Can a Christian become demon-possessed?

Can a Christian become demon-possessed?

The simple answer is, no. But the forces of evil can both influence and tempt you, even if you are a Christ-follower.

As a child of God, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, you are protected from any inroads of demons. In Johns gospel, he reminds us that “Greater is he that is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) The “ he ” John is referencing is God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, who is within all believers. That Holy Spirit is greater than the spirit of evil represented by Satan.

Satan uses many devices to draw Christians away from God. He is a master of deceit and uses all manner of temptations to try and separate a Christian from his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. In fact, it was on Jesus, that Satan tried all of his tricks to tempt Jesus to turn his back on his Father and the mission he came to earth to fulfill. Jesus was tempted in all the ways that a Christian may be tempted, but he did not give in, he did not sin.

Unlike Jesus, we are not God, and all people, Christians and non-Christians alike will sin. But, if you sin and you confess that sin to God and ask for his forgiveness, he will forgive and bring you back into a right relationship with him. The good news is that God also gives you the power to flee from temptation and not enter into sin. You have been given the free will to decide how you will respond. Choose wisely.

What does it mean to let your light shine?

What does it mean to let your light shine?

As youngsters in Sunday School, we learned a song, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…” and we would raise an index finger, pretending it was a candle.  When we sang a verse about Satan blowing it out, or another about hiding it under bushel (basket), we would incorporate motions that reinforced the notion that we were going to let our light shine.  It was a fun song that I have taught to my children and grandchildren, but it has taken a lifetime to truly understand what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5:14 to 16:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The light is not the good deeds you do, nor is it drawing attention to your actions so as to be seen as a “good Christian.” People do good deeds all the time, but aren’t necessarily Christians. And the light isn’t so much like a candle as it is a light bulb where the most important thing is the power that surges through the line and excites some electrons producing light. When the power is switched off, the bulb won’t provide light. In the same way, when a Christian is not “plugged into” God’s power, their light is not going to shine.

So, letting your light shine is all about being connected to the source of the greatest power in the universe. That connection come through prayer, reading God’s word—the Bible—and regularly interacting with other Christians who are able to encourage you in your daily life. Being connected to the source of all wisdom and power will help you live a life that others will see as positive and attractive—a life that will cause them to ask about the source of your “light” and will give you an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus and glorify his, and your, father in heaven.

Should a Christian make New Year’s Resolutions?

Should a Christian make New Year’s Resolutions?

Yes. Resolving to do something is part of human nature. Giving up a bad habit, improving fitness, eating healthier, improving relationships can all be very helpful. However, just saying you’re going to do something, without having a plan to achieve the goal, is foolhardy, and the surest way to fail.

A New Year’s resolution has to be reasonable and if it is to be achieved, it must include these four elements:

  • It must be stated positively
  • It must be stated specifically
  • It must be important to you, the goal setter
  • It must be under your control

So, if you resolve to make a million dollars this year and have a job that pays you $25 an hour, there aren’t enough hours in the year to reach the million-dollar mark.  However, if you say you’re going to read the Bible through in a year, and that’s important to you, then setting a plan to reach that goal is under your control. You will be able to fulfill your resolution if you add discipline to the process.

Of course, not all resolutions are worthwhile, so a Christian should choose wisely.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in the Roman city of Philippi, wrote:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-15

Paul has a clear goal and is pursuing it with discipline. You may want to consider another suggestion of Paul:

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:14-15

Resolving to love others and daily asking God to let the peace of Christ rule in your heart is a great place to start. Resolving to spend time each day thanking God for all he has done for you, and will do for you, is also a way to enhance your life in ways that exercise and diet never can. Resolutions that not only change you, but those around you should also be on your list. Jesus offered one of the best resolutions for a follower of Christ. In Luke 6:27-28 we read one of his teachings:

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Luke 6:27-28

If we all resolved to follow that guidance, imagine how wonderful life would be in 2020.

