Thursday, July 17, 2014

Penciled Prayers: Save the Evangelical Sons of Sceva

"But the evil spirit answered them, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you'" (Acts 19:15)?

O Lord God, every evil spirit knows You. You have created all things--angels (1/3 of them becoming evil spirits when Lucifer rebelled and was cast out of heaven), mankind, every living thing, everything that exists, whether visible or invisible. Lord, You are sovereign over all that You have made. Not even Satan and the demons who joined him in the rebellion, can do anything outside of Your immediate, perfect, omniscient, and omnipotent control. One need look no further than the requirements and restrictions You placed upon the Devil when he petitioned You and sought Your consent to attack Your righteous servant, Job. You are perfectly good, Lord, and You allow evil to exist. I need not know the reasons why You chose to allow Satan to rebel. I need not know why You allowed him to tempt my federal head, Adam. I need not know why you allowed sin and death to enter the world through Adam's sin. I trust You. You are God. You are good. That is enough for me to know.

Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to know how You have used evil, even evil in my own life and experiences, to bring Yourself glory. Had You not saved me, had You not redeemed me, had You not washed away my sin with the blood of the Lamb shed to make propitiation on my behalf, through the vicarious, penal, substitutionary, and definite atonement of Your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, I would only be evil. I would have no understanding of Your good purposes for evil. But even though You have taken my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh, even though I am a new creature with a renewed and progressively sanctified mind, I still cannot fully fathom Your ways. Your thoughts are not my thoughts and Your ways are beyond my comprehension. My hope is to be further conformed, day-by-day, to the image of Your Son. As a wretched yet redeemed man, You owe me no explanations. It is enough for me to know You are good. It is enough for me to be a beneficiary of Your goodness--the goodness that led me to true repentance and faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

This evening, Lord, as I read the Bible aloud with Mahria, our reading included the story of the sons of Sceva. What a horrifying scene, Lord! Seven Jewish men, deniers of both the Name that is above every name and deniers of the Way, arrogantly and presumptuously blasphemed Your holy name in a failed attempt to cast an evil spirit out of a possessed man. As Your Word describes what happened, the evil spirit speaks to the seven sons of hell before he mercilessly ravages them. He tells them that he knows You, and that he is well-aware of Paul. And then the evil spirit says, "But who are you?"

"Who are you?"

What a frightening question, O Lord! "Who are you?" Father, to be asked that question by a demon means You would say to the same person, "Depart from me, you worker of lawlessness; I never knew you."

Father! That was me 26 years ago! I was unknown to demons. I was not known by You in a saving, familial way. I was lost. But You saved me! You saved me from the curse of the law of sin and death. You saved me from judgment and the execution of Your wrath against my sin. I was saved from You, by You. Thank You, Lord!

O Father, I tremble at the thought of the millions (maybe more) of professing Christians who are not known to the demons and are not known by You. Dear Lord, so many delusional, professing Christians think they have power to command angels and to cast out demons, when they are nothing but human toys being played with by the demonic prince of the power of the air. Lord, my heart breaks for those who, because of their pride and lack of wisdom and discernment, are but pawns on the Devil's side of a great spiritual war--some wantonly, some ignorantly.

O that you would use me, Father, to warn the goats who think they are Your sheep to repent--to turn from worshiping the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever; amen. Lord, please use even the demonic, spiritual, dark forces of this world to frighten false converts and deceived believers alike into understanding that they are not known to demons and that they may not be known by You. Save them, Lord! Save them from their blasphemy and idolatry. Save them from the lighting of and playing with strange fire. Save them from themselves. Save them from Your just and holy wrath.

Lord God, the evil spirit recognized Paul. He recognized him because he was one of Your true apostles (there are none, today). He recognized him as a prophet, preacher, teacher, and missionary. The evil spirit recognized Paul because of Your presence, Holy Spirit, in him. Do evil spirits recognize me?

While I am not looking for the recognition of or attention from the evil one and his demonic servants, do they recognize me as a herald of my King, as an ambassador who, for a moment, was in chains? Lord, I am Your slave. Would that the evil spirit who attacked the sons of Sceva say, "Tony, I recognize!" Oh, not for my glory, Father, but for Yours alone!

O Lord, my Master and King, please forgive me for any time when Your enemies have not recognized me as a slave of my Master's eternal household. Holy Spirit, please fill me and sanctify me in such a way that Your enemies would have no doubt as to whom I belong and who I represent. May they say, "Jesus I know, and Tony I recognize." Again, Father, all for Your glory!

Help me, Lord, to deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow You. Please bring to repentance the sons and daughters of Sceva who are inside Evangelicalism. Save them, Lord, for Your glory, and make them slaves of both righteousness and the Righteous One. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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