A Day at the Beach, The End

And so it ends where 
it began.  It seems fitting that
the Jesus initiated Peter’s call on a beach, confirmed his call on a beach and
now is finalizing his call on the beach. 
And not just any beach, the same beach.

But before we start today’s message, a story.

It was the year after we had moved into the building
and I was having a conversation with A.J. Thomas who was then the assistant
pastor at Hillside Wesleyan. And we were talking about the growth we had seen
over the previous year since we had moved into the building.  And AJ made the comment, “It’s incredible,
all you did was move to the other side of the Bedford Hammonds Plains sign, you
just went to the other side.”  And being
a professional communicator I responded by saying “Wow, the other side.” 

And then I told AJ this story.  Two years previous when Franklin Graham came
to Halifax I had been asked to organize a pastor’s prayer time for Bedford
Sackville.  So every couple of weeks a
group of us gathered at the Pentecostal Church on Stokil Drive in
Sackville. 

Well this one occasion I arrived and it was just me
and the pastor, who told me he had another meeting to attend and asked me to
lock the doors when I left.  And then
there was just me.  Normally there would
have been four or five of us.  And then
another guy showed up and introduced himself as the Pastor of the Victory
Church in Fall River.  I had never met
the man before and haven’t seen him since. 
Just a one-time meeting, I can’t even remember his name. 

But as we chatted he told me that he had a Word from
The Lord for me. 

Now to be truthful, I am thinking “You’ve never met me
before and you have a word for The Lord for me.”   But being polite I said, Ok, go ahead. 

And he said “This morning I was having my quiet time
with God and was reading from John chapter 21 and when I got to the part where
Jesus told Peter to cast his net on the other side God told me that he wanted
me to come to this meeting and to give that message to a pastor that I would
meet here.  So I asked him, ‘how will I
know which pastor?’ to which he replied ‘Oh, you’ll know.’  and here we are.  So I am supposed to tell you, ‘Cast your net
on the other side’.”  And so I asked
“What is that supposed to mean?”  and he
said “I have no idea, I’m just doing what was told to do.”

And that was it, we had prayer and I’ve never seen him
again.  Now it would be really cool to
say that I immediately realized the significance of what he was saying, that I
focused my attention on this side of the sign and here we are today.  But seriously I didn’t have a clue.  That evening at supper I told Angela the
story, we bounced around some ideas, did it mean we should redefine the style
of Cornerstone? That didn’t seem right.  
Did it mean we should resign and go somewhere else?   That didn’t seem to be the answer
either.  And eventually I stopped
thinking about it until AJ mentioned about how we had simply moved to the other
side.  Wild!

And has nothing to do with today’s message, but it’s a
cool story. 

This is week five of our ‘A Day at the Beach’
series.  We have taken the past few weeks
to look at parts of the Jesus story that have happened in and around the Sea of
Galilee.

It was at the Sea of Galilee that Jesus first called
Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John.  It was at the Sea of Galilee that Jesus found
the guys fishing again and reaffirmed his call on their lives.  It was on the Sea of Galilee that Jesus
calmed the storm and walked on the water.

And here he meets with his closest friends once
again.  In the account that was read for
us earlier John wrote that Jesus met with seven of his remaining eleven
apostles on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. 

Now some of you might be looking in your bible and you
are saying “Oh no Pastor in my Bible it says it was the Sea of Tiberias.”

Simple reason, an old name and
a new name. Recognize this?  It’s Ayers
Rock, well actually it used to be called Ayers Rock now it’s called Uluru, well
actually it used to be called Uluru, then it was called Ayers Rock and now it’s
called Uluru again.  And if you were to
go to Australia you would hear some people call it Ayers Rock, and some would
call it Uluru and some people just refer to it as the “Red Centre”.  

Kind of like what used to be
Hammonds Plains became a part of Halifax County and then just a part of the
Halifax Regional Municipality, and now it’s just Halifax, but let’s not go
there.  To really confuse the issue the
name Gennesaret was used at another point in history to describe the same body
of water.    And it isn’t actually a sea
it’s just a big lake. 

It wasn’t all of the disciples
who were there but it was most of them; we are told that there were John 21:2
Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other
disciples.   If we
wanted to speculate on who the other two disciples were one good guess would be
Andrew, cause he was Peter’s brother and fishing partner and maybe Phillip
because he had been listed alongside of Andrew before.  And they were kind of hanging out, talking,
today if they were doing that in a church we’d say they were
“Fellowshipping”.  It seems like today
Christians get guilt feelings if they aren’t doing something churchy, so they
don’t just hang out and have fun they fellowship. 

