Hey, good morning, everybody, and welcome to week four of a series that we’ve been calling The New Normal. We’ve been studying passages of scripture where Jesus had encounters with people that changed their normal. And we’ve been saying that our goal as we kind of go through this pandemic, as we go through all… See more
Hey, good morning, everybody, and welcome to week four of a series that we’ve been calling The New Normal. We’ve been studying passages of scripture where Jesus had encounters with people that changed their normal. And we’ve been saying that our goal as we kind of go through this pandemic, as we go through all the changes that are happening within our society, that our goal isn’t to go back to normal, but to be changed through the opportunity that God has given us to grow, to slow down. To be different. To check our shortcomings and then to mature through them into the men and women that God has always intended for us to be.
Don’t Miss The Opportunity to Grow When Not In War
We don’t want to waste an opportunity to be changed. That’s the idea, that we don’t want to go back to normal. We want to forge a new normal. And in that vein, I want to tell you a little bit about some self reflection. I’ve been going through some things that I’m that have been challenged in my own heart about things that I need to grow and change with. And I’ve been reading a lot and studying a lot this quarantine season touching a lot of different topics and going through things. There are two topics that I’ve been studying that I found quite interesting that have kind of changed my heart a lot. And the first one is not so spiritual, but it’s something that’s had an impact on my life.
I’ve been studying and reading and listening to podcasts about World War One over the last few months. And I’ve been diving in specifically to the very beginning of World War One, the first couple of battles in World War One. And here’s what I found really fascinating. And I want to share it because it does relate to what we’ve been talking about. This is a picture of the French army during World War One. You see them with their red hats and their blue jackets, the red pants and the officers also wear white gloves. They kind of look like like a target, just my opinion.
But World War One started in 1914 and about one hundred years before World War One began, there was a set of wars called the Napoleonic Wars. And those wars were basically where the Emperor Napoleon was trying to take over all of Europe. And yeah, it’s a crazy story, but not too much to talk about there. But what’s amazing and what’s crazy to me is this, that if you wanted to take a picture of the Napoleon Era soldiers, you want to take a picture of them and look at what they’re dressed and what their gear looked like, what would be striking to you and to me is that this is pretty much what they looked like. The French army during Napoleon’s army, a hundred years before, looked strikingly similar during the first battle of World War One.
Germany and France went head on. And the Germans, who, by the way, were kind of a modern army, during the very first battle, the Germans killed nearly 75,000 men and injured 250,000 men. And to put that into some perspective, the bloodiest war during the American Revolution, the war between Americans was called the Battle of Antietam, where 6,000 people died and 20,000 were wounded. So we’re talking about a battle that killed nearly 10 times as many people.
In that very first battle, and the reason why so many French soldiers died during that very first battle with their encounters with the German, was because the French were still lining up in lines shoulder to shoulder, still loading muskets with bullets, pushing them down the socket, and they would lift up their guns and then they would wait for a commanding officer to yell fire. And the Germans had machine guns. That’s the difference.
Peter Hart a wrote this, “No one knew what was happening. At the sound of the bugle call, people shouted ‘Vive la France!’ and charged to arms stretched out, bayonets stretched out, and they were shot immediately. Not all the courage in the world,” he said, “could prevail against these weapons.”
And here’s why I mentioned this: the French at the beginning of World War One, they were fighting the same way they had fought a hundred years before. They just weren’t prepared for the new normal in terms of war. And so they were devoured by it. They missed an opportunity. They missed all those times of peace.
They missed the opportunity to grow when they were not in war. And so they were absolutely crushed when they faced their new normal. My point being, this has been challenged in my own heart as men. I don’t want to miss this chance that I have to become who I’m supposed to be. It’s a little bit uncomfortable, but I don’t want to miss the chance.
Change is Precipitated By Pain
The second thing I’ve been studying is about race. After the shooting of the Ahmaud Arbery a few weeks ago, I was recommended to read a couple of these books. They kind of challenged my thinking about the way I see race. I’m not going to talk a lot about this, but I just wanna let you know that it was uncomfortable for me. You know, we have in America a long, tragic kind of demonic history of oppression towards people. The storms today are the same storms in our country for very, very, very long. But something that I noticed as I was studying these things and I was checking my own biases and looking at my own life as that man. I was so uncomfortable, I guess, in both situations.
