St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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Have sound judgment. Be alert. Your adversary, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

“Open your eyes,” says Peter, “be self-controlled and alert!” In the early church, the devil was taken far more seriously than today. For today, we sanitize everything and strip the Word of its power by filtering it through so many layers of human reason, science, and doubt that when all is said and done, the devil is reduced to a cheap thrill ride at a circus. And this is just how the devil likes it!

In truth, Peter shows us what life is like as a believer. This earth is the devil’s home. It’s as if we live as travelers going through a foreign land and when we reach a place of respite, we discover that murderers and thieves and violent men surround us. There’s little rest in such a place surrounded by such people. And this is how it is to live on this earth, because here the devil is the prince. He controls the hearts of those under his power – the unbelievers and god-haters and wicked, and he does whatever he desires through them, always trying to lead believers astray. We see Satan’s influence in our schools where, instead of learning our ABC’s, our children are learning how to be good and acceptable atheists and secular humanists. We see his influence on television where Hollywood portrays life as a series of sexual encounters, marriages and divorces, and where God’s people are often painted as weak, confused, emotion-driven fools. We see Satan’s influence in consumerism where, for a profit, corporations will make the grotesque and unthinkable into something beautiful and desirable and deceive millions into thinking evil is good, just to make bank. And sadly, we see his influence in our churches where he will convince people to abandon sound doctrine and base their faith on emotions and opinions and on having endless “mountain top experiences,” as if Peter, James, and John never came down after the Transfiguration.

This is why Peter warns us to be alert. He wants us to be aware of what’s REALLY going on here, because God is not a liar and He throws no punches. He wants us alert and is fully transparent in telling us how our lives will be. He says to be “self-controlled,” which means that we must flee from the temptation of indulgence in the things of this life but instead hold fast to God’s Word and faith. He says to “be alert,” not only spiritually, but physically. This life is short, and no one escapes the judgment on the Last Day. Satan may paint it so that it seems like God is absent in our lives, but God is always with us, watching us, helping us, and correcting our course. And though our Lord helps us and defends us, we are not to be lazy Christians, being pushed around by every whim of teaching which seems right in our eyes, or living our lives by our passions and desires and gorging on things which take our attention away from Christ.

An athlete disciplines himself, day after day, preparing and focused on the endgame, where he trains to triumph against his opponents. An army trains every day so that when the enemy comes, it will be able to withstand any attack thrown at it. How can we Christians hope to stand against the greatest and most powerful of enemies — Satan and his army of demons and evil people — if we aren’t laser-focused, alert, training, and always ready? And the war we wage isn’t about winning a trophy or defending a country – it’s about eternal matters – life and death! How much more should we be preparing and training and disciplining our minds and our bodies, considering what’s at stake? I mean, it’s hard enough for believers to resist the devil as it is…living our lives outside the church won’t make it any easier!

Dear Father in heaven, help me discern between the good things You provide and the evil and lies of the prince of this world, so that I do not become weak or distracted by this world’s desires and concerns. For You live and reign with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

SACRED CHRISTMAS MUSIC… In observation of The Annunciation of Our Lord, You can listen to sacred Christmas music on Saturday, March 25.  Listen at, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, TuneIn, Apple HomePod and the Lutheran Public Radio mobile app.