Words of Faith 1-25-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.  On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."
Last week we talked about Times of Sifting and Times of Lifting. Jesus said that Satan had obtained permission by begging to "sift" the disciples and Jesus had already been lifting them in prayer. The goal of Satan in this sifting was to separate the disciples from God, one another, and themselves. We don't know the intent of God in allowing this sifting bit it was probably to separate the Disciples from their worldly misunderstandings about the Kingdom of God. God allows us to go through times of sifting for our profit, so that we may develop the fruit of the Spirit and so that we may be refined or purified. But it is essential to be prepared for these times.
Jesus was now within twenty-four hours of the crucifixion. The betrayal by Judas was in process. The arrest was imminent. The Last Supper had concluded with a serious tone of warning. The denials of Peter would take place before the night was through.
After the Supper, Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives, and His disciples followed him. The question that was in the air: How do we prepare for a time of sifting? How do we get ready? The warning Jesus gave was much like the sort of warnings we receive in Florida and the Gulf states when a hurricane is imminent. Jesus had announced that an intense spiritual hurricane was coming. It was going to be powerful. It was going to sift them and toss everything around. How do you get ready for that?
Jesus gave us an example of how we can practice spiritual hurricane preparedness. Jesus was personally facing a direct hit from a category six storm or worse. It doesn't get any worse than what Jesus had to face in those twenty-four hours. The journey to the cross was the ultimate sifting of the humanity of Jesus. Satan attempted to separate Jesus from trust in His Father, from His love for His disciples, and even from the call upon His life to die as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
So how do we handle such times of sifting? How do we prepare? If we watch Jesus, He will show us.
Jesus instructed them to pray. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." Pray in anticipation of the storm. The disciples seem to have been a bit oblivious to all that was going on. Now, within hours of brutal beatings and the crucifixion, the disciples were about to see some of the most traumatic events of their lives. They did not know it, but Jesus did, and the directive was to pray.
We are instructed to pray. This was part of the spiritual training that Jesus gave to His disciples. Pray when facing difficult times. Pray when times of sifting are upon you. Pray in the crunch time. Prayer itself is a posture that resists temptation. Prayer itself is a posture that is safe. But also, pray specifically that you will not fall into temptation.
But this directive is not just for the crunch time. Paul said we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17). We are to pray even when we do not know that the storm is coming. We are to pray when the skies are clear and when there is no hint of a storm. This is the key to spiritual hurricane preparedness.
Even with all the warning that Jesus had given over and over again, the Disciples were unaware. When we pray in the times of peace, we store up the spiritual resources needed for the tough times.
Prayer prepares us for the times of sifting in our lives. Prayer prepares us for the storm. We know that Jesus habitually prayed. He withdrew in the morning early to a lonely place to pray. If Jesus needed to do so, then you and I do as well.
There are many things that we are to do to prepare for a physical hurricane. The basics are well known. It is wise to have some water on a shelf, some food in the pantry, a radio with batteries, some gas for the grill. Even with the early warning, we need to be prepared.
Prayer is our primary means of preparation for a spiritual hurricane. Through prayer, we replenish daily our store of Living Water necessary for survival in a hurricane. Through prayer, we stock away spiritual nourishment that will get us through the storm. Through prayer, we charge up the necessary emotional and spiritual batteries to face whatever is coming. Through prayer, we build the energy reserves and connection for when a storm may arise. Even with the early warning, we need to be prepared.
Father God, I want to be ready for the storms. Draw me near to You in the times between storms so that I may have the spiritual reserves I will need. Help me to find the place and time of solitude with You. In Jesus' name.