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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Temptation

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse for the Day – Matthew 6:13a
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

Daily Scripture ReadingLuke 4

Puritan Catechism
Question #8: How does God execute his decrees?
Answer: God executes his decrees in the works of creation (Rev. 4:11), and providence (Dan. 4:35).

Devotional Thoughts
Matthew 6:13a - And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

The Greek word used for temptation is a word that is used in Scripture in two ways. It can be used to refer to trials or testings, and it can be used to describe temptation to evil. A trial is good in that it confirms our faith, temptation is bad in that it leads us toward sin. So which does Jesus mean?

Lets take a close look at this verse in the light of all the Word of God. We know that James tells us that when we enter trials we are to have joy because the trial of our faith will produce endurance. The trial itself may seem overwhelming and harsh and difficult to walk through, but He will bring us through. The testing of our faith, when we pass the test, will produce a stronger faith in the end. (James 1:2-3) We also know that James tells us that when we are tempted it isn't God doing the tempting! Each of us is tempted when we are drawn away by our OWN LUST! (James 1:13-14). So if trials are good for us and God won't tempt us, then why does Jesus teach us to pray that God would "not lead" us "into temptation"?

Jesus is teaching us here to share our innermost thoughts and feelings with God! Of course He knows that God won't tempt and that trials are good - but Jesus also knows the devastation that sin brings. In the garden He even prayed that if it was God's will to employ any other means to save mankind than the cross, He wanted God to do so! "Let this cup pass from Me", He said. He knew the cost of our sin. But He also knew He could trust the Father. "Nevertheless, not My will but Thine." He was willing to undergo the crucifixion and separation from the Father knowing that it was God's will.

When we are faced with sin and temptation and testings of our faith, Jesus is teaching us that it's okay to express ourselves to God!! We can let God know that we don't want to be tempted for fear that we might fail and fall into sin. And who wants to have their faith put to the test? It isn't usually a pleasant experience. You see, in our relationship with God He wants us to know Him and trust Him more and more. He knows us already. He even knows what we need before we ask - but remember, that doesn't mean that He doesn't want us to ask!

The joy of fellowship and the truly amazing thing about relating to God is that He wants to hear about our lives. He wants to hear us pray about everyday concerns and problems and difficulties. Of course He won't lead us into evil, but He wants us to express the truth that don't want to go there, too! We know that the people we can truly trust are usually the people who know the most about us, right? They know all our secrets. God knows, too. And He wants to share Himself with us on that same deep level of intimate trust!

Jesus is not afraid that God will open the door to temptation. He is stating a fact about the level of fellowship and relationship that God desires. We can tell God anything and everything!

We know this, too, because He goes on and prays, "but deliver us from the evil one." In our relating to God we must admit and realize that the devil does exist and that he wants to accuse and confuse us today! There are those who think that the devil is a myth! If so, Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness being tempted by a myth. No, the devil is real. He is an angel that was thrown out of heaven when he rebelled and sinned against God. He said, "I will be like the Most High." He was filled with pride and wanted to take God's Throne!

Now the devil, we are told, roams the earth in search of people to devour - to destroy and control (1 Peter 5:8-9). He loves to accuse us of sin and to confuse us as to the truth (Matthew 13:19). And Jesus teaches us to pray and to expect God to deliver us from the evil one. Remember, we used to be the devil's children, now we are God's (John 8:44).

So Jesus is teaching us to tell God everything (which I also expect husbands and wives to share everything, too. Then they are open to one another, submit to one another, and can provide accountability to each other on a level that no other person can! Just as we have no secrestr from God ew should not have any secrets in the family.). Give Him our all! Love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (all that we are and have). Trust Him to protect us from both evil and the evil one! And know that He is always there.

Some people don't like to tell God everything. They think their lives will bore Him, or they think of God like another person who might not be able to take what we are about to say. HA! God can take it. And He wants us to be open and honest with Him. Tell him how we feel, and what we want. And in the process we will see Him change our hearts and minds to fashion us into the likeness of His Son. When we are completely open with God it makes it that much easier for Him to break us and shape us and conform us into His image!

Dread temptation, knowing that we are prone to fail and fall. Embrace trials that we might grow strong in our faith. Cling to God - and tell Him everything! That is how Jesus is teaching us to pray!


Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from True Prayer – True Power!,a sermon from Mark 11:24 by Charles H. Spurgeon.

