Greg Laurie - God Is Bigger Than Your Problem
When you're being tempted you ought to remember the words of the great evangelist Billy Sunday who said, quote, "Hell is the highest reward the devil can offer you for being a servant of his". Wow. Hell is the highest reward? With that in mind, why would anybody ever give in to the temptations of the devil? Answer, sin makes us stupid. I mean, think about it, think about the people that you know that are intelligent individuals who've gone and done the craziest things under the sway and power of sin, that's why we give in to these things.
So though, the devil is powerful, don't forget this, God is way more powerful. Listen, the devil is not God's equal. God is the Almighty Creator of the universe. The devil, Lucifer, Satan is a fallen angel, a powerful one for sure, but not anywhere near the equal of God. And the Bible reminds us that, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". So God is more powerful than Satan and God is bigger than your problem.
I wanna tell you a story from the Bible, Mark 5 I'd you to turn over there with me right now. It's a story of a man who had been completely taken over by the power of the devil. A tortured, miserable, suicidal shell of a man and what appeared to be an absolutely hopeless situation, that is until Jesus came along. What we see in this man is the devil's package deal if you will that he has in store for any person who is in his grip. You see the devil will start with just a foothold and then he'll take over, give him an inch and he'll take a mile, and once he has you where he wants you, he'll chew you up and he'll spit you out. The story before us illustrates these points and more. We see three forces at work in the texts that we're gonna be looking at we see Satan, society and the Savior. Or another way to look at it, we see chaos, culture and then Christ.
Now, as our story begins we see that Jesus is on His way to reach this tragic man who had actually been taken over by the power of demons, not one demon, not 10 demons, but many demons as it turns out. And so as Jesus is on His way, a storm comes on the Sea of Galilee, effectively sent by the devil to stop Jesus from reaching this man. But Christ would not be stopped, and it reminds us how God seeks us out, How God loves us. Jesus told the story of a shepherd who had a 100 sheep, and one sheep went astray, and he left the 99 sheep and sought that one stray lamb and found it, wrapped it around his neck and brought it back rejoicing. God is gonna seek you out, He loves you, He cares about you, but the devil tries to stop Jesus from reaching this man, that brings us to our text Mark 4, starting in verse 35.
By the way, I'm reading from the New Living Translation. "As evening came Jesus said to His disciples, 'Let's cross to the other side of the lake.'" You might underline that phrase, I'll come back to it. Let's cross to the other side of the lake, so they took Jesus in the boat and started out leaving the crowds behind and the other boats followed. "Soon a fierce storm came up and high waves are breaking into the boat and it began to fill with water". Look at verse 38, I love this. "Jesus was sleeping in the back of the boat with His head on a cushion".
I like that, He had a pillow. That's nice, He was comfortable in the lower part of the boat as the storm is raging. "The disciples woke Him up shouting, 'Teacher don't you care that we're going to drown?' Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Silence! Be still!' Suddenly the wind stopped and there was a great calm. And then He asked them, 'Why are you afraid? Do you still not have any faith?'" And I love this, last verse. "The disciples were absolutely terrified saying, 'Who is this man that even the wind and the waves obey Him?'" Why don't we stop for a word of prayer.
Father, speak to us now through your word. I know there are people watching right now who are facing great troubles and obstacles and challenges, and I pray that this message will comfort them. I know there are people watching right now that don't know you yet, I pray that this message will reach them and that they will come to believe in Jesus Christ. We commit this time of Bible study to you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Storms happened all the time on the Sea of Galilee. Apparently this is a pretty bad storm because the seasoned sailors themselves were freaking out. And then we find the Lord coming up on deck and stopping the storm. I wonder if I'm talking to somebody right now who's going through a storm. And when I say a storm, I mean a hardship, a difficulty, perhaps even a tragedy, it's a big powerful storm, and you feel like the disciples you're saying to the Lord, Lord, don't you care that I'm suffering? Don't you care that I'm in trouble right now? Are you even paying attention?
Storms come into our lives as Christians, sometimes God Himself will send the storm as in the case of Jonah who was disobedient to God, the Lord called him to go and preach to the city of Nineveh and he said, no. God said, go, Jonah said no. God said, oh, and God always has the last word. So you might say that Jonah was the original chicken of the sea going the wrong direction, running from God. What happened? The Lord sent a mighty storm, and of course it was through that storm that God got the attention of Jonah. Sometimes we bring these storms on ourselves because of our disobedience. You might be in a situation right now where you're effectively reaping the consequences of your actions. Chickens have come home to roost if you will, and you're saying, why is this happening to me? You actually brought it on yourself.
