Read 1 Corinthians 16:13
The challenge we face is painfully obvious. We've seen from the previous devotionals that our foundations are in place and trustworthy. The Lord our God, being our refuge and very present help, relieves us of fear and worry. He is in sovereign control. He hasn't lost His grip on our times. Under His mighty hand, we humble ourselves. And, in spite of our adversary's subtle and deceitful strategy, we are certain of this: In the end, God wins. What we need until then is a courage transfusion.
Please turn in your Bible to a single verse in 1 Corinthians, chapter 16. I want to give you eight words that I hope you never forget. I offer these eight words in four two-word commands. The four commands are found in verse 13 of 1 Corinthians 16: "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." Each one of these two-word commands deserves a bold exclamation point. We'll focus on one each day over the next several days.
Here's the first command: Be alert! When Paul first wrote this imperative, he put it this way: "Keep on watching!" Clearly, the command tells us that our great need is to be acutely aware. It includes spiritual alertness, an awareness of the unseen, an understanding of the insidious, a quick perception of that which could be a part of the satanic conspiracy.
I'm not a witch hunter. Don't put me in that category. But as we have already established in this devotional series, there is a conspiracy against the plan of God. It has been going on since before the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden. Satan hates God's plan, so he works against it. And the first thing the enemy would love for you to believe is that there really is no such thing as a conspiracy. It's there, nevertheless. Be on the alert when you read the newspaper. Pay attention to what is said and what isn't said. Read today's news magazines and watch today's news telecasts with keen biblical discernment. It's time for discernment to kick in. Mums and dads, be alert to your children. Watch what they do, and pay attention to what they are saying. Employees, be alert to your bosses and how they are directing your steps. Bosses, be alert to the companies you are putting together and to the people you have hired. Christians, be alert to what is going on around you in the church, at school, in civic matters, among politicians, with the military, and in the Government. Be alert to what is said. Be alert to your surroundings, be alert to people who live around you. Pay attention to your own motives. Listen to your own words. Be alert when you listen to the radio talk shows, paying attention to what is said, and even more important, to what is left unsaid. Be alert!
Be aware of the bait that's being dangled before you that causes you to yield a little more in an area of weakness. Be alert to the fact that there is an enemy against you. When your day starts, apply EWO—Eyes Wide Open. From the moment your feet hit the floor, keep your eyes wide open. That way, few things will come as a surprise; you'll seldom have to admit, "Why, I would never have imagined such a thing."
A 1999 movie was titled Eyes Wide Shut. I didn't see the movie, thankfully, but the title speaks eloquently about today's culture. Our visual senses are bombarded with shocking, horrifying scenes in America—drive-by shootings, blatant pornography, tornado and earthquake disasters, schoolyard assaults, planes plunging into the World Trade Center twin towers, starving children, corporate scandals, and on it goes. And what do we prefer to do? We close our eyes, we squeeze them shut, so we don't have to witness such harsh realities. We opt out. We deny the truth. We run from reality. In doing so, we close our minds to the enemy's schemes and attacks. We go through life with eyes wide shut.
In contrast, God says, "Stay alert!" Stay alert to biblical principles. You will read of them every time you open the Word. You will hear them every Sunday if you attend a Bible-teaching church. These biblical principles will guide your steps. Pay close attention to them. Remember them. Memorize some of them. Be alert! That's God's first line of defence for us. Be keenly and discerningly aware.
I am continually amazed at the dullness of many Christians, who will put up with a lack of truth being taught Sunday after Sunday. It's like the old prophet, Hosea, who said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). Another prophet named Amos wrote of "...a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD." He wrote of people staggering from sea to sea looking for the truth yet being unable to find it (Amos 8:11-12). He didn't describe simply his own times; he described the United States of America. Be alert to what you're not receiving from those who should be declaring God's truths. Be alert to what you're being told. Be alert to the ministries and other organizations you support financially. Be alert!
Excerpted from Why God? Calming Words for Chaotic Times, Copyright 2001 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by Permission.