Jesus Heals the man possessed by Legion

 

12-12-Mark-5-1-20

When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him. This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.

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!” For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.” 
Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”
And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place. 
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.”
So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
When I read this passage, and look at this piece of art, I stop to think about the things in life that torment and bind each and every one of us. Whether it’s visible or not, many of us struggle with things that keep us retreated back away from others, much like the man in this passage. He could not be held by manmade chains or bonds anymore. The pain of what tormented him was so great that he’d retreated to a life of solitude and agony within the burial caves outside of the village. People knew him not as himself, but rather as a reflection of the daemons that tormented his life.
As I continue reading, however, there is a part of this story that pops out at me. Jesus, still some distance away, evokes a response from both the tormented man, and the hoard of spirits within him. The spirits immediately recognize and know who Jesus is, and furthermore, they know that he will interfere with the work of evil that they are conducting inside their host. They resort to begging Jesus not to send them away. They know he has the power to rebuke them and send them away. They’d rather be able to continue tormenting something, even a herd of pigs than to be sent away all together.
What sticks to my mind and heart the most is that the things that torment us, no matter how terrible or painful they are, are subject to the authority and power of Jesus. The spirits and the man knew that he had the power to get rid of the pain and torment. The man knew Jesus had the answer to his problem, and Legion knew that Jesus was the source of their demise. What we need to do is just be willing to let Jesus get close enough to us, in the midst of our pain, and to allow him to call out the pain and draw it out of us like we know he can.
The passage tells us that the man was left “sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane”, and that people were afraid when they saw this. The man wasn’t just better he was completely sane, restored, and made new. May we all rely on Jesus’ power to heal the things that hold us in bondage and cause us pain. May we rest on the truth that he makes all things new, and not just better.
Jed Hanes
For more information Chris Cook, a premier southern artist, click HERE.

A man’s soul:

mans-soul

 

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Mark 8:36-37 NIV

I find it funny that in all of science and technology, the entirety of modern medicine, there is one thing that we can not put our fingers on. The one thing about human beings is that we are created with a Soul. The soul, our breath of life, our will, our self, our individuality…what truly makes each and every one of us unique.

Science could, as far as I know, engineer a life form from a group of cells and genetic material. But one thing that they can not replicate is the soul of a human being. I believe that this, among a host of other indications, is great testament to the creator God that breathed breath into each of our lungs. He made each of us in his image with a specific purpose for our lives. Our soul, “psuché” in the Greek is, in my opinion, the mark of what makes us God’s glorious creation. It set’s us apart from all other created things. It is a quality that makes us…us.

Jesus warned that if we gained everything in the world, yet forfeited our souls, then we would gain nothing. There is nothing in this world that could possibly replace the peace and comfort of a relationship with the Father, through the Son, and being able to say “it is well with my soul”.

I think that another way of saying this might be felt in these words.

“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”

May we never lose sight of our soul, and the glorious gift from above that it is from our Father in heaven.

Jed Hanes

For more information on Chris Cook, a premier southern artist, check out http://www.chriscookartist.com/bio.html.

Men of Galilee:

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9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 
11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Imagine this – you are one of the disciples…one of the few who have spent the last few years of your life devoted to following THE ONE, the Messiah. Your rabbi, who you have seen raise men from the dead, walk on water, heal the sick, drive out daemons, and feed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish has just ascended into the heavens (bear in mind that this is taking place about 40 days after he died & was resurrected).
So you and your fellow disciples are left standing there staring up at the heavens…perplexed about what should come next. Where do you go? What do you do? How do you begin to move on? Lucky for us, the two men dressed in white give us a promise of His return, and hope for the mean time.
The good news, the Gospel if you will, for each of us is that Christ is risen from the dead. The key for us, just as it was for the disciples is what we do in the mean time. We don’t need to be the ones left standing there, staring at the heavens. We do however, need to follow the examples of the apostles in the days following the ascension. They prayed for God’s guidance, received the Spirit at Pentecost, and began their work as the hands and feet of Jesus’ ministry.
Rather than being complacent, staring at the heavens, and waiting in fear of what could happen, we need to embrace the power He gives us through the spirit and be the ones who share the good news of the resurrection and all of the joy and peace that comes with it. We should be like the apostles and continue to share Jesus’ love and power with all those around us until the day of his return.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 
Let us look for Jesus, through the power of the Spirt, by the grace of the Father, through service and fellowship with one another.
-Jed Hanes
For more information on Chris Cook, a premier southern artist, visit http://www.chriscookartist.com/bio.html.