That’s the point, right? It is both in the situation with the World War One and thinking a little bit about like during their time of peace, during their time of comfort, they didn’t do any changing. And then here in this midst, while we’re going through really challenging times and discomfort, there’s a thing I noticed and you probably agree with it, but it’s this, the catalyst for significant change is often discomfort.
Wouldn’t you agree with that? That change is precipitated by pain, that you don’t change your eating habits until you look at yourself in the mirror and you go, wow, I don’t want to look like this anymore. And so, you see, there are consequences that you don’t stop spending until you feel the burden of what it is to be in debt. And the reason why most of us became Christians is because we saw the pain of our sin and we thought, you know what, I don’t want to deal with that anymore. We felt the discomfort of the life we had lived. And that led us to making decisions to follow Jesus. We were broken. And so we became repentant. That’s just the way it works.
And we would all agree that change is brought forth by discomfort, that pain is brought forth by discomfort. That’s why when Jesus encountered people, the first thing he did was often call them out of their comfort zone. And here’s why this matters. Because if we’re ever going to press forward into our new normal, it’s going to require all of us to get uncomfortable. To be a little bit uncomfortable about the way we live our life, about what’s wrong with our life, about the vices in our life. It’s going to require us if we ever really want to become the people God called us to be, we have to realize that where we are now is not where we ought to be.
And this idea is everywhere in the Bible. Jesus encountering people and calling them out of their old normal into a new normal by making them a little bit uncomfortable. One of my favorite examples is in Mark Chapter 1. We’re not gonna study it but I just want to read it for reference sake. It says, “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake. They were fishermen. ‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.'”
They are there in their boat with their father. Jesus says I need you to leave that place of comfort so you can enter into your calling. I need you to get a little bit uncomfortable so you can find what it is to be truly fulfilled.
Mark Chapter 1
“At once, they left their nets and followed him. When they had gone a little further, he saw James, son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat preparing their nets without without delay. He called them and they left their father’s Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”
This passage and so many passages like this have built into me this doctrine that Christ did not come to make me comfortable, but to change me.
He didn’t come to leave me in the boat of my own comfort. He came to change me. To radically and ultimately, again, make me into the person that he knows I can be. And see, a lot of the problems in our relationship with God happened because we misunderstand this idea that Christ’s primary function in our life is not to bring us comfort. And so this is what happens within the religious world and even within our own congregation, is that we associate Christ primarily with comfort.
We come to church for comfort. People leave the church because they’re uncomfortable.
As a matter of fact, this is what happened to Jesus in John Chapter 6.
As Jesus feeds 5000 plus people, they all love him because they’re also comfortable. And then the next day, knowing that they only came for food, Jesus says something really uncomfortable. He says, hey, I know you came to eat bread and drink juice, but I’m telling you, you need to eat my flesh and drink my blood.
That’s a little bit uncomfortable.
It’s like, you know, that’s I don’t know. That’s that’s Hannibal Lecter type stuff. I’m not really interested in that.
And so what happens in the passage in John Chapter 6, they all walk away.
And there’s the point again, Jesus’s goal, while on Earth was not to be bringing us comfort, because comfort doesn’t always produce change. As a matter of fact, it rarely produces change. I mean, look at what Jesus says, and this is just one of those passages of scripture that we just read over and over again.
Look at this. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
The passage goes on saying, I came to divide mothers and fathers and families. I came. I didn’t come to bring peace. I came to bring something else. And this is this is my version of what he’s saying here, that I did not come to comfort. I came to confront.
Jesus did not come here just to comfort us and hug us.
He came to confront us, confront our sin, and then also to confront the systems that keep people in bondage. And the reason this is so important to talk about before we study the text that we are going to look at today is because if we miss understand the reason Jesus came, we will start to be confused about the way we come to him.
Don’t Misunderstand Why Jesus Came
Let me say that again, because it’s really important if we misunderstand the reason why he came we will be confused about how we come to him. And what will happen is that we will begin to associate peace and perfection and everything wonderful in our lives with God’s presence. Ease will be the feeling of God’s presence. I’m not talking about like God’s peace. I’m talking about just peace on Earth. We will feel like ease and comfort and effortlessness, those are the things that are of God and anything that confronts us or challenges us or tells us that our lives are not fine just the way they are is coming from the devil. We’ll have this weird interaction where we believe that God is only trying to make us happy all the time and the devil’s the only one that makes us sad. When in fact you see the scriptures, sometimes it is the devil who gives you comfort and it is God who puts you in conflict.
