Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fear Not - Someone is Praying for You

This is what we know: Jared Loughner, 22, a community college dropout, has been charged with five federal felonies, including the attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a mass shooting that left six people dead and 14 wounded.  Court documents allege that Loughner had actually targeted the congresswoman.

This horrible tragedy has left many lawmakers on edge.  While many take pride in meeting their constituents without any armed protection, the events in Arizona have left some having second thoughts.  Some are ratcheting up their security while others who have conceal-and-carry permits are planning on carrying their guns with them more frequently.

How does a person deal with the awareness that a ruthless, determined, unseen enemy is bent on doing them harm?

There was an occasion in which Jesus warned his disciple, Peter, about such an enemy that had targeted him.

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31-32)

Jesus speaks Peter's name twice, stressing the seriousness of the matter.  Satan, the enemy of Peter and all those who will trust in the Savior, demands a shot at Peter (look at Job 1).  Satan wants to "sift" Peter; he wants to pick Peter to pieces; take him apart; resulting in Peter's faith being drained away to nothing.

Satan wants to bring Peter to ruin.  This is Satan's desire for every Christian - total ruin.  This is a serious matter and we live with this reality every day.  This disguised "angel of light" lurks and roams about "like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (this is how Peter would later describe his stalking enemy).

How can we face the day with any degree of confidence when we know there's a lion on the loose; one that's stalking us?

"...but I [Jesus] have prayed for you that your faith may not fail."

Notice that Jesus doesn't say, "I've prayed for you and Satan will never mess with you."  No, Satan is allowed to deal a blow.  Peter will ultimately deny Jesus.  But Peter's failure is a failure of nerve, not a heart denial of Jesus.  This is because Jesus has prayed (interceded) for Peter that his faith would not be drained away to nothing.  Peter will turn again to a better faithfulness.  Satan fails to destroy Peter because Jesus had interceded for him.

I think is completely reasonable for believers today to expect such intercession:

Consequently, he[Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25)

Knowing Peter's upcoming failure, still, Jesus interceded for Peter.  And praise be to God, because Jesus lives to make intercession for us, we can face tomorrow – in spite of a roaring lion who stalks us.

Pastor Van




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