Deliver Us

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13, KJV)

“And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, NRSV).

“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, NLT).

I love reading different translations mostly because I love words.

My wonderful mom tells me from time to time that I’m very good at finding the perfect way to say things, the most accurate way to express something. And sometimes when I’m talking to someone else who doesn’t know me well, they’ll respond to something I say with, “You mean _______ ?” And I reply, “No. I chose my words.”

The truth is, I read a lot and talk a lot. I try to listen a lot. But I also think a lot, and I think in different ways. One of those ways, obvious as it may sound, is in words. If you’re someone who thinks in images (which I also do sometimes), think of it less as my mental self scanning a dictionary and more of her sitting under a tree looking up at the sky contemplatively. I’ll not deny that God has given me the gift of being able to string words together well, but it’s also that between all of these things, I spend a lot of time with words.

So let’s talk about the words in these three translations. We’ll start with the first part.

Two of our three versions say “temptation” while the other says “trial.” The two words aren’t synonymous, but in a spiritual sense, they might as well be. We have eternal, heaven-bound souls in mortal, sinful flesh. If we’re honest, all of our spiritual trials involve temptation. The temptation to doubt or to return to our former ways or to try something we shouldn’t for one hollow, fleeting moment. So I do feel that these two words are connected in a very specific way.

Trials of other varieties exist too, though, and I don’t want to dismiss that or downplay that. Stuff happens in our lives physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and in so many other ways, and it can really push us or stretch us thin. But I don’t want to downplay the impact that can have on our spiritual lives either. Hurt, anger, bitterness aren’t contained to one place no matter how hard we try to keep them there. They bleed through to other parts of our lives, sometimes while we’re unaware of them. They climb over the walls we construct in attempts to compartmentalize, and they spread. Trials of all kinds can become spiritual problems if we don’t handle them correctly by trusting in God.

In the KJV, Jesus asks God to “lead us not into temptation”, but the NLT has Him asking God not to “let us yield to temptation.” This is confusing, right? Because in the former, God is wholly active, and in the latter, we are equally active. Confusing as it is, I think these two are saying the same thing; it’s just that the NLT is doing a better job.

James 1:13-15 (NRSV) says, “No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.”

James identifies the source of our temptation as our fleshly desires. Our desires are played upon by Satan, not God, hence why each version of Matthew 6:13 either asks God to deliver us from the evil one or from evil itself, which is brought by and personified as Satan.

You know, we give Eve a lot of flack for the whole forbidden fruit thing, but look at all the stuff Satan tempts us with to get us into trouble.

So God does not actively lead us into temptation. I think Jesus is more asking that He not let us be led into trials where we are tempted by Satan proding our desires.

Now, let’s discuss the elephant in the room: why does the KJV have that extra line at the end of the verse?

Alan informed the congregation on Sunday, that this last bit, which isn’t included in more recent and more accurate translations such as the NLT and NRSV, would have been said at the end of prayers in Jesus’s day. This means it would have been a given to Matthew’s peers and audience, which would explain why he didn’t write it down, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a given to the people of King James’s time or ours.

What a beautiful way to end a prayer!

This shifts our focus back to God and who He is. He’s the powerful king who deserves all the glory and who loves and listens to us. We aren’t praying empty words that won’t leave the walls around us. We’re praying to a mighty and caring God.

And it’s important to remember just who God is after talking about our problems because that has the potential to emotionally drain us or give us anxiety. But in turning our focus back to God, we can gather ourselves and see that our problems, regardless of what they are, are nothing compared to God.

The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray, but it also shows us a lot about God and His heart for us. It proves to us that a relationship with God is exciting and requires our effort. God is infinite, and we can only discover new things about Him by engaging Him in His word and in prayer.

By Carrie Prevette

Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:11-12, KJV).

Much like Oprah, I love bread. Toasted, warm wheat. Fluffy or flakey biscuits. Sticks of bread covered in salt and/or garlic (and preferably served alongside a salad at Olive Garden). Brown and served with some butter to spread on it. I’m starting to make myself hungry, so I’m going to stop now, but I think you get my point. Bread is good.

Bread is also pretty fundamental. Some restaurants serve bread as a free appetizer. Back in my day, when we learned about the food pyramid in health class, carbs and grains (i.e., bread) made up the biggest section, holding up the rest of the pyramid. And when we say, “That’s your bread and butter,” in regards to a craft, it means that it’s part of the foundation of what your doing and that you’ll be doing it frequently.

Jesus petitions God for bread because it’s critical to His survival. It was what He physically would’ve needed. He could’ve asked for a side of marinara sauce or asked that the bread be served as a side to a meat and two veggies, but He didn’t because they weren’t as necessary.

