Pastor’s Blog
The Lord's Prayer


The Fifth Petition
May 30, 2018

The German’s tell a story about a father and son who had become estranged.  The son had stolen from his father’s silver… and ran off. The father, in anger set off to find him.  He searched for months.  But during the search… the father began to contemplate an old German saying, “An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  The father came to the notion that He was to blame in part for His son’s theft.  He too had stolen from others, and set a bad example.  His anger cooled, and his love for his son won over him.  So, the father put up notices in all the neighboring villages.  They read: “Dear Hans, meet me our village square at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you, and I want you home, Your Father.”  On Saturday, 20 sons named Hans showed up in that village square all seeking forgiveness and love from their fathers. 

We are all that father and son. We all carry the guilt of sin past and present.  That sin destroys our lives.  If we are going to find healing and restoration we need both to be forgiven as well as to forgive.  And so Jesus teaches us to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

Jesus told us to be bold in prayer.  So far we have learned how bold we are when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. We call our Creator/All Powerful God and Judge, “Our Heavenly Father” and ask that we be turned into His dear and true children.  We call Him Holy… and pray to be holy ourselves… perfect in ever thought, word and deed.  We’ve asked to belong to His Kingdom… even though citizenship there requires we be willing to live without any falsehood or wrong-doing.  We’ve asked for His will to be done, even though this demands we drastic changes in our lives, turning our backs on all evil, living according to God’s Word.  We’ve asked for our daily bread, even that bread requires we serve Him 24/7.

But, there is no request more audacious, or bold as the fifth petition. We actually go to God, after all that we have done to hurt Him, after all the times we have ignored Him, after all the occasions on which we have rebelled against Him, and say, “Heavenly Father, I would like for you to cancel all of it.  We pray, “Cancel the debt I owe you.”

We’ve learned the word “Trespass” in the form of the Lord’s Prayer we pray.  We often associate that with wandering onto someone else’s property.  But this isn’t exactly what we pray.  What we are really asking is for God to cancel our debt of sin.  And what we promise is to cancel the debts of others.  It’s as if God is the owner of the only spiritual bank in the world.  Every soul born into this world has an account in this bank.  With every sin we commit our debt to this Bank grows.  What we now owe is astronomical.  It’s a debt so incredibly large we cannot pay it back.

But we try!  We go to the owner of the bank and try to make deals with Him.  We say,“I’ll be good from now on!”  That’s a common offer.  But, really, how many loaning institutions would cancel your mortgage if you said, “I promise I won’t borrow any more money if you just cancel my debt?  From now on… I’ll will no longer be a debtor… but a gracious lender!

Another common offer made to this bank is one of comparison.  “I’m not as bad as other people.”  Again, what financial institution is going to cancel your car loan just because you borrowed $10,000 and someone else borrowed $20,000.  

Neither will ignoring debt.  That’s another popular way to deal with our sins against God.  Just ignore them.  People do this with their financial debt all the time.  They get themselves in such deep debt that they just pretend they don’t exist.  It is too difficult to face, so they don’t.  This doesn’t work with financial debt and it doesn’t work with spiritual debt either.  We can ignore our debt to God, but He isn’t going to lose the paperwork on us.  And He always follows the terms of the contract.  In this case, Ezekiel 18:4 spells out the terms of the contract for us, “The soul who sins is the soul that dies.”

That sounds tough.  That doesn’t sound like love.  God wouldn’t punish debtors, would he?  Would you?  If you saw a child of yours breaking the rules around the house, or in the neighborhood.  Would you say anything?  If those rules were hurting, or risking the lives of others would it matter to you?  What if that child wouldn’t stop, and you found knives and guns in his bedroom?  What then?

When it comes to our money we don’t want our bank to go bankrupt.  When it comes to our own well-being, our peace and “justice for evil”, we want justice.  Now, can you begin to see why the Fifth Petition is such a bold prayer?  And how praying it can change our relationship with God and others?  

When we say, “Forgive us our sins,” we are walking into the office of the CEO of the only spiritual bank in the world.  We know how great the debt is that we owe Him.  We cannot deny it.  We cannot repay it.  We can only get on our knees and beg Him to cancel it.  

Now picture yourself there.  You’re on your knees… trembling.  If he doesn’t cancel your debt you’ll lose everything.  And so He says, “Wait here.”  He walks out of the office.  He soon returns.  But He is not alone.  Next to Him stands a thin, weathered man covered in blood with a crown of thorns on His head.  As you stare at Him, you cannot help but notice the scars on His hands.  “This is my Son, Jesus.” He says.  “He has paid your debt in full. You are free to go.”  You ask. “What have I done to deserve this?”  “Nothing,” is the reply from the thin, weathered man covered in blood with a crown of thorns on His head. “I paid your debt out of love for you.”  “How can I ever repay you?” You instinctively inquire.  “You can’t. You could never repay me.” He says.  He goes on… “But, you can thank me. You can thank me by canceling the debts that others owe you.”  And here we have one of the most difficult of God’s commands to obey.  Yet, it is a command that, if we obey it, brings the greatest answer you will ever get to any prayer. Your freedom will overflow into the life of another.  That’s right… You will pay forward what was paid forward to you!  And everything that is wrong in your life will begin to become right!

The devil and evil want you to believe otherwise.  They tell you to hold on to anger.  We have a right to it.  We have a right to it because of the wrong done to us!  And, if we don’t hold the sins of others against them, well, others will take advantage of us! But, as always the devil is a liar.  And evil’s purpose is to take you under.  When we fail to forgive we cannot be happy.  That’s because we are too busy being bitter.

I once had a neighbor that didn’t like me very much because I built a house on the neighboring property.  Her father once owned the land but had to sell it because of poverty.  I guess there was a verbal agreement that the land would return to my neighbor if he ever decided to sell.  Well, he did and she couldn’t afford it.  So, I bought it, and became the object of my neighbor’s resentment.  One day a storm came along.  The neighbor’s tree fell across the line fence that divides our property.  She was gone at the time.  So, I called the county officials who told me I could cut up the tree limbs that were on my side of the fence. So, I did, neatly piling the wood near the fence.  And then I fixed the fence.  When my neighbor came home she chewed me out for cutting the tree and fixing the fence.  In her anger, she used inappropriate language.  My kids were present… and heard them.  To this day my kids bring up that story whenever we see fallen trees due to storms and such.