When you make your New Year’s resolutions, make sure that one of them is to daily ask God to give you wisdom and strength to successfully achieve the others.

What is the “Good News” of Christmas?

What is the “Good News” of Christmas?

The good news of Christmas dates back to the creation of the world by God and the creation of man who was made in God’s image. God intended that the man and woman he created, Adam and Eve, would live in perfect harmony with Him—enjoying perfect fellowship and being obedient to His commands thereby allowing them to experience perfect joy.

The problem is that man rebelled against God, breaking the fellowship and learning that what they thought would be freedom, turned into slavery to sin. That brought all the negative consequences that humans experience today. Those include pain, suffering, broken relationships, lack of peace and death. God who is perfect could not be in fellowship with imperfect humans. Their sins separated them forever from God and ensured that they would suffer throughout eternity for their continued rebellion from God.

Through Jesus, His son, God provided a way for men and women to be rescued from the consequences of their sin. God let Jesus take on the sin of all mankind–a substitute sacrifice that was acceptable to God. Jesus laid down his life that those who willingly accepted this substitutionary sacrifice might have their relationship to God restored. That brought with it the promise of an eternal life free of the consequences of sin. That’s the good news of Christmas, because Christmas is the celebration of the arrival of Jesus on earth in the form of a human. It’s the celebration of a life that culminates in death on a cross where the sins of all men and women–past, present and future–are paid for by the shedding of Jesus’ blood allowing us to be redeemed through the subsequent resurrection of Jesus.

What does God expect us to do with this knowledge that Jesus died in our place so we can be saved from God’s wrath against our sins? He expects us to accept the sacrifice of His son Jesus, turn away from our sin, and have faith that we will experience peace in this life and an eternity of contentment with Him. Christmas is a celebration of this good news, “For unto you a Savior is born who is Christ the Lord.” The final question is, have you believed it and accepted Jesus as your Savior? It is the most important decision a person ever makes. Merry Christmas!

Why did Jesus come as a baby?

Why did Jesus come as a baby?

Jesus was with God when the universe was created. He was the instrument of creation of everything, including mankind, with whom he wanted to have a relationship, and on whom he could bestow his love and affection. However, man abused the relationship and rebelled and in the process became lost to God’s companionship and his love. God never stopped loving man, and prescribed a system of sacrifice by which man could atone for his rebellion, generally known as sin. The blood of an unblemished lamb was let each year for the forgiveness of sin, but it was a temporary measure that had to be performed annually, forever.

God decided to remedy that situation by sending his son, Jesus, earth to take the place of the lamb, shedding his blood once for all time. He could have showed up as an animal to be sacrificed, but he would have been unable to communicate with men and express his love for them.

He could have showed up as an adult but his sacrifice would have been less costly than to have lived as a baby, a boy, a teenager and a man. He became fully man while remaining fully God. He experienced the same kind of temptations that everyone experiences throughout a lifetime, but never sinned. He experienced all the emotions of the people he came to save.

Jesus was born into a family, the perfect setting for physical, emotional and spiritual growth. He taught with authority because he was seen as man with divine wisdom. ore He challenged the both the religious and secular authorities who lived lives that violated God’s laws, setting up the situation where those authorities thought they were executing a troublemaker. What they didn’t know was that it was not them who were taking a life, rather it was Jesus who was giving up his so that all who believed in him could be spared the eternal death they deserved.

How better for Jesus to become the perfect sacrifice than to be born in the lowliest of conditions taking the place of the unblemished lamb. God loved us so much that he sent Jesus in total humility to provide a pathway for the restoration of our relationship with Him.

 

 

Was Jesus the promised Messiah?

Was Jesus the promised Messiah?

Yes. According to the Bible, Jesus is the anointed one, or Messiah, who would become King at the end of days.