It’s not to say that we shouldn’t ask for what we want. It’s to say that we should put our needs first. This seems like common sense, but I work at a bank and can tell you that people don’t always do this. God doesn’t want us to have a bare minimum life, but He wants to provide what we need first and foremost. He wants to bless us, but that doesn’t make Him a genie meant to fulfill our endless wishes.

Jesus calls it “our daily bread” not only because we need to eat daily, but because we should seek God and His provision daily.

Before my first car died and I had to get another (RIP Bartholomew. Gone but never forgotten), I didn’t have a car payment every month, so I had more expendable income. I was also on my mom’s car insurance instead of having my own, so that was even more money that I had to play with. I was by no means wealthy, but I didn’t feel the need to pray to God every day for provision. But now that a pretty decent chunk of my monthly paycheck goes toward my car and car insurance, I do seek and thank God for His provision daily. And don’t get me wrong: I know that the fact that I can afford the things I’m complaining about in this example makes me more fortunate than a lot of people, and I’m very grateful for what I have because I know I wouldn’t have it without God’s provision and blessings.

My relationship with God has to be a daily thing. If I call Him my Lord and Savior, if I rely on Him and look to Him and am thankful for Him, I need to do and express those things daily. Not because of what might happen to me physically. God loves me and is faithful even when I’m not. It’s about what that could do to me spiritually. Before long, one day turns into one week turns into one month, and I haven’t talked to God once. It creates space between me and God, which leaves room for other, more destructive things to come into my life.

In the same sense, damage is done to us when we withhold forgiveness from others. Both hold us back from our best.

In Luke 7, Jesus is eating at Simon the Pharisee’s house when an uninvited woman comes in and washes Jesus’s feet with her tears. She dries them with her hair, kisses them, and anoints them. Simon gets mad, saying that if Jesus was who He says He is, He’d know He was being touched by a sinner. Jesus tells him a short parable of a creditor who forgave two debts, one ten times as much as the other. He then asks the Pharisee which would love the creditor more. He says the one who owed more, and Jesus tells him that he’s right.

“Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little” (Luke 7:44-47, NRSV).

Like this woman, we’ve been forgiven of so much. Every single one of us owed a debt we could not pay. Then Jesus stepped in and paid it all for us.

How could we who have required so much forgiveness not extend it to others?

And the love that we feel for the God who forgives us, we’re not to store it up and hide it for ourselves. We’re to let it show and spread. God sees it, and others see it, and they see it through our actions and interactions. And that love and strength that we receive from God is evident in nothing more so than our ability to forgive.

People hurt us. People owe us. But there can never be a debt as big as the one God forgave us.

At this point in the Lord’s Prayer, we start getting into things that affect our everyday lives. It addresses our physical lives– asking God to provide what we need to survive and forgiving the people around us– and our spiritual lives– seeking God daily to know Him more and to find forgiveness. It’s about the things that run over from our relationships with God into our relationships with everyone.

By Carrie Prevette

As It is in Heaven

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, KJV).

This was probably the easiest part of the Lord’s Prayer for me to memorize because it rhymes, but it’s the hardest part of the prayer for me to live.

Dave mentioned a couple of options for what “Thy kingdom come” could mean in his sermon on Sunday: a reference to the Second Coming and a reference to our true citizenship being elsewhere. The way I’ve always thought of it relates to the latter, but is much more specific (and weirder, so hang with me here) way.

As we established last week, we are children of God. As children of God who exist in a world outside of that kingdom, we are ambassadors for God’s kingdom in this world. If we believe that God has called us to certain things, this means we will change part of the world through those things, and as ambassadors of God, those changes will cause the world to look more like God’s kingdom. His kingdom comes here, to Earth.

Not that this is easy. I recall being in a volunteer meeting once and Pastor Alan talking to the greeters, saying something about how a lot of people’s first impressions of God would be based on us. That all but made me sweat just thinking about it because I am not always a shining example of God’s love and grace.

So, no, people won’t always see God in us because we’re human, and there will be times that people won’t believe that we have a place in God’s kingdom or that His kingdom will come through us. So it is up to us to pray that His kingdom comes anyway, that we would not hinder it. It is up to us to seek God so much that the moments we do are fewer and farther between as we grow closer to God.

It makes sense that Jesus would follow this with asking that God’s will be done if He’s wanting Earth to look more like heaven, like God’s kingdom.

My will gets in the way. It’s self-seeking and based on how I see the world, which is a very limited view. I don’t see as God sees, so my will often hurts others as well as myself. That is not the way of heaven. God’s will is perfect and complete, even in the moments when it doesn’t feel like it, and that is heaven’s atmosphere.

