The First 15

Tuesday June 2, 2020

by First Methodist Mansfield

Don’t Be Deceived Into Giving Up Doing Good


1 John 4:1-6

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.


This morning I’d like to share the end of Pastor David’s message which focused on this passage of scripture in particular.

“We live in a spiritual world where the adversary is always at work. They’re what we sometimes refer to as “spiritual forces of wickedness” at work in the world, but the power that lives in you is actually greater than those powers. Which means the only way for the adversary to win is by way of deceit. And unfortunately what we see throughout history, what is evident in our own experience, and what, in the last week, has been on full display is how cunning and crafty the adversary can be at deceiving us. The adversary uses our fear and anger to deceive us. Indifference and divisiveness are places where we are seduced into the adversary’s lies.

The panic that is nurtured in the face of uncertainty; the restlessness we experience when life seems to spin out of control; the utter confusion of life when we experience a loss of identity of purpose; the weariness that grows alongside our concern that the harvest will never come.

The fear of the other that leads us to diminish the sacred worth and value of those who we see as different is poisonous to our souls and cancerous to the body that is meant to be unified in Christ, and fosters within us outrage that eventually leads to acts of violence. Behind all of it, hidden in the shadows, the adversary is pulling the strings….And perhaps what is most critical for us to understand is that within this spiritual world in which we live, what is actually happening in this deceit is that we are abandoning our partnership with the Spirit that God has given us and we are actually working in concert with the adversary of God’s Spirit.

Today we are challenged by a world-wide pandemic – something that isn’t new to the human experience but something that none of us have ever faced before. And alongside that unfortunately are images and stories that are all too familiar – brutal injustice, deadly and divisive language grounded in an evil ideology spread by the most dangerous kind of false prophets, violent clashes that are born out of our weariness and our woundedness. How easy it would be for any one of us to give up in the face of the seemingly overwhelming evidence that the harvest will never come. And yet we also know that to do so would be a dishonor to the body of Christ whose birth we celebrate this day [Pentecost]. Here’s why we worked backwards through the text. This is what I believe God’s word is for us today… at the end of what we pray is only the beginning… a longing to see God do again what we know God has done before. Don’t be deceived into giving up doing good.”

Prayer for Today

“Thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being, we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us. We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive. We love our friends and hate our enemies. We go the first mile but dare not travel the second. We forgive but dare not forget. And so as we look within ourselves, we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against you. But thou, O God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be. Give us the intelligence to know your will. Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love your will. In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen.”

—Martin Luther King Jr.

The First 15

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