Friday, June 17, 2016

Satan's Gone Fishing - Don't Take the Bait!

I grew up fishing with my Dad. He knew just where to fish, what bait to use and the right lure to use if the live bait didn't work.  If the lure or bait wasn't drawing them in, he had a "magic" spray that made them smell enticing to the fish once they took the hook, he knew exactly how to work the line and reel them in.

Me? I always felt a little sorry for the fish. I mean, there they were, swimming along, minding their own business when suddenly something catches their eye. It's shiny, it's moving seductively, it even smells good in a wormy kind of way.

What's the fish expecting? A yummy treat that's going to be so satisfying. A distraction that makes swimming around in the same old boring lake seem fun and exciting. Maybe he's dreaming of how he's going to brag to the "guys" about how good it was. He might even recommend that his buddies give it a try.

What did the fish get? A sharp pain, dragged out of his place of comfort, away from his fishy family. Finally, he was pulled to destruction and finally to his death.

Are you getting the connection?

Satan loves to go fishing. He also knows just where to fish - usually among those who are dissatisfied or bored with the status quo of their life.  He suspects that they're hungry for something new, that they're vulnerable to just the right bait.  

The devil has a tackle box full of lures and magic sprays. He will try everything in his arsenal until he finds what works with you, and when he does, and when you bite, he'll reel you in so fast it will make your little fishy head spin.

Saying yes to his bait will cost you - sometimes your job, friendships, marriage, reputation, money...make no mistake...he will drag you further and further away from happiness until destruction surrounds you and if possible, he will seek to take your life.

How to keep from falling for Satan's bait:
  • Read God's word to stay spiritually strong
  • Be aware of the Devil's schemes and on guard against them
  • Pray to be kept from temptation
  • Pray for insight and wisdom
  • If it looks good - BE CAREFUL!
What to do if you're already on the hook and headed fast toward the shore of destruction:
  • Admit and renounce your sin
  • Ask God to forgive you
  • Admit your sin to a Pastor or a strong and trusted Christian friend- ask them to pray for you
  • Make yourself accountable to someone
  • Make amends with those you've hurt
God has the power to take you off the hook and restore your life. Oh, you might have a sore mouth for a while. Sin always hurts and might even leave a scar. Sin has consequences, but God will strengthen you to face them.

Final advice - stay away from flashy things that distract and tempt you to stray from what you know is safe and right.  

Don't take the bait!

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Crucifixion - It's a Good Thing

As I read this scripture today, I had to ask myself, "Has the world really been crucified to me and I to the world?"

Admittedly, we have to live in this world, but let's look at what Jesus prayed just before he ascended to Heaven...

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world." John 17: 13-18
Jesus said that he was not asking the Father to take us out of the world, but that God would protect us from the evil one.  

  • Why would we need protection?  
Because the world, under the influence of the evil one (Satan) will hate us, just as it hated Jesus.
  • Why would Jesus want us to stay in this world? 
Because we are light in this dark place. We are a preserving power, keeping evil from overcoming all good.  We are Children of the Living God, filled with the Holy Spirit, representing His love as we reach out to others with the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ. He is sending us into the world, just as God sent Jesus to the world.
  • How do we crucify the world and yet still be engaged in ministering to others? 
First, crucifying the "world" does NOT mean crucifying (figuratively speaking) the people in it. God loves people - all people, even the mean ones, and He commands us to do the same. If you can't minister to them, reason with them, or reach them - PRAY FOR THEM and ask God to give you His love for them. Make a difference to those around you in any way you can. Ask God to give you open doors and open hearts, then reach out to those around you.
  • How do we crucify ourselves to the world?
While we are in the world, we will be tempted to adopt the world's standards, culture's morals and habits - those things that go against biblical standards and God's commands. It's a subtle temptation, to which our carnal nature leans. It's a tendency to make small compromises to fit in or enjoy just a little sin - to live right on the edge. To dabble in things we know that if taken to the extreme would be a sin.  Our rationale is, "Just a little won't hurt." That's how every vice, every addiction, every moral failure begins. Flirting with sin is a dangerous habit, so start with those little temptations. Say no at the beginning of temptation and yes to the things that please God. That's how we crucify our selves to the world.
  • But, won't I miss all the fun in life?
Sin may look like fun, but there are always consequences to sin. Yes, there is forgiveness, but that doesn't always alleviate the suffering caused by our bad choices.  Avoiding sin requires self-discipline, which is a fruit of the Spirit. You have the ability to be disciplined enough to say no - you just have to exercise it.  God has already extended the grace you need to say NO to sin.
"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" Titus 2:11-12
  • What's the pay off?
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
The pay off to crucifying the world's sins to you and you to the world's temptation to join in those sins, is a righteousness that pleases God and a peace that settles deep in you soul. Add to that the full measure of Jesus' joy that He promised in the verses above and your life will be rich and fulfilling. RIGHTEOUSNESS (being right with God), deep PEACE and JOY beyond measure - what a way to live!

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