They sailed down to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across from Galilee.  When Jesus stepped ashore, a man from the town met him. He was possessed by demons and for a long time had not worn any clothes. He did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, “What do I have to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torment me!” For Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. In fact, the unclean spirit had seized him many times. He was kept under guard, and although he was bound with chains and shackles, he would break the restraints and was driven by the demon into deserted places.

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

He said, “Legion,” because many demons had gone into him. They were begging Jesus that he would not order them to go into the abyss. A herd of many pigs was feeding there on the mountain. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. The demons went out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

When those who were feeding the pigs saw what happened, they ran away and reported it in the town and in the countryside. People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet. He was clothed and in his right mind, and the people were afraid. Those who saw it told them how the demon-possessed man was saved. The whole crowd of people from the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were gripped with great fear.

As Jesus got into the boat and started back, the man from whom the demons had gone out begged to be with him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home and tell how much God has done for you.” Then he went through the whole town proclaiming what Jesus had done for him.

Luke 8:26-39

Some of you have asked about Thrivent $250 Gift Cards.  First, Thrivent is basically an insurance company that helps its members and the community.  Here is their definition from their WEB site: “Thrivent is actually a unique kind of not-for-profit called a fraternal benefit society. By definition, a fraternal benefit society is a not-for-profit organization that provides insurance to its members and – this is key – has to carry out social, intellectual, educational, charitable, benevolent, moral, fraternal, patriotic or religious purposes for the benefit of its members and the public. So we can’t simply sell insurance, and we can’t simply do charitable work either. We have to do both.”  So, how do Thrivent members benefit?  For example, each member has the opportunity to request a $250 gift card in order to carry out some event, benefit, or charitable activity that benefits the members or the community.  We have used these cards to purchase donuts, pizza, carry out benefits, supplies for Camps, and even purchase the church trailer in order to carry out various activities for Helping Hands, Meals on Wheels, etc..  Once we finish the project, Thrivent likes it when we put some pictures on Facebook to use for promotions and advertising.  We are willing to do that in order to tell others what kind of work they did for us.

Many stores and companies ask you to do the same thing. You buy something online and then you received an email asking you to rate your purchase.  They want your review to aid others with their purchase and improve their products.   When I purchased our last church banner, the printer asked if I would take a picture, like it and post it on Facebook.  Whether restaurants, banks or stores, they recognize that a personal witness is a powerful thing!  I can see why it’s a no brainer that God asks you and me to share our witness about Jesus. God wants you to tell how much Jesus has done for you.  God also wants you to share the powerful Gospel with them so the Holy Spirit can create faith in their hearts.  For only eyes of faith can recognize Jesus for who he really is.  Luke was such a witness and today he shows how

God Does So Much – Marvel at his Power and Give Witness to His Power!

Marvel at his Power

A few weeks ago we spoke about the fishing town of Capernaum, the home of the Centurion and Galilean headquarters for Jesus.  Today’s account is on the other side of the lake.  This area was outside of the boarders of Israel, so it was largely a heathen area.  When there is an absence of God, the devil is all too ready to fill the void: They sailed down to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, a man from the town met him. He was possessed by demons and for a long time had not worn any clothes. He did not live in a house but in the tombs.Demon possession is not something we often see today.  But, it does exist.  This man who met Jesus on the seashore had been taken over by demons, physically and mentally.  His appearance gives a witness about his terrible problem, running around without clothes and living in a cemetery.  Mark’s account adds to the scene telling us he often cut himself and cried out as a madman.   He also had super human strength—since he could break the chains that bound him.

Pause to consider this scene.  Jesus calmly gets out of a boat and a raging madman comes rushing at him.  And what does Jesus do?  When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, “What do I have to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torment me!”  Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”  He said, “Legion,” because many demons had gone into him.   Legion was a Roman word that meant 6,000 soldiers.  Thousands of demons possessed this man.  This is a very frightening scene. This man was completely helpless to control his actions and was completely controlled by evil.  He was powerless to rescue himself in this fight.  What does Jesus do?  Well, the man had thousands of demons and Jesus was just one.  We all know what that means.  They need to go find some more demons.

In the calm, confident face of Jesus you can sense the unrest of the demons when you hear, What do I have to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torment me!”  The blood-thirsty demons knew who Jesus was.  They met him once before when there was a war in heaven.  They call him the Son of the Most High God as they fell at his feet.  They can’t help but shudder at his power!  Then Jesus commanded the demons to come out of the man. What do I have to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torment me!” For Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.  Those demons knew who they were up against.  They knew that as powerful as they were, Jesus was much more powerful.  They knew they could not stand up against Jesus and look for a way out to avoid being chained in the Abyss.  They come up with plan “B.”  “A herd of many pigs was feeding there on the mountain. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. The demons went out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.”  The blood thirsty demons got their drink of death through the innocent lives of pigs.

But, look at the man freed from evil now! “When those who were feeding the pigs saw what happened, they ran away and reported it in the town and in the countryside. People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet. He was clothed and in his right mind,”   God does so much, and you can’t help but marvel at his power.  Certainly the demons knew that.  Yes, after hearing about and seeing God’s power at work the people had a reaction all right—“ and the people were afraid.”  What a contrast!  The man who had been possessed was now at peace—body and soul.  And the people who hadn’t been possessed physically, were still possessed spiritually.

