ROSCOMMON, MI – Having spent the first 30 years of my life living in the state of Florida on the east coast, I have a deep appreciation for the outdoors. Along with spending many summers at the beach riding the waves, one of my favorite activities was fishing. My brother and I spent many afternoons drowning bait in the Indian River Lagoon. I’m proud to say along with drowning lots of bait we also caught lots of fish - all shapes and sizes. We were fairly savvy in our pursuit of fish. We knew where to fish, when to fish and what kind of bait to use to catch specific fish. Fresh, “live” finger mullet was the bait of choice for catching Red fish - a prize catch! It was always interesting to watch other fishermen float by us in their $25,000 plus boats, trying to find the fish and often getting as close to our spot as possible because they saw we were actually catching fish. We did not have fancy equipment (couldn’t afford it), and always fished from shore and usually caught our limit. Our freezer stayed stocked with Red fish filets! We just knew when to fish, where to fish, and what bait (or gear) to use.
Spending time on the river in my younger years has served-up copious amounts of memories and numerous object (illustration) lessons in my life. One lesson in particular being - “Don’t take the Bait!”. Just like we knew what bait to use to catch specific fish, Satan knows exactly what bait to use to catch us. Make no mistake, he is out to catch us and destroy us - “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. His mission is to hook us, reel us in and leave us flopping around on the shore gasping for life. Unfortunately, he is very savvy at his mission and knows just what bait to use to hook us and pull our affections, our focus, and our mind away from God. In this worldly, materialistic/self-culture we live in, He knows exactly what bait is going to captivate our heart and distract us from enjoying intimate fellowship with God. Every Sunday my hometown pastor would always have us make the statement - “the main thing is the main thing”. He would then ask the question - “what is the main thing?” The congregation would then answer - “to love God and enjoy Him forever!” This is life-changing truth and it’s the very truth Satan continuously schemes to nullify in our lives. If he can get us hooked using the bait of material greed, ego, anger, un-forgiveness, bitterness, gossip, self-righteousness, comparing, lust, covetousness, doubt, just to name a few, then he can keep us from living in victory, worshipping God and spending time in His presence.
“Don’t take the Bait!” - “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”. - Ephesians 6:10-12. Just as my brother and I were savvy with fishing, as Christians we need to be savvy and know who we wrestle, why we wrestle, and what gear (armor of God) to use. We have been given victory over temptation (bait), we just need to exercise our faith and live in it. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” - 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. We have been freed through the blood of Jesus from our obligation to sin, we no longer have to “take the bait!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mick Schatz serves on the staff of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. He is the State Director of Spiritual Enrichment and Retreats and lives at Bambi Lake.