We have come to realize fallen trees can make people “upset” and do things they shouldn’t.  Bitterness is never kind… and makes people to ugly things.  What fallen trees have crossed your fences?  Is there resentment and bitterness?  Our failure to forgive makes little sense when we know of God’s mercy.

We must look to our Lord Jesus.  The forgiveness we see in His eyes makes our eyes see things differently.  We are filled with the forgiveness He has poured out on us.  Only our Lord Jesus, and the forgiveness He has given, could move US to forgive the sins others have committed against us.

So, we are going to just the right person when we pray boldly and confidently, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Amen

The Sixth Petition
May 30, 2018

The Two Great Biblical Analogies of Temptations

  1.  THE COLLAR

    Have you ever had someone take you by the collar… or some other body part… and drag you off???

    I grew up with a boy that I think he had ADHD.  He was ALWAYS getting himself in trouble, and I personally witnessed him being dragged off by some teacher to the principal’s office.  I have a picture of him brazened in my head being dragged off by my fourth-grade teacher a former linebacker for the Denver Broncos.  It looked like a big old grizzly bear dragging around one of its naughty little cub. Things were different in the 60’s when I grew up.

    Watching the news… it’s very common these days to see people being dragged off by police officers.  So often someone will cry out, “FOUL… police brutality! What did they do to deserve that!”  People don’t like it when adults get dragged off!

     I’ve seen a many people dragged off in my life.  Most of them NOT by the collar… or the arm… hair or legs.  Most of the dragging off I’ve seen is SPIRITUAL… and that’s tougher to watch than the physical.  Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane???  Jesus told his disciples not to fall asleep... “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation”.  “Watch and Pray”, Jesus told them.  That was the answer to temptation!  But the devil brought his sleepiness, and guess what?  They were dragged off into their slumber by the Tempter.

    The Apostle James explains, “Each person is tempted into sin when he is dragged off…”  Temptation sometimes feels like something has grabbed you.  And you’re about to be dragged off.  But that doesn’t mean you have to be dragged off.  The devil can pull, and yank, he can try and try, but he cannot you into sin.  When we sin, is when we stop fighting back.  We consent to it.  We stop resisting.  We give in.  So we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”

    Our prayer life needs this prayer, as much, if not more, than our prayer for daily bread or for forgiveness!!!  Prayer is a MAJOR way to resist being dragged off by evil.  We are pray when temptation comes to drag us off we do not comply with the sin.  Rather we look to Christ.  We repent.  And with the help of the Holy Spirit we turn away from the sin that comes to trouble us so.

    I like to think of Old Testament Joseph and conniving Potiphar’s wife.  Day after day Potiphar’s wife said to Joseph, “Take me!!!”  And Joseph said, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”  One day Joseph was in the house alone doing his work.  Potiphar’s wife “caught him only partially dressed” and went to take Him by the collar!   ‘Take  me.’ She said!”  But Joseph wouldn’t be dragged off.  He left his garment in her hand and fled.

    Here’s the Biblical promise we can fall back on… “No temptation has taken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

    2. THE LURE

Another picture of spiritual temptation is the LURE.  James says, “Each person is tempted into sin when they are dragged off… AND LURED AWAY!”  I have all sorts of colorful, flashy fishing lures in my tackle box.  None of them are edible.  Steal and plastic shouldn’t be eaten.  But, they also have hooks.  Lures are used to FOOL the fish… and hook them.  

Sometimes the devil understands that grabbing and pulling will not be nearly as effective as enticing and seducing.  This is the tactic he employed in the Garden of Eden.  He twisted the good fruit that God had made into a harmful lure with which he could capture mankind.  The devil spoke with smooth, serpentine words, and then when the woman looked at the fruit of the tree, she “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.”  She took the bait, and so did Adam.

Now once again, just because there’s tempting bait present does not mean that sin must follow. The presence of a lure is not sin.  Yet the fact remains that temptation only becomes sin when we take the bait.  Jesus says, “Temptations to sin are sure to come.”  But sin doesn’t have to follow.  You don’t have to bite.

Back to that verse in the book of James… “Each person is tempted when he is dragged away and lured by his own desire.”  “Your own desire”, it says.  Its not the lure that's sinful, it’s the desire for the lure.  Pray about your desires!

There is a source of temptation within us – our sinful nature – which is so tragically allied with the devil and the world that it drags itself off and lures and baits itself.  The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  But he doesn’t say this in despair and hopelessness.  In the same breath he says, “Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  We have hope and help in the midst of temptation!!! 

Our Help and Hope

Jesus is our hope and help!!!  He, TOO, was grabbed and lured by the devil.  Yet he resisted every time.  Contrary to what many people believe… He didn’t do this “to set an example for us”.  He did it to conquer.  He did it to win the victory for us.  He is our spotless, and perfect sacrifice.  And so we claim HIS ACTIONS as OUR VICTORY in all matters of being DRAGGED off or LURED away.  The Bible says, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  It says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  In prayer… then… draw near to the throne of God’s grace and find grace for help in time of need.

Pray, as Jesus wanted his disciples to pray in that Garden of betrayal, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  This prayer does not have to be eloquent, or long, or calm.  This prayer is simply a cry for help, the bleating of a little lamb who needs the Good Shepherd to come rescue him: “Lord, help me!”

And Jesus will assuredly answer.  He will come to you, even as He has been with you all the time.  He will rescue you.  He will vindicate you.  He will set you free. The forgiveness he offers all of you is the means by which we can all put our trust in Him! 

Forgiveness drives the devil away like deet drives away mosquitoes.  The devil wants you to be haunted by your sins, and fall into temptation.  But when a person like you or I experience the forgiveness of our Lord… the devil can only run away.  You might say, “He is dragged off by the collar into his eternal ruin!”  

