Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don’t Be Caught Off-Guard

Today marks the 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. We should always remember the day that would “live in infamy” – and learn from it.

What happened on December 7, 1941? Simply put, we were caught off guard. In the decades since the attack, there has been a great deal of investigation, speculation and debate over how this could have happened and who is to blame for “dropping the ball”. What seems fairly certain is that there were some warning signs and data available that, if taken through the proper channels, might have changed the complexion of this attack or thwarted it altogether. Well, I’m not writing this to debate such things, but to make a simple point: It’s not good to be caught off-guard. And even though the attack on Pearl Harbor would have a positive outcome, many lives were lost and many more would perish in the ensuing war in the Pacific.

As Christians, we have a dangerous enemy – an empire of evil, plotting surprise attacks against us. Satan’s greatest advantage is the element of surprise. Many times we just don’t see it coming. The good news is that our Lord has given us “classified” information about our enemy to alert us and keep us from being taken by surprise (2 Cor 2:11)! Consider the apostle Peter’s inspired words: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

We shouldn’t be surprised when, because of our devotion to Christ, we feel pressure and opposition from those of the world. Notice that Peter didn’t say “if” this would occur, but “when”. Paul declares that persecution would happen to everyone who lives a godly life in Christ (2 Tim 3:12). Jesus also forewarned us of trouble and “tribulation” in the world (John 15:18-21; 16:1-4 & 33) By knowing these things beforehand, we can be prepared and not “freak out”, “melt down” or give in to temptation.

Later in his letter, Peter advises: “Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9) We shouldn’t be surprised when we feel the pull of temptation, rather we should be prepared! We are all subject to the devil’s attacks and need to be on high alert at all times -- never letting down our guard (Eph 6:10-18).

In summary, whether there was sufficient data and resources to thwart the attack on Pearl Harbor 69 years ago we may never know for sure. But this we know for sure: Our “Commander” has given us sufficient data and resources to thwart the devil’s attacks. We need never be caught off-guard!

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