Note from the Editor: This sermon was originally preached at the 2017 New England Annual Conference of the AME Zion Church, Bishop Dennis V. Proctor, Presiding Bishop.
I don’t have time to dabble into the complexity of eschatology. But I will say that many people have thought that this war has already been fought. Others suggest that it hasn’t taken place yet. Nevertheless, whether it’s already fought or will happen in the near future, all of us can testify that the devil is real, the fight is ongoing, but the victory is already won.
This text reminds me of my middle school days. I was picked on because I was a big kid with a gentle spirit. And I always wondered why my adversaries always traveled in cliques, and packs, and gangs. Now that I’m older and have been a pastor for 15 years I’ve discovered that hell raisers never travel by themselves!
The Bible says that Satan had one-third of the angels of heaven in his clique. He sowed discord among the angels and one out of three were deceived by Satan. Satan here is a prime example of what Roger Patterson declared in his book Leading from the Second Chair: that if those who follow you cannot see ample evidence of spiritual depth, and if you are not putting the kingdom first in your life, then those who follow you will never achieve their full potential.
My problem with this text is that this is a prime example of what happens when the church loses its focus! The 21st century church has become more personality-driven than Pentecost-fueled! The Bible says in Acts 2, “When the day of Pentecost came, the believers were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting…”
When personality overshadows Pentecost you are cultivating a divided church with demonic leakages that leads to the jockeying of position, prestige, and politics that diminishes your power to do ministry.
Whatever happened to: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor”?
Whatever happened to: “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind”?
Whatever happened to: “to let the oppressed go free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come”?
If the devil could raise hell in heaven what makes you think he won’t raise some hell in your life? If the devil could raise hell in heaven what makes you think he won’t raise some hell on your job, at your school, and even at your church?
And don’t you get mad at the devil because he’s doing his job because it’s the devils job to raise hell. But it’s the saints’ job:
*to pray and keep on moving because you can slay more devils on your knees then you can with your mouth.
*To praise and keep on progressing and lifting up holy hands even when hell is all around you.
*To prosper and keep on giving God the glory.
I shouldn’t be here and you shouldn’t be here, but by the grace of God, here we are.
And I believe I have a few people tonight who are sick and tired of the schemes, plots, and tricks of the devil? Because it’s only after you have become sick and tired that you will grow a backbone and stop being jelly-back! And stop allowing the devil to occupy what you know God has blessed you with!
Can I help somebody?
The devil has no place in your house: it’s your place of security. The devil has no place in your church: it’s your sacred space. And the devil has no place in your life: it’s sanctified and set apart for God’s use.
Somebody tonight needs to serve the devil his papers and let him know that as of tonight he has officially been evicted out of your life!
And can I speak to a few of you who came with faith tonight?
As of today, your finances have to get better. Your haters will become motivators. And your drama-makers will become drama-eliminators. As of today, the devil owes you back pay for trespassing on your property without a lease, contract, or your consent!
Because the Bible does declare, Proverbs 13:22, that the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just.
Because it’s time to kick the devil out!
I tell you it’s not until you try to get yourself together that something comes along and makes you fall back apart. When it looks like the storm is over and you decide to step out on the porch, the lightning starts back flashing, the thunder starts back rolling. The devil knows how to jump back on you because somebody can testify that 1 Peter 5:8 never lied: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
We use to sing stuff like, “the devil is under my feet,” but after you have stepped on his head, it’s time to put him in his place and send him back to hell from whence he came. Somebody got bold and started singing, “don’t let him ride, he might want to drive,” but some of us need to run him over and let him know that I’m not going to let anything get in my way!
I have dreams to fulfill, I have goals to accomplish, I have doors to walk through, I have a right to move forward, and whatever is in my way, I have a right to run it over.
I know somebody is sitting in the pews tonight wanting to know what in the world is “a divine eviction notice.”
A divine eviction notice is when you let the devil know that it’s time for him to go and he has to go right now!
A divine eviction notice is when you let the devil know, “your tricks won’t work here”!
“You might have tricked me once, but you ain’t going to trick me twice. I refuse to go down this same road, I refuse to relive my past.”
You refuse to trip again because the last time you almost died, but God saved you.
A divine eviction notice is when you let the devil know that you have taken out a “hands-off policy” and he “can’t touch this”!
The only thing the devil is able to do in your life is hold up progress. The last time I checked, the devil is already defeated. That’s why I don’t know why you are worrying about a war that’s already fixed.
I don’t know why you are losing sleep over a loser that won’t accept his defeat. I don’t know why you’re suffering from a migraine dealing with mess from the demonic, when you know that destiny is on your side and when you know that all the devil is doing is making a whole lot of noise and just roaring because Jesus snatched his teeth out on Calvary.
The devil can’t bite you, all he can do is roar, and the louder he roars the louder I’m going to give God the glory! The more he tries to bind my hands, I’m going to lift them in worship. The more he tries to put shackles on my feet, the more I’m going to dance. The more he tries to strain my voice, the more I’m going to preach, sing, and pray.
I believe I have some saints tonight who are even getting irritated with his roaring and like Michael in our text there will come a time where you have to take some action.
The angel Michael, according to the Word, was the Commander of the Army of the Lord. He was a warring angel and his job was to protect the perimeter of heaven so that God got all the worship.
Because you do know that all glory belongs to God!
I believe I have some saints tonight with the “The Spirit of Michael” in our text: saints who refuse to allow the devil to disturb their peace, saints who are ready to fight for their future, saints who are on fire and refuse to allow imps, demons, and crazy people to manipulate, dominate, and discriminate on the favor of God that’s on your life, saints who don’t come to church to be cute and to be seen, but saints who are serious about giving God some glory.
