Archive for the ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ Category

Do you remember the first time that your parents left you at home alone on the weekend? It was a major feat for us when we are growing. Finally, our parents trust us enough that they are willing to let us stay at home while they go have some parental romantic weekend (Ewwww!)! We revel in those moments as soon as the car gets out of sight. Take the old records off the shelf! Grab the music and play it loud on Dad’s precious sound system. Go to the fridge and pull out the whipped cream and spray it directly into your mouth as you are jamming to your favorite tunes blaring throughout the house. Driving your Dad’s sports car without him knowing! Calling your friends and saying the party’s on! The party was epic, of course. But at the same time, stuff got broken. The house is a mess after the party ends in the wee hours of the morning. Only your real friends are left and the house is a disaster. This was a test of the parental trust system. And you have failed. We’ve all been there. Temptation to rebel against our parent’s rules are almost too much to bare. It is similar when you go off to college for that first fall semester during your freshman year. The temptations to go wild are great and most of us fail at the temptations and often find it difficult until late in the semester to get our stuff together to keep from failing at least one course. We’ve all been there. Free will means that we can find ourselves in situations where we are tempted. That idea comes into play in the final phrase of the Lord’s prayer.

Today, we conclude our detailed look at the Lord’s Prayer. In this blueprint for how we should pray, Jesus concludes the model prayer with the phrase, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” This reminds us of a saying that I have heard stated in various ways but the sentiment is the same, “Jesus never said not if but when we would face temptation…” When we ask God not to lead us into temptation and deliver us from the evil one, just what is it that we are asking God to do? There is something subtle to notice here. First, we are recognizing that God will never lead us into temptation. Second, temptations will come and it is apparent that they cannot be avoided. Finally, God has the power to deliver us from them.

The first thing that we will notice here is that Jesus says that we should be praying not to be lead into temptation. God will never lead us into temptation. James 1:13 tells us that God cannot be tempted by evil so He himself does not tempt anyone. Therefore, temptations come not from God. He is pure and holy and completely righteous. It is not in His nature to lead someone toward evil thoughts or evil actions or situations where we will be tempted to participate in evil thoughts or acts. He won’t. He can’t even take us to that neighborhood. Evil and God do not co-exist together. As a result, He cannot lead us astray. He can only lead us to goodness, truth, and life. God may allow us to be tested by temptation to see if we really are His children or just pretenders, but He himself will not tempt us. God allowed Job to be tested by temptation (but with restrictions). So, too, are there times when temptations are allowed just so as to see what we are really made of. Are we really Christ followers? Luke 16:10 tells us that God will see if we can be trusted in the little things then we can be trusted with much more. If we are faithful in the small things, then, we will be faithful in the bigger ones. Our parents often give us small bits of freedom like staying at home by ourselves as teenagers to see if they can trust us with bigger things. They may start out by leaving us at home for a couple of hours to see if we can be trusted to stay alone without killing ourselves or someone else over a whole weekend. They may see if we can be trusted over a weekend so that they can give us bigger and bigger responsibilities later on in the process of growing up. Have you ever noticed that your parents will start treating you more and more like an adult when you start acting like one? God allows temptations in our lives to see how we measure up. God allows temptations to mature us as well. We may find ourselves in subtle temptations and resist them. As we mature, we become more battle-tested and more easily see the difference between God’s way and the ways of Satan. As we trust in God’s way, we are able to see through the temptations for what they really are – Satan’s attempts to draw us away from God, and it is way to make us ineffective followers of Christ. Satan’s siren call can sound so sweet, but as we mature in Christ, we can see the rocks in the water that will rip us to shreds and we choose to steer away from the siren’s call. As we mature, we see that which is opposite of God’s Word as being a temptation. We see that which is opposite of God’s consistent truth as expressed in His Word as not being of God but rather as being of Satan. God would never lead us toward that which is in opposition to His Word. We must be mature enough to see the difference. However, even the most mature Christian is not above temptation and not above succumbing to it.

We will sin. We will give in to temptation on occasion. The key for the maturing Christian is recognition and repentance. Satan will place a big ol’ target on our back when we become a Christian and particularly when we become a gospel-bearing, fruit-bearing Christ follower. He will try to bring us low and small ways and sometimes in big ways. Being an effective Christ follower is not easy. Satan wants to destroy and devour us. He will tempt us. He will win many, many times. We are by the nature inherited from Adam sinful creatures. A Christian is still a sinner but He is covered by grace. A Christian is being changed by the Holy Spirit over time to become more and more like Christ but it is a lifetime job. There are still sins that are committed. The difference is that a maturing Christian will recognize his sins through the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We may battle for a while with the Holy Spirit trying to justify why our sin is OK this one time but the Holy Spirit will smack us around until we see the light. When we recognize our sin, it begins to revolt us. Just as an ex-smoker is often revolted by how a cigarette makes them feel after having been off them for a while. Our sins when we have the Holy Spirit living in us will revolt us at ourselves. Temptations are going to come my friend. Especially if you have accepted Christ as your Savior. Many think that accepting Jesus as their Savior is going to make their lives easier. They think that it is an arrival place. Once there, everything’s cool and no more trouble will come. Trouble will come. Temptations will come. We are not immune as Christ followers. Maybe in many cases we are more of a target for Satan’s temptations AFTER we become Christ followers. We must be aware of this. We must listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We must not rationalize our failures to resist sin. We must admit our sins and repent of them. We must recognize sin as not a pleasure to had but as a road to trouble.

