The Traps of the Devil (Series): Eve

The Traps of the Devil (Series): Eve

The Traps of the Devil: EVE
A Series Taken from Dr. Charles Stanley

“Eve”

Genesis 2:21
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.”

Genesis 3:1–9
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

Have you ever wanted something you knew you should not have or participated in something you knew you shouldn’t? Have you ever been tempted to sin?

The enemy tries to take our attention off of God and focus on the one thing we don’t have. For Eve, it is the fruit she cannot eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent has been observing Eve for a while. He cannot read her mind, but he watches for her reactions and her behavior patterns. He sees her approaching the tree and looking at the beautiful fruit. She is thinking, I wonder why God is keeping this from me. God is holding back something good from me. It’s because He doesn’t really love and care about me. If He did, He would let me have this fruit.

For those of us who have had children or have spent any time with children, we understand that children do not know what is best for them. They would eat junk food all day and watch TV all night. As adults, we know that is not a healthy way to live. We love them. So, we teach them and put up boundaries so they learn to make healthy choices. We do this because we care about their well-being and their future. God loves us too and wanted to protect Adam, Eve and the whole world from the destructive effects of sin. That’s why He told them not to eat of the fruit.

We see in Scripture that Eve has a conversation with Satan the serpent. That was her first mistake. Do not have a dialogue with the enemy. Do not even entertain his thoughts because he is more cunning then you know. We cannot reason or trust the enemy to lead us to do anything that would benefit us in any way. His ways always lead to death and destruction. That’s why knowing the Word of God is so important. When the enemy lies to you, you will know the truth and you will not fall into temptation or sin.

The second thing we see is Satan causing Eve to doubt God’s Word. He said, “You shall not eat it: for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) Satan said, “You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Becoming like “god” was all Eve needed to hear. Pride will destroy a godly person faster than anything else. I can be my own “god”. I can do whatever I want. I am in charge of my life. I don’t need God. I took that approach when I had my abortion because I thought I knew better. I wanted to be in control of my life. I am my own “god”. Look what that did for me and my dear son. He died as a result of my decision. Consequently, I was plunged headlong into deep despair, depression, self-loathing and suicidal thoughts. Don’t listen to Satan. He will destroy you. Only God’s way leads to life, peace, joy and true freedom.

So, where was Adam when this was all happening? When Eve took of the fruit and ate it, Adam should have said, “What are you doing? God told us not to eat it.” But the scriptures say that Eve gave it to her husband, and he ate. Then their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked. Then, they sewed fig leaves together to cover up their nakedness and their sin. I, too, have done that in my life. I rushed to hide my sin never thinking about the consequences. Those decisions have never led to good outcomes for me. The fear of being unmasked is a powerful motivator. My false persona of being the good quiet one was in danger of exposure. As a result, I rushed my decision to have an abortion. In my mind, there were no other alternatives. Hurry up and take care of it, or do this before someone finds out that the good quiet one in the family is a phony. My whole life had become a lie.

God calls out to Adam, “Where are you?” God knew where Adam and Eve were. He wanted to give them a chance to come out of hiding and confess their sin. However, they didn’t. We hide from God too. We isolate ourselves as Christians. We stop going to church or stop being accountable to people when we sin because it’s easier. Then we wake up one morning and say, “How did I get here?” It happens very quickly, my friends. It’s important to confess sin daily to God and to stay in a close Christian community like this group where there is accountability. Each one of us is just one step away from falling into grievous sin. Stay close to God, read His Word, memorize Scripture and stay in community with other believers. If you do this, you will be protected from the lies and the fiery darts of the enemy.

Keep your focus on God alone, and you will be safe.

Please share how you took matters into your own hands like Eve did? What was the outcome?

What have you learned from that experience?

You are loved,
Toni

 

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

How Has God Used Your Pain?

How Has God Used Your Pain?

(2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

When I came to Christ at the age of 34, I was suffering from severe depression, physical pain in my joints and fatigue. I sought answers from several doctors, but they could find nothing. My test results, CAT scans, MRIs and blood work all came back normal. I was perplexed. What is wrong with me? I now realize that my mental, emotional and health struggles were God’s way of getting my attention. Because of how poorly I felt, I couldn’t participate in my regular activities. It was during this time of suffering that God began drawing me to Himself.

How has God used suffering in your life to get your attention? In my case, God used my pain, weakness, fatigue and depression. God knows exactly how to reach all of us so that we turn to and focus on Him. God has always used my physical health issues to remind me to lean on Him. He uses suffering so that first, we will realize how much we need Him in our life and secondly, what kind of changes we need to make.

When I had the courage to trust God and finally wanted more than mere survival, God met me right where I was. God used my distress to bring me to Him. Even during my period of pain, God used me to help others. When I followed His lead by reaching out to those in need, I received even more healing for myself. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, God’s Word says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (ESV) God never wastes our suffering. It is all for a specific purpose. Some of you dear ones have suffered for a long time, and my heart goes out to you. It can seem very lonely at times, but God sees you. He loves you and has a purpose for your pain.

