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The devil and all the empty promises

Bright. Shiny. Seductive. If evil, Satan, the demonic, the “work of the devil”- looked dangerous and scary it would likely be simpler to identify and avoid. This weekend as we continue the Angels in August preaching series we will hear of the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11. We will read Revelation 12:7-9 the defeat of the dragon and his angels and how they are thrown down to earth. We will ponder together the angelic and demonic. We will also use Psalm 103 as our prayer.

Maybe you are familiar with these quotes or scripture:

Idle hands are the devils workshop

The devil made me do it - Flip Wilson used this often in his Geraldine skits

“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” -Oscar Wilde

“the love of money is the root of all evil “ (a paraphrase of I Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.)

One of my teachers would say, “The truth spoken without love is demonic”. In the song “I Was There to Hear your Borning Cry” by John Ylvisaker we sing “in a blaze of light you wandered off to find where demons dwell”. There is a lot to cover and uncover about evil, sin, angels, demons. This weekend as we will be sure to be rooted in love and trust God.

So we will read together Psalm 103 in these verses we are reminded that,

“… the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting

on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” vs. 17-19

As we explore angels and light, love and God’s message to us- we also address that there is a “darkness that has a hunger that is insatiable” as the Indigo Girls sing in Closer to Fine”. To be able to discern good from evil it is important we pay attention to the subtle and the seductive. As we learn from our gospel reading for this weekend in Matthew 4 even the devil can quote scripture.

When we are rooted in faith and trust God deeply we can then together address evil for what it is - that which tries to hide the light and love of God. Evil loves to lurk in the shadow and whispers to us “it’s really not that bad…”. Evil can be the lukewarm water which keeps heating up until it burns us- unaware that we have been saturated with anger, hatred and fear little drip by drip. Together we get to say NO to the devil and all the empty promises that are so tempting. The temptations of power, riches, self-sufficiency, isolation, arrogance, ego-driven success and anything else that tries to separate us from being who are called to be rooted in the love God has for us- to them we say, “get behind me Satan”.

The challenge in addressing the devil, evil and the demonic is to not give it power as we learn to call it for what it is. Rooted in God’s promises we can bless the Lord even in fear, sorrow, disappointment, anger, loneliness and grief. We get to admit our shortcomings, confess our sin, and admit our brokenness because we know that the power and strength of God are greater than any devils, evil or the demonic. Goodness is stronger than evil and love is stronger than hate.

At an impressionable age, I read the novel by Ray Bradbury Something Wicked this Way Comes. It has stayed with me to help allay the temptation to fall into fears that feel they could consume me or despair that “everything is going to hell in handbag”. To bring laughter and light to the darkness dispels it. God is with us. I hope the video above brought you some laughter.

Right now we live in a time where it seems that which separates us -one from another -is more powerful than that which unites us. Say NO! to that. To demoralize or dehumanize another will do the same to you. This week I invite you to let your light shine. Let in love. Speak truth with love and be not afraid. Allow yourself to be blessed so that you can be a blessing.

We are blessed as we open our eyes to "God sightings" and share them with one another. We trust in the power of a God who brings life from death, offers us healing and hope —we fear not. We let in the amazing grace of God knowing it is for all of us. We take deep breaths instead of screaming at one another. We “T.H.I.N.K.” before we speak or send an email or make a comment on a website asking of ourselves : Are my words, Thoughtful, Honest, Intelligent, Necessary, Kind?

When in doubt we don’t. We don’t post, we don’t yell, we don’t speak the truth when it is not inspired by love and may be field by fear or hatred or anything other than love.. We put on the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) instead of falling into the reactive responses fueled by fear, anger, envy, strife, and greed. We take a “God pause” and connect with the Spirit of God which is in each and everyone of us, in each breath. And we slow down.

May you trust that “ …the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

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