Monday, June 11, 2012

The Noon-Day Devil Doesn't Just Tempt at Noon

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in Whom I trust!’...He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid...of the destruction that lays waste at noon. For you have made the LORD, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place” (Psalm 91:1,2,4-6,9).

“...the destruction that lays waste at noon.” The Latin Vulgate renders this phrase daemonio meridiano, or “noon devil,” that temptation that comes in the middle of the day to throw spiritual discipline away. Called “a dangerous and frequent foe to dwellers in the desert” (John Cassian, ca. A.D. 360 – 435), for the Desert Fathers of the A.D. 4th century in Egypt it was a temptation to do anything but observe mid-day prayer (there would always seem to be something more pressing or important to do than pray). The same thing happens to us in our lives, as well. In our lives as disciples, the Word is abundant in its description of the fruit the Spirit bears in the lives of those in Christ. However, in living a life of discipleship, we are constantly bombarded from the outside with a million distractions, some of which seem very legitimate. These things team up with our own lust (James 1:14) and keep us from living the Christ-life to the Father's glory.

As I said, sometimes these noon-day devils seem very reasonable and legitimate. For example, Jesus warns against making money our the guiding god of our lives: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:19-21,24). Perhaps you read this and say, "no problem!" You're not wealthy and don't even want to be wealthy, so Jesus' warning against violating the commandments against idolatry and covetousness (Exodus 20:3,17//Deuteronomy 5:7,21; Colossians 3:5) doesn't really apply to you. However, notice how Jesus goes on to describe the temptation to "serve God and wealth" in our lives: “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (6:25-32). For the disciple of Jesus Christ, even the normal, basic needs of being a human being can be a temptation to idolatry and covetousness. Is this your noon-day devil, tempting you to put these "basics" on a higher priority than faithfulness to the calling of God on your life as a disciple of Jesus Christ? “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (6:33). The noon-day devil of spiritual distraction is sneakier than you think! But we are not left alone to fight him in all his forms and temptations.

We have been taught the path by faith into the protection of the Lord through the relational discipline of prayer:

  • “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13).
  • “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41).

As you follow the Son this day in the power of the Spirit to the glory of the Father, watch and pray, for the “noon devil” doesn’t wait until noon to distract you from the disciple’s life, that way of the LORD walked by the direction of the Scripture. “You will not be afraid...of the destruction that lays waste at noon. For you have made the LORD, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.”

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