keep your guard up
From: Our Daily Journey
Read James 1:22-24 and see why it’s important to keep your guard up by your obedience to God’s Word.
When do you tend to let your spiritual guard down? What will you do to renew your commitment to God’s Word and remain alert for dangers to your faith?
A young man and several friends drove to a ski resort, went through a gate that contained warning signs about the dangerous condition of the slopes, and started snowboarding. On the second trip down the mountain, someone shouted, “Avalanche!” but the young man couldn’t escape and perished in the cascading snow. Some in the media severely criticized him for being a novice, but he was actually an “avalanche-certified backcountry guide.” An avalanche researcher said that seasoned skiers are most likely to be seduced into faulty reasoning. He said, “[The young man] died because he was lulled into letting his guard down.”
As Israel was preparing to go into the Promised Land, the Lord wanted His people to keep their guard up. So He commanded them to listen to and obey all His words (Deuteronomy 4:1-2). And in case they had trouble obeying, Moses reminded them how God judged those who disobeyed and blessed those who obeyed (Deuteronomy 4:3-4). Remembering this history would be the motivation and basis for their unconditional obedience. At every turn, they needed to examine themselves and keep watch over their inner lives (Deuteronomy 4:9). This would help them avoid external spiritual dangers as well as inner spiritual apathy. But this wasn’t just for them; it was also for future generations. Obedience to God’s standard would be the key to future success.
It’s fairly easy for us to let down our guard and be lulled into a state of forgetfulness, apathy, and self-deception. So it’s essential for us to offer God a fresh commitment to obey all of His Word. Let’s renew our knowledge of the Scriptures and our commitment to them and let’s wisely leverage opportunities to pass them on to the next generation.
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day (Gen. 32:24).
Left alone! What different sensations those words conjure up to each of us. To some they spell loneliness and desolation, to others rest and quiet. To be left alone without God, would be too awful for words, but to be left alone with Him is a foretaste of Heaven! If His followers spent more time alone with Him, we should have spiritual giants again.
The Master set us an example. Note how often He went to be alone with God; and He had a mighty purpose behind the command, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray.”
The greatest miracles of Elijah and Elisha took place when they were alone with God. It was alone with God that Jacob became a prince; and just there that we, too, may become princes–“men (aye, and women too!) wondered at” (Zech. 3:8). Joshua was alone when the Lord came to him. (Josh. 1:1) Gideon and Jephthah were by themselves when commissioned to save Israel. (Judges 6:11 and 11:29) Moses was by himself at the wilderness bush. (Exodus 3:1-5) Cornelius was praying by himself when the angel came to him. (Acts 10:2) No one was with Peter on the house top, when he was instructed to go to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9) John the Baptist was alone in the wilderness (Luke 1:90), and John the Beloved alone in Patmos, when nearest God. (Rev. 1:9)
Covet to get alone with God. If we neglect it, we not only rob ourselves, but others too, of blessing, since when we are blessed we are able to pass on blessing to others. It may mean less outside work; it must mean more depth and power, and the consequence, too, will be “they saw no man save Jesus only.”
To be alone with God in prayer cannot be over-emphasized.
If chosen men had never been alone,
In deepest silence open-doored to God,
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done.
“The well is deep”— and even a great deal deeper than the Samaritan woman knew! (John 4:11). Think of the depths of human nature and human life; think of the depth of the “wells” in you. Have you been limiting, or impoverishing, the ministry of Jesus to the point that He is unable to work in your life? Suppose that you have a deep “well” of hurt and trouble inside your heart, and Jesus comes and says to you, “Let not your heart be troubled . . .” (John 14:1). Would your response be to shrug your shoulders and say, “But, Lord, the well is too deep, and even You can’t draw up quietness and comfort out of it.” Actually, that is correct. Jesus doesn’t bring anything up from the wells of human nature— He brings them down from above. We limit the Holy One of Israel by remembering only what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past, and also by saying, “Of course, I cannot expect God to do this particular thing.” The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. The impoverishment is in us, not in Him. We will come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.
The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ. When we get into difficult circumstances, we impoverish His ministry by saying, “Of course, He can’t do anything about this.” We struggle to reach the bottom of our own well, trying to get water for ourselves. Beware of sitting back, and saying, “It can’t be done.” You will know it can be done if you will look to Jesus. The well of your incompleteness runs deep, but make the effort to look away from yourself and to look toward Him.