It’s been a rather emotional week around Sunrise Chapel. We hear more of sickness, disease and even death. It seems to surround us more and more every day. We pray; we ask God to help us all and take away our afflictions but, there are other things taking place that we might not even see, much-less, understand.
I want to take a moment to share a couple of things with you this morning. One, being about this Church and its members. The other, just a personal story that I went through myself this past week.
Each week, we take a moment here to pray for those that are suffering. We bow our heads, ask God for His Divine intervention, and then move on with a short little lesson from the Scripture.
How many here believe it stops there? How many of you feel that, like some of the other churches in our area, believe that we all go home; tend to our own business and simply ignore the requests we’ve received for prayer and guidance?
I’m here this morning to tell you that you couldn’t be further from the truth! We, the Pastors of this Church, along with the Elders and other church members engage in prayer every day. Yes, we do use social media (FB) and other technologies but, hey, that just seems to be the best way to keep in touch with one another.
I have been a part of daily postings regarding updates on people’s health or personal challenges; responding to prayer requests; speaking with each other on the phone as well as reciting prayer together regularly. We do this not only to give thanks to God, but also to remember your requests to us for prayer. No one is forgotten or ignored!
When someone here, or even just someone I know, asks me to pray for them… I immediately say, silently: “Father, please hear your child’s heart.” I know then, God is listening and by your request, you… as you ask me, are also asking Him at that very moment in time.
As we talked about last week, prayer is not to be overly complicated, lengthy or filled with tricky or complex words. I only bring this up this morning, so you understand… while we are certainly more than willing to pray for you, it is equally as important you remember to pray for yourself as well.
Trust me, God listens to you just as much as He listens to us… perhaps even more closely as He certainly knows, He already has our hearts and souls. Nonetheless, we do now and will always, pray for you. We are definitely not “part-time” followers of Christ. YOU MATTER TO US TOO!
My Argument with God
As most of you know, I have regular conversations with God. While I talk to Him all the time, I feel closest to Him as I watch the Sun rise at the beach. This is where I actually feel the Holy Spirit filling me up, re-energizing me and hearing God whisper lessons for the day in my heart.
Saturday, with all that I have seen and heard this week, I wasn’t hearing Him. I began to get angry and started yelling at him. I’d say, “What are You doing to me? Why, as I try and bring people closer to You, do you send down afflictions, sadness and death?!?” Still, I didn’t hear Him.
Okay, now I’m really angry! I began kicking the little sand hills on the beach; picking up handfuls of sand and throwing them into the water; dropping to my knees and pounding on the ground with my fists, again asking, “Why? Why? Why?”
Now, I was out of breath. That wasn’t hard to accomplish as, these days, I get tired simply taking a shower. But now, at that very moment, did I begin to hear God’s voice.
“Son, are you finished?” He asked. “Are you through talking about yourself and casting your faith aside? Have you forgotten everything you have learned and willing to abandon Me now?” I replied, “Yes God, I’m through and I’m so sorry! I will never abandon you! Please forgive me and remind me of my faith.”
The Devil’s Realm
So where am I going with all of this and what did I forget to recognize that God reminded me of that morning?
We’ve talked about the challenges we have with the devil all the time. I even think Joe might say something about it every week stating, “The closer we get to God, the more the devil attacks us!” This simple statement holds very true for all of us, but did you ever stop to think just why? Why is it so easy for the devil to reach us?
Matthew 4:8-10 – “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
…and again, in Luke
Luke 4:5-8 – “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.’
Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
What do these two verses say to you? Did Jesus deny what the devil told Him? Did He argue and say, “No, this all belongs to My Father in Heaven?” No, He didn’t. He simply told Satan to get away from Him as He chooses to serve God only.
So, what do you think? I’m kind of guessing that perhaps the devil does have rule here. Listen to what Jesus said as He was predicting His own death:
John 12:31-32 – “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
“Lifted up from the earth,” and into Heaven. This is where Christ resides and where we will all be taken when we leave this world. We cannot put our trust in the ways of this world as you can clearly see, there is much evil here.
Let’s also talk about what the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 4:4 – “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Yes, exactly! He has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light!” I am certainly saying that anyone here is a “unbeliever,” but when we face afflictions or difficult challenges in life, what does it tend to do to most? IT TAKES AWAY OUR FAITH… and this, is exactly what the devil is waiting for you to do!