So sometimes God will send a storm. Listen to this, sometimes the devil will send a storm as in the story before us, but God allows it. Sometimes we call Him the Lord and He stops the storm like the story before us, other times the Lord sustains us through the storm, but know this wherever you're at, your storm has a beginning, middle and an end. One more thing I would add, you read they're pulling into a storm or you're coming out of a storm, there'll be another one coming just know that and please don't let that sound depressing, I hope it doesn't because Jesus is with you in your storms as well as when He is with you on your sunny day. And the fact of the matter is you learn things in the midst of storms or hardships or trials that you will not learn anywhere else. And besides there's no reason to panic. Why? Jesus said to the disciples in Mark 4:35, "Let's cross to the other side of the lake".
Now, if Jesus had said, let's get on the boat and go into the middle of the lake and die. I probably would not have boarded that boat, but that's not what He said, He said, let's go to the other side of the lake. He did not promise smooth sailing, but He did promise a safe arrival. He promises that same to you right now. He never said life is gonna be easy, He said, in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer I have overcome the world, but He'll get you to the other side and ultimately for us as Christians the other side is when we get to heaven. Let's go to the other side, He was onboard.
Listen to this, better to be in a storm with Jesus than anywhere else without Him. So whatever you're going through if you're a Christian, Christ is with you. And if you're not sure if you're a Christian I'll tell you how to become one in just a few moments. You know, I find it interesting that the storm did not awaken Jesus from His sleep, I guess He was a deep sleeper, but the cry of the disciples did. They say in verse 38. "Don't you care that we're going to drown"? Has it ever seemed to you as God is sort of asleep? Well, in this set Jesus really was asleep. Remember He was fully God, but He was fully man, and He was really exhausted and drained from the activities of the day. He really was asleep. Well, in a broader sense, God never sleeps. The Bible says, "He that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps". So God's always aware of what you're going through, but listen to this, in this story Satan was trying to stop Jesus, but he failed.
By the way when Jesus went out to the storm and said, peace be still, it could better be translated, peace be muzzle. As though He was talking to a crazy aggressive wild animal or a dog. Jesus was speaking to the power behind this storm which was the devil, like a wild animal or an aggressive dog. Peace be still or peace be muzzle.
Listen, when the devil has a person under his control, he's not gonna give them up easily, he's sort of like a lion with a kill. Nothing's gonna happen without a fight. That's why it's so hard to get someone to go to church with you. That's why it's so hard to get someone to even watch this service having stayed home with you. Well, I don't know ever the things to do and the devil holds on to his prey, but again remember, God is more powerful than the devil, and God is bigger than your problem. So they come across the Sea of Galilee, Jesus has stopped the storm and what is waiting for them on the other side, but a man who was possessed by demons.
Turn out to Mark 5. I'm gonna read verses one through nine, which says, "So they arrived on the other side of the lake in the region of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from the tombs to meet Him. This man lived in 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 smash the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him and day and night he wandered among the burial caves in the hills howling and cutting himself with stones. When Jesus saw him some distance away, the men saw him and run to meet Him and bowed before Him and with the 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!'" And Jesus had already said to the spirit, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit.'"
Wow, well, what a story. This is downright spooky. How this guy ended up in this day where he's cutting himself and so tormented, we can only imagine. This man was dead spiritually. The Bible says that, "We're dead in our trespass, in our sin". The Bible also says that, "She that lives her pleasure is dead while she is living". You know, when guards will lead a condemn man down the prison hallway, they would call out the words, dead man walking, dead man walking here. That's exactly who this guy was, he was a dead man walking. So Jesus stops the storm and He comes to the other side and these demons speaking through this guy say in verse seven, "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".
We see some interesting and surprising things here about the devil and demons. Number one, this point may surprise you, but it's true. Demons though wicked are actually quite orthodox in their beliefs. Now I'm not suggesting they believe in Jesus, it's the opposite, they're in rebellion against Jesus, but there are certain things they actually believe. It should not surprise you to know that the devil is neither atheist nor agnostic. For instance, the devil believes in the existence of God because the Bible says, "The demons believe and tremble".