And surely, my brethren, it were enough to restrain all lightness and constrain an unceasing earnestness, did we apprehend the greatness of the Being before whom we plead. Shall I come into thy presence, O my God, and mock thee with cold-hearted words? Do the angels veil their faces before thee, and shall I be content to prattle through a form with no soul and no heart? Ah, my brethren! we little know how many of our prayers are an abomination unto the Lord. It would be an abomination to you and to me to hear men ask us in the streets, as if they did not want what they asked for. But have we not done the same to God? Has not that which is heaven's greatest boon to man, become to us a dry dead duty? It was said of John Bradford that he had a peculiar art in prayer, and when asked for his secret he said, "When I know what I want I always stop on that prayer until I feel that I have pleaded it with God, and until God and I have had dealings with each other upon it." I never go on to another petition till I have gone through the first." Alas! for some men who begin "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;" and before they have realized the adoring thought—"hallowed be thy name,"—they have begun to repeat the next words—"Thy kingdom come;" then perhaps something strikes their mind, "Do I really wish his kingdom to come? If it were to come now where should I be?" And while they are thinking of that, their voice is going on with, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;" so they jumble up their prayers and run the sentences together. Oh! stop at each one till you have really prayed it. Do not try to put two arrows on the string at once, they will both miss. He that would load his gun with two charges cannot expect to be successful. Discharge one shot first, and then load again. Plead once with God and prevail, and then plead again. Get the first mercy, and then go again for the second. Do not be satisfied with running the colours of your prayers into one another, till there is no picture to look at but just a huge daub, a smear of colours badly laid on. Look at the Lord's Prayer itself. What clear sharp outlines there are in it. There are certain definite mercies, and they do not run into one another. There it stands, and as you look at the whole it is a magnificent picture; not confusion, but beautiful order. Be it so with your prayers. Stay on one till you have prevailed with that, and then go on to the next. With definite objects and with fervent desires mixed together, there is the dawning of hope that ye shall prevail with God.

But again: these two things would not avail if they were not mixed with a still more essential and divine quality, namely, a firm faith in God. Brethren, do you believe in prayer? I know you pray because you are God's people; but do you believe in the power of prayer? There are a great many Christians that do not, they think it is a good thing, and they believe that sometimes it does wonders; but they do not think that prayer, real prayer, is always successful. They think that its effect depends upon many other things, but that it has not any essential quality or power in itself. Now, my own soul's conviction is, that prayer is the grandest power in the entire universe; that it has a more omnipotent force than electricity, attraction, gravitation, or any other of those secret forces which men have called by names, but which they do not understand. Prayer hath as palpable, as true, as sure, as invariable and influence over the entire universe as any of the laws of matter. When a man really prays, it is not a question whether God will hear him or not, he must hear him; not because there is any compulsion in the prayer, but there is a sweet and blessed compulsion in the promise. God has promised to hear prayer, and he will perform his promise. As he is the most high and true God, he cannot deny himself. Oh! to think of this; that you a puny man may stand here and speak to God, and through God may move all the worlds. Yet when your prayer is heard, creation will not be disturbed; though the grandest ends be answered, providence will not be disarranged for a single moment. Not a leaf will fall earlier from the tree, not a star will stay in its course, nor one drop of water trickle more slowly from its fount, all will go on the same, and yet your prayer will have effected everything. It will speak to the decrees and purposes of God, as they are being daily fulfilled; and they will all shout to your prayer, and cry, "Thou art our brother; we are decrees, and thou a prayer; but thou art thyself a decree, as old, as sure, as ancient as we are." Our prayers are God's decrees in another shape. The prayers of God's people are but God's promises breathed out of living hearts, and those promises are the decrees, only put into another form and fashion. Do not say, "How can my prayers affect the decrees?" They cannot, except in so much that your prayers are decrees, and that as they come out, every prayer that is inspired of the Holy Ghost unto your soul is as omnipotent and as eternal as that decree which said, "Let there be light, and there was light;" or as that decree which chose his people, and ordained their redemption by the precious blood of Christ. Thou has power in prayer, and thou standest to-day among the most potent ministers in the universe that God has made. Thou has power over angels, they will fly at thy will. Thou hast power over fire, and water, and the elements of earth. Thou hast power to make thy voice heard beyond the stars; where the thunders die out in silence, thy voice shall wake the echoes of eternity. The ear of God himself shall listen and the hand of God himself shall yield to thy will. He bids thee cry, "Thy will be done," and thy will shall be done. When thou canst plead his promise then thy will is his will. Seems it not my dear friends, an awful thing to have such a power in one's hands as to be able to pray? You have heard sometimes of men who pretended to have a weird and mystic might, by which they could call up spirits from the vasty deep, by which they could make showers of rain, or stop the sun. It was all a figment of the fancy, but were it true the Christian is a greater magician still. If he has but faith in God, there is nothing impossible to him. He shall be delivered out of the deepest waters—he shall be rescued out of the sorest troubles—in famine he shall be fed—in pestilence he shall go unscathed—amidst calamity he shall walk firm and strong—in war he shall be ever shielded—and in the day of battle he shall lift up his head, if he can but believe the promise, and hold it up before God's eyes and plead it with the spell of unfaltering reliance. There is nothing, I repeat it, there is no force so tremendous, no energy so marvellous, as the energy with which God has endowed every man, who like Jacob can wrestle, like Israel can prevail with him in prayer. But we must have faith in this; we must believe prayer to be what it is, or else it is not what it: should be. Unless I believe my prayer to be effectual it will not be, for on my faith will it to a great extent depend. God may give me the mercy even when I have not faith; that will be his own sovereign grace, but he has not promised to do it. But when I have faith and can plead the promise with earnest desire, it is no longer a probability as to whether I shall get the blessing, or whether my will shall be done. Unless the Eternal will swerve from his Word, unless the oath which he has given shall be revoked, and he himself shall cease to be what he is, "We know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."

