I learned a long time ago that public speaking can be difficult. Every time you step in front of a group their expectation is you hit a homerun! However, we all know that sometimes life really is like baseball and if you are hitting .300, you’re an all-star! That means you fail seven out of 10 times!!

Preaching is even harder because our messages are not about the audience or even a specific topic the crowd may be interested in hearing! Nope, our messages come from the promptings of the Holy Spirit and they’re not always popular or even good in a worldly sense!

That was pretty much my week.

Some of you know that I preach at a women’s shelter and a transitional housing place for ex-cons. Between the two places I preach six times a month. So, I’m always prepping sermons.

Last Sunday, I had one ready for the women’s shelter, but God decided to change my plans while I was in the middle of church. My pastor put up a slide during his sermon that the Holy Spirit told me to extrapolate.

So, I did!

I honestly can’t say the message I delivered at the women’s shelter that night or the men’s place Tuesday night went over with a bang! And to be honest, I don’t know why! It seemed like a really good topic to address. And because it’s not going over well, I’m convinced that I need to preach it more!

Thus, you lucky readers, you get to enjoy this message and perhaps you will see it with different eyes than my regulars!

There’s a guy named Tucker Max who said, “The Devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you ever wished for!”

Think about that for a second.

When I read that quote, I thought about Jesus during His temptation in the desert. Satan didn’t scare Him, manipulate Him, or anything like that. Satan simply offered Jesus stuff that Jesus would want.

First it was turning stones into bread to satiate Jesus’ hunger having been fasting for 40 days.

Second was defending Himself as God’s son by proving to Satan He is who He says He is by throwing Himself off a tower and not being harmed.

Lastly was proving His kingship of all the world by bowing down to Satan.

All three of these things were true things: Jesus was hungry, Jesus is the Son of God, and Jesus is the King of the world. The temptations were an attempt to get Jesus to take what He would naturally want in an act of selfishness instead of being in obedience to the Father.

It’s the same tactic Satan used against Eve when he told her that she surely wouldn’t die by eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and would in fact be like God Himself!

Paul tells us to be aware of Satan’s scheme and they aren’t the ones you see in all the demonic movies out there. Nope, he’s using the same tactics he’s always used.

In His teachings, Jesus would sometimes say, “You’ve heard it said, but I tell you…” The best remembered is you’ve heard it said hate your enemies, but I tell you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Jesus’ sayings were what are known as “The Great Reversals.” In essence, Jesus tells us to do the exact opposite of what the world and culture would tell us to do. Why? Because Satan is the prince of this world, according to scripture, and the world follows his ways not Jesus’ ways.

Stay with me, I’m getting there!

Last Sunday and Tuesday, I drove home this point by sharing what the world tells us versus what God’s word tells us. This is where things got dicey!

Want to play? Let’s go!


Satan Says: Follow Your Gut (Gut feeling)

God Says: Lean not on your own understanding but in all ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path (Proverbs 3:5-6)

A Guy Tuesday night says, “I always follow my gut and it’s always right!” He’s a non-believer and no matter how many people share Jesus with him he just won’t soften his heart. I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of the whole group, but the thought that went through my head was, “You’re living in a transitional housing facility for ex-cons. Clearly your gut was wrong about some pretty serious stuff in the past!”

Scripture tells us that a fool says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1). Of course, Satan wants you to not just reject God but to not believe He actually exists! So, instead of following God as scripture says, Satan will tempt you to rely on yourself – your gut feelings – to make decisions. At best, that’s a 50-50 proposition.

Satan Says: Let out your emotions

God says: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Sunday night a woman responded, “Then why am I in therapy?!?!” I’m actually going to address that this coming Sunday so hold on to your hat! But making emotional decisions is another ploy of Satan.

Think about it, how many decisions that you have made when you’ve been emotional actually worked out?

When we’re emotional we make fear-based decisions, anger-based decisions, bitter decisions, offense-based decisions, broken-hearted decisions, depressed-decisions, anxious-decisions, manic-decisions, and more!

Satan tells us to let everyone know how you feel! Tell your truth! You see it in our society and especially in social media where people share their most raw emotions without much filter these days.

But our emotions are fallen – they are imperfect and keep us from making Godly, faith-based decisions. Emotions come and go but God is the same yesterday, today and forever!!

Satan, unfortunately uses this one against us really well!

Satan Says: You deserve (Fill in the Blank)

God Says: We all fall short of the glory of God; not one of us is righteous not one; apart from Jesus we can do nothing. (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10-11/Psalm 14:3; John 15:5)

It’s easy to think that after all you’ve been through that you deserve better. But scripture is clear: the only thing we deserve is a one-way ticket to hell.

