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The Man in Black

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By Greg Laurie

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.”
—Philippians 1:6

I’m standing at the grave site of Johnny Cash. There’s nobody else around here at Hendersonville Memory Gardens. It’s just me and the “Man in Black.” Why? Because I’ve been a fan all my life. It turns out we are distant relatives.

But more to the point, we are spiritually related. Johnny Cash was a Christian. He was a Christian that struggled with fame, with drugs, and with his demons.

Cash was a walking, talking contradiction who identified with the apostle Peter—often ashamed and lacking the courage to stand up for Christ . . . in the first half of his life.

All of these traits and foibles were rolled up into a larger-than-life, one-of-a-kind personality that put its own unique, indelible stamp on popular music and pop culture.

He was a devout Christian who divided his time between sinning and seeking forgiveness, frequently going from jail to Jesus. He was arrested several times on account of his addiction to pills and sophomoric shenanigans. And he knew almost every hymn and gospel tune ever sung, often performing them on stage between such hit songs as “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire,” and “Cocaine Blues.”

He acknowledged God as the number one power in the world but viewed Satan as a close second.

God Almighty is in the business of saving flawed saints. The Bible is full of examples: Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Peter, and Paul. Just like them, God will get us where He wants us to be. It may take a lifetime, but it will happen. Trust Him.

Scripture Reading

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Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NKJV)

These words are inscribed on Johnny Cash’s tombstone. Have you ever prayed a sincere prayer of faith like this one? Do you think God will honor such a prayer?

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it. (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)

How do you feel, knowing that God is not finished with you yet?

Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”

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For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” Then He asked him, “What is your name?”

And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.

So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.

And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled. (Mark 5:1–20 NKJV)

 Though the Devil and his demons are powerful, God is infinitely more powerful and has the power to dispel them and to heal completely. What influences struggle for control in your life?

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