The battle against Satan and his demons is very real, but their final defeat has already been decided and planned by our all-powerful God. The book of Revelation says the devil will be chained and locked in the bottomless pit for a thousand years so the nations will have a break from his deception. After that time period, he will be let loose. Then he will again deceive them and gather a huge army to surround God’s people. God will protect his people by sending fire from heaven to destroy this army. Finally, Satan will be thrown into the fiery lake to be punished for his rebellion forever.
1. How do you feel about the certainty of defeat for Satan and his followers (both evil spirits and human beings)?
2. What is your response to God’s perfect justice?
Challenge: Satan knows of his ultimate demise, and thus has nothing to lose. Think about what a dangerous enemy that makes him. He wants to take as many of us as possible down with him. Pray for courage to take action against his deception. Outfit yourself in God’s armor, then boldly proclaim the truth of His loving mercy for all who accept Jesus as Lord!
It’s all too easy to direct our anger at the people in life who cause strife and suffering. Remember that God loves each person he created, from the difficult co-worker to the terrorist shooter, and wants all of us to repent and be saved. Once we identify who our real enemies are and what the war is actually about, our defense strategy changes dramatically. The armor of God is essential for this battle and Paul sums up our plan of attack simply: “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.” (v. 18)
1. How does your perspective change when you realize we are actually fighting against the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world?”
2. Which piece of “armor” do you need help learning how to effectively utilize? Where can you get the training you need?
Challenge: Get in the fight! Don’t stand idly by while the devil attacks your family, friends, church, and community! If you need modern day inspiration, check out the movie “War Room” or read Frank Peretti’s novel “This Present Darkness.”
It can be unsettling to read in the first few verses about how strong and disturbed this possessed man was. But then Jesus arrives on the scene and the situation changes immediately. The man ran to meet Him and bowed low before Him. The evil spirits within him openly acknowledged Jesus’ identity as “Son of the Most High God.” They begged Jesus not to torture them or send them away, but to allow them to enter a herd of pigs instead. It is clear that Jesus has absolute authority over the demons. Afterwards, the man (completely healed and perfectly sane) desires to go with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go home and share what God has done for him.
1. Why do people sometimes react with fear to displays of God’s power as the crowd did in this passage?
2. How can we acknowledge Jesus’ absolute authority over the world and our own lives?
Challenge: After Jesus sent him home, the restored man visited the ten cities in the area and proclaimed what Jesus had done. The next time you recognize God’s provision, don’t only thank Him quietly, tell everyone about what our Lord has done!
Although demons may seem somewhat mysterious to us, several passages throughout scripture provide us with a glimpse into their existence. We learned yesterday that they are Satan’s followers. Jude tells us that they are angels who didn’t stay within the limits God set, nor did they stay where they belonged. As punishment for their sin, God threw them into hell, where they are awaiting judgement. (2 Peter) Demons did terrible things to people, such as the account in Mark of the possessed boy being prevented from speaking and thrown into violent convulsions. Jesus warns that after an evil spirit leaves a person, if it returns to find its former “home” empty, it will move back in, along with several other spirits more evil than itself.
1. What does the world tell us about demons that doesn’t line up with the truth we find in scripture?
2. Why does the person, whom Jesus describes in the Matthew passage, end up worse off than before?
Challenge: Make sure Jesus is the one “at home” in your life. Make a conscience effort this week to choose “furnishings” He would enjoy, not what demons would find inviting.
From the moment we meet, he is trying to deceive us. Sadly, our adversary often succeeds in tempting us to choose sin, as he did with the first human beings. In Genesis chapter 3, we see him disguised as a serpent and twisting the truth to manipulate Eve into doubting God’s goodness. We now call him Satan, or the devil, as he is clearly identified in Revelation 12. In this passage, a war is described in which the angels led by Michael fought against the great dragon (Satan) and his angels. The latter were forced out of heaven. Although we know Christ will someday put an end to our adversary’s evil, we are currently right in the middle of this epic battle for souls.
1. In what ways does the devil disguise himself in our current world?
2. How do you think Satan blinds the minds of those who don’t believe? (see 2 Corinthians 4:4)
Challenge: Read 1 Peter 5:8-9 and think about times you have been tempted in the past within the context of these verses. Next time you experience struggle, remember who your adversary really is – a prowling lion looking for someone to devour. “Stay alert!”
