Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11: Healing those oppressed by the devil

Then Peter started speaking: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)—you know what happened throughout Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John announced: with respect to Jesus from Nazareth, that God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him.  (Acts 10:34-38  NET)

Acts chapter 10 marks a great turning point in the Gospel. Before this, the early church, Jesus, and everyone before them had preached to the Jews, and considered them to be the one nation of the world that were the chosen people of God. But in this chapter God sent Peter to a non-Jew, Cornelius. When he met Cornelius and his house full of people, Peter realized that God does not discriminate or show favoritism; whenever people fear Him and do what is right, there is salvation. Skin color, nationality, education, finances, the past, and ancestry were not the determining factors for acceptance by God, but rather faith. In fact, throughout history God had always chosen people based on their faith and fear of Him—Abraham, Rahab, Naaman, Elijah, Ruth, David, Daniel, Hanah—but from this time on the Gospel was no longer the exclusive property of the Jews and Israel, but was now preached to all nations and all people. From this time on, anyone who feared God and did what was right could be considered spiritual Israelites.

Peter sums up the work of Jesus in a simple, powerful way in this passage. He says Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit and power to do good and to heal all who were oppressed by the devil. All oppression, misery, and sickness in this world comes from one source—the devil and his demons. Jesus fought the devil and cast out demons while He was on earth, trained His disciples to do the same, and commanded those who would come after Him to follow suit.

What this means is that the Holy Spirit, power, doing good, and casting out of demons should be noticeable aspects of our experience with God. Though Bible study and praise and worship are healthy and necessary, they are not among the four main elements that typified the work of Jesus of Nazareth on earth. If we know God, shouldn’t we be familiar with these four things? Shouldn’t they be valuable and common in our lives? You would assume so. But the sad fact is that most Christians today are not familiar with the Holy Spirit, the power of God, doing good, or driving out demons.

If this applies to you, make a change today just like Peter did. He changed his entire mindset and focus, and you can too. Don’t invent your own version of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ—excluding what you don’t like and including what you do—rather, follow in His footsteps, do what He did, forget your ideas and adopt His. Change is an important concept that all true believers in God have to accept. When God asks us to change, we have to trust that He knows what He’s talking about, that the change He brings is for our own good, and that our old ideas have to be sacrificed.

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