And it was at that point that John 21:3 Simon Peter
said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said.

It Started When Peter Looked
Back 

So there it was, Jesus had
risen from the dead, appeared to the disciples, had commissioned them to his
service and given them a vital task but nothing was happening, for whatever
reason Christ didn’t have them doing anything and it was getting on Peter’s
nerves.  From everything we know about
Peter we’d have to say he was a type “A” personality.  I was in traffic with a friend of mine one
day and I mentioned that in relation to the traffic that I was a type “A”
personality.  So my friend asked what
other types there were and the response was that in the eyes of a type “A”
there were Type “A’s” and the people who are in the way.  Well that was definitely Peter, and if there
wasn’t something to do then he was going to make something to do

And so there they were, doing
nothing, watching the boats getting ready, the sails going up, the nets being
prepared and I can almost hear Peter say, “I don’t know about you, but I’m
getting tired of sitting around here twiddling my thumbs, I’m going
fishing.”  And it was just the spark they
needed.  “You’re right, count me in
Peter” “I’m coming to, what are we waiting for?”

Now I don’t know what it is
about fishing, have never been able to figure it out.  I came out of High School with fairly high
marks, I’d been accepted at Kings, could have stepped into management training
with Tip Top, instead I joined a rag tag collection of would be adventurers on
the Rali 2, a mid-water trawler based out of Paspebeac Quebec.  I mean we all had experience in selling
clothes, and advertising, running hotels and renting cars, managing
restaurants, driving dump truck, being policeman and digging graves.  We weren’t short on experience we were just
short on fishing experience. 

But fishing we went.  At the end of our first summer the boat went
to dry dock for some modifications, and we all went back to some semi
respectable professions.

But whenever you saw one of the
boys they had a gleam in their eyes and they would talk about sailing in the
spring.  I’d occasionally catch Dad
muttering, “Just sitting here a wishing, I could go a fishing.”  We were all making as good, if not better
money, we weren’t seasick, we were home, we weren’t cold and wet, and yet when
the call came in the spring we all gave up what we were doing to go a
fishing.  How come, I don’t know, maybe
the independence, or the sense of conquering nature, I really don’t know, but
there was some type of hold. And so the story continues

John 21:3 Simon Peter
said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out
in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

There are a couple of things
that strike me about this scripture.  The
first thing is that spiritual decision seldom affect only us.  Peter said “I’m going fishing.”  And the rest of them joined him. 

When you make the decision to
not go to church or to go deeper in your faith you will take others with you.

The second thing that struck me
was that it says They went out in their boat  The New King James version is a
little different because it says “They went out and immediately
got into their boat.”  There
hasn’t been any mention of them fishing now for a couple of years and the boat
was already to sail, whata you know about that.

Whenever we went back to go
fishing it took the ten of us 2-3 days to get the equipment ready to use, and
these guys go down jump in the boat and sail away.  To me, it tells me only one thing, this
wasn’t spontaneous.  He was no longer
just looking back,  Peter Went Back.

During the days while Peter was
waiting he must have been mending twine, fixing equipment, getting the boat
ready for the water. But he wasn’t just thinking about doing it, now he was
doing it.   I’m sure that he thought it
was harmless, he was just passing time, it was just giving him something to
do.  Billy Sunday was the
Billy Graham in the early years of the 1900s, and he made this statement, “When a
man, after starting to be a Christian looks back, it’s only a question of time
until he goes back.”  Kind of remind
you of what Jesus said in Luke 9:62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who
puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

The day that Peter dug out his
boat, he stated that he wasn’t happy with the present.  The day that Peter began getting his gear
ready, was the day that he showed his intentions that he planned on returning
to yesterday.  Whether he knew it or not,
it was only a matter of time until he sailed. 
And the day that Peter sailed he stepped back into yesterday, and stated
that he couldn’t or wouldn’t accept what today had to offer.

People do that today, maybe not
in the physical sense, but they do it in the emotional sense and a spiritual
sense.  Why I remember back in ’04, why
back then Rev. So and So was the Pastor here and we used to have hundreds of
people, things sure aren’t the way they used to be.  We don’t have that problem yet, but someday
the temptation will be there.

