Saturday, July 5, 2014

3 Tactics of the Enemy That You Need To Know

           I open my journal this morning and the scripture for today is 1 John 2:17. As I look it up in my bible I flip back a page to 1 John 2:15-17 which reads: "Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. As soon as I read this I immediately thought back to a message that my pastor preached some time last year on the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Here's the thing guys, in order to fight against the tactics of the enemy, we need to be aware of what his tactics are! Otherwise, you will continue to fall into the same traps and fail the same tests over and over again. So let's take a look at these tactics a little closer. 

1. The lust of the flesh: The devil loves to tempt you by your physical desires and this is not limited to sexual desires but we're going to get to that. Let's start off with something a little more tame first; say you're supposed to be fasting, what is one of the ways that the devil tries to make you break your fast? He makes you hungry and not just any old hungry but more like hangry, you know that feeling when you're so hungry you become angry. Yes, it seems like your stomach growls a lot louder and it feels emptier than usual when it's time to fast; it never fails! What I love about God though is that for every scenario that we face, there is something in the bible that can show us how to handle it or that shows the consequences if we choose to disobey Him. One of the best examples is when Jesus is tempted by satan in the wilderness. Matthew 4:2-4 tells us that after Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights the tempter came to Him and told Jesus that if He was really the Son of God to command the stones to be turned into bread. Now Jesus could've done it, don't get it twisted, but His response was one of the best comebacks to a tactic of the enemy ever: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (KJV). 100 points for Jesus, -50 for the devil. There's a key principle that Jesus showed in this example that if we could learn to apply it would give us a huge up in fighting against the enemy. That is realizing that just because you can do something that doesn't mean that you should do it. Apostle Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 10:23, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not" (KJV). Jesus could have very well been like hold up, what you mean IF I'm the Son of God? Do you know who I am? I'll show you, forget some biscuits I'm about to turn this whole thing into a buffet while you're trying to play me like you don't know who I am! Our flesh can rise up along with our pride and make us feel like we have to show people who we are and what we can do to prove them wrong or to shut them up. Jesus had a choice to make just as you will always have a choice when you are tempted but you need to make sure you are choosing wisely. Learn to how to tame the beast, aka your flesh, and stop entertaining your ego. This is why it is so important to die to yourself daily. Your flesh will constantly be at war with you trying to convince you to choose the option that will appease it in the moment where God is pulling on your spiritual man to make the choice that will benefit you in the long run. The enemy plays on this very fact because he knows that your flesh has an "I want it now!" mentality and he will do everything in his power to get you to forfeit God's ultimate promise and plans for you by tempting you in this manner. 

2. The lust of the eyes: The lust of the flesh and the eyes are very parallel with one another because the longer you look at something the more likely you are going to give into your flesh and do it. There are a number of examples where the enemy has used the lust of the flesh and the eyes to trap people from David with Bathsheba, Samson and Delila, Jesus in the wilderness once again, but I want to focus on Eve in the garden in Genesis. The serpent comes to Eve and says oh hey Eve, what's up girl? You see this tree over here with all this good fruit glistening and what not? Did God really tell you that you couldn't eat of it? Oh God said you would die? Pssh girl you are not going to die, come on and get this good fruit! The key verse is Genesis 3:6 however as it says "The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious..." (NLT). Eve was drawn in by the lust of her own eyes; it looked good to her even though God had instructed Adam to not eat of this fruit and Adam had instructed Eve to not eat of it. She knew the consequences of eating the fruit because she repeated it verbatim to the serpent but the fruit was pleasant to her eyes so she gave in anyways.

Pause: Let me throw this one out for free; we spend way too much time conversing with the enemy. Notice that even when Eve knew what the right thing was to do, after talking to the serpent in the garden he eventually convinced her to disobey God. Stop talking to the devil! The bible says resist the devil and he will flee from you, not sit at the table and play I declare war with him. You sit around long enough talking with him and he will succeed in convincing you to disobey God. Ya'll have absolutely nothing to talk about so shut it down. And now we will resume our regularly scheduled reading. 