The devil believes in the deity of Christ which means he believes Jesus is God because when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan says to Him, "If you're the Son of God turn this rock into a piece of bread". In a better translation it would be, since you're the Son of God. Satan was acknowledging that Christ is the very Son of God. Listen, the devil believes the Bible is the word of God, he hates every word of it, but he knows it's true, and the devil believes that Christ is coming back again. He's a wicked creature.
I remember when I was a brand new Christian, I mean like maybe a few weeks old in the Lord I was at a little meeting where we were singing some songs and praying and someone came up with a bright idea, hey, why don't we pray for Satan's conversion? Think how great things will be if the devil comes to Jesus. I'm thinking this is nuts. Even as a new Christian, I thought that's not possible. And no it is not possible. Scripture is clear about the origin agenda and the ultimate destruction of Satan, already mentioned this verse, James 2:19, it says, "The demons believe and tremble". Another translation would be, "The demons believe and shutter".
The verdict occurs only here in the New Testament, it means to bristle and it conveys a picture of a horror causing the hair to stand on end. And in my case that would be singular one hair standing on end. But why did the demons tremble? Answer, because they know that Christ has supremacy over him. In fact, the demons ask, "Jesus have you come to torment us before our time"? The devil knows that a time of judgment is coming, he knows he's ultimately gonna end up in a lake of fire. Revelation 12:12, says, "He knows he has but a short time". And that is why in these last days, and I believe we are in the last days, I believe Jesus is coming back again. And that is why in these last days, the devil is pulling out all the stops.
Listen to this. Even as some liberal theologians don't believe it, Satan believes that Jesus Christ is coming back again and his goal is to wreck as much havoc as he can until that day. Man, as Christians could we be at least as motivated as a demons are? I mean, they're out there doing all their dirty work trying to destroy lives, what are we doing for the Lord? When's the last time you shared the gospel with someone? So we see three forces at work in this story as I said, Satan, society and this Savior, or another way to put it chaos, culture and Christ. So we've already seen what the devil did in this man's life, just he brought complete chaos.
It was Peter Marshall, former chaplain to the US Senate who made this statement years ago and I quote, "The choice before us is plain, Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration". End quote, that's so true, Christ or chaos. What did the devil do for this man? He brought chaos, he brought destruction, he brought bondage. And what did society do for him? They chained him up. What can society do? Lock him up, chain him up. There's not really anything else we can bring to the table. You know in America right now we have riots in our streets. In some cities we have outright anarchy and the potential is there for it to get far worse. Those that service in law enforcement have never had it harder and they have it right now.
The family continues to disintegrate and break apart. And by the way that's at the root of most of our social ills today. Society and culture cannot cope with the problems caused by Satan and sin. Social media, most of us carry one of these things around with us in our pocket, smartphone. Social media, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, all these things are supposed to bring us closer together, but I think social media in many ways has divided us and driven us apart. I can think of times I'm sitting in a restaurant and there's a family all sitting at a table, I think they went to go have meal together, but everyone is just looking at their phone. They're not even paying attention to one another, they don't talk anymore.
I read article in Forbes magazine about this with the headline, "The more we use social media, the less happy we seem to be". Another article said multiple studies that found that there's a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Society has no answers for this man, society or culture has no answers for us either, but what the chains could not do, Jesus did in one word and that brings us to the third force if you will in this story, the Savior. What did Jesus do for this man? First of all, He sought him out in this spooky little graveyard and He offered him hope.
Now here's a bizarre twist in the story, you can read it there in Mark 5, but the demons actually offer up a request and say, if you're gonna cast us out of this guy, cast us into something. And there was a herd of pigs feeding nearby and Jesus cast the demons into the pigs, and then the pigs all ran of the edge of a cliff and die. It was mess suicide. No, I'm kidding. But it was the first case of deviled him in human history. But the pigs possessed by the demon go over this side. Wow, pretty scary. So when culture could not do, Jesus could. What religion cannot do, Jesus can. What treatment programs cannot provide, the Lord can.
Listen, you don't need a 12 step program, you need a one-step program. Come to God through Jesus Christ and ask Him to help you. So this man is radically transformed, all these demons have left him and they've gone into the pigs, and the people come and see this man in his right mind and they can't remember this is the guy that they've known all this time.
Now let's look at the amazing transformation of this man, Mark 5:15. "When they came to Jesus they saw the men who had been possessed by the legion of demons sitting there dressed in his right mind". So what's their reaction? "They were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon possessed man, and they were told about the pigs as well. And the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region". Wow.
