Monday, April 21, 2014

Be Vigilant

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

How many times have we fallen prey to the enemy's plans and then thought why?  I knew he was coming and what he was up to, so why did I fall into his trap?  Sometimes, we simply have failed to exercise self-control and have lacked alertness.

We live in a time of excess.  Rarely do we have one of anything.  How can you when the 2 for 1 deals abound?  This excess culture has also given birth to an entitlement mentality.  I work hard all week so I deserve this or that, right?  WRONG!

but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:14,15

It is easy to cast off restraint and indulge in things we know not to because we believe the mood/circumstance dictates it, but we are called to be self-controlled.

self-control-the ability to control oneself, in particular one's emotions and desires or the expression of them in one's behavior, esp. in difficult situations.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
1 Peter 3:4-5

Some time ago, I had done a study by Elizabeth George regarding putting on a quiet and gentle spirit.  It went something like:

A gentle spirit does not create disturbances and a quiet spirit does not react to the disturbances caused by others. 

I really loved that.  I don't create disturbances and I don't react to anyone else's disturbances.  I can exercise self-control.  My emotions don't have to guide and control me.  I control them.  Or better put, the Holy Spirit in me controls them.  I am not controlled by anyone else.  I am free to exercise self-control.  It is beautiful.  

The second command is to be alert.  

alert-quick to notice any unusual and potentially dangerous or difficult circumstances; vigilant.

Because our enemy is not standing in physical face to face combat against us, it can be easy to forget he's around.  But he is and he is prowling around like a lion seeking someone to devour.  He doesn't forget his target, his enemy--YOU and ME!  We would be wise not to forget our enemy whose sole purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 5:12).  We would do well to remember he is unseen, does not take vacations, is ruthless. and relentless.  

Therefore, let us be vigilant.  Too often, the enemy gains footholds because we have grown careless, distracted, or entertained.  We see the danger approaching and fail to sound the trumpet and will be held accountable (Ezekiel 33:6).  Maybe you see something in your husband or your children and even in yourself but fail to pray about it and submit to the Spirit's guidance.  You think, "It's not that bad.  I don't want to make a big deal about it.  I am sure God will deal with it."  Woman of God, you are called to watch over the affairs of your household and not eat the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).  Remember it is the little foxes that ruin the vineyards that are in bloom (Song of Songs 2:15).

If you know there is a particular vulnerability in your life, seek help.  The enemy usually works in cycles.  He is not creative at all and will keep each of us in captivity if we don't allow Jesus to set us free.  Perhaps, you have struggled with a particular sin or your mind has not been renewed in a particular area.  The enemy knows this area of weakness and you know the triggers as well.  The enemy will whisper a lie that if left undetected will slowly begin to wreak havoc on your thoughts.  Now you no longer see the Holy Spirit's work in your life but the big failure the enemy makes you out to be.   Bring that thought captive.  Speak to your husband about it or a mature sister in Christ.  Stop the enemy in his tracks before he gets going on his plan of destruction for you.  Be alert!

God is so good.  When we are living self-controlled lives we have born fruit of the Spirit.  We belong to Christ Jesus and have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).  Therefore, we can be alert.  We can be vigilant.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

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May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14