Junior W. Smith
I do not drink alcohol. As such I’ve never been drunk – oh well, not intentionally. Most of us Jamaicans, even good Christians are all guilty of either a little or a lot of drinking at Christmas time. We are ‘rum-panions’ when it comes to the great miracle of sorrel. It becomes real with a touch of the old Jamaican Wray and Nephew rum, which somehow turns into sorrel the instant it touches the sorrel. In fact, some of us don’t like to have sorrel without the liquid delicacy. And for those who are sweetly saved who may have just condemned me and my fellow ‘spirited’ sorrel drinkers to hell, watch those fingers pointing back at you. You may not put rum in your sorrel, but you still ate it in Christmas cakes, or the occasional wedding cakes and you even complained that the slice of wedding cake you got was too small. So back to my initial thought. I vaguely recall being ‘tipsy’ in 1995 when my grandma died. It was a hot day and there was a huge igloo at the side of the house with the most amazing punch. It was ice cold and extremely sweet. As the day goes by and the heat penetrated my body, I made a few trips to the igloo to cool myself down. After all, the work men were doing marathons to and from this life-giving igloo. I had not realized my uncle had been watching my many trips to the fountain. It was he (my uncle) who removed the veil from my eyes with the statement, “boy yuh backside ago drunk! Yuh drinkin’ the damn rum punch like yuh think a wata!” No wonder my head felt so light. I slept it off.
Last week I visited my sister who offered me a “Magnum” and a “Rum Cream”. Of course, I took them both and brought them home. (They are still in the fridge. Keep wondering whether I’ll drink them!!) I took a picture of the goodies and sent it to my friend. Like a child I boasted “Look what I got!”. Being aware of my distaste for alcohol he laughed and asked what I was going to do with them. It was obvious I thought! “Of course, I’m going to drink them”, I replied.” He laughed even more. Being a social drinker, he cautioned me. “Look!! don’t drink the rum cream like a wata! Take your time and drink it! It wi creep up on you!” I believe the same is true in so many aspects of life. With so many things to entice and invite us, we must be more vigilant in our daily pursuits. Vigilance and focus are hallmark components of the soldier in the line of fire. As Christians, we are always under fire. This is not a war against flesh and blood entities, but rather a spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:10-12 says “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So, take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”
If Satan was really like they portray him in church skits and movies, wearing superficial and stereotypical black cape with red trimmings and ugly black mask with large horns. I am sure he would not be able to capture as many people as he has. (Ez. 28:17 - “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.”) Lucifer as he was called in heaven was a powerful and supremely intelligent being. He was a beautiful angelic moral agent. He however, had a problem. He lacked the ability to control his thoughts and lacked sound judgement. His intellect, authority and attractiveness gave him a false sense of superiority to others and he misused his position solely for his benefit. His own magnificence clouded his vision to truth and reality. His pride distracted him from the reality that what was real and true - God will always be supreme!! God will forever be the chief unilateral authority in the universe, and no created thing can dethrone its Creator. It was excessive pride or self-confidence that caused Satan to do this, because he was discontent with his position, and he thought he could over throw God. But God kicked him out!!
Satan still has the same attitude. He is still conceited and is trying to stage a coup against God. He does this by creeping up on God’s children in subtle ways. Scripture warns us about him. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Being alert is an ongoing action. We are told whom Satan is. He is not our friend. The devil is a “Creeper.” An adversary is a rival, foe, or an enemy. He lurks for prey like a lion, and he will not capture everyone. Some people are more alert than others and as such he grabs those who are not as focused. I suggest a new attitude of suspicion. Be on the lookout like never before so as to identify and cut off anything that is not beneficial to growth of self and a healthy lifestyle.