And now to mount one step higher, together with definite objects, fervent desires and strong faith in the efficacy of prayer there should be—and Oh may divine grace make it so with us!—there should be mingled a realising expectation. We should be able to count over the mercies before we have got them, believing that they are on the road. Reading the other day in a sweet little book, which I would commend to the attention of you all, written by an American author who seems to know the power of prayer thoroughly, and to whom I am indebted for many good things—a little book called The Still Hour, I met with a reference to a passage in the book of Daniel, the tenth chapter I think, where, as he says, the whole machinery of prayer seems to be laid bare. Daniel is on his knees in prayer, and Michael the archangel come to him. He talks with him and tells him that as soon as ever Daniel began to set his heart to understand, and to chasten himself before God, his words were heard, and the Lord had dispatched the angel. Then he tells him in the most business-like manner in the world, "I should have been here before, but the Prince of Persia withstood me; nevertheless the prince of thy nation helped me, and I am come to comfort and instruct thee." See now. God breathes the desire into our hearts, and as soon as the desire is there, before we call he begins to answer. Before the words have got half way up to heaven, while they are yet trembling on the lip—knowing the words we mean to speak—he begins to answer them, sends the angel; the angel comes and brings down the needed blessing. Why the thing is a revelation if you could see it with your eyes. Some people think that spiritual things are dreams, and that we are talking fancies. Nay, I do believe there is as much reality in a Christian's prayer as in a lightning flash; and the utility and excellency of the prayer of a Christian may be just as sensibly known as the power of the lightning flash when it rends the tree, breaks off its branches, and splits it to the very root. Prayer is not a fancy of fiction; it is a real actual thing, coercing the universe, binding the laws of God themselves in fetters, and constraining the High and Holy One to listen to the will of his poor hut. favoured creature-man. But we want always to believe this. We need a realizing assurance in prayer. To count over the mercies before they are come! To be sure that they are coming! To act as if we had got them! When you have asked for your daily bread, no more to be disturbed with care, but to believe that God has heard you, and will give it to you. When you have taken the case of your sick child before God to believe that the child will recover, or if it should not, that it will be a greater blessing to you and more glory to God, and so to leave it to him. To be able to say, "I know he has heard me now; I will stand on my watch-tower; I will look for my God and hear what he will say to my soul." Were you ever disappointed yet, Christian, when you prayed in faith and expected the answer? I bear my own testimony here this morning, that I have never yet trusted him and found him fail me. I have trusted man and have been deceived, but my God has never once denied the request I have made to him, when I have backed up the request with belief in his willingness to hear, and in the assurance of his promise.

But I hear some one say, "May we pray for temporals?" Ay, that you may. In everything make known your wants to God. It is not merely for spiritual, but for everyday concerns. Take your smallest trials before him. He is a God that heareth prayer; he is your household God as well as the God of the Sanctuary. Be ever taking all that you have before God. As one good man who is about to be united with this Church told me of his departed wife, "Oh," said he, "she was a woman that I could never get to do anything till she had made a matter of prayer of it. Be it what it might, she used to say, 'I must make it a matter of prayer;'" Oh for more of this sweet habit of spreading everything before the Lord, just as Hezekiah did Rabshekah's letter, and there leaving it, saying, "Thy will be done, I resign it to thee!" Men say Mr. Muller of Bristol is enthusiastic, because he will gather seven hundred children and believe that God will provide for them; though there is nothing in the purse he is only doing what ought to be the commonplace action of every Christian man. He is acting upon a rule at which the worldling always must scoff, because he does not understand it; a system which must always appear to weak judgment of sense, not upon common sense, but upon something higher than common sense—upon uncommon faith. Oh that we had that uncommon faith to take God at his word! He cannot and he will not permit the man that trusteth him to he ashamed or confounded. I have thus now, as best I could, set forth before you what I conceive to be four essentials of prevailing prayer—"Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them."


Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


BONUS ARTICLE: Does Your Worship Please God?

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