A Golden Gift for Our King

Gold, frankincense and myrrh. These precious prophetic gifts were presented by the Magi to Jesus as a young lad. They were not gifts for Jesus to play with. They were gifts foretelling roles He would fulfill.

Today we give our attention to gold.

The Magi had been following a star for approximately two years trying to find the newborn king of the Jews. Throughout their journey, they carried these costly gifts. Joseph may have later sold the gold to pay for their trip to Egypt.

Gold represented Jesus as king. The gift of gold was symbolic of Jesus’ divinity. He was God in the flesh. Son of God and son of man.

Gold was a valuable commodity. It was a precious metal. Gold represented riches and royalty. However, Jesus’ royalty differed from what people expected.

Let’s see how and when Jesus was considered a king.

Throughout their journey, the Magi were looking for a king. They asked in Matthew 2:2, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” I doubt that they expected to find their king in a little home in Bethlehem. The house certainly was not a royal palace.

This past Sunday we observed Palm Sunday – the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. John 12:12-15 says, “The next day the great crowd that had come to the Feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!’ Jesus, found a young donkey, sat on it, as it is written, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’The people referred to Jesus as king. But, did they really understand His kingly role?

Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king. Their conversation included the following words from John 19:36-37. “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ ‘You are a king then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.’” Although both Jesus and Herod talked about a king, they had different understandings of the word. Jesus was a messianic king while Herod was referring to a political king.

John 19:2-3 says, “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” Jesus was not crowned with a kingly crown. He was mocked as a king while He walked the road to Golgotha.

Jesus hung on the cross. John 19:19 says, “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.Jesus did not fit the Jews’ ideas of their coming king. They rejected Him.

Fast forward to our present day. We are now waiting for Jesus’ return. Selections from Revelation 19:11-13,16 describe Jesus as our coming king. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, . . . on His head are many diadems; . . . He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” When Jesus comes again, He will be riding a horse, not a donkey. He will be wearing a royal diadem, not a crown of thorns. His robe will declare Him to be King of kings and Lord of lords rather than a hand written note saying King of the Jews.

Let’s see how gold applies to us.

Jesus tells us in Luke 17:20, “The coming of the kingdom of God is within you.” Can we comprehend that God’s kingdom is in us?

In II Timothy 4:8, Paul talks about a crown of righteousness that we will be given. James 1:12 tells of the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. I Peter 5:4 says we will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

These are three wonderful crowns awaiting us, but they are not golden crowns placed upon our heads. These are crowns that will not tarnish or perish. They are heavenly rewards that God promises those who are faithful.

What are we to do with our crowns? The elders give us our answer in Revelation 4:10-11, “the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’Let us express our gratitude to the Lord and worship Him by laying at His feet any honors or possessions we acquire. It is all about Him!

Remember gold, frankincense and myrrh as you celebrate Resurrection Sunday in just a few days.

I conclude with the words of All Hail King Jesus by Jeremy Riddle. Sing with me if you know the melody.

There was a moment when the lights went out
When death had claimed its victory
The King of Love had given up His life
The darkest day in history
There on a cross they made for sinners
For every curse His blood atoned
One final breath and it was finished
But not the end we could have known

For the earth began to shake
And the veil was torn
What sacrifice was made
As the heavens roared

All hail King Jesus
All hail the Lord of Heaven and earth
All hail King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world

There was a moment when the sky lit up
A flash of light breaking through
When all was lost He crossed eternity
The King of life was on the move

For in a dark cold tomb
Where our Lord was laid
One miraculous breath
And we’re forever changed

All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Lord of heaven and earth
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Lord of heaven and earth
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world





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A Gift for Our Savior

Gold, frankincense and myrrh. This is the second week we are looking at these valuable gifts presented to Jesus by the Magi. Each gift portrayed a purpose and position the little boy Jesus would grow to fulfill.

Today, we will look at the message of myrrh.

Like frankincense, myrrh is a natural gum or resin extracted from a small, thorny tree. A myrrh seed is bitter. When broken, the seed emits a sweet fragrance. Myrrh has been used as an embalming spice. When mixed with wine, it can be consumed as a drink. It symbolizes bitterness, brokenness, suffering and affliction.

Myrrh prophetically pointed to Jesus as the Savior of the world. Myrrh was an expensive gift for the Magi to purchase. However, it signified something even more costly – our salvation. It cost Jesus His life.

Jesus referred to brokenness when informing His disciples what He would face after the Passover meal. He used broken bread as a symbol.

