When Jesus Haunts Your Halloween

Unclean spirits stir. Demonic thrones and dominions gather. Cosmic powers over this present darkness come to attention. And the devil himself, ready to devour and destroy, ignites his fiery darts and stretches his legs for the lion’s prowl.

As All Hallows’ Eve draws nigh, the spiritual forces of evil align, and Satan prepares his hordes for the party of the year — the grand harvest festival, celebration of darkness and death, when they pretend to be their strongest.

Halloween is almost here. But so is their final defeat. Jesus haunts their Halloween.

One Little Word

As the demonic rulers and authorities make ready, the one who sits in the heavens laughs (Psalm 2:4). To him, the devil is no threat, with all his orcs and goblins and the wickedest of witches. This is no evenly matched bout. If the incarnate Christ, in his humblest state, commands unclean spirits and they obey him (Mark 1:27) — how much more the risen and glorified Lord? Jesus does the real haunting.

Even as his adversaries marshal their best, they can’t escape serving his purposes. It is all through him and for him. “By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). Jesus haunts their Halloween.

No demon lurks apart from his will. No spirit pounces apart from his plan. He is sovereign over even the movements of evil minds. “God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled” (Revelation 17:17).

Luther nailed it — one little word shall fell them. Jesus haunts their Halloween.

He Put Them to Shame

It is precisely when the devil feigns to be his fiercest that Jesus delivers the deathblow. It was a Halloween-like gathering of ghouls and goblins at Golgotha when “he disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them” (Colossians 2:15).

Jesus came to conquer fear, to haunt whatever haunts. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He stooped to share in our flesh and blood “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14–15).

Every Single One

Those who are in Christ have no need to fear the night. This is now our day. He has won it for us, and will not leave us to fend for ourselves in the devil’s domain. God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). This we know: “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

“Take heart; I have overcome the world,” he says (John 16:33). Every inch of this universe — every single one — is his. And that includes All Hallows’ Eve and all its worst. He is the one who empowers us to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13). And he says that just as he squashed the Serpent’s skull with his heel, so “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20). Our feet. Get your boots.

Jesus haunts their Halloween. And so too he must haunt ours.

Dressed Up for Real

When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14) and “put on the new self” (Colossians 3:10). Dressed in the full armor of God, we “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11) on the exact night when he’d most want us to circle the wagons. We have a Book and will “not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We take up the shield of faith “with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we pour in the extra energy and creativity to capitalize on this opportunity to meet new neighbors and go deep with the old — whether we’re ushering our kids from house to house or leaving our lights on and giving out the best candy.

Sent into the Harvest

When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we remember that our enemy is not the scariest-clad Halloween reveler, but “the god of this world” who has blinded their minds and keeps them “from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We war not against unbelievers but “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we look on the cheekiest carousers with compassion — as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). On this night, as much as any, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” and so we “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38). And we walk in faith to be those workers.

Freed from Fear

And when Jesus haunts our Halloween, we fight not only Satan, but fear in our souls. We see that our Halloween horrors reveal our lack of faith in who Jesus is, what he has accomplished, and that he has commissioned us.

When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we do not flee, but go on the offensive. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We don’t retreat, but resist — with level heads and open eyes. “Be soberminded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8–9). We engage, with care and with courage.

Staring Death in the Face

When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we remember that the forces of evil, which we can be so prone to fear, are actually terrified of Jesus. Everyday is a spook for the devil and his demons, and Jesus does the haunting. The decisive blow has been dealt, and soon we will land the final punch.

Jesus has promised his gospel will advance (Matthew 24:14). He will build his church, and the gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18). And so when Jesus haunts our Halloween, we join the triumphant anthem:

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55–57)

– David Mathis
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/when-jesus-haunts-your-halloween

The Last Chapter

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”  7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”  8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”  10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”  12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”  14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”  17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.  18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.  20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! – Revelation 22:6-20

I have a friend who reads the last chapter first when she starts a new thriller. “Takes the anxiety out of reading,” she claims. So with Christians: Because we know the end of the story, we can be centers of peace in the midst of utter chaos, calm in the face of disaster.

The apostle Paul calls this attitude “moderation” in Philippians 4:5 (kjv). It’s a term that implies “peace under pressure.” It refers to the calm and deliberate strength with which we meet the disquieting circumstances of our days. Kingdoms may fall, friends may falter, churches may fold, oceans may rise, and mountains may crumble, but we can be at peace.

How do we maintain such composure? By remembering that “the Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5); He is near. Our Lord is standing just outside the door ready to burst through and turn everything that’s wrong right-side up. Then this world and all its troubles will become the kingdom of our Lord, and “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).

Jesus said, “Surely I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20). Today could be the day! It’s the very last thing He said in the very last chapter of His book.

