Darkness Can Not Stand Against Light
John 1: 1-3
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
A servant of God must stand so very much alone that he never realizes he is alone. In the early stages of the Christian life, disappointments will come— people who used to be lights will flicker out, and those who used to stand with us will turn away. We have to get so used to it that we will not even realize we are standing alone. Paul said, “…no one stood with me, but all forsook me….But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…” (2 Timothy 4:16-17). We must build our faith not on fading lights but on the Light that never fails. When “important” individuals go away we are sad, until we see that they are meant to go, so that only one thing is left for us to do— to look into the face of God for ourselves.
Allow nothing to keep you from looking with strong determination into the face of God regarding yourself and your doctrine. And every time you preach make sure you look God in the face about the message first, then the glory will remain through all of it. A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others. The ministry of Christ is characterized by an abiding glory of which the servant is totally unaware— “…Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him” (Exodus 34:29).
We are never called on to display our doubts openly or to express the hidden joys and delights of our life with God. The secret of the servant’s life is that he stays in tune with God all the time.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Genesis 3:6
If you were ever a freshman in college, you may remember how cool you felt if an upperclassman showed some interest in you.
T. J. Evans lived across the hall from me my freshman year. He was a self-assured upperclassman with that I’ve-got-it-all-together swagger in his walk. It didn’t take long to realize that he was a big man on campus. So you can imagine how flattering it felt when he took an interest in the freshmen on our floor.
Well, take an interest in us he did. But we were soon to find out that he had a sinister agenda up his sleeve. After curfew, he would hang out with us and suggest brilliant pranks that we could pull off under the cover of darkness. He’d help us design the strategy and off we’d go, only to get caught and find ourselves in a lot of trouble. When we got caught, we always noticed that T. J. was nowhere to be seen. He had sent us off and stayed in his room taking great delight in seeing us freshmen end up in a heap of trouble. In retrospect, I can’t believe we let him do that to us—not just once but we were dumb enough to have it happen a lot! It’s the old, “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me!” routine.
When I think about it, T. J.’s delight in getting us in trouble is not much different than Satan’s interest in you and your life. He comes along with nifty schemes that look like fun—things he assures will make you happy, fulfilled, and satisfied. When someone hurts you, he has anI don’t get mad, I just get even strategy that makes you feel really good about not being taken advantage of. Instant trips into pleasure-land and debt-increasing spending sprees offer quick kicks of adrenalin. If you have a need, if you have a desire—believe me, he has a plan! But when you execute his strategy, he’ll be nowhere to be found. He won’t be there to deliver on his promise that you will be happy and fulfilled. He won’t even have the decency to help you pick up the pieces and to apologize for messing up your life. In fact, all the time he had a sinister agenda up his sleeve! He loves to see our lives complicated with shame, guilt, and regret. He is the master of ruined lives. As Peter warns us, he’s on the prowl looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5:8)!
We should have known. When he lured Adam and Eve with an offer they found hard to refuse, he didn’t stay around to make good on his promise but slithered off leaving them fearful, ashamed, and full of regret. And that strategy was so good that he continues to find it useful in your life and mine thousands of years later.
Peter Berger said it well when he wrote:
He who sups with the devil had better have a long spoon, because he who sups with the devil will find that his spoon gets shorter and shorter until that last supper in which he is left alone at the table with no spoon at all and an empty plate. But the devil, one may guess, will have then gone on to more interesting company.
Fool us once, shame on Satan! Fool us twice, shame on us!
- Think about a specific time when you fell to a suggestion of Satan in your life. Which of the following did you experience in the aftermath of your decision: Shame? Regret? Guilt? All of the above?
- Is there a plan of Satan that you consistently fall for? Why?
- Select an area of your life where you repeatedly fail and find Scriptures that address the issue. What plan can you put in place so that you’re not fooled by Satan in that area again?
From: Streams in the Desert
God Knows My Way
Joshua 5:11-12 (NIV) 11The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan.