Because prophetically speaking, in this season, God is getting ready to release his glory upon your house: things are not going to be the same. God is getting ready to release his glory upon his church: lives won’t be the same. And God is getting ready to release his glory upon your children: restoring them into right relationship with him and stirring up a zeal to return back to the church and stand up and take their rightful place.
Hell has dispatched some deceivers who are on the loose in your life! And their primary objective is to sow discord in your life in order to prevent you from discovering your purpose, to slow down your progress and to sabotage the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has placed in you.
That’s why just this week, some of you had to disconnect from some folk; you had to turn off your phone, because they was trying to deposit garbage into your spirit, only to find out that they were on assignment from the pits of hell to stir up drama in your life in order to keep you from developing.
That’s why just this week, somebody on your job tried to steal your joy, hijack your happiness, and terrorize your sanity, trying their best to make you act outside of your character. But they don’t know you have grown from that and you have found out that giving it to God is much better then cussing and fussing!
Even as I speak the same ditch that they are digging for you will end up being for them. Because sometimes you have to remind the devil of 1 Chronicles 16:22, saying touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm.”And somebody needs to catch that tonight, you are not average, but you are anointed!
God will protect, provide for and prosper the anointing on your life. Everyday there is a war going on and we are caught right in the middle. And this war has nothing to do with you and it has nothing to do with me, but this war is between God and the devil.
Can I preach just a little while?
The devil is mad because God fired him and then God kicked him out of heaven because it’s God’s way or no way. Because God hired him to do one thing and that was to lead worship and direct the angelical choir but he ended up doing something else. God hired him to play one note and that was accord! But he decided to change up and to play another note and that was called discord. Accord is when everybody sings together to bring glory to God, but discord is when everybody is off pitch and out of harmony.
And that’s what the devil does in our lives. He tries to change the key, and instead of us being happy and in one accord, he tries to cause discord. That’s why you ought not lose sleep over folk who don’t understand you and always want to judge you : they are just in another key and they want to make your life a living hell. Some people are stuck in the past and we have to be careful to bring from the past the flame and not the ashes.
In our attempts to offer meaningful worship for these days and times, we have to re-focus how to defer to the movement of the Spirit in matters of style across generational lines. That’s why I’m so glad that God is my musician and the Holy Spirit is my drummer and I’m marching to a new beat!
The Bible says that the devil got the big head and instead of directing the angels to worship God he hoodwinked them into worshiping him. And that old Lucifer instructed the choir not to move until he said move and he dictated to them what to sing and when to sing. But the devil is a liar.
And God noticed that the music wasn’t changing because whenever God does something new in your life, you ought to sing a new song because music, singing, and songs are reflections of what God is doing in your life. The danger of singing the same song over and over again is like saying, “God hasn’t done anything new in my life.”
God saw that the glory wasn’t coming in like it used to and what was holy was now contaminated. What was sacred was now scandalous. God called for Michael and said, “Michael, I want you to go down to choir rehearsal and check out what’s going on.”
The Glory isn’t coming in like it used to. Some of the angels have lost their zeal They are not clapping like they used to. They are not rocking like they used to. Michael went to choir rehearsal and got upset with the devil and Revelations 12:7 is the minutes of the meeting: “And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated.”
Tell your neighbor “The devil is already defeated!” And there was no longer any place for them in heaven.Tell your neighbor, “You have to kick the devil out of your space and put the devil in his place!”
The great dragon was thrown down, the ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world- he was thrown down to the earth and his angels were thrown down with him.
I’m so glad that I don’t worship “a man.” When the man gets mad you get mad and the next thing you know you have removed yourself from God and another storefront pops up.
I’m so glad that my worship is not predicated on a man. If the preacher isn’t bringing glory to God, he needs to shut up. If the choir isn’t bring glory to God, they need to shape up. If the musicians aren’t bringing glory to God, they need to change up. Because my worship is for real. If the preacher can’t preach, I still can worship. If the choir can’t sing, I still can worship. If the musician can’t play, I’m still going to worship. Because when I was in my mess, it wasn’t a preacher that saved me, it wasn’t a choir that delivered me, it wasn’t a musician that converted me.
When I look back over my life and I think things over I can truly say that I’ve been blessed. I’ve got a testimony, it was nobody but Jesus.
My worship is for real. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who is stagnated. You will die. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who is paralyzed: you won’t move. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who set in his way. God can’t do anything new. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who is insecure: nobody will grow. It’s dangerous when you follow a leader who dictates instead of directs, complains instead of compromise, sits down when it’s time to stand up.
God is looking for somebody who made up in their minds, “All I want to do is give him some glory.” Give glory to God saints, he’s worthy of the praise, saints! Give glory to God, lift those hands, saints, give glory to God. Shout “Hallelujah” saints, give glory to God.
You don’t know my story, all the things that I’ve been through. You can’t feel my pain, what I had to go through to get here. You’ll never understand my praise, don’t try to figure it out. Because my worship – my worship is for real.
Beams of heaven as I go,
through the wilderness below,
guide my feet in peaceful ways,
turn my midnights into days.
When in the darkness I would grope,
faith always sees a star of hope,
and soon from all life’s grief and danger
I shall be free someday.
I do not know how long ’twill be,
nor what the future holds for me,
but this I know: if Jesus leads me,
I shall get home someday.
Harder yet may be the fight;
right may often yield to might;
wickedness a while may reign;
Satan’s cause may seem to gain.
There is a God that rules above,
with hand of power and heart of love;
if I am right, he’ll fight my battle,
I shall have peace someday.
Burdens now may crush me down,
disappointments all around;
troubles speak in mournful sigh,
sorrow through a tear-stained eye.
There is a world where pleasure reigns,
no mourning soul shall roam its plains,
and to that land of peace and glory
I shall want to go someday.