        I'm sure you're thinking, it's going to take a whole lot more than a piece of fruit to tempt me to disobey God! Guess what, the enemy realizes that too. Just as the world has evolved, the enemy evolves with it and learns new ways to distract people from God. Think about the things that you see on a daily basis. The movies you watch, the tv shows you look at, and even the people that you look at. The thing about sin is that it always appears to be something that seems so harmless and appears that it would not have a huge impact on you....initially. It never seems like a big deal starting off and it's so easy to think that what you see could never impact you or lead you astray from God...initially. Don't you realize that's a tactic of the enemy! He wants you to believe these lies. That's his game plan, to convince you that a little bit of this or a little bit of that will never draw you away from God. Think about it, who would've thought a piece of fruit would bring sin into the world? We rag on Eve for all the problems she created but the truth is if it wasn't her it would've been someone else! The reason why the things that we see is such an important factor is because we don't realize how desensitized to sin we become based off of the things that we look at. Especially in the media, there are so many things that completely go against the word of God but it's portrayed in a way that makes you feel connected with this person that is completely dishonoring God. You're rooting for these people who are glorifying sin and you think that it's no big deal because this is just on tv, this isn't real life, I can separate the two. Hmh...this is starting to sound just like the conversation in the garden. Compromising begins, justifying your actions begins, questioning does God really have a problem with me watching this? We have to acknowledge this tactic of the enemy because it is one of the biggest ways that the enemy is going after this generation of people that are being raised up in the world of technology. 

          Okay, let's get into the big topic here, SEX.  Sex is one of the biggest sins that plague Christians yet we are so tight lipped in talking about it! Let's be clear, sex is not the problem; God created sex and  He created it to be good BUT in the proper context which is marriage. No if's, and's, or but's about it so if you aren't married you aren't doing it right (insert creepy winky face). Listen, whether you're single or not the enemy will always try to use the lust of the flesh and the eyes to tempt you when it comes to people. That lust/sex demon is nothing to play with and you need to recognize that tactic ASAP! We can be so quick to throw boundaries and wisdom out the window when we meet someone that we believe has potential and we can end up messing ourselves up as we end up in compromising positions. Singles, as you're making your list of things that you want your spouse to be and you're praying to God about it know that the enemy also hears that prayer and knows the desires of your heart. Ladies the devil will send you a man who is so fine hunty from head to toe and is pleasant to the eye and will leave you busted, disgusted, and with a soul tie. Men, women can be some of the deadliest traps for Christian men; she will look good, her hair will be laid the way you like it, her legs will strut down the aisle so gracefully to the altar, and she'll smell so good and she will leave you broke, busted, disgusted, and questioning your salvation. 

       I don't know a better way to say this so I'm just going to say it...the enemy knows what turns you on. Don't look at me like that, you know what I'm talking about! Just yesterday I was at a cookout watching tv and a target commercial came on with Trey Songz and anybody that knows me knows that I had quite the thing for Mr. Songz.  I'm not even going to lie, I saw the commercial and thought God that man is still fine! Then I quickly texted my BFF and said get thee behind me satan cause ain't nobody got time for a lust demon this summer. The enemy will give you ample amount of opportunities to put yourself in compromising situations that will make your flesh feel good. You have a choice that you have to make; feed your flesh or honor God with your body. You'll always have a choice; we have to get this folks! You, yes you, will always have a choice and you will always have a way out of temptation and it will always be up to you to take the way out! (1 Corinthians 10:13). One of the funniest yet true statements that I remember hearing Heather and Cornelius Lindsey say is you know the equipment works. You don't have to test it out or double check know it works and you know how it works so yeah...stop fooling yourself. Don't put yourself in compromising positions! This whole playing house, cuddling with your clothes on, we share a bed but we don't have sex, all this making out business and what not is for the birds. Let's be real. You aren't kidding anybody but yourself. When you are with a person that you are attracted doesn't take much, okay. It is such a trap to try and push the boundaries to the furthest limit possible with the thought that you'll be able to reel your flesh back in when things go too far. Your flesh is going to try to sucker punch your spiritual man and go full speed to please itself. Don't fool yourself. Instead of focusing on what is the most that you can do physically with your girlfriend/boyfriend and still be saved, focus on what you can do to honor God in your relationship. 

