Sun. Fun. Freedom. Beaches. Bikinis. Short shorts. Tank tops. Convertibles. Shirt-less competitive athletics. High school and college graduations. Weddings and wedding receptions. Backyard barbecues. Ice cold brews. Keggers. Outdoor music festivals. Hot, sweaty nights. Lust. Addictions. Temptations. Intemperance. Sin.
Sounds like you average All-American Summer to me.
Since I came into the faith just over 11 years ago, I have been constantly amazed at how many saints struggle with sin and often fall during the summer season. I don’t get it. Unrighteousness doesn’t come and go with the calendar. God is still God every day of the year. To me, perhaps since I esteem every day the same, I don’t see how a season, and the sinful pleasures such a season might offer, makes living for the Lord any harder.
Consider winter: dull, dark, depressing, cold, frustrating, expensive (e.g. heating bills), dangerous, and on it goes. To me, winter could be just as bad a season for a saint as any other. But no, we just happen to think that summer is where all the problems lay. Well, if that’s the case for some, or even for most, then I offer a suggestion:
Guard your summer!
Right now, it is 06-18-2014, three days away from the official start of summer, and I am already starting to see the effect a little extra sun and day light is having on people. Saints treat summer like their personal vacation from the things of God. We become lazy, undisciplined, and indifferent.
“Come on, God…” we whine, “…you can’t really expect me to continue to yield all my members unto righteousness this time of year. I mean, it’s just too hot outside”.
Really? Then what do you suppose all the saints in the world who live in climates that are year round like summer do? I live in the upper Midwest of the USA. I see it happen every year. After a long, difficult winter, and just after the cool spring melts away, all the efforts made to live a Godly life suddenly go out the window, as if He doesn’t care.
I say, it’s time we call ourselves to a better standard. We need to guard our summer. For a beginning verse, I give you Jeremiah 8:20,
20. The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.
What a horrific thing to think about! The very possibility of losing one’s soul over approximately three months of warmer weather? I shudder to think. Yet it happens all the time. Where I’m from, summer fellowship attendance always drops. But it doesn’t have to be this way if saints would just guard their summer.
So what do I mean?
Consider the following, humorous lyric from a song called “Temptation Boogie” by a singer named Carman:
Well I grabbed my Superman beach towel
And QT Tanning lotion
I thought I’d take a cruise
And catch some rays down by the ocean
I had it all planned out
To roast some burgers and some weenies
When I arrived everything but the telephone poles
Was dressed up in bikinis
My flesh and spirit had a race
And Satan went full throttle
What those women wore
Man, I seen more cotton in an Aspirin bottle
Well I knew there’s just one way
To please the Lord and still get tan
But I felt so stupid with my big ol’ head stuck in the sand
What did God tell Cain? If you do well, then you will be accepted, right? But what if Cain didn’t do well? Then sin lieth at the door (Genesis 4:7). Here’s how a person guards their summer. It’s easy. Simply devote yourself to doing well. Don’t go to the beach if half-naked people living in and for the world cause you to fall. If the basketball court is calling your name, and a bunch of opposite sex hotties are sitting on the bench to watch you play, then just walk away.
When that lukewarm cousin who hasn’t been to church in three months invites you over for a barbecue, make other plans and tell him or her no thanks. Commit to attend a wedding reception for the dinner only. Plan to leave once the DJ and the dance floor arrive. If, while at a graduation party for your unsaved sister or brother’s son or daughter, the quarter barrel comes out, take your cue, congratulate your niece or nephew, and be on your merry way.
As a possible rule of thumb, don’t plan to be anywhere except in the home (perhaps your own) of a consecrated brother or sister in the Lord after the sun sets. Most sin takes place after dark. If you can’t restrain yourself once night falls, then make sure you are among the kind of company that will gladly look out for your soul.
This stuff is so elementary. The problem isn’t knowing what to do. It’s in deciding once and for all that you are going to do the right thing, no matter what. As a pastor I recently heard preach: “If you’ve left some back door to the world open, then you need to slam it shut. Make up your mind that you are not going back” (paraphrased only).
There is no fancy sermon. No especially powerful verse of Scripture. No particular words in a prayer available. It’s just you and Jesus coming together, with you realizing and caring enough to know that as the Lord of your life, His will means more than yours.
I battle my flesh every day. If the god of my flesh and not the God of my soul, were in charge, I’d be gone in a heartbeat. I know my flesh intimately. I used to live there for 24 years. I know exactly what my flesh would be doing if I wasn’t dedicated to serving God. And I’m willing to wager that you know the same things about your own carcass.
So what matters most? Not just more, but most? What is the single most important priority to you? Are you going to let a little extra mercury rising send you to Hell? Are you going to let Satan and the World dictate to you how faithfully you live for your Creator? God don’t raise no wimps. No wusses in the kingdom, Dear Reader. God fully expects all of us to man/woman up and live for Him. If you don’t believe me, then read this:
2 Peter 1:2-3,
2. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…
God has, through His divine power, given unto us everything we need to live a Godly life. It’s all in the Holy Spirit.
I am reminded of a child’s Bible song. It goes like this:
Pray, pray, pray each day
Pray and then believe
Verily, verily, verily then you shall receive…
We are stringently urged to do the following:
20. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
21. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Praying in the Holy Spirit of God builds or constructs a most holy faith, causing us to be able to believe God for many rich and wonderful blessings, up to and including, deliverance from temptation. By praying in the Holy Spirit, God will begin to allow His Spirit to intercede for you, to make intercession on your behalf for your own personal weaknesses in the flesh (Romans 8:26). The Spirit will strengthen you to resist making stupid, carnal decisions.
This summer, and indeed all year round, make up your mind and commit yourself, yea, even devote yourself to praying in the Holy Spirit. How much or how long is up to you. But I tender one piece of advice. Your level of help and deliverance from the flesh will be commensurate with how often and how long you pray in the Holy Spirit. More = more. Get it?
You have a well of everlasting life springing up inside of you. All you have to do is let down your vessel, gather, and drink. Guard your summer by praying fervently, religiously, even zealously in the Holy Spirit.
Peace and God bless.