“Temptation is the work of the devil, yet God allows the trials of life as a refining fire, purifying our lives as we struggle toward his kingdom.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 8, 2022
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:13, ESV
Does God tempt us? Should we be concerned that he is actively leading us into places of evil and unrest, with little to no concern for our safety or well-being? I recently found myself pondering questions such as these, especially as I re-read the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, which begins with these words: “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil” Luke 4:1-2a.
Though the temptation here clearly came from the devil, it is interesting to note that it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness. Have you noticed that detail before? Jesus didn’t take a wrong turn and end up accidently on the wrong side of the tracks. No, it was the will of the Holy Trinity for Christ to intentionally go and confront this temptation, seeing it as central to his mission on earth and a journey he must undertake. I believe there is real insight for us in these words, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see.
Temptation is the work of the devil, yet God allows the trials of life as a refining fire, purifying our lives as we struggle toward his kingdom. As such, when we pray “lead us not into temptation,” we do not believe that there is a live risk of God tempting his beloved children. Instead, when I pray this prayer, it is a prayer for salvation from myself and the countless ways my heart and life are aligned with the values of darkness rather than the light of his kingdom. “Lord, do not let me go down the path of temptation!”
Speaking of a journey through the wilderness, in his masterful work Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Ken Bailey recounts a guided tour across the Sahara desert, one that left him entirely dependent upon the wisdom and experience of his guide. Bailey summarizes, “We don’t know the way to where we are going, and if you get us lost we will all die. We have placed our total trust in your leadership.” This, dear friends, is our posture of faith toward the Lord and his disposition toward us.
There are times in life that you and I simply must cross a treacherous desert, for it is a wilderness that stands between us and the gates of paradise. Yet we do not cross it alone. God is a faithful guide who comes alongside us and journeys with us, forming us in the fires of adversity while protecting our souls from evil, preserving us to the very end.
Father, save us from the temptations of the devil and the distorted desires of our own hearts, but instead journey with us through the trials of this life, leading us as our good and faithful guide, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer every day this week, when you wake and before going to sleep.
Liturgical Folk: Lord’s Prayer
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