Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread (A Sample Prayer for the Lord's Followers, 6)


You may have had noticed that none of the petitions mentioned so far are concerned with the disciple's personal needs. They are all God-ward in focus: God's name, God's kingdom and God's will. So our prayers should not be motivated by self-centeredness but by a desire to exalt God.

"Give us today our daily bread"-- this is the first petition focused on the disciple's personal need.Yet even this request must be grounded upon the desire to glorify God. We want to feed our body that it might have the energy, strength and vitality to advance causes that are related to the first three petitions:

  • the cause of hollowing God's name
  • the cause of expanding his kingdom
  • the cause of fulfilling God's will

We can understand this better if we have a correct view of the human body:
1. Since God is the Creator of all, every human body belongs to him (Psalm 24:1-2)
2. God's ownership of the human body has a richer sense among us Christians because we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
3. The human body must be used to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:20; Colossians 1:16)
If these three principles are clear in our minds, then it will be easy for us to see that taking care of the human body must have a God-centered focus. There are just so many shallow reasons to be health conscious like having the abs to impress the girls or having the curves to attract the boys. The only reason that matters is so that we can have the strength and vitality to serve God.

This petition also reminds us that our very survival depends on God. The word "bread" here is symbolic of all our physical needs. These are necessities, not luxuries: food, shelter, clothing, and for the sick, medication. And if ever we have so much in life to cover these needs, let us not forget that these blessings are from the Lord's hand (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Your Will Be Done (A Sample Prayer for the Lord's Followers, 5)

In a world where selfishness reigns, praying for the Lord's will to be done is radical. The knees bow before the Sovereign ruler and the heart submits it's wills and desires to Him who knows what's best. Let us learn this discipline from someone who actually prayed "Your will be done."

Clothed in the frailties of human flesh, he was then thinking about the horrors and pains of his impending crucifixion, plus the experience bearing the weight of sin when he himself is sinless. So he prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42). For our lives to be consistent with this petition...

  • We must prioritize God's will over life's necessities (John 4:34)
  • We must strive to do whatever is pleasing to the Father (John 5:30 and 8:29)
  • We must be obedient to God even if it means suffering for him and dying for him (Philippians 2:8)

"On earth as it is in heaven"
In heaven, there is no rebellion. In heaven, all the angels obey. So we long for the same thing to be true on earth when men submit to God's will without reservation.

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Your Kingdom Come (A Sample Prayer for the Lord's Followers, 4)

We just know there is something terribly wrong in this world. There is pain, sickness, suffering, poverty, calamity, crime, injustice, deception, wars, and many other things. Man has proposed different solutions: education, change in government, economic reforms, etc., yet all these had apparently failed.The petition "Your kingdom come" comes from a heart that longs for the end of all the wrong things in this world.

In a sense, God has always ruled. He owns this planet and all it's inhabitants are his subjects (Psalm 24:1). Yet there is also a sense in which darkness reigns (1 John 5:19). The good news is the rule of the evil one will not last forever. It will be cut short (Rev. 11:15).

The early church went through some of the toughest times in history. So one of it's prayers was "Marana tha" (Our Lord,come!; 1 Corinthians 16:22b). The petitions "Marana tha" and "Your kingdom come" are very similar, for both are expressions of the longing for all the wrong things to end upon the return of the Messiah. I fear that the modern church has become too comfortable in this present world that it no longer prays these prayers with as much earnestness as they did in the early church. We could only say these petitions with sincerity if we are putting our hopes on the the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13). We look forward to the day when all earthly miseries end. No more death. No more grief. No more crying. No more pain (Rev. 21:4).

Professor Charles L. Quarles puts it this way:
"Praying for the coming kingdom prevents the disciple from being so focused on this present life that he neglects to prepare for the next. Praying for the coming kingdom empowers him to live selflessly now with the awareness that enormous reward awaits Him in the future. Praying for the coming kingdom reminds the believer that God’s work is not finished and that the best is yet to come."1

FOOTNOTE
1. Sermon On The Mount: Restoring Christ's Message to the Modern Church (B&H Academic)

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Hallowed Be Thy Name (A Sample Prayer for the Lord's Followers, 3)

When Israel was just an infant nation, God gave them a document written on two tablets of stone. This document was the foundational law of the new nation that is to be known as one belonging to God. It is best known as the Ten Commandments1 . One of it's articles is this: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exo. 20:7)

It has long been ignored by men in the modern world. God's name is mentioned in the most disrespectful, even blasphemous was in television, movies, music and the society  in general. Not so the  ancient Jews. They took the command seriously, so serious that when they read Sciptures and come across the name YHWH, they would not say it. They would instead substitute “Adonai” (Lord God). Somehow in the progression of time, they inserted the vowels of Adonai into the consonants of YHWH. This tradition of being careful about the Lord's name has been carried over into English translations of the Bible. For instance in Psalm 110:1, YHWH was not actually used. In it's place is “LORD” in all caps.

However, the Jews missed this: honoring the name of the Lord is not simply ascribing sacredness to it's letters,  or to how it is said. It is honoring God for who he is.

UNDERSTANDING WHAT HALLOWING HIS NAME MEANS

1. Understand that God's name is holy.
”Hallow” is an archaic English word which means “to regard as holy”. When people refer to such things as “holy week”, they mean it is no ordinary week. They also refer to the bible as a “holy book” and they mean that it is a sacred book unlike the other books. Therefore, to hollow God's name is to regard him as the One and Only and that there is no one like him.

2. Understand that one's name may either refer to your honorable standing or to your shameful reputation.

In 1 Sam. 18:30, it was reported that among the nation's war heroes, it was David who behaved most wisely so “his name became highly esteemed.”. John Macarthur remarks: "The fact that his name was esteemed meant he himself was esteemed. When we say that someone has a good name, we mean there is something about his character worthy of our praise."2  This good name should be highly desired by men “ A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Prov. 22:1)

When applied to God's name, it makes people trust in him once they understand his excellence: "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)

3. Understand that the opposite of hallowing God's name is to profane it.

Charles Quarles wrote: "Honoring God’s name as holy is the opposite of profaning God’s name”3 .

The following verses confirm Quarles' statement:

  • "Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. (Lev.18:21)
  • "Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. (Lev.19:12)
  • “They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name.” (Amos 2:7)

And so there is a great deal of inconsistency on our part if we pray “hallowed be thy name” while at the same time we live a life of profanity.

4. The Lord's zeal for the honor of his name is precisely the reason why blesses us.

Take a look at these verses:

  • For the sake of his name, he leads and guides (Psalm 31:3)
  • For the sake of his name, he delivers and forgives sin (Psalm 79:9)
  • For the sake of his name, he dispenses mercy to sinners (Jeremiah 14:20-21)
And so this should encourage us that as long as we seek to honor God's name, God will also see to it that we will be blessed.


FOOTNOTES:
1R.C. Sproul, The Prayer of the Lord (Reformation Trust Publishing)
2John Macarthur, Alone With God (Victor Books)
3Charles Quarles, Sermon on the Mount: Restoring Christ's Message to the Modern Church (B&H Academic)

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