18 July 2017

It's summer - be on your guard!

This isn't a public health notice to wear sun block or to make sure your windows are locked if you get away for a break.

This is a spiritual health notice. Because every year, churches and individual Christians tend to drop their guard over the summer holiday period. We don't meet together as regularly as usual, and our routines and patterns of Bible reading and prayer tend to go up the spout. This is really dangerous, because both Satan and those opposed to Jesus Christ and his gospel are always looking for an opportunity to lead Christians astray.

So, in the book of Acts, church leaders are told, 'Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock... I know that savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number people will arise and distort the truth in order to draw followers after them.' And in Peter's first letter, 'Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.'

The point is that there's never a time we can relax spiritually and drop our guard. And we are most vulnerable when we are away and not meeting regularly together, especially when the leaders and teachers of the church are away.

So, here's some practical advice:

1. Don't stop your routine of spending time with Jesus every day, reading and chewing over his word to us in the Bible, and then praying to him. Stick close to Jesus!

2. Don’t take a break from meeting with other Christians to hear God's word together. Just because others are away doesn't mean we should take a few Sundays off. And if you are away, make sure you find a church or a local Christian fellowship to go to on Sunday - even if it's not like the one you are used to.

What it comes down to is this. We live in a spiritually dangerous world, where Satan the deceiver is still active, and where many false teachers and cranks roam around looking for followers. To be safe, we need to stick close to Jesus Christ and the good news of his grace.

Without Jesus, we are dead in our sins, enslaved to the ways of the world, and enemies of God. Only through Jesus can we receive the free gift of forgiveness and new life with God, because Jesus is the only person to have paid for our sin by his own death on the cross. And in Jesus, raised from the dead, is all the power and wisdom of God, so it is reckless to stray far from him and his protection. With Jesus, the devil and the enemies of God's people cannot touch us. Apart from Jesus, we are no match for their cunning and intention to harm us.

So, stick close to Jesus over the summer. And use the best means he's given us of doing that, which is to meet together with other Christians to hear his word to us in the Bible.

Simon Smallwood – Pastor