The Traps of the Devil (Series): Elijah

The Traps of the Devil (Series): Elijah

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

 

Elijah
(1 Kings 18-19)

As we continue our study looking at the lives of Eve, Achan, David and now Elijah, let’s consider the following question. What was the one thing that Elijah focused his attention on causing him to flee and want to die? He was threatened by King Ahab’s wife, Queen Jezebel, who was the most evil woman ever recorded in Scripture. She had a man cut into pieces because he would not sell his vineyard to her husband, King Ahab. She would stop at nothing to achieve her end goal. A worshipper and servant of Baal, she was cunning and deceptive like Satan the snake. To obtain whatever she desired, Jezebel would steal, cheat and lie. Ahab, on the other hand, was supposedly a believer of the One True God. However, with her idol worship and sacrifice, Jezebel caused her husband to fall into sin against God. Without a doubt, she was evil to her very core. As a result of the atrocities that Ahab and Jezebel committed, God punished them by withholding rain for 3 ½ years. At this same moment in history, God raised up the prophet Elijah to confront Ahab and Jezebel regarding their sins and to proclaim judgment as a result of their idolatry.

Following his proclamation against the King and Queen, Elijah engages in a battle of sorts between the prophets of Baal and the children of God on Mount Carmel. Read the full biblical account in 1 Kings 18. Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to call down fire from the sky to burn up the sacrifice prepared for their god. All day they worship, cut themselves and cry out, but Baal remains silent. I love Elijah’s response—Perhaps your gods went on a journey, or they are sleeping. Next, it’s Elijah’s turn. He drenches the offering and the altar with water. Then, he cries out to God. Fire comes down from heaven consuming the sacrifice along with the entire altar. Elijah proceeds to kill 450 prophets of Baal with the sword, after which he runs to Ahab to say that rain is coming. Ahab tells Jezebel all that has happened. After hearing this, she becomes enraged and vows to kill Elijah within 24 hours. When Elijah discovers this, he flees for his life. Out of immense fear, he asks God to take his life because he doesn’t want to live anymore—all because of one woman.

Let’s reflect upon this scenario and apply it to our lives. When were you fearful and running for your life; was it due to an abusive situation or were you running away from your past? The Lord has shown me not to run, but to face things head on, while I am holding onto His righteous right hand. He will protect us. May He give us courage to stand on His Word and His truth.

You are loved,
Toni

 

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The Traps of the Devil (Series): Achan

The Traps of the Devil (Series): Achan

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

“Achan”

(Joshua 6 & 7:1–12)

Why is the love of money the root of all kinds of evil?

 

1 Timothy 6:10 states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Joshua 6:18-19, God warned the Children of Israel, “And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accused things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.”

After Israel had won a huge victory in battle over Jericho where the Lord caused the walls to come crashing down, Joshua went to take the city of Ai. God commanded the children of Israel to refrain from taking anything that belonged to the people in Jericho. All the gold and silver would be brought into the storehouse for the Lord. If anyone were to disobey God’s command, they would be accursed. Unfortunately, there was an Israelite who did not heed the Lord’s warning as a result of his disobedience the battle was lost and 36 men died. Devastated, the children of Israel could not understand what went wrong. Joshua and the leaders of Israel cried out to the Lord, rent their clothes and put ashes on their heads. God responded by telling Joshua, “Get UP! There is sin in the camp, and that’s why you lost the battle. Someone has taken the accursed things from Jericho.” Joshua was given the responsibility to seek out the person responsible for sinning against God and for betraying the people of Israel.

Israel’s situation paints a vivid picture of how destructive sin can be. Many people are often affected by just one act of sin. Joshua discovered that it was Achan who had touched the accursed items by bringing them back into his tent and burying them. Because he allowed the sin of greed to control his actions, Achan’s whole family was punished for his actions. What a powerful example of the deadly effects of sin on an entire family and group of people. Sadly, Achan’s family suffered the consequences of his greed, which is the case for many families today. When a person in a family falls into grievous sin, all the members of the family are harmed by the effects of it. Because of God’s awareness of the destructiveness of sin, He protects us by giving us laws to guide us, not to punish us.

Why didn’t Achan trust God to provide for his family?

Why don’t we trust God to provide for all of our needs?

Why do people steal and take things that don’t belong to them?

Is it out of fear that I will not have enough, doubting that God will provide for me?

We may say to ourselves, “I cannot trust God to provide. So, I must take matters into my own hands and steal and cheat and lie to get what I need. No one will find out.”

Let’s apply 1 Timothy 6:10 to our society today.

Why does the love (obsession) of money open us up to all kinds of evil?

What is our motivation for the money?

Is it to provide for our families and to help others, or is it for personal gain?

Some people want to acquire large sums of money so that they can have greater power, control, and influence. We see this very same situation occurring today in several professions where the accumulation of wealth leads to pride, arrogance, power, influence and lawlessness. They become deceived and consumed with the notion that they are somehow better than you and me. I pray they repent and turn from their sins and receive the gift of salvation, which was purchased for them with the precious blood of Christ. If such people die without having repented of their sins, then they will stand before Christ and will be judged, according to what they have done, Romans 2:6. They will be cast into hell where the fire is not quenched and there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Separated from God for eternity, they will be tormented with the memories of all the evil they have committed in their lifetime. God will be much harsher with them than we could ever imagine. Let’s pray for those who believe they are superior to others and have no fear of God, that they come to faith in Christ.