3. The pride of life: Lastly, but definitely not least, is the pride of life. The enemy wants to get you so caught up in your own achievements and possessions and get your focus off of God. Let's go back to the wilderness with Jesus for a moment; the devil takes Jesus to the top of a mountain and tells him that all the kingdoms that he sees and the glory of them all can be His if he would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:8). Now let's go back to the garden, satan also tells Eve that if she would eat of the fruit then she would be like God and have the wisdom of knowing both good and evil (Genesis 3:5). The enemy plays on your desires to want to achieve a certain level of wealth, fame, knowledge, status, etc. and he knows exactly how to get your attention using this method. He will open doors for you that appear to be a great catch and that seem so appealing to your desires but there's always a catch that's tied to it. He always leaves that part out though; he tells Jesus that He can have all the kingdoms knowing that if Jesus were to bow down and worship him that Jesus would have never fulfilled the will of God and people would never have the gift of salvation. Satan tells Eve to eat of the fruit knowing that it will bring sin into the world but he never shares that with her. Be careful what you desire because the enemy will use that very thing to keep you from doing the will that God has for you. He will make you a slave to money, your job, your status, your car, your home, and all these things that you wanted so bad. A lot of people are willing to sacrifice a lot of things to get ahead in the world and to feel as though they have made it and reached success. The enemy recognizes this and he will use it to get you to sacrifice your soul and completely forfeit God's purpose for your life. Don't take the bait. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

How Salty Are You?

Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand! (Luke 14: 34-35, NLT).

          I'm sure you saw the title and thought, Angel must be ready for these 4th of July cookouts, what is she talking about how salty are you?!? Although I am indeed ready for a grilled hot dog, there's so much more to this title! Let's chat about salt right quick; it's funny how you can truly see anything in the natural sense and also make it applicable in the spiritual sense as well and it's no different for salt. Just follow me...salt has a number of purposes that it is used for which are very relevant to the believers life however, we forget the importance of it sometimes; let's have a quick refresher! So what exactly are some of the purposes of salt? I'm so glad you asked...

1. It acts as a preservative: Now I'm not going to give you a history lesson on salt so the short answer of this is salt acts as preservative to help food from spoiling and it can act as a deterrent for mold to grow. Due to the antibacterial properties in salt, it helps to destroy bacteria in order to keep the food from spoiling. Pretty much what happens is when the bacteria tries to creep in, salt stands up, gives it the hand, and says not on my watch, peace be gone! So what exactly does this have to do with being a Christian you ask? Everything!!! You see, salt can only work as a preservative if it is present. Ya'll didn't catch that; the salt cannot act, aka keep the food from spoiling, if it does not exist. As believers we're called to be salt in this crazy jacked up world. We are that antibacterial property that is helping to destroy the bacteria in the world better known as sin. When we are at our saltiest we should be impacting unbelievers to the extent that when they have an interaction with us (the God in us) it should encourage the bacteria (sin) in them to flee. Who we are in Christ should encourage and empower others to develop a relationship with Christ which acts as a deterrent for mold (sin) to grow in their lives. But how can we have this impact if we have lost our saltiness? 

