During the Revolutionary War, a loyalist spy appeared at the headquarters of Hessian commander Colonel Johann Rall, carrying an urgent message. General George Washington and his Continental army had secretly crossed the Delaware River that morning and were advancing on Trenton, New Jersey where the Hessians were encamped. The spy was denied an audience with the commander and instead wrote his message on a piece of paper. A porter took the note to the Hessian colonel, but because Rall was involved in a poker game he stuffed the unread note into his pocket. When the guards at the Hessian camp began firing their muskets in a futile attempt to stop Washington's army, Rall was still playing cards.
Without time to organize, the Hessian army was captured. The battle occurred the day after Christmas, 1776, giving the colonists a late present--their first major victory of the war. (From: Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 21.)
Jesus warned the disciples, and Paul and Peter both warned the saints to be on the alert. In our distracted, careless society these are important warnings for Christians. So what does it mean to be “on the alert”, and what are we to be alert for?
To be alert means to be: watchful, observant, undistracted, on guard, quick, sharp, vigilant, wary, prepared; in other words aware of what is going on around you.
The opposite condition is to be: sleepy, distracted, unaware, incognizant, careless, sluggish, falsely secure.
According to Scripture, we should be alert:
|1.||For the Lord’s coming||(Matthew 24:41-43, Matthew 25:13, Mark 13: 33-35, Luke 12:37)|
|2.||In prayer||(Luke 21:36; Colossians 4:2, Ephesians 6:17-19)|
|3.||In teaching the truth and guarding against deceivers||(Acts 20:28-31)|
|4.||Against temptation||(1 Peter 5:8)|
|5.||Against an unforgiving heart||(2 Corinthians 2:8-11)|
At the same time, we are not to be anxious. Being anxious is not the same as being alert. Instead, staying watchful depends on our being in constant contact with the Lord, our first Love, who is the source of all the strength we need, and staying in His word (which is how we know what He wants). In this way, we can stay both alert and at peace.