By Evangelist Barbara Colbert-Brooks
"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless (dry) places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to our house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first" (Luke 11:24-26). Jesus renders this piercing warning as the fate of one who has been made clean and anew in Him, but neglects to fill their heart with the furnishings of the Lord. The one who fails to self-examine or purge the fleshly heart and mind of things that are poisonous to the inhabitation of the Holy Spirit.
Under conviction for habitually negative behavior, the Holy Spirit challenged me to submit to a painful self-examination of my own sinful heart, and the spirits I had allowed to seep back in and take up willful and destructive residence. I reluctantly realized that I had spent too much time doing a cursory sweeping and dusting and neglecting to move aside some stuff and see what lied beneath the naked eye. After some rough encounters with the girl I used to be, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Jesus said it plain and clear. Though we are saved by His grace, we still have a propensity to sin, and run the risk of developing a “sin nature.” He warned that those unclean spirits are only wandering about, “seeking rest” and finding none, they return to the house from which they were cast, finding it habitable, for there is nothing there to chase them away, they set up camp. Only this time, knowing their previous fate, they come bigger and stronger, more powerful than they were before. For it is one thing to not know and to fail, but it is truly a travesty to know, and still yet fail.
Enduring a repeat performance of spiritual loss took me to a dry place of isolation and brutal reality. A place where I had been before, only this time I knew better, ignorance was no longer bliss. Then, even more to my detriment, I realized that I had even forgotten a fundamental rule of keeping my house safe and protected to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Foolishly, I forgot that there is an adversary that knows my weaknesses better than I do myself. His sole purpose is to exploit those deficits, and disprove God’s promise “… that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). These Words alone, are the spiritual furnishings that would have kept my heart fortified, rendering any unclean spirit a powerless failure, for there would be no room for the likes of it.
Though it took a lot of digging deep in the cabinets, closets, and crevices, setting things out on the curb for pick-up by the Lord, the house is once again clean. As Jesus’ sacrifice for my life was accomplished by the finished work on the Cross, I will strive to always have a place for Him to dwell embedded deep within a heart clear and continually swept clean.
Evelyn M. Bingham
Unfortunately, we now live in a world of Smoke And Mirrors, a world designed of deceit and deception wherein almost nothing is as it appears at first sight.
Smoke – something that beclouds or obscures
Smoke screen – anything said or done to conceal or mislead
Mirror – anything that gives a true description or representation
Deception – the act or practice of deceiving
Deceive – to make a person believe what is not true, to be false, to betray
To mislead – to cause to follow the wrong course or to err in conduct or action, though not always deliberate
Delude – to fool someone so completely that what is false is accepted as being true
Betray – implies a breaking of faith while appearing to be loyal
Living in this kind of a world, makes it very difficult for anyone of integrity to maintain a satisfactory, productive and joyful life. If you will seriously pay attention to the definitions above, and interject them into the many situations of your daily lives, it will become quite clear that we encounter more smoke, than mirrors!
We are inundated by brilliant marketing schemes, in order to convince us to purchase or not purchase, a particular item by using subliminal, covert or overt methods of convincing an unsuspecting public, to a particular purchase direction. We as a buying public are very gullible, we are drawn to flashiness, glitz and glamour. If someone has a brand name item or a designer
label, we automatically want one, we are blindly led to acquisitions in order to conform. Whenever we decide to follow our own mind regarding our individual purchases, we tend to be labeled as eccentric, a loner or different, etc.
As citizens, we are faced with many areas of deception. As consumers, we are daily faced with unscrupulous retailers with sales, meticulously contrived to dupe us, and to cause us to spend our hard earned monies unwisely. Senior citizens are especially vulnerable, it seems as though nearly everyone, organizations, businesses and ill intentioned individuals, think that seniors are easy pushovers and easy targets for abuse. Lack of respect for the elderly, and the assumption that because you are older you are somehow less intelligent or stupid, and thereby, are fair game, and an open market to be targeted by unscrupulous predators, all while forgetting that it is upon the shoulders, of these flawed, inept seniors that they stand!
Adults of today, who are still aware of what integrity and honesty mean, are compelled to act in an honorable manner at all times, free from excuses, blame, accusations and destructive criticism personally, and in business dealings. As parents, we are being observed at all times by our children and others, and must not be or give the appearance of being, hypocritical.
Our government, city, state and federal and politics in general, are portraying a perfect example of Smoke and Mirrors making it nearly impossible to believe anything we hear and most of what we see.
Unfortunately, we see impropriety at every turn, religious clergy, business, government, professionals, and even family and friends. Although we witness various forms of corruption, we must not allow ourselves to become bitter, cynical or callous, but instead, maintain an attitude of positivity and personal integrity. You never know who is observing you! It only takes one! Who knows what we, collectively, can do!!