Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Sacred Head Sore Wounded"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 26:41 – Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (NASB)
When I was young, Saturday mornings were spent in front of the television set with my brothers, watching classic Western movies. The golden glow of the American southwest was a far cry from a cool Ontario morning! We loved the cowboys and horses, and of course no Western was complete without an ambush; the hero hiding behind a cactus or a clapboard building, weapon in hand, barely breathing, to meet his foe.
The Bible has some wonderful ambush stories, too. David and his rebel soldiers had the chance to ambush King Saul, as they hid in the back of a cave. The men tempted David to kill Saul on the spot, as a God-given opportunity. David crept up behind Saul, cutting a piece off his royal robe. Once Saul had left the cave, David waved the cloth before him, showing how he could have killed Saul if he had wanted to, but didn't. Saul forgave him, and pulled his troops away.
Judas attempted another ambush in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus had been praying, as the disciples slept. Judas had seized the opportunity to betray Jesus to the temple guard. However, Jesus knew already that He would be betrayed. He struggled with the temptation not to go to the cross and endure crucifixion, and to escape the ambush, but He didn't give in.
In each case, the real ambush was the onset of temptation. How was David prepared for the ambush? David had meditated on God's Word, and having been anointed himself, by Samuel, he understood the sanctity of a king's anointing. Being self-disciplined, he kept himself in check, and also prevented his soldiers from taking action. How was Jesus prepared for the ambush? A night of prayer prepared Him for it. He also knew the Scriptures, and that His life was the fulfillment of prophecy.
How can we be prepared for the ambush of temptation? We may be weakened by anxiety, fatigue, busyness, or being afraid of professing our faith publicly.
1 Peter 5:8 – Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (NIV)
The ambush is sure to come. We can pray for strength and guidance before it happens. We can know the promises of Scripture to call upon, and be prepared to forgive injustice and injury. The ambushes of life are sure to spring up at us, but we are promised deliverance by the One who knows in advance that they will come, and who will save us when we call on His name.
Prayer: Dearest Lord, thank You for all Your great promises in Scripture to guide us and to give us strength when we are under attack. We praise You, the One who saves us when we call on Your name. Amen!