So in your prayers see forgiveness.  Be honest about your sin.  Grow in your love and trust of the Savior!  And thus, with the forgiveness of our sins, Christ himself continues to conquer temptation, and he makes us noble knights who ride with him, who by his grace fight and resist and overcome.  Even if we should become unsaddled, Christ lifts us up, and brushes off the dirt of sin, and makes us valiant with his strength.  And at the last, the strife will be over.  Jesus will take us to himself where no hand can drag us off… and no lure to may entice us away.

AMEN

Fourth Petition: Bible Study
May 17, 2018

The Fourth Petition Bible Study

 The Fourth Petition: Give us this day our daily bread.

 What does this mean: God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

 What is meant by daily bread: Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

 The Central Thought:  Take away our “daily bread”—namely, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the homes that shelter us, the government that protects us—and we die.  Since these things are so important, why do we take them for granted and not express gratitude for them?  Read Exodus 16:1–21.

What was challenging to the Israelites about the way God provided?    

 As Christians, we pray that we might be grateful for everything (however ordinary) that God provides each day for our bodily life.  What habits and practices can help me to better recognize how God sustains my life each day?

 What is the focus of this petition?

Answer:  It focuses on recognizing God as the giver of all good things and giving thanks for all His gifts of creation that sustain our bodily life (in other words, we pray for all the gifts mentioned in the First Article of the Creed).

 Why does God provide for the earthly needs of everyone, even apart from prayer?

Answer:  As our loving Creator, God looks after His entire creation and provides for both Christians and non-Christians, for people and animals.

  • Matthew 5:45 He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
  • Acts 14:16–17 In past generations He allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet He did not leave Himself without witness, for He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.
  • Psalm 104:21 The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
  • Psalm 145:15–16 The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing.

 What do we mean by “daily bread”?

Answer:  “Bread” is a biblical way of summarizing all that we need to sustain our lives on earth.

  • Isaiah 55:2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Why do we specify “daily” bread in this petition?

Answer:  “Daily” highlights how every moment and every day of our lives depend upon God’s provision.


  • Acts 17:28 In Him we live and move and have our being.
  • James 4:15 You ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
  • Psalm 104:27–29 These all look to You, to give them their food in due season. When You give it to them, they gather it up; when You open Your hand, they are filled with good things. When You hide Your face, they are dismayed; when You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

For what, then, do we pray in this petition?

Answer:  We pray that, in humility,

  1. we would look to God for what we need each day so that we do not worry about the future;
    • Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
    • Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
    • 1 Peter 5:6–7 Humble yourselves, … casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
  2.  We would receive all our physical blessings with thanksgiving;
    • Psalm 106:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
    • Ephesians 5:19–20 Singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • 1 Timothy 4:4–5 Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
  3. We would find contentment with what we have received.
  • 1 Timothy 6:8 If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
  • John 6:12 When they had eaten their fill, He told His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”
  • Proverbs 30:8–9 Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
  • Luke 12:15–21, about the parable of the rich fool.

 How does God provide our daily bread?

  1. He makes the earth fruitful with all that we need.
    • Psalm 104:14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth.
    • Psalm 145:15–16 The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing.
  2. He blesses us with the ability to work and thus enjoy the fruitfulness of the earth.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:10–12 Even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
  3. He blesses us with earthly authorities and structures (a stable government and economy), which provide settings where we can work and receive our daily bread.
  • 1 Timothy 2:1–2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

     Does God give me daily bread only for my own needs?

    Answer:  No. God wants us to share with others in need and to include them in our prayers.

  • 1 Timothy 5:8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  • Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
  • 1 John 3:17–18 If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

 If God provides for everyone in these ways, why do some lack daily bread?

Answer:  Famine, scarcity, and need are the result of a fallen creation. Human sins, such as greed, callousness, and laziness, often contribute to these problems. Also, in a sinful world, unjust or incompetent governmental and economic systems may result in or contribute to the lack of daily bread. There is, indeed, the greatest need to pray for earthly authority and government. By them, most of all, God preserves for us our daily bread.

 

Fourth Petition Sermon: Our Daily Bread
May 17, 2018

Mom used to make bread from scratch.  Those were the days!!!  Nothing like walking into that warm old farm house on a cold winter’s day and the smell of fresh baked bread.  It was like dying and going to heaven.  So… my favorite part of the Lord’s Prayer is, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

But… there’s so much more to these words of the Fourth Petition then home-made bread.  Let’s broaden our horizons… and our prayer life.

What is the Fourth Petition?  Give us today our daily bread.

What does this mean? God surely gives daily bread without our asking, even to all the wicked, but we pray in this petition that he would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What, then, is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that we need for our bodily welfare, such as food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, land and cattle, money and goods, a godly spouse, godly children, godly workers, godly and faithful leaders, good government, good weather, peace and order, health, a good name, good friends, faithful neighbors and the like.

For today I’ll address four important areas of our daily bread.  I’ll present them all as “Why” questions.  So, let’s get started

Why ask at all?  When was the last time you prayed for liver and oat meal???  God gave it anyway didn’t He???  What about Cheerios, potato chips… or a boiled egg for that matter?  God gave it anyway!  Or… motor oil or transmission fluid?  “O Lord, please give me 5 quarts 10W­30 for my Chevy, and make it synthetic!”

Let's say it altogether… “God gave it anyway…”

When was the last time you prayed for mascara or eye liner… or ear swabs and wash clothes?  Say it with me, “God gave it anyway!”  

When it comes to daily bread there is so much in this life we don’t ask of for from God… but He just keeps on giving… and giving… and giving… and giving… day after day… week after week… month after month… year after year… “God gives it anyway!”

And just think of all He does to keep the wheels of production turning!!!  Farms keep growing crops and producing food and drink as one season turns into another.  Factories keep spitting out the daily products we so take for granted.  The wheels of commerce keep turning… making these things available for our consumption, even as we complain about our income and prices!!!  Each day is like a magical dance being staged and God sustains it all.

Did you know the Bible says God gives even to the wicked without their asking?  It says, “God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  Look around, people are receiving their daily bread from the One they hate!  They receive even from the “One they Curse”.  Freely God gives even to the ones who make fun of His church!!!