I mean, we could just stop there and just think about that for the rest of the sermon. Sometimes it’s the devil who’s giving you comfort and it’s God who’s putting you in the middle of conflict. I mean, look at Jesus. Look at the proposal that was made to Jesus by Satan himself.
Matthew, Chapter four, when he’s being tempted, “the devil took him to a very high mountain and he showed him all the kingdom of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.'”
Jesus is in just an uncomfortable place. He hasn’t eaten for 40 days. The Devil offers him bread. I’m just going to comfort you. He’s poor. I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the Earth.
That’s the proposal. I’ll give you everything you’ve ever wanted. God never makes that proposal. But that’s the proposal given to you by the evil one. The promise to Jesus was to bring him comfort. Again, sometimes it’s the devil who is giving you comfort and it’s God who’s putting you into conflict.
That’s just the backdrop of the story that we’re going to read today. That’s just the backdrop of the story that’s found in Mark, chapter 1, verse 21.
This is the interaction that we’re gonna look at today with Jesus and a demon possessed man. And this man that’s demon possessed we’re going to find is not too dissimilar from many of us. And what we’re gonna see is that Jesus comes into a situation and flips it on its head and leads this man and his church and the community at large into a new normal.
Mark, Chapter 1, Verse 21
“They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.”
This is the setting a few versus earlier: Jesus has just called his disciples and after the people tried to kill him in Nazareth, he ends up going to Capernaum. Capernaum will be the hub of Jesus’s Galilean ministry. Capernaum is a really, really important city on the Lake of Tiberius or the Sea of Galilee. It’s actually the largest town around the lake. It was a crossroads between lots of different places.
But what is really cool about it is that Egypt, which was a major hub, and Damascus, which was a major hub, had its road that would run right through Capernaum. And so Capernaum became a very popular city. It was one of the most popular routes in the Roman Empire. And so it became a really densely populated place people would pass. And we know it was so popular because there was a tax collectors office there that Matthew worked at and Jesus called him out of that. There was a Roman garrison and also there was a sectarian that was posted there. Sectarian was a pretty large official in the Roman Empire. And so Capernaum would have been kind of equivalent to a like a Miami or something like that. A big port city, a big fishing town, lots of travelers, lots of money. It was a center of trade. It was an interesting place. And for the point of our discussion, even the name is interesting because here’s the Hebrew name: Capernaum the Hebrew name is Kfar Nahum. If you’re familiar with the Old Testament prophet, Nahum, you’ve heard this name before. Mahum it’s actually not from the Prophet, but that word means comfort.
And Kafar means village. And so what this means is this village of Comfort, Capernaum. Keep that in the back of your mind as we continue on in the story. “Jesus went into their synagogue and began to teach.” We’re setting up the setting here.
Synagogue is a word that simply means to come together. But a synagogue would be like a local church, would be like our congregation. According to Philo, a Jewish philosopher, he said “Jewish synagogues drew the name House of Instruction because there was the law there. The law was read on Sabbath and explained. And then during the week, it was the school. It was the civil courts. So the scribes taught there and the elders taught there. A synagogue was a place where people met.”
It was just a place where everybody got together. If you were a part of a synagogue, it was like you were part of the community. You were in the fabric of their society. You can think of it again, like our local church, but maybe even smaller, more like, I don’t know, a bunch of community groups together, like a large house church. A synagogue could have as little as 10 people in it, but could have as many as like a couple hundred. And so that’s kind of the picture.
Jesus is there. He’s a traveling preacher, it’s very common for traveling preachers to preach at different synagogues. He’s in the village of Comfort. He finds this one particular synagogue in Capernaum and goes inside and begins to teach.
“People were amazed at his teachings because he taught them as one with authority, not as the teachers of the law.”
And that’s like a dig. It’s a little little jab, that doesn’t need to be there, but I mean, it’s beautiful that it’s there.