Yes the Holy Spirit moved
yesterday, and yes wonderful things happened yesterday, but this is now and we
need to stay focused on that.  In the
book of 1 John we read 1 John 1:7 But if we
walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  Not sit in the light or stand
in the light, or meditate on the light, but walk.  Movement, progression, going forward.  You ever hear “Still water runs deep”?  Not always, sometimes still water is just
plain stagnant, and so are immovable Christians.

Yesterday is gone, it’s done,
you can’t change even one aspect of it by replaying it over and over in your
mind, and it will not come back. As Lee Iacocca said “Yesterday
ended at midnight.”  I’m not
saying that we have to give up our memories; I’m just saying we ought not live
there.

The story continues, John 21:3-6 Simon Peter
said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out
in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on
the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows,
have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your
net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and
they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

And Then Peter Came Back 

They didn’t catch a thing, man,
as a former commercial fisherman let me try to put this as eloquent as
possible; There ain’t nothing more depressing than catching nothing.  Now a lot of things happen all of a sudden,
Jesus is standing on the shore looking out at them, nothing miraculous here,
the fisherman of that area often fished close to the shore and so Jesus would
have no problem hollering out to them. 

Why didn’t they recognize
him?  Maybe it wasn’t fully light yet,
or  maybe there was a mist in the air or
maybe they were just tired but regardless of the why they didn’t recognize him,
they didn’t.  And he hollers out to them,
“Let your net down on the other side”. 
You have to wonder, “Did he see the fish?”  It’s possible, there is nothing here to
indicate that it was a miracle, but then again maybe it was, maybe Christ
created these fish just for the disciples to catch.  It really isn’t all that important or that
relevant.

What is relevant is that he
provided for them, wheter through a natural means or a supernatural means the
end result was still the same.  At this
point I don’t know if it was catching all the fish and John remembered that it
happen before, maybe he looked at his friends and said, “Hey guys this is like
Déjà vu all over again.  This is just
like back in Luke chapter 5 verse 7.” And that made him realize that it was
Jesus.  Or maybe the fog lifted or the
dawn began to break through, whatever it was John turned to Peter and said
“It’s the Lord!”  Well that was all Peter
needed to hear, he grabbed his tunic, pulled it on and jumped overboard, and
swam the hundred yards to shore.

Now it may seem a little
strange to us that he put on his outer garment before he jumped over the side,
but it was a show of respect.  He had
probably been working in just a loincloth and that wasn’t enough to wear when
you approach a teacher.  This was so like
Peter, good old impetuous Peter, leaving the other six to do all the work.  But when Jesus commanded him to bring some
fish he rushed down to the beach to drag the net in all by himself.

Now if we were to have kept
reading in the story we would have discovered , John 21:11 So Simon
Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish,
and yet the net hadn’t torn. If you’ve ever read this passage did you
ever wonder about the significance of the 153 fish?  No, well others have. 

Through the centuries there
have been all kinds of theories about why that specific number of fish was
mentioned, but it doesn’t matter. 

You see we can get so caught up
in really trivial stuff and miss the fact that we need to be obedient to
Christ, today.  When Peter saw Jesus he
was willing to come back to the present and to leave the past behind him.  We need to recognize that Jesus is here
today, February 9, 2014.  Not yesterday,
or last month or last year but here today. 
And today is when he wants you to serve him.

And here comes the question,
everyone has finished their breakfast and Jesus looked at Peter and this is
what he said, John 21:15 After breakfast Jesus asked
Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

I’ve talked about this before,
do you know who I think Jesus meant when he said “Do you love me more than
these?”    Nobody, I don’t think he
was talking about a “who” I think he was talking about a what.  He wasn’t asking Peter if he loved him more
than he loved John or Andrew, that’s a little juvenile.  And I don’t think he was asking Peter if he
loved him more than the other guys loved him. 

I think that what Jesus was
saying to Peter was, “Once I called you from a scene very much like this, way
back in Mark chapter 1 and then again in Luke chapter 5 verse 3 and you
followed me.  But here you are back in
your old life.  So Peter are you going to
abandon me?  Are you leaving the
adventure, do the old ties still tug at your heart?  Peter, why are you here?  Do you want to stay fishing, or is your love
for me greater than your love for your boat, and your net, and your
independence?  Is your love for me
greater than these, greater than yesterday, greater then all of these things
that represent your past, greater than your boat and all your gear, “Simon son of
John, do you love me more than these?” And Peter looked at Jesus and
said “Yes, Lord, you know I do!” and Jesus said “Peter is that
your final answer?”  You say no he
didn’t, oh yes he did, maybe not in those words, but he asked Peter the
question 2 more times.