So, why should we pray for things God gives anyway???  The answer’s pretty simple.  Jesus teaches us to pray for daily bread because he wants us to acknowledge our daily bread as a gift from God.  And when we do that… WE… WE are thankful.  And thankfulness changes everything!  When you just chow down and go on your merry way without thinking you don’t thank.  And that hurts your prayer life, and ultimately your faith.  And God’s greatest and most sincere desire for you is that you know and trust in Him, and finally enter into your eternal joy in heaven.

Next question:  Why ask “today”?  Why pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”?  In our culture we are becoming so consumed with having today, we worry about TOMORROW!

I see commercials on TV advertising how much money you’ll need for retirement.  That commercial makes me worry.  And that’s not what God wants!!!  God wants us to be content with what he gives us today, so we don’t sweat the future.  I know what some of you are thinking, “Only a fool doesn’t prepare!”  Preparing isn’t the issue. Trying to control tomorrow out of worry isJesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  And God instructed the Israelites traveling in the wilderness to gather just enough manna for the day.  Why: Daily Bread!

You know, you can go overboard!   When I was building my log home in Eau Claire, someone found out and approached me about Building an “Apocalypse Shelter” in the basement.  Can you believe it?  And what about all those “Investment Scams” out there.  Why do people fall for them???  You got it… they never learned how to pray for DAILY BREAD.  And then…  there’s all those people out there overly worried about what tomorrow’s body will look like.  From YOGA to ST. JOHN’s WORT… I thought I’ve seen it all.  But I know… there’s more coming down the pike… All in efforts to preserve the beauty and function of the body.

Now, of course there’s nothing wrong with investing, and exercise and diet.  But God says, “Lose everything that keeps you from being content with God today!”  Remember the words of Jesus, Himself… “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Why ask for “our” bread?  Why not pray “Give ME today MY bread?”  Let me give you the answer right off the bat.  We should pray not only for ourselves, but also for the needs of our neighbor, sharing with him when he is in need.  Normally, God provides for us through our work.  But some are not able to work.  And others maybe laid-off or going through “hard times”.  The Bible says, “Do not forget to do good… and to share with others… for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

God wants us to share our daily bread.  You know… there’s an old saying, “What’s mine is yours.”  Say that with me… “What’s mine is yours.”  Oh… thank you… I’ll be over for supper at 5:00!  Just kidding!  But seriously, are you willing to say that and mean that? 

Remember this when you are praying the Lord’s prayer, “Our” daily bread means sharing. Not just food, but all things (in as much as is possible and in keeping with good order and safety).

We have one last WHY: Why does God give daily bread?

Here again I will give you the answer right up front: God gives daily bread not only to sustain our lives… but also to give us the means and strength to serve him.  We have a problem here my friends – a big one.  God has lavished us with daily bread and what have we done?  We’ve treated Him like an ATM machine.  We drive up, get what we want, and go off to do our own thing.  ATM machines don’t tell us what to do with the money they spit out.  ATM machines don’t make demands of us.  ATM machines don’t require us to say, “thank you.”  They just give, and we go.

Isn’t it true that this is often what we want of God???  “Give me what I need heavenly Father, and then let me go, no strings attached.”  But there are strings attached my friends.  God demands that we use the daily bread he gives us, ALL OF IT, to serve and honor him alone.  He demands it because that's what He is like, and that's what others need.  

We have not done always DONE that.  And for this we deserve nothing but his daily punishment.  It’s time to repent!  It’s time to beg for God’s mercy and grace in Christ Jesus.  And because of Jesus Christ we have it.  It was Christ who took upon himself flesh and blood, and in our place used his daily bread to honor and serve his heavenly Father.  The Bible says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many.” 

Jesus was content with what he had, as little as that was, and serve His Father in heaven.  Think about this. The food Jesus ate, and the water Jesus drank, was daily bread enough for him.  It was not consumed so Jesus could go off and forget about His Father in heaven.  He ate and drank so that HE could walk many weary miles for you and me.  There was no house, no car, no twenty-first century anything!  The “Daily Bread” of Jesus was bread given him so he could carry his cross to Calvary where his strength gave out, and he died as our Substitute.  And now we are forgiven of all sins for Jesus’ sake.  Now we stand blessed in God’s presence not cursed.

And now we pray “Give us today our daily bread” so that we can serve our amazing… gracious… and loving heavenly Father until the day we eat bread at his heavenly banquet.

I pray the Lord continue to provide us our daily bread that we would be strengthened… to serve the one who saved us from our sins.

Amen.

 Fourth Petition Project for parents with children:

After supper, get your kids to stay at the table.  Get a sheet of paper and a pencil.  Ask them to trace back the journey bread took to get to your table.  Try to go all the way back to the bread’s beginning with the farmer.  Try not to forget a single step, and all the people involved, if you can!  The purpose is to share the absolute need for God to orchestrate this complex journey bread takes to feed the family, and to be thankful it ends up in our mouths!

Third Petition Sermon
May 12, 2018

How’s your prayer life going?

A five-year old boy was being particularly loud and disruptive one hot Sunday morning during a church service in Southern Alabama.  His father grabbed him… and slung him under his arm… and headed for the back of the church.  No one in the congregation so much as raised an eyebrow.  That is until the child captured everyone's attention by crying out in, "Ya'll please pray for me now!"  Isn’t that a good picture of what our prayer life often becomes?  We wait until life’s troubles has us tucked under its arm… and then we cry out for help.

This morning we take a deeper look into our prayer lives using an amazing prayer neatly tucked into the Lord’s Prayer… “Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” 

The Third Petition:  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this mean? The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

How is God’s will done? God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.

Here’s where we really struggle… isn’t it: “Thy will be done!”  We want to know what we’re not supposed to know.  And what we’re supposed to know that we shy away from.  We want this enormous faith to move mountains.  But full trust in God???  Not so much!  So we are being challenged this morning with making something difficult a priority in our lives, “YOUR will be done, O God not MINE.”

