My brother and I have been involved in a running battle with crows. And “battle” is the right word! It is amazing how strategic and diabolically sneaky a crow can be.
One of the real blessings for me these past few years is that my brother and I live within thirty minutes of each other, we both serve churches as pastor, and we are able to golf together once a week.
It is on our golf outings that we have been battling the crows. It started out that they would hit us at the third hole. While we were sweating over putts on the green the crows would jump into our cart and steal whatever was to their liking, a half-eaten apple, a plastic bag of walnuts, even a golf glove once left on the seat.
But after enduring a couple of quick strikes like that we got smart and kept snacks out of our cart until we were between the ninth and tenth holes.
For a time we enjoyed relative peace, became complacent, and started leaving our little cups of peanuts out where we could reach them in the cart. And sure enough, when our guard was down those pesky birds found us and our energy boosting munchies. Now they were zooming in while we were on the tee box of hole number ten!
So we resorted to stuffing things to eat into our golf bags. This was inconvenient but at least we got to eat the stuff instead of the dark legion that was arraying itself against us!
But again after a rather lengthy period when the sinister fowl seemed to have decided to leave us alone (probably having found some other unsuspecting suckers upon whom to prey), we became complacent. And so, yesterday my brother placed a packaged energy bar in the front compartment of the cart. And you guessed it! A diabolical fowl swept in and swiped the whole thing! So from now on as long as food is in the cart someone stays nearby. Vigilance must be constant!
In the fifth chapter and eight verse of his first letter the apostle Peter warned that we should always be alert because our adversary, the devil, is always prowling around seeking to devour. And Jesus told Peter himself to be alert to personal danger because Satan had demanded permission to sift him like wheat. So we do well to remember that there is an enemy out there who desires to lead us into temptation and do harm to our lives.
When Jesus faced his great crisis in Gethsemane his disciples, though oblivious at the time, were facing their own crisis. Of this Jesus warned them and offered five strategies to employ as a defense against the enemy of our soul. For simplicity I will list these strategies with a brief word about each.
1. Acknowledge personal weakness (Matt. 26:41). Peter thought himself strong and was blind to his weak spot. It is always best to know and confess our weaknesses so we can get help!
2. Maintain vigilance (Matt. 26:41). This was Jesus first charge to
Peter, one that he repeated to the rest of the disciples. Staying alert means maintaining a constant and effective prayer life.
3. Pray against temptation (Luke 22:40, 46). The disciples had become complacent and were found asleep at their watch. When we know our weak spots we can pray for wisdom regarding how these areas might be attacked and how we might avoid such an occasion.
4. Pray for stronger faith (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. We do well to regularly examine our faith and pray and work at strengthening weak areas. Also, recognize how God may be working through relationships or circumstances to strengthen those areas.
5. Encourage one another (Luke 22:32). Peter was told to strengthen his brothers when he turned again from his failure. As we fail and recover and grow our faith we are responsible to share with others what we have learned and encourage them to be strong in their own faith.