How do we realistically resist temptation in a world full of them? Temptations abound. They are everywhere. What do we do when we give in to them and we realize that we have screwed up? We must allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us and we need to listen. We must run to our Father when we realize that we have sinned and beg Him to help us make it right again and for Him to forgive us. We will run to our Abba Father and ask Him to deliver us from our sins. How do we resist temptation? Jesus knew Scripture. He used it as His weapon when Satan was tempting. We can use Scripture too! We must first know it though. We must study Scripture and bury it in our hearts so that when temptations come, we can do the file/retrieve function in our minds. Some of us will be able to quote exactly what Scripture says but if you study the Bible enough, you will at least remember the general tenor of an applicable passage. Satan fleed from Jesus when He used Scripture to resist Satan. He will flee from you and I too when we invoke Scripture in our mind when we are tempted. We then can make the mental choice to walk away from the temptation. In this way, God delivers us from evil. He will help us extract ourselves from evil when we get ensnared in it. says it best on this question of temptation when it says, “If our minds are filled with the latest TV shows, music and all the rest the culture has to offer, we will be bombarded with messages and images that inevitably lead to sinful lusts. But if our minds are filled with the majesty and holiness of God, the love and compassion of Christ, and the brilliance of both reflected in His perfect Word, we will find that our interest in the lusts of the world diminish and disappear. But without the Word’s influence on our minds, we are open to anything Satan wants to throw at us.”
Father, help us to trust in your Word and help to be in it daily. Help to recognize temptations as the road to destruction and not to some personal fulfillment. Help us to resist temptation. Help us to admit our failings and repent of them. Help us to seek your shelter from the storms of temptation. Amen.

Matthew 6:5-15
Blueprint for Prayer (The Lord’s Prayer)

The next phrase that Jesus says we should make part of our prayers is a petition to the Father in heaven about sin. Jesus says, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As you can see here, there are two parts to this statement. First, we must ask God to forgive us for our sins, our trespasses, and, second, we must forgive those who have sinned against us. Short phrases but it seems these are pretty tall orders for us to live out not only in our prayers but in our actions as well. The first part requires honesty. The second part requires humility.

Father, forgive us our trespasses. Most of us have blind spots here. We have no problem pointing out the sins of others. However, it is our sin that is the most difficult to admit. It is funny that we do not see our sins but yet we live with them 24/7/365. We live with our sins all the time but yet we refuse to see them. We can point out the sins of others while not living in their skin but we are unable to deal with our own. In order to ask for forgiveness of our sins, we first must recognize that there is a sin or sins in our lives. Just as an alcoholic or a drug addict must admit that they have a problem before they can begin recovery, it is the absolute same for us when it comes to sin. The alcoholic or drug addict has a tendency to refuse to admit they have a problem so that they can continue drinking or using. Addiction is a sly disease. It makes you justify behavior as someone else’s fault. It makes you rationalize bad behavior. It makes you justify how that behavior was not beyond the line. All of this is done so that the addict can continue to dance with their true love, alcohol or drugs, even though this harlot strings them along in search of that perfect high that never comes. Our sins are the same. We justify our sins as not being like other people’s sins. Our sins are OK. We have a reason for our sin. We have valid justifications to sin. Admitting that we have sinned is as big a struggle as it is for the alcoholic or drug addict to admit that they have a problem. In order to admit that we have sinned, we must first have to be honest with ourselves. We must quit lying to ourselves. Just as the alcoholic and drug addict knows that they have gone beyond the line many times, we as sinners must admit and be honest with ourselves that there is no rationalization that will take away that we have sinned. The person that is having an affair with another woman who is not his wife has knowledge that they are sinning against God.

We are programmed by God to know the difference between right and wrong. We are programmed by God to know that have sexual intercourse with a woman who is not your wife is wrong. We do not have to be told this fact. We know it. We know it even if we are not a Christ follower. But yet an adulterer will rationalize away the wrong so that he can continue the sin. Admitting we have sinned takes honesty. We must take a cold, hard look at ourselves and be honest. Sin is a liar. It blinds us. We must have the honesty to say that we have sinned. Just as a child often has to come to their parents with their pride in their hand and admit their wrongs to their parent so that they can be restored to their parent’s love. God wants to shower us with His love but He expects obedience from us. When we disobey Him, we must be honest enough to admit when we are wrong and that we have actually disobeyed him. Honesty leads us to come to Him and ask forgiveness. Is there a sin you are justifying so that you can continue practicing? For example, have you noticed how much more justification is required to make the practice of homosexuality and gay marriage acceptable? Gay marriage requires reams of editorials in papers. It takes television documentaries. It takes an Oprah Winfrey special. It takes the media giving it air time and dedicating whole shows about how it is right and wholesome. It takes court cases to enforce that such behavior is justifiable. Just think of the billions of dollars that are spent each year on justifying the lifestyle. However, male-female marriage keeps right on chugging along without fanfare and without the need for defense. It needs no defense. It is right and honorable and it is glorifying to God. It needs no defense. The truth does not need an alibi. The truth needs no defense. When we sin, we justify it. We go to great lengths often to protect our right to sin. We spend money and spend webs of lies to make it sound justifiable. Adulterers may be in bad marriages but adultery is a sin. There is no justification for violating God’s law. No matter how you cut, slice, dice or justify it. Sin is sin. Some sins are blatant and out and out there such as theft, greed, adultery and so on. However, we sin against God daily and it is often subtle but yet no less powerful the control it has over us. We even justify before God the sins that we commit that no one else sees. Admitting that we sin is the toughest thing. Admitting that we have a sin problem is a problem. When we sin, we must admit first that what we have done is a sin. Honesty is painful. Honesty leads us to the cross. We must admit that we are out of control and that we need help. Honesty is the beginning of forgiveness from the Lord. We cannot overcome our addiction to our sins until we are honest enough about ourselves to admit that we cannot control our sin nature. Honesty is the beginning of recovery. Honesty is the beginning of redemption.

