Mark 1:21-28 – The Authority of Jesus

Welcome, friends! Although there is an unseen world, the Lord has authority even over the dominion of darkness. We can experience spiritual healing and deliverance because of Jesus. Click the videos below and let us worship Christ, the sovereign over all creation.

Mark 1:21-28
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – arranged and sung by Matt Boswell

Our Father in heaven,
    we pray that your name will always be kept holy.
We pray that your kingdom will come—
    that what you want will be done here on earth, the same as in heaven.
Give us the food we need for today.
Forgive our sins,
    just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us.
Don’t let us be tempted,
    but save us from the Evil One. Amen.

Ephesians 1:15-23 – Our Authority in Christ

Hello, friends! Welcome to Christ the King Sunday, a day which reminds us that in the coming Advent season, we look for both a baby and a king. Click the video below and let us acknowledge and worship King Jesus…

There is perhaps no better hymn for this day than Crown Him with Many Crowns:

For a contemporary song, it is appropriate today and every day to Sing to the King:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.

Christ the King Sunday

Stained glass window at the Annunciation Melkite Church in Roslindale, Massachusetts

Christ the King Sunday is intended to help us see the cosmic reality that Jesus reigns over all creation as the only rightful Sovereign of the universe.  This Sunday always comes just before Advent so that we remember to anticipate both a baby and a king.

Christ as Lord of all exposes three problems humanity faces:

  1. Building our own petty kingdoms and setting ourselves up as masters over our own small worlds.  People who have been hurt (all of us) often attempt to seize power for themselves in order to avoid ever being hurt again, or in the belief that wielding power could have prevented others from being hurt.  The classic villains of movies and literature are ones who seek to destroy the earth so that they rebuild it in their own idea of how the world should operate.  It is protection of self and loved ones from pain. The irony is that much hurt is inflicted to alleviate such pain.
  2. Bowing to other kings besides King Jesus.  When we are distressed, we might rely on alternative authorities to address our hard circumstances.  We might expect other people to give us only what Jesus can.  Instead of repentance and faith in Christ, we may run to the politicians or pastors we have set up in his place to cope with whatever is going on in our lives.
  3. Lacking awareness of the power we possess as subjects of King Jesus.  Christians possess authority in Jesus Christ.  As believers in Jesus, we reign with him and can exercise authority over every dominion that exists, especially the dominion of darkness.

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers provides God’s design for the church.  It is a plan for believers in Jesus to know their spiritual blessings and exercise the power they have as Christians united to Christ. God wants us to understand this power and authority, and to actively use it.  We will know King Jesus better by availing ourselves of his authority given to us as believers. (Ephesians 1:15-23)

We have a clear understanding from Ephesians of how to pray: To know Jesus better.  There is probably no higher prayer.  Paul prayed that believers in Jesus would know the hope to which we have been called and the incomparably great power accessible to us.

The word for “power” in the New Testament (Greek dunamis, pronounced “doon-a-miss”) is where we get our English word “dynamite.”  When I was a kid, we had a neighbor who had a fondness for playing with dynamite, especially when he drank too much.  Even though he lived a mile down the road, when he blew up a tree stump or anything else on his property, it would shake our house and feel like the windows were going to break.  One stick of dynamite is nothing compared to God’s power, an incredible might without equal.

This divine power is for us who believe in Jesus the King.  It is the same power used to raise Jesus from the dead and which exalted Christ as Lord of the universe.  The rule and reign of Jesus is far above any other existing authority – including powers and authorities of the dark domain.

When it comes to dealing with the powers of darkness, we have the authority of Jesus Christ.  We have a vital and inseparable union with Jesus Christ, because of his resurrection and exaltation.  Jesus redeemed us and we belong to him.  We are adopted children of God.  Since all earthly and spiritual powers are subject to Christ, they are also subject to us.  The imagery of Jesus as Head, and believers in Jesus as the Body of Christ means we have an inseparable union together.  Since we are united with Christ, we share his authority over all spiritual powers.

It is one thing to know this information; it is quite another thing to use it.  God wants us to experience Christ’s power through exercising our authority as believers.  We are to pray in a way which links faith and knowledge together in a confident use of spiritual authority.  We have unimaginable rights as blood-bought children of God.