Everyone who heard him was amazed because he taught with authority. There was a level of conviction that he taught with. The word in the Greek here can also be translated not just with authority, but it can be taught as like a rule or dominion, jurisdiction, power, privilege. He spoke with absolute conviction. That’s the thought in the passage there with objectivity, with authority. He was in charge and he knew what he said was the truth.
That’s what’s wrapped up in these words, not as the scribes, the scribes would just kind of babble on. The scribes spoke in kind of arbitrary terms. Jesus spoke with absolute terms.
He was logical. They were evasive. He was concrete. They were exoteric. He was reasonable and systematic. They were mysterious and muddled in their teaching. He taught on essential matters. He’d talk practically. They were just really involved in trivialities. That’s kind of the thought here. He was teaching clear conviction, truthfulness. And so everybody is amazed. Amazed. That word amazed, one lexicon says it’s like to strike a person out of their senses.
So Jesus is speaking and everybody’s, just to use our vernacular, their minds are blown. They’re leaning into it and just listening to Jesus speak. Boy, what I wouldn’t give to have a single moment hearing Christ teach. One amazing moment that must have been. He blew their mind. Everyone’s focusing in, everybody’s listening. Everybody’s on the edge of their chair.
Just like leaning in, trying to absorb every word that this masterful teacher has to say.
And then verse 3 says this:
“Just then a man in the synagogue,” meaning a man in their community, A man in their church. A man who was part of their small group. You know, they knew this guy.
“Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out.” I just want to stop there because, again, we can almost guarantee this guy had been there before.
He’d been there probably many, many, many times. He had sat, he had listened to the teachings and the instructions. He had sung the songs. He took notes. Maybe he even volunteered for Kingdom Kids or whatever. He was involved.
This man is a part of the church. He was comfortable in the church sitting there with no issue, just comfortable while he was possessed by a demon.
Comfortable. In church. Possessed by a demon. And the moment, Jesus comes to the church. And the moment Jesus begins to speak the truth, the spirit can’t keep it to himself.
“‘What do you want from us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.’ ‘Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.”
When Jesus Speaks, the Demons Panic
Jesus spoke and the spirit left the man. When Jesus speaks, the demons panic. They couldn’t even help themselves. Jesus was there. But here was this man that no one would have ever known. He had a demon. Unless Jesus showed up. How long had he been sitting in the church? How long had he had this impure spirit within him? How long had it been that he was just comfortable in the pews, assuming life was fine with a devil inside of him? And Jesus comes and this is another one of those situations, what does he do? He confronts the demons. He confronts the people. He rattles their cage, he turns the knife, and the people are blown away.
Do you know demons? Well, demons dwell in every religious gathering. To one degree or another, they possess, they abuse. They oppress people to destroy people. Do you know that doctrines are built by demons, by supernatural demonic powers?
The false teachers are in the dominion of Satan. The false adherence is in the dominion of Satan and the demons go to church. They attend every religious service, but you only see them shriek when they’re confronted by the truth. They’re hidden in false religions. They’re hidden in false worship.
But Jesus exposes them simply by showing up and they can’t help themselves but cry out. James chapter 2, verse 19, says “The demons believe and they shutter.” Now, what I’m saying and what I’m about to say, you may want to take more kind of like allegorical, you know. I don’t even know. I sit on all the spiritual world stuff. I’ve actually been studying some of those things out during this quarantine. But regardless of what I say, if you make it about the demon, you missed the demonstration.
If you make it just about that word, you miss the point of what I’m trying to say here, because I think we need to speak to some things.
I think we as a congregation need to speak to some things that are present within our community, that have occupied some space in our minds and in our spirit and in our family and in our school and in our culture. And things that are with our generational bloodlines.
See, Jesus comes to confront, not simply to comfort us.
And so here we are in the village of Capernaum, the place of comfort. And there’s comfortable attendees. And then Jesus comes in, speaks the truth, and everybody who is so uncomfortable. All of a sudden, things start changing within their spirit.
And what I’m trying to explain to us today, what I’m trying to get at here is simply this, that some stuff in your life will not come out unless it is confronted.
It may not be a demon. It may not be an evil spirit, but there are some things in your life that need to be confronted. There are some areas of sin in your life that need to be confronted.
There is still something in all of us. Even baptized disciples of Jesus need to be rattled, need to be shaken up. There are dysfunctions.
