Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Lord's Prayer, Pt. 3

Forgive us our debts as…

This is, for me, the hardest one. We all have debts. We have indebted ourselves to God by way of our sin. As sinners, we need forgiveness. God, on the basis of the substitutionary death of Christ, forgives us our sin when we trust Him. We trust Him when we place our faith in Christ’s death and resurrection to cover our debts.

But there is a catch here in this prayer. He says we should pray that God would forgive us in the same way and to the same degree that we forgive others. I don’t know about you, but my forgiveness of others is often not as great as my need for forgiveness myself. In other words, I often want God to forgive me more than I’m willing to forgive someone else.

Again, I see this in counseling. One member of a couple will find it hard to forgive the partner for some sin, an infidelity or some such. One of the things we have to learn is that we have sinned against God much more than anyone has sinned against us!

Lead us not into temptation…

Here's another hard one. It would seem that to ask this request is to somehow make God responsible for whether or not we walk into temptation. But I think Jesus is assuming that the prayer (the person praying) is desperately aware of his need to be led. He knows that if left to his own "leading", he will land in destruction, death, and chaos. So, we are to ask God to guide, lead, direct, and protect our very steps. We are to trust God to deliver us from evil or the evil one. “God help me not go down the path to destruction. My very life is in your hands and I need your intervention to keep me from straying into sin.”

For thine is the kingdom…

Finally, all praise, glory, honor, power, reverence is yours! You are creator and sustainer and the beginning and the end. You are the motivation, the goal, and the reward of a life well lived by faith.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Lord's Prayer, Pt. 2

Thy kingdom come...

This is one prayer, I realized the other day, that has never been answered for anyone during the past 2000 years. Such people as Peter, Paul, Origin, Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, Whitfield, Tozer, Havner, have all prayed for God’s kingdom to come and it hasn’t yet; not in its fullness and not in its permanence.

But there is a sense in which God’s kingdom has come and, while we wait for it’s coming, is coming. In Matt. 12.28, Jesus said, “…the kingdom of God has come upon you.”.

What does it take to have a kingdom? It takes a realm, a people, and a king. To the degree that we submit to our King, listen to Him and follow His lead, His kingdom is here now. When we walk in the fullness of His Spirit, His kingdom is here!

Thy will be done…

How is God’s will done in heaven? Fully, joyfully, and instantly. Jesus is teaching us to pray that the same way God’s will is done in heaven, so His will be done here. Doing God’s will is often something we do, but we do it grudgingly. We need to develop an attitude that is like the inhabitants of heaven, while waiting on earth.

Give us this day…

Jesus is certainly talking about food here. But more than that, He is referring to what we need; nothing more and nothing less. We can trust God to supply for both today and tomorrow, but only when tomorrow comes.

As a counselor, I run into people all the time who want more than their daily bread. They want life to be clearly, perpetually, and adequately supplied for and they want to be able to see it. But Jesus is teaching us to live by faith. Trusting God to supply for each day and each day only.

Part 3 to follow...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Lord's Prayer, pt. 1

The Lord’s Model Prayer, from Matthew 6

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Pray like this. The Lord doesn’t say “pray this”. He says pray LIKE this. That is not to say that we are wrong to pray this prayer. He simply wasn’t attempting to give us a prayer; he was giving us a model for prayer.

I have been using this in my personal prayer life and found it to be powerfully worshipful, convicting, uplifting, and meaningful.

Our Father

He doesn’t say, “My” father. He says “Our” father. WE are praying. WE are praying with and for each other. We are a unit, a team, a family. We are not isolated pockets of intimacy with God. He is “Our” father and our prayers need to reflect that relationship.

Hallowed be thy name

We don’t use this word often. In the KJV of the Bible, it is only used 2 times in the New Testament, here and in the other record of the Lord's Prayer in Luke 11. It means something that is honored, holy, precious, special, sanctified. We ought to desire that God’s name be honored, holy, precious, special, and sanctified. Our hearts desire ought to be that in every place, by every creature, God’s name is reverenced: in our homes, our neighborhoods, our families, our friends, even our enemies and our enemies nations. We seem to have lost the notion of Hollowing anything. We've seen millions of people lately grieving over the loss of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. I see few people bemoaning the loss of respect for God.

Thy kingdom come

Part 2 to come...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Seeking God

The seeking of the Lord is a continuous action. It is so continuous that you never “find” him, like you might a lost watch or the car keys. Rather, you keep seeking for more and finding out more of Him. He is an exhaustless person with endless facets.

