Pet the Dog – A Banded Brothers devotional

My wife and I headed to Boston last Wednesday with a connecting flight in DC. Guess who else was in the airport  ……..  Pope Francis. On the Saturday flight back home we connected in Philadelphia. Guess who was in the airport …….  you guessed it …….  the pontiff himself. The level of security in both airports on those days was heightened to say the least. Who would want to bring harm to an individual as kind and peaceful as the pope?  I guess the answer is the same people that murdered over 3,000 innocent people on 9/11 or the folks that terrorize our college and school campuses.  The elevated level of security was no inconvenience to my wife and me. Heck, we were on vacation and in no hurry.
The neatest thing about the increased security was the heightened presence of the TSA K9 Force  …….  you know, the dogs. There are no greater dog lovers on the planet than my wife and me. The dogs were swarming the gates sniffing trash cans, luggage and people. They did their job with precision in a happy and energetic manner that lead you to believe they enjoyed their job. Two dogs in particular came very close to our seats. Each dog was clad in a vest identifying them as a TSA OFFICER along with a warning: “DO NOT PET THIS DOG”.
What !!!!! do you mean don’t pet the dog??? As pet lovers, that’s exactly what we do. The least we could do would be to give them a nice stroke across the back or a scratch behind the ear. Here they are working to protect us from the bad guys and we can’t even offer a gesture of our appreciation. These circumstance got me to thinking about “temptation”. Yes, I wanted to pet the dogs but must admit the “DO NOT PET THIS DOG” inscribed on their vests only heightened my desire.
As Christians, we face temptation every moment of every day. Even though we have dedicated our lives to God, the natural tendency of the world lives within us. I love the passage in Matthew 26 that warns: “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak“.  Temptation comes when we are drawn by the desires of the world. Satan’s urgings and influence is strong. Always remember Satan was once on the good side  ……..  he knows the Lord’s playbook. There is a wonderful study by Andy Stanley titled “Loopholes” that addresses how we attempt to justify being overcome by temptation. I highly recommend this study for your small group.
There is good news of course. James 4:7 provides assurance that if we “submit ourselves to God that the Devil will flee from us“. It is through our faith that we live in a current life of temptation knowing that one day evil will be defeated once and for all time. Our battle with evil is spiritual therefore no tangible weapons can be effective. Ephesians 6:13 says only with the armor of truth righteous, peace and salvation can we extinguish the flaming arrows of temptation. Good words of hope for sure !!! With that being said, I still want to pet the dogs. 
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