Sunday, May 17, 2009

Not Taking the Bait: How to Be "The Fish that Got Away"

Last Sunday, Chad talked about what’s great about Jesus; the fact that He loves us and is crazy about us! This Sunday, he talked about another aspect of Jesus that is great: His protection.

Everyone wants to feel safe and protected; especially since there’s someone who ISN’T so crazy about us: Satan. Christ passionately loves us, but Satan passionately HATES us!! The only thing he’s crazy about is destroying us. His aim is to lead the world astray (Revelations 12:9) and to kill and destroy (John 10:10). He does this by any means possible and has a whole list of tactics he employs to distract, destroy, and bring us down. Galatians 5:19-21 lists a few: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Josh Hamilton knows what it’s like to be beaten down by Satan. You might recall that I mentioned the website www.iamsecond.com (and a link to Josh’s testimony) in my last blog. Once again, Chad featured this site in his sermon. Today, he shared Josh’s video with the congregation. In his testimony, Josh talked about all the things he did to cope with his pain; drugs, alcohol, and tons of tattoos. He said it all changed after he had a dream that scared him so badly that he woke up and asked his grandma if he could sleep in her bed (he noted he was 25 years old at the time). What could have possibly scared a grown man so much that he couldn’t sleep by himself? It was a dream he had where he was fighting Satan. No matter how much he beat him down, he kept getting up and had this cold smirk on his face. He said that he just couldn’t beat him and he was so worn out from trying. It was after that that he decided to get right with God. And, through Christ, he was able to defeat Satan and his addictions. He even said that later on, he had a similar dream. Only this time, he knew that Christ was beside him because Satan fled and they started chasing him. It’s like Darrell Waltrip said in his testimony. He said that anything we do is done through Christ. It’s not us that has the success. Jesus owns success. We’re selfish and we want to keep it all to ourselves, but Jesus wants to share it. We do all things not WITH Christ but THROUGH Christ (Philippians 4:13)!!! Without Him, we are nothing (John 15:5)!!

You got to know that that’s true, because there’s no way we can conquer anything on our own!! Paul talks about his own struggle in Romans 7:22-24: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

We’re at war (Ephesians 6:12)! The devil is stalking and prowling like a lion (1 Peter 5:8). Chad illustrated it by showing us his fishing pole. He said that Satan has all kinds of bait. He knows what works for us and what doesn’t. Not all bait catches the same kind of fish. What hooks and reels you in may not do the same for someone else. He had a doughnut on the end of his hook (oh no! Doughnuts!! LOL). I got to admit, that is my kind of bait! Like he said, just the smell or slight taste of sugar can draw you in. That doughnut table at church sure is hard to resist (but I say “no” more often than not - glory to God for that!!). And, moving along from doughnuts, he stuck some money in the hole of the doughnut. He admitted that money used to be his bait for a long time. These two things, and more, are all lures from Satan. Sometimes they look really good and can seem harmless; after all, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). However, they’re not good at all when they are taken out of context. Things like food and money aren’t TOTALLY evil (well, I can vouch for doughnuts being totally evil LOL) but it’s easy to get sucked in. Like a friend of mine says, Satan knows our “tweaks.” We should be aware of them too. We know when we are falling into an old pattern or cycle. It’s best to avoid those things before we end up being ensnared again.

Food and money are only a couple of the “lures” that Satan uses to bait us into sin. Chad put on a hat with a bunch of “lures” hanging from it: a beer bottle, a naked Barbie doll, jewelry, etc. All these temptations can lead you to the “box” that Chad showed us next. He said his “box” had such appeal, but it was a love/hate relationship. He wanted in the box, but he hated being in it once he was there and all the pain he brought to himself and others while he was in it (and getting out of it). We hesitate to throw away our boxes because of that love/hate relationship. He said we don’t realize that we’re destroying ourselves. He mentioned that it was like how an Eskimo catches a wolf. They take a knife and dip it in blood a few times until it freezes. They stick it in the ground and when a wolf comes to it, he licks it. It starts to melt a little and he keeps tasting a little more. He’s not realizing that the knife has cut his tongue and that he’s drinking his own blood and bleeding himself to death. That’s so much like the cycle we get in! We don’t know that we are eating ourselves alive (James 3:13-15).

The good news is that Christ broke the power of sin and bondage. Chad used a great word: disarmed. He said that Jesus’ death on the cross DISARMED the powers of evil. When we become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), that deposit of the Holy Spirit inside us (Ephesians 1:14) helps us overcome all things (Philippians 4:13)! The Holy Spirit goes to work inside our hearts; convicting and conquering the sin nature on the inside (James 4:5). Hallelujah!!

The key to victory is in the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Chad mentioned the sword of the Spirit - God’s Word. The devil is a liar (John 8:44). To combat the lies, you’ve got to know the truth! How else are you going to know it if you don’t read it? How did Jesus fight Satan in the wilderness; with the words “It is written.” Do you KNOW what “is written”? If you don’t, you are fighting without a sword. How far are you going to get in hand to hand combat when the enemy has weapons in his hand?

Chad said we need to make firm and level paths (Proverbs 4:26).We do this by remembering the verses that Josh Hamilton cited: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:7-10). Through submission and repentance, you gain the discipline and power to resist temptation and through Christ, you put the devils on the run!!!!

Grace and peace to all of you!! And remember, just as Chad reminded us at the end of the service, we are here as brothers and sister to pray for each other; for protection, deliverance, for everything!! If you need someone to walk with you, pray with you/for you, contend and fight for you, I’M HERE FOR YOU!! Arm yourselves of course, but remember that you have brethren fighting alongside you; WITH you!! We’re watching each other’s backs (the only part not covered by armor). ;) God bless you!!

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