george hancockstefanIn one of the well-known parables of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30), the servants are surprised because when they look into the fields, they see that it is not only the wheat but the tares are growing in the field. They go the master of the house and they ask, “Who has done it?” He tells them that an enemy has done this while no one was looking.

Many times I ask myself, “Who has done this?” What happened to that church member who at one point was so passionate for the Lord Jesus Christ that nothing could stop him for praising God and sharing the Good News with others?  What happened to that young person who knew from her childhood days that God called her to be a missionary?

One of my friends, who pastors in a large city, says, “I am wondering how come some of my smartest young people make some of the dumbest mistakes?” She goes on to enumerate how some of the brightest girls in her church had their futures derailed because they became mothers in high school and never finished college.  She talks about some brilliant young men who instead of achieving great success are lingering in jails because they were sidelined by lifestyles that are slowly destroying them.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God speaks these words, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).” From the time of Adam and Eve, the plans that God had for humanity were great plans. However, in the Garden of Paradise, the enemy of God and humanity came in, and God’s perfect plan was thwarted. God tells Adam and Eve that the future will unravel because instead of listening to God, they have listened to the enemy.

Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Rome, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2-3).” Many years ago, I was in an all-day meeting of a Christian organization.  When we came back from lunch, it seemed that all the agreements we reached in the morning started to dissipate.  At one point one of the elders in the meeting said, “I think it is time to stop this meeting because I am afraid that the Devil came in this room while we were gone, or maybe we have brought him with us.”  We stopped, we prayed, and the meeting continued in the harmony that we had in the morning.

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

Wise people are able to discern when the enemy is in the neighborhood.  God comes to bring blessings, harmony, and prosperity, but the Devil, the enemy, comes to brings curses, discord, and destruction.  Many times when things have not gone right, I have thought back to that afternoon meeting. I wished for a spiritual person, a discerning person, who had the courage to speak up and change the atmosphere of the present situation from chaos into harmony, from a place where the Devil was trying to establish his headquarters into a corner of God’s blessed paradise.

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George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...