Monday, May 14, 2018


SEVEN SNARES TO FAITH
Let us choose for ourselves what is right;
Let us know among ourselves what is good.
(Job 34:4 NIV)

Interstate interchanges can be confusing and daunting without proper navigation. Likewise, God wants to be our navigator, so that we can avoid seven snares (strongholds) that hinder, confuse, and misdirect us away from Him. 

The seven snares have a domino effect that divert us from God's truth and severely impact our choices and decisions. I refer to them as The Seven D's: Deception, Distraction, Doubt, Distrust, Disobedience, Denial, and Discouragement. 

As you know, a "D" on the grading scale is just one step above failure. And failure to thrive and survive is the enemy's goal for us.

These seven snares were birthed in the Garden of Eden when Satan approached Eve with a deception, "You will not certainly die...for God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4-5). After engaging her in crafty conversation, he distracted her with the forbidden fruit's beauty.

Eve had a choice—to believe God, who is all truth, or to believe Satan, who bates, switches, and manipulates all truth, because he is the father of lies. Sadly, she made a bad decision and believed a lie. 

Deception and distraction created doubt and distrust of God, which led to disobedience. When confronted by God, Adam and Eve denied culpability and blamed the devil, each other, and God. Discouraged and laden with sin, they were cast from the Garden. For this reason, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem mankind from the hands of the enemy.


What is a snare? The dictionary defines snare as "a trap or a thing likely to lure or tempt someone into harm or error." Therefore, it is imperative to prayerfully and carefully weigh and examine all things, because not everyone and every thing is an epitome of truth or is legitimate (I John 4:1). So let us examine each snare that plays a diabolical part in establishing strongholds that birth unbelief and/or apostasy.

"Distraction" is diverting attention and focus, so that the reception of information is blocked or diminished. How did Satan distract Eve? He made her focus on the beauty of the fruit, so that she would ignore the truth. 

"Deception" is fraud, deceit, pretense, lying, and crookedness. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9). The enemy's clever manipulation of truth deceives not only the world but also God's people. Evil is called good and good is condemned as evil. Since Adam and Eve were deceived with clever persuasion and manipulation, then most certainly we can be deceived, if we do not ask God for discernment and wisdom. 

"Doubt" is defined as uncertainty, hesitation, suspicion, vacillation, and lack of conviction. A lack of conviction or belief in the truth and validity of God's Word will quickly open the door to doubt, which opposes God and His Word. However, God's Word tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and not lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). For His ways and thoughts are far above ours. In all our ways we are to acknowledge Him, then He will give us a straight and clear path (Proverbs 3:6). 

Distrust is a feeling that you cannot trust or rely on someone. Adam and Eve believed a lie, which created distrust of God. On the other hand, trust is an unshakable and firm belief in the reliability and truth of a person and their word. Do we have an unshakable and firm belief in the reliability and truth of God's Word, which is forever settled in heaven? (Psalm 119:89). His Word is right and true (Proverbs 33:44). His Word is a trusted litmus test against worldviews that cleverly use untruths to deceive, manipulate, and cause distrust. Unless we know the Word of God, we will accept false narratives, which lead to disobedience.

"Disobedience" is failure to obey rules or someone in authority. God calls us to obey His Word, which is His authority. Refusal to obey is rebellion, which is the sin of witchcraft (I Samuel 15:33). Therefore, those who disobey God deny His authority and make themselves "god" over their life like Satan, who said, "I will make myself like the Most High"(Isaiah 14:14).

"Denial" is failure to acknowledge, believe, or accept truth. However, if we pray, seek God, read His Word, and listen for His direction, we will know the truth and not be easily deceived. 

"Discouragement" is defined as a loss of confidence or enthusiasm for something or someone. Are you waiting for prayers to be answered? Satan uses God's delays to discourage and create doubt in our minds, so that we stop praying. However, the antidote is to praise, pray, and pursue God even harder. 

God knows what lies ahead of us. That's why we are told to wait upon the Lord. For when we wait, our strength and faith is renewed, our trust is bolstered, and we do not grow weary, worried, and fearful (Isaiah 40:31). Thus we come to the question of how we know if we are entertaining the Seven D's?

  • Do we doubt God, or do we trust and obey His Word?
  • Have we checked our motives and given our     desires to God in prayer?
  • Do we pray before making a decision?
  • Does that decision or choice align with God's Word?
  • Do we have a peace about our decision, or are we feeling anxious and unsure?
  • Do willful desires, impulses, or greed influence our decisions and choices?
  • Are fears of loss, being wrong, or missing an opportunity motivating hasty decisions?

God's Word tells us that He has not given us a spirit of fear but He has given us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). When God leads, we have peace to move forward.

Humans struggle with trust. However, we cannot have faith without trust, which believes and relies on the faithfulness and integrity of God's Word and His ability and desire to always lead, guide, instruct, protect, and provide. 

Trust is developed through a daily relationship with God, who is The Chief Architect of our lives. Before each person was born, He drafted a precise blueprint of a plan to be fulfilled (Jeremiah 1:5). Poor choices and disobedience can prevent that plan from being realized.

Having been seduced by the enemy's snares, I painfully learned the importance of prayerfully weighing all facts and seeking God's guidance before making any decision or choice. Fortunately, because of God's mercy, He corrects and guides us to all truth, if we seek His truth with our whole heart.