Now this man is so changed, you couldn't even tell he was the same guy. We should have read, and the people all gave glory to God. But no one of the Gospels tells us, commenting on the same story that people were afraid. You see this demonstration of the power of God frightened them. They should have been rejoicing, but instead they were afraid. And they should have been pleading with Jesus to stay with them, but they did the very opposite. Apparently the guys who own the herd of swine were pretty ticked off because they made a lot of money of those pigs. Hogs were big business on this side of the lake and 2.000 hogs, that's how many went over the cliff is a lot of bacon and now they're on the bottom of the lake. They could harm anyone.
So Jesus was bad for their business. Is Jesus bad for your business? I hope not. Whatever career choice you've made, if you can ask the Lord to bless it maybe you need a new career. I take that a step further, if you can say to the Lord hallowed be your name over what you're about to do, then don't do it. And so Jesus was bad for their business and they wanted Him to go away, they didn't want Him around. Now here as we come to the end of this story is an interesting twist, we have three prayers offered. We have the demons prayer, we have the people's prayer, and then we have a prayer offered by the man who had been formally possessed by demons. Jesus answered two of the prayers with a yes, and the final prayer with a no. First there was the demons prayer. What was it? They said to Jesus, "Cast us into the herd of pigs". And Jesus granted their request and that's exactly what happened.
So you can say in a sense, He answered their prayer. Then there's the people's prayer, they pleaded with Jesus to leave their city, He answered their prayer if you will and left their city. Hey, listen, careful what you pray for you might get it, and here's the interesting twist. The formerly demon possessed men also prays, but Jesus did not answer his prayer in the affirmative. Look at Mark 5:18. "When Jesus got back into the boat, the men who had been demon possessed begged to go too, but Jesus said, 'No, go home to your friends and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you, and how merciful He has been.'"
Isn't that interesting? Jesus answered the prayers of the demons, and the hardened people, but not His own follower. But lemme say this, thank God for unanswered prayers, thank God when the Lord overrules your requests because He knows what's best for you. Looping back to what I said in the beginning of the message, God has a plan for you and know this, His plan for you is better than your plan for yourself, so never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God. Instead, Jesus sends this man home, He says, "Go home, tell your friends, tell your family, tell people what the Lord has done". And this guy he had an amazing testimony because everybody knew him. He is a crazy dude that I'm not at the graveyard running around naked, breaking chains, intriguing and howling, and now he's a sane man who has been transformed by Christ. And he can say, hey, remember me? Well, God has changed me. Jesus says, transform my life. This story shows that no one is beyond the reach of God. So keep praying for them.
Do you know a person that seems to be completely under the power of the devil and you have said to yourself, there's no way I can ever see that person believing in Jesus. What are you talking about? The Bible says, "With God all things are possible". Keep praying for that person. Look at this man that he transformed. And I wonder if I'm talking to somebody right now that finds himself under the power of the devil. Maybe it's an addiction you can't break free from, maybe it's a guilt that you can't get rid of, maybe it's a hopelessness you cannot shake. If so call out to Him, call out to Him and He'll hear your prayer. The Bible says, "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved".
Hey, thanks for watching our TV program. And I wonder if you yourself have accepted Jesus Christ. You know, a lot of times people tune into programs like this who aren't believers, and they're kinda checking it out, maybe you're laughing at it at first, maybe you think it's not real, but something has happened and maybe it's something that's been said you've suddenly discovered you need Jesus Christ. You know, the day I accepted Jesus lemme tell you, it was the last thing I planned on doing. I didn't plan on becoming a Christian that day, but that was a day that was a pointed in eternity for me to believe in Jesus.
I wonder if this is not that day for you. You've been ease dropping, you've been checking it out, but now God's speaking right to your heart and you realize you need Jesus Christ. Would you like to have your sin forgiven? Would you like a second chance in life? Would you like to go to heaven when you die? Would you like your guilt removed? Understand it can all happen because Jesus Christ went to a cross and died for your sin and then rose again three days later and He'll come into your life right now and be your Savior and your Lord and the best friend you've ever had. Let's pray together. Pray this after me:
Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I believe you died on the cross for my sin and I'm sorry for that sin. And I turn from it now, and I ask you to come into my life and be my Savior, and be my Lord, and be my God, and be my friend. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
If you just prayed that prayer, I wants you to know on the authority of God's Word, the Christ Himself has come to live inside of you. The Bible says, "These things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life" Well, lemme say, God bless you and welcome to Gods family.