Equally, we are called to forgive others for their transgressions, their trespasses, their sins against us. How difficult is that? Pride sure does get in the way of that. Wow, Lord, you want me to forgive my ex-spouse and her lover? Wow, Lord, you want you me to forgive the man who was driving drunk that killed my family in a car wreck? Wow, Lord, you want me to forgive my business partner who screwed me over in a business deal? You want me to forgive my son or daughter whose drug addiction has cost me thousands upon thousands of dollars and uncountable heartache? You want me to forgive the thief who stole from me without reason? You want me to forgive others who have just reamed me a new one for no reason other than the joy of doing it. You want me to do this over and over again. I once heard that saying that forgiving is forgetting. And to a certain extent I think this is wrong. Forgiving is remembering but choosing to forgive anyway. At some point you may forget, but forgiveness happens while we are remembering. True forgiveness requires humility on our part. Pride often prolongs forgiveness and restoration. Pride wants revenge. Pride want my ego to be massaged by the offender. Pride wants to wallow in the pain and suffering caused. Pride wants martyrdom for the suffering we have been caused. Just look at what my ex-husband did to me. How many wives and husbands have been consumed by pride when their spouse commits adultery. They become so consumed by the offense that it destroys their lives because the offense becomes their god. Sometimes, we become so obsessed with the offense that it consumes us. When we get so obsessed with the offense, we let others live rent free in our heads. We inadvertently let our pride become our god. Forgiveness does not mean that we let people walk all over us. It means though that we leave the hurt at the cross and ask God to deal with it and help us overcome it. It does not mean we continue to let people walk all over us. We may need to learn to reduce their access to our lives but it does not mean that we hold on to the hate. It does mean that we pray for that person. It does mean that we pray that they will come to understand the sin that they have committed against us. It does mean that we leave it at the cross on not let it consume us and let it get in the way of our relationship with God. Forgiveness means remembering but forgiving any way. Forgiveness requires humility. What if God never forgave our sins? He has a right to do that? He knows our sins. He remembers. He loves us anyway though. He remembers and forgives when we seek forgiveness from Him. Help us to demonstrate His love to others through our remembering but yet forgiving.

Father, forgive us our sins as we forgive those you sin against us. Simple words. Tall order. Honesty required. Humility required.

Matthew 6:5-15
Blueprint for Prayer (The Lord’s Prayer)

Today, we look at the sixth phrase that Jesus uses in the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus says, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” When you think about this statement, it is profound. In America, we generally have more food and more of everything than the vast majority of the world. It is why people come from all over the world to seek a better life here. Even the poorest people here in the United States are most often better off than many people in the world. We have a vast middle class in this country where in most countries, there is no middle class. There is only the ultra-rich and the poor. Most of us sitting here reading this live in comfort with no real fears or worries about our daily existence. We worry about the two brand new cars and the boat in the yard. We worry about whether we have the newest iPhone. We worry about whether our TV is the newest and the best. We worry about whether the internet is up. We worry over things of excess not things of necessity. We worry about our ability to advance our careers so that we can make more money to pay for more stuff. We worry about self-sufficiency and everything is wrapped up in our ability to accumulate things through our own efforts. Often, we have our priorities all wrong. We worry about having obligated ourselves to debts greater than our ability to pay them. We do not have to worry about survival. So, this thing that Jesus says is a slap in the face to us in our excess and our self-sufficiency.

Wow, this phrase is so amazing when you break it down. Jesus is saying that we should ask God to “give us.” To be able to give something to someone, you must first own it. So, if we are asking God to “give us” then we are admitting that He owns it. God give us. We are taught in America that we are to live the American Dream. The American Dream is that we can do whatever we want in this country through our own hard work and ingenuity. We are responsible for our end game. We can go as far as our ambition will take us. We are taught to be self-sufficient. Certainly, God does want us to work hard and receive and honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work. Certainly, He wants to be self-sufficient and not habitually depend on others for our existence. But we must recognize where our abilities come from. We must recognize where our talents come from. We must recognize where it all begins. It is God who gives us our talents and our abilities to go out in the world and earn a living. It is then from God that we have the ability to buy homes, cars, and toys. So, when we pray “God give us” we are recognizing the proper relationship that we should have with God. He is the giver of life. He is the sustainer of all things. Without Him neither you nor I would exist. He provides the spark of life at the moment of conception. He makes our heart start beating in the womb. He is the start of who we are as humans. “God give us” is respect where respect is due. “God give us” is recognizing that God is in charge of everything. We are asking Him to allow us to have something that belongs to Him which is, of course, everything. How often do we in prayer demand things of God? How often do we think that we are own gods and God is just there to fulfill our wishes? How often do we think of Him as a magic genie who will grant our three wishes? In this American Dream world in which we live, we sometimes have a hard time with this concept that God is greater than we are. Just look at how we handle our money. We should be living off 90% or less of what we make, according to God’s instructions in His Word, but, no, we rationalize away tithing and spend, on average in America, 104% of what we make. There is no room to honor God in that economy. Let us begin to think of God in the proper perspective. He is the giver of everything we have and He is our sustainer. He is the source of all things including our money, our talents, and our abilities. Let us begin to understand that and honor God as the giver and us as the recipients of His pleasure and His grace.

