52 Words : Temptation & Evil???

changing-lanes-532a250ab65d4One of the first movies that caught my attention when it comes to finding truth and faith in film was Changing Lanes, a 2002 film with a young Ben Affleck and a younger Samuel L. Jackson. The two main character’s lives changed because of a traffic accident. One, a young punk lawyer, began to realize who they had become and wanted to change, the other, a simple, honourable Father, was tempted at every turn to become a person he never wanted to be. Two words that depict this movie are also found near the close of The Lord’s Prayer: Temptation & Evil.

These aren’t two words we love to talk about. They are words we hope don’t associate with us very much. I want nothing to do with evil. I want very little to do with temptation – at least I don’t want to succumb to it. Jesus puts it like this, “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” He choses to include these words with this final petition.

Lead us not into temptation…

At first glance, this sounds about right. I don’t want to be tempted, I don’t want to fall into temptation – do things that I have no intention of doing.

A few things we have to think about when reading this:

First, the word temptation may better be translated testing. That changes how I understand this phrase. Temptation is something I struggle with. Testing is something I deal with. I am tempted to do something wrong (personal). I am tested in a circumstance and have the opportunity to overcome or succumb. Some might even say that testing can refer to future judgement or difficult times for those who want to follow Jesus in this world.

But what about James 1 (trials/testing is pure joy) Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (2-3)

Or 1 Corinthians 10 (God will not give me what I can’t handle) So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (12-13)

Jesus did say, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)

In light of those scriptures, it’s fair to say that we will experience difficulty or testing or even temptations, but Jesus says, I have overcome this for you. Perhaps we should understand the prayer to mean that we can ask God for help so we don’t fail or fall from or because of these obstacles in our lives.

Remember that Jesus was also tested and tempted. In the wilderness with the Devil, and in Gethsemane where we read something like this, ‘If you could remove this from me…please do…BUT…your will be done through me.’ Those two instances (including John 16) say something about what he dealt with, but also that he overcame troubles for us.

So…when we pray these words, we are asking God to help us not succumb to temptation and not to fail in times of testing.

But deliver us from evil/evil one…

What is Evil…? How do you define it? I guess you can answers this with simple responses or significant ones, with (lower case) evils to (UPPER CASE) EVILS.

Evil is all around us. We are naive to think that it isn’t. From one of the first scenes in Scripture we find humanity turning something beautiful into something not so beautiful. In ideal conditions, Eve and Adam fail their test. We’ve been failing tests and falling prey to temptation ever since.

Does evil come from inside or outside of us? It has to be a bit of both. Perhaps a cycle that can only be broken with God’s intervention and power. In Matthew 15 we read that evil thoughts flow from our heart. So it’s in us. However, we also know that people’s lives have been influenced by the evil done to them or shown to them.

Some standard responses to evil are:
– head in the sand (pretend it doesn’t exist)
– the opposite (think that it’s everywhere)
– self-righteousness (I’m not as bad as them)

Jesus uses none of these. Instead, he recognizes evil’s reality and power, and he confronts it with the reality and power of the Kingdom. (i.e. beatitudes, fruit of the spirit, clothes in Colossians 3)

With that in mind we must balance how we view evil. It may not be everywhere, but it’s also got to be somewhere. We can’t talk about it all the time (conspiracy theorists), but we also can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

Our response should be this:
– Recognize & Pray (Matt 26:41 says to watch & pray)
– Confront evil with who we are & how we live
– Romans 12:41, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We pray this prayer because as we follow Jesus we are called to be in the middle of the action, making a difference, being a witness, shedding light in dark places. In those places, doing those things, with Jesus with us, we pray this prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” so we can do all that he, Jesus, has called us to do.

And remember this, both our wrong doings (fulfilled temptations) and the wrong in the world (evil) have been conquered by the cross of Jesus. One writer puts it like this, In the cross God has seriously and radically dealt with evil. When we pray this prayer we are ‘inhaling the victory of the cross…’

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small(er) group questions: (video recap)

When say Temptation & Evil, what goes through your mind first?

The word temptation can easily be translated as testing. Does that make a difference for you? If you’re praying for either, what kind of things are you praying for?

Read (from above) James 1, 1 Corinthians 10 and John 16. Do these verses seem to contradict what Jesus invites us to pray for? Jesus was tempted and also prayed to avoid testing. What do you make of that?

How do you define evil? What words or phrases or actions would you use to do so?

Are you an evil is everywhere or evil is nowhere kind of person? Why do you think there’s such a drastic difference in perspective from person to person?