Israel celebrated their first Passover in the Promised Land. As soon as they ate the food of that land, the manna stopped. I wonder if the next morning they got up by habit to go out and collect it. For forty years God had provided angels’ food for them on a daily basis Now that they are home, they can eat of the good of the land that God has given them.
God provides for us. He is Jehovah Jireh, “the LORD provides”. He won’t give us too much, but He will give us enough to sustain us. As we travel through this life, as long as we have a need, the LORD will provide. We can count on our daily manna. As long as we go out to gather it and don’t try to keep it over night, we will always be able to fill our jars. We will have just enough.
But that land to which we are going will have an abundance and variety. The Lord is still our portion and our cup, but instead of coming from above, He will be all around us. One day, the angel of the second death will pass over us because of what Jesus did in our place. Then we will be home and eating freely of the abundance of the land.
Meditation: I’m on my way to something better. This world is not my home.
Mark 15:21-23 (NIV) 21A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 23Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
The beatings and Roman scourging had so weakened Jesus that He could not carry the crossbeam to the site of the crucifixion. Jesus was at the end of physical ability. A man who had journeyed from North Africa to celebrate the Feast of Passover, Simon, was forced to carry the beam. His children later became well known in the early church. This encounter with Jesus would change his life.
There is some debate about where the crucifixion site is. Two popular ones exist in Jerusalem, but no one can say for sure which, if either, is authentic. It would have been near a gate and beside a road. The Scriptures tell us He was brought to a hill, not on a hill. It was probably a place used regularly for executions.
A group of Jewish women regularly met those who were to be crucified to offer a pain deadening mixture of strong wine and myrrh. When Jesus tasted it, He refused it. He had promised not to drink the fruit of the vine until He drank it new with the disciples in the Kingdom. The women pitied Him, but He grieved for them; He knew they were rejecting their only hope. Their pity was a mere human sentimentality. His pity was that of both the suffering Jerusalem was about to endure and an eternal perspective. We would have welcomed anything to deaden the pain. Jesus met death head on, determined not to flinch but to conquer it for us.
There is a lesson in His determination. We often skirt our trials, looking for the easy way out. Jesus faced them with faith in His Father. He knew that total reliance on the Father would see Him through anything, even if it meant obedience unto death. That is faith!
Prayer: Lord, when we are faced with the trials that inevitably come from obedience to You, help us to face them with Your resolute determination.
“There shall not an hoof be left behind.” Exodus 10:26
Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 20:1-10
A man once wrote a book to prove the devil a fool. Certainly, when all matters shall come to their destined consummation, Satan will prove to have been a magnificent fool. Folly, magnified to the highest degree by subtlety, shall be developed in Satan. Ah! Thou trailing serpent, what hast thou now after all? I saw thee but a few thousand years ago, twining around the tree of life, and hissing out thy deceptive words. Ah! how glorious was the serpent then—a winged creature, with his azure scales. Yes, and thou didst triumph over God. I heard thee as thou didst go hissing down to thy den. I heard thee say to thy brood,—vipers in the nest as they are,—“My children, I have stained the Almighty’s works: I have turned aside his loyal subjects; I have injected my poison into the heart of Eve, and Adam hath fallen too; my children let us hold a jubilee, for I have defeated God.” Oh, my enemy; I think I see thee now, with thy head all broken, and thy jaw-teeth smashed, and thy venom-bags all emptied, and thou thyself a weary length of agony, rolling miles afloat along a sea of fire, tortured, destroyed, overcome, tormented, ashamed, hacked, hewed, dashed in pieces, and made a hissing, and a scorn for children to laugh at, and made a scoff throughout eternity. Ah! well, brethren, the great Goliath hath gained nothing by his boasting: Christ and his people have really lost nothing by Satan. All they lost once, has been re-taken. The victory has not simply been a capture of that which was lost, but a gaining of something more. We are in Christ more than we were before we fell. “Not a hoof shall be left behind.”
For meditation: Victory over Satan will be celebrated with joy (Revelation 12:10-12;Romans 16:20) but for the moment we must remain on our guard against him (1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 4:27; 6:11; 1 Timothy 3:6,7; 1 Peter 5:8,9).
Sermon no. 309
22 April (1860)