Christ suffered a horrific death on the cross for us. He also endured torture having been scourged, beaten, slapped, hit with rods and pierced in his skull with a crown of thorns. If anyone is acquainted with anguish and pain, it is Jesus. Come to Jesus just as you are, and He will give you comfort. Only He can carry you when you can’t take another step. He is the only one who will never leave you. He will not abuse you or take advantage of you. His love is pure, holy, just and life-affirming. His ways lead to true freedom and healing.

How has God used suffering in your life?

What is God showing you?

One day, beloved, we will be in glory in a place called Heaven where there is no more pain, sorrow or crying—a place where we will be embraced by the peace and love of Jesus.

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Every Child Deserves to Be Loved

Every Child Deserves to Be Loved

Romans 12:9b and Psalm 147:3

What happens to us as we get older and we mature and change our minds regarding abortion? Growing up I never imagined I would have an abortion. At a young age, I always loved children and took care of them because I was the oldest granddaughter on my mom’s side of the family. She is one of 10 siblings. My relatives would say, “Toni, go take the kids and play.” I even dreamed of becoming a teacher someday. That’s how much I loved children. So, I ask myself the question, why did I terminate the life of my first baby? Why did I allow the enemy to lie to me? Why didn’t I have the courage to admit to my parents that I had made a mistake and ask them for help? Why? These questions continue to plague me. The only response I can give right now is that I am trying to put all the pieces together to figure out the answers. I must revisit my childhood to identify the key moments in my life that led me astray. When did I start making decisions for myself—very bad ones—that would have long-lasting repercussions to endure for a lifetime?

My granddaughter, who is 8 years old, asked her mother about a huge billboard sign she saw on her way to school. The billboard read “Vote Pro-Life 2020” and showed a picture of a baby. My daughter briefly explained the issue of abortion and how the procedure leads to the death of the baby. My granddaughter was horrified. She could not believe a mother would kill her child. She wanted to know how the baby dies, but my daughter responded, “You don’t need to know that right now.” My granddaughter could not understand why a mother would take the life of her own child? They hugged one another and wept bitterly. After crying for a while, my granddaughter became angry and said, “How can our country allow this to happen?” She’s only 8. Yet, she knows that this is wrong. It breaks my heart. My granddaughter and I are extremely close. So, it saddens me to know that one day I will have to tell her that I had an abortion.

We have murdered over 60 million children in this country through abortion procedures. Do we need to mourn the loss of those children? Shouldn’t we all cry like my granddaughter cried when we hear such tragedy? How did each of us become so cold and disconnected from our very own child?

Where did the lie begin? When did abortion become an acceptable option? How did we transform from life-affirming children into post-abortion women? What a long and broken road we’ve walked. Let us unpack the truth and expose the reasons why we chose abortion?

I truly believe that if we had an encounter with the One True God, the Creator of the universe, engaged in a personal relationship with Him as children, teens and young adults, we would have chosen to give life to our babies in most instances. I would like to go one step further by highlighting the reality that many Christians have abortions as well. If we could only believe the truth that God loves and cherishes us and that He has a beautiful plan for our lives, we would make better decisions in this life. We were all raised in homes with some degree of dysfunction. Some were abused in their homes while others were neglected, or both. Every child deserves a safe home in which to experience love and be nurtured. Anything less is an injustice, which breaks my heart and God’s as well.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” I believe our need for love has made us vulnerable to many kinds of evil and forms of abuse, especially you precious ones who were abused as children. When I see such evil being committed by those who have rejected Christ and remain unrepentant, the one thing that gives me peace is to know that God will bring them to justice. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12: 19b)

Fear of rejection stems from another lie we have believed about God. The Lord, in His Word, reminds us numerous times, “I will not leave you.” Perhaps He knew this would be one of our greatest areas of pain and loneliness. He knew the enemy would use this lie against us as he has already done in the lives of so many others. The fear of man, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment and the fear of being judged harshly cause us to doubt God’s promises and His goodness. By fearing God more than fearing man, perhaps we would have had the courage to choose life.

It’s important to return to the memories of our past so that we can move forward. That doesn’t mean we camp out there and remain stuck in our pain. We just need to visit long enough to get understanding. In order to be healed, we must come to Jesus in our present condition and humble ourselves before Him. We can then trust Him to walk with us in the hidden places of our minds and hearts. It is only then that we can be healed and truly set free.

So, tell me your story. When did you think abortion was your only option?

What were the lies you believed that caused you to choose abortion in the first place?

Did someone force you to abort your baby?

God is with you dear one. He is close to the brokenhearted, and He heals your wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Will you trust Him today to exchange your ashes, your abuse, your abortion, your sins for His love, forgiveness, peace and true joy?

 

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

My Identity in Christ (Part 2)

My Identity in Christ (Part 2)

(Click here for Part 1 of MY IDENTITY IN CHRIST)

QUESTIONS:

What is your identity? How is it different from when you met and received Jesus as your Lord?

As Jesus walked the earth, teaching and preaching about the Kingdom of God, He validated women and showed them great mercy and respect. He went against the culture they lived in. In contrast, their culture treated them like 3rd class citizens, with few rights or respect. He accepted, healed, loved and taught them. And He is available to do the same for you and me today!