Saul: Acts 9

Saul

 

Saul set out on the road to Damascus with one goal in mind; to eliminate as many of the followers of “The Way” that he could. He wanted to do his part to quell the rebellion of these revolutionaries. However, as we often see…God had a different plan for Saul than his own..something much different…something much better.

Saul was a religious man. He’d devoted much of his life to following the Law. He was a “holy man” not only in his own eyes, but in the eyes of many of the men that he came into contact with daily. Saul had a problem, however; even though he kept the Law and lived a “good life”, his heart was as black as night.

God met Saul, like he so often does for each of us, on the path that was sure to lead to destruction and death. He seized the opportunity to get Saul’s attention.

3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5“ Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,”he replied.
6 “Now get up and go into the city,
and you will be told what you must do.”
Saul was literally knocked off of his high horse, and blinded of his self-righteous vision in order for God the Father to show him His plan for his life. How true is it for each of us that, from time to time, God has to knock us down and shine the light of his love and majesty into our eyes so that we can more clearly see his greater plan for our lives?
May we all remember that his vision and plans for our lives are far greater than we could ever imagine. May we also use Saul’s story to serve as a reminder of God’s grace and willingness to meet us right where we are to lead us back to Him.
– Jed Hanes
More Information about the artist, Chris Cook, can be found at http://www.chriscookartist.com/bio.html

David and Goliath:

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David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LordAlmighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

Like many, I have read this passage and heard it told to me for my entire life. The older I get, the more gruesome and intense the story has become.

Early on, it was a simple and wholesome tale about a boy and his slingshot who saved his friends from the mean old giant. As I continue to reread and study the passage more, it becomes a deeper and darker tale of a great triumph for God’s people.

David, a simple shepherd boy and least of his brothers, takes a stand against Goliath, a Philistine Giant who mocks the God of David’s people. David refuses to tolerate the mockery any longer, and decides to take on the giant who is holding his people in terror.

Armed with only a sling and stone, not encumbered by the armor of King Saul, he steps out onto the field of battle. While the stone dealt the blow that killed Goliath, David was equipped with so much more. He held within his heart the fulfillment of all of God’s promises of protection and provision through the years. God had protected him from the lions and bears, and he had no doubt that He would do the same for this threat to His flock.

David’s conquest is a great testimony of how one follower, refusing to allow God to be mocked and ridiculed can take a stand for what is right. The odds may never seem in our favor, but in the end it is a matter of where the faith of the soldier is placed rather than the size of the soldier in the fight.

May we all continue to defend the name and honor of God almighty. May we, like David, remember his faithfulness and promises to be true.

The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

“Go, and the Lord be with you”
Jed Hanes
More Information about the artist, Chris Cook, can be found at http://www.chriscookartist.com/bio.html

Temptation of Christ:

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“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”

Shortly after his baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. The ministry of the savior of the world, Jesus Christ began with a 40 day fast, and coming face to face with the devil himself.

Tired, hungry, and weary, he sat, looking to his Father to sustain his needs.

Three times the devil tempted him, and three times Jesus had an answer.

Hungry– Satan tempts Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread

‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Tired– Satan says for Jesus to throw himself from the highest point in the temple

‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Weary– He promises jesus all the kingdoms of the world, if He will bow and worship him.

‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’

It brings me great comfort to know that my Lord and Savior was tempted and tried, just as I’ve been. Yet through it all, I can draw peace and strength in knowing that he was able to look the devil in the eye and rely on God alone for peace and strength.

