We’re in a summer message series called Verses to Know by Heart.
It started with the idea that we would offer our children weekly memory verses during July and August. Then we thought, “Why not include the youth and adults?”
The first week’s verse is John 3:16, not much of a challenge to most of our adults and youth. So, I added a bonus verse.
Which brings us to Romans 16:20. I had wanted to preach on this text since hearing Rob Bell explain how he did it at his preaching conference a few years ago. Sunday was my chance.
Here’s the verse: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Romans 16:20
You can hear the message on the church’s website. The Cliff’s Notes version is:
You have been shaped by what you have heard others say about you. Sometimes an angry sentence barked by a cruel adult becomes a message in a child’s head that plays for a lifetime: “You will never amount to anything!”
All of us have messages playing in our minds; which ones do we listen to?
I suggested that we focus on what God says about us:
You are acceptable
You are valuable
You are lovable
You are forgivable
You are capable.
This is the bottom-line truth about who you are. And if you can focus on hearing God speak those five adjectives over you, it’s like floating on a river of shalom (the Hebrew word for peace, wholeness, being complete).
The problem is that other lying voices are very loud and so persistent. They are always shouting things in our heads like:
“You’re not good enough!”
“It’s just like you to always mess things up!”
“No one has ever really cared about you!”
“You’re not smart/industrious/pretty/handsome/motivated enough!”
“You’ll never amount to anything!”
Where do these messages come from?
Paul uses the proper noun Satan in our memory verse. If you’ll read the first two chapters of the Bible book of Job, you’ll find yourself watching a courtroom drama (the ancient equivalent of Law and Order). God is the judge and the prosecutor is called Satan—the Hebrew word for prosecutor. His role is to accuse humanity.
I find it interesting that the other word used to personify evil is Devil: diabolos in the original language of the New Testament, a compound Greek word which literally means “to throw around.” The Devil is one who throws around confusing ideas/thoughts/strategies, hoping to steer you off course.
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
I asked everyone to take off a shoe and use a Sharpie to write on the sole the phrase that the Prosecutor uses to torment them. Then I explained that with every step they took this week, they would be crushing Satan under their feet. (thanks Rob!)
On Tuesday I was explaining all this to someone who had missed the worship service. I took off my shoe and the red letters I had printed on Sunday morning were almost rubbed out.
Then it struck me: I had not heard that most haunting phrase in my head for three days.