Jesus reclined at the table with His apostles. And He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering’. . . . And He took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body, given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.’(taken from Luke 22:14-20)

Then came the reality. When Jesus was flogged and beaten, His skin was torn. When the thorny crown was pressed upon His head, the prickly points penetrated His skin. While He hung upon the cross, blood flowed from His hands and feet that were pierced by nails.

Paul echoss Jesus’ words of brokenness in I Corinthians 11:23-25 and adds in verse 26, For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” We are reminded of Jesus’ brokenness every time we hear these words spoken when partaking of the sacrament of communion.

The Seven Last Words are phrases Jesus spoke from the cross. Two of these phrases are applicable to myrrh and brokenness.

John 19:28-29 records, “. . . Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ . . . so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth.” Myrrh was an ingredient of this drink.

Matthew 27:46 says, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” This verse reveals the broken relationship between Jesus and His Heavenly Father. God the Father, perfect and holy, could not look upon His Son who carried the sins of the world as He died upon the cross.

Jesus, who was holy, became broken so that we, who are broken, can be made whole. Romans 5:10 says, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Now let’s see how myrrh applies to us today.

Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.Although Christ was broken through crucifixion for us. there is still an aspect of crucifixion we must encounter. We must be broken, or separated from, our old nature to become new creations in Christ. We must be willing to crucify, or break away from, our fleshly desires. Embracing Christ as our Savior requires us to be broken from our past.

The breaking process may seem bitter but the result will be a beautiful fragrance. We will become the aroma of Christ. (II Corinthians 2:15) We embody both the bitterness and the sweetness of myrrh.

Hear the message of myrrh. Jesus tasted the bitterness and experienced its brokenness. Now the sweetness of salvation is available to us.

A Gift for Our Priest

Gold, frankincense and myrrh – the three gifts of the Magi. We usually think of these gifts in correlation with the birth of Jesus rather than His death and resurrection. However, we are going to look at these precious and expensive gifts from a different perspective as we prepare for Resurrection Sunday.

We will begin by focusing upon frankincense.

The Magi’s gift of frankincense was a prophetic picture of the role Jesus would fulfill as our Great High Priest.

Frankincense is an aromatic incense. It is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. The Old Testament priests used it when making sacrifices. In Leviticus 2, the priests put frankincense upon the grain offerings. In Leviticus 6, it was used with meat offerings.

The priests were from the tribe of Levi. They interceded to God for the people by offering the sacrifices required by the law. However, all the sacrifices only temporarily covered the people’s sins.

Jesus offered the final sacrifice when He became the sacrifice. Jesus was greater than any other priest, so He became our “Great High Priest”.

John 19:17-19 describes how the sacrifice of Jesus was made. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.”

The writer of Hebrews points out several distinctions between Jesus as the Great High Priest and the former Levitical priests.

“. . . we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. . . . For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.Hebrews 4:14-15

The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.Hebrews 7:23-25

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:14

We no longer need to go through earthly mediators. When Jesus died on the cross, the temple’s veil was torn from top to bottom. Jesus restored our relationship with God and we no longer rely upon earthly priests.

Romans 8:34 says, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Jesus made the final sacrifice. However, His mediation for us continues. Jesus reveals the will of God to us through the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 says, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

I John 4:10 sums it up well saying, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Yes, Jesus embraced the Magi’s gift of frankincense to the fullest by becoming the greatest sacrifice.

Can we apply anything about frankincense to ourselves? I think so.

I Peter 2:5 says, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Peter adds in verse 9, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We are priests!

Romans 12:1 states, Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.There is a sacrifice for us to make. However, we are encouraged to be living sacrifices rather than a gum resin in a bottle.

II Corinthians 2:15 declares, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” Maybe the aroma of Christ that we emit can be compared to the fragrance of frankincense.

Frankincense was presented to Jesus by the Magi when He was about two years old. Frankincense was a prophetic symbol pointing to when Jesus would die on the cross approximately 31 years later. According to Romans 8:34, He now sits at the right hand of God interceding for us as the Great High Priest.

 

 

The Denial

cross-for-denialHe (Peter) began to call down curses, and he swore to them,
“I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
Mark 14:71

Peter denied Jesus he denied Him three times! Mark 14:71 records Peter’s third denial. A synonym for deny is refuse. In this case, Peter refused to admit that he was one of Jesus’ disciples. I think Peter may have refused to admit that he knew Jesus because he felt confused. Making a slightly different interpretation of the word deny, I suggest that to deny can mean to forget. Did Peter have spiritual amnesia causing him to forget what Jesus had explained to the disciples about His upcoming death? When Peter witnessed what was happening to Jesus, he may have become worried about what might happen to himself. For his own safety, he may have have felt the need to deny any association with Jesus. Anxiety can cause us to not think clearly and to do strange things.

