Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 – November 16 – Overcoming Temptation

Study from God’s Word Reading of the trials Jesus and the Disciples experienced in Gethsemane, as well as the unjust arrest, trials, and condemnation of Jesus by the Jewish high priests and Sanhedrin from Matt 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18, extracted and edited into chronological presentation … Passage for Reflection: Matthew 26: 41 … NIV [Jesus, to Peter] “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The [human] spirit is willing, but the body {or “flesh”} is weak.

My Journal for Today: Being the called leader, “pastor,” or overseer of a ministry for Christian men who’ve fallen prey to their own flesh and into sexual temptations and sin [see the Battle Plan Ministry website], the passages from the four Gospels documenting Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, as well as the flesh-driven failures of three of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, have always had special significance for me.

Here we have Jesus, the very Son of God, dealing with His human flesh, … even praying that He might be spared “the cup” of crucifixion ahead of Him. And then we have those tired and weak three, who were charged by Jesus to wait for their beloved Messiah while He went into the garden to pray. And three times they relented to the temptation of their flesh, falling asleep at the wheel of watchfulness. And during this time, Jesus even singled out Peter, whom He had perceived as the leader of His inner core of followers, with this warning we read in today’s highlight text.

Dr. Smith even speculates in today’s devotional entry that Jesus was speaking to Peter (and to us through His word in the Bible) out of empathy; because, in the garden that night, He had been praying desperately to the Father to be able to overcome His humanity and allow His divinity to complete the mission before Him, … to go to the cross for the absolute atonement of the sins of man. So, when Jesus spoke to Peter, as well as James and John to be vigilant, watching and praying, to avoid falling prey to the ever present weakness of the flesh, He was speaking to you and me as well from His humanity as well as His divinity.

My friends, we are constantly in a spiritual battle against very powerful enemies which tempt us to fall from temptations. Certainly Satan is WAY stronger than are we; and he has created a system, known as “the world,” which surrounds us with temptations which pry at our flesh to have us worship Satan or self over The Savior. And then there is the real soft-spot in our armament; and that is our very human heart (or “the flesh”), the weakness which is so well documented in Jeremiah 17: 9, a passage linked here which I hope you really do know by heart to appreciate the fleshly weakness of our own, very human, hearts.

My friends, we really do need to be vigilant – ever day, even every moment – to guard against temptations such as those encountered by Peter, James, and John, and yes, by Jesus, Himself, in the garden, just before Jesus was taken prisoner, unjustly tried, and crucified. And Jesus warned Peter, the tough-guy of the remaining eleven Disciples, who had declared he would never deny Jesus; but he, of course, was the one who ran like a wimp from Gethsemane and denied the Lord, … not just once, but thrice.

When Jesus, told Peter, to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation,” He was speaking truth to us all. If we don’t remain ever vigilant, praying continually for Spirit empowered grace to overcome our ever vulnerable hearts (i.e., flesh), we are going to be very vulnerable to an enemy, Satan, who wants to do what he’s done to many Christian leaders who’ve fallen prey to the flesh. You know them well. They are the Bakers, the Swaggerts, the Haggards, and unfortunately too many others who’ve fallen prey to the flesh. And are we exempt? Hardly! How about every one of us who’ve fallen asleep in our lack of vigilance and chickened out when we should’ve stood for Jesus by witnessing to the lost rather than running in the fear of failure.? How many of us who have fallen prey to gluttony and eaten that donut rather than resisting when we knew it was sinful? How many of us men who have fallen asleep repeatedly in battle and have gone into visual pursuit of flesh on the internet rather than avoiding such pursuits to honor God?

Is the flesh weak, or what? Do we need to “watch and pray” to avoid temptation? Dr. Smith asks today: ”If my highest aspirations are not enough to keep my body (i.e., flesh) in check, isn’t it time my spirit got down its knees?”

Years ago, I learned and developed a technique; and I know that I’m going long here; … but, like Jesus in the Garden, I’m asking if you’re willing to take the time to learn a battle technique to overcome your weak heart and fleshly desires, especially when temptations arise? If you are; …TRY THIS: …
1. Write these Bible verses on 3 X 5 cards: 1st Corinthians. 10: 13; Phil. 4: 13; Romans 8: 31.
2. Until you memorize these verses (and you should ASAP), carry the cards with you AT ALL TIMES.
3. When tempted, recite or read the verses through three times. >>> After the first recitation, pray to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to give you strength ... after the second recitation, pray to Jesus, thanking Him for His saving grace ... and after the third, pray to God the Father, praising His Holy Name!. I GUARANTEE YOU, if you do this when tempted, Satan will flee just as promised in James 4: 7. This battle strategy, my friend, will work! ... BUT … only if you do it!
To me, this technique, which I’ve been using and teaching for many years, fits right into Jesus’ Gethsemane declaration to His disciples, … to “watch and pray” when dealing with temptation. I can only pray for you – and I will below – that you find this battlefield technique as successful as I have.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I pray here for any reading here that they will recognize and acknowledge their own weakness and rely on Your power to give them strength in dealing with temptations. Amen

No comments: