Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bethany Bullet - March 24, 2015

Breathe: “Deliver Us from Evil”

“Prayer is to the soul what breath is to the body.  When breathing becomes heavy and clogged, the body is bound to be ill.  When praying becomes unpleasant or irksome, the soul is not well.  When the Christian stops conversing with heaven, then hell begins to speak.”  - Martin Luther

We have spent the season of Lent looking at the Lord’s Prayer and today we will spend some time with the petition, “Deliver us from evil.”  It should not surprise you that even though the Lord’s Prayer has been memorized over the centuries, many have often misheard it. 

You see, the devil is working overtime here in God’s house to speak, and to distract us from hearing the truth.  One young boy wanted to show his father that he had memorized the Lord’s Prayer so during bedtime prayers he prayed the following:

Our Father, makes art in Heaven
How do you know my name?
The Kingdome comes; the wallaby runs a nurse that is with Kevin.
Give us this day our dilly bread
And forgive us our trash passes,
as we forgive those who passed trash against us.
And lead us not into Penn Station.
But deliver us from eagles.
For mine is the kingdom, the flower and the jewelry. Amen.

But my friends, this is no joking matter.  The evil one desires to distract you and not be able to take a stand against his schemes.

We have come to the last part of the prayer as it is taught by Jesus in Matthew chapter 6. 
“Deliver us from the evil one.”

I know that in most churches as the Lord’s Prayer is prayed aloud we say, “And deliver us from evil,” but Jesus was expressing to His followers that evil is more than just a concept it is a person, it is the deceiver, Satan himself. 
Martin Luther in his Large Catechism has a great passage about this. 

He writes,
“It seems to be speaking of the devil as the sum of all evil in order that the entire substance of our prayer may be directed against our archenemy.  For it is he who obstructs everything for which we ask: God’s name or honor, God’s kingdom and will, our daily bread, a good and cheerful conscience, etc.”

“Therefore at the end we sum it up by saying ‘Dear Father, helps us to get rid of all this misfortune.’ …For because the devil is not only a liar but a murderer as well, he incessantly seeks our life and vents his anger by causing accidents and injury to our bodies.  He crushes some and drives others to insanity… Therefore, there is nothing for us to do on earth but to pray without ceasing…For if God did not support us, we would not be safe… for a single hour.”

“Thus you see how God wants us to pray to Him for everything that attacks even our bodily welfare so that we seek and expect help from no one but Him.  But He has placed at the end, this petition, for if we are to be protected and delivered from all evil, His name must be hallowed in us, His kingdom come among us, and His will done.  In the end He will preserve us from sin and disgrace and from everything else that harms or injures us.” (LCIII: 113-118)

“Deliver us from the evil one,” …Indeed!

Hell and the forces of evil have had their voice heard loud and clear in this present age.  Prayer was once a mainstay in western culture and in life.  Giving thanks and offering petitions was just what was done.  But somewhere along the line, prayer became unpleasant and irksome and we see the illness that has resulted from it. 

The evil one has a voice in our culture and as Christians we are called to pray, to breathe deeply in conversation with the Creator.  The battle is real, the enemy is speaking, are you listening?

Far too often we listen when evil speaks.  We talked about temptation at our Wednesday evening Lenten service and heard that in times of temptation and in times of evil we need to breathe deeply upon God’s Word. 

In Ephesians the fourth chapter, Paul describes six things that we have been given to face the day of evil; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit; known collectively as the Armor of God.

Many have tried to explain these tools and what they mean for us, but in the end many descriptions fall short. 
If we think that by simply doing a few things all will be well, we are falling into the trap of the evil one himself.  I think that Paul is pointing us in another direction, away from ourselves and to the source of our strength.  For just as evil is more than a concept, we have something more than just a list of accessories to help us stand when the day of evil comes.

You see, it is more than just the idea of truth that encircles us it is Jesus Himself.  Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Jesus is not only the source of truth, but truth incarnate.  Truth is not a concept, it’s a person.

It is more than just being righteous.  For on our own we are unable to attain it.  Isaiah was right when he wrote, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) But Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians these words, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness”.  (I Cor. 1:30) Righteousness is not a concept or an idea it is a person.  Jesus is our righteousness.

It is more that attempting to live in peace, peace with one another, peace with our neighbors, peace in the world, peace with God, but Paul in Ephesians writes, “He himself is our peace.”(Ephesians 2:14).  Peace is not a concept, it’s a person.  Jesus is peace.

It is not in the amount of our own faith, but as the writer of the book of Hebrews states, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.”(Hebrews 12:2)  Faith is not simply a concept, but a person, Jesus, the Messiah.

Even our salvation is not something that we can possess on our own. 

This salvation is not from what we do, but is based on what Jesus has done.  Peter, in speaking before the Jewish elders recorded in Acts says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Salvation is not an idea; it’s a person, the Savior Himself, Jesus Christ.

Even our one offensive weapon is not simply words on paper, or pixels on a screen, but they are Jesus Himself.  John writes, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.”  (John 1:1) And the writer of Hebrews states, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”(Hebrews 4:12).  The Word is not an idea or a concept; it is a person, the Word, made flesh, Jesus!

Standing in the face of the evil one is not about following another set of rules or expectations to follow.  It is not about something that we can do, but it is a person who has taken up our sins, who stood up to the evil one and defeated him. 

We can stand because God in the flesh stood in for us in opposition to the Evil One, and because of Him all your sins have been forgiven.

He is everything that we need; He forgives us, restores us and renews us.  He gives us the strength we need to stand against the devils schemes.  For He faced the evil one head on as He went to the cross and died in our place and He brings us peace with God and defeated death as He rose again.

This same Jesus is here today, He comes to you in His living, active, powerful Word, and by His Spirit, who promises new life and forgiveness, He brings ultimate health and wholeness and He allows us to stand.

And so we pray, “Deliver us from the evil one.”

Even when the evil one knocks us off our feet, we can get on our knees and breathe deep in prayer.
Prayer is vital to the proclamation of Jesus Christ.  In prayer, we can stand toe to toe with the evil one but only because we stand IN Christ and UPON Christ

When we pray in this petition to deliver us from evil; what does this mean?

We pray that our Father in heaven would deliver us from all kinds of evil, of body and soul, property and honor.  And finally, when our last hour shall come, we pray that He would grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself into heaven.

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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