The Devil’s Most Powerful Weapons pt III

Its great being back amongst you folks because you are SOME of the people God has led me to. The reason being is that He wanted me to love and protect you as a shepherd does sheep. During this latest period of being in the dreaded “Furnace of Affliction” I’ve had lots of time to recall how He caused most of us to cross paths and the positive impact we have had on each other. Take a moment and think about the circumstances occurring in your life when we first met, and let me know whether or not that statement is true. I already have in mine and, I have to say: praise God from whom my blessings flow.

As I was driving home from church after the Father’s Day service, thoughts of this morning’s message were racing through my mind. I had lots of ideas of what I believed the Lord wanted me to share with you folks, and so, I started to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. Today’s sermon was scheduled to be preached on July 17th. However, unbeknownst to me at the time, the Lord had planned otherwise.

During my Father’s Day message I spoke about two men, David, the second King of Israel and Louie Zamperine one of the stars of the 1936 Olympics. Back in eternity past God had chosen and ordained each of them to become adopted into His family. By speaking the world into existence that wonderful event was predestined to become a reality at a precise moment in human history. There came a time when David and Louie started to rebel against God greatly. They ignored Him and increasingly did their own thing. As their wise loving Father, God knew He would have to shake them up big time even though it would cause them to experience enormous suffering which was designed to powerfully incline them to stay on the only path leading into Heaven (Lam. 32:33).

Although every Christian is still a sinner who has been saved by the precious Blood of Christ, most of their sins have not risen to the heights of these two men. A case in point is a woman named Nancy whom I have spoken about in previous sermons. That good woman suffered greatly before the Lord took her home to Himself.

You folks know I’m not a stranger to suffering either. After Christ not being number one in my life I finally learned what God was teaching me throughout the years and I finally woke up. For example, I have been sincerely struggling real hard for the past few years to honor Him with my every thought, word and deed. I delight myself in Him, by trying to live my life as a humble man. I also plead with Him all the time to help me not to sin, even to the point of sometimes asking Him to take me home, rather than allowing me to continue sinning. Nevertheless, my own physical and emotional suffering has intensified greatly since my 77th birthday in May of last year. I’ll elaborate shortly.

Unlike David and Louie there are other folks who don’t break God’s laws to the extent these men did; especially all the nice people God has brought into our lives. They live amongst us and are a blessing to us. The fact is that God planned for each of us, in various ways, to have our own “Seasons of Suffering” as we travel through the dark “Valley of Death” on the way to our eternal home in Heaven. But why! It doesn’t seem to make any sense. And there are many other Christian  dealing with issues far greater than ours. When I think about these folks, I become ashamed whenever I complain about my problems. During the height of my current divinely ordained challenge there is one person who inspired and encouraged me the most. Although I have never met him, I look forward to becoming acquainted with this courageous man of faith when the Lord calls both of us to be with Him forever. His name is John McAllister. God planned for John “to enter this world with a degenerative nerve disease, grow to 6’3 inches very quickly and was just about wasted away almost thirty years later. Speaking about John and a certain incident she witnessed, Joni Eareckson Tada, the famed quadriplegic, writes: “A nurse friend approaches with a syringe and a plastic container of creamy liquid. He and I keep chatting as she undoes the lower buttons of his shirt. His white abdomen is exposed, along with a patch and a permanent feeding tube. Into the tube she plunges lunch. He doesn’t seem embarrassed, but still, I cover the moment: “It must be hard to know when to say grace when you are fed through a tube.” “The nurse unplugs the syringe and wipes his abdomen, as she might a mouth with a napkin. I’m grateful she’s tidy. John craves to keep clean. Showers are the one normal thing he clings to. Everything else is yesterday.”

“Months pass. The air is chillier, the days shorter. John’s wheelchair sits unused in the corner. He’s too weak to sit in it much. His bed stands in the center of the living room. John is in it. Nighttime is no longer friendly. Shadows cast jerking, jagging shapes across the room. Gravity is his enemy as the weight of the air settles on his chest. Breathing is heavy labor. Calling out is impossible. He needs to call out tonight. In the darkness an ant finds him. The scout sends for others and they come. First hundreds, then thousands. A noiseless legion inches its way down the chimney, across the floor, secretly crawling up his urine tube, up, over and onto his bed. They fan out over the hills and valleys of John’s blanket, tunneling under and onto his body. He is covered by a black, wiggling, invasion.” John’s wife and a nurse found him in the early morning with ants still in his hair, mouth and eyes. His skin was badly bitten and burned.” (A)

