Always Be Alert!

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” -1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV)

The mark of a good guard is that he is ever vigilant. Whether he is keeping watch over a building or an entire city, he knows that lives and property are at risk if he slacks even for a moment in his duty. That is why falling asleep at one’s post is such a serious matter. Though it may be tempting to rest their eyes, especially in those late hours of the night when all seems quiet, they cannot. If they fail to be alert, what they were charged with protecting could fall into the hands of lurking enemies or criminals. Destruction and sorrow follows negligence, and the guard which takes this seriously disciplines himself to be watchful. He does this so that he may be able to defend himself and the people he is responsible for from potential assailants.

It can be easy to become comfortable with our spiritual lives. When we find ourselves under the blessing of God and everything is going our way, the tendency is to allow ourselves to become lax in our obedience to Christ. We allow certain wrong attitudes, habits, and values to slip into our minds. But while we may attempt to justify our allowance of these things to permeate our minds by claiming that they are somehow harmless, we will soon be awakened to the unpleasant truth. Sin if tolerated will only continue to grow. Once it has made known to us the full gravity of its destructive nature, we will mourn our lack of vigilance. Like a guard clumsily aroused from his sleep in the midst of an invasion, we will be unprepared and overwhelmed by the onslaught of sin’s arrows.

It does not have to be like this however, if we discipline ourselves in standing for the righteousness of Christ in the first place. When we allow the Spirit of Christ to reside within us and seek to remain in obedience to Him, He will give us strength and wisdom to discern what violates His holy standards. With this knowledge He will help us prevent sinful practices from establishing a foothold in our lives. By doing this we will find freedom and security in His righteousness; protecting both ourselves and others from the ravages of wickedness and bearing witness to the life that comes by being restored through Christ.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Who Are We Really?

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” -Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

Often we live two lives. The first is lived out in the public realm; how we interact and behave when we are in the presence of other people. By this definition it includes everyone from our friends and those in authority over us, to even our own family members. The second is lived in the private realm. This includes what we think and believe in our individual hearts, and what we do and say when we feel that no one is watching. At times, these two lives can be completely different. What we may present to the world may not necessarily be who we really are. We may perhaps don a mask of piety and righteousness when we move in the public realm, yet go against these very things in the private realm. However, we are sadly mistaken if we think we can maintain a balancing act between these two lives. One will inevitably overpower the other, and it is much more difficult to maintain a façade than it is to act according to one’s own nature.

What is Jesus trying to say in this verse? What does it mean to go into our rooms, close our doors, and pray? He is trying to make a very specific point. God tests our hearts. Though we may say the right things and be full of good deeds when the eyes of others are upon us, He sees right through our disguises. If our hearts are far away from Christ, and are without any intention to conform ourselves to Him, then our outward actions are insincere deceptions; reminding us of our own depravity. The private realm informs the public realm. When we allow the Spirit of Christ to carry out His redemptive work in our lives, we are given a new nature. Through Him our old sinful nature is broken and we are clothed by His righteousness. By surrendering every area of the private realm to Christ’s refining work, He will manifest Himself in the public realm. In doing this God will reward us for our obedience to Him as we live within His perfect will and allow His love to overflow from within us; consuming ourselves and those we come into contact with.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Preparation is Key

“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’” -Joshua 3:5 (NIV)

Track and field was one of the many events of which we had to be participants in school. One year I had signed up for a 400-meter run. I had never participated in one before but in my ignorance I thought that as long as I could run a lap around the school gym I would be fine. Falsely thinking that I would do well on the day of the race, I did not take my training seriously. Never did I practice outside the limited times we were allowed to train at school, nor was I mindful of what I ate. When I walked out onto that track that day to take my starting position I realized two things; this track was much bigger than the school gym, and I should not have snacked before the race. I ended up hobbling along the track into last place; with the most painful stomach cramp I have ever felt!

Joshua declared to the people that God will work wondrous things before their eyes. However they must first consecrate themselves today by living in obedience to God and seeking to pursue the righteousness He has called them to abide by as His chosen people. Often times we mistakenly think the reverse. We would like to believe that God will deliver on His victorious promises now. Only until He has proven Himself to be faithful will we live our lives in accordance with His perfect will. But if we have assumed such a view we will only find defeat; not by the hand of God, but by our own unwillingness to prepare our hearts and minds so as to receive His promises. When an athlete trains or a student studies, he is assured of victory because he has prepared himself for it. Likewise if we truly desire to see God perform His redemptive and restorative work in our lives, we must first submit ourselves to the Spirit of Christ residing in our hearts and allow His righteousness to flow from within us. In doing this today, we will find hope and victory tomorrow; resting confidently in the promise that He will bless those who seek Him first.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.