temptation (9)

M'Cheyne on Studying Christ

     Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813–1843) was a minister in the Church of Scotland from 1835 to 1843. After his death he became famous around the world through the book The Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M'Cheyne, which was edited by Andrew Bonar. Following is an excerpt from that book:
     "I ought to study Christ as a living Saviour more—as a Shepherd, carrying the sheep he finds—as a King, reigning in and over the souls he has redeemed—as a Captain, fighting with those who fight with me, Psalm xxxv.—as one who has engaged to bring me through all temptations and trials, however impossible to flesh and blood.
     "I am often tempted to say, How can this man save us? How can Christ in heaven deliver me from the lusts which I feel raging in me, and nets I feel enclosing me? This is the father of lies again! 'He is able to save unto the uttermost.'
     "I ought to study Christ as an Intercessor. He prayed most for Peter who was to be most tempted. I am on his breastplate. If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room I would not fear a million of enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference; he is praying for me.
1. The idea of Christ as a Shepherd carrying a lost sheep He has found comes from Luke 15:3–7, and is related to other passages of the Scriptures, including Isaiah 40:11.
2. Many passages of the Scriptures speak of Christ reigning as a king, including Psalm 110 (which is the passage of the Old Testament which is quoted most in the New Testament), Isaiah 9:6–7, Luke 1:30–33 and 19:11–27, I Corinthians 15:25–28, Ephesians 1:15–23, II Timothy 2:11–13, and Revelation 17:14 and 19:16.
3. The AV/KJV translation of Hebrews 2:10, with which M'Cheyne was very familiar, speaks of Christ as a "captain" of salvation.
4. "Psalm xxxv." is Psalm 35.
5. The idea of Christ as a help through temptations and trials is related to many passages of the Scriptures, including Isaiah 43:2, Matthew 14:22–23, Romans 8:31 –19, I Corinthians 10:13, II Corinthians 1:3–11 and 12:7–10, Hebrews 2:18, and II Peter 2:9.
6. In Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, and Luke 18:27, Christ speaks of something which is impossible with men but possible with God.
7. In John 8:44, Christ teaches that the "father of lies" is the devil.
8. The quotation at the end of the second paragraph is from Hebrews 7:25.
9. Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25 speak of Christ making intercession for His people.
10. In Luke 22:31–34, Christ tells Peter that He has prayed for him. In Luke 22:54–62, we read that Peter was tempted to deny Christ, and succumbed to this temptation, hours later.
11. The reference to a breastplate which M'Cheyne's name on it is to the priestly breastplate which was worn by the high priest of the Israelites, which, according to Exodus 28, bore the names of the twelve tribes of Israel which the LORD delivered from Egypt.
12. Many passages of the Epistle to the Hebrews speak of Christ as high priest, including Hebrews 2:17, 3:1–2, 4:14–16, 5:5–6, 6:17–20, 7:26–28, 8:1–2, 9:11–12, and 10:19–22.
Questions for consideration:
1. Do you think you ought to study Christ in one or more of the ways M'Cheyne thought he ought? If so, which? If not, why not?
2. Are there other ways in which you think you ought to study Christ? If so, how?
3. Are you ever tempted to doubt Christ's ability to save, as M'Cheyne was? If so, how did you respond to the temptation?
4. What difference does the intercession of Christ for His people make to you? What difference should it make?
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Have you ever seen a medieval castle? Have you noticed the broken lines at the tops of the walls? A rook or castle on a Chessboard has the same cuts.

I suspect you could guess what those were if you didn't already know. They were essential to the defense of a castle. Those slots were the lookouts for soldiers on watch.

On several occasions Scripture tells us to watch and pray. Have you thought about what God is saying to you in those passages? Let's look at those Scriptures and allow God to speak to our hearts through them. The first of them that comes to my mind is when Jesus was praying with His disciples in the garden before the cross. He prayed earnestly that that cup might pass from Him. And yet He surrendered His heart to the will of God. Then He looked and saw that Peter, James, and John were asleep. He was amazed that they could not watch with Him for one hour. And in Matthew 26:41 Jesus commands us.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The word translated, “watch” here is also used for soldiers, or possibly shepherds, keeping the watches of the night. On that very night while they were in the garden soldiers would come to arrest Jesus. This would be the most severe trial that the disciples would ever face. Earlier Jesus had told them they would all abandon Him. Peter and the rest swore they would never leave Him even if they had to die with Him. Their spirits were willing but their flesh was weak.

