Tuesday, April 17, 2018
WATCH AND PRAY
Before Jesus was arrested, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples Peter, James, and John to pray. In the garden, Jesus asked the three disciples to watch while He went to pray by Himself (see Matthew 26:36-39). On his return, the disciples were asleep. He woke them up, and chided them for sleeping and not praying as commanded. “Keep watch and pray,” Jesus said to them, “so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NLT).
Today, that admonition hit me in an unexpected way. I was saddened by an article I’d just read: a very dear Christian friend had been charged with numerous counts of fraud. It broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Immediately, two verses came to mind: “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation” (Matthew 26:41); “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you” (Romans 2:24 NLT). How did this happen, Lord? I prayed.
God knows the dangers we face every day; He also knows our flesh is weak. Desiring to obey Him is not enough to win the fight against the devil, which is why we need to pay attention to His admonishments, commands, and instructions. God is not lording it over us through His commands. He wants us to live victorious lives; His commands are for our good! Christians, please let’s wake up, watch, and pray, because our enemy, the devil, like a roaring lion, is looking for someone to devour (see 1 Peter 5:8-11).
How could this tragic situation have possibly happened: a Christian charged with fraud? It made no sense! But this could happen to any Christian, regarding any sin you could think of. If we don’t read, meditate, and obey the Word, we could fall into similar situations. As a Christian, I find this fraud situation very frightening. How did it even start? May the Lord help us to take His Word seriously; may we have the hunger for His Word, and do all it takes for us to apply the Word to our everyday living! Let’s not play with sin, because sin grows if we don’t nip it in the bud. Like Dr. Paul White wrote years ago, in his book Jungle Doctor’s Fables, “Small leopards (sins) become big leopards (sins), and big leopards (sins) kill.” Greed and covetousness, for instance, if not checked, could lead to lying, stealing, cheating, and even murder. Lust, if not checked, could lead to all kinds of sexual misconduct: fornication, adultery, and possibly murder.
Prevention of such a tragedy requires that we put on and keep on the whole armor of God, because the Bible tells us we are in an on-going battle with principalities and powers (see Ephesians 6:10-18). Therefore, we need to be ready at all times and not allow ourselves to be overtaken by sin. The devil is looking for opportunities to trip us up; let’s watch and pray with the whole Armor of God on.
Dr. David Jeremiah of Turning Point encourages his audience this way, “Memorizing Bible verses isn’t hard; it’s a matter of learning one word at a time until a particular verse is installed in your mind. Nothing is more powerful, practical, and personality-changing. Nor is there a better weapon in spiritual warfare than the Sword of the Spirit.” When Satan tempts you to worry, quote Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing.” When tempted to speak rashly, remember James 1:19: “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” When you awaken in the night with problems nagging at your mind, begin reciting Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
The Psalmist said it so well when he said, “Thy Word I have hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). It cannot be overstated: godly living is the only way to avoid tragedies of this nature. The Psalmist did what he believed would preserve his relationship with God: holding the Word of God in high esteem. In his prayer, he asked God, “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression” (Psalm 19:13 NLT).
Fellow Christians, we need to hate sin with passion, and not allow it to fester! In addition to it interrupting our personal relationship with God, we blow our testimony, unbelievers see us as phonies, and they conclude we have nothing to attract them to our God, the gospel, or the Church. Church of God, please, please, let’s do better! We can’t afford to send people to hell by the way we live. Let’s watch and pray, so we’ll not enter into temptation!