Satan Enters Us
I found an article on Crosswalk.com that gives us something to think about in terms of how Satan can enter us. I’ve selected a few here.
Satan wants nothing more than to enter certain areas of your life, so he can gain a stronghold. He’ll try anything to throw you off center, distract you from your focus, and render you ineffective for the Kingdom of God.
Your heart – so it’s not God’s alone.
Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
The devil will do all he can do to distract you from God. He will put other things in front of you such as: your career, your car, your house and even those we Love. We need to remember to Love God first and put Him first in all that we do.
Your worries – to make you doubt God’s Love and provision.
Let’s face it, these are HUGE! We’ve got so many of them… and they are, clearly, a distraction from God used by Satan to lure us away from Him.
Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Don’t let Satan in through this door as this is one of the easiest methods he can use to take you away from the Eternal Life promised to us.
Your everyday thinking – so you’re just like the world.
It’s amazing how many people profess to know God and follow Him, yet their thinking patterns are just like those of anyone else in the world. Satan loves that! He wants you to be so absorbed with the ways of the world that you are clueless about what God’s Word says.
Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
God wants us to be holy mouthpieces for Him – people who heal and help with our words. But Satan would rather have you and me blowing it big time with our mouths. A few critical words here, a few complaints there, some profanity mixed in with a little gossip on the side and we have given him permission to make us people who tear others apart and sound no different (and sometimes worse) than unbelievers. Satan knows we can cause much damage with our mouths if we do not bring them under God’s control.
Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Whether it is gossip, criticism or unkind remarks, our mouths can be instruments of righteousness or unrighteousness. Close that door to Satan, altogether, by applying God’s instructions in the verse we just read.
Who is He Targeting
Did you ever stop to think about who the devil may be targeting? Is it the ones who get sick, or pass away, that he is chasing after? Or, are the ones left behind his greater goal?
I’d like to use the example of my Brother’s son, my nephew, to talk a little more about this. As many of you know, I lost my nephew just a few short months ago after he had developed stage 4 cancer, without warning, and passed within the week.
All were sad, as would be expected, but my Brother’s family are all devout Christians and trust in God. They all knew, including my nephew, that if God has chosen to take him home, so be it, as that’s where Christ told us to come.
Matthew 11:28-29 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
What if my Brother and his family were not devoted to God? How might their son’s death had allowed the devil to turn their backs to God. We can see, from the verse we just read in Matthew, that we will surely receive comfort when we pass… but what about those left behind?
We’ve all lost a family member. Maybe a husband, wife, child or even a close cousin, aunt or uncle. How did it affect your faith? Did you curse God for taking them… or understand, and ask God to welcome them into His Kingdom?
Imagine, once again, if my Brother’s family were only “slight” believers… their faith, questionable at best? What might the devil possibly gain in allowing my nephew to pass and give his soul to God instead? My nephew surely went home to be beside The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit… but what if my Brother’s family resented God for this loss?
The answer is clear. The devil knew he would lose my nephew’s soul but, quite possibly, he could gain the souls of the rest of his family. What a greater conquest to the devil… lose one, gain many others!
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I go back again to our church. When we began here, we were but a small congregation. We started with 6-8 people (and Bob 😉) We didn’t see a lot of sickness, disease or death or maybe we just weren’t paying attention.
Today, we see it all. Our little Church has grown greatly. At one service, I believe there were over 45 people in attendance. This, I can tell you, is really pissing the devil off… and he’s coming after us BIG-TIME!
As we said earlier, and say every week, the devil is after us in a big way.
- He doesn’t like it at all that we have grown.
- He hates that he’s lost several souls back to God.
- He screams and pounds his fists every time we read the Scriptures.
- …and when he hears our music and praises to God, he cringes in agony!
But we can chase him away! The more resistant we are to the devil’s ways and the stronger we believe and put our trust in God, the further away we will push the devil from us… because he is, in comparison to God, weak and puny and will eventually give up. God, will never give up on you!
When you face challenges (work, home, illnesses or death), don’t turn your back on God. Keep your faith and believe in Him. Trust He will do what is best for you and all those you Love. If you lose someone, do not despair. Know, instead, where they’ve gone and the company they now keep.
Stay focused on God. Don’t let the devil in… DON’T LET HIM WIN and, tell him every day, “Get behind me Satan! I have no time for you for I am a servant of God!”
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless (Amen)