It been the refrain of humanity throughout the ages… “Gimmee…Gimmee…Gimmee!  I need… I need… I need… I want… I want… I want…"  We have come to think that there’s only one person in all the world that knows what’s best for me, and that’s me. In my own words, “There’s the right way, and a wrong way, and then… there’s MY WAY.

So I ask you, is this good for your prayer life??? 

We weren’t always this way.  When our first parents walked the primrose paths of that ancient Garden they truly wanted God’s will to be done.  Their will was perfectly in sync with God’s will.  A will established and kept in God’s love and grace.  But, then came sin.  “Don’t eat that fruit,” God said.  “Trust me, It’s not my will for you!”  But they went ahead and ate it anyway.  And, from that time on mankind’s will was no longer in sync with God’s will. 

You and I have inherited this rebellious nature.  Paul describes it this way in Romans 8:7 “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”  So, Jesus had to teach his disciples, and all of us, to pray for God’s will to be done in our lives!

Its not something we readily pray and do on our own.  It’s just not in our nature anymore.  Sometimes when I pray for God’s Will to be done, and not my own, it almost feels like someone is racking their fingers across a BLACKBOARD.  I know I really don’t want this!!!

I’ve read enough of the Bible to know how challenging God’s will can be.  It says, “Obey your parents in everything.”  It says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as the Church submits to Christ.”  It says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.”  It says, “Be content with what you have, and don’t covet.”  It says, “Love your enemies.”  It says, “Avoid any form of sexual immorality.”  It says, “Forgive one another.”  These are just a few examples of God’s will for us.

The Scriptures are clear on this.

I don’t know about you, but I have come to realize that praying for God’s Will to be done means I have to change!!!  Praying like this means God has to come first in our lives!  Not easy!  But it is of first importance if you really want to get better at prayer.  Soren Kierkegaard said, “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” 

Prayer can be so counter intuitive.  You would think we should pray to get what we want.  But instead we need to pray for what God wants.  Why???  Because we are being “transformed”.  The Holy Spirit moves deep within us.  And the Holy Spirit works hard in our prayer life.  All so that we would know Christ, and him crucified and raised for us.  This one is a biggie.

Every Christian has an inner desire (because of the Holy Spirit’s work…) to be in sync with God’s will.  The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  Through Jesus God has restored His image to us. 

So, now a war is raging.  The tension is real.  We still have our sinful nature clinging to us.  But we are also this new person the Holy Spirit has created.  Every time we pray “Your Will Be Done” it’s like we are calling out for reinforcements!  When a military leader prepares for war he wants to bring as much firepower as possible to the battle.  He would like not just to defeat the enemy but to end the war.  The stronger the forces the better.  The stronger our faith the better.  We don’t want to take any chances.  So, we pray “Your Will Be Done” asking God to reinforce our faith, so that we draw closer to complete trust in our good and loving Father in heaven.  We don’t want sin to have any chance.

That’s what we mean when we say “Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven.”  In heaven the angels, and all the Christians that have gone there before us joyfully fulfill God’s will at all times and in every way.  There is no sin in heaven.  SO we pray, “This is the way I want to do your will, Lord, as though I were already in heaven!!!”

So we can go to our Bibles and discover the will of God for our lives in the words there.   

However, not ALL THINGS are revealed.  I am talking about the “why” questions.  “Why do the little innocent ones die?”  “Why did I get this terrible disease?”  “Why do loved ones die?”  “Why didn’t I get that job?”  “Why didn’t I get that scholarship?”  “Why am I all alone?”  “Why, God, why?”  We call it God’s hidden will.  Not everything is revealed in the Bible.  Nor does God promise everything will be revealed.

I have a lab named Fudge.  Fudge has claws that grow like weeds.  So, I trim them.  There are several reasons why I do this, but mostly because untrimmed claws can be dangerous.  They can curl under and become very painful.   But, he doesn’t like having them trimmed.  Someone in the past must have once cut a claw too deep.  So now when I trim his claws he looks at me as if to ask, “Why are you doing this to me?”  I have tried to explain it to him.  But that’s silly.  This side of heaven Fudge will never understand.  What’s important is that I am His caring master.  I do what’s best for him.

We are children of a loving heavenly Father.  It’s not important that we understand everything.  What’s important is that He is our loving heavenly Father.  So, when we pray “Your will be done” we do so confidently.  It’s a prayer of faith, creating even more faith, “Lord, I don’t know what your will is for my future, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I know that you love me. You proved it at the cross. So, whatever it is “Your will be done.”

We don’t have to worry about the future.  We don’t have to constantly second-guess what God is doing.  Whatever God’s will is it will be for the best.  This does not mean it will always be painless.  But, it always for the best.

Think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  What was his ultimate prayer?  His Father’s will that He go to the cross for us.  It was not painless, but it was for the ultimate good of our salvation.   

So, we pray this week God’s will be done.  Some of this prayer will be a challenge to do what is clearly spelled out for us in the Bible when it says, “Do this!  Or, “Don’t do that”  Or, “Be this kind of a person!”  But some of it isn’t.  And that is just fine.  We know it will be for the best.  So we pray, “Heavenly Father, Your will be done.” 

Third Petition Bullet Prayers:

  • “O Lord, I can’t change you, so please change me.”
  • “Father in heaven, I know you love me the way I am, but I pray; please don’t leave me this way.”
  • “O lord, help me with this test so that I may have a testimony.”
  • “O God, keep me in my Bible, so that I may keep you.”
  • “Heavenly Father, my troubles are big, but I know you are bigger.”
  • “Lord, turn me from sin before sin turns me.”
  • “O Lord Jesus, let your light be the light that enlightens my way.”
  • Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Wall Hanger: “Lord, may I live one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships all the time; trusting You time and time again; that in this time I may have peace, and in the eternal time to come be supremely happy with You.” 
Third Petition Bible Study
May 12, 2018

The Third Petition

 The Third Petition:  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

 What does this mean?  The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

 How is God’s will done?  God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.

 The Central Thought:  Christians have always encountered obstacles when bringing the Gospel to the world. What obstacles do you see in the world today that hinder the spread of the Gospel or keep people from knowing Jesus?

