There was a little old lady who would come out every morning on the steps of her front porch, raise her arms to the sky and shout, “Praise the Lord!” One day an atheist moved into the house next door. Over time he became discouraged at the little old lady. Every morning he would step out onto his front porch and yell after her, “There is no Lord”.
Time passed, and the two of them carried on that way every day. One morning in the middle of winter, the little old lady walked onto her front porch and shouted, “Praise the Lord! Lord, I have no food and I am starving. Please provide for me, oh Lord!”
The next morning she stepped out onto her porch and there were two huge bags of food sitting there. “Praise the Lord!” she cried out. “He has offered food for me!” The atheist jumped out of the hedges and shouted, “There is no Lord. I bought those groceries!”
The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted, “Praise the Lord! He has offered me with groceries, and He made the devil pay for them!”
There is a television show called “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”. It is a show where a construction crew comes into a home and does a complete renovation, usually for a low income family or a family that has seen other hardships. There is nothing new about extreme makeovers. In fact, Jesus performed many extreme designs in the Bible. We heard one such makeover in the reading we heard from Luke 8:26-39 earlier in this morning’s service.
When Jesus healed the demon-possessed man, he was no longer shameless. He was clothed. He had a sense of what was decent and proper. In other words, he had morals. The man was in his right mind. He saw the world as it was… a world with both enemies and friends. It doesn’t matter what they are or how severe they are. Jesus has the power to overcome our demons.
The story of Jesus and the demon-possessed man is an example of religious warfare. Jesus announced war on Satan and his demons. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about demons, but it tells us enough. They are real and they deal in fear and fraud. They are opposed to God and everything he does. We do not have to fear demons because we have faith in God’s power.
1. Be yourself. We can be aware that we are integral parts of God’s creation.
2. Love the world by loving your neighbor. We are all neighbors and we have a neighborly connection to every other human being on earth, including those who suffer from mental illness.
3. Learn from everyone. We are all equal in God’s eyes. We may have different gifts and talents, but we are specially gifted by God’s spirit.
4. Love always and in every scenario.
5. be merciful, just like Jesus showed mercy to the demon-possessed man.
6. Live encompass sound. There is never just one voice that we hear when we listen to God speak to us. We can’t hear his voice without hearing the voice of Scripture and being open to receive the voice of the Spirit. There is never just one side to a story. It takes all four gospels to tell the story of Jesus.
7. Learn a living. Everyone we meet has something to teach us. The demon-possessed man taught us how we should respond to God’s grace in our lives. The townspeople taught us how not to respond to God’s grace.
8. Truth is black and green. It is black in the words of Bible, and it is green in the partnership between creation or nature and the Creator.
9. Trust the Spirit: the power of force is farce. In Jesus the greatest expressions of power and powerlessness came together.
10. Show Courage. The courage Jesus showed was not just the courage of opposition. It was the courage of energy. There will be some of us who may be called upon to show the courage of resistance, taking specified, costly action, in order to stand up for justice, mercy, truth, and love. But every single one of us will find it necessary to offer the courage of stamina throughout our lives. The easiest way for evil to win is not through bombs or bullets, but through the slow erosion of dedication and courage to stand against the present.