This week's devotional is from Pastor Jeff.
ENCOUNTER: Matthew 6:13; Ephesians 6:10-17; 1Cor. 10:13
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood ...but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
“And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
It is kind of a brutal awakening to stop and reflect on the reality that scripture describes in the above verses regarding what is happening in the spiritual realm every day in all of our lives. I very much want my life and relationship with God to be roses and sunshine, happiness and peace. But whether I like it or not, we are not fully at that place yet in the epic story of our universe. One day the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness, and all sin and death and suffering and tears will have been wiped away. But not yet. Now, we are at war. There is a spiritual battle raging and it isn’t pretty. We have an enemy of our souls, Satan and his demons, and he is intent on bringing death and destruction and chaos and separation from God. But the good news is that we know the outcome of this war. For “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1John 4:4)
In the meantime we battle to live in, and live out of, the truth of Jesus. We battle for our hearts and the hearts of those around us. We battle to resist the temptation of the Evil One. This is what Jesus taught us to pray at the end of the Lord’s prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Are you facing this battle? For much of my journey as a Christian, I just sort of blindly hoped that maybe the devil wasn’t much of an issue. As I have grown in experience, I am realizing that he is very real and is active in all of our lives. It’s the only way I can explain how strategically (and effectively) the struggles of life come our way and conspire to take us out of the game.
Facing this battle is not a matter of living in fear. For as I said, the Holy Spirit within us is greater in power by infinite measure that the demonic forces of evil. So when you submit to God and “resist the devil, he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
And when I ask about how we are fighting the battle, I am not talking about “finding Satan under every rock” as they say. For he is not our focus in life; the Lord Jesus is! But we do want to be wise to see where and how he is trying to deceive, distract, and attack, so we can then pray against those efforts.
In other words, we “watch” and we “pray” so that we don’t fall into temptation. For “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:48). We watch and pray for ourselves and for those God has put around us. This is the foundation of doing spiritual warfare.
In the sermon on Sunday, I offered a prayer of spiritual covering and protection that I found written by John Eldredge. I’ve included it at the bottom of this devotional. I also led us in a brief prayer experience at the end of the sermon. Here is that prayer which may serve you as a template of sorts for how to begin being strategically prayerful.
“FATHER, I SUBMIT TO YOU MY WHOLE SELF: HEART, SOUL, MIND, AND BODY. HELP ME TO WALK IN THE LEADING AND POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO DWELLS IN ME.
BY YOUR MIGHTY STRENGTH, AND IN THE NAME OF OUR VICTORIOUS AND GRACIOUS SAVIOR, JESUS, I REJECT THE ENEMY'S ATTEMPTS TO LURE ME (or the person for who you are praying) TO SIN OR TO KEEP ME SINNING IN THIS WAY: ________________________.
BE A BLESSING:
As you look around your circle of family and friends, having understood the teaching of scripture regarding the spiritual battle, and as you expand your gaze to our community in Marin, and even wider to the U.S. and the nations of the world, you will begin to see how often you feel the burden of the Holy Spirit to pray “deliver us from the Evil one.” Who is one person, or one need you see in our world that, this week, you can pray for from this perspective. For example, Linda and I have felt a growing and deep burden for those Syrians who have been victims of war and displacement. It is obvious that the enemy of the human soul is wreaking havoc in Syria and destroying people’s lives, families, hope, dignity, etc. I find myself praying for God’s kingdom to break in and do the opposite. Similarly, on a narrower scale, I find myself praying for a dear friend who is caught in the spiral of addiction. I’m believing in both situations that God is a merciful and powerful Father who can do more than what we can even ask or imagine.
As is often the case on our spiritual journey, our brothers and sisters in the faith can offer a perspective on the circumstances of our lives that we may be less able to see clearly. It is one of the reasons we encourage everyone to have an intention spiritual community that they meet with regularly. With whom are you sharing your life and battle with this week? Have a coffee conversation or, or start your small group this week with the question, “Where do see the enemy at work trying to distract you right now?” And see how this conversation and the prayer that follows will bring you closer to God and further down the road on your journey.
A prayer of protection and deliverance from the enemy:
"And now I bring the fullness of your work – your cross, resurrection, and ascension – against Satan, against his kingdom, and against all his emissaries and all their work warring against me and my domain. Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world. Christ has given me authority to overcome all the power of the Evil One, and I claim that authority now over and against every enemy, and I banish them in the name of Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit, apply to me, (and to my family) the fullness of the work Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my life.”