You’re Invited!

“If you don’t want the Devil at your party, don’t send him an invitation.”

Periodically, I like to take inventory of myself. I step back and look at a few things: areas of growth, accomplishments, weaknesses, opportunities for change and life’s overall direction. Each time I do a “self-assessment,” one thing is the driving force for where I am situated in life. It’s the open-invitation I send to certain influences around me that determine my destiny. Anytime I am in a healthy place mentally, even when life knocks me down, I have invited to Word into my world. God’s will and desires are evident in the way I think, speak and act. Contrarily, when I feel stressed or I’m being negative, feeling hopeless and constantly frustrated, I direct my attention to the other distractions I’ve invited into my world. Some of the things we allow into our lives are mere distractions of everyday routine, but others are purely sinful. Today, I’d like to focus on the latter.

Isaiah 59: 1-2 teaches that God is well-able and willing to guide us down the right path; however, it is sin that separates us from Him. God extends free will to all people presenting us the option of life or death, or more practically, success or failure (Jer. 21:8). What’s unique about sin is the temptation of pleasure that we all long to feel, thanks to human nature. There is nothing wrong with feeling good, but how we go about doing that is always determined by the prevalence or the lack of the Word in our lives. If you are focused on the Word, it will influence your behavior. Obviously, if you are not focused on God’s Word, your actions will exhibit that.

Societies across the world, especially in developed countries, are becoming less morally grounded and more “free.” {Sidebar: Romans 6:16 informs us that these so-called acts of freedom (sin) actually destroys our freedom by trapping us in its grip and enslaving us, making it difficult to get out.} There is an increase of people who are relinquishing their beliefs in exchange for comfort in an opposing society (2 Thess. 2:1-7). Unfortunately, we also see the escalation of every detrimental activity from terrorist attacks and mass shootings to the rise of racism and children taking their own lives due to bullying. The more we push God away, the more we’ll see an increase of these things. Anyone, Christian or not, who has their mind set on anything outside of the Word is inviting “death” and everything it encompasses. This means the consequence of sin is an invitation for the Devil to wreak havoc in your life, and the community around you, until you decide to change. What the Enemy decides to do may not necessarily “match” the sin itself. What do I mean by this? If you are having sex outside of marriage, for example, this does not mean you’ll eventually contract HIV. However, you may struggle with depression that negatively affects many aspects of your life. Studies have shown that women who have had multiple sexual partners are more likely to use anti-depressants. Likewise, people who commit crimes may never fall victim to similar crimes; however, they are more likely to struggle with drugs and alcohol, which can further ruin their lives. The Enemy comes ONLY to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). He has no other purpose and sin is right there to welcome him with open arms!

Although life does not always seem to be falling apart for those who participate in sin, there are two things we should consider: One, some of these people likely struggle with things we know nothing about. They may be hiding their secret battles and inner-demons for the sake of appearing strong or invincible. For the other group, life may actually be great … for now. However, the end result won’t be. Unfortunately, these people are on a path that seems right, but ultimately, it leads to destruction (Prov. 14:12 & Prov. 16:25). The Word is true and expresses that there is NO PEACE for those living in sin (Isa. 57:21, Prov. 11:5, Prov. 12:21, Prov. 13:21, Rom. 6:21 & Psa. 141:10). As for the Christian, far too many of us use God’s grace as a license to continue in sin (Rom. 6:1), when the truth is grace gives us the strength not to (Titus 2:11-12). God’s mercy may diminish the consequence of sin, but it does not eliminate it. Cause and effect is still a natural law that applies to all of us. We often look to the heavens and ask God why He let something happen to us or why He put an obstacle in our way. The real question is: Why do we allow ridiculous things to happen to us? While it is true that God presents us with challenges that help us grow, like dealing with difficult people, you never see Him condemn something, yet put it in our lives as a “lesson” – such as poverty, stress, illness or death. Jesus was a teacher, but never once did we see Him put hardship in someone’s life to educate them about God’s love, power and promises. He saw hardship and CORRECTED it. That’s how the people learned. He does not need the Devil’s tactics to express His message. I’m willing to bet my life that at least 90% of what happens to us is a direct result of decisions we make. I do not have all the answers, but I invite you to take an honest look at your life and discover how most of your decision have led you to this point. How did you respond to someone who hurt you? Are you still holding on to something that happened years ago? When faced with a new season in life, are you optimistic or fearful? How do you see yourself? What is your overall outlook on life? All of these things dictate your beliefs and actions, which determine your future.

This may come as a shock to people, but WE are the main characters and the heaviest influence in our lives. God is all-powerful, but it is us who invite Him in. If life’s results were solely up to God, He would have never sent His Son Jesus, because there would be no sin. We would not look forward to Heaven because Heaven would be right here on earth. We are free moral agents and whether we decide to accept Christ or push Him away will be the determining factor that guides us through this journey. It’s up to us to turn the world around. Like Michael Jackson said, “Heal the world. Make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race.” But the way we get there will not be by way of recycling, becoming a vegan or being a protestor. Our warfare is spiritual, not carnal (2 Cor. 10:4). A physical fight won’t win this kind of battle! The only way to make the world better is for us to do better ourselves. It’s easy to write your Congressman or go on social media and complain, but until we change, we will be stuck in the same situation we’re in, headed towards a worse situation in society years from now. Access to your world should be by invitation only. Be selective about who and what you invite into your life.

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