Jesus in HD 64: When Your Faith Flickers or Falters…

Jesus in HD 64: When Your Faith Flickers or Falters… April 3, 2014

Does your faith ever flicker or falter? Are you ever besieged by doubts, pesky thoughts that call into question God’s love, God’s goodness, God’s presence in your life?

You are not alone, as you are about to hear in this PODCAST.

Matthew 6:9-13

In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

There is a battle being waged right before our eyes, a battle of good versus evil, a battle of the forces of light against the forces of darkness, a spiritual battle centered squarely upon you… and me.

Which explains the reason why Jesus taught us to pray as He did.

The enemy’s presence is much more “sensed” than seen.  He’s a diabolical devil known by the name Satan (or adversary).  Paul acknowledges this in Ephesians 6:12

12 We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.

You see, before we became followers of Christ, Satan’s mission was simply to distract us from understanding and accepting God’s truth.  But once we commit ourselves to following Jesus, his mission is to discredit our message of God’s love and salvation and take away our credibility in the eyes of those who have yet to give Jesus the steering wheel of their lives, rendering us unusable by God.

A prime example of this is found in 1 Peter 5:8

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Satan is not messing around here!  This is a fight to the death.

This is a sobering reality, especially in light of when Jesus taught us to pray:

13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.

James made this observation:

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; (James 1:13)

So the question is: why would Jesus teach us to pray something that God promised He would never do?

The reality is that there is a HUGE difference between leading us into temptation and actually tempting us.  The distinction seems slight, but it is indeed profound.

You see, since before man was even created, the devil clinched his fist to God and declared, “I will make myself like the Most High!”  His first mission was to convince a third of the angelic heavenly host to follow him (thus them becoming fallen angels or demons) and then he went after mankind by seducing Eve then Adam.  And the pattern continues today, with the spoils of this war being the souls of you, me, our neighbors, friends, family members and others around the world.

You see, the impulse to spread terror, abuse, intimidation and lies comes directly from Satan – the devil.  Jesus said just this in the Gospel of John:

John 8:44

44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

So, where do you and I enter into this story?  Why would Satan give even a passing thought to little ol’ you or me?

Well, we can see just what plans the devil has for us in the example of Peter – a fallible guy very similar to you and me.  While in the upper room together, in what is now known as the Last Supper, Jesus warned His disciples that their worst day was about to begin.  He knew their world was about to collapse, that he would be betrayed and killed and their world would be turned upside down.  But they simply didn’t get it.

In fact, on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane, after hearing these things from Jesus Himself, just before he would knowingly be betrayed by one of His own – several of the apostles were arguing about, of all things, who would be recognized as the greatest!

You see, when Satan attacks, think of him as having three prongs to the pitchfork that he holds in his hand: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride (1 John 2:16)

As they argued, Jesus stopped and gave them a lesson on humbly serving others – a lesson on humility.  It was right in the middle of this teachable moment between Jesus and his remaining eleven disciples that Jesus’ eyes locked on Peter and He made an unsettling observation:

31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”  (Luke 22:31-32)

Now, the implications of this is astounding!  If ever there was a moment of crystal clarity and a need for humility before Jesus, it was this evening in Peter’s life.  Yet still, the enemy, seizing upon Peter’s pride, did all he could to discredit one of Jesus’ closest friends.

Peter would then go on to deny that he knew Jesus, even disowned Him entirely and desert Jesus entirely, go back to fishing and quit his life as an apostle of Jesus Christ.

Peter simply couldn’t handle the attacks, the pressure, the overbearing terror that came from Satan, nor could he handle the allure of sinful pride.  The truth is that none of us can.

So my question is this:  given what Jesus had told Peter in the upper room, that Satan had asked for him by name, what should Peter have prayed?

Shouldn’t he have simply prayed:

Do not lead me into temptation,
But deliver me from the evil one!

Shouldn’t that have been his response to Jesus’ warning?

Sadly, he didn’t respond this way.

And, too often neither do we.  But we should.  Often!

So, to the question of would God ever purposefully lead someone into a situation where their faith would collapse?

You might be surprised.  You see, to eradicated our pride completely out of our systems, He may indeed removed His protection and allow Satan to pummel our pride right out of us.

Look at what Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:

19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God.

Paul then continues this story, in regards to Alexander, in 2 Timothy 4

14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done. 15 Be careful of him, for he fought against everything we said.

Poor Alex allowed his pride to get the best of him, was handed over to Satan and failed.

It’s for this reason that we should pray that God protects us from temptation and delivers us from the evil one.  An admission that we are completely dependent upon God and without Him we can do nothing.

It’s for this reason that we ought to pray everyday: we are too weak to do it alone, and we need God’s protection from temptation and we need to be delivered from the evil one.

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