PRAYER:
FATHER, I confess making willful choices, because I didn't trust or believe You. Forgive me, for You are the Chief Architect of my life. I ask that You daily remind me to seek You first before making any decision, so that my decisions are not based on opinion, desire, wants, or needs, but on Your Word, Your will, Your divine guidance, and Your sovereign purposes for my life. In Jesus name, amen.


Monday, May 7, 2018

TURN LEMONS INTO LEMONADE

You have probably heard the statement, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I am always amazed how God takes life's challenges and mistakes and brings good from them...if we TRUST and HEED the Holy Spirit's guidance. So, if things appear hopeless, don't despair or give up. Instead, seek God for His help and believe that He hears and answers, which takes us to the following story.

In March, I was making my mother-in-law's favorite from-scratch, double chocolate cake for her 95th birthday. However, when I took it from the oven, I was shocked to see that it looked more like a brownie than a cake. Reasoning that I had not properly mixed the powdered buttermilk, I stood with eyes transfixed on the grand failure, bemoaning the very thought of tossing out the ingredient-laden cake. That old nemesis, perfectionism, shouted, "You really messed up!"

Suddenly a gentle thought came, "Ask Me." I clearly didn't have enough ingredients to make another cake and there was no time to buy more, so I asked God how I could redeem the colossal failure before me. He answered, "Make truffles." There is nothing that our extraordinary God can't or won't do to help us! What is important to us is always important to Him.

I was so excited that I shouted, "Hallelujah! That's it!" I knew I had a package of cream cheese, so I added powdered sugar and Hersey's Chocolate Syrup to the cream cheese and pulsed it in the food processor. Setting that mixture aside, I then pulsed the chocolate "cake." Next, I took half of the cream cheese mixture and half of the cake and added both to the processor. That's when everything went awry. 

I turned on the processor and heard a horrible noise. Yes, you guessed it. The thick load was too much for the 30 plus year-old processor. The main shaft completely broke from it mounting. Suddenly I was looking at an even bigger problem. What was I to do? Frustration and perfectionism were joining forces to defeat me. Thoughts of resignation were whirling as I re-considered throwing it all in the trash and buying a ready-made cake.

You might recall from a previous blog, entitled SURRENDERED, that I discussed the ills of perfectionism, which can control and debilitate a life, because perfectionism never allows for mistakes. So far, my day had not been going the way I had planned. It seemed that everything I was doing was only leading to failure. "There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless, the Lord's  counsel — that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21).

Again, I heard the counsel of the Holy Spirit in my spirit, "You asked Me to help you overcome perfectionism." Oh my! We have to be ready to expect anything when we ask God to help us, because often He will take us around the mountain and through the valley to see our need to be completely dependent on Him.

Then I heard in my spirit, "Hand mix it." What a novel idea. I depend on my appliances and kitchen utensils so much, that it rarely occurs to me to do things the old fashioned way.

I decided not to give up and forged ahead. After kneading and blending the thick mixture, my next step was to roll the "dough" into six-dozen—72 rolled balls. Finally they were ready for dipping into rich dark chocolate, which I had on hand. My kitchen quickly became a one-person assembly line.

Each truffle was dipped and placed on wax paper that covered both counters. After the chocolate coating set, I added the finishing decorative touches to each piece, and then stood back to admire the fruits of my labor. My one regret was failing to take pictures of the process and the finished product, because family and friends would later tell me that the truffles looked store-bought.

With patience, persistence, and God's guidance, what I had thought was a complete "disaster" had become beautiful, creamy, chocolate truffles that were a hit at Mom's birthday party. And the best part of the "mistake" was that she was delighted to have a generous supply of chocolate truffles to enjoy. All things had worked together for an even greater good.

Never give up! Never give in! God might have to take us through the valley to get us to where we need to be, but if we trust Him, we will emerge as victors!

God doesn't expect us to be perfect. He alone is perfect. However, He does expect us to make every effort to be all that He calls us to be each day, knowing that we will make mistakes along the way. And if we get too far off track, He just might take us around a mountain or two...or more...until we learn to depend on Him in every area, because He not only cares about our lives, He cares about everything we care about. Therefore, we must trust Him with our whole heart and not lean on our own understanding, because our understanding is limited and shortsighted.

When I resisted the temptation to throw the cake into the trash, God led me step-by-step in redeeming what had appeared hopeless and beyond saving. Are you struggling with a situation that seems hopeless and unredeemable? 

God is truly our Redeemer and Restorer in all things. Thank goodness that our struggles and challenges are never hopeless and beyond saving, because if we allow, He will guide us step-by-step in redeeming what appears hopeless.  

God understands that not only are we a work in progress, but we live in a fallen and broken world. Therefore, regardless of the situation, we must never give up; never give in to despair; and never settle for less. For when we submit our ways to Him, He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). We only have to cooperate with Him and believe that with His help, we can turn lemons into lemonade...or a failed chocolate cake into decadent chocolate truffles.

PRAYER: 
FATHER, Your Word tells me that though I suffer temporary trials, You allow them to prove and strengthen my faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold that is purified by fire (1 Peter 1:6-7). Help me to never give up or give in to discouragement or defeat, but to trust and listen for Your voice that leads and guides me to a stronger, more resilient faith in You. In Jesus name, amen.