Scripture describes angels as servants of the Creator and His people (Heb. 1:13–14), beings who would by no means allow themselves to be associated with any lesser deity. They are powerful creatures tasked with glorifying God and fighting on His behalf against all His enemies. That former task is the emphasis of today’s passage, which describes Isaiah’s famous vision of the Lord (Isa. 6:1–3). Surrounding the divine throne were several seraphim or angels, as the same beings are described elsewhere in the Bible. The Hebrew term seraphim means “burning ones,” so it is likely that these creatures had an appearance like fire, at least in this case. Apparently, angels are humble beings, for in Isaiah’s vision they covered their eyes so as not to gaze upon the greater light of the Creator. There is no reason to believe that they do anything less today when in the presence of God Almighty. Today these beings continue to be active in service to our triune Creator, fulfilling the purposes of the Lord for His glory (Luke 2:8–13).
1. How would I have responded if I had witnessed what Isaiah had the privilege to see?
2. In what ways will my life be changed in light of the reality of God’s holiness spoken by His angelic beings?
Challenge: There are many privileges that come with serving the Lord, one of which is knowing that He has appointed true angels to watch over us (Ps. 91:11–12). We are not guarded by the chubby little creatures with tiny wings that often appear in popular artwork; rather, we are protected by mighty beings who derive their strength from His hand. Our Lord has not abandoned us, having appointed the heavenly host to fight on our behalf.
Angels were instrumental in many areas of ministry in the life of Christ including, (but not limited to), (1) announcing Jesus’ birth to Mary, (2) reassuring Joseph, (3) naming Jesus, (4) announcing Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, (5) protecting Jesus by sending His family to Egypt, and (6) ministering to Jesus after His temptation by Satan and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Angels were and are major players when it comes to comfort and keeping watch for God and serving His purposes.
1. In what ways have I experienced angelic ministry in difficult circumstances in my life?
2. How have I seen angels ministering to those closest to me?
Challenge: This week try to keep an extra close eye on the circumstances that surround your life. Be ever mindful and thank Him for how He is intervening through His Holy Spirit and through His angels.
This does not suggest that each believer has a personal guardian angel, but we know that believers are served by angels in general. These angels are pictured continually watching the face of God so as to hear His command to them to help a believer in need. Angels are God’s messengers and spiritual beings created by Him and under His authority. They serve believers by protecting the helpless (Matt. 18:10), claiming God’s messages (Rev. 14:6-12), and executing judgment based on God’s commands. (Rev. 20:1-3)
1. How have I been led to believe in the idea of a guardian angel? What Biblical proof can I call on to support that claim?
2. How have I seen God work through His angelic beings in my life and relationships?
Challenge: Let us take our cues from the angelic hosts in order to heed the Holy Spirit’s call to serve those for which we have been called.
I find it interesting that even though angels are powerful (Ps. 103:20) and wise (2 Sam. 14:20), they are not, however, all knowing. Since they are created beings and ultimately subject to the Father and the Son, they don’t possess the attributes of their maker, namely omnipotence (all-knowing). Since they always seek to worship God the Father and Christ, angels will gladly take a subservient role in their ministry service.
1. In what ways have I unknowingly placed angels on the same level as Christ?
2. How do we see ourselves in relationship to angels? Higher or lower on the totem pole?
Challenge: Let us not cease to give all praise and honor to where it belongs. The angels know where their worship is directed; they never cease to say “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” We would do well to take a page from their playbook and seek the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Have you ever stopped to ponder about angels? They produce awe and capture our curiosity on a universal scale. However, unlike the supernatural beings of fiction, God in His mercy created angels. They are real. Our verse today alludes to this as they have been around since the world was formed. They have many names such as Divine messengers, armed warriors, fiery spirits, and guardian cherubim. They are described in terms of light and lightning, gemstones, and flames. They spoke prophesies and promises. They witnessed and heralded the birth of our King, and they will certainly accompany Him on His return.
1. When I hear the word “angels”, what thoughts come to mind?
2. On a scale of 1-10, how would I rate my knowledge and understanding of angels?
Challenge: Concentrate on having an open mind on angels and what they are and what they are not. Use your Bible’s concordance or a tool like Biblegateway.com to search for the keyword “angels.”
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
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