The next words Jesus chooses are “this day.” Give us this day. Give us this day. That’s limited isn’t it? We are asking just for this day. Not tomorrow. Not two week’s worth! Just today! Wow, that is radical thinking for us Americans. Just what we need, no more, no less! We are trained to believe more is better. If not one, why not two? If not 2,000 square feet, why not 3,500 square feet? Excess is better, right? In this prayer sequence, Jesus is saying that we should ask God to give us provision as we need it and be content with that. Isn’t always in excess that we face sin’s greatest temptations. When is enough, enough? It seems that, when we have more than what we need, things become our gods. Maintenance of a certain lifestyle becomes our gods. Keeping up with the Joneses is our god. Possessions become our god. The worship of money whether it be too much of it or too little of it becomes our god. Surely, God does not mind us being wealthy, does He? No, He encourages us to be wealthy as long as it does not become our god and gets in the way of our relationship with Him. If we live a God-centered lifestyle, we can use our wealth to be generous to others, to help solve social problems, to further the cause of His church in spreading the gospel but that is generally not what we do with our wealth. We let it consume us and we purse it instead of God. It is a freeing thing when you discover that God is the sustainer of all things and when we believe in and trust in Him as that, it changes everything. We no worry about provision because we know it comes from God. We no longer see possessions as the most important thing. We no longer see having the newest car and the biggest house as the most important thing. We know that we can be content in any situation because the Lord will provide. He will give us what we need when we need it. This day’s provision is enough. We will let God worry about the rest. We trust in Him to take us where we need to go and provide for us along the way. I can only see this day and trust Him with the rest of the days.

We finish up today’s phrase with the words, “our daily bread.” This set of words seems almost too austere in our land of excess. Bread is just a basic thing. We can have foods of unimaginable imagination. Bread is just blah. It’s the stuff of basic sandwiches and other basic things. But in other parts of the world, bread is life. It is a wonderful thing. It is food. It is sustenance. God give us this day our daily bread. God give us what we need each day. Our daily bread implies to me that we are dependent continuously on God for what we need. It is not something that we come to Him for once a lifetime, even once a decade, even once a year, even once a month, even once a year, but daily my friends. Everything comes from God and we are dependent on him to give us what we need for today and EACH day. Thus, when we pray our prayers to God we should recognize our complete and utter dependence on God and that he knows what is best for us, better than us, each and every day of our lives. God give us what we need daily. We must return to you daily for what we need for this day. We must come back every day. We must seek you every day all day to give us what we need for this day. We must see you as our Providing Father and we are Your children. You are Father and we are child. We depend on you to provide for us. You give us what we need and we are dependent on you. It is not the other way around. You are not our puppet or our vending machine. You are the provider and we are the recipients of our loving generosity.

Father in heaven, may we have the right frame of mind about our relationship with you such that when we pray, we pray recognizing who you are. Help us to recognize that you are the source of everything. Help us to recognize that you are our sustenance and our provider. You are God. We are the created. You are provided and we are being provided for. Help us to see that dependent relationship. Help to put ourselves in proper perspective when it comes to who You are and who we are. Amen.

Matthew 6:5-15
Blueprint for Prayer (The Lord’s Prayer)

Have we ever really sat down and thought about the content of our prayers? How many “I” and “me” and “help me” we put in our prayers. Sounds kind of selfish when you think about it, doesn’t it? Yes, there is no doubt that God wants us to be personal with Him. He is a personal God. He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. He knows every hair on our head. He knows us personally. However, when we pray, as we learned earlier in this visit to the Lord’s Prayer that we are on, we should understand the relationship. We are the children and He is the Father. We are to bring our personal needs to Him in prayer. He is our Daddy. He is our Abba Father. When thinking about this concept of “your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”, I am reminded of two songs from pop culture. The first is “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin and then “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks. I think these two songs will help us understand what Jesus is talking about when He says, “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

First, when you consider the song, “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin, it is a song that satirizes how we often treat our Father in heaven in prayer. We ask for things that are of a personal and selfish nature. Janis Joplin says, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz. All my friends drive Porsches. I must make amends!” The song is blatantly selfish to grab our attention and it certainly will make us think about what we are praying when we pray. We often treat God like he is our puppet or a vending machine. We pull the strings and God is supposed to do what we want. We push the button on the vending machine and out comes our desired response. Later in the song, Janis sings,

“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?
I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?”

Man, those lyrics hit us square in the eye. I am counting on you Lord…don’t let me down. Prove that you love me. Prove to me that you love me, Lord. Wow. It is often an expectation that we have that if we pray it that it is proof of God’s love when He answers in exactly in the way that we desire. Prove to me that you love me, Lord. If you do this for me, I will believe. If you do this for me, I will obey you. If you do this for me, I will try harder. If you do this for me, I will be convinced and will do what you want, Lord. We have the relationship all wrong when we pray this way. We should not come to the Father demanding like an insolent child. We must remember that God is our Father. He is the ultimate authority figure in our lives. He is the Creator. We are the created. We must come to Him in all humility. We must approach Him as a child seeking favor from his father. We do not know best. He does.

That leads us to the second song. Garth Brooks had a huge hit in the 90s with the song, “Unanswered Prayers.” In that song, he says that “sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” We sometimes pray to God as if we know what is best for our lives. We want this because this is what I want. I want this now. We come demanding our Mercedez Benz. We come demanding to have the homecoming queen. We think we know what we want and we want God to oblige us. There used to be a show back in the late 70s-early 80s called “Fantasy Island.” In that show, people came to the island to live out there long-desired dreams or fantasies. In almost every case, the episodes would teach a morality lesson that sometimes our dreams, our fantasies, have unintended or unforeseen side effects that spoil the dream. It was a lesson in appreciating what you have. Dreams can become nightmares. Garth Brooks thanked God that he did not get the homecoming queen because if he had, he would have never met the love of his life. The song was a thanksgiving of sorts for Garth’s character in the song for God not giving him what he wanted but rather giving him what he needed. We do not know best. God does. We are the created with limited scope. He is the Creator who sees the big picture. We must trust in Him that He does know what He is doing in our lives. We must come to Him seeking to know and understand what He wants from us and for us. Sometimes, we cannot see the consequences of the fantasies that we have for our lives. Just as kid who when allowed to eat all the sweets he desires ends up with severe stomach ache, we, too, think we want all the sweets but we do not see the consequences of indulging our fantasy island. We must trust God to know what is best just as we trust our earthly parents to know and understand what is best for us.

