July 15 – God Is Above All Things

Luke 11: 14 – 28  NLT

14 One day Jesus cast out a demon from a man who couldn’t speak, and when the demon was gone, the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed, 15 but some of them said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” 16 Others, trying to test Jesus, demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.

17 He knew their thoughts, so he said, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 18 You say I am empowered by Satan. But if Satan is divided and fighting against himself, how can his kingdom survive? 19 And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. 20 But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. 21 For when a strong man is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe— 22 until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings.

23 “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

24 “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, searching for rest. But when it finds none, it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ 25 So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and in order. 26 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.”

27 As he was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out, “God bless your mother—the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!”

28 Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

Jesus cast out a demon who had taken away the ability of a man to speak. Up to now in Luke, when miracles happened, they were the center of attention. They would be described in detail – where it happened, who was there, the reaction of the healed person, etc. This time, the miracle is stated in one verse and then the debate began. Jesus is going to clearly set out the fact that there is a spiritual war between God and Satan, and everyone needs to choose a side. You can’t be somewhere wavering in the middle, in no man’s land. “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” (v. 23)

Jesus gives an example of the middle ground with a man whose demon left looking for a better place. Not finding it, the demon returned to the man who was described “as all swept and in order”. (v. 25) It was empty, so the demon and 7 more decide to move in, making the man worse off now than before. If God had been there, that wouldn’t have happened. That empty space is an invitation for Satan.

The reaction of the people to this miracle is typical of people today. The first group was against Jesus, claiming he was actually doing this in Satan’s power. Others were not sure, and wanted him to do more miracles to prove he was from heaven. (v. 15 – 16) When we talk about our faith in God to people outside the church, many just state they do not believe in this religious stuff.  Others will say they are not sure, that they’ll think about it. We need to realize that there is no middle ground. You are for God – or you are not.

In our culture, we tend to consider demons, evil spirits, dark powers, etc. as myths and the subject of movies. At Hallowe’en, dressing as a devil or a witch is no problem. Even angels are more like fantasy as we see them in art, or cute little figurines. But this spiritual world is real. It is something we have to realize, but we don’t have to live in fear and terror. God will win this battle, and we can count on his strength to be with us through our lives.

To reinforce your confidence in being on God’s side, here are some verses written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1: 19 – 23 and continuing into Ephesians 2: 1 – 10. Soak these verses in and understand how confident you can be as God’s child:

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

2: 1 – 10

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Our song for today is Resurrection Power by Chris Tomlin.

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