Peter had denied Jesus three
times and here Jesus is allowing him the chance to confess his love three
times.  Aren’t you glad we serve a God of
the second chance?

Jesus is asking you the very
same question today “Will you serve me today?” 
Not “Did you serve me yesterday?” or “Will you serve me tomorrow?”  But “Will you serve me today?”  

Remember we learn from
yesterday and we can dream for tomorrow but we need to live for today.  Isaiah 43:19 For I am
about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will
make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry
wasteland.

Don’t fumble your self image



One day the world wanted to shake his hand, and the next day they could only shake their heads.  I don’t think I have ever seen a sports figure go from celebrated to scorned as quickly as Peyton Manning did after the Super Bowl Game.  I am not a football fan, but I did watch some of the Sunday night game, mainly for the food.  And from my ignorant perspective, it seemed that Peyton went downhill right after blowing it on the first play.  It wasn’t that he became less of a player, but almost as if he started seeing himself as less of a player. 
Peyton Manning is a five time MVP in the game, and yet after that first mistake he didn’t seem to play like a MVP.  Instead, it seemed as if he defined himself by that one play. 

How often do we define ourselves by a mistake that we make in our lives? We all blow it, that’s reality.  But instead of allowing that to be the defining moment or our lives we need to see it as an anomaly and get on with the game.  We all believe that Jesus can forgive us when we blow it, the bigger question is:  Can we forgive ourselves?    Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible. 