A short time after denying Jesus, Peter heard a rooster crow two times. Oh, oh! Peter then remembered the words Jesus had spoken to him as recorded in the beginning of Mark 14:72, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”

And he broke down and wept.
Mark 14:72b

The crow of the rooster may have cured Peter’s amnesia and caused him to reconsider who Jesus truly was. Peter wept with remorse when he realized he had denied Jesus.

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
John 21:15

Fast forward to a few days after Jesus’ resurrection and we find Jesus having breakfast with His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. Although Peter denied (or forgot) Jesus three times as recorded in Mark 14:68-70, Jesus does not deny (or forget) Peter. Jesus knew Peter and He knew his strengths and weaknesses of character. While Peter forgot Jesus three times, Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to remember who He was. I wonder if Peter needed to be asked this question three times because it took him that long to remember who Jesus truly was. Peter had to have his mind remade – he had to be re-minded.

It is worth noting that the first two times Jesus questioned Peter about his love, He used the Greek word agape for love while the third time He used the term phileo. Agape love is God’s love, a spiritual, selfless love while phileo love expresses love on a friendship level. In His first two inquiries, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him with God’s kind of love. The last time, Jesus lowered his type of love to friendship. It is also interesting to note that each time after Peter assured Jesus that he loved Him, Jesus gave him a command of something to do, such as “Feed my lambs.”

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24

These words of Jesus to His disciples in Matthew 16:24 are also words being spoken to me. I want to consider what Jesus has to say to me by applying Peter’s experiences with denial to what denial entails for me today.

It was not OK for Peter to deny Jesus but it is OK for me to deny myself. In fact, for me to be a disciple of Jesus, I must deny myself – I must forget about my selfish desires. Numerous times I have denied Christ by focusing upon my own accomplishments rather than His accomplishments upon the cross. If I do not deny myself, I may deny Jesus.

Peter denied Jesus only a few hours before He was crucified upon the cross. The Matthew scripture tells me to take up my cross. What does my cross look like? Most likely I will not have to die upon the beam of a cross like Jesus, but I still need to die to myself. I need to crucify my own plans and purposes to fulfill God’s plans and purposes. When the rooster crowed, Peter remembered Jesus and what Jesus had said to him. He was
re-minded. The cross has been described as a memorial, or a reminder, of who Jesus is and of what He has done for us. For me, to take up my cross allows me to be re-minded.

Although Peter denied Jesus, Jesus still had a job for him to do. Jesus told Peter to “feed His sheep.” Jesus tells me to follow Him. Only then will I know where He wants me to go and what He wants me to do.

For Peter to deny Jesus was a bad thing but for me to deny myself is a good thing.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Mocking Jesus and Bullying People

cross-for-mockingWe are in the middle of the Christian season of Lent, the forty days before Easter when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. During the next couple of weeks, I want to concentrate upon what Jesus experienced emotionally as well as physically in the days leading up to His crucifixion. Today, I ask you to join me in focusing upon the mockery Jesus endured while on the cross. Jesus suffered verbal pain as well as physical pain.

Jesus was mocked by ordinary people who were passing by the place of crucifixion and by the religious priests and teachers. There were two different groups of people hurling similar words of scorn and contempt upon Jesus. Listen to the words recorded in Mark 15:29-30 NLT, “The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery.  ‘Ha! Look at you now! Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!’ they yelled at him. ‘You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.’” Mark 15:31 NLT goes on to say, “The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. ‘He saved others,’ they scoffed, ‘but he can’t save himself!’”