OK. So, we have established that we do not know what is best and that we sometimes selfishly pray for our desires to be met. And, we have established that what we want is not always what is best for us. Then, what is God’s will. This is what Jesus says we should be praying for? What is that exactly? Jesus is saying that our prayers should reflect that God’s perfect will exists in Heaven where everything is perfect and nothing is there to prevent His will from being carried out. In Heaven, his humble servant/saints do and act in perfect ways and through their humbly given servitude to God. Heaven is made a place of perfect godliness. Thus, in wishing that on earth, Jesus is saying that we should ask God to have His will on earth and not ours and those things are not in alignment with him are brought into alignment here on earth. We must pray in our prayers that God is in control of this thing. We must pray that His will, his perfection that we can’t begin to understand has its way. We must pray for what God wants. He sees the big picture. We do not. Then our prayers should not be so presumptious as to be about what we want, what our will is. They should most certainly be about what God wants.

Does this mean that we take a resigned attitude toward life and just take what comes? Does this mean that we do not pray bold prayers? Does that mean that when we pray for healing of a friend that we should qualify that by saying, “…but if it is not Your will…” No. I don’t think so. We are not resigning ourselves to whatever may come. When we pray for God’s will, we are praying that God’s perfect purpose will be accomplished both here on earth and in heaven. On earth, that will is accomplished when we obey Him. When we pray for His will to be done, we are offering ourselves up as a people willing to do his will. It is our purpose in life to do those things that bring glory to God.Therefore, when we pray unselfishly for a friend’s healing, we are praying for God’s glory to be shown in the world by a miraculous healing. When we pray, we should be considering how to give God glory through the end result that we are praying for. We should be praying for His glory to be shown in what we are praying for so that there is will be no doubt that it is was God’s doing. We should be praying for that which draws people unto God because there is no mistaking that it was Him who answered our prayers. Instead of demanding our own desired result, we should be praying for God’s glory to be shown in the answer to our prayers. That certainly will change our perspective when we pray. May Your will be done. And, it is God’s will that all people from all nations be drawn unto Himself and that He will be glorified. When we pray we should seek His guidance and leadership in accomplishing His purposes here on earth. So, with the right frame of mind as to what God’s will is, yes, let us pray bold prayers. Let us pray for miracles in our own lives and the lives of others. Let us pray boldly that the only explanation for the result of our prayers is God. Let us pray boldly that He will show up and show out. Let us pray boldly that when the result comes that people walk away scratching their heads because the only explanation is God. When that happens, people are drawn unto Him. Let us pray boldly for God’s glory to be unmistakable. This is God’s will. Let us keep that in mind and pray for it boldly!

Matthew 6:5-15
Blueprint for Prayer (The Lord’s Prayer)

Thy Kingdom Come. We pray this in the Lord’s Prayer. It seems a far cry better that what we have. Doesn’t it? Wars, violence, poverty, greed, murder, lack of respect for human life, racial strife, sexual sin, you name it. Our world has it. It seems that the world is getting progressively worse each day. Things that were accepted as morally abhorrent just a few short years ago are now acceptable as forms of self-expression. We survey the landscape and find the world to seemingly be headed for self-destruction without even realizing it. The world seems to be reveling in the ride without caring that the cliff lies dead ahead. The state of human affairs as they exist now leads us to the next phrase in Jesus’ blueprint for prayer. We must pray for God’s kingdom to come. When we pray this, though, what exactly are we praying? What are we calling for? I think that we are praying for two things. First, that the kingdom of God comes to all men’s hearts. And, secondly, we are praying for the day when God will make all things new. So, as you can see, there is an immediate aspect to this phrase and a future one.

Thy Kingdom Come is about us right now. This phrase is a reference to God’s spiritual reign. It is about the condition of man’s heart. We are sin-filled creatures whose nature creates a world of strife, suffering and trouble for ourselves and one another. As states,

“Man cannot rule himself because he has rejected the divine revelation and the authority of God. Instead of following God’s instructions, which would produce peace, he has, to his own detriment, decided for himself what is good and what is evil. When He said to pray “thy kingdom come,” Jesus knew that man and his nature would bring him to the place that “unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved.”

This to me is a call to us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with a dying world. We are the instruments through which our Almighty God has chosen to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We are the messengers of His Word. We must share the story of change. We must share the story of the value of each and every human being who has been wonderfully created and is known by their Creator. How do we change the world that seems headed for destruction? How do we bring about God’s Kingdom here on earth? One person at a time is how. We must make the gospel real to millions who reject God’s authority and reject His Son. The kingdom of God is in our hearts. The most important decision each of us will make is to decide who will be Lord over our lives. If we submit to God’s authority and follow His instructions, we can find the way to peace and eternal life. Rejecting God brings us to the world that we know now. How can a world that has either not heard the good news at all or has chosen to reject it extricate itself from the mess that is this world? It is only through hearing the gospel. We must teach it. We must preach it. We must get out of our comfort zone and plant the seeds next door and around the world. That is how the kingdom of God comes. It is through people finding Jesus. Isn’t that what, bottom line, really matters? People finding Jesus. That is the kingdom of God. We are compelled by this statement! It is a challenge to us. Thy Kingdom come is an imperative statement. It has a sense of urgency to it. Let us stop bemoaning what the world has come to and change it. Let us work to end social injustice. Let us work to end racism. Let us work to end poverty. Let us work to end the devaluation of human life. Let us work to enlighten people that our sexual freedoms that we seem to seek only enslave us more to Satan. Let us use these opportunities to show people that we are Christian by our love. Let us work to change the world, to make the kingdom come in men’s hearts. We cannot do that sitting in ivory towers commented on the desperateness of the world below and pat ourselves on the back for being saved. Thy kingdom come is a call to action. We are to be bearers of the gospel. We cannot do that withdraw behind fences. We cannot change governments of nations by complaining that Washington is a bunch of crooks and harlots. We speak of “they” as if we did not participate in electing them by either voting for them or by not voting at all. Thy Kingdom come is a call to be in action. Thy kingdom come is a call to be active in the sharing of the gospel and bringing about the Kingdom of God in men’s hearts, one person at a time. They great pyramids of Egypt were built one stone at a time. So, too, is our call to change the world and bring about God’s kingdom on earth. It is done one person at a time in the here and now. Thy Kingdom come. It is our call to action. It is our call to bear gospel fruit in a world in desperate need of this food.

