A Spellbound Captive of the Night

 

“We are all infected and impure with sin.
      When we display our righteous deeds,
      they are nothing but filthy rags.
   Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
      and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”

Isaiah 64:6, NLT

There are bad things that happen to us— the ugly, awful and rigorous things, that only God himself can explain.  We read theology and we read our Bibles, we listen dutifully to preachers but we still approach the throne of Jesus more mystified than anything else.

We are seem to be playing ‘ping-pong’ with the most challenging  issues.  We come to Him, because there is no one left who can answer things that have perplexed everyone else.  Why do we suffer?  Why does evil exist?  Why do people who live in blatant sin, succeed?  Why am I sick all the time?

If God is really God, why doesn’t he just give us an explanation about these questions?  Our title talks about being “spellbound.”  Are we really that inured, or attached with a sinister evil?  To be spellbound means we are being confused, drugged or hypnotised by something quite awful.  A cobra rises up, and opens its “hood.”  Its victim is entranced by what it sees in front-of-it.  He soon becomes supper.

Being held captive is a ordinary occurance for human beings.  Captivity brings us imprisonment.  Usually in a dark, dirty and unpleasant place.  But yet, it intrigues us so much, and the “light” is such a boring and dull thing.  We feel great as we trade the truth for lies.  But what a deal we reason; “step right up, and exchange it for the lie!”

 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV

From this new and fresh influence we come under the control and will of ‘the dark side’.  (And this is not merely “Star Wars‘ mythos.  It is very much real.)  We gradually give ourselves over, in a reasonably predictable pattern.  We think we are pretty much unique in this, but the truth is that we are pretty much ordinary. Sin never enhances us. Don’t believe the lie.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

John 3:19

There comes a point when there is enough momentum and weight, that it creates an avalanche. At this point things have gotten desperately grim.  From a human standpoint, there will be no way to avert the inevitable.  Sin will roll over you, blasting into your life, and worst of all into the hearts of your family.  In a stark way— things get very dark, very fast.

Sin will always enslave.  It will turn on you and rock your world. 

But we are so entranced by what it wants to give us.  It looks so good…one could call it “self-actualizing.”  (Maybe even “liberating!”)  But in one of the many purposes of the Old Testament, is to clarify what happens in people’s hearts when we step down and let the sin and confusion take over.  You could say, that there will be pleasure for a brief season, but  it will always have a very savagely grim and a black conclusion. ”For the wages of sin is death.”

“If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will then we may take that it is worth paying.”  

–C.S. Lewis

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The Urgency of This Moment

 
“Johnny Quick”

 “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.”

John 9:4, NLT

To be quick means that we move very fast; being slow often implies a reluctance or a mental delay.  To hesitate while doing God’s will for us suggests a degree of ignorance or stubbornness.  Our quickness is to be seen while doing “the tasks assigned to us.”

Urgency should be woven into our hearts.  We need to have wings on our feet, a fleetness and an alacrity.  A “double-eagerness” as we carry out His work.  It should be of no surprise that God sets before us an itinerary of work He wants us to do.

So many brothers and sisters sleepwalk through their salvation. They snooze when Jesus desires they “watch and pray” with Him.

Jesus was on a  timetable. He communicated a need of doing.  He is in tune with the work of God, and is involved in the urgency of his present moment.  Jesus knows this, and he clearly communicates the need to do.  We are not called to be manic for Jesus; we are expected to be alert and aware.

This is a cry for urgency to his disciples.

“The night is coming.”  It is getting late.  In response Jesus issues an order.  Work at what the Father has assigned you.  It is almost dark now.  There is a “principle of spiritual velocity” calling us to an alertness and an awareness of needful things to do before “the time is up.”

In Acts 9 the disciples show a holy zeal in their day’s work.  We can’t stop speaking what we have seen and heard.”  The Old Testament prophets carried this urgency–Jeremiah and Amos both declared to us this avidity placed on the believer.  Jesus desires that we factor in this concentrated awareness of the approaching night.

I recently read of an evangelist in the last century.  He had a watch made, and on the dial he had a picture of a setting sun.  And over it, the words, “the night comes.”  Everytime he would look at his watch he would be reminded of the shortness of life and the need of the performance of his duty.  That lesson should be transmitted to each zealous believer.

The key word I guess, in all of this, is zeal.  And often the older we get the more this word becomes diminished, and distant.  (I believe our Father understands this about us.) No matter what we do, He focuses His love on us.  There will never be a condemnation on us.  But we can still waste away our lives in a tragic way, which we will later regret. 

But we have to ask ourselves this, will I just be an admirer, or can I become a zealous disciple of Christ?

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Heart Disease

Hearts 168457_154905807894473_110794108972310_320156_2061498_n“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”

Jeremiah 17:9, NLT

We are the wounded. What exactly has caused it isn’t always known.  A death, divorce, depression and disability are great triggers.  Some of us are chronically ill, others are mentally ill.  We struggle to hold a job, and to go to church. There are some who are reading this who are controlled by addictions.  And a few of us consider suicide on pretty much a regular basis.

We’ve been hospitalized and stigmatized, and sometimes even institutionalized. And at times we endure massive attacks of fear and anxiety.  We are not easily understood, and we hear the whispers.  Our paranoia can often saturate what what we are thinking, (I think its more like a “marinade.”  Our brains just soak it up.)  Most of us are ‘walking wounded.’ We limp physically, and figuratively with equal pain.

“For thus says the LORD: Your hurt is incurable,
    and your wound is grievous.”

Jeremiah 30:12, ESV

If we are honest (and God insists on a rigorous honesty) we realize that we are a mess!  The prophet Jeremiah had a tremendous understanding of the human condition, and was never beguiled by the lie of pride, arrogance and selfishness.  He declares that we are diseased down to the core, like a rotten apple.

At times we continue in our favorite style of darkness.  And havoc sporadically rips through us and we become “disaster areas.”  How very sad, and profoundly tragic.

But you must understand this powerful fact.  Jesus Christ has been sent by the Father to save and cleanse all who come to Him.

“At that time a fountain will be open for David’s descendants and for the people of Jerusalem to cleanse them of their sin and uncleanness.”

Zechariah 13:1, NCV

“Children, it’s time for a bath,” and what God has done provides us the only way to “get better.” Some of us have carried staggering burdens for decades.  But I must be truthful. Our afflictions may continue to disturb us.  If you are bipolar or depressed, it just could be you’ll remain so.  But I know first-hand that our Father will give us an extra ration of grace.

In the Old Testament, family patriarchs could give an additional portion to a son he especially loved.  All were blessed, but some more so. That peculiar proclivity of our Father is why some of us with deep wounds can follow closer than others who are healthy.

“For I am the LORD, your healer.” Ex. 15:26

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“The treatment a wound gets decides whether time will bring healing or bondage.”

&

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion. (Lord, have mercy on each reader)

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