When we first read these mocking words spoken to Jesus, our response may be that these verbal assaults were spoken over 2000 years ago and do not apply to us today. However, in his book entitled The Wounded Spirit  Frank Peretti defines the term bullying as being synonymous with mocking. We tend to label these verbal abuses with other names such as teasing, taunting, and harassing because they may sound less offensive. Peretti says, “The message a bully sends is a mockery of God’s handiwork, a lie that slanders God’s nature and negates His love for us.” According to Peretti, a question that is often hidden from the conscious mind of one being mocked is “Do you care for me, God?” I find this question similar to the one Jesus asked while hanging on the cross found in Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Bullying causes word wounds that leave secret scars upon the lives of those who have been tormented. These wounded individuals and Jesus can relate to each other because they share scars of scorn. For Jesus, there were physical scars on His hands where nails punctured His hands and feet. The thorns of the crown placed upon His head left scars. There is still evidence of where the sword pierced His side. In John 20, Jesus showed His scars to His disciples two times. In John 20:20, Jesus showed the disciples his hands and side. And then in John 20:27 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.” How many emotional mockery scars does Jesus have that we are not aware of? How many emotional bullying scars are upon those around us? Peretti also says, “The message a bully sends is a mockery of God’s handiwork, a lie that slanders God’s nature and negates His love for us.” Unfortunately, society is very quiet about the mocking and bullying that occurs today. However, the day is coming when we will be held accountable for our words and actions. Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Peretti points out that ultimately bullying is related to our beliefs about the worth of individuals and the way everyone should be treated. God says that it is right to respect and love others by caring for and protecting them. In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus gives the two greatest commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Peretti writes, “It is wrong to abuse, tease, taunt, intimidate, hurt, harass, or violate anyone. Taking it a step further, to demean another person is sin.” Sin is why Jesus died on the cross. I Peter 2:24 states, “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.’”

There is one more point I want to make. Peretti explains that one of the most important steps toward healing a wounded spirit is to forgive those who caused the wounds. Once again, we must look to Jesus and listen to His words from the cross. Jesus says in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Whether it be for those mocking Jesus on the cross or those bullying individuals today, forgiveness will lead to healing even though some scars may remain.

My Reader, think on these thoughts as we approach our commemoration of Jesus crucifixion, death and resurrection.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

A Doxology for Easter

praying-hands-3

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
Aas we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]

Matthew 6:9-13

lent Sunday we will celebrate Easter which is the climax of the Lenten season. This is also the conclusion of our expedition into the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. As I have reminded us several times over the last six weeks, the Lord’s Prayer is really the template Jesus gave to His disciples when they asked Him how to pray – not simply a prayer to be prayed from memory. As we have explored these scriptural words together, I hope you have deepened your understanding of the words spoken by Jesus and gained insight into the character and nature of our Heavenly Father. I pray our expedition has taken you closer to Jesus as we walk with Him through His arrest, crucifixion and death this week. We have one final phrase to explore together which is very appropriate with our anticipation of celebrating His resurrection on Sunday.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
Matthew 6:13b

Not all translations of the Bible include this part of Matthew 6:13. It is found in the Old and New King James Versions and the New American Standard Bible but not in the New International Version. Neither is it part of the Lord’s Prayer recorded in Luke 11. Some scholars have thought this phrase was added later because it is not found in the manuscripts of the two earliest Greek witnesses. However, this is probably false because it is found in the third earliest Greek witness and the majority of all further manuscripts.

This phrase is known as the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer. A doxology is defined as a liturgical formula of praise to God. On the final week of our exploration of prayer, let us unpack the meaning of the words of this doxology.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
When we see the word “for,” we need to see what it is there for. I believe these words are included because our Heavenly Father is worthy of this praise when we consider the guidelines Jesus has given us for how we are to pray in the previous verses.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The kingdom belongs to God because of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:10 declaring that God’s kingdom is in heaven and we can ask for His kingdom to come on earth. His name is El Elyon, “The Most High.” This name denotes He is the sovereign ruler of the universe. (see post for 2/17)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The power belongs to and comes from God because He is El Shaddai, “The All-sufficient One”. (see post for 2/17) This gives us the authority to ask for daily bread, forgiveness, and guidance and deliverance as requested in Matthew 6:11-13a. (see posts for 3/2, 3/9 & 3/16)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Glory comes from the Greek word “doxa.” In the New Testament it refers to the splendor, radiance and majesty of which God is worthy. Since we have come to know God more intimately through our study of the Lord’s Prayer, it is proper that we extend our praise to Him. It is appropriate for us to refer to this concluding phrase as a doxology because we are giving doxa or glory to our Heavenly Father.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
According to a note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, “forever” denotes an indefinitely long period with emphasis on the characteristics of the period rather than on it duration. I like this concept when referring to the kingdom and power and glory of God now and throughout all eternity.

As a conclusion to our in-depth search of this doxology of the Lord’s Prayer, I am reminded of the Doxology hymn sung in many mainline denominational churches. The lyrics are the last verse of the hymn Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun by Thomas Ken. Because of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:13b, we can sing the words of Thomas Ken. Finally, my heart is filled with the words of the traditional Resurrection Sunday greeting we will be proclaiming Sunday. Through the words of these doxologies, let us give God the glory, or doxa, of which He is worthy!

