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

 

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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

 

 

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Obedience

Obedience

Romans 6:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Romans 2:4b
“Not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

John 10: 28
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

As a young child, I developed a strong sense of responsibility. I took on shame immediately for any wrong doing. My fear of authority figures caused me to become a people-pleaser. I was a very compliant child because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, especially my parents. I yearned for love and acceptance so much so that I would do anything to obtain it. I developed an unhealthy thinking pattern and a false belief system because of what I witnessed in my home and in church. I saw those in authority—attributing their behavior to God—act very harshly when someone disobeyed the rules. Please read my blog, Stinking Thinking: My Distorted View of God. As a result, I obeyed my elders out of fear of punishment and rejection, not out of love or reverence.

I demonstrated good moral behavior until I reached the age of 12 when “the good, quiet one” persona no longer sufficed. I began rebelling against everything I knew was right. Because of my fear of rejection, I put a great deal of energy into not getting caught. You can imagine how I lived with many secrets and hid behind a mask. I lived a lie. At home, I played the role of the “good, quiet one.” However, in public, I got drunk, used drugs and started having sex at the age of 16. All of this culminated in my abortion at the age of 21. With a firm grip on my soul, the evil one led me down a path of death and destruction. Blinded by pride and deception, I believed that I could live a life of freedom by pursuing my own desires and pleasures. However, the opposite was true. My life belonged to the devil. He would eventually use me to do the unthinkable—murder my own child. I firmly believe that if we truly knew the love of God and understood it, we would not seek love outside of marriage. We would feel cherished, whole, secure and free. We wouldn’t need drugs, alcohol and other empty vices to fill the void in our hearts because we have such a strong connection to the true source of love—Jesus.

God wants us to obey Him out of love, not fear of punishment. It’s the goodness of God that leads to true repentance and a relationship with Jesus—a relationship without bondage but true freedom. Striving to be perfect by obeying unattainable rules does not draw us closer to Christ. He desires to show us His way of love, grace, forgiveness and peace. I pray that we can share this message of hope with others. For God so loved the world that He gave His most precious gift—His only Son—to die for us. If that is not a picture of sacrificial love, then I don’t know what is.

I have found that true joy comes from obeying God no matter how I feel because my emotions can be deceiving. Being faithful to follow God’s lead in my life brings a long-lasting peace. Women often say to me, “I am really struggling in my relationship with Christ.” What I have come to understand is that the key to a strong relationship with Him is obedience. If you desire a more fulfilling relationship with God, then obey the leading of the Holy Spirit even when you don’t see how God can intervene in your circumstances. Remember that God’s ways are not our ways. True peace comes from obeying God. When we do that, we are safe and secure under His protective umbrella. He shields us from the enemy’s fiery darts, and no one can snatch us out of His hand.

In this season, we are embarking on a very important study, “In the Wildflowers,” which deals with the evil of sexual abuse. The enemy has been hard at work to derail this study. Tormented by the enemy, one of my family members has begun lashing out and attacking me verbally. Someone also attempted to take out a $75,000 small business loan in my name through identity theft. Stay close to God, dear one, because the enemy knows that many will be saved, healed, redeemed and set free. Obey God even when life becomes difficult and you struggle to understand His plan. Rest assured. You will be blessed.

Love you all,

Toni

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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!