Knowing that we serve a God who chose to come down to earth in human form brings me much comfort. He lived our life, he suffered just as we have, and he died an innocent man’s death… all just to be in a relationship with each of us.

Jed Hanes

More information on the artist, Chris Cook, can be found at http://www.chriscookartist.com/bio.html

Genesis: 1:2

Genesis

 

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

The image of God here is conveyed as simplistic, and almost childlike. It is intended to express our childish and simplistic understanding of the creation story. It is difficult for us to fathom God’s presence existing before matter, space and time were ever constructed. Through the hand of God, beauty and life were able to spring forth from the watery chaos. May it be so in our lives that, through a childlike faith and understanding, we are able to let His presence pass over us and bring forth new life, and a new spirit within each of us.

More information on the artist can be found at www.chriscookartist.com/bio.html

By: Jed Hanes

Jacob wrestles with God: Genesis 3:24-30

Jacob Wrestling

 24 So Jacob was left alone,and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

 

Jacob was a man who searched and struggled his whole life. Born the second son, he had to manipulate his father Isaac into giving him the blessing that should have gone to his Older Brother, who was quick to give it up for a bowl of stew. From then on, his brother pursued him out of anger and frustration; Jacob never really found rest. Life was a struggle, even for Abraham’s grandson…

The match starts as we find Jacob alone, having sent his possessions and family on ahead of him to meet his brother, hoping to pacify his brother’s wrath against him. Jacob is alone, waiting to see what lied ahead. He finds himself face to face with God, and what does he do? He jumps right into a wrestling match that lasts through the night and on into daybreak the next day. He only lets the man go after receiving a blessing, but is left with a permanent limp as a reminder of his struggle.

Wrestling with God… One might ask who could be so arrogant as to jump into a fight with the almighty, the one who spoke the earth and everything in it into being. Growing up, I often asked myself, “why on earth would anyone pick a fight with God?” And then, life hit me….

I began to realize that a life of faith is not always sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops. A Christian’s walk is sure to be one full of trials, tribulations, and struggles; with the difference maker being knowing who is right alongside us the entire way.

I wrestled in high school, so I have an understanding for what it takes to try and stand toe-to-toe with an opponent that you’ve been matched up with. There is no more real or pure form of combat. But my time on the mat also helped me realize a very important takeaway from this passage of scripture. You can never be closer to someone than you are when you are wrestling them…Jacob was searching for something from God, and he wasn’t going to let go until he got it.

So often in our lives, we take God on. Something stressful in our lives hits, and we drag God out and put him in our best figure four leg lock, or rear naked choke hold that we can muster. We wrestle and wriggle with every ounce of strength that is our sinew, hoping that God will give us what we want. We echo Jacob’s call of “I will not let you go unless you bless me,” only to find that we leave the match never to be the same as we were when we began to struggle.

Jacob received a new name, a new outlook, and a limp to serve as a permanent reminder of his struggle with God. Israel or “Struggles with God” took the place of Jacob. He was not the same man that entered the fight. From that day forth, he walked with a limp. He’d received the blessing that he was after, but God had wrenched his hip with just a touch of his finger, indicating God’s absolute control throughout the entire match. No matter how far ahead Jacob thought he was, it was only through God’s grace and mercy that he was spared at all.

This is so indicative of our outlook when we struggle with God. We think we have him just where we want him, not letting go until he blesses us. Out of his great love, he shows us our blessing, but we never leave the match the same. Many of us carry around battle scars, sore muscles, and limps as a result of our struggles, nevertheless wearing them as a proud badge of honor knowing we have seen God face to face, entered into the struggle, and come out differently than we went in.

How great and awesome is a God who will allow his children to wrestle, struggle, and beg for blessings all in an attempt to draw closer to him. May we continue to seek his blessings, never letting go during the struggles that life hands us. May we also, like Israel, never be the same when we walk away, wearing our scars and bruises as badges of honor.

Jed Hanes

More information on Chris Cook, a premier southern artist from Georgia, can be found at http://www.chriscookartist.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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