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Mark 1:29-39

 

And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

 

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

 

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, "Everyone is looking for you." And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

 

(ESV)

 

God Uses the Devil

Polycarp of Smyrna, Pastor and Martyr

23 February 2015

Why pray? Because the devil is stirring up plenty of trouble and sorrow in the world. In Mark 1:21-28, at the synagogue of Capernaum Jesus is confronted by unspeakable wickedness in the case of demon possession. Jesus knows there is an onslaught to come. He knows that our oppressor has latched onto Him, because He has come to snatch us from the fiend. Our ultimate rescue is imminent. He has come to box the devil on the nose and cast him out: "'What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God.' But Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be silent, and come out of him'" (Mk 1:24-25)! Why pray? Because the devil is prowling about seeking to devour you!

 

The devil knows what is afoot when Jesus begins His ministry in Galilee. He can name the Lord. The devil knows what the game is, even if he is trying hide it from us. So it is in these days in which God's laws are flaunted in the name of love; a love bent from the purposes for which it was given by God. There can be no right love, outside of the commands of the God who is Himself love. And yet our enemy is trying to blind us to this with worldly demands for fairness. Our own natural blindness finds us calling God's law unloving and calling moral discipline names I dare not repeat. Satan would prefer us to be instructed by teenagers and morally formed by those who have not yet matured in their judgment. Such "wise, adult" children should turn again and become God's children, subject to a loving Father's disciple.

 

The older I get the more childlike I want to become, if that childlikeness is God's childlikeness. "Yes, dear Father, I am Your child and would do as you have commanded. I know that I will falter, but I will never glory in my fault, but confess it, sorrow over it, and seek Your mercy. Dear Father, forgive me. Turn me away from my sin. Restore me that I may not die." You see, the sin in the world leads me to pray about my own sin. If you don't need to pray, place your hand upon your heart and check to see if it is still beating. If it is, you are still in the world and there is plenty of trouble, sorrow, sin, and suffering in it. Why pray? Because I see so much needless suffering around me, much of it caused by me.

 

Martin Luther

 

"If you want to know something about the life of Christians or about the legends of the saints, no matter what they are, I shall tell you in a few words. If you are a Christian, no matter in what order you are, God will trouble you in various ways through the devil, the world, and the flesh; and He will do so in this ordinary life, which is without any special external show. Therefore faith and prayer should be conspicuous throughout the entire life of Christians."

 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 20.3

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, I live under the threat of our enemy every day. Free me from his clutches that I might live to You, who have been crucified for me. Help me to live in confidence of Your ultimate victory over Satan. Amen.

 

For Pastor Ian Pacey of Memorial Lutheran Church, that the Lord Jesus would be with him as he serves God's people

 

For Paul Lodholz, as he undergoes therapy for brain tumors, that the Lord would grant him the strength and joy he needs to bear his burdens


For faithful congregations, that they might be strengthened by the Word of God to confess the divine truth and its light in a world darkened by the lie
 

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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