You might say they should have known this trial was coming. Jesus had told them over and over again. And it didn't take any great genius to see that the High Priests had determined to kill Him.

And it it should not surprise you that you are going to face trials and temptations. Peter himself warns us that we are going to be tried. In 1 Peter 4:12 he wrote,

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Like soldiers on guard duty we are told to watch and pray for spiritual strength and protection.

The next place we are told to watch and pray is in Luke 21 where Jesus warns us about the trials that will come in the last days. In Luke 21:36 Jesus gives us this same command.

“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

It seems to me that many of these things are already coming upon us. I am crying out to God for a great prayer movement. We need to be on guard, and pray as we have never prayed before. These things could be seen to begin when the Roman General, Titus, led his army to destroy the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus predicted, not one stone of the beautiful temple was left upon another. 2 Timothy 3:1 and other Scriptures warn us that there will be terrible times in these last days. Will we be on guard as these things come about? How seriously will we watch and pray?

We are also to watch for our hope in God during difficult times. He has made very great and precious promises to us even for the worst of times.

Another place where we are called to watch and pray is much more positive. Colossians 4:2 says,

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

We not only need to watch for spiritual attack that will come. But I am afraid we are not alert enough to see God at work around us. There is great encouragement and joy in seeing the hand of God and thanking Him for working in our lives.

Finally, we need to watch and pray for others in our families and in the church where God has stationed us. Ephesians 6:18 commands us.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

In 1 Samuel 12:23 Samuel said he would be sinning against the Lord if he failed to pray for the people of Israel. Are you alert to pray for those God has commissioned you to pray for?

We need to see watching as motivation and preparation for prayer. But all four of these passages see watching as integral to prayer. As we spend extended time in prayer God shows us more and more of what we will face and what He is doing and preparing to do all around us.









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PTAP: Taken Captive by the Devil

The devil has been taking people captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26) since the fall of man. The land and kingdoms of this earth are controlled by him (Matthew 4:8-9). As we think about advancing the Kingdom of God we know that there is a fight between two kingdoms. There are places in the Arabian Peninsula that have been controlled for years by the devil. Pray that the AP will be freed from the devil and his control. Pray that the hearts of AP Muslims would be freed from the hardness the devil places there, especially the hardness against knowing Jesus the Son of God and the full truths about Jesus. Pray for a growing movement among people who will seek Jesus to advance His great name in families, villages, towns and cities across the AP. The devil has been in control too long, we are seeking the God of all creation to have a great victory in the AP. 
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil's trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. 2 Timothy 2:24-26
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. "I will give it all to you," he said, "if you will kneel down and worship me." Matthew 4:8-9
What did Jesus respond? "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" Matthew 4:10
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In the garden before the cross Jesus told His disciples to pray lest they fall into temptation. Temptation is more dangerous than many of us imagine. James 1:14 says temptation drags us away by our lusts. In John 14:30 Jesus said the prince of this world had no hold on him.

No doubt no fear,

No guilt or sin that he controlled,

No secret desire held dear.

The enemy had no hold

To drag Him to his fold.

We must pray to avoid the enemy's grip on our hearts.

Part of this is simply to ask God to deliver us from temptation. But the focus of what Jesus is telling us in the garden is the transformation of heart and mind that comes from extended prayer. Jesus asked "Could you not watch for an hour? Watch and pray lest you fall into temptation."

Ephesians 6 paints a forceful picture of our spiritual armor. The first defense against temptation is truth. In prayer God fastens the belt of truth tightly around our thinking."

Next is the breastplate of righteousness. The accuser of the brethren will accuse you before God in your hearing. You need to pray in the righteousness of Jesus to be protected from his onslaughts.