2. It is used for healing: If you have one of them momma's like mine that grew up in the country and likes to use all those home remedies that Grand momma and em' always talked about then you already know what this purpose of salt is for. Once again, salt is used as an antibacterial agent to help wounds to heal faster. People might tell you about the healing part but they tend to leave out the fact that it stings like nobodies business! It burns and it hurts like no other but the end result is that the infection is removed and the healing of the wound can take place. As Christians we oftentimes struggle with  confronting people when it comes to addressing their wounds aka sin. We don't want to hurt people's feelings, we don't want them to think that we're judging them, and so on and so on. So we try to take a passive approach, beat around the issues, and never really address the problem or get to the root of it because we don't want to hurt them. Here's the thing, John tells us in Revelation 10:9 that an angel gave him a small scroll, told him to eat it and said that it would be sweet in his mouth but it would turn sour in his belly. The word of God is sweet as it encourages and reminds us of God's love for us but it also becomes bitter in the sense of the consequences of sin and the judgment that we must speak of for those who choose not to follow God. Furthermore, Hebrews 4:12 states that the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword! The Word of God cuts and it cuts deep because it has to deal with the sin that is deeply rooted. Jesus wasn't sent to play patty cake with sin; no ma'am not at all but He addressed it in a loving manner. It may have stung initially, but that sting led them to follow Christ which led to their healing. What believers must ultimately come to understand is that all confrontation is not bad; confrontation can actually be healthy and much needed when used properly. When you share the Word of  God with an unbeliever it can cause a sting initially because when a person's sin is addressed it is not comfortable. The reality however is, if the salt can get in and uproot the infection, healing can take place through Christ Jesus. It might make a person uncomfortable initially and it might sting them when you first talk to them about God and in some cases the people closest to you may feel like you have burned them but the end result is worth it. 

3. It keeps people from falling: I was having a conversation with my best friend a couple of months ago and we got on the topic of salt and she said you put salt down on the sidewalk in the winter when there's snow and ice to keep people from falling. We have to be mindful of the example that we are setting for people especially when it comes to new believers and unbelievers. Should people read their bible? Yes. Should they learn what Christ likeness is through reading the word and spending time with God themselves? Yes. Do they? Initially, for the most part (a very large part) NO! They're looking at other Christians as their example so what example are you making? Does this mean that all you can and should do is talk about Jesus all day every day and even in your sleep? Believe it or not the answer is no. Now before anybody tries to pull my Christian card just hear me out. People need to see real people living for God! There are so many counterfeit Christians trying to play the part of being a Christian just for the look of it all. You have so many people playing like they're so holy that oftentimes new believers and unbelievers see them and think that it's impossible for them to be saved. They're having some serious struggles and realizing that spiritual warfare is not a fairy tale but real life yet they see sister pretend faking the funk and they think they can't be saved or they're not doing it right. Of course we should not compare ourselves to others but let's be real, people do it all the time! It is so possible to be saved, love Jesus, and enjoy life and have fun with your salvation. It's okay to be transparent and share your struggles just as you do your high moments. People can relate to real people versus pretend ones and it encourages them to continue to pursue Christ in the midst of their pitfalls instead of falling away because they think that they can't keep up with the pretend crew.

         So what's the purpose of all of this? The enemy is more than aware of the purpose of salt and he will do absolutely everything in his power to make you lose your flavor. A lot of times as Christian we become tired, burned out, stressed out, unmotivated, uninspired, and we don't even know if we're still saved if we would be honest. We stop reading our bibles, we stop praying, we stop fasting, and we stop spending time with God. We go about our day to day growing further away from Christ yet we don't do anything about it! We continue to attend church and go through the motions of being a Christian but the truth is we have lost our flavor. One of the biggest problems with the body of Christ is that we fail to realize that we have power through Him and that satan is seriously going hard after us to keep us from exercising that power. The reason you don't feel like doing anything and have become stagnant in your walk with Christ or feel that it has become non-existent even is because the enemy wants you to lose your saltiness so that you are not leading others to Christ. The devil will attack you in all areas of your life but let's be clear, homeboy is working overtime to keep you from connecting spiritually with God!  Acknowledge the tactics of the enemy and stop allowing him to rob you of your flavor. He knows the power that you have in Christ to impact non believers and to help them realize the bacteria in their life and he will do everything to try to keep you from doing it. Christians, we have a responsibility called the great commission and we have no time to sit around idol not being about our Father's business. So you fell off? Okay, get back on that do better chair, repent, and get your flavor back! It really is just that simple; we can make things so hard sometimes! I encourage you to ask yourself the question how salty am I? Have I lost my flavor and if so what do I need to do get it back? How salty are you....

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