a thief that robs us of every good thing and the joy we have in the present.  It can make us anxious, cause us to compare ourselves with others, and make unwise decisions.  I would venture to say it happens to all of us at one time or another.

Paul encouraged us with his words:

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  Philippians 4:11

Since Paul tells us he “learned” to be content, he implies that we can overcome and learn how to be content.  We do have hope!  In his book, “Clutter-Free Christianity,” Dr. Robert Jeffress, gives us these steps to follow to learn contentment.

  1. Regularly express gratitude to God- we are all blessed in numerous ways; make a list of just a few to use daily.
  2. Recognize the Oasis Illusion – the true joy of life is the trip itself, not the illusions we have of “when I get out of college, or when I am retired.”
  3. Adapt a purpose bigger than yourself.

 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.  Philippians 3:7-8

So what is Paul really telling us in the verse above?  True contentment is gaining, and knowing Christ Jesus.  Real contentment takes discipline, surrender, and a praying heart.  May we all be bathed in His love and have contentment in Him alone.  I encourage you to count your shoes, and refrain from getting “just a little bit more.”

About the writer:

Beverly is a retired educator, mother, and grandmother, who loves sharing the insight of God with others.  She and her husband serve as Marriage Mentors and Prayer Partners at FBC Dallas.

The Great Physician’s Tool

 

What are you good at? Think to yourself for a moment what is one, or several, things that come naturally to you.  For example, do you have organizational skills? Are you good with numbers or have effective communication skills? If you are a Christian the Lord has given you certain talents and a spiritual gift. The Lord uses these abilities either directly or indirectly for the purpose of His Kingdom through edifying, encouraging, and expanding.

Luke was a helper in every sense of the word. Luke was great at seeing a need and filling it. He was a wonderful example of how the Lord uses a willing person in a supportive role. Luke was a physician and historian. He was known to be the personal physician and travel companion of Paul. Paul was an Apostle and much is attributed to him for the advancement of the Gospel. However, Luke took on the responsibility of tending to Paul’s physical and emotional needs as well as writing down all that he saw. At the time, these responsibilities may not have seemed vital compared to the tasks assigned to Paul. But God used these seemingly unimportant tasks to comprise 27% of the entire New Testament as well as the one Gospel that is presumably more responsible for Muslim conversions than any other (Constable 3).

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.  There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;  to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,  and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.  I Corinthians 12:4-11

If you are still breathing, the Lord has a great purpose for you, no matter what you may think of the purpose. You might think it is unimportant or even boring, but God has been known to take ordinary things and turn them extraordinary.  And He does this so that He gets the glory for the impact that’s made, not us.  He uses you and I in our weakness and our commonplace abilities and changes the world. And how great is it that He even uses us? The Creator of all things could very easily choose not to use us, for us not to have a purpose. But in his loving-kindness He chooses to partner with flawed you and me in order to make a difference.

So go crunch those numbers and color-code that calendar friend! And do so joyfully knowing that through Him you are making a difference!

By the way, if you have not taken a test to see what your spiritual gift is or do not remember please click here for a good one I encourage you to try. https://www.firstdallas.org/spiritual-gifts-survey/

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

How Can I be Content?

My young granddaughter and I were on the log ride at Six Flags. She was smiling and enjoying herself as we were rocking along in the flume. But when the flume turned a corner and she saw the tall mountain in front of her, she said, “Memaw, I’m ready to get off now!”

I sometimes feel like that, don’t you? Maybe you’re saying, “I want the chemo to stop” or “I want to stop searching for a job” or “I want to stop struggling financially.” As we rock along through life, how can we be content when difficulties arise? The dictionary describes contentment as “a state of happiness or satisfaction.” Contentment seems elusive when life takes unexpected twists and turns.

The apostle Paul experienced great suffering.

 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  II Corinthians 11:24-27

Despite his many difficulties, Paul said he knew the secret of contentment.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13

How could Paul be content while suffering? Paul learned to be content.  Paul’s experiences made him stronger as He learned God gave Him strength through each problem. What can we learn to help us be content in our difficult situations?