Nothing will prepare you to ward off the enemy like the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The enemy trembles at the name of Jesus. But time and time again we are not spiritually prepared to share the gospel. In extended prayer we lace up our spiritual boots.

Praying Scripture builds faith as a shield to extinguish Satan's fiery darts.

A relationship of prayer covers us with God's salvation like a helmet from beginning to glory.

And by prayer we wield the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

Paul concluded his discussion of spiritual armor with the admonition for us to pray at all times with all prayer and supplication. Pray, pray, pray, so you will be able to avoid temptation.




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Dealing with the Devil

“We may not pay Satan reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents.” (Mark Twain)


Our archenemy would love to make our life hell on earth. But when we hear the lion’s roar ringing in our ears, we can order him to get out of our face.


Struggling with sin will convince us that we need supernatural help if we’re ever going to vacate Satan’s death trap. We are a combination of opposites,a mixture of good and evil. Though we want to do right, our rotten nature distracts us from nobler pursuits. Relying on God, we can triumphantly march out of sin’s burdensome addiction with our head held high and a spring in our step.


Hell’s advertising blitz pressures us to invest in Nile stock. Fiendish voices try to convince us we need worldly resources. It’s all a terrible lie. We can find authentic satisfaction without compromise. With rivers of living water coursing through our heart, we discover the Lord is all we ever really need. In the desert’s inhospitable barrenness, we are not deserted. So we can worship God in the wilderness.


Exiting Egypt’s shadows, we bask in the sunlight of Truth. In contrast to earth’s dark depravity, we shine as sparkling diamonds. Tenaciously resisting the Devil,we walk as children of the Light.


“The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say, Let my people go, so they can worship me in the wilderness.” (Exodus 7:16 NLT)


Johnny R. Almond

Christian preacher and writer

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity


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Why did Jesus teach us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Does God ever lead us into temptation? Doesn’t our fleshly nature and the devil lead us into temptation?
I cannot answer every question this raises. But I do have some thoughts on it.
God does not tempt us. James 1:13 makes that clear. But God does sometimes lead us into situations where we will be tempted. Being tempted does not necessarily mean you are not following God’s leadership in your life. Matthew 4:1 says Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. God did not tempt. He even sent angels to comfort Jesus. But God did lead Him into the desert. God arranged for me to be born in a part of the world where I will face temptations people born say in the upper Amazon will never know, though they face different temptations. Someone who has never seen a TV will not be tempted to watch TV too late at night. People living where there are no roads will not be tempted to break the speed limit.
An example of praying not to be led into temptation. Is found in Proverbs 30:1-9. In verse 2 the writer says he is ignorant and does not understand. This is a good beginning for prayer. In verses 5 and 6 he establishes that scripture is true whether we understand it or not. Finally in verses 7-9 he asks for two things. 1. That lies and falsehood be kept far away from him. And 2. That he would have neither riches or poverty so he would not be tempted.
These last verses give us some perspective here. Would you like to win the lottery? Have you ever prayed for such a thing? With wealth would come many temptations. Can you imagine a teenage girl praying that she would attract an older popular boy? It is hard for her not to desire such things some of the time.
In fact we will face temptations in life no matter how we pray. But this section of the Lord’s prayer sets our hearts in the right direction. I know I will face temptations. But I only want to face them because I am following God for His purposes. Even then I need to see that temptations are dangerous. I don’t want to face them because I desire the things of the world.
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Devil's Food

Think the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it? There's a far better way.

“No one  can ask honestly or happily to be delivered from temptation unless he has

honestly and firmly determined to do the best he can to keep out of it.”

- John Ruskin


Is your future for sale? What would you eat in exchange for your soul?

You may be tempted to act impulsively to satisfy insistent appetites.

Stop to consider long-range effects before gobbling sinful morsels.

Old-world forbidden fruit tastes good, but has a bitter aftertaste.

Ordering from Satan’s menu is invariably asking for trouble.

With God’s help, Resist impulse buying in hell’s cafeteria.

Every temptation you resist will prove to be a victory.


Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew.

Esau ate and drank and went on about his business,

indifferent to the fact that he had given up his birthright.