 Read Matthew 26:36–56:  What obstacles did Jesus face on His journey to the cross?   As Christians, we pray here that God would not allow any obstacle to stand in the way of His gracious will—namely, that His Word and kingdom be extended.   What things in my life threaten to pull me away from the Word of God?

 What is the will of God?

Answer:  God’s will is that all people come to know Him as their Father and live under the rule of His Son. This petition is closely related to the petitions that His name be hallowed and His kingdom come.

  • Ezekiel 18:23  Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
  • John 6:40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
  • 1 Timothy 2:4 [God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification.

 What is the specific focus of this petition?

Answer:  We ask that God, in keeping with His will, would never allow Satan, the world, and our sinful flesh to take God’s name and faith from us.

  • 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
  • 1 John 2:15–17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
  • Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

 How does God Help us Keep/Do His Will?

  1. God restrains Satan (“breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose”).
    • Psalm 23:4–5 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
    • 1 Peter 1:5 By God’s power [you] are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:3 The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.
  2. God strengthens us with His Word so that we can endure the sufferings that will come.
  • Romans 8:28 We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.
  • 1 Peter 2:20–21 But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.

 When will Satan’s defeat be complete?

  1. Christ has already defeated Satan by means of His life, death, and resurrection.
    • 1 John 3:8  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
  2. God has promised that Satan will be banished forever and, with that, death will be put to death and our sinful nature stripped away.
  • Romans 16:20  The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
  • 1 John 3:2  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:50–53  I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

 What is God’s will for my life?

Answer?  God wants me

A. to become and remain His child through faith in Jesus;

B. to live as His adopted child according to His Word and bear witness to Christ;

C. to resist the devil and all that would prevent these things.

Should I be anxious about discerning God’s precise will in my daily decisions?

Answer:  God has given clear commands about many matters of daily life (Ten Commandments). However, God also leaves many other daily decisions up to us (what to eat, where to go to school, what kind of car to purchase, and so on). We need not worry about trying to discern God’s precise will when making these kinds of decisions, for we know that we live under His fatherly care.

 How can I make good decisions as a Christian about everyday matters?

A. God gives me freedom to make my own decisions in everyday matters.  He has provided the Ten Commandments to guide my decision-making.  He also invites me to pray for wisdom in choosing the best course of action according to His Word.

B. In making decisions, I can also consider the many gifts that God has provided me in my everyday life: my specific callings (see Table of Duties), my abilities and interests, the needs of those around me, the opportunities He has laid before me, and the counsel and wisdom of others.

C. Finally, I can pray for God’s blessing on my decisions, knowing full well that I daily sin much and can never completely avoid sin in this life. I live each day in the forgiveness of sins in Jesus, knowing that my God is a God of blessing who promises to work all things for my ultimate good. 

The Second Petition: Thy Kingdom Come
May 03, 2018

How’s your prayer life? Do you feel good about talking with God… BOLD and CONFIDENT as Martin Luther would say?  Or, is your prayer life somewhat dull and in need of an overhaul? I think we could all use help with prayer.  The Bible says, “God is an ever-present help.”  If that is true than our conversation with God could be 24/7.

 So… here we are again today to taking an in depth look at the Lord’s Prayer in order to enhance your prayer life. Today is the Second Petition!

The Second Petition:  Thy kingdom come.

 What does this mean?:  The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.

 How does God’s kingdom come?:  God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.

 Kings and Queens are things of the past… and in places where they still hold those titles (like England)… they are really only figure heads.  “KINGS” and “KINGDOMS” are the stuff of “Once Upon A Time” and story books.  No wonder we gloss over these words so quickly when we pray the Lord’s prayer.

“Thy Kingdom Come!”; what could that possibly do for me and my prayer life?  You would be surprised!  “Thy Kingdom Come” is timeless, and a very meaningful part of our relationship with God!

 I have three main points to make about this portion of the Lord’s Prayer today… and how it can truly benefit you as a prayer partner at Bethlehem.  First… “Seek the kingdom of God” and His righteousness.  Second… pray that God’s kingdom of GRACE (His Church) prosper and grow.  Last, pray that God’s heavenly, “eternal kingdom” come QUICKLY!

Want your prayer life to grow?  Then be a PRAYER SEEKER.  Our prayer life is defined by the things we want, or seek after the most!  What is the one thing we can desire, or seek after THIS VERY MINUTE and know God will grant it???  His Righteousness, or, in a word, FAITH!  So, we seek out the FAITH that we need to have the righteousness of God that we want which in turn shapes and molds our prayer life!  

In the words of Jesus, “Its not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick!”  Those who go before God demanding or expecting learn one thing about prayer.  And those who go to Him in humility and grace discover another thing about prayer.  

As Christians this “righteousness” we seek is not a work of our own.  It is a work of Christ done FOR us.  Seek Christ on the cross to forgive your sins!  Seek the resurrected, living Christ, to come into your heart and help you grow as His dear and true child.  As the Bible would put it… “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord… and He will lift you up!”   I’ll say it again… “When righteousness and faith are the priority of your prayers… the rest of your prayer life with grow.”

 Jesus knew this. That’s why he said: “Don’t be so anxious about food and clothing and so forth.  But… rather… seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness… AND THEN… all these things will be added unto you!”

 If God loves you so much… that He would hang His Son on a cross in judgement for your sins… won’t he also have your best interest in mind FOR ALL THINGS!  And If God takes care of the birds and feeds them… and if God so beautifully clothes the flowers of the field–and you are much more valuable than they… why worry so much?

So… “Seek first the kingdom of God”.  Then, STOP, and let that sink in.  And after it’s dissolved down seep in your heart pray for the other things on your mind.

That leads me to my second point.  Pray for the Kingdom of Grace to Come here and now!  When you pray this you are truly praying for something special.  You are praying for something YOU CAN’T SEE.  It’s a faith kingdom only seen with the heart.  It’s a kingdom not of this world which is overcome with sin and death.  It’s a kingdom of Wisdom, healing, deliverance, forgiveness, life, salvation, righteousness–all bound up in God’s Son.