GOD’S WAYS DON’T ALWAYS MAKE SENSE. 

Have you ever done a “Connect the Dots” worksheet?  As you look for the next number, your pencil goes across the page, then the next number sends your pencil in another direction. When you look at the final result, there’s a clear picture from what seemed to be nothing but random lines. Life can be like that circuitous line. One minute I’m here; then the next minute I’m there.  One day God will make all things clear. He asks us to trust Him through situations that don’t make sense.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

GOD CAN BE TRUSTED THROUGH THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY.

Life can be good in the morning and ugly by the afternoon . . . the meeting at work, the car wreck, the depression. Like a loving earthly father who holds our hand, God, our loving heavenly Father, does the same.  We can trust Him to go through every situation with us.

In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33b

 GOD GIVES STRENGTH TO ENDURE DIFFICULT SITUATIONS.

If you’ve ever started a new exercise regimen, the first days are very difficult, your body is sore, and you must push yourself to exercise. As you continue the routine, one day you notice you’re stronger and your discomfort has lessened. In the same way, God makes us stronger as we undergo challenging situations. Although the difficulty might not change, little-by-little we are able to withstand the loneliness, the rude boss, the financial burdens, or the ungrateful child.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

Contentment is possible when I rest in God’s plan, not mine. Life isn’t always easy, but we become stronger through each difficult situation as we let God infuse us with His strength. Sometimes we will feel like a child on a log ride headed up a scary mountain, but God is faithful and strong, and He can be trusted.

About the writer:
Sherry enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, Bible study, and traveling.  She and her husband, David, are Directors of the Sonburst Class at First Baptist Dallas.

 

Guard Your Heart

Hezekiah started strong.  Ascending the throne at age 25, Hezekiah ruled Judah for 29 years.  II Kings 18-21 and II Chronicles 29-32 detail his reign.  We read there that at the outset, Hezekiah “did right in the sight of the Lord . . . He trusted in the Lord . . . He clung to the Lord.”  Hezekiah “did what was good, right, and true before the Lord his God.  And every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.” (II Chronicles 31:20-21)

Sounds like an amazing, faithful guy!  One whose life is worthy of emulation, right? Not so fast.

Reading on in (II Kings 20:1-11), we learn that, 14 years into his reign, Hezekiah fell mortally ill.  He prayed to the Lord, Who healed Hezekiah and promised him 15 additional years of life.  Now here’s the chilling verse:

But Hezekiah gave no return for the benefit he received, because his heart was proud . . . . II Chronicles 32:25

Somewhere along the way, as the Lord prospered Hezekiah, Hezekiah’s heart shifted from seeking and clinging to the Lord to becoming prideful.  II Chronicles 32: 27, 29 tell us that “Hezekiah had immense riches and honor, and he made for himself treasuries for silver, gold . . . And he made cities for himself . . .”  Hezekiah forgot that every benefit he had received was a gift from the hand of God.  Hezekiah started crediting himself for his success and began seeking his own glory. I’ve heard it said that more people are lost from God’s service through prosperity than through adversity. Hezekiah’s life seems to give credence to that idea.

God forbid that such will ever become the case in my life, Lord! Make me ever mindful that every day is a gift from You, to be stewarded faithfully and invested wisely to Your glory.  Keep me ever aware of my utter dependence on You.  May I seek you desperately, cling to You tightly, and follow You wholeheartedly until the day You return or call me home.  With the hymnist I pray, “O make me Thine forever; And should I fainting be, Lord let me never, never Outlive my love to Thee.”

About the Writer:
Cheryl Smith is a Jew, redeemed by Messiah Jesus, Whom she has followed since Tuesday, February 8, 1977 @ 5:05 p.m.  A retired Marble Falls ISD teacher, she lives in Dallas with her mostly-homebound mother.  Cheryl is a member of the Morning Son Sunday School class at FBCD.