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“No one is good, except God alone.”  Mark 10:18

“There is no difference for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God….”  Romans 3:22,23

Okay, first from the title, you may feel that this is going to be a heavy, judgemental post, if you will read through it I’m hoping that you’ll see it is anything but that.  Second, I very purposely used the pronoun “I” in the title.  For I have not the wisdom nor talent for judgement to say anything about anyone else as it applies to the state of their soul.  I assure you, the log in my eye is large enough to keep me busy.

Evil is a tough subject in today’s world.  It is also a word that is very seldom used in the context of overly heinous acts.  So often after terrible deeds are perpetrated on an individual or larger scale, the motivations behind those deeds are explained by mental illness, being in abject poverty, the lack of proper oversight and the like.  Yet in our society we are loathe to acknowledge that evil exists, let alone think that it can be rampant in our society and thus the impacts of it.

Yet Jesus Christ and The Word of God are very clear on the subject.  Evil absolutely exists.  Evil is the very basis of sin which leads to the kinds of behaviors and acts that we are seeing with ever increasing frequency in this world.  I can not escape the conclusion that is stated in the bible.  I am evil.

What is evil?  At it’s very basic nature it is the love of self, the ability to puts one self in front and above all else.  It is the elevation of self to the highest entity leading to the ability to hate any and all others who are not the self.  I must confess that I have that capability within me.  I have to admit that, left to my own devices, I would embrace the me first manifesto which could lead to deeply troubling and disastrous acts.

I am evil.  I was not made for evil.  God did not create me to be evil.  Rather it comes down to my choice, my desire to be connected to, to follow the ways of the Prince of Evil, that is Satan.

If I left the post there it would seem a post of doom.  It would be to leave myself in a place of no hope.  I would be proclaiming my eternal damnation.

Yet this is a post of praise and thanksgiving.  This is actually a post of peace and joy.  This a post designed to uplift the downtrodden, to proclaim good news to those whose ears are filled daily with sadness and woe.

For while there is evil, there is also good.  Please, please understand this; evil and good are not on equal footing.  In comparing the ability to triumph, good is more powerful than evil, as evil is more powerful than me.  That is to say, I can not defeat the devil on my own.  His spiritual power is enough to overwhelm me anytime, especially in my earthly proclivity to desire to follow him.  That is why Our Heavenly Father never wants us to try and defeat evil on our own.

Our Heavenly Father, Our Creator God, is good; that is to say He is perfectly good.  In His perfection, He does not want that we should succumb to evil.  So in His perfect plan, He was not going to leave me alone.  First He would send His Son, Jesus Christ to allow me to come into His presence by washing me clean of sin by His sacrifice.  Yet Our Heavenly Father was not through there.  God knows, on our own, we are too weak to defeat the temptations of the evil one.  Thus, God gave us a helper, a champion.  God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.  It is the strength of the Holy Spirit within me that causes the evil one to be defeated.  It is the presence of the Holy Spirit within me, that keeps me and my heart from following after the devil and keeps me from doing evil.

There a couple of aspects for joy in all of this.  First, I am no great or deserving person to receive the Holy Spirit.  Anyone can receive the Holy Spirit, by proclaiming the kingship of and the fact that Jesus Christ was God’s only begotten Son who is now our Savior.  Second, the record of Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is perfect and will always be.  Evil will never be stronger.  Evil can’t practice, can’t workout, can’t call on additional support to somehow build strength enough to defeat good.

Therefore we can go forth in confidence.  We can go forth in peace and joy.  All we need do is humbly call upon Our Heavenly Father for deliverance.  All we need do is turn our hearts toward and over to Our Heavenly Father.  All we need do is love Him, who first loved and continues to completely love us.  Then He who is within us will allow us to do good.  We are transformed by Him for good.

Having done those things then listen to the promise of Jesus Christ! “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will also do and greater works than these he will do because I go to the Father! And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do…” (John 14: 12,13)

That, dear sisters and brothers is the end of the story.  We can do all things in Christ, by the Grace of Our Heavenly Father, through the Holy Spirit who resides within us.  By Our Heavenly Father’s Power and Blessed Mercy, evil is thwarted, the devil is defeated and death itself is overcome.  Thus today we can know peace and joy and we can rest in the Father’s love knowing His love for us will span all the rest of eternity.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father we proclaim that You are God and You are perfect.  Yet I also confess that I am not God and I am drawn to do and be evil.  Forgive me when I turn from You and follow the evil desires of my heart.  I thank and praise You that You have not left me to my own devices.  We thank You for the precious gift of salvation in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  We praise and thank You that You send the Holy Spirit to reside in us, allowing us through His power to overcome our evil nature.  We thank You for Your Love that surpasses all human understanding, that allows us to enter into Your rest with joy and thanksgiving.  We pray these things in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

“And from the roof he saw a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful………”  2 Samuel 11:2

“Then David sent messengers, and took her and she came to him and he lay with her……”  2 Samuel 11:4

STOP!  If you do not plan to read this post all the way through then I ask you to not go beyond here.  It is my hope that at the end this message will be uplifting and very positive.  However, if you stop part way through you may come to a completely different and unintended conclusion.