Application:  Giving witness to God’s power will always have an affect on people.  Some will shutter and others will listen and believe by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Others will listen and become afraid, or reject it or simply be lazy in their attitude toward God.  But, you dear Christians friends, remember How Much God Has Done for You and marvel at his power.  Then let’s be eager to

Give Witness to His Power

The people were eye-witnesses of Jesus’ power.  There could be no doubt they knew exactly what Jesus had done. “When those who were feeding the pigs saw what happened, they ran away and reported it in the town and in the countryside. People went out to see what had happened….. Those who saw it told them how the demon-possessed man was saved. The whole crowd of people from the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were gripped with great fear.”  Would you like to take a quiz?  Why do you think they were gripped with fear?  1)  Because they thought Jesus would destroy more of their animals?   Or 2) Because they were afraid to be in the presence of the Power of God?  The natural reaction of the sinful nature is to be an enemy of God.  Peter would pick #2 after seeing the great catch of fish he said, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, because I am a sinful man, Lord” (Luke 5:8).  Don’t you wonder what was going through Peter’s mind when he heard these people who witnessed Jesus’ power just like he did, and said the same thing he did, if the Gospel’s might would penetrate their hearts, too?

On the other hand, is the once-devil-possessed man.  What’s he up to? “As Jesus got into the boat and started back, the man from whom the demons had gone out begged to be with him.”  This is the reaction of faith.  This is the reaction of one who has witnessed the power of God in his life and loves being in the presence of the Lord God Almighty!  These are hearts once held captive by curse and guilt of sin, now set free in Jesus.  These are hearts that love what Jesus has done and love what will happen to them some day in heaven.  These are what Jesus would affectionately call, “His Followers.”

However, Jesus already has his 12 disciples in training and commands the man to stay, “But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home and tell how much God has done for you.”  This man had important work to do at home!  He lived in a place where people didn’t know the power of God, or the mercy of God.  They were people still possessed by Satan.  So, this witness for Jesus went to work! “Then he went through the whole town proclaiming what Jesus had done for him.” Wouldn’t you have just loved to hear him talk?  He could talk about his life under Satan’s influence and about the amazing power of God that did so much for him.  But, even more than delivering his body from the demon’s control, he delivered his heart as he heard the wonderful words that his sins were forgiven and eternal life was his through faith in Jesus.  What a fine witness indeed!  He would have some amazing Facebook posts and heavenly advertisers could use him at a poster boy!

So, what’s your story?  I know, maybe you’re weren’t possessed by 6,000 demons, living naked under a bridge and screaming at people. Does your story even compare to this man’s story?   Well, let’s think.  How many times have you struggled in your heart about coming to church to hear God’s Word?  How many times have you struggled prioritizing God and his will over family, work or friends?  How many times have you lashed out with angry words or how many times have you worked hard to satisfy the selfish desires of your flesh?   How many times have you said,  “No” to God and “Yes” to the devil and his evil.  How many times have you been addicted (alcohol, porn, tobacco, soda, TV shows)?  How many times have you had obsessions that pull you away from God.  How many times have you had destructive behavior in your life when you knowingly and willingly continue to feed that pet sin, materialism, and greed.  That man had 6,000 demons living in him.  I wonder how many demons posses you?

Yes, we confess that our condition can only be fixed by Jesus.  Jesus came to rescue us when he died on the cross to pay the penalty of all your sins.  Through faith in Jesus you receive that rescue as the forgiveness of all your sins.   Yes, the battle is on between Satan and God for our soul.  Yes, Satan has great power.  But, Jesus’ power is greater!  Jesus already did so much!  Marvel at his power.  Give Witness to that Power.  Take Jesus’ words to the man as your own,  “Return to your home and tell how much God has done for you.” 

Will you take up the challenge today?  Don’t fight to gain the victory over demons, but fight from the position of victory that has already been won for you in Christ.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Then find someone and simply tell them your story.  Tell them all God Has Done For You!  Tell how Jesus found you through his Bible and told you how he died for you.  Tell how Jesus rescued you at the cross by paying for all your sins.  Tell how Jesus will come back some day to call your soul to be with him in heaven.   Go ahead.  Find someone and simply tell them the story of Jesus and how he has changed you forever!

It’s pretty cool that Thrivent members get to use $250 Visa cards to benefit members and the people in our community.  I can see why they want members to post the activity so others can enjoy.  But, that’s nothing compared to the story you have to share.  You eat at a great restaurant and can’t wait to tell your friends that they just have to try it!  You get a great deal at the store and can’t wait to tell people to check it out!    It really works.  We know it does.  Facebook proves it does.  You post your pictures and advertisements and hope people get a kick out of what all they see and read.  God help us all be so eager to tell the story of All God Has Done.  And not that God needs your 5-star review, because he can make a donkey talk if he wants to.  If he wanted to he could make the stones or angels tell the story.  But, God let’s you enjoy it.  You get to tell How Much God Has Done for You so we can marvel at his power and joyfully give witness to his power.  Amen.