• Matt Beaney

#664. PROTECT US (7/10/22)

This week, following on from Sunday’s final message in our Devoted, vision series, we are considering how we can learn to be devoted to prayer by studying what Jesus teaches us in ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.

Summary: As we begin, and throughout, the day, pray for God’s protection.

‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ (Acts 2:42-47)
“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

As we have seen, The Lord’s prayer can be broken down into 4 major themes of Praise (6:9) , Petitions (6:10-11), Peacemaking (Matthew 6:12) and Protection (Matthew 6:13). Today we look at the final phrase and theme: PROTECTION.


PROTECTION: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”


A healthy prayer-diet regularly asks for protection against temptation and dark forces:

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13)
‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him,’ (1 Peter 5:8-9).
'Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said…’ (Matthew 4:1-3)

What is the devil and what are demons? Wayne Grudem writes,


‘Demons [and the devil] are evil angels who sinned against God and who now continually work evil in the world’ (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology)

David Watson wrote about the importance of learning about spiritual warfare:

‘In war, the most important time is preparation time. For all of us the most important time is now. When the time of real trial arrives, preparation is over: you are either ready or unprepared. If you are not prepared, you will suffer the consequences.’

(Watson, Discipleship)


Let’s take a moment to think about Jesus’ warning to Peter. Jesus had warned him about Satan’s imminent attack:


“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34)

YOU WILL BE SIFTED: They were all, through the events of the cross, going to be assaulted by Satan. ‘Sifted’ refers to the shaking of grain to remove the waste husks - Satan was going to shake them and their faith.

The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to pray for protection regularly. This is because we are constantly assaulted by demonic powers and the discouragements that come from living in this fallen world.


GOD REIGNS: It’s interesting that Jesus speaks of Satan as having ‘asked to sift you…’. This reminds us that Satan is under God’s control; this is a mystery but should be taken as reassurance.

Do we so worship God that Satan is seen in the light of God’s superior greatness. The Holy Spirit wants to treasure us that:

“He that is in us in greater than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

JESUS INTERCEDES: Jesus had prayed for them to stand this trial.

To trust that Jesus is interceding for us to use the ‘shield of faith’ (Eph. 6) Simply, we can trust that He is doing all that’s necessary for us to stand.


STRENGTHEN THE WEAK: He made a command that contains a promise of restoration, “when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

This is something that we can all take to heart. The strong should encourage the weak and stumbling. How can we strengthen our brothers and sisters who are being ‘sifted’? James urges us:

‘My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.’ (James 5:19-20)

PRAYER IS HUMILITY: Peter is overly confident and thinks that this sifting will not affect him; he’s confident that he is willing to suffer and die with Christ. Jesus knows Peter better than he knows himself! He knows that Peter will deny him.

This warns us to take the words of The Lord’s Prayer to heart; we must be humble, know our vulnerability, and pray for protection regularly. I guess we could say that the objective reality of our humility is seen in how often we pray for protection! How many lives would have been spared sorrow and shipwreck if they had listened to Jesus!


RESPONSE

We’ve included a lot of ways to respond above. I’ll simply conclude with two texts which summarise our need of protection and how to go about protecting ourselves:

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
‘Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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.’ (Ephesians 6:11-18)

Here is a great song on the theme of prayer:


 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

 

2. Icebreaker

It's been a while since most of our groups have met and some will be new to your groups. I encourage you to spend time catching up and praying for one another. Perhaps you might want to discuss things that you can celebrate and things for which you would like God's help.

 

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group


On Sunday, we finished our vision series, Devoted. This series has been based upon what we see modelled in the early church from Acts 2:


‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ (Acts 2:42-47)

We have considered how God wants us to be a church that is devoted to:

i. The apostles teaching (devoted to learning from scripture).

ii. Fellowship (devoted to being 'family on purpose' which requires dedication and time).

iii. Breaking bread (Eating together and remembering the gospel through Communion).

iv. Prayer (Devoted to being a praying community).


This is God's vision for any local church and He wants all of us to be devoted to this.

On Sunday we were encouraged that 'prayer is taught and caught'.


i. PRAYER IS TAUGHT

We learn to pray through teaching, reading good books, and, most importantly, by reading what the Bible has to say about prayer.


ii. PRAYER IS CAUGHT

We learn to pray and teach others to pray by praying together. In a family, in a Community Group, in church prayer meetings... we learn from others.


RESPONSE

  1. I encourage you to read the blogs this week. These are focussed on learning to pray by using The Lord's Prayer as a model.

  2. Let's, all of us, be as devoted to the church prayer meeting on Sunday evening as we can be. You will not regret the benefit that comes from this.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii) Which of the four aspects of devotion from Acts 2 do you find most difficult and why?

iii) Our reading from Acts 2:42-47 speaks of church growth. Why will the church grow if we are devoted to these things?


SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?

SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?

SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.





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