Click here to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Today’s Lectio Divina: Within minutes they (the disciples) were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant. Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And you’ve stuck with Me through thick and thin. Now I confer on you the royal authority My Father conferred on Me so you can eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and be strengthened as you take up responsibilities among the congregations of God’s people. Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from Me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” Peter said, “Master, I’m ready for anything with You. I’d go to jail for You. I’d die for you!” Jesus said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know Me.” Luke 22: 24-34 (MsgB)
Last time, we discussed how important it is for us to be aware that God, our Loving Father, will never lead us into temptation but that He will give us countless opportunities to do the right thing. And one quick look at human history will reveal that we human beings have a knack for making poor choices, choosing our way over God’s.
One pastor friend of mine put it to me this way…
Marty, when it comes to life choices, it’s either “I want My-way or Yah-weh!
Sadly, I have an embarrassing track record of wanting My-way too many times. How about you?
So, it’s no coincidence that Luke, when telling the Jesus story, gives us this frightening insight on how even Jesus’ closest friends could so easily lose track of reality, getting themselves caught up in their own glory rather than choosing to dwell in Jesus’ glory alone.
Poor Peter, I’m sure, looks down from heaven and probably still turns a bright shade of red when he finds that his illustrious story of bravery (see today’s Scripture) was nothing more than a big windbag of pride and arrogance, a puffing up of one’s self that left him looking pretty foolish, indeed.
You see when it comes to praying this part of Jesus’ prayer…
Deliver us from evil…
…it’s vitally important to realize that the devil would have little to no power over us, if not for our own self-centeredness and self-consumption.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those who doesn’t believe in Satan. He is, without a doubt, real.
But here’s the rub.
When Jesus tells us to pray,
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…
I’m convinced that God, my loving Father, is hoping I will grow up in this lifetime, maturing into a Christ-follower who spends less time cursing the devil and spending more time living a life of humility, love, and greater self-awareness.
You see, like Peter and his fellow disciples, I believe Satan has asked Jesus if he might sift you and me like wheat. And while I don’t necessarily enjoy the thought of that theology, I do believe Jesus has responded much like God did when Satan asked a similar thing concerning God’s friend, Job.
Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger. Job 1: 12 (NIV)
But here’s the good news.
Just because Satan is given permission to mess with us, doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us. As a matter of fact, the one good benefit that can come from being sifted like wheat is that the chaff of our lives gets blown away! The fluff of life, the self-centeredness, the consumption with self, the “me-first” attitude we find here in Jesus’ close friends is actually sifted away from us as Jesus prays us through these temptations that evil brings our way.
So, the next time, you find yourself in a bad way, when you feel as though God has left you and only evil remains, might I suggest that you sit down for a moment, take a few deep breaths, look heavenward, and then slowly remind yourself of what God’s Word says…
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31: 6 (NIV)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. 1st Peter 5: 6 (NIV)
And then, remind yourself of Jesus’ words…
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16: 33 (NIV)
Next, try whispering Jesus’ prayer…
Deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6: 13 (NIV)
And then hold on to the Master’s amazing promise…
And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28: 20 (NIV)
Amen and amen.
My Prayer: Jesus, I confess how I am much like Peter and Your first-century friends as they were trying to out-hustle each other, boldly speaking promises they couldn’t keep. In humility, Master, I thank You that You have chosen to love me through all this, and as evil might come my way, I can trust that God, my Father, loves me and has promised to never leave me or forsake me. Holy Spirit, I’m so thankful for Your on-going indwelling and look forward to Your protective covering today. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My Questions To Ponder: In the garden, Jesus warned His disciples as they were dozing off…
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26: 41 NIV)
So, where have I been drowsy, not paying attention to the battle all around me? Am I aware of the temptations and trials that evil sends my way, and am I self-aware of any pride or arrogance that might prove to be fatal as I try to wage war out of my own strength? What might it look like today to humble myself before Jesus, asking Him to lead the way through?
So, what is God speaking to you as you ponder on The Lord’s Prayer?
Over a period of four weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take you on a journey (12-sessions) we call Contemplating The Prayer: Pondering Anew The Prayer of Jesus. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read. Each session also ends with a few thoughts to ponder on. I look forward to hearing some of your insight as we journey together!
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!
Click here to go on to the next blog/podcast in this series…
Pingback: Temptation: No. Investigation: Yes. | The Contemplative Activist