Heaven is a place where everything works in harmony to glorify God. It also rests our souls. All of that is a result of God’s will, but it’s also part of life in God’s kingdom. Praying for His kingdom to come and for His will to be done means that we set ourselves up to experience part of heaven in our lives here on Earth. It brings us peace and rest, and it brings God glory, and it changes our world for the better.

The point of this part of the Lord’s Prayer is to turn our hearts and minds to God and His kingdom. That we would long for its perfection and want to bring it here. That we would strive to share it with those who don’t know it. That we wouldn’t take our positions as ambassadors lightly. That we would recognize our own faulty nature and pray prayers that overcome that nature through faith in God. Because we could all benefit from Earth being more like heaven.

By Carrie Prevette

Our Father

Before I read Slaughterhouse-Five for the first time a couple of years ago, it seemed like everyone else on the planet had read it. Since then, I’ve discovered that is not the case, so I’ll give a brief summary.

Billy Pilgrim is an eye doctor. He was drafted into World War II, and he was taken prisoner during the war. He says he was abducted by aliens, Tralfamadorians, and lived on their planet for a while. Tralfamadorians do not see time as a linear thing, and Billy Pilgrim doesn’t either after interacting with them. He spends the entire book going back and forth in time.

Billy says:

They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever. When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is “So it goes.”

For those who have never seen it or noticed it, tattooed on the top of my wrist is “So it goes.” That’s because I love this book, and I really like the way the Tralfamadorians view death, so much so that the first time I read that passage, I cried and read it over and over again.

I don’t consider this tattoo to be in honor of my dad, but I do think of my dad sometimes when I look at it. It gives me a great sense of peace because even though my dad is no longer alive, he’s alive in my memories, he’s alive through me now if I live out or impart things he taught me, and he’s alive in heaven, in eternity, where I will one day join him. He’s alive in so many other ways and moments.

I love my dad, and I miss my dad, and I am so thankful for the 20 years I had with him. I’m proud to be his daughter. Mostly, I wish my dad was still with me, but I can see how my life has changed in positive ways that it wouldn’t have if he were still here. And I feel no guilt in saying that because I know my dad would understand, in part because I’ve grown and found people and things that make me happy, many of which are a result of following God and receiving His blessings.

I’ve always viewed God as a Father, but losing my earthly dad changed the dynamic of my relationship with my Heavenly Father a bit. My dad was fantastic, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. And my dad certainly shaped who I am as a person. But God is perfect, and in my dad’s physical absence since his passing, I’ve relied more on God and grown closer to Him, and that has shaped who I am and how I see the world more than anything.

I understand why Jesus taught us and the disciples to address God as “Father” when we pray. Jesus says in Matthew 6:9 (KJV), “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

Jesus could’ve addressed God but any role He plays in the universe: Creator, Alpha and Omega, I Am, The One True God, etc. And all of those roles certainly affect us, and those roles show how big and powerful God is. But Jesus identifies God in a way that reflects His relationship with us, and in doing so, He proves how intimate prayer is.

Being children of God, our prayers are heard and listened to by our Father. We can go to Him at any time, in any place, with any situation and any state of mind, and He hears and responds to us, whether we can see that response or not. The God who formed everything into existence and who has always been and always will be cares about us and communicates with us. He’s adopted us and made us royalty within His kingdom.

And Jesus acknowledges us as children when He says “our Father.” He doesn’t say, “MY Father because I’m the real Son of God…” or “Dear Father of the Messiah, Jesus Christ…” He includes us. He recognizes us as children of God as well.

Jesus follows this display of intimacy by showing reverence to God: “Hallowed be thy name.” In doing this, He recognizes who God is as an entity, not only in relation to us. He is holy, and His name should be respected for His holiness.

This duality, familiarity and reverence, are hard for us to grasp and maintain. In my experiences, most people gravitate to one side of the spectrum or the other. For example, I tend to see God in such a personal, familiar light that I often lose sight of how mighty and holy He is. I love that He’s my Father and my friend because those are usually the roles I need Him in the most, but it causes me to forget how grand He really is. Other people are really into how holy and powerful God is, so much so that they lack a lot of intimacy with Him. Jesus shows us in Matthew 6 how to balance this duality by being aware of and acknowledging both aspects.

God is a perfect Father, one who loves you, accepts you, disciplines you, and stays with you. There’s nothing you, child of His or not, could do to make Him love you less. As His child, you have access to Him in ways that others don’t, and this is only possible through the blood of Jesus. Because of what He means to us and because of who He is, we should show reverence to Him and His name through our interactions with Him and others. Demonstrating that respect will draw us closer to Him and impact those around us.

By Carrie Prevette 

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