We’ve all got dysfunction, don’t we? There may be dysfunction in the way in which you view women. The lust of your eyes, the dysfunction there, there’s a sin there, there’s an evil something in your heart still.
Or the way that you view men or in your relation with other races, you may have some bigotry in your heart and some racism and some hatred.
There may be some issue because you continuously put your hope and your political affiliation, some stuff in your heart that needs to come out. You have a heart full of hatred towards people. You have a fear of rejection. You are a coward. You believe lies about yourself. You’re so insecure. You have self-hate or you go on the other side of it where you believe you’re too self-important and you’re vain and you’re proud. There are issues that need to be addressed in your life and you can decide, look, I’m going to avoid them because you know that whatever it is, this who I’ve always been and I don’t really want to deal with myself anymore. I was a Christian. I was baptized. You can just avoid them or you can decide, you know what?
Instead of that, I’m not going to retreat to comfort, but I’m to feel the discomfort of the sin in my own life so Jesus can change me.
Look, you can allow yourself to just be covered up by the armor that you put around yourself to protect yourself from any more wrongdoing or any more harm or whatever, or you can be pierced by the words of God, pierced by the principles of God, you can find some discomfort, but it’s your choice.
You can be uncomfortable and be changed.
You know, there’s some things that I need to confront in my own life. I mentioned this. I told you I read this book on racism. And I want you to know this is kind of actually uncomfortable to say, but there are some biases that I have in my own life. You know, you don’t even get a chance to think about it. You don’t you don’t even think about until you look at your own life and you go, oh, wait, there is something in my heart. There is something in my heart that’s ugly. There are things in my life about the way that I view people that needs to be repaired.
I’m a mess. I’m messed up. I got issues. I do. I have lots of issues. I mean, I can go on and on and on and on and on. I got some real issues. But you do, too. You do, too. And I’m just gonna be real for a second. You might not like this, but there are some disciples who are listening to us today who are watching this online who are liars. Constantly, don’t tell the truth. You’re a liar. There are disciples who are consistently lustful. You may be like, I’m a good person. But you’re a liar. There might be some of you right now who because of the season that we just went through, have a lot of hate in your heart and your hateful. I don’t even have to tell you what scripture, verse, chapter, book that say that these things are wrong.
And, you know, they’re all, you’re wrong and you’ve become comfortable with being this person. You’re lazy. You’re prideful. Every time someone tells you something, you don’t listen. There are people in our congregation right now who are prideful.
Some of you are arrogant. You’re elitist. Some of you are sexist. There are some of you who have racist ideologies that need to be changed. I’m just saying there are things in you that are dysfunctional and you can either listen to me and go, Oh I don’t really want to deal with that and be comfortable or you can decide to be changed. You could decide to be changed. I want us today to unplug from the matrix that says that when you were baptized, you became a perfect person.
That says when you follow Jesus now you’re perfect. There are still some evil spirits brewing. There are still some things in your heart that need to be called out from you. And you can take this season as a season of just becoming who you’ve always been. You can use this season to change. Use the discomfort to change. Use this challenge that I’m giving you to be different.
You’re not all good. And you can turn this off this right now. If you feel like I’m fine, everything’s good. This is not the right church for you.
But if you realize that there’s something wrong and we can fix it. See, sin is like a snuggies. It’s so comfortable. But under the snuggie, there’s like an infectious disease. You know, it’s like itchy, but at least I’m warm. At least it’s a cover. Today, I’m just hoping there’s a confrontation in your heart.
I’m hoping that, as I’m talking to you, there’s something that’s rattling in your heart. That’s all I’m hoping for. Honestly, that something inside of you will come out from you.
That was Jesus’s declaration to the man, “Come out,” to the spirit and the man, I should say. Look, this is for anybody here who has become so comfortable in their dysfunction that change is eluding them. Can you pray to God today that it would come out of you? Lord, would you please rattle someone today? Frustrate us. Lord, please confront us today.
And I want to make a quick clarification, because some of us are guilty. He came to confront, but he didn’t come to condemn, those are not the same thing. There’s a difference between confrontation and condemnation. Because confrontation has the intent to change, your condemnation does not. It just wants to destroy you. Jesus didn’t come to just destroy you. He came to change you, to call you out. He did not come to crush you. But I just want you to know, and this is about to get real intense, if you do not change you might be crushed.
