Daily Update #213

Pause:  As we prepare to look at God’s Word let us quieten our minds, so that
   his Holy Spirit may speak to us today.

Readings:  Genesis 3 : 1 – 8;    Psalm 32 : 1 – 8;    Mark 7 : 31 – 37

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit there is no deceit.  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said,
‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’  And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

The reading from Genesis is about “the fall”, when Adam and Eve gave into temptation and disobeyed the command of the Lord.  In doing so, that “fall” broke the loving relationship between the holy God and his creation.  In disobedience Adam and Eve sinned, and subsequently everyone born, with one exception, has also been a sinner.  That one exception is, of course, the perfect Son of God, Jesus.  Although he was tempted, as we read in Luke 4, he never gave in to the wiles of the enemy, referred to in Genesis 3 as a crafty snake.

Temptation is common to us all, and can come in a variety of ways.   In the Garden of Eden we read that the fruit appeared to be good for food, possibly satisfying a physical hunger.  It was also pleasant to look at, aesthetically pleasing, and it also appeared to have the power to make one wise, perhaps appealing to one’s pride.  Very tempting indeed!  Paul acknowledges the problem of temptation in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 10, where he says, “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.”  I have never been very good at memorizing verses, but that is one that I can quote, more or less, when needed.  Our problem is, unfortunately, that we don’t always look for that way out, and we do give in to the temptation.

Of course, that means that like Adam and Eve we do all fall into sin at times, and we are therefore in need of God’s forgiveness.  I find it truly wonderful that, many hundreds of years before Jesus came, King David could know the joy of sins forgiven.  He is able to write that when he acknowledged his sin, and then confessed to the Lord, he knew that he was forgiven.  We can have that same assurance, through what Jesus did for us on the cross.  In Old Testament times a sacrifice for forgiveness was made every year; after Calvary there is no need for an annual sacrifice.  At the Last Supper, as Matthew records in chapter 26 of his Gospel, Jesus took a cup of wine, gave it to his disciples to drink, and told them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  We remember that, of course, at Holy Communion, but we don’t have to wait for the Communion service to ask God for his forgiveness.  Jesus taught us, in what we call the Lord’s Prayer, to ask the Father to forgive us our sins, and if we do that then he is, as John tells us in his first letter, “faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Many, many years ago, as a very baby Christian, I asked my “spiritual dad” if he ever got bored saying the Lord’s Prayer regularly.  His answer was very simple, and is one that I have never forgotten.  “Of course not,” he said, “I mean every word of it.”  It is a good discipline to use the prayer that Jesus himself gave us, and it is even better when we pray it carefully, meaning every single word of it.  I’m also sure that Father doesn’t mind if we say “my” instead or “our”.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.  Amen.