What can we learn from Jesus’ response to evil? Recognize, Pray, Confront?
How does Romans 12:41 help us here? (Overcome evil with Good)

How is our calling to serve impact the context of our prayer?

small(ER) groups : winter session : feb/march

Wednesday: Group for parents with small children
6-8pm / every other week / Feb 15, 29, March 15, 29
– potluck style / child care provided
– Brad & Carly’s House, 5 Northgrove Crescent, Brooklin

– Caroline & Ken’s House, 19 Worfolk, Whitby

– Jordan & Sarah’s House, 9485 Baldwin St. N. Ashburn

52 words to follow: Forgive Us

I’ve been quite into golf for many years now. I discovered it in my mid to late twenties and have been hooked ever since. Many people say that golf is not a game you perfect, but a game you discover and try and figure out your hole life. Out of the many things I learned about this sport, one of my favourites might be what they call ‘a mulligan’. A mulligan is a redo, a do over, a grace shot. If you’ve hit your ball into the woods or into the water, your partner may say, ‘take another shot, we’ll give you a mulligan’. They are some of the sweetest words you’ll hear on a golf course; because of course you’ll hear many not so sweet words (insert wink and a smile).

Imagine you could use a mulligan in real life? How wonderful would that be? As a police officer is about to write you a ticket you might say, ‘I think I’m going to take a mulligan on that one…I’ll see you another time, have a great day.’ After you’ve said something completely foolish you might say, ‘Mulligan. I’m taking a mulligan on that one. Pretend I didn’t say it, here’s what I really wanted to say.’ You might want a mulligan for a whole season of your life, a few months, a few years maybe. You just wish you could turn back the clock, address the situation differently, and move towards a much better experience or result.

Believe it or not, there is such a thing in life. Forgiveness. That’s right, forgiveness is what God offers to remove our wrongs doings and mess ups. King David in Psalm 103 actually describes it like this, as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  You mean God can take my wrongs…so far away…and make it like I’ve never even done them? That’s what forgiveness is – much better than a mulligan in golf. Golf is a game – Life is real.

We have been journeying through the Lord’s Prayer and have arrived at the point where Jesus tells us that we can ask for forgiveness. We’ve addressed God as Father, we’ve invited God’s Kingdom and will to be present among us, we’ve asked for something as basic as bread, and now we are invited to ask for forgiveness.

Forgive us our sins…

If we never ask for forgiveness when we pray, then something is either off with our hearts or we have forgotten a very important reality, we are broken people. This phrase in this prayer acknowledges one very important thing: SIN exists, in the world, and in us.

It might be easy to say that sin exists in the world. Watch the news, read the paper, see the terror and the violence and the injustice. Sin, wrong doing, selfish behaviour, it’s all there. But what about in me. Do I have what it takes to identify that sin is in me? Because it is. Paul says, in Romans 3, ‘we have ALL sinned’ ‘we have all done wrong’. David says in Psalm 51 that we are prone wander from the God we love.

NT Wright said, “we must beware of perceiving a world where forgiveness isn’t necessary”. That is a world where no one admits their wrongs and identifies that we need fixing – we’re broken.

E. Peterson says that Sin Kills; it kills relationships, it kills the soul intimacy that is inherent in our image of God, it kills what had potential for growth and nutrition. Some say it wastes what is good, what had life. But Forgiveness is Resurrection. Life from the dead. Forgiveness redeems what sin wastes.

Jesus says, ‘Forgive us our sins’ because he knows that we are sinners in need of forgiveness.

As we forgive those who have sinned against us…

Jesus of course never lets us off the hook that easy. When you acknowledge what’s wrong in you, what you need forgiveness for, and are appreciative of what God has done for you, Jesus says, your automatic response must be to forgive those who sin against you. But Jesus, can’t I just sit here for a while and bask in my forgiveness?

Jesus goes into more detail on this after the prayer. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Paul reiterates this in Colossians 3:13, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you…Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.”

We who pray this are called to be the ones who live it. The church lives this. We’ve got to be a forgiveness-of-sins people. Forgiven people, forgiving others. If we don’t forgive others, it’s like we’re selfishly saying, “I want it all for me”. “I want to hoard this gift of mercy and grace”.

There are always two steps in praying for forgiveness: 1) Ask for grace, and 2) Extend that grace to others. It’s hard to do. It’s easier to host a charity event, or feed the poor, or raise money for world vision, but forgive someone who wronged you – no way, that’s too hard. Jesus’ response to that was his death on the cross. He did what only he could do so that we could receive forgiveness. He simply asks us to pay that selfless act of love forward.

Asking for forgiveness is like going to your Doctor. You know something’s not right, but in that moment you don’t really tell her what’s wrong. The Doctor can’t help you unless you’re honest about your condition. That’s why confession is important.

The church and the world are full of people who need do-overs…mulligans. We’re in luck, because God is in the business of mercy, grace and forgiveness.

Jesus says, when you pray, confess what’s up, what’s wrong…ask for forgiveness. And then, after you’ve been overwhelmed with God’s great forgiveness in your life, extend that to others around you – to those who’ve wronged you.

Life’s richest blessing comes from being forgiven and being willing to forgive.

