26Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. 32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Reflection: In what ways do you need to experience the delivering power of Jesus? As Paul wrote, “Our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). After writing that, Paul encouraged the Ephesians to “take up the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13). Once we have received the saving grace of Jesus Christ, the armor of God is our Christ-given, Spirit-empowered defense against evil. Take a moment to stand up and pray, asking the Father to unite you with the delivering power of Jesus today. Touch your head and ask, “Father, may your salvation guard my mind today like a helmet.” Embrace your arms and ask, “Father, may you give me the ability to trust you today so that i may be shielded from the arrows of evil.” Clasp your hands and ask, “Father, equip me today with the sword of your Word so that I might survive the trials that come.” Clutch your heart and ask, “Father, guard my heart today with your righteous love and keep me pure.” Encircle your waist and ask, “Father, support me with your truth today and keep me from the father of lies.” Reach for your toes and ask, “Father, take me where your word is needed today and let me bring your shalom peace wherever I go.” May you know today the good and gracious power of Christ Jesus!
- Tuesday, June 14 – 1 John 1
- Wednesday, June 15 – 1 John 2
- Thursday, June 16 – 1 John 3
- Friday, June 17 – 1 John 4
- Saturday, June 18 – 1 John 5
- Sunday, June 19 – 2 John & 3 John
- Monday, June 20 – Philippians 1
Prayer Focus: There is so much hate and violence in our world. We were reminded of that this weekend through the tragic events in Orlando. People around the world daily experience threats of violence and bigoted hate. Ask God to send his compassionate comfort upon the friends and loved ones of those who died this weekend and of those who suffer such violence around the world. Pray that God would reveal the hatred and prejudice within you. Ask God to deliver you from such attitudes. Seek God and his goodness and love, asking God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. Just as God delivered the man in our Scripture of his demons, God can deliver us from those things that reside within us that are not of God. Pray also that God would change the hearts of those who seek to steal, kill, and destroy. May the grace and life of Christ grow in our world under the reign of Christ as hate and sin decrease. Remember always as you pray: In the world you face persecution. But take courage; Christ has conquered the world! (John 16:33)
Meditation Focus: A man living among the tombs with superhuman strength that allowed him to break shackles and chains. A group of talking demons. Possessed pigs plunging to their death. Without a doubt this is one of the oddest, and perhaps most unnerving, stories of the New Testament. Yet, there is a powerful message within this story. Nothing, not even a legion of the most powerful forces of evil, can stand in the way of the healing and delivering power of Jesus Christ. Take a moment and read over the passage several times. Each time you read, consider the perspective of the different actors in the story: Jesus, the possessed and then freed man, the townspeople, the disciples who watched it all unfold, the swineherds, and even the pigs. Then meditate on these four questions from one or more of these perspectives:
- Who is this man, Jesus?
- How can he accomplish such great miracles?
- How do I feel about him and what he is doing?
- How might I fit into his story?
How will you answer these questions from your perspective?
Journaling Focus: Read these words from the hymn “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”:
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.
How do these words speak to your life experience? Can these words serve as a testimony of your life? This past week at annual conference, Bishop King led us in a time of considering our personal witness to Christ’s work. We were encouraged to “Testify and Multiply.” Use the words of the hymn as a starting point to write down your own testimony of how God, through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Spirit, has freed you from sin and changed your life. Are you a new creation in Christ? Has his blood availed for you? Testify!
Breath Prayer: Father, deliver me (us) from evil.