Mark 3 – The Facts.
When persons in families squabble over minute, trivial issues it breaks our hearts. Tensions run high when disagreements are heated. Sides are taken. Those who think they are “right” think the other side is evil and “wrong”. Feelings are hurt and love is tested. Hearts become cold and words that spew are sarcastic. Team Family disintegrates. Why does it come to this?
Many years ago I was with my husband at a Billy Graham School of Evangelism. One of our speakers came in late, very concerned with tears in her eyes. She apologized for being a few minutes late and explained, “My son who is a pastor just called me. He said that a new Christian from his church casually went to the park in the town of Phoenix, AZ. She was joyful over her new heart for Christ.”
He went on the relate, “She noticed a small group, holding hands in a circle. She came closer to see who they were, wondering if they were Christians and curious about their group meeting in a public park. She soon discovered that they were praying…but not to God…to Satan! They were were praying for the destruction of every pastor’s family in Phoenix, for if the pastor’s family was torn apart that would, in their thinking, tear down church families at large! This new believer called her pastor immediately and shouted, ‘WE have GOT to PRAY for you and for our church now!'” This pastor called his mom, our speaker, to relay the incident to our group and pleaded for prayer for himself and for his church.
Our speaker gave the call to pray. We all stopped the conference and knelt by our chairs to urgently pray for her son and for all pastors and their families. This shook us up and caused us to cry out for God’s mercy and help for we were all pastors and spouses gathered there to learn. This incident happened about 30 years ago!
Are we still urgently praying for pastors and their families who are under constant attack because of being on the front lines with Christ? Are we praying for the protection of new believers?
Evil and God do not occupy the same space. Jesus explains…
Mark 3, The Message
Satan Fighting Satan?
20-21 Jesus came home and, as usual, a crowd gathered—so many making demands on him that there wasn’t even time to eat. His friends heard what was going on and went to rescue him, by force if necessary. They suspected he was getting carried away with himself.
22-27 The religion scholars from Jerusalem came down spreading rumors that he was working black magic, using devil tricks to impress them with spiritual power. Jesus confronted their slander with a story: “Does it make sense to send a devil to catch a devil, to use Satan to get rid of Satan? A constantly squabbling family disintegrates. If Satan were fighting Satan, there soon wouldn’t be any Satan left. Do you think it’s possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man, and walk off with his possessions unless you tie him up first? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out.
28-30 “Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.” He gave this warning because they were accusing him of being in league with Evil.
More to think about…
–When we put another believer down for not behaving exactly like us, causing tension and division in God’s family, are we grieving the Holy Spirit?
–“Listen carefully, I’m warning you”, says Jesus.
–There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. –Jesus
–“If we persist”…think about it. Take all the time you need.
–Avoid severing our precious connection the the One who forgives. At all costs. It might involved laying down our own opinions, interests, and wants so that others might find and follow Jesus.
I am reminded of one more story. A non-believing friend asked Randy and I, “Why are churches in such heavy competition with each other? Aren’t you all on the same team?” Good question.
Dear Heavenly Father, You have stirred our hearts once more with the urgency to pray for our brothers and sisters, to look past each other’s faults and look up to serve you more diligently than ever before because our very lives depend on it. We need Team Family of God! Help us to love You more, realize your love for us so that we can love each other with more depth and understanding. May Your Presence send evil packing in the lives of Your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.