As I mentioned earlier, God inspired me through John more than any of the folks I mentioned in previous sermons. Throughout my current ordeal I’ve been thinking about John, God and the ants and especially about God. A lot! I hope you folks will too. All I can say is that what I’m enduring is a piece of cake in comparison. And, as I have mentioned elsewhere, there are lots of other people worse off than me. How about you folks? Do you agree? Are you aware of others whose ordeal is more severe than yours? Of course you are. And so, the question remains, why was it part of God’s eternal plan to have some of His precious children endure so much misery such as by becoming the parent of  a wayward child who became enslaved by drugs, even to the point where he or she engages in all sorts of illegal activity to support their addiction. Unless you have been in such a parents shoes you can only guess about his or her horrendous anguish. They would give anything not to have been in such a situation, wouldn’t they; especially since their heartbreaking pleas to God seem to be falling on deaf ears.

Most of us have known Christian’s whom God planned to suffer the physical and emotional torments of struggling with cancer or some other terrible disease such as multiple scoliosis, cystic fibroses, or quadriplegia. And how about a person whose long time marriage suddenly died, while he or she was cleverly deceived for years into believing it was healthy.

At this point I would like to elaborate a little on my current experience in the “Furnace of Affliction” just as I promised at the beginning of this message. My physical and emotional suffering has intensified greatly since I turned 77 in May of 2010. Then one morning as I was showering a month after my 78th birthday this year, I bent over to wash my feet and pulled a muscle in my lower back. Well, unless you’re a hypochondriac, you don’t run to the doctor with every little ache and pain. It wasn’t until six weeks later as the pain grew increasingly worse that I found out I had been walking and working with a compressed disc fracture. In other words, I had a broken back. To make a long story short, because of a number of factors, I had a seizure in our kitchen early one morning in July and fell on my butt. I couldn’t get up and would have died there if my wife hadn’t found me and called 911. Williston Rescue rushed me to the hospital where I received excellent care but also was told some things that led me to believe my life had been irreversibly altered. The words coming out of a certain care givers mouth couldn’t have been worded better in order to demoralize me and get me discouraged and depressed. Not only would we have to move but I would never drive a car again. The ministry God called me to was about to end. I would no longer serve as a shepherd watching over you and the rest of the folks God led me to love and protect. In addition to the physical pain those particular thoughts weighed heavily on me and stayed with me after I was discharged into the care of the Rehabilitation Center.

I have to give thanks to God for blessing me through Christians such as my daughter Susan who believes in the absolute authority of the Bible. I didn’t know it at the time but I had been taken captive by the Devil and she is the one God used to jog my memory and set me free. Susan reminded me of a sermon I had preached a while ago. In it, I tipped you folks off to the fact that those evil spirits often assail God’s children through the mouth of a fellow human being such as you and me. In my case, they sent awful thoughts to that caregiver and, unknown to him; they were calculated to demoralize me. A long time ago, in the case of Peter, they tried to blast Jesus through Peter’s mouth. Jesus responded by looking at Peter but saying, “Get behind me Satan.” The Lord used my daughter Susan to encourage me through one of my own sermons and I was immediately delivered from the clutches of the Devil. But, I was soon going to be reminded while I was in rehab those demonic slime-ball’s don’t just roll over and give up. It happened on one of the hottest and most humid nights of the year. The meds and pain were making me confused. I couldn’t think straight. Even though my roommate had the air conditioner cranked up to the max I could hardly breathe because of the heat. That’s the state I was in when the “Demons of Hell” were turned loose on me. I pleaded with God to help me and the response I received was Scriptures such as

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. Jeremiah 17:7 (ESV)

Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. Psalm 32:10 (NIV)

“call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15 (NIV)

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Then I had an uncanny experience that I will never forget. These passages of Scripture were followed by shrieking laughter, as if to say: the Bible is a joke you stupid old fool! I was awfully confused and couldn’t concentrate. Worse of all was the fact that I was no longer able to sense God’s constant loving presence as I have been for the past several years. Suggestions bombarding my mind that the reason God wasn’t with me was because He didn’t exist. He had just been a figment of my imagination and I was an idiot for believing He did. Then, all of a sudden I was absolutely certain that God was indeed real, but as much as I wanted to draw near to Him, I couldn’t. I was all alone and it was awful. There wasn’t another human being I could talk with and let him or her know what I was going through. That evil spirit of fear had me in its clutches. I imagined myself being trapped forever in total darkness and suffocating heat accompanied by the chorus of shrieking demonic laughter. I came to the conclusion that I had two options: (1) believe it and doom myself to going stark raving mad existing all alone in the scorching darkness with those invisible shrieking slime-balls or (2) trusting God completely regardless of what I was experiencing. By the grace of God I managed to trust Him. At that point my thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the last words Jesus spoke when He cried out in agonizing pain just before He died on His cross: “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” Then I immediately heard some of the words of an encouraging song we often sing. “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He’s watching me.” From that moment to the present I have been constantly aware of the fact that Almighty God, the Creator and sustainer of our infinite universe and everything and everyone in it, loves me with a love so great I can’t even begin to understand the magnitude of it.