Lord, thank You for dispelling the fear from our lives
by letting us know the end of the story. We can rest
in the assurance that as Your followers we will one
day be with You in Your glorious, eternal kingdom.
No doctrine is more closely linked to practical daily living than that of the Lord’s return.
– David H. Roper
Our Daily Bread

Which Way Do I Go?

There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12, NRSV

HOW DO YOU usually decide whether a certain belief or behavior is right or wrong? Do you:

(a) toss a coin: Heads it’s right, tails it’s wrong?

(b) weigh it carefully, considering whether it feels right?

(c) measure it against what the majority thinks? (If it’s pretty much accepted in your school, church, or community, it’s probably OK.)

(d) none of the above?

If you answered (a), you’ve got a lot of company. Many people today make decisions this way. They may not actually flip a coin, but they don’t lose any sleep over such a decision. They put more thought into what kind of dog food to buy 0l’ Yeller than whether a certain action would be right or wrong.

If you answered (b), you chose an extremely popular model for determining right and wrong. People who choose this usually try to decide what’s right or wrong based on their own opinions or feelings. They’re likely to say, “I think it’s wrong to hurt another person,” or “I feel it’s OK to get mad as long as you have a good reason.”

If you answered (c), you’re with a number of people who make decisions about right and wrong the way you do. They try to decide what’s right or wrong depending on what everyone else is doing. If they see other people cheating or breaking the law, they think it’s OK for them to do it too.

If you answered (d), you’ll probably find yourself in the minority most of the time. But the truth is, we can’t make right choices based on how we feel or on what everyone else is doing. Right and wrong are not determined by an individual’s opinions or feelings or by what the government or society accepts or rejects. Right and wrong are determined by God, who is the original, the universal, the absolute standard for everything that is good and right.

For example, lying is wrong because God is true. Stealing is wrong because God is just. Hatred is wrong because God is love. These things are wrong no matter what you may think or feel. These things are wrong, not because the majority thinks so or because society frowns on them, but because God thinks so.

REFLECT: Proverbs 14:12 says: “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.” How might choices (a), (b), and (c) (above) have the same consequence? Think back on how you usually make decisions about whether a belief or behavior is right or wrong. Now think about Proverbs 14:12. To what consequence will your method of deciding lead you?

PRAY: “God, help me consider your desires in every choice I make, especially when it’s hard to do the right thing, like when I have to____________________________.”

– Josh McDowell
http://www.josh.org/which-way-do-i-go/

The Law of the Lord Is Perfect

19 The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5     which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

– Psalm 19

The Gladness of Jesus Christ

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” – Hebrews 1:9

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ – Matthew 25:21

If a lifeguard saves you from the undertow of the Atlantic Ocean, you don’t care if he is gloomy. It doesn’t matter what his mental state is when you are hugging your family on the beach. But with the salvation of Jesus, things are very different. Jesus does not save us for our family, but for himself. If he is gloomy, our salvation will be sad. And that is no great salvation.

Jesus himself—and all that God is for us in him—is our great reward, nothing less. “I am the bread of life. . . . If anyone thirsts, let him come to me” (John 6:35; 7:37). Salvation is not mainly the forgiveness of sins, but mainly the fellowship of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9). Forgiveness gets everything out of the way so this can happen. If this fellowship is not all-satisfying, there is no great salvation. If Christ is gloomy, or even calmly stoical, eternity will be a long, long sigh.

But the glory and grace of Jesus is that he is, and always will be, indestructibly happy. I say it is his glory, because gloom is not glorious. And I say it is his grace, because the best thing he has to give us is his joy. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11; see also 17:13). It would not be fully gracious of Jesus simply to increase my joy to its final limit and then leave me short of his. My capacities for joy are very confined. So Christ not only offers himself as the divine object of my joy, but pours his capacity for joy into me, so that I can enjoy him with the very joy of God. This is glory, and this is grace.

– John Piper
Seeking and Savoring Jesus Christ, pages 35-36

Walk in Love

“What is love? How do you demonstrate it? To be able to practice love, you need to know what it is biblically. Throughout Scripture, love is characterized as an action.

First of all, love teaches the truth to others (Eph. 4:15) and ministers to their needs (Heb. 6:10). It sets an example by serving others and stimulating them to grow (Gal. 5:13). It covers other people’s faults (1 Pet. 4:8) and forgives (Eph. 4:32). Love also endures the problems and idiosyncrasies of others (1 Cor. 13:7) and sacrifices on their behalf (John 15:13-14).

Self-sacrificial love gives spiritual truth, help, and concern to those in need. We owe everyone that kind of love and should not owe anything else. That’s the heart of Christian living; it’s the magnet that attracts the world.”

– John MacArthur
Moments of Truth: Unleashing God’s Word One Day at a Time

I Corinthians 1:18-31

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preachto save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, tobring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God,righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”