Holy Thorns


     "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13...."It is impossible for Jesus to be anywhere without something happening, and now Jesus is here by the Holy Spirit in believers.  Therefore there ought to be nothing neutral about any Christian."  T. Austin-Sparks....."But when they tried it on a man possessed by an evil spirit, the spirit replied, 'I know Jesus, and I know Paul.  But who are you?' "  Acts 19:15....."Goodbye old man.  The Lord make you a nuisance to the devil."  Words of a friend to T. Austin-Sparks
     It's been said that two of the greatest failings of the church is to make too much of the devil and to make too little.  I think too many of us fall into one of the two categories.  We see him everywhere, and so, fail to see Christ.  Or, we barely see him at all, or dismiss him completely.  He's quite happy with both.  I think most of the professing church will agree that darkness is growing not only in our culture, but worldwide.  But how do we respond to it, and more, in who and what do we respond?  Acts 19:15 relates the story of the 7 sons of Sceva, who was an important Jewish priest.  They recognized the power of darkness, and especially as it manifested in the demonic possession of the man they sought to free of that power. They also considered themselves "ministers".  Yet they attempted to do it in their strength.....and failed.  The demon just dismissed them, and then overwhelmed them.  Much the same is happening in the church today.  There is a great deal of activity going on, but our enemy doesn't care how active we are if our activity, like that of the sons of Sceva, is centered in our own strength and understanding. We are working harder than ever to get people into our churches, prayer and home groups.  Yet he doesn't care at all how many people we get to come to these, just so long as he is able to keep them in the same captivity in which he's always had them.  He doesn't fear our work or how large our crowds are.  What he fears is the power of a transformed life that now walks in the might of the risen Christ.  He, along with all hell trembles at that.  Are the lives you and I live, the churches we are pastoring or a part of striking fear and trembling in the heart of the enemy, of hell itself?  He won't stop our flesh centered activity, and he won't try to keep the crowds away when those crowds represent no threat to him.  But when he sees one man, one woman, living and moving in Holy Spirit power, he steps back.  Against such a life, he is powerless.  He will attack it, seek to thwart it, but he can never overcome it.  He can't because he has already been overcome by the Life of Christ that overflows from within and out of us.
     One of Sparks' exhortations in his writings was that the church and those who comprise it, would live so deeply and powerfully within Him as to be a constant thorn in the devil's side.  Are we?  I've a good friend who said that when we live such a life the enemy's words in Acts 19:15 change to "Jesus I know, and Paul I know.......and now I know you."  I know I have a name in heaven.  I also desire to have a name in hell.  His name.  It can only happen through lives lived in the power of His resurrection. How do we have that life?  We come to His throne and altar.  We place ourselves on that altar, which is also His cross, and we, which means all and every part of us, is nailed there.  His response is to send the holy fire of heaven to consume us, and it is "now no longer I (we) who live, but Christ lives (fully) in me (us.)  From that life, from that church, the enemy flees.  And out of such flows hope, power, and transformation.  A Holy Thorn and Thorns unleashed upon hell.  And hell cannot stand against such.  May it be so in me.  May it be so in you.  May the enemy tremble when he speaks our name, not because he fears anything in us, but because He cowers before the might of the Savior and Holy Spirit flowing out of us.  Instruments of Light and Life unleashed against all the power of darkness and death.....and prevailing.

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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