*sigh*! Have you ever had a strong desire to do something for someone, just to love them, and yet you can’t? Of course you have, everyone has! Maybe the thing to do is pray about it. Maybe God will show you something you can do.
On to sermon notes! John stressed that the scripture for this Sunday had been laid out many weeks ago. It was the one where Jesus was preaching in the synagogue, and cast a demon out of a man. It was shocking to realize something very obvious: John stated–demons show up in the church! (And if there’s a conflict, know that BOTH sides can point to the other and say “Ha!” On the other hand, you actually do a good thing by letting people off with this, by blaming the devil, right? Words in brackets here are our own.) But remember, Jesus was there too. And He didn’t “demonize” the man, rather cast the demon out without harming him. The point is, we need to wake up to the reality of the powers of darkness. Another shocking statement he shared: The Church is uniquely equipped for conflict; because of the Bible & the Holy Spirit, and Jesus praying for us (right now, beside God talking to Him about it) to be in unity.
John pointed out a couple of scriptures that talk about the “hedge of protection” that God puts around the saints–as long as they remain obedient to His Word. When you disobey the scriptures, you step out of that hedge of protection. It’s easy to do… when you fail to restrain your speech and thoughts to the will of God, or fail to carefully measure your motive before you act. Yes, robust disagreement is allowed, but it is never right to attack, or harm someone, which happens when you cross over into bitterness–John’s words! (Yes, easy to do when you feel hurt, and conversely, easy to understand & forgive when you realize that. Our words.)
John directed us to read Ephesians this week. The first several chapters tell you how to stay within that hedge of protection, ending with putting on the full armour of God in Ephesians 6, and “praying ALWAYS for ALL the saints”. One way to sum it up is that you should live in unity, purity, and submissive relationships. John also pointed out that we must be careful to “rightly handle” God’s Word, and not pick out certain verses to use for our own purposes. The Bible is called “the Sword of the Spirit”, but the translation of “sword” actually refers to a small, 18″ weapon, that requires skill in handling it.
He ended with an example from his experience as a cop in Ireland, years ago. When they were being trained, they were told three things (John’s lesson in brackets):
- Don’t start what you can’t finish. (Don’t tell a part-truth if you don’t know the whole story, for example.)
- Don’t get separated. (Don’t listen only to your own thoughts and interpretations.)
- Protect your firearm. (Measure your motives carefully before you act.)