Monday, 31 March 2014

Temptation and Deliverance

As we come towards the end of the Lord’s prayer we are confronted by a request for very specific help about living in this world.
Temptation and sin are common to all humanity. It doesn’t matter where you live, east or west, north or south, whether you have money or none, educated or uneducated… we all know temptation, we all know sin.
To that end we need a saviour, a deliverer, for none of us is able to save or free him or herself from it’s strangle hold. We all live under the prince of the power of the air and are subject to the passions/lusts of the flesh. As much as we might try to extricate ourselves we can’t.
Praise God Jesus came to do just that. He beat the devil and temptation at every twist and turn of his life. When dragged before the courts on trumped up charges, he was found to be not guilty. Yet, the masses wanted his death, and he was scourged and cruelly crucified on a Roman cross.
In the sovereign purposes of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – his death is part of the great plan of to bring salvation and deliverance from sin and it’s consequences, and make right with Him all those who would hear and believe the message of salvation – a salvation wholly achieved by Jesus Christ, and not by anything that we have done.
Let me ask you, do you know Him? Have you come to a saving knowledge and experience of Jesus Christ? He is able to save you, forgive you, set you free and give you a new life. The scripture calls us to repent (change our minds and direction), and believe in Him and we will be saved.
Becoming a Christian though doesn’t mean we will never be tempted or not sin again. We still live in a fallen world. We still await the redemption of our bodies. We do have an enemy. Hence the necessity of this prayer, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver from evil (or the evil one).”
Yes, there will be times when you will have thoughts, unexpected thoughts and desires to do wrong. Sometimes they will will be connected to your own particular passions, at others totally out of the blue, like, where did that come from?!
This is about living the saved life. Yes, we are saved and no longer under condemnation, and have a sure and certain hope, but we are still living in a fallen world, and we need saving day by day. Our enemy is extremely cunning, having lost us to the Kingdom of God he is constantly devising strategies to cripple us in our Christian walk. Paul says “we are not ignorant of his devices,”  but it would appear today many are – we need to wise up.
Part of our daily praying should be, “lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil/evil one.”  1. It will alert us to the fact we can and will be tempted and help to set our antenna, and set our hearts and minds on knowing God’s presence and help, and 2.  It will keep us alert to the fact that it’s not our will power or strength that beats the enemy but knowing the presence and power of the Lord.
One last thought, temptation doesn’t define us. You may be powerfully and sorely tempted. The devil might suggest it’s unique to you, that you are an exception. Don’t believe him. Temptation is not sin. Adam and Eve were tempted prior to the fall, Jesus Christ being without sin was nevertheless tempted in all points as we are. Don’t allow the fact that you are tempted to define or bind you. Go forward knowing that Jesus is present to rescue you from every temptation, to deliver you from the power of the evil one, and that he always provides a way of escape.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Forgive us as

Forgiveness is something we all stand in need of. We’ve all missed it and we’re all messed up.
No matter how hard modern man or woman tries, guilt still runs deep. We still stand in need of redemption.
Down through the centuries humanity has sought to deal with it and it’s consequences, above all the need for absolution, to be freed from guilt and blame, and released from the consequences, obligations or penalties.
Yes we all need it, we still need it. The modern world may well want to excise us of it, but we cannot run from the reality of it or excise ourselves of it, and the Lord’s prayer reminds us that as much as we need our daily bread we also stand in need of the daily mercy and grace of God.
As someone once said, “forgiveness for man is the plainest of duties but for God it’s the profoundest of problems.” We should forgive as we are all on the same level, but for God to forgive is another matter.
In the heart of the triune fellowship of the Trinity the Son volunteered to come and deal with the guilt and blame, to release us from the consequences, obligations and penalties of our sin.
In time Jesus came and lived the life we should have lived, and then died the death we should have died, the Just for the unjust that we might be reconciled to God.
Today, from the death and resurrection flows the gospel proclamation, calling all to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was and still is the emancipation proclamation!
All sin, every sin is covered, past, present future, the word stands true – there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, none, period. Hallelujah!
But because we still fall short, we still mess up, there needs to be the daily appropriation of it to our lives.
We’re not perfect and we need to admit it; own up to the fact that we haven’t arrived, that we still fail, sometimes bigtime – yes, confession is good for the soul.
“As we forgive….” It shocks us to hear those words, it sounds like a condition, but no it’s the kingdom, as we pray it in ourselves experiencing the massive mercy and extreme grace of God the natural outcome is to forgive. There is a wonderful cycle going on here, the two are tied together. The person who can’t forgive hasn’t understood the forgiveness they receive. For the kingdom to come as we pray, we need to be both forgiven and forgiving.
Yes, God’s grace is that big, it truly is hyper-grace! It covers all our sin, at the same time it extends it through us to others also!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Give us Today our Daily Bread