According to Romans 8:17, those who have repented of their sins and received Jesus as their Lord and Savior, become His heirs (which is one who receives ownership of an estate and all that is in it), but in this case, we are receiving the Kingdom of God in all its amazing beauty and perfection. We are precious and loved daughters of the King and will be for all eternity!

I want you to picture yourself dressed in a lavish, flowing white robe, which is the symbol of purity and perfection, and let’s read what it says in Isaiah 61:1-3, which was written 740-700 BC (before Jesus walked this earth).

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” ESV

God takes our filthy rags, which is a symbol of our broken lives, and He replaces them with clean, white robes or righteousness, comfort, healing, joy, peace and strength!

Isaiah 61:10 “My soul will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Blessings,

Luci

My People-Pleasing

My People-Pleasing

From the time I was a young child, I never felt secure, confident or accepted. These insecurities gave the enemy an opening into my heart. He planted the lie in my mind that if I were perfect, I would be loved. Perfection in every task and responsibility set before me became my obsession. From school to sports and hobbies—basically anything I did—I had to be perfect. When I look back, I can see that my efforts were a waste of time. The enemy’s plan was quite insidious because he knew I could never be perfect. Only God is perfect. By striving for perfection, I would ultimately fall short and feel rejected.

The enemy drove me to failure so that I would look for other means of satisfying my longing to feel accepted, included and secure. He accomplished his mission. I failed. Being the good, quiet one in the family was not working for me anymore, so I decided to rebel. At the age of 12, I began sneaking Scotch whisky from my parent’s liquor cabinet when they were attending my brother’s football practices. Alcohol use was the beginning of my demise, which ultimately lead to the death of my child through abortion. My poor choices opened the door to more evil as a consequence. My striving for acceptance from all the wrong people would lead me to use drugs and sex to fill the void in my heart, which I would later discover could only be filled by a relationship with Jesus. I had no restraint. My conscience was slowly becoming numb as I failed to use sound judgment. Over time, I barely felt conviction for sin. I wanted to protect my parents from disappointment, so I kept all of this a secret.

My fear of rejection was stronger than anything else in my life. As a result, I became a people-pleaser. I would do anything to be loved and accepted. I would allow others to use me, and I used others to fulfill my desires. Heartbroken from my wound of rejection, I hungered for love, leaving the door open to accept abuse from others. I believed that I was not a person of value. I was easily manipulated and controlled by those closest to me because I had no boundaries. I had no self-respect, so others didn’t respect me either. I felt used, abused, unloved and worthless. During my teenage years, all of those unresolved emotions lead me into depression. When I entered into college, I was no longer restricted and restrained by my parents’ rules. I would drink alcohol to the point of abusing myself. I hated who I had become so much so that I wanted to hurt myself. One day in my dorm room, I actually kicked out the small window by my bed. Thank God I was wearing cowboy boots at the time, or else I would have badly cut or broken my foot. I was like a walking volcano. My excessive drinking led to fits of rage where hot lava came spewing from within my inner darkness, and I had no control over who was going to receive that hot mess. Afterwards, I would feel so much shame and guilt over my actions. It felt like being trapped in a dark pit all alone with the abuser and accuser—the father of lies. It was a living hell, but I didn’t know what to do to stop the destructive cycle.

I could never say no to anyone because I didn’t want to disappoint people. I just wanted to be loved and validated by others hoping they would see value in me because I couldn’t see it. My people-pleasing strategy backfired when I failed to follow through on all the things I said yes to. There were simply not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I had agreed to do. I would overextend myself, and then I would have to back out of things. That was such an uncomfortable thing to do. A vicious cycle had developed, and I didn’t know how to stop it. I put others’ needs above my own needs. I truly believed that if I didn’t keep a perfect house, if I didn’t follow all the rules and if I wasn’t the perfect wife, my husband would toss me away. As a result, I tolerated unacceptable behavior out of fear. The enemy constantly tormented me with his lies when all I wanted was to be loved.

I realize now that the enemy wanted me to kill myself, but God had another plan for my life—one that was good and filled with hope and a prosperous future. (Jeremiah 29:11) He did not allow the enemy to succeed in having me take my own life even though I had taken the life of my child. God thwarted Satan’s plan to destroy my body and my soul. God knew that I would receive Christ as my savior at the age of 34. He knew that in 2006 I would start my abortion recovery and healing journey. He knew that in 2013 I would start My Ashes to Beauty, a post-abortion recovery and healing ministry. What the enemy meant for evil God turned around for good. (Genesis 50:20) God has been watching over me all these years while protecting me from the enemy so that I could fulfill His calling on my life. I now live my life to please God and Him alone. I no longer care about what others think of me, which is a form of idolatry. I am so humbled by and grateful for God’s mercy towards this poor broken woman who was dying inside. She is now alive and adopted as a daughter into God’s family.

Are you or/were you a people-pleaser?

Are you still concerned about what others think of you?

How did you break that dysfunctional cycle?

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Genesis 50:20 – “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!