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Monday, April 1, 2019

That it Might Not Fail

Jesus . . . was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days. (Luke 4:1) 

The context of this text is our Lord’s wilderness trial. An important point – a crucial point that cannot be overemphasized – is that Jesus was NEVER alone during His trial. The Holy Spirit was with Him every moment. 

So why do so many Christians think they are alone as they journey through their own deserts? As God was with His Son in that wilderness, do we think He is not with us in ours? 

Christian, Listen! God is a loving, compassionate, and protective Abba Father. Of course the Holy Spirit leads us – as He led Jesus – all the way through our desert and right into the Savior’s embrace. 

This point cannot be overemphasized. The enemy of our souls wants us to think God has forsaken us, that He set us down in the center of our nightmares and disappeared to another side of the universe. 

Not only is that a demonic lie, it should not surprise us to hear it in our thoughts. Remember what Jesus said of Satan, He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) 

You and I need to stop listening to his lies. 

God promised us multiple times throughout Scripture: “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” Here is what He tells us through the prophet Isaiah: “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands . . .” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

Christian, Listen! Jesus has inscribed you and me on the palms of His hands. Your name, my name, those of our family members, our neighbors, our friends – all indelibly carved into Jesus’ flesh by the spikes hammered into His hands by those Roman soldiers.

We are never alone. Never. Not when we lose a spouse, or a child, or a grandchild. Not when the doctor tells us there is no hope for recovery. We are not alone when we look at our wheelchair, or walker, and remember the years when we were vigorous and strong and independent. We are not alone when we look at our rapidly dwindling savings. We’re not alone when no one calls us anymore, when people we love forget our birthday, or anniversary, or some other special day in the calendar. 

There is not a Christian in any pew who has not slogged many times through a wilderness. And I don’t think we fully understand how important it is to do prayer battle for each other, and to encourage one another every day. 

Why else would the Holy Spirit urge us: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25) 

I’ve only recently realized our prayer list should be the length and breadth of a book. Yes, a book. 

It should be filled with names of people we know, and names of people we learn about from others. We should pray that their faith in their wilderness – whatever that wilderness might be – that it not be shaken, but rather strengthened. 

During the 46 years I’ve walked with the Lord, I’ve observed some typical steps that signal faltering faith. They go something like this: 

Step one: The battles leave us bleeding and bruised. We continue to pray, but our prayers become lackluster. We no longer have confidence that God hears us. 

Step one leads to step two: We stop praying nearly altogether. 

Step two leads almost inevitably to step three: As our prayer life stutters to a stop, we also stop reading the Scriptures. 

And when that final step takes root, step four is at the door: We stop going to church and we rapidly drift from what was once our vibrant relationship with God.

Oh, how easy it is, if we are not alert to the dangers and the symptoms, how easy it is for any of us to head down that road. That is why it is so necessary that we ask the Holy Spirit for ourselves – and for others – to break that downward momentum. 

Please remember what the Lord Jesus said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. (Luke 22:31-32) 

Never doubt it: Satan is always seeking to devour your faith and mine. Peter learned that lesson, and so he wrote in his first epistle: Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.(1 Peter 5:8) 

That’s why as we pray, we should ask Christ Jesus to also pray for us, as He prayed for Peter – that our faith, and the faith of others, might not fail.

Lord Jesus, teach us to pray as we ought. Please.

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