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Is that a lure I see?

There always comes a time when we are the ones who need to hand over things to the next successor in the group, family, or nation. As we do, we often find ourselves willing to give a piece of advice or two that may help our successor in their mission. We have learned things along the way and we don't want our successor to find them out the hard way. One piece of advice I'd give anyone in leadership is to stay alert! Why? It is because the work isn't not done - there are still challenges ahead that will need to be dealt with. I'd also challenge them to stay strong and steady! Why? There will come much influence around them to do what would ultimately get them into big trouble if they aren't prepared for it. In truth, I would like to advise each leader to live by the principles God set out in his Word.

"Now, vigilantly guard your souls: Love God, your God. Because if you wander off and start taking up with these remaining nations still among you (intermarry, say, and have other dealings with them), know for certain that God, your God, will not get rid of these nations for you. They'll be nothing but trouble to you—horsewhips on your backs and sand in your eyes—until you're the ones who will be driven out of this good land that God, your God, has given you." (Joshua 23:11-13)

We need to vigilantly guard our souls - because we have a tendency to wander and get ourselves into all manner of trouble whenever we are not paying close attention! Look at the consequences of being a little lax in dealing with the nations around them - God would not get rid of them for them when they became a distraction or problem for them! If they dabbled with them, God wanted them to know how much trouble they would bring into their lives - like horsewhips on their backs and sand in your eyes. Trouble that they did not want - trouble they did not need. I have never been horsewhipped, but I have had sand in my eyes. I know how painful this is - but not only is it painful, it is downright impossible to see right while the sand is in there! I spent so much time trying to rid myself of the irritating stuff in my eye, I simply could not see what was right in front of me. We need to be aware of just how much even one compromise (one grain of sand) can impact our vision!

When one is vigilant, they are so keenly aware of their surroundings that no influence (good or bad) escapes them. Why? They are "on alert" - sensing danger, knowing when to avoid certain pathways and take others. God has our backs, but he doesn't want us to be fooled or duped by the influences around us. We only get duped when we are not paying close and attention. The purpose of a horsewhip is to control the actions of the horse. You don't take one in hand if you don't think you'll have to use it. In a sense, God is reminding us of the influences of belief systems, traditions, and the prevailing fads of the day. They have a tendency to become things that can "control" us much like a horsewhip can can control the horse. "If you wander off and start taking up with them..." In essence, what is being described is the lackadaisical kind of action on our part which gets us into the deepest kinds of trouble - all while we are seemingly unaware!

The horse will wander the fields, leisurely taking in what is in front of it. The danger is in the horse not being discriminating about what is taken in! Some things a horse may take in may not be the best for digestive health - the old cowboy shows used to call it "wacky weed". It would make the horses downright miserable. Guess what? When we "take in" stuff without really thinking it through, we may be downright miserable, too! Two "actions" which result in two "outcomes". First, one action really comes as a matter of "inactivity" - we wander right into the things God has plainly said to stay away from. The outcome is feeling like a whip has been taken to our backs - we feel controlled! The second action is really one of getting stuff "into" us which really doesn't have a place in us. The outcome is evident in the effect it has on our ability to see clearly (sand in the eye). Either way, neither of these outcomes is desirable. So, we'd do well to listen to the warning. Be alert. Stay strong and steady - not veering from the Word of God. Be vigilant - your enemy is waiting to lure you in. Just sayin!

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