Those evil beings did their best to drive me the point of believing I had been forsaken by God. That was the most terrifying experience in my 78 plus years of life and I will never be the same. God gave me an almost three hour second hand taste of Hell and what it must feel like to be separated from Him forever. Now, because of my experience, whenever I think of the eternal horror awaiting certain people God has led me to love dearly, folks who, because they haven’t yet accepted the gift of forgiveness for their sins, whenever I think of them I could literally cry.

At this point I’m going to quote some passages of Scripture to shed light on our question. Then I’ll tell a story about the Divine Gardener and a discontented primrose to help us to better understand what Jesus is saying.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 (NIV)

Think about that. The Lord is preparing a place for each of us in Heaven. The fact is that the place in which we find ourselves in this world is the exact spot in which the Master Gardner desires us to live our lives. There is nothing disorganized in the way God runs the world. God leads every one of His children by the right way. He knows where and under what influences, each particular life will ripen best.

For instance, one tree grows best in the sheltered valley, another by the water’s edge, another on the bleak mountain-top swept by storms. Every tree or plant is found in a precise locality to enhance its growth. Do you think that God gives more thought to trees and plants than He does to His own children? Of course not!

He places us amid the circumstances and experiences in which our life will grow and ripen the best. The peculiar trials to which we are each subjected to, is the exact discipline we need to bring out the beauties and graces of true spiritual character in us. We are in the right place. We may think that we would ripen more quickly if we had an easier life. But God knows what is best for us and He doesn’t make mistakes!

There once was a primrose growing by itself in a shady corner of the garden. It became discontented as it saw the other flowers in their mirthful beds in the sunshine. It begged to be moved to a more conspicuous place. Its prayer was granted. The gardener transplanted it to a more showy and sunny spot. It was greatly pleased but a change came over it immediately. Its blossoms lost much of their beauty, and became pale and sickly. The hot sun caused them to wilt and wither. So it prayed again to be taken back to its old place in the shade. The wise Gardener knows where it’s best to plant each flower.

In the same way, God, who is the Divine Gardener, knows perfectly where His people will best grow into becoming the beautiful Christ-like person He planned for each of them to become. Some require the fiercest of storms; and some will only thrive in the shadow of worldly adversity; and others will come to ripeness more sweetly under the soft and gentle influences of prosperity whose beauty, rough experiences would mar. The Divine Gardener knows what is best for each one!

The grace of Christ has in it a potency which is enough to enable us to live godly wherever we are called to dwell. When God chooses a home for us in this world, He equips us for its particular trials.  A.

Those evil cosmic forces of darkness hate each of us with a passion. The devil assigns them to us individually depending on where they know we are the most vulnerable. For instance, an anxious person like me will be bombarded by demons that specialize in knowing how to cause the person to become overly anxious and not trust God but worry. The following scriptures may help us to understand

The LORD is our light and our salvation– whom shall we fear? The LORD is the stronghold of our life– of whom shall we be afraid? (Psalm 27:1).

Regardless of what we are experiencing, if we are one of God’s children we never have to become overly anxious and worry. If we humbly ask Him to help us to overcome our fears, He will. Then each of us will be able to thank Him and say, “You surely are the stronghold of my life.”

Those of you who are familiar with my sermons know that it isn’t as easy as it may sound. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. I know my faith is very fragile just as many of us do. Without the Lord sustaining us, we know it would shatter instantly.

In conclusion, the more I think about everything and view it with the light of Scripture, the more I’m convinced that the chorus I heard was actually a “Chorus of Shrieking Agony.” According to everything Jesus taught about Hell there is no laughter there. In my physical and emotional state; those slime-balls were able to con me into believing that there was.

Lord willing, September 11th.

(When the shift changed I learned that my roommate had mistakenly turned the A.C. off. Only the fan was running and it was sucking into the room that miserable hot humid air from the outside. The devil had managed to provide me with these special effects).

Adapted and modernized from, J. R. Miller’s “The Divine Gardener, “How to Live a Beautiful Christian Life” (1880).


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August 18, 2011 Posted by Categories: Uncategorized Tagged with:

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