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I will never forget the day I first went deer hunting in Wisconsin. I have not bothered to take a compass with me because I thought I could always maintain my directions well. You guessed it! I suddenly found the rest of my hunting party was some other place, and I did not know where I was in the midst of a huge forest with thousands of acres. There could not be a worse feeling than what I had at that moment. Serious as this was, it is far more frightening for people who feel lost and empty because they do not the benefit of God's word, Jesus, guiding them through the Holy Spirit. It impossible for any human being complete and on the road God wants them to take without God's word as their guide. At the most, they will only have a religious conviction they follow hoping that God will accept them as His child. They are like the "foolish virgins" in Matthew 25 who thought they were ready for the bridegroom only to end up being locked out of the kingdom of God.
One thing is certain. No man or woman ever goes lost due to a lack of God's love. People going lost are like the driver of a car who insists he knows the way to his destination without a map because he does not want to take time to look up the right route. God has provided all one needs to know to become a child of God. He sent Jesus to die for all mankind, He has given us the prophets and apostles who reveal what we need to know and has sent the Holy Spirit who offers us the gift of saving faith, and serves as our counselor, teacher and to bring us regeneration, sanctification and the correction we need by speaking to us through God's Word. The Holy Spirit is not that feeling we get that makes us think we are religious: He is the third person of the Holy Trinity who transforms our lives through the use of the means of grace which is the Word and Sacraments.
I am astounded at all the people I have met who have convinced themselves they are right with God even though they are at odds with Scripture and do not renew their baptism daily or feel the need to repent of their sins. These people develop this conviction by seeking out false pastors and congregations where the word and the sacraments are not rightly administered. Little do they realize God laid down the requirements for the building of His Church in Ephesians 2:19-22 (NKJV) where God's Word says, 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone,21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Even if one lives in a country where it is difficult, even impossible to have a Bible that is His own, God will provide a way for HIs children to have their Bible study by joining with those, who have God's Word, for a careful study of Scripture. God will not reject those who lack the opportunity to dig into God's word, but it is a serious thing when people are ignoring the prophets and apostles because they are not choosing a Bible based congregation or interested in Bible study or having family devotions each day in their home.
Before we proceed any further, we must clarify one thing. No loving parent would ever give his child the right to choose to learn only what that child wanted to learn or behave in whatever way the child wants. The loving father and mother will diligently teach the child God has given them. They will train each child in right and wrong. Certainly, a loving Father, who is holy, requires His children to turn to Him in faith and obey His word.
God's Word is His son, Jesus, and we meet Him in the prophets and apostles. In the prophets we hear Him talking through the Holy Spirit as the pre-incarnate Word. In the New Covenant, through the apostles we see God's Word as God/man. He is still real and calls men and women through the Holy Spirit to faith and obedience so that they might be saved.
When I was working as an army chaplain at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, I was being trained in therapy by psychiatrists, psychological social workers and senior chaplains who were licensed to train people to be counselors. We would be assigned casework by the psychiatrists, and we would write up what we observed along with our recommendations. I was assigned this one man diagnosed as schizophrenic. As I was walking into my office with this man, the Holy Spirit told me that this man was not schizophrenic but demon possessed.
You can understand why I wondered if I was losing my mind, hearing things. However, I sought guidance from pastors and individuals I met who had experience with the demonic. One thing they suggested was to say, "The blood of Jesus." to test whether there was a problem with a demon. I did this at my first meeting, and, there was such horrible screaming in pain that the whole office cleared out except for a Baptist Chaplain friend, Chaplain Goss, who stood outside my door praying for me. I tried one thing after another, watching the face distort and an invisible force strangle this man when he tried to say, "Jesus is Lord." Finally, I commanded the demon to state his name, and he said, "Mara." Here is where is really erred because I replied, "What?" This opened my mind for a demonic attack that was swift and unrelenting.
The Holy Spirit said, "Stand behind Jesus Jim." I thought, 'Yes, but how do I do this other than praying to Him intensely for help.' Suddenly, Jesus appeared, coming through the wall of my office. I wondered if I was hallucinating, and asked Him, "Can I touch you?" He replied, "Yes." He felt solid as a rock, so to speak, and the demon could not attack me. Once I moved behind Him, I was a peace since I was under His protection. Then, Jesus moved to the demon possessed man and ministered to him. Once he was done, he left going through the wall in the way He first came.
Needless to say, many people did not believe I actually touched Jesus. I understand because I would be suspicious of this too. My wife was one of them as she questioned whether I actually had an encounter with a demon or saw Jesus. Her attitude changed in New Orleans when we were visiting there in June of 2002. I saw man whose faced became contorted with anger and hate as he looked at the cross I was wearing. I went over to him right away to see if I could talk to him about Jesus. The first thing I noticed was his eyes. His pupils were like cats pupils-elongated. He rounded them as I watched, smiling as if this was supposed to frighten me. Remembered, now how to stand behind Jesus, and this did not bother me at all. During the night, there was a horrible crash that awakened my wife and me from our deep sleep. I asked my wife if her bed had fallen, and she asked me the same thing as we were trying to wake up and grasp what was happening. I saw a presence in the room. It kept getting taller and taller until it was around 7 feet tall. It did not take much of an imagination to realize that I was being attacked by this one I met on the street.
As I came to realize the embodied demon I had met had come for revenge, my Lord commanded me, "Charge Jim!" I did this, and as I drew closer to this presence in the room, I noticed a tightening in my throat. When I came to around 10 feet from him, he stung me on my cheekbone. I can still feel the sensitive spot till this day. As soon as he attacked me, he was swept up with his feet pointed towards the door and swooshed out of that room so fast it made my head spin. The French doors slammed behind him without anyone touching them. When I tried to run outside still charging, but the doors were locked. When I finally got outside, there was no sign of any presence. I asked my wife if she saw this demonic presence, but she had only heard the noise of my charging because she was too terrified to look.
I did not tell you of this experience only to get your attention. I wanted you to see that Jesus is alive, He is still in control of all things, and He wants to be your Shepherd. However, there are stipulations for anyone to become a servant of Jesus. As we read in our first lesson, our Lord tells us in Matthew 16:24 (NKJV), ".... If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." There can be no compromise. There will be total surrender as one takes up his cross to follow Jesus instead of the world and ones own desires. We get to know what Jesus expects of us as the Holy Spirit speaks to us through God's Word, Scripture.
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Each week we are going to take a new adventure into God's word as we discover the exciting plans, God has for you who have humble and repentant hearts.