a way of escape, denying the Lord, entering into temptation, exiting God's process, Garden of Gethsemane, I Corinthians 10:13, leaving our process, losing our words from God, Mark 14:31 & 50, Mark 16, martyr, Matthew 26, Matthew 26:31-35, Oswald Chambers quote, overcoming failure, prayer, spiritual abortions, spiritual suicide, temptation
Do you remember Jesus’ three-fold warning to His disciples as they entered the Garden of Gethsemane? “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” Jesus didn’t say temptation could be avoided. He said they should pray to not enter into the temptation which was coming. What temptation? Luke doesn’t record the disciple’s failure. Everybody knows what it is… it was prophesied in the O.T. and recorded in Matthew 26 and Mark 16.
The disciples all scattered and fled the Lord when He was arrested. It was sin to them because they each, to a man, pledged to go to death for Jesus. For the first time in over three years, they were no longer following Jesus, the Lord of their life. Each man exited his process with God and lost hope.
This story is not just about denying the Lord. Yes, denying the Lord is big, but the larger problem is what exiting our process does to our inner man.
- When we exit God’s process we lose hope.
- When we exit God’s process all our words from the Lord come crashing to the ground —- all dreams, visions, hopes, and promises.
- Everything abruptly ends.
It is like committing spiritual suicide. This is Satan’s ultimate goal when he tempts us. He desires to crush us and to snatch away our hope right before our words are birthed. Satan loves performing spiritual abortions.
I believe this is why all except one disciple died a martyr’s death. Look at Matthew 26:31-35 and Mark 14:31 & 50. All the disciples vowed the previous evening to die for the Lord. They all failed to fulfill that promise. Their boasting wasn’t just empty platitudes. They meant what they proudly stated. Later in life when the same temptation came to deny the Lord and run, they each fulfilled their promise. Early church history confirms it. Jesus had other plans for John. (John 21:18-23)
According to scripture the Lord always provides for us a way of escape and to bear temptation’s grasp.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13
Jesus made it out of the garden of Gethsemane with His process intact. From a fleshly perspective, it appeared as though Jesus was trapped and the disciples escaped. In reality, the disciples were ensnared and Jesus alone escaped temptation. Outward circumstances are not a reliable indicator of spiritual realities. Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane was not a prayer of hopelessness and defeat. It was a prayer of surrender to His Father’s will. In surrender, Jesus found the strength to continue in His process and overcome.
The truth is the Lord always wants His children to walk in victory. Three times the Lord warned His disciples about being in caught in temptation’s snare. This warning went unheeded. Most of us operate just like the disciples… we believe we can handle it…only to find we can’t. The good news is the Lord provides a way of escape. This doesn’t mean the road automatically turns into Easy Street. It does mean we will be able to bear what is about to transpire…with God’s help. The key is being able to discern God’s path. This is why Jesus exhorted His disciple’s to pray.
God is not trying to keep His will from you today. He is trying to get you to understand and walk in truth. Take the time to get to know His best for you this week. Temptations are coming… wouldn’t it be great if you avoided those old pitfalls instead of falling head forward into Satan’s snares?
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
choosing to be obedient, circumstances which do not change, confirmation of the known will of God, drink from the cup, geography test, God's Incubator, I Corinthians 10:13, intimate with God, Leonard Ravenhill quote, Luke 22:39-46, prayer, prayer is laying hold of God, praying against the circumstance change us, temptation, understanding God's language
Lets face it… there are going to be times when prayer will NOT change what’s going to happen. God is still God and we are still His servants. No matter how much we pray, the outcome will still be the same. So, why pray?
The reason for keeping our prayer life current despite the circumstances was exemplified by Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Three times Jesus asked His Father to change His circumstances…. three times He was denied a more favorable outcome. (Luke 22:39-46) It was far better for you and me that God denied His request. So why pray then… because we still need something from God. Our prayer then becomes more of a confirmation of the known will of God.
A minister noticed a young boy kneeling off to the side of the room after youth group and praying very fervently. As the preacher came within earshot of the boy, he was surprised to hear the boy saying: “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.”
