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KEEP US SAFE


 

 

BIBLE READINGS



MATTHEW 6:13


And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. (NRSV)

 

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (NIV)

 

don’t let us yield to temptation,

but rescue us from the evil one. (NLT)

 

Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! (The Message)

 

John 15:1-5


15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.


1 Peter 5:8


8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.

 

KEEP US SAFE

 

When we pray this petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we are acknowledging the kind of dangerous world we live in—a world, where, as Peter puts it, the devil goes about “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). We are saying to God our Father that the only safety in this world is in his hands, in the powerful grace of the cross. We’re safe only when we stay close to God.


In our present days we are tempted to fear the future, fret about our health and safety and grow cynical about where goodness can be found. These are the outcomes when we lose our sense of hope. In this petition of the Lord's Prayer, we seek God’s daily protection and pray, as this petition is interpreted above in the NRSV: “Do not bring us to the time of trial”, the time when we look to and rely on ourselves, instead of relying on God. We need continuing strength to resist these temptations, and all others that come our way. Remember, Jesus himself resisted the temptations of “the evil one,” over and over again.


But wait, the way this petition reads can be troubling. Don't you think? “Lead us not into temptation” seems to imply that sometimes God leads us toward evil. That doesn't sit too well with us. One of the practices of interpretation of the Bible is to allow scripture to interpret scripture. The word for “temptation” here can also mean “test,” or "time of testing." The devil’s point of view on temptation is that temptations are an opportunity for our ruin, our downfall. But God’s point of view, however, is that these temptarions are a test of faith, an opportunity for growth and learning. Isn't that the implication of John 15 above about remaining in the Vine?


Every branch that bears fruit he (the Father) prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.


As we pray this petition, we remember who taught it to us: Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus himself was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, and the only weapon he had was the power of God’s Word. His answer to the devil, again and again, was “It is written . . .” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). The writer of Hebrews tells us that “the one who was tempted in every way” (Heb. 4:15) not only in the wilderness, but all through his life, “is able to help those who are being tempted” (2:18). The Son, at the Father’s right hand, understands the struggle and is there to give us aid and comfort when we will turn to him.


Evil is real among us, in more ways than we can name. But deliverance from evil can ideed be a reality to our lives, by the power of God. Let's not assume that our prayers will make things “automatically better.” I believe we all know that life is marked by zigs and zags, ups and downs, testings and temptations, on our way to God’s ultimate purposes. Along the way, we confront evils that shake our souls. So we pray for God’s deliverance and help.

 


Our Father ....


And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.


By ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment. And our sworn enemies— the devil, the world, and our own flesh— never stop attacking us. And so, Lord, uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit, so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle, but may firmly resist our enemies until we finally win the complete victory. AMEN!

(Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Q & A 127)

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