Jump Start # 2821
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Our verse today identifies an intense battle. It’s not a ballgame. It’s not a board game. It’s not a video game. It’s life and it’s very real. The battle is spiritual. The thief and Jesus. One came to give and the other came to take away. One makes things better and the other makes things worse. One is good and the other is bad. The thief is Satan. He has never accomplished anything worthwhile. He has never helped a soul. He has never brought a ray of sunshine. Instead, misery, pain, death and destruction follow him. He lies. He cheats. He offers the world, which is not his to give. He takes what is good and ruins it.
The motive of the thief is to destroy what Christ has established. Revelation tells us that Satan is at war with the people of God. He tried to entomb Christ, but the Lord was resurrected. Now, Satan tries to entomb us in addictions, fears and fighting.
There are three areas that Satan is interested in. He wants these three areas. He’ll try to break in at night and steal them. He’ll try to crush them right before your eyes. And, much too often, we do not see the workings of this snake. He is a coward. James tells us to resist and he’ll flee. Say “no,” to him and watch him run. Since he is a coward, he’ll hide behind issues, conflicts and other things that steal our attention and takes our focus off of the Lord. We don’t’ see him. We see the issues and conflicts. We are drawn to differences and never realize that behind these things is Satan. So, Satan will hide behind money issues, racial differences, building stress, worry and fear, to cloud our vision and to make us lose focus with the Lord. Satan will pull us apart. He will divide us. He’ll make us turn on each other. And, all through this, we never realize it’s Satan. Something as insignificant as wearing a mask has divided this country and God’s people. We’ve left congregations, some have split, some no longer are in fellowship with others, because of a mask. But, it’s not a mask. It’s Satan. He has accomplished what he was after, to steal, kill and destroy. He didn’t have to use error. That’s too obvious. He didn’t have to bring in false prophets. All it took was a simple little mask. Something made of paper. Something made of cloth. And, with that, he was able to do what progressive theology couldn’t do. With that he accomplished what atheistic professors could not do. He did not have to deny the Christ. He did not have to use intellectual textbooks to deceive people. No. It was just a mask. And, that little mask has become a reason for some to get angry with the very brethren that they have worshipped with and fellowshipped with for year. That little mask was all it took for Satan to accomplish his purpose.
Satan is after our congregations. He doesn’t want them walking near the Lord. He doesn’t care about the size of the group. It’s the closeness to the word of God that concerns Satan. A house full of people that are playing church only makes him smile. But a handful of serious, dedicated and committed disciples are enough to make a major difference in a community for decades. He knows that. How to stop solid Biblical preaching and teaching is the concern of Satan. How to keep people from growing spiritually is the concern of Satan. False teaching doesn’t stand a chance in a room full of people that know the Bible. That attack won’t work. Compliancy, apathy, indifference will only reach those who are not serious in their walk with the Lord. Congregations will survive because of the seriousness of disciples. A pandemic. Social distancing. Masks. How innocent. How deceptive. How easily to hide his motive behind those things. And, with that the people of God who prayed for each other, loved each other, now turn on each other. Attitudes flair. Anger rises. Rebellion surfaces. And, the congregation suffers. The work stops. People turn on each other. We become our own enemy. And, no one notices that Satan was behind all of this.
Satan is after our marriages. He will use work and the stress of pandemics to make couples angry with each other. He’ll use the close of schools and social events to make families weary of each other. Hours upon hours of mindless TV watching fills the days and the nights. Our souls suffer. Our spirits suffer. All we see is how abnormal life has become. We never see Satan. We never see that all of this is just one of his ways to chip away at our families. Divorce seems like an acceptable option. Why live this way? Happiness has gone. Nothing seems right. And, Satan smiles. He smiles because no one notices him. It’s pandemics. It’s how things just are not normal any more. That’s all people see. That’s all they talk about. No one points a finger at the evil one. The thief has entered the house and no one saw him. And, what he stole was the love, the bond, the trust, and the commitment between a couple.
Satan is after you. Too tired to watch the videos put out by the church. Too busy to listen to podcasts put out by the church. Too much to do to keep up with Bible readings and Bible classes. And, Satan smiles. Our rhythms have been disrupted. It’s hard to get back into the groove again. Ropes and masks at church just doesn’t seem right. And, in all of this our intensity with the Lord has slowed down. We are no longer as engaged, excited or involved as we once were. It’s the pandemic we tell ourselves. But Satan knows. He smiles. They’ll never catch him, he believes. They’ll never know it’s him. The thief has robbed our peace of mind and our hope and confidence. We are not the way we once were. The fox has gotten into the chicken house and no one did anything.
Yet, for many, this is not the way the story will be written. For many congregations, families and individuals, this pandemic was nothing more than a speed bump that they passed over. Masks have been no big deal for many. Inconvenient and not to their liking, but not something to get upset over and certainly not something to destroy what is good and right over. These folks recognize that Satan is behind all of this. He’s used something innocent to get his hands where they do not belong. He’s reached in to steal our congregations, our families and our souls. The wise recognize this. Our fellowship will not be disturbed over something as silly as a mask. Our marriages are greater than a pandemic. And, our souls are much more valuable than all of this. Through this, some congregations, some families and some individuals have grown stronger, closer together and are better on this side of things than they were before. The thief tried, but it didn’t work for these people. He couldn’t get in.
There has been a battle going on. It continues to go on. Don’t lose sight of what is really happening. Don’t allow something simple to destroy what is great in the eyes of the Lord. Masks have done more than cover our mouths, they have covered the schemes of the devil. Our enemy is not each other. Our enemy is Satan.
Don’t let that thief into your heart. He’ll hide behind just about anything to get his way in. And, once he is in, all trouble breaks out.