Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Good morning. It is Wednesday, September 2, 2015. The “-ber” months are here. My favorite time of year.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is waxhead. This noun is a slang word, meaning “a surfer; a surfing enthusiast.”

Today is V-J Day, the day of the official ceremony of Japan’s surrender in WWII, thereby marking the official ending of the war. It is estimated that somewhere between 60-80 million people died in WWII.

Yesterday was a tired day. But that’s normal for a Tuesday after Monday night band practice. Unfortunately, when I’m tired, I get frustrated more easily, and that’s pretty much what happened most of the day, yesterday.

Christi went to see a doctor yesterday, and he wants to do an MRI on her calf to see how badly the muscle is damaged. In the meantime, he suggested she wear the boot that she had from her foot surgery. So she went and dug that out of the garage, last night.

Today, being Hump Day, we don’t have to do anything tonight. It’s a nice middle-of-the-week break.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 102:8-10.

All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down.

“The prophet now declares that the greatness of his grief proceeded not only from outward troubles and calamities, but from a sense that these were a punishment inflicted upon him by God. And surely there is nothing which ought to wound our hearts more deeply, than when we feel that God is angry with us.” (p 246)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6:9-13

Today, we look at the sixth petition, “lead us not into temptation.” Augustine makes note that this is not a prayer that we not be tempted, but, rather, a prayer that we not be “‘brought [or led] into temptation.'” There is a sense of “temptation” that is more accurately described as being tried and tested. This is not only inevitable in our lives, but even desirable. “However, to ‘enter into temptation,’ as Jesus termed it (Matt 26:41), is to entertain and consider the prospect of giving in to sin.”

Calvin speaks of two different categories of temptation, as though they come from the right and from the left. (These are not political leanings, simply directions.) “From the right comes ‘riches, power, and honors,’ which tempt us into the sin of thinking that we do not need God. From the left comes ‘poverty, disgrace, contempt, and afflictions,’ which tempt us to despair, to lose all hope, and to become angrily estranged from God.” Oddly, these seem to line up with Augustine’s prayer that God give us just enough, not too much and not too little. All of these temptations attempt to entice us away from our trust in God, and toward “centering your life on yourself and on ‘inordinate desires’ for other things.”

Father, I confess that I have always struggled with the wording of this particular phrase, largely because I can’t really see you, my Father, deliberately leading me into temptation. However, if I think of it in terms of this prayer being that you lead me away from temptation, it works much better. I pray that you would keep me from entering into temptation. I pray that you would, by your Spirit, guard my imagination, so that it can’t even consider temptation. May I be strengthened against temptations of “riches, power, and honors,” as well as temptations of “poverty, disgrace, contempt, and afflictions.” I’m not praying for a perfect life. I’m only praying that you would keep me from thinking that I do not need you, as well as from becoming angry at you because I think you might be holding out on me. I hope that I would never think either of those things, because your grace has been more than generous with me and my family.

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe. May our work day be smooth, and may Christi’s meetings go well today. Help her to cope with any anxiety that threatens her by centering her affections on you, Lord. Ditto for me. When those things happen that tend to frustrate me, may I draw strength from your Spirit. I pray for your grace to be noticeably present in the lives of Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and my mother, today.

Your grace is sufficient.

May our Father in heaven keep us from temptation today, especially while we are attempting to engage him in prayer.

Grace and peace, friends.

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