We also call this Kingdom “The Church on Earth”!  We know it’s here when it’s King is here!  That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Whenever two or three of you are gathered in MY NAME… there I am in your midst!”   And we know its here whenever we hear the Word of the Bible offered up in preaching and teaching.  And whenever it lives in and through such things as Baptism, The Lord’s Supper and the fellowship of believers who offer up their prayer and praise in worship!

Which reminds me of that little discourse between Pilate and Jesus before he was sent to the cross.  You know the one, where Pilate asks Jesus about being a king???  Jesus’ reply to that was, “MY kingdom is not of this world.”  Pilate didn’t realize he was standing in the presence of the eternal, almighty King of Kings.  That’s because he couldn’t see Him as His Savior/King.  His heart was hard.  It rejected what Jesus said, and Pilate was a lost as a deer in headlights.  Too bad because Pilate could have been spared that infamous HAND WASHING, and had His heart cleansed instead. 

We would be lost apart from Christ’s presence in His Kingdom the Church... where Word and Sacrament ministry are found.  Our sins would condemn us.  Death would consume us.  Misery and despair would be our lot in life.  But Jesus came and redeemed us from all that… by His righteous life… atoning death… his victorious resurrection – So now when we pray “Thy kingdom come,” we are praying that these divine, blessed realities would be ours through His Kingdom of Grace.

 And not only that, but so much more.  We’re praying that we would get out of our pews, and beyond the safety of our homes, and share that Kingdom with Others!!!  You see the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer is a missionary prayer.  We’re praying that the reign of God would spread and expand throughout this fallen, sin-darkened world, and that we would be a part of that!

So when we pray “Thy kingdom come”, we’re praying for pastors, mission start-ups, congregations in places where Christianity is new, missionaries–for all who are engaged in the work of proclaiming and spreading the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.”  Our prayer here is that: We open up our giving to missions, we would make it possible for the Word of Christ would be taken to places far off, and that each and everyone of us would share our love for Christ with a dying and faithless world.

But there’s another aspect to the coming of God’s kingdom, as well.  This we refer to usually as “the kingdom of glory.”  As the Bible would have it: “Our true citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await (pray) to be with our Savior there because He will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  And so we pray that that Judgment day come… the final last day of this sin-laden and groaning world!  

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” has been the prayer of many a Christian over the ages because the faithful know an important reality.  Its all over with the coming of Christ!!!  Some have said “Thy Kingdom Come” is a morbid, dark and gloomy prayer!  I don’t.  I don’t fear then Last Day.  I look forward to the day all creations desires. What we call “The new heaven and the new earth” where sin and the devil are finally put away forever!  In the Words of Revelation its called, “The New Jerusalem”.  A place where SEEKERS live as KEEPERS!  God dwelling with his people, in joyful and eternal fellowship.  This will be the kingdom of glory!  I pray it come soon.

Dear friends, let the Lord’s Prayer shape your mind and your thinking… as well as your heart.  Seek His righteousness.  Live out the Mission.  And know a day comes… with the return of Christ in the clouds… when your prayer will be complete.

We pray for this, expectantly, whenever we pray “Thy kingdom come.”

This week’s prayer helper:

  1. Look up: The Kingdom of God is Coming!  Christ promised He would return
  2. Look around:  The Kingdom of God is at work!  Jesus is present in His Word as its proclaimed and taught.  He is present in the waters of Baptism and in the Bread and Wine.  God is there when two or three are gathered in His name.  God is our ever-present help in need.
  3. Look back:  The Kingdom of God is on control!  Look back and see when God delivered you, fed you, clothed you, protected you.
  4. Look Forward:  The Kingdom of God needs you!  You are a gift of God at work to spread the kingdom in prayer, giving, serving and telling!  You are a missionary!
  5. Look inside: The Kingdom of God is within you by Faith!  You have received the Holy Spirit who helps you in prayer!

 

First Petition Bible Study
April 25, 2018

The First Petition Bible Study

 What is the First Petition?  Hallowed be Thy name.

 What does this mean?

God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also. How is God’s name kept holy? God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!

The Central Thought

We introduce ourselves by name so that others will get to know us and relate to us. Why is knowing and respecting someone’s name necessary for a meaningful relationship?

 Read Luke 11:9–13.  

How does Jesus teach us to honor His Father’s name?    

Answer:  As Christians, we honor (hallow) God’s name as Father when we call on Him in faith, proclaim His love for us, and live according to His Word.

 In what ways can I honor my Father’s name today?

 What is the connection between this petition and the Second Commandment?

Answer:  They both deal with the name of God and our use of it. The commandment requires that we do not misuse His name or slander His reputation. Here we pray that we may use it properly.

Exodus 20:7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

 What is meant by “God’s name”?

Answer:  God and His name cannot be separated. His name includes who He is, what He does, and His very presence among us.

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is My name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to carved idols.

Psalm 9:1–2 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

Exodus 20:24 In every place where I cause My name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.

What are we asking when we pray that God’s name be kept holy?

Answer:  We pray that God our Father would help us to keep His name holy by

  1. speaking truthfully about His Word;

    Jeremiah 23:28 Let him who has My word speak My word faithfully.

    John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

  2. living according to His Word.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.

 Read Luke 19:1–9, about Zacchaeus, who resolved to live the Christian life after coming to faith.

 How is God’s name profaned?

Answer:  Our Father’s name is profaned, that is, dishonored

  1. when anyone teaches something as His Word that is in fact not His Word;

    Jeremiah 23:31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, “declares the LORD.”

  2. when anyone lives contrary to His will as expressed in His Word.

Romans 2:23–24 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

 

How should we deal with those who dishonor God’s name?

  1. We should gently admonish those who unknowingly misuse God’s name in speech or in teaching.

    Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

    2 Timothy 2:23–25 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.

  2. We should firmly rebuke those who persist in their errors and refuse to repent.

Titus 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 3:10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him. 

WHat's in a Name?
April 23, 2018

The First Petition

Hallowed be Thy name.

What does this mean?

