Saturday, March 21, 2020

Going Further In; Fighting This Invisible War

Yesterday, I was taking an hour to pray. During that time, I kept thinking about the song that we've been singing at our Easter play practice these past few months; a song that I listen to every day during my commute to work. The song is, "Could You Not Tarry With Me". I found a version of it on YouTube that you can watch here (if only you could hear our cast sing it!). The words are so powerful! Give it a listen! It's about how Jesus asked his disciples to keep watch with Him for ONE HOUR to pray; and how He also asks US to do the same and not sleep our lives away.

I began looking up the scriptures regarding this scene. I really wanted to meditate on it. One of the first things I noticed was something that I may or may not have previously heard in a sermon before. He took the disciples with Him to the garden pray, but then he only took Peter, James, and John with Him when He went further in to pray. They got the same instructions; to stay there, watch, and pray while He went a little further....because there are some things that only HE can do (and do alone).

As I was thinking about this, I was thinking about how close these three disciples must have been to Jesus; and had the honor of going deeper with Him than the others. You have Peter, the "rock" on which He said He would build His church. You have James and his brother, John. John was "the disciple whom Jesus loved" and to whom He designated as the one to care for His mother, Mary, while He was dying on the cross. These three also contributed to the books of The Holy Bible. With the exception of Matthew, what other disciple did so? There's no book of Andrew, Thomas, etc. It made me think about that some more; about how their faith, depth, and intimacy really set them apart from the others. They went "further in" with Jesus.

The sad part is, close as they were with Jesus, they still gave in to the flesh and allowed sleep to overtake them. They weren't vigilant to keep watch; and not just a physical watch either. It was much more than that! Jesus told them to keep watch so they wouldn't fall into temptation. Prayer was supposed to be for their own benefit as much as anything else. When you are prayed up, you are powered up! You are prepared for whatever is to come; whether it's temptation, hardship, persecution, etc. Jesus knew what was coming, and He knew that His disciples should be on guard physically AND spiritually!

Each time that Jesus returned from one-on-one time with the Father, He kept finding them asleep. Though, we can hardly "tsk tsk" the disciples when I KNOW we all are guilty of this too (who hasn't fallen asleep during time where you're SUPPOSED to be praying? I have!). As so often happens, we are vulnerable and unaware when we are in that state. We are probably more prone to do impulsive things when we wake up and are still sleepy.

It also occurred to me that right BEFORE the prayer time in the garden, Jesus had told a prideful and boastful Peter that he would indeed deny Him three times. Despite his insistence that he would never do such a thing, it most certainly followed later. Peter was also the one who chopped off the ear of the servant of the high priest. This all makes me wonder; would Peter have acted the same way if he had heeded the Master's words to WATCH and PRAY so that he wouldn't fall into temptation? Would a more wakeful and watchful Peter have stayed calmer than a groggy, sleepy, half-conscious Peter who impulsively drew his sword and struck? Quite possibly! Though, even then, Jesus graciously covered Peter's mistake and healed the man's ear.

How about us? Will we go further in with Jesus? What's our relationship truly like with Him; especially in this crazy time? Will we "watch and pray" so that we don't fall into temptation, or are we just going to sleep our lives away (or binge watch TV and play video games)? Is ONE HOUR too much to ask? Probably, unless you're talking about hours upon hours of mindless internet, TV, movie, and video game time. Turn it off, folks! Put the controller, phones, and tablets down for ONE HOUR! We MUST be vigilant, because this isn't a physical battle here! We're not warring against flesh and blood; this is an invisible war against the evil forces at work (and I'm not just talking about COVID-19 here!). Wake UP!

Tomorrow feels like a big day for this! People everywhere are going to be gathering to worship, pray, and listen to a church sermon (as usual). The only thing that isn't "as usual" is that it's all going to be done online. I hope the internet can handle this big of a Jesus party, because the church cannot be stopped! Amen! Our church will be one of them, join us! Additionally, check out WRSW at 2:00 p.m. for a time of prayer. My wonderful friend, co-worker, and boss (Envoy Kenneth Locke) will be on that program leading us all in prayer! I hope you all will gather around the radio (like our parents and grandparents used to) so that we can pray as a church body TOGETHER! If we want to see repentance, breakthrough, healing, and revival, we MUST be praying! Our prayers will rise up to heaven before the throne of God if those of us who are CALLED by His Name are taking this seriously!

Grace and peace to you all, my friends! Stay vigilant and pray! Don't give in to the temptations of fear, panic, and impulsivity! Go to the Lord in prayer and you'll find peace that surpasses all understanding and strength for today! The Lord will "give us this day our daily bread." Count on Him for your manna; all your daily needs! He knows them and will provide for them! Trust Him! Go further in! Jesus intercedes for us and brings it all to the Father! Watch and pray! God bless you all!