Some of the most prevalent platforms that the devil uses to stalk include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and WhatsApp, just to name a few. There are so many ways people get sucked in and are blindsided by people whose intentions are not in line with righteousness. What appeared to be innocent slowly turns to something completely inappropriate. These encounters are subtle because that’s how Satan works and then one quickly finds themselves in a trap mentally and spiritually. People are searching for a sense of belonging and have been looking for a while. No one knows what lifestyle these individuals have the kinds of demons they attract over time and often transferring these spirits to others through conversations and before you know it things are creeping up on you like alcohol seeking to get you intoxicated and befuddled. The strongest of us have become weak when we let our guard down. The scripture cautions that we should “shun the very appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Self-efficacy is a trap and does not work in the life of a follower of Christ. We cannot overcome the temptations of the enemy by our intellect or self-made strategies. Anyone who attempts that is bound to fail. “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:7) In all fairness no one can point a finger at another in judgement. However, we can embrace each other into purity and fellowship with Christ. That is the kind of faith I have. God is the giver of wisdom and discernment. Satan has put veils over the eyes of so many, and people are now calling good evil and evil good. But the nutrients from God’s word with prayer and a lifestyle of worship gives an advantage to anyone who reads and puts into practice what is written. “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14) Reading the word of God is one of the greatest challenges for a believer. We read books on Christian topics, we read daily devotionals (and all of this is great!!) but why is it so hard to read the actual Bible? One answer is simply this. The devil knows the strength of a believer who feeds on God’s word so he distracts us from it. We spend countless hours on a device daily. Whether it is a cell phone, tablet or computer we can go hours on end just browsing and doing absolutely nothing (GUILTY AS CHARGED!!). Can you imagine what will happen if we spent that much time feeding our Spirit with something of God? It takes discipline and Godly wisdom to make a worthwhile change in one’s life. And as you may know, change is not easy – but positive change is always worth it. You can join me in your own way to making a change for a closer and more meaningful relationship with God. Ask Him to help!! That’s a great way to begin!! “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
Finally, change begins in the mind. When thoughts change lifestyle changes, everything begins in the mind. God plants seeds in the mind. The devil is cognizant of fertility of the mind and as such, he feeds thoughts contrary to God’s. Paul in his writing expresses the truth that we walk in the flesh. Because we walk in the flesh we are subjected to all that is fleshly and quite honestly, appealing. However, he (Paul) goes on to say “we do not war according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 10: 3) He continues by pointing out in verse 4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;” Naturally, we cannot engage in winning the fight for righteousness by engaging in combat with people. The mind which is the home of our thoughts and imagination is where battles ought to be fought and won. Here’s the kicker, in verse 5 of 2 Cor. 10 Paul says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” Earlier I mentioned what caused Satan to be kicked out of heaven. He thought he was superior to God. We are encouraged to not have the satanic thoughts but to ask God to control what we feed our minds on. Jesus also alluded to the condition of a person’s heart in Matthew 15. I would encourage you to read all the verses so as to get the full context. We are defiled not by what we eat, but by what comes out of our mouth. In other words, whatever is in the heart of someone that’s what they will speak! (v.11). Peter had challenges comprehending the parable that Jesus spoke in verse 11 and so he asked Jesus to clarify, to which Jesus replied, “Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defileth not a man.” (V.17-20) Changing one’s thought can make significant changes to one’s life. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2) How can I renew my mind? By renewing my thoughts and substantiating those thoughts with new and focused action. It is simply teaching your mind to think in a new way about the good thing or things you wish to see change in your life. Philippians 4:8 also has a few excellent suggestions, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Whatever has been creeping up on us, I pray that you’ve been empowered as I have been to become the hunter rather than the hunted. The hunt is for a more authentic life as an individual and a child of God.
I thank you for the active work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Thank you for exposing my blind side and for provoking me to righteousness. I lack the capacity to fight against your will and so I surrender to your correction and your love. Help me to be true to myself and honest with you. My desire is to have a deeper walk with you and I need your help. Your love exceeds the capability of human comprehension. We do not deserve that love but we are ever grateful for it. May our hearts be melted before you, and our minds be filled with you and your desire for our lives. Help us to be disciplined and focused in our pursuit and hunger for more of you. Continue to speak to our hearts and bring into closer fellowship with you. May your will and not ours take precedence in our lives as we do not know what we need! Your plans are always better for us. We surrender to you like a puppet in the hand of its puppeteer, if you don’t direct us we won’t move. Give unto us wisdom to identify good and evil and to flee the devil, resisting him in every way, so he will flee. Thank you God for your protection and peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen