STAY ALERT! BE AWARE!
By Rev. Dr. Teresa Allissa Citro
"Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
It was a beautiful day in the Gulf of Mexico. I was on the beach. I saw perfect waves. I love to surf. Although, after my children, I decided to live a less adventurous life. Well, maybe that's not completely true. Let’s just say, I have limited my adventurous life so that my children wouldn’t do dangerous sports. Now they will read this and I’ll never hear the end of it.
I went and rented a surfboard while my friends stayed on the beach. There I was, on top of that surfboard, I was loving showing off. I know, that's really bad. But I was proud of my surfing ability. It takes a lot of coordination and strength to surf. I was feeling good about myself. I was just loving it as the ocean waves brought me in. I did see the waves were getting higher, coming in faster, and getting stronger. But, I was caught in that moment and having a great time. I just continued surfing.
Then, all of a sudden, a really big wave came over my head. It flipped my surfboard, dragging me underwater, and the current pulled me farther into the sea. The surfboard went one way, I went the other. I couldn’t get out of this riptide that I was in. I knew I was in trouble, I panicked. The lifeguard saw and came to my rescue. He pulled me out and took me back to shore.
The Holy Spirit brought this verse to my mind tonight, reminding me of that terrible incident. So much information just started to download in my mind. I'm going to share it with you.
The verse above contains three critical things. First, it warns. Second, it reveals the enemy. Third, it reveals the outcome. This is what I call a power punch verse. It starts with what you need to do to avoid an enemy who wants to destroy you.
We are to be alert. This means we are to be aware of things and people that could possibly cause us harm. We need to be vigilant, staying alert, paying attention, and being on the lookout. We are to carefully watch everything that comes into our lives. It’s all about observing so that we don’t make fatal mistakes. As I looked at the word "alert" more carefully, I saw that it means to stay wide awake.
When we are watching, we are staring very carefully at things that could possibly harm us. We are paying very close attention to, being aware of, and being careful of. We are to very carefully consider every single thing that we allow in our lives.
We have an enemy. That enemy is Satan. I hear people say that he’s a figment of our imagination. I wish that was true. I really do. For all our sakes, how I so wish he was just a fictional being. But he’s not. He is a fallen angel who tried to rise himself above God. Since then, he has waged war on humanity. He hates God and he hates you and me. He has one goal, and that’s to destroy people. Here, God is warning us. Don’t fall for Satan's evil tricks, lies, and manipulations.
In order to fight him, we must be in the Word of God and we must be staying alert. We must discern what’s happening around us. Everything around us must be clearly examined.
Let me share with you why I almost drowned in that gulf on my vacation. I hadn’t watched the news. I hadn’t paid attention to the weather. I ignored those big waves, and I didn’t ask how the condition of the ocean was when I rented the surf board. Once in the ocean, I continued to ignore the big waves that were coming in faster, and the current that the waves were bringing me to. I had no idea that there was a hurricane out to sea that had affected the condition of the waves and currents. I was in the ocean while the ocean was at its worst. That was my fault. Had I drowned, it was a completely idiotic thing that I did. I do not excuse myself from being very dumb.
Let me tell you of other wise and strong people who made very poor choices, ignoring the people and circumstances around them. They got themselves into a lot of trouble. Let’s start with King David. There he was on his balcony when he saw Bathsheba. That was his fault. He wasn’t supposed to be there. He was supposed to be with his army. He was the commander and chief of his army. Israel was at war. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be.
Then there’s Samson. The strongest man to ever live. He was supposed to destroy the Philistines. Instead, he goes and marries one. If that wasn’t bad enough, he then goes after a prostitute to marry.
Let’s go even more further back to the beginning of time, when we first see Satan at work. It all started with Adam and Eve. He deceived them. You know how? They entertained him. They talked back. They tried to defend their position, they tried to explain.
All these people were not on alert. They weren’t watching. They weren’t wide awake. They weren’t paying attention. Satan came in because they were not looking out. In all three incidents, he deceived them. Adam and Eve were supposed to live forever. Satan’s lie caused them death. Samson wasn’t supposed to die a terrible and defeated death, either. As for King David, it cost him the life of his son, and the sword of death never left his household. Satan leaves destruction and death. That’s what happened to the above Bible characters.
They left themselves open to being devoured. They were literally swallowed by the enemy. You know that saying, “Eaten up and bones spit out”? That’s what sadly happened in all three cases.
God is clear. We are to watch it. Satan doesn’t come dressed in a cape, with a pitchfork and horns. He’s very sneaky and subtle. He comes all knowledgeable, asking questions, letting you second guess yourself, allowing you to enjoy the moment. I was caught up enjoying the moment. “Taking advantage of the great waves.” I was ignoring my instinct. I knew better. I should have known that in the Gulf of Mexico there are no huge surfing waves. That should have been my first clue.
You know what? Adam, Eve, Samson, King David, and I myself were not on the lookout. We completely ignored and stubbornly did that which we wanted to do. With them, they completely sinned. I understand the difference between sin, which is what they did, versus my surfing. The point is the same. None of us were watching out. We weren’t on alert.
May I humbly and strongly remind you, we have been warned to be on guard and avoid the enemy of our soul who comes to kill, steal, and destroy us. His ultimate goal is to completely annihilate us. We have the power inside of us to beat him.
Let’s pay very close attention to everyone and everything that comes near our tent.
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