The 118 feet high Christ the King statue in Świebodzin, Poland

Tackling the forces of darkness needs to be a communal activity; going it alone is dangerous. So, let us pray the following prayer together, united in Christ and with one another in spiritual bond a million times stronger than superglue. This is a prayer that boldly exercises authority in Jesus Christ. So, let us come confidently before the throne of God’s grace.

God Almighty, we bow in worship and praise before You.  We thank you that the Lord Jesus Christ is King over all creation, and that he is the rightful Sovereign of the universe.  We thank you that because of this truth, we have power together with Jesus.  Since Jesus is King, we surrender ourselves completely in every area of our lives to You.  Since Christ’s authority extends over every dominion, including the dominion of darkness, we now take a stand against all the work of Satan that would hinder us now in prayer.  We address ourselves only to the True and Living God and refuse any involvement of Satan in our prayers.

Therefore, Satan, we command you, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to leave our presence with all your demons.  We bring the blood of Jesus Christ between us.

Sovereign God, we recognize You are worthy to receive all glory, honor, and praise.  We renew our allegiance to You and ask that the Holy Spirit will enable us to pray.  We are thankful, Lord God, that You have loved us from eternity past and that You sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to die as our substitute.  We are thankful that Christ has completely forgiven us; You have adopted us into Your family; You have given us eternal life; You have offered Yourself to us to be our daily help and strength.

Glorious God open our eyes so that we will see how great You are and how complete Your provision is for today.  We are thankful the victory Jesus Christ won for us on the cross and in His resurrection has been given to us and that we are seated with the Lord Jesus in heaven.  We take our place with Him and recognize by faith that all wicked spirits and Satan himself are under our feet.  We declare that Satan and his demons are subject to us in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are thankful for the spiritual armor You have provided.  We put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace and the helmet of salvation.  We lift the shield of faith against all the fiery arrows of the enemy; and we take in our hands the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  We choose to use Your Word against all the forces of evil in our lives.  We live and pray in complete dependence upon You, Holy Spirit.

We are grateful the Lord Jesus Christ disarmed all power and authorities, triumphing over them by the cross.  We claim all victory for our lives today.  We reject all the insinuations, accusations, and temptations of Satan.  We affirm that the Word of God is true, and we choose to live today in the light of God’s Word.  Almighty God, we choose to live in obedience to You and in fellowship with You.  Open our eyes and show us the areas of our lives that do not please You.  Cleanse us from anything that would give Satan a foothold against us.  We stand into all that it means to be Your adopted children and we welcome all the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives today.

By faith and in complete dependence upon You we now put off the old sinful person and stand into all the victory of the crucifixion where the Lord Jesus Christ provided cleansing from the sinful nature.  We put on the new person and stand into all the victory of the resurrection and the provision Christ has made for us to live above sin.

Today we put off the old sinful nature with its selfishness and put on the new nature with its love.  We put off the old nature with its fear and put on the new nature with its courage.  We put off the old nature with its deceitful lusts and put on the new nature with its righteousness, purity, and honesty.

In every way we stand into the victory of Jesus Christ’s ascension and glorification, in which everything was made subject to Him.  We claim our place in Christ as victorious with Him over all the enemies of our souls.  Holy Spirit, we pray that you would fill us with the righteousness of Christ.  Break down every idol and cast out every enemy of our souls.

We are thankful, mighty God, that You have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  We are grateful You have given us new life into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  We are thankful You have made provision for us so that today we can live filled in the Holy Spirit with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  We recognize and affirm that this is Your will for us and so we reject and resist all the attempts of Satan and his demons to rob us of God’s will.   

We are thankful, Blessed Holy Trinity, that our spiritual weapons have divine power to demolish demonic strongholds, arguments, and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.  We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  Therefore, we tear down the strongholds of Satan and smash the plans of Satan that have been formed against us.  We affirm You have not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.  We choose to make right decisions of faith. 

Powerful God, show us the ways Satan is hindering, tempting, lying, and distorting the truth in our lives.  Help us to be aggressive in prayer and faith.  Help us to think rightly, and actively practice Your Word.  Help us to give You Your rightful place in our lives.  We now cover ourselves with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and pray that You, Holy Spirit, would bring all the work of Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and all Your work of Pentecost into our lives today.  We deliberately surrender ourselves to King Jesus.  We refuse to be discouraged because You are the God of all hope.  You have proven Your power by resurrecting Jesus from the dead, so we claim this victory over all satanic forces in our lives, our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and our faith communities.  We pray in the Name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ with thanksgiving.  Amen.