David, a brief recap to this point.  Youngest son of Jesse, he is said to possess a heart that belongs to God.  Time and time again David calls on God and praises God.  David, defeats Goliath, survives King Saul’s murder attempts, wins victory after victory, brings the Ark of God into the city of Jerusalem dancing widely in the streets.  David has many wives and is adored by the people.  A man that seems truly after God and what God wants.  Seemingly he can do no wrong.

David, it was spring.  David got up one warm night when others were normally resting.  He was on his splendid roof of a palace that he has earlier declared comes from a blessing from God.  David saw a woman; Bathsheba.  She is bathing.  It was not that she was being immodest but that from David’s vantage point he could see many things.  We are told that she is very beautiful.  David wants her.  David is so smitten with her that he does not wait.  He immediately inquires and finds out two things; who she is and that she is married.  David, King of Israel, a man after God’s own heart, a man who has received so many blessings from God; this same David, does not care.  He can’t even wait until the next day.  David immediately sends for her and then sleeps with her.  His sin produces a son which will cause David to eventually have Bathsheba’s husband killed to try and cover up his crime.  There can be no doubt.  David is Evil.

“Hold on just a second Doug!”: the world exclaims (and perhaps you).  It’s not his fault.  It is a result of the stress of battle.  It was the bullying of the Philistines.  It was really Bathsheba’s fault; she lured him into it!  Some others are reacting smugly.  Darn right David is evil.  No good kings, you can’t trust anyone one in power.  Some are saying: “If I had been David, I would not have done that!”  So two worldly responses; one, that evil doesn’t really exist.  The other response, yes there’s evil but it is always the other guy who does it, I’m certainly not evil.

God sighs.  For the bible is very clear; evil does exist.  And the bible is equally clear, we all succumb to it.  We all think and do evilly (remember please don’t stop at this point).  The world blasts back: “Not true! Not true!”  Let’s take a look.  In so many parts of the world; that a person is a woman means it is acceptable to perform horrible mutilations on her body.  To stop people from having basic freedoms it is acceptable to slaughter hundreds of thousands.  “Not in my country!” You say.  All over the world, children are killing children, senseless acts of violence are perpetrated over sporting events. Neighbor prays upon neighbor.  “Not me, I’ve never done that!” is the last vestige of our argument.  Jesus asks: “In your mind, have you ever been angry?, have you ever wanted someone or something that wasn’t yours?, have you ever passed by someone in need of help and completely disregarded them?, never once?” Well…….maybe.  Sadly, we are all fallen.  As in David, even the seeming best of us are capable of terrible things.

Wow Doug, way to go, really uplifting.  But wait here it comes.  If nothing else please, I implore you, let these next two statements sink in.  Our Heavenly Father knows me.  Our Heavenly Father loves me; just as I am.  Say those two statements out loud and take a moment or so then to be silent and let them soak in.  My Heavenly Father knows me.  My Heavenly Father loves me; just as I am.

You mean even in my evil state, with my fallen nature; My Heavenly Father loves me? Yes! A hundred thousand times yes!  How do we know?  How can you say that?  Look at the bible.  It’s not just David; Abraham lied, Peter denied, John pridefully argued about being great, Moses stumbled.  On and on, each person committed some evil.

What was God’s response?  “I have a plan.” He said.  “I will make you my people and give you laws about how you should treat one another to live in harmony.”  His plan was not a failure in that He knew and He spoke through His prophets that we as humans would not be able to follow them.  So what is Our Heavenly Father to do?  After a while people would turn throw up their hands, turn their backs and frustratingly exclaim: “I’m done with them!”

Our Heavenly Father instead said: “I love them so much, they are so important to me, that I will do for them what they can not do for themselves.  I will lay down something so precious, that it will once and for all remove the evil that they will do from my sight.”  So a star rose in the east and a virgin gave birth.  Our Heavenly Father calls out to us proclaiming:  “Out of love for you; yes you: (insert your name here) My Son Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,  God, Perfect, came down to die for you.  So that I will see your sin no more, your evil will no longer separate us.”  And if that is not joyously reaffirming enough He adds: “What do I want in return?  Simply that you believe.  That you believe that I love you and that I sent my son Jesus Christ to die for You and having been resurrected, He is now here with me.”