Daily bread, we all need it.
Bread represents what’s necessary for life – there’s a lot we think we need that we really don’t. There’s a lot that we want and seek and when we get it actually adds to our perceived needs rather than reducing them.
When David said in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” he didn’t for one moment mean the wants of the 21st century, he meant the daily needs of his life.
It’s good to have food to feed and sustain our lives, but life is so much more than that. We are more than flesh and blood, we are body, soul and spirit.
It had been a busy and tiring day for Jesus and his disciples when they finally arrived in Sychar in Samaria. As they were hungry the disciples went into town to get some food and left Jesus sitting down by the well. When they came back and found Jesus ministering to a spiritually hungry woman they were amazed. Wasn’t he tired? Wasn’t he hungry? Where did he get the energy? They thought perhaps someone had given him something to eat and he was feeling renewed, but Jesus said, “I have food to eat that you do not know about…” (John 4:32), but by implication they were going to!
Yes, food and drink go so far, but they don’t and can’t sustain the spirit. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” says the scripture. Yes we need the Word, food for our souls, the bread of heaven. To that end God has given us his Word, the scriptures, God-breathed and profitable in every part. Not just the favourite parts but all of it. The whole counsel of God. We need to feed on them.
Then again there is the Bread of the Word that he quickens to us in a moment – a scripture perhaps we’ve known and read many a time that suddenly comes alive by the Spirit in that moment of need and speaks to and energises our lives.
There is also the Bread of his Presence – he himself is the Bread of life. It means spending time in His Presence, being with Him, sharing fellowship, listening to His Voice – didn’t Jesus say, “my sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me”? God’s voice is not locked into the printed page, he still speaks today, and we, you need to hear Him. One Word from Heaven (the context of the prayer) can make all the difference!
Today we hear a lot about the right kind of diet, what we should and shouldn’t eat – we take great care of our bodies, but what about our souls, what kind of diet are you living on? Are you spiritually malnourished? Are you getting a complete spiritual diet? Do you only read certain parts of the Bible? Do you ever stop to listen to his voice?
What is the bread you really need today?
Go ask Him for it.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Your Kingdom Come

The next phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Your kingdom come,’ reminds us that God is King, he is sovereign. His will and word are final. All the rights are his. He is the One who creates. He is the One who sustains. He is the One who makes the big decisions. His will, will be done.
In Genesis we discover that God created humanity in his own image, male and female he made them, and following their creation they were charged with subduing and ruling the earth – in other words they were made to be vice-regents.
This wasn’t to be done as they chose, but in relation to their creator King. Day by day they would come into the garden, God’s temple on earth, and meet with God, and receive from him the wisdom, strength and provision to fulfill his purpose on the earth. They then went out to subdue, to rule.
Then one day they listened to the wrong voice. Not only did they listen, but they took heed to it, and did as was suggested, and suddenly things were turned upside down. The world in every way was not as it should be. Something happened in them (they were spiritually corrupted), something happened in their relationship with God (they found they didn’t look forward to or like God’s company anymore), something happened between them (they started blaming one another).
A sad and sorry story. Suddenly blame, victimization, power plays, control, intimidation, fear, injustice, exploitation etc. entered their universe – the world was not as it should be.
But God the Trinity had a plan, to right the wrongs, and put things the right way up, and that plan was Jesus. When Jesus came, he came proclaiming the kingdom (or reign) of God. He declared that it was at hand, that he had come to destroy the work of the evil one. As the Servant King he modeled a different way of being and doing. He healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, proclaimed the Good News, confronted sin, forgave sins and ultimately went to the cross paying sins price, and defeated death itself.
When asked by his disciples how they should pray Jesus said, “Our Father… Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” Our Father is a King, the King, and he has a kingdom, and we are called on to pray it in.
What a way to pray, praying down heaven, something of heaven now – praying something of the not yet now, something of the future into the present.
It means acting as vice-regents once again.