Pigs on the Beach

It wasn’t your typical day at the beach.  Instead of beach umbrellas, lounge chairs and
a sandcastle, we have a cemetery, a violent man, the supernatural, outraged citizens and
pigs.  And I’m pretty
flexible, especially about beaches, but I draw the line at pigs on the beach.
This is week four of our Day at the Beach series.  We have been looking at events from the
Gospels that have happened on and around the Sea of Galilee, which as we have
already explained wasn’t actually a sea but simply a lake. And we are picking
up where we left off last week.
It had been a
pretty full day, what with all the teaching, healings and all. Then Jesus and
the apostles had gotten into a boat and headed across the lake.  When dark came a violent storm suddenly
developed and the apostles figured that was the end and woke Jesus up, didn’t
want him to miss anything.  But instead of
joining in the panic Jesus commanded the wind and waves to stop, and they did.  Amazing, not only was he in control of the
physical he was in control of the natural as well.  And now morning had come and he was about to
show his control over the supernatural.
The group
landed at a point identified here as Gerasenes  which if we pull up our trusty map was here on
the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  It’s interesting as you study the New Testament and read
how scholars try to identify communities by the descriptions given them 2000
years ago. 
The first
church Angela and I pastored together was outside of Sussex New Brunswick in a
hamlet called Hammondvale. To even call it a hamlet was being charitable.  There was nothing there, zip, nada zero.  Maybe 40 homes and a chapel that had been
built a hundred years before.  But if you
were to read the history of Hammondvale from the 1800’s there was some mining going on, there were a couple of stores and a
hotel, a lawyer’s office and several other
businesses.  And yet 90 years later you
would be hard pressed to believe that any of that had ever existed. 
That being
said, it has been by guess and by golly that we say with great authority that
this is the location.  Gerasenes  hardly existed 2000 years ago and doesn’t exist today, but this is where they figure it was.
And as Jesus and the group landed and came ashore they were confronted
with a most unusual greeting committee.  
I’ll let Mark tell you more.  Mark 5:1-2 So they arrived at the other side of the
lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man
possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him.
I would suspect that this man had not been selected by the chamber of commerce to
greet newcomers to town, he probably wasn’t part of the official Welcome
Wagon.  But listen to how he greeted Jesus and the apostles. Mark 5:6-7 When
Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed
low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering
with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!”
Did you catch
it?  There was something very important
in what he said.  Let’s read it again. 
Mark 5:6-7 When
Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed
low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering
with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!”
Right there, do
you see what he calls Jesus?  Son of the
most high God.  This is one of the first people to recognize and
identify Jesus’ true identity and divinity.  Up to now we heard him referred to as “Lord”
or “Teacher”
but this is the
first time he is referred to as God’s Son.  
Interesting. 
Some times when
I talk to folks and try to get a handle on where they are spiritually they will
say “Well I believe.”  Well sure, everyone believes something, even if it’s that they believe there is no God. 
Or they will say “I believe in believe in God”
or “I believe in
Jesus”  Listen to what the Bible, God’s word says James
2:19
You
say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even
the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
And it would
appear that this guy knew his fate, and he understood the truth of  Matthew 25:41 “Then the King will turn
to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal
fire prepared for the devil and his demons.’”  So he
knew that he
was destined for an
eternity of punishment and torment and yet he still chose to follow Satan.  Wow, good thing people aren’t like that. 
Oh, I guess they are.
If we keep
reading the story we see Jesus questions the man, only to discover that there
isn’t a demon, but many demons.  And they
beg Jesus to not send them to some distant place, wherever that distant place
might have been. 
Instead the
demons immediately go on the defensive and looking around they see a herd of pigs, so
let’s
go back to the story.  Mark 5:11-12 There
happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. “Send us
into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.”
You catch
that?  The demons had to ask Jesus permission to enter
the pigs. And if we keep reading the Bible tell
us that Jesus granted them permission and the demons entered the pigs, the pigs charge down the hill into the
lake and drown.   End of story,
right?  Well not quite because the pig
herders go into town with their story and tell everyone and the entire town
turns out to see this Jesus for themselves. 
Now before we continue with this story there was another time that an
entire community turned out to see the one called Jesus.  Maybe you remember it from John 4:39-41 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman
had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him,
they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long
enough for many more to hear his message and believe.
Not here though, here the reaction is completely different.  Mark 5:17 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to
go away and leave them alone. The people of one community begged Jesus to stay and the people of the
other community begged Jesus to leave. 
Interesting.
So what do we
learn from the story? 
The Reality of Demons
We live in a
time and culture that the supernatural seems more like fantasy or fiction then
reality.  And we are quick to dismiss
rather than accept that they may be things that we can’t understand and explain.  One
commentator that I read espoused the view that the man
wasn’t actually demon
possessed that he just thought he was demon possessed, and his
loud screaming
startled the herd of pigs who ran down the hill into Galilee.  And then Jesus used the death of the pigs to
convince the man that the demons had left him and gone into the pigs.
Ok.  Guess he never heard that we don’t debate the book. 
We are reminded by Paul in Ephesians 6:11-12 Put on all of God’s armour
so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For
we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers
and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world,
and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
In Luke 10:19
Jesus called Satan “Our Enemy” and that is echoed by his friend Peter who wrote 1 Peter 5:8 Be on your guard and stay
awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find
someone to attack. 
As Christians
we often make one of two mistake, either we ignore Satan and demons and pretend
that they have no power and are nothing more than myths or  past problems, or we dwell on them and give
them credit for every misfortune, illness or trouble that enters our
lives.    Two things you need to know 1)
the Devil and Demons are real and 2) I’ve read the
back of the book and we win.
This
man was possessed, or
oppressed or something by the enemy.  I
don’t know a lot about demons, haven’t spent a lot of time studying them and don’t intend to.  “But
Denn” you say  “It’s important.”   This is what I know.  The word
Demon is mentioned 89 times in the bible, the first being in Deuteronomy 32:17 They offered sacrifices to demons, which are not God, to gods they had
not known before, to new gods only recently arrived, to gods their ancestors
had never feared. And the last
being in Revelation 18:2 He gave a mighty shout: “Babylon is
fallen—that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a
hideout for every foul spirit, a hideout for every foul vulture and every foul
and dreadful animal.
The term evil
spirits is used 38 times, Devil 41 times and Satan 67 times.  If you combine them you get a total of 235
time that demons, evil spirits, the Devil or Satan are mentioned in the
Bible. 
The Name Jesus
is mentioned 1552 times, Christ is mentioned 560 times, Holy Spirit 138 times
and God 5271 times.  For a total of 7,521
times.  235 times vs.  7,521 times. 
So who do you think we should be focused on?  The bad guys or the good guys.  And again I know we can’t ignore the reality
of spiritual warfare and demons and evil spirits, they are there, but let’s not
obsess over them.
His Trip Was Intentional there appears to be no other reason why he went other
than to deliver this man and speak to the people of the area.   Gerasenes wasn’t a popular tourist spot, as far as we know none of the disciples came
from there so they probably weren’t just going
for a visit.
Early on Jesus
defined his ministry this way Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has
anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that
captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be
set free,”
He was in Gerasenes
to free the oppressed and release the captives. 
During his brief visit there he completely turned the world of this man
upside down.  He  had been isolated from his community and his
family.  His life wasn’t even his own
instead he were at the mercy of these demons and Jesus sent him free.
You see
sometimes we get focused on reaching communities and miss the fact that happens
by reaching people.  With an entire world
to reach, Jesus sailed across Galilee, through a storm to make a difference in
the life of this one man.
We will change
this community one person and one family at a time.  So who is there in your life that needs you
to reach out to them that they may be set free?
Jesus Did What He Went to Do 
I  understand that there is a
battle to be fought but the reality is the war has been won.  The demons knew that, Jesus knew that and you
need to know that   Here is your promise
for today. Romans 8:38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever
separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers
of hell can separate us from God’s love.
Let’s
personalize it and read it together Romans 8:38 And I am convinced that
nothing can ever separate me from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither
angels nor demons, neither my fears for today nor my worries about tomorrow—not
even the powers of hell can separate me from God’s love.
Do you believe
that promise today?  Do you want it to be
a reality in your life?  God is in
control and he wants to be in control of your life.  We can get into all kinds of discussions
about who can be oppressed or possessed by demons and who can’t be but I really think a lot of it comes down to a
personal choice. 
If you are one
hundred percent committed to God there will be no room for demons in your
life.   They can’t be in his presence.  Jesus had
just landed in Gerasenes and the demons knew they couldn’t stay. 
That’s why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:21 You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons,
too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too.
And why James
tells us in James 3:10-11 And so blessing and cursing come pouring
out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does
a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?
And so the
demons chose to go
into the pigs but notice what happened the pigs didn’t want them either, they would rather drown
then have a bunch of demons in them. So what happened to the demons, don’t know but from what I understand water wasn’t what they were looking for.  Check out Matthew
12:43