Will you pray with me that the God of heaven and His Mighty Warrior Angels will dismantle this evil world system, which is opposite of God? They strive to divide, steal, kill, cheat and lie to get what they want all because they have chosen to follow Satan, the prince of this world.

Stay in community and be accountable to one another so you do not fall into temptation and a snare.

 

You are loved,
Toni

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We Are Adopted

We Are Adopted

Isaiah 49:15

Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son (child) of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.

Matthew 10:29-31

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

John 14:18

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

God treasures the orphan. He knows that they are alone with no one to care for them and are vulnerable to the evil in this world. Some of you were abandoned as children to fend for yourselves without any love or protection. My heart breaks each time I hear your childhood stories of abuse and neglect. Your heavenly Father has a righteous anger towards parents who abuse, neglect and abandon their children. I want you to know that God sees you. He wants to receive you into His loving arms so that He can be your Father, your Protector and your Provider. He is the perfect parent—patient, kind, gentle, loving and always available. Please know just how much you are loved and cherished by God.

Courageous women and men are choosing life for their babies all the time. However, we rarely hear their stories. I want to bless your heart and encourage you today with a beautiful story of God’s faithfulness towards a mother who chose adoption over abortion. Read here: The Mysterious Providence of God: An Adoption Story, https://www.care-net.org/abundant-life-blog/the-mysterious-providence-of-god-an-adoption-story

God is love. His Spirit is moving to heal, redeem and tenderly lead us to the life He has planned for us—one that leads to freedom, peace and joy. Take heart dear ones. No, we did not choose life for our babies, but God didn’t end our stories there. He continues His work of restoring us, drawing us closer to Himself and loving us in the way that only He can. These are God’s words for you today, “I know how your heart broke when I revealed your unborn baby to you—the secret you had been hiding for so long. My dear child, I collected all of your tears in a bottle. I am looking forward to the day when we can be together in heaven forever. Where there is no more evil, abuse, pain or sorrow. Until then please know how much I love you. Your Abba Father.”

I am not rejected. I am accepted.

I am not abandoned. I am adopted.

Thank you, for that truth, Lord.

Please let me know how we can pray for you?

If you have experienced abuse or neglect in your past, please know God is here to heal you. He is not like your human abuser. He is gentle, loving and kind. His love is pure and holy. Please come to Him today, and leave your past at the foot of the cross. Give it all to Jesus.

You are loved,
Toni

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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

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Boundaries—Why Are They So Important?

Boundaries—Why Are They So Important?

Psalm 34:18, Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16

Personal boundaries, as defined by Psychology today, “Are the limits we set with other people, which indicate what we will accept and what we consider unacceptable behavior towards us. To know our boundaries comes from a healthy view of ourselves.” When that view is distorted due to emotional trauma as children (whether we did not get the love and care from our family which is a Type A Trauma or we were sexually, emotionally, or physically abused as children which is Type B Trauma). All these experiences as children cause us to have a distorted view of ourselves, God, and others and it prevents us from maturing into healthy stable adults. (Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You, A Life Model Book)

This distorted view of ourselves especially those of us who have had abortions opens up the door to all kinds of unhealthy and destructive behavior. God created women to love and nurture their children and then we did the opposite. Our hopes and dreams as young girls are dashed, and we are now open to all kinds of unhealthy destructive coping mechanisms and ungodly behavior to deal with our pain. Our very souls are tormented and we feel desperately alone, depressed and even suicidal.

So how can we stop this destructive cycle of accepting and enabling unhealthy behavior from others? First, we must realize we have a Savior and a friend who is the lover of our soul, and His name is Jesus. He is the only one that can heal our broken spirits, our broken bodies and our broken minds. Psalm 34:18 ESV “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves the crushed in spirit.” He is the only one that can take the disaster we have made of our lives and restore order and peace. And He alone can give us a new hope, new dreams, a new purpose, and a new life. Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

In childhood, I did not learn what healthy boundaries look like. I became a people pleaser at a very young age and as a result I allowed people to take advantage of me and treat me very poorly and I never said a word. I wondered why I never truly felt loved by others; what was it? I was allowing all kinds of unhealthy behavior because I didn’t love and respect myself, especially after my abortion. I now despised myself. I didn’t understand why others didn’t treat me with love, kindness and compassion. I realized they cannot give what they do not have. But that took many decades for me to come to that understanding. I also recognized that they did the best they could with what they had and I released them into God’s Hands and started praying for and forgave them.

We all have our wounds and issues from our past, which causes us to be self-consumed and blinded, and we cannot see how we are hurting others closest to us. Only God can give us awareness and the courage to stop accepting unacceptable behavior and establish healthy boundaries. For the first time, I used my voice to explain my boundaries and insist they be respected. There was some push back but I was not going to waiver. At first, putting up boundaries is hard to do. But as God heals us, we get stronger, bolder and more courageous, and we no longer want to just exist, we want to experience the abundant life Jesus came to give us. The first step in recovery is recognizing my life is unmanageable and I need God to help me.

Dear One, I want you to know that God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for you. (John 3:16) Have you received this gift of love and forgiveness from God? If not you can do that today? If you do know the Lord, then ask Him to help you to love yourself and to have courage to put up boundaries and no longer accept unhealthy behavior. He will help you if you ask Him, He did it for me and I know He will do it for you too.

 

 

Blessings,

Toni

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