If not for the grace and mercy of Jesus going to the cross, not one of us would be reconciled to God and our transgressions forgiven!

When you think you deserve something and don’t get it you get bitter! And bitterness spreads like a cancer hardening your heart against the love of God and His ability to use you for His kingdom.

And Satan laughs at you each time you say, I deserve.

It is by grace we are saved through faith not of our own works – remember, we love because God loved us first! We haven’t done any of this on our own nor could we! Instead of thinking you deserve something, revel in the fact that God so loved YOU that He gave His only begotten Son….

Satan Says: Do unto others as they have done unto you

God Says: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Matthew 5:43-35; Romans 12:4)

Today’s culture (and perhaps every culture) believes that you treat people the way you want to be treated until they treat you badly and then you treat them in kind!

Not so, according to Jesus. Not only are we to love our neighbor as ourselves but Jesus goes further saying we are to love everyone and leave justice to God.

That’s a really hard one because it means we must forgive, and we must trust that God really will have perfect justice in the end and that nobody gets away with anything! Isn’t just easier to take care of the problem yourself?

Satan would convince you that it is but that’s not God’s way and shouldn’t be yours!

Satan Says: Everything in Moderation

God Says: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:14)

Moderation is a great thing when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, but God is clear that there are black and white issues where we cannot slip into the gray.

Again, Satan works to get us to ignore those lines and go full gray!! It’s not like we’re hurting anyone, right? It’s my life and I can do what I want!

Well, as a Christian you were bought at a price so it’s not really your life anymore – at least if you’re a true disciple of Jesus.

Moderation doesn’t work with the things God defines as sin. And no, we don’t get to redefine sin based on changing cultural norms. God defines sin and as Jesus said, you’re either with Him or against Him (Matthew 12:30).

Satan Says: Tolerate Everything

God Says: Tell the truth in love (Ephesians 4:11-15)

The church really gets this one wrong. It either tells the truth or it loves. One is harsh the other is deceptive.

We are called to tell the truth in love. That means we call sin what it is: SIN. But we do so in a way that let’s the person know that the reason we call out sin is because God loves them and wants a better life for them than the one they’re choosing. We tell them because we care about them! God wants none to perish thus so should we!

I made the point Tuesday night that I don’t come preach to them every week for my health! I honestly have other things I could be doing. But I come see them every week to pour God’s word into them because the world would tell them that how they are living is just fine when in fact God says it’s not and they’re going to reap what they sow!

Personally, I think the most unloving thing you can do is not tell someone the truth! Instead, you just let them live in a fantasy until it’s too late.

God loves everyone but He doesn’t tolerate everything everyone does! That includes me, by the way!

Satan has a stranglehold on the culture today regarding tolerance. If you stand of any biblical principle you’re attacked. But rejoice, as scripture says, when you’re attacked for standing up for God’s word.

Satan Says: The only person you can rely on is yourself; trust no one

God Says: Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (1 Peter 5:7)

A lot of us have had pretty bad experiences with people that have shaken us to the core when it comes to trusting others. When that happens, we turn inward and rely only on ourselves.

Satan delights when we do that because scripture tells us the ways of a man seem right to him but only lead to death! (Proverbs 14:12).

God tell us that we are to first and foremost rely on Him and in doing so He will heal us to the point where we can then trust others again.

On the other hand, Satan wants you to isolate yourself and simply be a miserable person devoid of friends, family, and most of all Jesus.  

Satan Says: X will make you happy (Solve your problem)

God Says: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

There’s a saying I like: No matter where you go, there you are! No amount of money, prestige, fame, respect, sex, or even worldly love is going to make you happy. The only thing that can bring peace, contentment and joy into your life is Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life not anything this world has to offer.

Like Eve in the Garden, Satan offers us a substitute that he claims will fulfill us. Don’t be fooled. It’s rotten fruit that comes in a package that you’ve always wanted.

Okay, now you can see why folks didn’t really warm up to this message!

Personally, I think it’s because it hit people where they live. Everyone wants to be a Christian until it’s time to do Christian stuff like not live for the world but die to it and live for Christ!

Yes, it’s SUPER hard and we fail miserably. And we have a constant companion in Satan tempting us to follow his ways not God’s ways.

But it’s vitally important that we are not blind to these tactics – the same that Satan has used since he was created. Because if you don’t pay heed you will fall, it will hurt, and it will cost you.

Food for thought!