Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven.”
Psalm 107: 29, 30
“As thou learnest this lesson, to carry all thy sorrows to God, and lie at thy Saviour’s feet, and spread thy grief before him, thou wilt find a calm come over thee…then shalt thou learn, not to endure only patiently, but, in everything against thy will, humbly and quickly to see and to love and thy hope will grow, the more thou seest the work of God with thee; thou wilt joy in thy sorrow, and thy sorrow will be turned into joy.”
Edward B. Pusey
Today’s Study Text:
“Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
Matthew 26: 14
Good News Bible
“5 Lessons From the Life of Solomon” – Part 4
Lesson #4: How To Avoid the Potholes”
“Those who wait for God watch with their hearts and not their eyes, listening, always listening.”
In practical everyday living, what can I do to avoid spiritual potholes?
“Be eager in prayer, and vigilant, without wearying…You should be watchful both by night and by day; do not be disheartened!”
Abraham of Nathpar
“Then He (Jesus) returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with Me for one hour?’ He asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak’.”
Matthew 26: 40
My husband and I don’t live too far from a busily traveled state highway. At the intersection of the side road from our house, which connects with the state route, there have habitually been major problems with potholes.
For those of you who do not live in the United States, we refer to holes in the asphalt roads, which develop from the wear and tear of continued road usage, as potholes. Some of the potholes on our road should be called caverns for they are very large. The problem is that if you happen to be driving along, and your attention becomes diverted for even a few moments, you can hit one of the holes with your car and severe damage may be the result.
On more than one occasion, Jim has seen cars pulled to the curb that have sustained severe damage because an unwary driver, turning the corner at a rapid speed, hit one of these holes unaware and ended up paying a big price for their mistake.
As we continue to glean lessons from the life of Solomon, today’s instruction has to do with the warning Moses gave the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 6: 12, KJV, which says: “Beware lest thou forget the Lord.”
Sadly, we have seen exactly what happened to Solomon when, with his divided heart and time, he forgot that God longs for all of us -- not just the leftover scraps. What’s more, Solomon paid dearly for his forgetfulness because there were some steep consequences from his worship of heathen gods. To say that Solomon hit a pothole would be putting it mildly.
As we found out yesterday, our sovereign God sent three antagonists whose attack on Solomon certainly got his attention. Up to that point in time, under Solomon’s leadership, the kingdom of Israel had not only been extremely prosperous, it had also been at peace. Solomon didn’t have to go to war each spring like his father David. But when Solomon turned away from his heavenly Father, he also turned his back on his Father’s protective care. And trouble followed.
The important lesson for you and me to take away from this heartbreaking situation is this: we don’t have to hit spiritual potholes. How do I know? Because Jesus, Himself, gave us two “preventive care” measures which He said will, “keep us from temptation.”
In our study text for today, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with the weight of the world on Him. As He struggled under a burden so heavy He found it nearly impossible to bear, He went to His three closest friends, Peter, James and John, hoping to find them praying, as He had asked them to do. Instead, He discovered they were sound asleep, too weary to stay up for a few minutes and pray. At that point in time, I fear my patience would have worn thin and I would have asked myself, “What kind of friends do I have? All I asked them to do was pray and they chose to sleep, instead.”
But Jesus didn’t behave like Dorothy might have. However, He did have some very profitable words of advice for His drowsy companions and it was this. “If you want to keep from falling into the pothole of temptation, you need to do two things. You must watch and pray.”
I’d like to take a moment to look at these two helpful measures which offer heaven’s course of action as prevention from pothole damage to our spiritual lives.
Measure #1: Watch – “To look or observe attentively and carefully. To wait expectantly.”
Living so close to an area which is plagued with potholes has taught me that being alert and proceeding with great caution is an excellent way to assist in preventing damage. While these lessons apply to keeping our car in good shape, the same can be true for our spiritual life. The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk set forth this visual image, “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see” (Habakkuk 2: 1, KJV). I like this picture for in ancient times, many of the cities were walled. Sentinels were posted in towers above the walls to scan the horizon for impending danger. This wasn’t a job for the lazy or the sleepy. This was a task which called an individual to attention, to stay alert and on duty. This is the same advice Jesus gives to you and me -- stay alert. Watch. Keep your eyes open, your ears listening and your heart and mind focused on our Father’s way.
Measure #2: Pray – “To utter, speak or petition God. To make a fervent request.”
I love how Clement of Alexandra defines prayer: “Prayer is conversation with God.” Just as a watchman stands on the wall ready to signal, Donald Coggan gives us this view of how prayer is linked with being watchful when he noted, ”To pray is to stand to attention in the presence of the King and to be prepared to take orders from Him.”
Now I want to go back to the text in Habakkuk where this dedicated prophet said, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts, I will look to see what He will say to me.” (NIV)
We can avoid spiritual potholes when we watch on the wall, stand at attention ready in prayer to receive the guidance our Father has for us. If we will follow Jesus’ advice to watch and pray -- we will not fall into temptation. We won’t stumble into a pothole!
“Keep watch in your heart, and with watchfulness in your mind.”
“Now is a time of watching and waiting…
a time to watch and pray.
May we watch for the signs,
listen for the messenger,
wait for the good news to slip
into our world, our lives.
Christ our hope,
help us to clear the way for You;
to clear the clutter from our minds,
to sift the silt from our hearts,
to move the boulders that prevent
us meeting You”.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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