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
(words of Jesus)

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(words by Thomas Ken)
He is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
(our words)

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Games to Play and Pray

praying-hands-7

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]
Matthew 6:9-13

lentMy mind is wandering back to childhood games. My Reader, do you remember “Follow the Leader”? Everyone wanted to be the leader but it was also fun to be part of the train of people who went where the leader went and did whatever the leader did. Did you ever play “Freeze Tag”? Tag was always a simple game of running while trying not to get caught by the person who was “it”. “Freeze Tag” was a special version where a person had to remain in a frozen position after being tagged until someone else would touch that person to unfreeze him/her. These memories go back many years, so why am I thinking about them today? Before the conclusion of this blog, we will make a correlation as we continue to explore the meaning of the highlighted request of the Lord’s Prayer printed above.

And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6:13a

This verse reveals the third personal request that Jesus encouraged His disciples to verbalize when He taught them how to pray. Once again I will refer to one of the Old Testament names for God. (see post What Is In a Name? on February 17) Jehovah-raah is translated The LORD is My Shepherd.” When I ask the Lord to lead me and deliver me, I think about a shepherd’s rod and staff. A shepherd uses his rod primarily to guide his sheep in the direction he desires. In contrast, a shepherd uses his staff to rescue his sheep that have strayed into a place of danger. Since scripture says that we are all like sheep, I believe that the Lord functions as our shepherd when He fulfills our petition of asking Him to not lead us into temptation and to deliver us from evil.

Let us take the shepherd’s rod and staff with us as we begin our in-depth exploration of Matthew 6:13a.

And do not lead us into temptation,
In John 10:27, Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” How does the Lord, my Shepherd, call me to follow Him? He uses His rod! Before I continue with this thought, I want to think about how a shepherd uses his rod with his flock of sheep. The shepherd’s rod is a piece of wood fashioned into a short, thick club. This weapon is like an extension of the shepherd’s right arm. He can extend, or even throw, his rod towards his sheep to keep them on the right path. If the rod hits a sheep, it gets the sheep’s attention so that it will follow the shepherd. The rod is a symbol of the strength, power, and authority of the shepherd over the situations of his sheep. Now to apply this to myself. I am a sheep led by the Good Shepherd and the rod is scripture. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” And Isaiah 30 21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” So, if I pray asking God to lead me, then I need to heed His rod and follow the guidance within His written Word. Sometimes it may mean that I need to be hit over the head with the wisdom of God!


I notice that the prayerful words of Jesus ask specifically that the Lord not lead me into temptation. Just because I ask the Lord not to lead me into temptation does not mean that I will never be tempted. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” This scripture verse assures me that the Lord hears my prayer and not only does He not lead me into temptation but He also provides me with a way out when I allow temptations overtake me. I think I see the Lord’s staff as well as His rod being applied to my life. So, let’s continue.

but deliver us from evil.
There is a need for me to be delivered from evil because temptations will come to me even though the Lord as my Shepherd is leading me. How does God deliver me? He uses His staff, the Holy Spirit. Once again, I do not want to get ahead of myself, so let’s take a closer look at the shepherd’s staff. It is a unique instrument used only for the care and management of sheep. In contrast to the rod, the staff is usually a long, slender stick with a crook or hook on one end. The staff is a symbol of the concern and compassion a shepherd has for his sheep. The staff’s hook rescues a sheep that has wandered away from the path and gotten caught in brambles and bushes. The shepherd is able to gently pull the sheep from the thicket and return it to the rest of the flock. To apply this image to myself, I am reminded of Isaiah 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray.” As a stray sheep, I must be delivered from evil. How can I be delivered or rescued? Ezekiel 34:11-12 tells me, “For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. Ezekiel 34:15-16 goes on to say, “I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick.These Old Testament scriptures are fulfilled by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. In John 14:16, Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” The Holy Spirit is my personal helper!
Wait a minute, this verse in Matthew 6:13 says that I am to pray to be delivered from evil.  I was not thrilled when I thought about temptations, but evil has me even more concerned! Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I must pray for deliverance! I like the assurance of Colossians 1:13 ESV,He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” This is the work of the Holy Spirit!

My Reader, before I conclude I must refer back to the childhood games I first mentioned. During the coming week, let us play “Follow the Leader” and allow the Lord lead us not into temptation. And may we take part in a game of “Freeze Tag” allowing the Lord to unFREEze us when we get caught in temptation and become frozen in bondage. He is able to deliver us from evil.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Note: I have used A shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Timothy Keller as a resource.