Thursday, September 20, 2012

On Guard!

I have been sitting on a gratis copy of Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment for about a year now which deserves a recommendation.  This daily devotional guide is a selection from the writings of James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000), late senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA, and is published by Baker Books.  I am not in the habit of using devotional guides, although I own my fair share, but having read a few selections over the past couple of months I decided to take this one to work to keep it within reach on my desk with the hope of making better use of it.

This plan has proven to be a great help to me, and I'd like to note a portion of this morning's reading (September 20).  The title of this selection is "On Guard", and the text under consideration is Acts 5:3 (ESV) - "Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?"

Here is the part that stood out to me:
If we go through periods of special blessing, as these early Christians has, personally or in our church, we can expect Satan or one of his demons to attack us.  It is because Satan does not want the church of Jesus Christ to thrive.  If you are only going through the motions for serving Jesus, Satan will not worry about you very much. If you are not attempting anything important for God, if you are not breaking new ground, not witnessing, not serving in any particularly effective way, Satan will probably leave you alone.  On the other hand, if you really are trying to do something for God--if your church is effective, if you have a strong missions program, if you have people out witnessing, if you are trying to embody the gospel in social programs that minister to the needs of real people and demonstrate the real love of Jesus Christ--Satan will attack you.  You will have to be on your guard against him.
I've been thinking about this most of the day and the Holy Spirit is convicting my heart.  Here are a few of my thoughts.

Boice lays out two options: either Satan is leaving me alone, or he is attacking me.  

But what does it mean that Satan "is leaving me alone"?  I must confess that I'd much rather him leave me alone.  But if he is leaving me alone, what does that say of my relationship to God?  The words of the Son of God spoken in Revelation 3 to the church of Laodicea came to mind:
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.’”
(Revelation 3:15-18 ESV)
So, being tolerable to Satan leaves me in a position of being intolerable to my Lord and Savior.  Cast in this light, I would prefer the pleasure of God.  And although this means that I must face the attacks of the Evil One, I find fresh encouragement in the concluding words of the Son of God:
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
(Revelation 3:19-22 ESV)