Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Resisting Complacency

Good morning,

The past 4 days of hiatus are the longest I've gone since beginning to blog here.  Those of you who know me well understand the circumstances that caused my absence from this virtual world.

This morning we find ourselves at the end of 1 Peter.  The passage for study is 1 Peter 5:8-11.

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.  
(HCSB version)

Complacency has ruined the Church in North America.  For so long, the Judeo-Christian ethic was the majority's norm.  As a result, Christians became comfortable, complacent.  Little by little, the Enemy won small victories.  All those seemingly significant "little" victories have added up to an enormous loss of battleground here.  One of the biggest victories the Enemy has won has been to convince the Church to let the federal and state government be the Church instead of them.  The government now cares for the elderly, the poor, the sick, so that the Church can "enjoy life".  Sadly, most who claim the name of Christ do not even see this cultural slide as a battleground at all.  Even worse, when we do rouse ourselves to engage in a battle, it is among ourselves, the Body biting and devouring each other.

The Enemy does not have to devour us; we do his dirty work by devouring ourselves.

Peter is urging us to (1.) recognize our common Enemy, the Devil, Satan.  In order to successfully do this, we need to (2.) be serious and alert.  Here are some other verses where we are commanded similarly:

But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we’re creatures of Day, let’s act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-8  (The Message)

But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:5  (HCSB)

Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:13  (HCSB)

Peter commands us to resist Satan; but, it is hard to resist him if we cannot recognize him.  How do we do that?  We do it by being on guard, being smart to recognize his evil schemes.  One dead giveaway is when we discover things being done in secret.  (Ecclesiastes 12:14 and Micah 2:1) Remember that even the very Beloved of Jesus Christ can be deceived and used at times by Satan. When we recognize his schemes at work among ourselves, we must take corrective action.  The key to this is to (3.) remember that we are all flawed and that all of us flawed people are members of Christ's Body. When the toe is sick, we seek healing for it.  We don't simply cut it off (or gnaw it off, to keep with the devouring metaphor)!  We are called to deal with one another, help each other, restore our brothers in compassion, in love - - - as the FAMILY of God.

The same holds true when we see battles being lost outside the Church Body.  For far too long, Christians have shuttered ourselves in our little "holy huddles" and ceded victory to the Enemy in our culture.  Brothers and Sisters, this should not be!

We resist the Devil by (4.) standing firm on the Word of God.  All around me, I see ministers bowing under to the culture by abrogating the Word of God.  (I thank God for strong men of God who are unafraid to proclaim the whole truth of God from the pulpit.)  We, the people of God, must stand firm!

This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
Ephesians 6:13-14 (HCSB)

We must pray!  (5.) Prayer is one of our most potent weapons in defeating the Enemy.  Praying is part of "being serious", as mentioned in the key verses for today.  How is your prayer life, Christian?  I know I'm constantly seeking to deepen mine.  If the Enemy can keep you from praying, he will surely defeat you.

Peter reminds us in 5:11 that the battle is the Lord's.  (6.) His is the "dominion" forever and ever. However, He has called on us to throw off our complacency, resist the Devil and be Jesus Christ's foot soldiers in that ongoing, cosmic battle.  After all, we know that we are on the winning side!

Precious Father, give us holy courage and strength to pick up the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) and then be willing to risk our comfort for the heat of the battle.  You saved us so that we would bring You glory, not so that we could indulge our flesh.  God, help us to recognize the pitfall of complacency and cowardice and to stand firm against our defeated Enemy.  In Jesus' name, amen.

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