“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but
finding none.  Now I’m thinking that if the desert is where a demon
would prefer to go then a lake wouldn’t even be a close second.
So that battle
was won, and here is the good news for you today, the battle for your soul has
already been won.  Jesus fought it and
won it two thousand years ago when Satan tried to nail righteousness to a
cross, but Jesus defeated him with his resurrection and won the battle right
then and there and all we have to do is accept what he has done for us. 
Not Everyone Was Happy  We kind of figure that the demons weren’t happy, that’s kind of the
nature of the beast, what with being demons and all. Probably weren’t the life of the
party and that doesn’t even take into account the entire pig thing.  We alluded to this earlier but the last verse
of this passage says Mark 5:17 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave
them alone.
So what was up
with that? Some people feel that they were upset because of the loss of their
pigs, others contend that the people were afraid of Jesus and his power.  But if it was the first reason they weren’t
the only people to put material possessions over a relationship with
Christ. 
Some people
will never come to the point of accepting the Lordship of Jesus because they
are afraid what they will have to give up in order to do that.  Whether it’s their possessions, or their
money or their will and desires.  But
they don’t understand what they are losing. 
Jesus warned us in Matthew 16:26 And what do you benefit
if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than
your soul?
There is no
evidence that Jesus ever returned to Gerasenes in the remainder of his ministry.  They rejected Christ and sent him away and he
left.  Do you ever stop and wonder what
would happen if God respected your wishes and just left you alone?  
And I know that
at this point some of you are wondering What
About the Pigs?
  The pigs?  Oh right the pigs, they drowned.  Oh you’re upset
because this pigs drowned?  You’re supposed to be happy because this
man got his life back.
You understand
that the pigs should not have even been there right?  Under Jewish law there was no reason to have
pigs, you couldn’t eat them, you weren’t supposed to touch them.  Leviticus 11:7-8 The pig has evenly split
hooves but does not chew the cud, so it is unclean. You may not eat the meat of
these animals or even touch their carcasses. They are ceremonially unclean for
you.  In the Old Testament people that ate pigs were not
considered the best folks to hang around with Isaiah
65:3-4
All
day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens.
They burn incense on pagan altars. At night they go out among the graves,
worshiping the dead. They eat the flesh of pigs and make stews with other
forbidden foods.
It was a shame
what happened to the pigs, ok I have nothing against pigs,  especially wrapped around scallops,   but let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. 
And don’t even get me started on how so many
of the people who are so vocal about protecting baby seals are just as vocal
about allowing unborn children to be destroyed. 
You don’t want to go there.
Forget the pigs
and understand that this story reveals that there is a supernatural battle that
is being waged for the souls of people and if you want to be on the winning
side then you have to choose.  And with
that I leave you with the challenge of Joshua who stood before the people of
Israel and said  Joshua 24:15 “. . . choose today whom you
will serve. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”