Psalm 83:1-4, 13-18 – Against Evil

Calvin and Hobbes - imprecation

O God, do not be silent!
Do not be deaf.
Do not be quiet, O God.
Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies?
Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up?
They devise crafty schemes against your people;
they conspire against your precious ones.
“Come,” they say, “let us wipe out Israel as a nation.
We will destroy the very memory of its existence….”

O my God, scatter them like tumbleweed,
like chaff before the wind!
As a fire burns a forest
and as a flame sets mountains ablaze,
chase them with your fierce storm;
terrify them with your tempest.
Utterly disgrace them
until they submit to your name, O Lord.
Let them be ashamed and terrified forever.
Let them die in disgrace.
Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord,
that you alone are the Most High,
supreme over all the earth. (NLT)

The psalms are the church’s prayer book.  Many of the psalms are laments and many of them are worshipful songs of praise. Then there are the “imprecatory” (pronounced im-PRECK-a-tory) psalms.  To “imprecate” means to invoke evil upon someone; it is to pronounce a curse.  The reason for the imprecatory psalm is that it is not any person’s place to engage in revenge or retaliation.  Instead, for people who are genuinely caught in the cross-hairs of evil and have sinful persons dogging them, prayer is their most effective recourse.

Sometimes you must tell it like it is.  There is a time to do your best in putting up a good face and dealing with people who do not ever stop gossiping, slandering, and trying to get their way.

There is also a time to call such behavior “evil” and cry out to God for help.

There are many folks who consider imprecatory psalms a problem because of their detailed expressions of imprecation. Yet, such psalms refuse to put a positive spin on malevolent motives, wicked words, and destructive actions. Desperate people utter desperate prayers. Their unflinching sense of injustice will not allow them to sugarcoat the villainous plans of corrupt people. Evil is never toppled with tepid prayers from wimpy worshipers. Rather, nefarious agendas are thwarted in the teeth of specific, focused, and intense prayers directed with spiritual precision to the very core of diabolical forces.

We need not be shy about being real with God, even with praying imprecatory prayers.  There really are people in this world, maybe even in your own life, that have malicious intent against you or others.  Our job is not personal revenge, but to entrust ourselves to the God who fights for the poor, the oppressed, and the needy against the arrogant and the powerful.

Let your prayers reflect your life.

Along with psalms of praise lifted during times of celebration, so imprecatory psalms are not to be ignored but need to be uttered equally loud as prayers to almighty God in seasons of desperate evil. If you have a gut feeling deep down that wicked people are running amok, then use this psalm as a prayer against the darkness which seeks to envelop the earth.

Jesus Christ will build his church and the gates of hell shall not overcome it (Matthew 16:18). The picture Jesus portrayed is one of faithful believers equipped with righteousness and justice storming the gates of hell, not shying away from it. Baked within the Lord’s words were the promise that evil atrocities will not have the day – that God’s people will not be destroyed or overwhelmed because of demonic and satanic power.

There is a time to flee and then there is a time to engage. I am suggesting that the chief way of mitigating evil is to punch it in the mouth with imprecatory psalms prayed with righteous flavor and focused directly against the powers of this present darkness. Why prayer of all things in dealing with evil?…

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV)

Spiritual problems require spiritual implements to solve. And the tool of imprecatory psalms is a major way of not only pushing back the dark forces of this world but is the means of spiritual assertiveness against all forms of heinous acts and acerbic words from depraved people and evil systems.

God’s wrath is an expression of God’s love.

God is not okay with evil taking root in the lives and institutions of humanity. Prayer is our privilege of coming to the God who upholds justice and righteousness. For if God is for us, who can be against us?

God Almighty, may you hear me in the day of my trouble and send help from your holy sanctuary and strengthen my faith. Breathe your Holy Spirit into me and inspire me with a passion for goodness and truth, justice, and righteousness. Lord Jesus be present with me in your risen power and protect me from harm and from all that would hinder your healing presence in this world. You overcame the forces of Satan, redeemed the world, then ascended to the Father. May you be with me and within me; before me and behind me; on my right and on my left; above me and beneath me; and around me always. Amen.