If you do not change, you might be crushed. It’s just the truth. And if you’re hearing this going, wow, you know, I really hope that my wife hears this, my brother really needs to hear this. You know that my co-worker really needs to hear this. You’re not understanding what I’m saying.
Here’s what I’m trying to say is that all of us, all of us have stuff in our souls that need to be confronted. You didn’t become a perfect person because you got baptized. You became a broken person with a savior. I mean, if you want biblical proof here, here’s the passage at Romans Chapter 3. Look how many time the word ‘no one’ or non is in this passage.
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. ‘Their throats are open graves; their tongue practice deceit.’ ‘The poison of vipers is on their lips.’ ‘Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood, ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.’ There is no fear of God before their eyes.'”
That’s what the passage says, no one, none.
Catch the words ‘no one righteous, not even one.’ I’m just trying to make it really clear that it is with me. It is only within the feelings of like I’m broken.
It’s only within the feeling of I’m a wretch. It’s only within the feeling I’m not good. I’m a disgusting mess.
It’s only within those feelings, not the feelings of ‘no, I’m not that. And no, I’m not that. And I’m not proud and I’m not I’m not lustful and I’m not racist and I don’t get it.’ It’s not that feeling.
It’s the feeling that I’m broken. It’s only within that feeling. It’s only within the trouble that God brings transformation. It’s only within the realization that you’re a mess, that God sweeps into your life. He comes into your life and can lift you up. I love Psalm Chapter 18. And one of the passages says he says he stoops down to make me great. But the assumption then is if he’s going to stoop down, he’s not down. You’re down.
He swoops down to make me great. But if you think you’re wonderful, if you think you’re perfect, if you think you have no issue, if you think there are no demons in the church, there are no devils living amongst us, that there are no impure things, that there is no spirit of unrighteousness within our fellowship or within your own life. You’re going to miss an opportunity for God to radically change your life.
So even in the moments of discomfort, look our world is showing it right in this moment of discomfort, because things are just a mess, they’re a mess right now.
Learn to Sit and Feel the Discomfort of Sin
Maybe maybe in this moment, we shouldn’t cry out for God to take it all away. Maybe we should learn to sit in it, to feel the discomfort that sin has produced in this world. And as we feel the disgustingness of sin, maybe then we’ll get the motivation to change our own lives and to impact the people around us.
Maybe only then we realize that, man, it’s this trouble that’s around us. This trouble that’s brewing in our souls that is the catalyst for real change in this world.
And if we don’t see it like like some of this stuff, some of this stuff, the point of some of this stuff that we’re going through right now is a confrontation so that God can ultimately have us change and have his church change.
But we need to see it. Otherwise, we will miss the point of God and we will miss our new normal. We will miss our opportunity to be changed forever. The presence of God is not always comfortable feelings.
Sometimes the proof of the presence of God is disruption. Sometimes the proof of the presence of God is that things in your life really hurt. There’s a passage where Jesus sends his disciples who he loved out into the sea. And of course, he knows everything, but there they are in the sea. And there is a terrible storm.
Every time I look at that passage and read that scripture, I think, Why would Jesus send his disciples into a storm? I think it’s because in those moments is where we find intimacy with Jesus in those moments.
It’s fine that we can’t control the wind and the waves no matter how hard we paddle, no matter how much we try to raise our voices for things to change. We can’t really do much. We need a God who is bigger than those things. We need a God who is bigger than the storm that he sent us into. And sometimes that storm is there to teach us that, look, we have no control and that the only person we can turn to is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
I don’t think we recognize him sometimes. I don’t think we recognize him because we’re not prepared for him to have sent us into disturbing times. You know, the only one who knew in the story why Jesus came was the demons. Did you notice this?
I Know Who You Are
“An impure spirit cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?'” And look what it says, “‘I know who you are.'”
I know who you are. They scream because they knew why he came. They scream because they were terrified. The demons were trying to keep undercover, but they couldn’t. They knew exactly why he was there. I want to ask you a question. Do you know why he’s here? Do you know what he’s doing around us? Can you find the hand of God in this terrible situation? Do you know why he’s here? Are you kind of like the crowd, you’re just amazed? Have you been caught up in the majesty of Jesus?