In the New Testament portion of the Bible, the life and work of Jesus reveal that He fulfills more than 50 specific prophecies that were recorded hundreds of years before his birth. The fulfilled prophecies point to more than an anointed king, but also to a suffering savior, a teacher, and a healer. The kingship of Jesus is traced in the Bible through 30 generations back to Hosea, the last King of Judah, who reigned almost 600 years before Jesus.

More than 400 years passed between the time when God spoke to his chosen people, the Hebrews in the Old Testament and when He spoke again, through John the Baptist and Jesus in the New Testament. During that long time of absence, the words of the prophets of a coming Messiah encouraged people to continue to pray and expect a king to rule them. In Jeremiah 33, we read of Jesus reestablishing God’s chosen people. Micah 5:2 prophecies the birth of Jesus. But is not until we read in John 1:19-34, the testimony of John the Baptist and his introduction of Jesus “the Lamb of God” that we begin to see the fulfillment of the many prophecies and our understanding that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

John 1:19-34

Photo copyright: 1971yes / 123RF Stock Photo

How do we know that Christianity is true?

How do we know that Christianity is true?

That depends on who is defining Christianity. Basic Christianity is the understanding that a person cannot do anything, including good works or good deeds, to win a place in heaven. Christianity alone teaches that forgiveness of individual sin and the promise of eternal life with God are gifts offered to an individual by God. To receive these gifts of both forgiveness and eternal life, one only has to accept the gift by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So the question becomes, is Jesus true? Is what he says about himself truthful?

Jesus, the first-century teacher, is documented in the Bible and by historians of that period, Josephus and Tacitus. His teachings are among the best-preserved words from antiquity. His birth, life, teachings, miracles, death and resurrection were all prophesied more than 500 years before he was born. Only God, who exists beyond both time and space, could know the future.

Jesus’ miracles demonstrated his divine power. In his three and a half years of ministry, thousands were healed of all sorts of diseases and these events had many witnesses to testify to their authenticity. His death and resurrection are documented historical facts. After he rose from the dead Jesus was seen by more than 500 people, over a span of 40 days. Jesus’ ascension back into heaven had many witnesses proving again he was the Son of God. In addition, there are thousands of verified reports of Jesus appearing to people throughout the world, even to Muslims, who are accepting in great numbers the truth of Jesus as the human manifestation of God. They are recognizing that Jesus is the only path to an eternal relationship with God, the creator of the universe–the only entity who can bring true peace to the human soul and to the world.

Throughout history, many people have tried to hijack Christianity, to use the religion to advance their personal agendas. They have distorted the teachings of Jesus. They have killed and bullied and destroyed in the name of Jesus. However, even a casual reading of the Bible clearly demonstrates that Christians are called to love their enemies, to serve the poor, care for widows and orphans, and to reflect the love of Jesus in all they do. They are called into a life of service on behalf of God, not because God demands it, but because they are so thankful for what he has already done for them. This is the truth of Christianity. By contrast, all other religious systems are either unverifiable or irrational, thereby disqualifying them as being true. For these reasons alone you can know for certain that Christianity is true, but the question is, Do you believe it?

Every individual has the free will to receive God’s gift of salvation or reject it and pursue their own self-centered life. Heaven and Hell hang in the balance of this decision. All other religions propose a path to God. Unfortunately, the fact is these are all dead ends leading to eternal destruction. There is no path. There is only the Way of Jesus Christ because he is the Truth and he is God. (John 14:6)

Is Thanksgiving a Christian Holiday?

Is Thanksgiving a Christian Holiday?

Yes and No. As with many traditions, secularism and consumerism have hijacked what had traditionally been a day for America to reflect on the blessings God had bestowed on Americans and their nation. In 1619, as a requirement of their charter, English settlers at Berkley Plantation in Virginia observed the first official Thanksgiving in the America.

Yes and No. As with many traditions, secularism and consumerism have hijacked what had traditionally been a day for America to reflect on the blessings God had bestowed on Americans and their nation. In 1619, as a requirement of their charter, English settlers at Berkley Plantation in Virginia observed the first official Thanksgiving in America.