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small(er) group questions: (short vide recap)

Was there anything this week that you wish you could do over? Don’t give us your biggest secrets, but perhaps a small regret? Did you pray the words of Cher, “If I could turn back time”?

Forgiveness is a powerful and profound thing to wrap your mind around. Read Psalm 103:8-12 and talk about how the Psalmist describes forgiveness?

Do you find yourself identifying the wrongs of others while neglecting to see the wrongs you’ve been involved in? Why is it so much easier to find fault in others and not in ourselves?
(there might be more on this though next week)

How often to you include Jesus’ words in your prayers? Forgive us our sins? Why do you think confession and forgiveness are so important to prayer and to our walk of faith?

Why would Jesus’ second part to this prayer be so difficult – forgive others? Or as Paul put it in Colossians 3:13, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you…Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.”

What do you think it means to be forgiveness-of-sins kind of people?


52 Words to Follow: Pass the Bread please

When looking at the Lord’s Prayer as an example to follow, we are tempted to run or rush through the first few lines to get to this one, “Give me Food / I need __________”

Or as you know it, “Give us this day our daily bread”

When you’re hungry, you wanna get to the kitchen as fast as possible. Sometimes that’s how we approach prayer. That’s why Jesus doesn’t start with this phrase, but with what we’ve talked about in our earlier talks/posts: Father, Holy, Kingdom come, Will be done, is where Jesus wants us to start.

The first 3 petitions of this prayer (in Matthew) reorient our lives, our imaginations, our language to the presence and action of God.

The first 3 pronouns are “Your”
The final 3 pronouns are “Us”

After we understand who we’re praying to, what his purpose and intent is, we can move to asking him for what we need – The Basics. Pass the bread please!!!

Give Us…

We should be weary of the both extremes these two words lend themselves too. Are we the one who is always asking? For every little thing? Who rushes to the kitchen when we arrive at someone’s home? Give me this & give me that? Or, are we the one who never asks for anything? Who is either too afraid or possibly too proud to ask for something? Both extremes are faulty.

Jesus says, when you pray, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
Remember that you and I need God. He is our provider.


Today is a very important word in this prayer. Our tendency is to jump ahead, to worry about tomorrow, to be anxious about what we can’t control – the future.

Jesus says, “Give us this day” “Give us today”.

Prayer reminds us that we live one day at a time. That we are provided for one day at a time.

First century labour wasn’t like we know it. The worker knew only that they worked that day – they got paid at the end of that day – a few sick days in a row could be tragic. When they prayed these words, they knew what it meant to pray for today…to pray for more work and more pay and more food for today and tomorrow.

Jesus’ words a little further in Matthew 6 help us understand this even better. He teaches us not to worry about tomorrow, to trust that God will provide for our very basic and daily needs.

Praying daily…for one day at a time is the way to an emotionally healthy and gracious life. We combat things like consumerism (I want this), and technology (I don’t need you), and money & machines (if these work I don’t need to pray).

Our Daily Bread…

If we can get to the point that we pray, and ask, and seek, what are we asking for? Bread.

Bread means provision. God did, does and will provide.
Bread means that we are asking for basic needs…and specific needs.
Bread can mean that God provides in a fresh way, in a variety of ways, in a daily manner, for my growth and nutrition.
Bread also means that God sets the table for community…and parties…and friendships. (i.e.Biblical Kingdom theme of Party & Banquet, Jesus ate and drank with so many…he facilitated parties)
Bread is also…JESUS (I am the bread of life)

In Luke’s version of this prayer, Bread is at the centre. Bread is central to the prayer.

Sure…don’t turn prayer into a shopping list, but please don’t forget that God wants you to ask for basic and specific things.

Give them today, their daily bread…

Any time we ask for ourselves, and any time God provides, it must turn our prayers towards and for others in need. In the context of scripture, we can’t pray for ourselves without praying for others. God sets the table for us – we must in turn set the table for others.

Give us
Our daily Bread

What do you need today? What are you asking for today? What are you seeking for today? What are you knocking at the door for today?

According to Jesus, you need to bring that need, that petition, that request, to God, our Father.

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Small(er) Group Discussion: (video recap)

We’ve walked through a little more than half of The Lord’s Prayer so far. What are some observations, insights or questions you might have?

Do you appreciate the way Jesus laid his prayer out? Father first, Kingdom & Will second, Bread third? ETC?

Would you like to comment on our first two conversations: Our Father & Kingdom & Will? Anything resonate with you about either of them?
– Our Father who are in Heaven, Holy is your name (blog post)
– Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (blog post)

What side do you tend to be on when it comes to asking God for help? Are your prayers a little too much like a shopping list? Or are you the one who never asks for anything? Why do you think you lean to one side or the other?

How important is trust in this part of the prayer? What does trust in God help us combat in ourselves?
How can Matthew 6:19-34 help us understand God’s heart about our basic needs?

What are the most important words in this phrase for you? Give us, Today, or Bread? Why?

Anything you wanna ask God for today?