There is also a future scope to this statement, Thy Kingdom come! In Revelation, we are promised victory in the end and judgment for those who reject the Lamb. In this future, there is the New Jerusalem. God will establish His new kingdom on earth. All things will be made right and made new again. When we proclaim, “Thy kingdom come”, it means that we yearn for the day when God will put an end to the world as we know it today. We yearn for the day when there is no persecution and there is no brokenness in the world. We yearn for the day when there is no evil and that evil has been fully subdued in the lake of fire. When we pray, “Thy Kingdom come!”, we are saying that we believe that God is in control even when the world around us seems out of control. We are praying that we believe in God’s sovereignty over our lives. We trust in Him that all of this is going to get better. We believe that there is indeed something better than this. Why is it that Christ followers, I mean the true ones, seem to have peace in their hearts in any situation. They know of “Thy Kingdom come!” We know that God has got this. We know that we are heaven bound and also that God will bring about the New Jerusalem in the end. We are trusting that He will never forsake us or leave us alone. We are trusting that there is so much more than this. We are trusting that God is trustworthy and true. We believe and have seen evidence of God’s protection and provision in our lives regardless of circumstance. Thus we can truly believe that there is a kingdom of God that awaits us both in our death and in the return of Jesus to judge the world. Thy kingdom come is our confidence in the trustworthiness of God. We have seen His providence in our lives and we feel confident in wishing for His kingdom to come. Those without Christ as their Savior have nothing to look forward to. They make things here on earth their gods and they are constantly disappointed and see life and meaningless and without purpose. How dreadful is that? Remember that? We have hope and a purpose now. We have something more than awaits. Thy Kingdom come is the belief that God has got this no matter how bleak things get for us. We believe in the kingdom to come. We believe that it is ours. We believe that there is a kingdom of God and we want it to come. We believe in the victory! We believe. We believe. We believe. Bring it on! Bring us the kingdom!

Father in Heaven, give us the urgency and the caring hearts to see that judgment is coming to those who have chosen to reject you. Help to teach them about you and what you did through Jesus for them through our love and our willingness to fight for the kingdom here on earth. Help us to have full confidence to that you kingdom is coming. That you will make all things new one day. Help us to firmly understand that we are but passersby in this world and that your kingdom awaits us. Help us to yearn for your kingdom and express that through our obedience to your Word. Help us to change the world through our love for you. Amen.

Matthew 6:5-15
Blueprint for Prayer (the Lord’s Prayer)

Goddddd! Ohhhh, God! Oh, my Goddddd! Those are some phrases that we throw around like a football on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There are others that are used just as often and are just as serious that are considered cuss words. You know the ones – GD, GD it! We throw these phrases around with effortlessness. We seemingly do not have respect for the name of God anymore. It is an indication of our reverence for Him. The Bible calls us to keep his name holy but we do not. The third phrase in this model of the way we should prayer that we now call the Lord’s Prayer is “hallowed be thy name”. Hallowed is old English meaning holy. Holy of course means set apart. Thus, just the mere mention of the name of God invokes holiness. Even his name is holy. Wow! Thus, we must recognize in our prayers that God’s very name is holy. It is set apart and not to be used lightly. It is not a throw around, throw away word. Thus, when we invoke his name, we must be serious. Our prayers that mention God’s name must be serious not flippant.

In ancient Israel, the name of God was Yahweh. This name was so holy to them that they would not say it out loud. They would not even write it for fear of sullying its holiness. They would replace it with the word we know as Lord. They would use YHWH as a replacement as well. Exodus 20:7 commands us to keep even God’s name holy when it says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.” In ancient Israel, it was seen as being disrespectful for the great glory that is God if we did not respect His name. It starts with respecting his name and then flows through the rest of our how we interact with God. Even the New Testament teaches reverence for the name of God. Hebrews 12:28 tells us, “let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Therefore, the modern day flippant use of the name of God is a sign of our disrespect for God. We no longer see Him as the mighty Creator of the universe. We no longer see Him as the Righteous Judge. We no longer see Him as the Giver of Life. We no longer see Him as the Source of All Things. We no longer see Him as the Miracle Worker. We treat Him like He is the guy next door.

How would you and I act if we met the Queen of England? Do you think we would show up in our shorts, golf shirt, ankle socks, and tennis shoes (my favorite combination of clothing)? Even though she is not the ruler of our country, there is a sense of reverence that would go along with meeting with one of the few remaining monarchs in the world. We would put on the finest suit or the finest tuxedo that we could find. We would enter her court with reverence, quiet and awe. We would speak only when spoken to. We would feel quite out of place I bet. I know I would – this country boy from South Carolina who enjoys football and Five Guys and hanging out with friends around a picnic of burgers, hot dogs, and good conversation. But in this situation, you and I would do our best to be on our best behavior, our best manners, and so on. If we are to act this way around Queen Elizabeth, why then do we show such disrespect for the mere name of God. It is a symptom of a larger problem.