Two years later, some 50 Pilgrims in Plymouth Massachusetts were joined by 100 natives in what is traditionally thought of as the first Thanksgiving. The multi-day feast was to celebrate God’s hand in their survival through the harsh first winter during which half of their number perished. That survival was aided by Squanto, an English-speaking native, who helped the Pilgrims fish and plant corn.

Much later, in 1789, President George Washington, floated the idea of a national day of thanksgiving, and, with the approval of Congress, asked the nation to set aside Thursday, November 26 as

“a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Years later, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father.” That tradition continued until Congress, in 1941, officially established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Today, many people associate Thanksgiving with family, food, and football and planning their Black Friday shopping. They often leave out the giving of thanks to God for everything they have. Regardless of how they celebrate it, Thanksgiving is much more than a Christian holiday, it is universal to all. It is a day when everyone can

“Give thanks to the LORD, because he is good. His faithful love continues forever”

(1 Chronicles 16:34)

Image by upsyacqs from Pixabay

In an age of gluttony and consumerism, is Thanksgiving still relevant?

In an age of gluttony and consumerism, is Thanksgiving still relevant?

We’re all thankful for something, but more often discontent with our day-to-day lives. Many of us take for granted so much about our lives and the world around us that we don’t stop and think about the source of all that we have, nor do we stop and thank that source, God.

Some people make food an idol. It is where they find contentment, at least temporarily. They may be thankful for the preparer of a meal, but only when they recognize that all food originates from God who is the provider of everything that goes into the meal can they redirect their gratefulness and begin to enjoy a level of contentment that outlasts the meal in front of them.

In the same way, Americans buy stuff in such prodigious quantities, that retailers can’t keep their shelves stocked. Many Americans, who already own more than 90% of the people in the rest of the world, stand in lines on Thanksgiving Day for Black Friday specials, hoping that the next purchase will satisfy a longing that can only be filled by a God who doesn’t disappoint, doesn’t break, doesn’t wear out and doesn’t become outdated.

We can be thankful for the abundance around us, especially when we remember the source of that abundance. Wherever we look we see God’s handiwork and can be thankful that he created us in his image. We can be thankful that God created a world filled with beauty and sent the sun, the rain and the seed that we might have food to eat.

More importantly, we can be thankful that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on a cross, taking the sin of all mankind upon himself. We can be thankful for Jesus who rose again showing us that there is life after death for all who believe in Jesus, accept the sacrifice he made on our behalf, and choose to allow Jesus to become their savior and lord.  Then they may enjoy true peace and contentment for all eternity.

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.
Philippians 4:6-7
Why is life so unfair?

Why is life so unfair?

It’s natural to think that life is unfair, especially when we, or those we love are hurt in some way. We can also look around the world and look at the disparity of wealth, quality of healthcare, and availability of food and shelter. Why do some people live in relative peace and others in the midst of constant turmoil and war? One part of the answer is that we live in a fallen world. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, all of creation was condemned.  Man’s basic instinct is to control the world around him and that often means trying to control other people and their property.

There is another reason for perceived unfairness. God is sovereign and everything, including weather and other natural disasters are under his control. From our point of view, we may see those disasters as an example of unfairness. It is possible that God sees it differently? In Bible we read this about God:

“…He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.

Matthew 5:45

God loves all of His creation equally and is not a “respecter of persons”. Life may not seem fair, but God is just. He gives us all equal amounts of grace and mercy to allow us to grow through the circumstances that this unfair life causes us to go through. Sometimes what we think of as unfairness is a result of bad decisions, by us or others.  However, God’s desire is for each one of us to be saved and live with Him forever, at peace, secure in His love for us. Jesus comforts us with these words:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

The circumstances of this world can get us down sometimes, but take heart and anticipate His return!

 
Photo by Brian Regrut