HOW MUCH?

Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy upon you.  And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.  (Mark 5:19-20)

What was said of Legion, the man who was possessed by multiple evil spirits, I can also testify.  I don’t know how much actual demons have attempted to bring me to ruin and despair.  But I know that certain demons, my own sinful desires, have haunted me for years.  I really believe that Jesus has and is setting me free.  I have had years of these demons controlling and influencing my life.  And who doesn’t?

Like Legion, the Lord has done much for me.  He has shown me as great of mercy as He showed Legion.  God’s mercy is so sweet.  It is so refreshing to the soul.  There is an inward peace and joy that His mercy is producing in me.  I am thankful for all He has done for me and for all the mercy He has granted to me.  He has granted forgiveness and restoraation to His loving fellowship.  His discipline is painful; but because He loves me, He disciplines me.

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him.  For the Lord disciplines the one He loves and chastises every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)

When we learn to properly accept the Lord’s disciple, the Lord will then give us directions from which we  are enabled to proceed with life.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:15-18)

God tells us to look carefully how we walk, to be wise in all that we think and do.  We are to make the most of our time and remember that the days are evil  (more evil than ever before in my life time).  We are not to be foolish.  A fool says in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 14:1).  You see, we live constantly in the presence of God.  We  are to understand what the will of the Lord is.  We are constantly to seek His will in His Word, through prayer, through the counsel and accountability of other people, and through the circumstances that we face daily.

We are told that we are not to get drunk with wine.  What happens when we are drunk with wine?  We are influenced and controlled by it.  Unfortunately, I have allowed wine and other things control me at times.  Where does this lead?  A lack of good judgment, proneness toward compromises, irresponsible behavior, etc.  Instead, we are to be filled with the Spirit of God.  The Spirit must dominate my heart and mind.  He must influence me.  Then I am able to put self aside and allow the Spirit to direct and control my life.  Being filled with the Spirit is a matter of surrendering one’s life to Him, to desire what He wants of me, to rely upon His fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — Galatians 5:22-23), and experience the reality of His presence in my life.

Too long I have tried to be in control of my life and what a disaster that has been!  Often I fail to realize that there is a fierce battle going on in the deep recesses of my heart and mind.

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these two are opposed to  each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:17)

The desires of the flesh are powerful!  When I am weak spiritually, they will take control of me.  They will influence my thoughts, words and actions.  They overwhelm me and my judgment becomes blurred.  I revert to my selfish ambitions, self-centered actions, sinful pleasures, and foolish thoughts.  (Remember, a fool says in his heart there is no God).  I then begin to think and act independently of God.

But the desires of the Spirit are omnipotent (all powerful)!  They can easily defeat the desires of the flesh when I yield to the Spirit’s control.  When I do this, God gives me a new perspective, a new life.  Then I will not want to go back to the old one.  I realize that I cannot do it in my own strength.  The desires of the flesh are too powerful.  I have to be filled with the Spirit and when I am filled, the Spirit will give me His inward fruit which I so desperately want and need.

God is producing in me a new love for people:  my wonderful wife, our children and grandchildren, and the many people who live under the bondage of hidden sins.

He is bringing joy back into my life — the joy of His salvation — which cannot be taken away, even by the desires of the flesh and the negative circumstances that I face.

For the first time in years, I am beginning to experience a renewal of being at peace with God and of having the peace of Christ ruling in my life.

I am learning patience, as I am not ,by nature, a patient person.  (Just ask my wife, children, and the people I minister with!)  I want to be kind to others and I want to live in the goodness of God.  I want to be faithful: first to God, then to my family and to my calling.  I desire to approach others with gentleness.  And certainly I must learn and practice self-control, which failing to do so, can lead to my downfall.

But now the Lord is restoring me.  Like Legion, I desire passionately to proclaim how much Jesus has done for me!

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