Dear brothers and sisters, in the end it is no downer.  The world is evil and yes without Christ we would be left to the world and its evil.  Yet Christ proclaims that we while we may be in the world we are not of the world!  We are new in him.  We are loved and in our best attempts we will try to live in that love but we will fail.  We will do evil.  We are imperfect.  But be of great cheer, He who is perfect has taken our punishment for us freely and out of love.  We have a sure promise of redemption and eternal relationship through the flesh and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We shall go forth in Joy, Peace and Confidence loudly proclaiming we are not better in and of ourselves, but we are saved in the Name of Jesus Christ!

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, hear this simple prayer.  Give us the strength to carry forward the message of Your Love, Your Redemption, Your Salvation, Your eternal victory over evil, to all people.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.” John 18:24

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God”  Romans 8:28

There was a show who’s main character’s famous line was: “I love it when a plan comes together”.  Well Annas, Caiaphas, the leadership, the High Council must have been thinking that very thing.  Also, recently, the phrase: “We got him”, has been used to announce that a very evil person has been captured or killed.  Again you can hear that phrase being passed in hushed voices among the crowd of leaders with congratulatory pats on the back.

Their plan, the plan of the Jewish leadership, seemed to be working to perfection.  Find a traitor in Jesus’ ranks; check, we have Judas.  Get Pilot to okay the arresting of Jesus; check, he gave a whole detachment for the purpose.  Arrest Jesus in an out of the way place where there won’t be any crowds to come to His defense; check, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Now all that was left was to have a controlled trial with paid off witnesses.  Convince Pilot that it was in Rome’s best interest to kill this man.  Yep quite a plan they had and it sure seemed to be working.  Even Jesus seemed to be cooperating by mainly keeping quiet.

People scheme.  They work so hard planning nefarious deeds, thinking themselves clever and wily in their use of deceit and subterfuge.  Men believe themselves to be smarter than all others but themselves and as they put their plan into action, with seeming early successes, they become convinced of their ultimate triumph.  Their evil will prevail.  They will not get caught.  They work unseen. They are unstoppable.

Unstoppable? Unseen?  Triumphant evil?  Not Hardly.  The schemers don’t understand that they were thwarted before they used one brain cell to devise their plan.  They can’t comprehend that the evil they are devising is fitting into the Greater Good that God has had planned all along.  They have no inkling of the reckoning that is in store for them when God’s plan comes to fruition.

For you see, we needed a Savior.  If we were going to be able to inter into a perfect, everlasting relationship with God, it would have to be God’s Will that made it happen.  We sin and try as we might (often times forgetting to even try) we have not the power within ourselves to stop, let alone atone for the past sins that we have.  We needed a plan; a perfect plan.  We needed a plan that would give us the Power to be cleansed from sin once and for all.  We needed a plan that would allow us to walk reprieved into the presence of Almighty God because someone had atoned for our sins for us.  That atonement would need to be performed by the shedding of blood; the death of the perfect Lamb.  God had the only person in mind; Jesus Christ his Only Son.

So Jesus is arrested, tried, convicted, crucified and buried.  Game over.  Evil won.  But wait a second.  What this?  Resurrected? That can’t be!  “Stop preaching Him! Stop healing in His Name!”, the leaders shout.  One of their fiercest warriors, Saul, turns traitor and goes to the other side; changing his name to Paul and starts boldly preaching and starting churches.  This can’t be happening, the Jewish leaders cry out.  We won!  We were smart!  It was all going so well!

So what are we to take from this? We can take great comfort indeed.  For today is no different.  Evil people devise evil plans.  The prince of this world schemes for ways to stop the church or at the very least drive a wedge between God and His people.  They think they are winning.  They believe they have won.  But here’s the thing; Christ won upon His death and resurrection.  Christ’s victory was assured when He came to earth as a little child.  God’s plan was never in jeopardy of not succeeding; then or now!  

Take heart dear brother and sisters. God has a perfect plan for each of us.  And in the fulfilling of that plan, He will cause some earthly evil plans to never start; but He will also allow some evil plans to happen because He will turn them around and turn them into blessings for us.  Through thwarting those evil plans; He will show His Ultimate Power to the world as well as show His commitment and mercy to His people.  No evil devised against you or I will stand as long as we call upon the Name of Our Lord and Savior; Jesus Christ.  Because of God’s ultimate Power to bring the circumstances of all things to be blessings to His People, may it be that we will plan to live lives that praise His Most Glorious Name.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, the world strives hard against You as well as Your People.  We pray for Your protection from the world and the evil it devises.  We call upon Your Name to thwart the plans of the enemy and bring there schemes to naught.  We ask that You would turn their plans against them ultimately showing Your Power in this world.  Finally, we sincerely thank you, Merciful Father, that You saw fit to devise a plan for our salvation.  We praise Jesus Christ for being a willing participant in the plan knowing that it would lead to His death.  Thank you for the ultimate victory of Jesus Christ’s resurrection which once and for all defeated death and the prince of this world.  Praise be always to Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

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