After the boy finished his praying the preacher approached him and said, “Son, I was very pleased to see you praying so devoutly, but I couldn’t help but overhear you saying something like ’Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.’ What was that all about?”
The boy replied, “Well, I just finished taking my geography test in school, and I have been praying as hard as I can that God would make Tokyo the Capital of France.”
Maybe you too have been in a place like this. Is God really going to change the capital of France to Tokyo? I don’t think so. Prayer is a powerful tool, but the outcome will still be the same. So do we continue in prayer when we know the outcome will not change?
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46
I don’t think Jesus was praying so much for His circumstances to change as much as He was praying against the circumstances changing Him. We know from the Gospel narratives that Jesus warned and instructed His disciples to “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” This warning was given three times. The disciples fell quickly into temptation’s snare… Jesus walked away from the temptation to exit God’s process.
When did this “cup” become so important to the Lord. Jesus had never mentioned having to “drink from a cup.” Let me abbreviate here… Drinking from the cup meant Jesus was choosing for Himself to stay in God’s process every step of the way. No deviation. The “cup” was shorthand describing Jesus’ process. I believe also this “cup” was the Father’s language to His Son. Yes, it can be found it scripture. But in Jesus’ mind it described everything He would be going through in the next few hours. I am sure Jesus had prayed about it numerous times. The cup might not speak to you, it might not speak to anyone…. but it sure spoke to Jesus and described precisely what He would be enduring.
Have you ever noticed how I sign the end of my blogs? For the past few months I say…”From God’s Incubator.” Now, this means absolutely nothing to anybody else…but to me, it means a lot. It describes what I am going through. One word reveals everything. Where did I get it? From my wife… no, but she heard it from the Lord. We have prayed about our incubator on numerous occasions. It is interesting. When God speaks, you start talking like Him!
Why is all this important? Because when you grow in the Lord, it is not about you simply following orders. There is a greater level of obedience. Eventually we each need to grow to a level of choosing for ourselves to be obedient. We stop talking about “God making us do things.” Instead, we are obedient to His word because we want to obey. The Father wants more from us than blind obedience. He wants us to choose His will for ourselves. Every parent longs for the day when their children want to brush their teeth, take a bath, and clean their room on their own. Jesus wasn’t simply going to the cross because God wanted Him to go… He was choosing the path of the cross… Himself.
Listen, all Jesus had to do was slip off about 30-40 feet, or even less, and crouch down to pray. No one would have even found Him there. He could have said, “Well, Father, I was there but Judas and his gang didn’t see Me… so I was going to do Your will, but they missed me.” You say they could have caught Him later, but then Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified directly before the Passover. Jesus made sure that Judas’ crew found Him. He basically delivered Himself into their hands. Why? Jesus drank for Himself the cup His Father placed before Him.
In closing, there is a verse of scripture that has always troubled me.
13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13
This verse proves once again that prayer isn’t ALWAYS about changing our circumstances and fixing our problems. Sometimes God’s escape plan is being able to endure what is coming our way. Prayer then, is about laying hold of God…
- laying hold of His strength,
- laying hold of His comfort, and
- laying hold of His Will in our lives.
Prayer is just an affirmation of what we know is already true. Jesus prayed three times for His circumstances to change… all to no avail. In the end, when all of His close friends abandoned Him, He had the comfort of knowing He was in the center of God’s will. Jesus’ prayer life confirmed it.
More next time…
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
altar call, burn, church fellowship, crying, do business with God, eat with my fingers, fingers, Galatians 6:7, hot homemade pickled peppers, hug, men's breakfast, men's choir, pastor, pepper in my eyes, religious experience, serving fork, sniffle, sting, temptation, touched by the Lord, water
I have always enjoyed fellowship meals at church. Several years ago I was attending a men’s breakfast that was being held at our church. People bring a sundry of delicacies to feast upon at such events. On this occasion I spotted some hot, homemade pickled peppers. Yum!
