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Monday, February 24, 2014

02232014 Sexagesima Sunday

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Having moved here to Western KS in October 2010 there have been many experiences that Michele, Sarah and myself have had which are not as easily partaken of back East.  Not only the typical of ‘no or few trees’, little moisture, but also the ‘bitter cold’ for extended periods of time, followed by an all to brief time of warmth.  We have also had the joy of experiencing new things with Sarah, whether the Rocky Mountains and Estes Park or even experiences closer to home.  One of the fondest was when Sarah was able to take her first horse ride.  You know how big Sarah is and how any animal can dwarf her from a large dog to a cow and especially a horse.  Well, Sarah was so excited about getting to ride a horse that it was one of the most memorable experiences for her in her short lifetime.  Unlike some youth and adults who either daily ride a horse or have grown up around animals on the farm, Sarah was very excited, but also very timid.  Surprisingly, Sarah was able to ride the horse on her own, but she was being led by a halter rope like the one we have here this morning.  This morning as we continue in the Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, the lead rope is a perfect connection as we pray for our not being led into temptation.

Let’s pull out our bulletin insert for this morning and read responsively as a congregation the “What does this mean?” section.  “The Sixth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, And lead us not into temptation.  What does this mean?  God tempts no one.  We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice.  Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.  Let us pray for God to guard us in our lives.

Gracious God, thank you for guarding our hearts and not tempting us to sin against You.  For daily temptation comes our way from the devil that not only tries to get us to doubt You God, but lead us away from the truth of our freedom in Jesus Christ.  Please continue to remind us of our freedom found in Your Son that is offered for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Clearly living on a farm, many generations of kids and adults had the daily chore of feeding the animals, whether chickens, pigs, cattle or horses.  One of the other tasks was to make sure the animals had plenty to drink.  Here in Western KS it is understandable that water was a more precious commodity, but none the less, still important that the animals daily were cared for and tended properly.  When it came to horses in the early 1800’s every cowboy knew that the horse was the means of transportation that meant life or death on the prairie and always the horse was picketed or haltered so they wouldn’t wander off or be chased off, whether by Indians or something that scared them while grazing or at night when let out to pasture.  But clearly every horse that was properly cared for had a halter and a lead rope.

We Christians today are not that dissimilar to horses, in that we are easily scared off, easily wander and easily become distracted by all that is occurring around us.  But we Christians do not have a lead rope or a halter.  We are daily tempted by the Devil to be chased, pulled or even led into a temptation that removes us from God’s Holy presence.  And here in Goodland our town seems to be oppressed and controlled by Satan to a greater degree, from the negativity in our schools, our neighborhoods and at times it even affects us here in the church.  Not only is this our sinful nature, but it is our desire and belief that we know what is best for us, even more so than God knows.  Whether it is how money should be spent by the Government, how the coaches that lead the teams our children play on could do a better job, to even here in the church how we see things that need done and put others down because they are not doing ‘their job’ to our own standards or personal beliefs.  We are guilty of pointing out our neighbors short comings.  This is clearly a temptation that we fall into easily and led to do on many occasions.

But, when we pray this petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation”, we should remember that Jesus Christ Himself not only experienced temptation, but being led by Satan to places where He could have easily have sinned and chose a different path.  Like the halter here before us, Jesus Christ was led to the desert by His Father and fasted forty days and nights, Jesus was tempted by Satan to make bread from stones.  Jesus was taken to the top of the temple by Satan to possibly be thrown down so the angels would catch Him and He would not dash His foot.  As well Jesus was taken where He could view the entirety of the world and Satan offered the earth as Jesus own.  But Jesus Christ overcame the temptation of sin by Satan at each turn with God’s Word and exposing the lie that Satan clearly was trying to entice Jesus with.  And we here today are not any different from Jesus in our being tempted and tested by Satan.  But with our being God’s children we can through God’s promises and His Word overcome the temptation by Satan that we are led to on a daily basis.

For our temptation that we experience is different than Jesus’s, but not that dissimilar, we are tempted to say something to someone that has wronged us, we are tempted to look at our neighbors possessions and greedily wish they were ours or we are tempted to be a backseat driver or Monday morning quarterback for situations, from the school, to the family to even the church.  But God is here and promised each of us in our baptism to be with us to speak against our being led into temptation.

When we pray this petition of the Lord’s Prayer we pray for God to take the lead rope in our lives and to guard us and keep us so that evil may not come upon nor overcome us.  Not only do we ask God to protect us, but also strengthen and preserve us when temptation does come our way.  Because you know as well as I do we live in a world of temptation, whether from television, society and even in our own thoughts Satan uses every means to lead us away from God and be led down the path that leads to sin.  But God promises us grace and every blessing and the blessing to be with us and prevent our being led away from Him by Satan.  We only have to call on God and pray His prayer that He taught us and trust God to keep us not only in His Word, but witness to how His Son Jesus Christ calls, gathers and keeps us in the one true faith through the Work of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives.

Recently, while in a meeting with other Pastors from Canada, we discussed how we Pastors are led into temptation and we all agreed that Satan tries to lead us away every day.  As we discussed this, one pastor talked of how every time he visited someone in the hospital he could visit for 15 or 20 minutes without being interrupted by the nursing staff or alarms, but when he would want to share a word of scripture or a spiritual song, the alarms and staff would immediately begin to sound and become a distraction to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This was clearly Satan using any means necessary to prevent the Word of God from being shared that pointed to salvation through Jesus Christ.  It was clearly an attempt to lead them away from the truth of the Gospel found in Jesus Christ that was trying to be shared with the person.

Our sure defense for each of us today is found in our praying this petition of the Lord’s Prayer.  “And lead us not into temptation”.  All of us clearly experience the temptation to be led away from God.  May we as we pray this prayer be led to the truth of God’s Word that not only sets us free from the bonds of Satan and our World, but remind us of how God’s promises are fulfilled through His Son Jesus Christ.  And these promises are for all mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning praying, “and lead us not into temptation.” AMEN.
//trial script