Just as I told a friend the other day that abortion is just a symptom of a way larger problem. That larger problem is rampant sexual sin in our society. So, I think we may be in the same boat here with the names of God and the disrespect there of. It is a symptom of a larger problem. Our culture no longer respects God and it begins with His name. If we do not respect His name, we do not generally respect Him. Even today, we no longer capitalize the pronouns when we reference God. When use the word Him, we no longer capitalize it in many writings that you see today. Even many religious scholars no longer capitalize pronouns used in reference to God. We say him instead of Him. We say he instead of He. We no longer respect God. He’s a buddy when we pray. He’s the guy next door when we talk about Him.
Let us think about this and change our ways. Let us have great reverence when we come before the Lord in prayer. Let us have a sense of awe when we use his name in the spoken word. He is deserving of such praise. He deserves our honor and our respect and even our awe. We are coming into the court of the King of the Universe when we pray. Have the sense of pomp and circumstance that it deserves.

We must remember that God is…

(the names of God below are reprinted from as accessed on 10/14/15 at 10:03am EDT)

EL, ELOAH: God “mighty, strong, prominent” (Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 139:19) – etymologically, El appears to mean “power,” as in “I have the power to harm you” (Genesis 31:29). El is associated with other qualities, such as integrity (Numbers 23:19), jealousy (Deuteronomy 5:9), and compassion (Nehemiah 9:31), but the root idea of “might” remains.

ELOHIM: God “Creator, Mighty and Strong” (Genesis 17:7; Jeremiah 31:33) – the plural form of Eloah, which accommodates the doctrine of the Trinity. From the Bible’s first sentence, the superlative nature of God’s power is evident as God (Elohim) speaks the world into existence (Genesis 1:1).

EL SHADDAI: “God Almighty,” “The Mighty One of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 132:2,5) – speaks to God’s ultimate power over all.

ADONAI: “Lord” (Genesis 15:2; Judges 6:15) – used in place of YHWH, which was thought by the Jews to be too sacred to be uttered by sinful men. In the Old Testament, YHWH is more often used in God’s dealings with His people, while Adonai is used more when He deals with the Gentiles.

YHWH / YAHWEH / JEHOVAH: “LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4; Daniel 9:14) – strictly speaking, the only proper name for God. Translated in English Bibles “LORD” (all capitals) to distinguish it from Adonai, “Lord.” The revelation of the name is first given to Moses “I Am who I Am” (Exodus 3:14). This name specifies an immediacy, a presence. Yahweh is present, accessible, near to those who call on Him for deliverance (Psalm 107:13), forgiveness (Psalm 25:11) and guidance (Psalm 31:3).

YAHWEH-JIREH: “The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14) – the name memorialized by Abraham when God provided the ram to be sacrificed in place of Isaac.

YAHWEH-RAPHA: “The Lord Who Heals” (Exodus 15:26) – “I am Jehovah who heals you” both in body and soul. In body, by preserving from and curing diseases, and in soul, by pardoning iniquities.

YAHWEH-NISSI: “The Lord Our Banner” (Exodus 17:15), where banner is understood to be a rallying place. This name commemorates the desert victory over the Amalekites in Exodus 17.

YAHWEH-M’KADDESH: “The Lord Who Sanctifies, Makes Holy” (Leviticus 20:8; Ezekiel 37:28) – God makes it clear that He alone, not the law, can cleanse His people and make them holy.

YAHWEH-SHALOM: “The Lord Our Peace” (Judges 6:24) – the name given by Gideon to the altar he built after the Angel of the Lord assured him he would not die as he thought he would after seeing Him.

YAHWEH-ELOHIM: “LORD God” (Genesis 2:4; Psalm 59:5) – a combination of God’s unique name YHWH and the generic “Lord,” signifying that He is the Lord of Lords.

YAHWEH-TSIDKENU: “The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16) – As with YHWH-M’Kaddesh, it is God alone who provides righteousness to man, ultimately in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, who became sin for us “that we might become the Righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

YAHWEH-ROHI: “The Lord Our Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) – After David pondered his relationship as a shepherd to his sheep, he realized that was exactly the relationship God had with him, and so he declares, “Yahweh-Rohi is my Shepherd. I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

YAHWEH-SHAMMAH: “The Lord Is There” (Ezekiel 48:35) – the name ascribed to Jerusalem and the Temple there, indicating that the once-departed glory of the Lord (Ezekiel 8—11) had returned (Ezekiel 44:1-4).

YAHWEH-SABAOTH: “The Lord of Hosts” (Isaiah 1:24; Psalm 46:7) – Hosts means “hordes,” both of angels and of men. He is Lord of the host of heaven and of the inhabitants of the earth, of Jews and Gentiles, of rich and poor, master and slave. The name is expressive of the majesty, power, and authority of God and shows that He is able to accomplish what He determines to do.

EL ELYON: “Most High” (Deuteronomy 26:19) – derived from the Hebrew root for “go up” or “ascend,” so the implication is of that which is the very highest. El Elyon denotes exaltation and speaks of absolute right to lordship.

EL ROI: “God of Seeing” (Genesis 16:13) – the name ascribed to God by Hagar, alone and desperate in the wilderness after being driven out by Sarah (Genesis 16:1-14). When Hagar met the Angel of the Lord, she realized she had seen God Himself in a theophany. She also realized that El Roi saw her in her distress and testified that He is a God who lives and sees all.

EL-OLAM: “Everlasting God” (Psalm 90:1-3) – God’s nature is without beginning or end, free from all constraints of time, and He contains within Himself the very cause of time itself. “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”

EL-GIBHOR: “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6) – the name describing the Messiah, Christ Jesus, in this prophetic portion of Isaiah. As a powerful and mighty warrior, the Messiah, the Mighty God, will accomplish the destruction of God’s enemies and rule with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15).
Let us remember who God is when we use His name, His hallowed and holy name. He is the Almighty One. He is not our buddy. He is God. He is so far above and beyond our comprehension that we should be ashamed for using His very name like we use any other word. This is the name of the One and Only. The One who existed before everything existed. He is far beyond us. We cannot comprehend His knowledge, His power, His existence. We owe Him our very existence. Let us give Him the reverence that He deserves.