As I was walking through this smorgasbord of delectable delights, I noticed a problem with the peppers. I didn’t have a way to harvest the peppers from the dish. Someone had removed the serving fork. While no one was looking, I snatched several with my fingers. Now, my mother taught me different, but temptation got the better of me that morning. Satisfied with my bounty, I moved along with no one the wiser. By the way, they were just as hot and delicious as I knew they would be. I thought nothing more of the situation.
On this particular Sunday, the men were singing in the choir and I was participating. If there was going to be a men’s breakfast… there was probably going to be a men’s choir. The two usually went hand in hand. After singing a few hymns, there was a call to prayer. Sometime during the prayer I placed my hands over my face to pray. In addition, I moved my thumb and forefinger to the bridge of my nose and pressed against the inside corners of my eyes. This was a subconscious type of manuever I had often done while concentrating on prayer. Little did I know it was an enormous mistake.
My eyes began to sting and water flowed from them like a fire hose. I tried to fight it off by rubbing my eyes again and again. This only turned the stinging into intense burning. I was in agony and the flow of water only increased. I began to sniffle and once again started wiping my eyes. As my concentration began to suffer, I felt my face begin to turn blood-red as if it was being rubbed with sand paper. It was then that I knew my sins had surely found me out. I should have never handled those hot peppers without a serving fork. The tears were now gushing down my face like Niagara Falls.
At this point things began to get out of hand. The men beside me started passing handkerchiefs and patting me on the back like I had lost a member of my family. I was experiencing grief, just not the type they believed. They assumed I was being touched by the Lord or was having a religious experience. I felt like I was locked in some interrogation room under bright lights. What was I gonna do? I was having an experience alright!
The fire only increased. Peppers and eyes do not go together. It couldn’t have been any worse if I had been allergic to them. Nuclear waste couldn’t have burned any worse than those peppers. My ears were now ringing, sweat was pouring off my forehead and I could no longer focus. I wanted to make a dash for the door but I couldn’t see!
When I finally was able to take a peek, I noticed the entire men’s choir was now crying. At first I thought they too had handled those pickled peppers. No, they were crying because I was crying. They thought I was being touched by the Spirit… so they were moved. I couldn’t believe it. The whole choir was tore-up because I handled peppers without a serving fork. Now I really felt like crying.
The men’s choir was supposed to sing a special music selection next. As the men tried to gather themselves to sing the next selected number, the water works were turned on full blast. What started out as a lone contagion quickly grew into a full-blown epidemic. I detected that the men were trying to fight it off. The more they struggled to gather their emotions, the worse it became. It was a useless battle. The battle was over before it began. Sniper fire wouldn’t have made these men crumble any quicker. They melted like butter in a microwave. Have you ever seen 30 burly men all crying at once? I was thankful to have a hymnal in my hand so that I could hide behind it. As I took at peek over the top of my hymnal, as best I could make out over half the church was now beginning to weep and sob. Would this never end?
Without a word being spoken, all the pastor could do was open up the altar for people to come forward and conduct business. They did… it mass! As best as I could see everyone continued to cry, blow their noses, hug, and pray together. To say there wasn’t a “dry eye in the house” was an understatement. What started out as a men’s breakfast turned into a crying fest with people getting right with the Lord. Who knew so many people needed to do business with God?
The one who really needed to confess was me and I wasn’t going to confess anything, especially my sin. At least all of the commotion gave me some ground cover to make a move. I maneuvered my way to the edge of the crowd, hugging and crying all the way. As soon as humanly possible, I darted out the door to the bathroom. As I splashed water across my face… I finally was able to get some relief. Oh, the bliss of something cool on my irritated eyeballs. Thankfully, my pain and suffering was coming to an end.
I made my way back into church and sat in the back. The service continued on until everyone cried their way to freedom. As we departed, everyone continued to hug and comment that this was the best service in years. People talked about it for weeks and months afterward, far beyond the walls of our church.
I too made a committment that day.. Never again, would I eat with my fingers in the Lord’s House.