My wife and I have been seeking each other for over 28 years. We think we know each other, and then we find something new. This is mostly because we tend to change, grow, and mature. So when we think we’ve discovered something, something new is in it’s place!

But God is different. We don’t discover more of Him because He is maturing. He never changes. He is just inexhaustible! We keep seeking because He cannot be “found out”.

What makes David cry out in Ps. 63:1 O God, you are my God! I long for you!
My soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water?

Or Paul say in Phil. 1:21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain?

Or Augustine say, Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in thee?

Or Frederick Faber (19TH century hymn writer and theologian) say, “Only to sit and think of God, Oh what a joy it is! To think the thought, to breathe the Name; Earth has no higher bliss."?

What makes these people appear to live on a higher plane? What makes them pursue God and delight in Him more than anything else?

I’m convinced it is this: They all had what A.W. Tozer called spiritual receptivity. We all have 5 senses with which we experience the world (i.e. sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell). But we also possess spiritual faculties with which we can “sense” God.

I think Jesus was referring to this in John 5:19 So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise….”

Jesus had spiritual eyes to see what the Father was doing. He watched the Father at work and did like things. Tozer also called this “habitual conscious communion with God”.

That is what I want to encourage in you today: Habitual conscious communion with God.

I think that the only way to develop our spiritual senses is to develop a habit of communing with God, consciously, daily, and moment by moment.

If you are like me, I tend to go from one thing to the next, having different attitudes and actions, depending on the context.

Now we’re doing church and Sunday School. After this, we’ll do “lunch”, and then “nap”, and then, …whatever! (TV, reading, playing, talking, etc) We will do this until it’s time to do the church thing again.

During the week, we may do the breakfast thing, exercise thing, quiet time thing, work thing, etc. But those who have developed this spiritual receptivity, these spiritual eyes to see what God is doing, can move into that place and join Him!

How do we do it?
• Spend time with people who have it
• Read books by people who have it
• Spend time with people who want it
• Ask for it! (most importantly)

Listen to the prayer of one man I believe had "it":

O God, I have tasted Thy Goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


What should be our automatic response to suffering? Prayer. (see James 5.13)

But what is our usual response to suffering?

• Complaining
• Anger
• Worry
• Seeking a quick fix
• Repairing grievances

But James suggests that we ought to pursue God. Take your complaints, anger, worry, fixes, grievances, to the one who is in charge!

How often have you said, when you are mistreated by some business, “Let me speak to your superior!” You want to talk to someone higher up to get some suffering to stop. Not a bad idea when you think about it. If a credit card company is not treating you fairly, talk to the boss and often you can make some progress. The person in charge may respond to your complaint. The first contact person can only follow the rules. They are given instructions on how to deal with difficulties and have no authority to bend or circumvent those rules. But a supervisor often does have that right and ability.

So maybe our problem when we suffer is not that we are complaining, but that we are complaining to the wrong person. Maybe we just need to go higher.

When we are suffering, we are to go to the highest court in the land. We are to take our suffering and all it involves, to the throne of God and find grace to help in time of need.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Recent blog: Anxiety

A few weeks ago I blogged about being through with worrying about the past and fearing the future. Since then, I've been kicked in the pants with both! Guess I'm "not" through with both!

It was as though God was saying, "So, you think you got this down?". And then everywhere I turned I was faced with anxiety. I had either done something stupid or anticipating some disaster.

Thank God that He is a patient Parent who grows us up, gradually.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sacrifice as an expression of Gratitude

God gives us everything! We are indebted to Him for all creation and all sustaining of that creation. He asks a very small portion of his gift to us in return. This token is representative of His total gifts, but He takes it very seriously!

This is illustrated in Lev. 5.14-19 where sacrifice is to be made for failing to give God His Holy portion in worship.

We all know the disdain and disgust we feel for the unappreciative, spoiled, presumptuous attitudes of a child.

We’ve seen children making demands of parents. We’ve cringed at the actions of Dudley in Harry Potter, on the occasion of his birthday. "But there were more presents last year!"

But I have a daughter, Cait, who shows appreciation for the smallest of gifts. A couple weeks ago she was buying 3 books and was lacking some change to be able to pay the tax. I paid it for her and got a hug and a "thank you, Daddy"! Another day she bought me a soda!

We can either be like Dudley, or we can be like Cait!

When we hold back or give resentfully we are not only denying God what little token he asks, but we are ignoring the fact that it’s all His anyway!

What does it cost to give something of love to God or our neighbor...only what God has given us in the first place!

Let’s pray for each other to be able to recognize opportunities to give to God worshipfully, whether it be directly to Him or to our family and neighbors.