Matthew 6:5-15
Blueprint for Prayer (the Lord’s Prayer)
Yesterday, we talked about starting our prayers by establishing that God is our Father. We must recognize the proper relationship between Him and ourselves. He is superior and we are inferior. He is the Creator and we are the created. He is Father and we are child. The next phrase is “in heaven.” Have you ever thought about what this phrase really means and why we should recognize that God is in heaven when we pray? I think that there are several reasons that we should do this. First, we are recognizing that God resides in a different place than we do. Second, we must recognize that it is the only place that He can reside and, third, we must desire that this same place is where we want to be in eternity.

The first thing we are saying when we say that God is in heaven, we are saying that God is different from us, the living and breathing flesh that we are. God resides in a different place than us. He is different from us. He is God. He resides in heaven. God is eternal and we are temporal. He lives in a place that we cannot explain though, through revelation to the Apostle John, He revealed a glimpse. Even then our limited vocabulary of human language did not have descriptors to describe what it was really like for the apostle. Just as 18th century English language did not have words to describe cellular telephones because telephones of any kind had not yet been invented, John’s words were limited in what He described in His vision. He kept saying, “it is like” to gain a frame of reference for his readers. When he said “it is like” he did not mean that it was. He was trying to relate the unrelatable to something relatable. Heaven is so different from what we know there are no real words in our language or any language to adequately describe what it is like. Thus, God lives in a world that is different from ours. God is different from us. It is a place where we cannot exist in our human form. Our Father in Heaven, though He is our Father, is way different from us. His glory is so amazing. He is light. He is purity. Moses had to hide from Him as He passed by so that he would not be consumed. God is sooooo different from us. He is far beyond our understanding. He is not George Burns in “Oh, God!”. He is not Morgan Freeman in “Bruce Almighty”. He is something that we will never fully understand. He is so far superior to you and me that He cannot live in the same plane of existence in which we operate. He is far beyond mere mortality. He is far beyond the knowledge of all mankind put together. His capabilities are beyond anything that we can reason. He must reside in heaven for it is a place that can handle who God is.

The second thing we are saying when we say “Our Father in Heaven” is that Heaven is perfection. It is the ultimate place for purity and goodness. God can only exist there. He is perfection. Nothing can come into his presence that is not perfect. When we enter Heaven it is only because of grace shown by God through Jesus Christ that we are perfected and can come into God’s presence in his perfect place. Our prayers should recognize God’s perfection. The only way that we can be in His presence is if we are perfect. Nothing imperfect can exist in His presence. Just as the impurities of metal ore are consumed in the flames of the furnace, we would be consumed in the presence of God. Nothing, nothing imperfect can survive in perfection. That is why we are all in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We cannot exist in the presence of God’s perfection. We would be destroyed and consumed without Jesus Christ. It is only through His imputed grace that we can exist in the presence of God. Just as our bodies combat and attempt to expel that which does not belong in our bodies, we are that way in the presence of God without Jesus Christ. We would be, by the sheer nature of the perfection of God, expelled and rejected as an imperfection. God is perfect. Therefore, everything in his presence must be perfect. Through the sacrifice of the Lamb, we are made perfect and can exist in the presence of God. We can live in that perfect place with the perfect God. Heaven is a perfect place and God is perfect. It is the necessary residing place for a perfect God.

The final thing we must understand when we say “in heaven” is that this is the place we ultimately want to be. This is the place where we want to spend our eternity. We are not there when we offer our prayers. We are still here on earth and must offer up our prayers to the unseen and perfect God. We live in a fallen, imperfect world full of strife, pain, and sorrow. We must offer up prayers to a perfect God who has power to change our lives and our world through our faith in ways that we cannot begin to imagine. We exist in an imperfect world and need assistance. We are limited and need the help and power of the unlimited God. We live in limited human bodies tainted by sin. We are short of perfection every day. We are sin-filled creatures. We are hopelessly temporal, limited, ignorant by comparison, and needy beings. But yet, we yearn and desire to reside in heaven in eternity. This is the place where everything is perfect and we are no longer limited by the constraints of this temporal and really screwed up world. We all want heaven. We all want to be there at this life’s end. We are all programmed by God to recognize that there is an eternal plane in which we do not currently exist. We all recognize in one way or another that there is something after this life. But there is only one way to the Father. In our imperfection, we cannot get there through our own effort. We already established that we are imperfect being and simply by sheer nature of our sin-filled hearts that we cannot ever, ever obtain perfection. No one not one can every throughout an entire life maintain perfection. It is impossible. Not only do our actions condemn us but our thoughts as well. It is simply impossible. We cannot do it. We need intervention. There is only one who walked this earth in the flesh and never sinned in any way, shape, or form. That was Jesus Christ. He is our pathway to heaven. He is the one that we have to hitch our wagon to. He was the perfect man because He was God in the flesh. In Him, we find perfection. In Him, he became the sacrifice on the altar of the cross for our sins. He was ultimately and exceedingly perfect. He was sacrificed in our place as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He paid the price and the penalty for our imperfections. We need His grace and His covering to exist in the presence of God. He covers our imperfection in a Star Trek-like shield of perfection that prevents us from being consumed and destroyed in the presence of God. We are made perfect in the covering of Jesus Christ. When God looks at us, when we have accepted Christ as our Savior, and sees the perfection of His Son. We can exist in heaven only through Jesus Christ. We cannot be there without Him. “In Heaven” requires perfection. Jesus was perfect. Jesus gives us His perfection through His grace at the cross. We can exist in heaven with our Father then. So, to be “in heaven”, we need Jesus. To be in heaven is what we seek. Jesus is the vehicle. Jesus is the only way to the Father in heaven. You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. Jesus is the only way to be in heaven with the Father in all His glory.