Genesis 25:34 NLT


Johnny R. Almond

                Pastor, Colonial Beach Baptist Church, Virginia

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized

Book available through local bookseller or preferred on-line retailer.

Author’s blog www.GentleWhispersFromEternity-ScripturePersonalized.com

[This devotion based on/adapted from Day 16 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity]             

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In The Lord's Prayer Jesus taught us to ask God to deliver us from evil. This request fills much of my prayers. Whether I have just seen a pretty girl at the Y, at the gas station, or at church, or I was just cut off in traffic. I find I need to cry out to the Lord, "Father, sin is at my door. Keep me from falling into it." It seems I am often in situations where I cannot keep from brooding on some wrong done to me. I have to pray something like, "Father, if you do not deliver me, I will say or do something sinful." In those times the enemy tells me I will not be able to resist temptation. But I am often surprised that God does indeed deliver me.

Sometimes I need to ask God to help me see the seriousness of sin so I will not cancel out His leadership when he warns me to avoid an entertaining TV show or some other tempting situation. I regularly need to ask God to deliver me from desiring to please people because of the multiplicity of temptations that leads me into.

“Lord, remind me to pray. You are the only protection I have from turning off into the path of temptation.”

”O Lord, deliver me from evil.”


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One Hour of Prayer

How’s your prayer life lately? Are you overcoming in daily prayer and intercession or would you be embarrassed to reveal your prayerlessness? I want to challenge you regarding the disturbing question Jesus put to His closest disciple, Peter, as he shamefully fell asleep at a desperate time when urgent prayer was needed from Christ’s companion, as He faced alone the impending cross with all of its physical agony, satanic torment and spiritual separation from God.


 “And Jesus came unto His disciples, and found them asleep, and said unto Peter, What, could you not watch with Me for one hour? Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. (Matt 26:40, 41) 


Tell me—do you think you will be spared the same question from Jesus? Is your reason for not spending sixty minutes alone with God or partaking in a weekly prayer meeting at your church  because you can’t seem to find the time, or because you don’t know how to pray or because you can’t imagine yourself intelligently praying for an entire hour? The truth is, we are now living in a time of urgent need where much distress and unabashed sin is in our land and at our very doorstep, just as it was in the days of Lot. A demonic spirit of deception is ravishing the unsaved and the saved alike. Many are giving up and walking away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils as Paul predicted in 1Timothy 4:1. Others are bound by a spirit of lust—others still by fear, bitterness, anger and rebellion. Truly, the Church needs to shake itself out of its slumber in this dark crisis hour and pray.


Had Peter spent that time in the garden in prayer for his Master and for himself rather than sleeping it away, it would no doubt have strengthened Christ in His great sorrow that was upon His soul, which was the very reason Jesus took Peter aside with Him. One hour of intense prayer would have also given a frightened Peter supernatural courage and grace to withstand the approaching confrontation with the traitor, Judas, the chief priests and the temple guards. Even though Peter was mercifully forgiven and restored after denying the Lord three times, that piercing question must have haunted him for days, weeks and months to come—“Peter, could you not watch with Me for one hour?”. Insert your own name to Christ’s question and answer truthfully and humbly.


What kinds of trials and temptations will your one hour of prayer keep you from? What strength, favour and blessing will one hour of prayer procure on those whose names you bring before the throne of grace in earnest supplication? Your one hour of prayer could make all the difference between life and death to someone in deep despair, hopelessly at their wit’s end. Prayer is so much more than just a rigorous and regimented list of requests—it is our very bastion in the battle —our source of power to maneuver through the minefield of hidden temptations the enemy has carefully buried on our path in an effort to defeat and destroy us. It is a lifeline to those who are sinking in sin. If there was ever a time to be long on our knees before God, it is now! Peter’ grandest opportunity in a lifetime for prayer was passed up because he gave in to the weakness of his flesh, though his spirit was willing. I know pastors who are giving up and my heart breaks. Watch and pray, brothers and sisters that you do not enter into temptation—this shall be our finest hour, for“They who dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1) Amen!

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