The demons are blowing their cover all over our country. I’m going to give you some stats: ChildHelp National Abuse Hotline has seen an uptick in calls. This article that I read said 31% more calls and messages in March than in the same month last year. Child abuse is on the rise. 31% year over year. Child abuse, children coming with broken bones into the hospital.
Are those not demons? Are those not evil spirits? Is that not the evil of our world? Child abuse is on the rise. As we are uncomfortable these things show their face.
The Demons In Our Society
A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered more than a 1000% increase in April compared to the same time last year. A suicide hotline, 1000% increase. Demons, evil spirits, unrighteousness. Whatever you want to call it. The evil of the world.
There are more deaths in America for domestic abuse over the past 3 months than there has been in the same amount of time any time in the nation’s history.
We’re seeing what’s happening with racism. We’re seeing the riots on the street. We’re seeing the way that people are using social media to have filthy speech, even disciples. We’re seeing drug use and alcohol abuse on the rise and we continue to see murder of people, death, and despair.
Are these not evil things that are on the rise? Our world is in terrible shape. And to think that what’s needed is Jesus. What’s needed in our world is Jesus. The only thing that can call out the spirit and change things is Christ.
We don’t see, as Christ sees. We don’t understand the way that God understands. But I’m just here to say, look, I want these things to come out of our lives.
I want to be changed during this time. I don’t want to be who I always was. And the goal, honestly, for me at this time, as I see evil everywhere and as I see evil in my own heart, is two things, how do I bring more of Christ in my life? Because Christ is the remedy.
And how do I have more of Christ to disrupt me and to alter me? How do I do that while also bringing Christ to the world so he can disrupt the world and change it too? Sure, legislation and earthly justice will produce some temporary change, but Jesus saves the soul eternally.
Don’t Try to Build Comfort in the Darkness When God Has Called You Into the Light
The devil is trying to tell his demons to try to keep them fighting for comfort in the darkness, to keep on fighting, for comfort in the darkness, and ten they won. Then it’s time for us to come out into the light. You know, they were so comfortable in Capernaum they had missed Jesus.
And towards the end of Jesus’s ministry, Jesus says something really remarkable about Capernaum. And I want to read it, John, Chapter 11, verse 23, it says:
“And you Capernaum, will you be lifted to heaven? No. You will go down to Hades. For if the miracles were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
Why? I believe their name was a prophecy of what would ultimately be their undoing. They got way too comfortable and they lost sight of God. They missed their chance to change. They saw 22 or 24 miracles and they didn’t do anything with them. They stayed amazed. They never changed. They fought for comfort. They didn’t fight for Jesus. And see, when I run to comfort, will I be lifted up or will I be brought down? Should I run to the government to save me?
And when we run to others to save you and when you run to familiar fears and when you run to insecurities and when you run to your own biases, and when you get stuck in your comfort and you learn to tolerate things in your life you know you shouldn’t tolerate…
You begin to tolerate hate in your life. You begin to tolerate the the feeling of like, wow, these government institutions really are going to help us when you run to trying to make this earth a comfortable place. What ends up happening is you miss Jesus.
You miss Jesus.
And look, I think the prophecy for them is the prophecy for us. Will you be lifted up? No, you will be brought down.
I Want to Be Comforted When Jesus Comes
Look, church, I want to be comforted when Jesus comes. I want to be comforted when we’re called out of this God forsaken world. I want the comfort of Christ of eternal life. I don’t want this crooked kind of counterfeit nonsense stuff that’s advertised to me day in and day out. I don’t want another mattress to make me comfortable at night. That’s not what I’m hoping for. I’m not saying don’t buy a mattress. You get the point, though, like I want eternal comfort, not the stuff that comes from this world.
I want to hate what is evil and cling to what is good and to be called at the end of my life, a good and faithful servant. I want to allow the discomfort in my life to rattle me so that I realize that this world is not my home.
I’m just passing through and heaven is my goal. I want the fear honestly to come out of me. I’ve got to call out of me even right now. Lord, I call it out of me. I want my selfishness to be called out of me. I want my greed to come out of me. And my lust and your hate and your bigotry and your loss and your hate and and your pride and all these things I see in me but it’s in you. It’s in all of us together. The complacency and the excuses that I tell myself I want to be uncomfortable in this world so I could find eternity.