Links Daily Devotional

Constant Awareness

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13b, NIV)

Tomorrow’s “second start” to the PGA Tour’s 2016-17 season is the beginning most golf fans are still accustomed to: scenes from Maui’s picturesque Plantation Course, with the players’ short sleeves rippling in the tradewinds. It’s the Tournament of Champions, too, so many of your favorites will be on hand, and the small field will let you focus on fewer competitors. And if you’re located in one of those parts of the country that will dip back under freezing this weekend, the primetime viewing and the sunny scenes make for a great diversion. You’re ready, aren’t you?

The golfers, too, hope they are ready. This is true physically, and most world-class players can tell you whether they are on their best form heading into a tournament, or if instead they are struggling to strike the ball as they wish.

The teeth of a golf course lies in its obstacles, in the trouble it presents alongside the manicured fairways and the smooth putting surfaces.Beyond the physical preparation, though, Tour players hate to be caught off guard. When they find a spot on the course they did not know was so penal, or they hit a putt that breaks in the other direction, or their yardage book is missing a key carry distance—these are the kinds of unexpected circumstances that cause a player to grouse. After all, they should have been ready.

The same is true for followers of Jesus. We will make wretched mistakes, sinning according to the wont of our flesh or the pride of our mind. We will not at all times live spiritually, and we will be pained for our errors. We can, of course, be forgiven of all these sins, but we do best when we don’t sin at all. So we might ask ourselves, How can I improve my pursuit of righteousness?

Here’s a key answer to that question: Be more prepared.

In Scripture’s opening account of sin, we read that the serpent, Satan, “was more crafty than any of the wild animals” and that Adam and Eve were deceived. They were caught off guard. Unprepared. Not ready.

As the arrangement of Scripture moves to its closing pages, Peter wrote similarly of our adversary: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

The teeth of a golf course lies in its obstacles, in the trouble it presents alongside the manicured fairways and the smooth putting surfaces. The teeth of our enemy may also lurk closely to what is the best line of play for us as we live out our lives. We need to be simultaneously prepared to steer clear of temptation and attend to the practices that feed our faith: study, meditation, prayer, service, generosity. That sounds like a great plan for our own “new season.”

Jeff Hopper
January 4, 2017
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