God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.

How is God’s name kept holy?

God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!

We introduce ourselves by name so that others will get to know us and relate to us.  And our names all mean something important… to us personally… and to others more publicly.  My name is “Russell”:  In French it means reddish.  My nick name growing up was “Rusty”.  But here’s the odd thing.  I’ve never had red hair.  My last name is Kampfer.  In German it means “to Fight or Struggle” as in Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” or “My Struggle”.  But I have nothing to do with Adolf Hitler.  These personal names mean little to me.  However, when I adopted the name PASTOR, that name meant something special to me.  Pastor is the Latin word for SHEPHERD.  This is who I am and this is what I do.

We all have names.  Whether you like your name or not… you need it.  Some of those reasons are extremely important.  For example, the IRS calls upon it for income taxes.  The Bank calls upon it for a mortgage, or interest.  Your mother or wife calls upon it so that you do the dishes, make the bed, vacuum (whatever).  Your boss calls upon it so you do your job.  And so on.  We have names because of our relationships.  If you were the only person on earth… (and there was no God) you wouldn’t need a name!

We begin our relationships with names.  We meet someone and one of the first things we say is, “What’s your name?”  (And then we quickly forget it… and we know that’s not good.)  

Now, going back to last week, we call our God, “Our Father who art in Heaven!”  And, no he’s name is not Art.  But the opening words we use in the Lord’s Prayer invokes the first person of our God Our Heavenly Father!  It’s the specific, all-powerful, ever-present, all knowing God of the Bible.  Not any god that we imagine or create.  But the same God who created all things, sustains all things and loves us so very much because of His Son’s sacrificial death and glorious resurrection.  If our prayers are to have any meaning or purpose at all using God’s name properly will make a huge difference!

Jesus said these words just after He taught the Lord’s Prayer to His disciples, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  As Christians, we honor (hallow) God’s name as Our Father when we call on Him in faith, proclaim His love for us and live according to His Word.  

In the Lord’s Prayer we are actually praying to use God’s name properly.  The Bible is clear that we should never use God’s name improperly, or in vain (as if God didn’t exist in all his power, love and majesty).  God and His name cannot be separated.  His name includes who He is, what He does and His very presence among us.  Be very careful, my friends.  Don’t take God’s name lightly.  When we call upon Him, whether we are aware of this or not, He is present even as He is Ever-Present!  This can be GOOD, and this can be BAD.  Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them."  That’s Good.  Just calling on a name comes with a promise.  He is there as we need Him.  We don’t have do to some good work to get Him to listen.  We don’t have to make ourselves worthy.  By faith alone in His Son, by virtue of His death and resurrection, He hears.  And the Holy Spirit makes this faith possible, not us!  God makes ALL things possible.  So now we may speak with Him in prayer.

But there is a down side.  Misuse of His name can be devastating. As when we are angry and call on His name as if we were faithless.  And sometimes we are unwise and unfaithful with His name.  As some were in Corinth when they failed to see that Jesus is truly PRESENT in the Lord’s Supper because His name was invoked with the bread and wine.  So, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we need to be “mindful” of God’s presence.  Matthew 5:16, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."  Ephesians 4:1, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called."  

God listens to us as Christians.  He hears our prayers.  Its only wise and proper that we get to know what He has to say to us.  We need to further our training.  We need to crack open our Bibles and learn.  We need to be engaged in worship and growing in the faith.  All this that we might see deeper with the heart, and not be distracted by the eyes that see only what the world has to show us.  All this that our ears may hear what God’s Word has to say, and not be distracted by the voice of the world.

Prayer: Holy Father, Your name is holy in itself. We pray that through the words we speak about You and through the lives we live as those marked by Your sacred name in Baptism, we may never profane Your name but honor it in all that we say and do; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer is "Heavenly"
April 21, 2018

We pray, “Our Father who art IN HEAVEN”.

  There is much we know of Fathers, both good and bad, because we have earthly fathers. But when it comes to heavenly things we struggle.  You can’t see heavenly things, unless God reveals them.  That is a rare thing.  Our heavenly Father who loves us so much through His Son wants us to respond by faith and trust.

  When we pray that our Father is in heaven, we are praying that our faith grows and we see more with our hearts than our eyes.  We are praying that the Holy Spirit be involved. After all, it was the Holy Spirit who brought us into the faith, and he alone has the power to keep us in the faith.  The Holy Spirit, then, who provides faith will help us pray confidently, and even boldly. So, we should call upon the Holy Spirit to help us in prayer. As Romans 8:26 would have it, “Likewise… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.”

  Prayer is conversation with God.  Obviously, he initiates it. God is always talking to you.  He is ever-present, and all knowing.  Prayer is also deeply spiritual. Our problem is that we are not always listening because of its spiritual nature.  Its hard to hear messages from heaven when you are so distracted by earthly things.  The devil knows this and uses it against you.  And your sinful nature isn't helping much, either.  How very important it is that we get away from it all at times to hear God’s voice.  To be alone with Him.  To open the Bible which is His means to speak to you. To listen to a sermon, read a devotional or meditate on a Bible verse. To review, and remember how God has been active in the events of our lives (such as Baptism), and the many times He was at your side through good and bad.  

So when the disciples asked Jesus, “Teach us to Pray!” He began by telling them how important the LOVE of the FATHER is to prayer.  Then He called Him “heavenly” because prayer is a faith relationship with our God.  It requires Jesus as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our advocate.

Let us Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your words give us boldness and confidence to acknowledge You as our true Father and ourselves as Your true children. May Your Holy Spirit lead us to trust in Your fatherly goodness, call upon Your name in every need, and glorify You as the author and giver of every good and perfect gift; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Bible Study 1
April 18, 2018

Teach us to Pray:  OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN

Bible Study 1: Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer 

April 2018

The Introduction:

 Our Father who art in heaven. (Our Father in heaven.)

 What does this mean?

With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.

 I. 'OUR FATHER'

This little word 'our' teaches us that although prayer is extremely intimate and personal, and although God is indeed personal as opposed to non-personal, the God to whom we pray:

 is not, and never will or can be, an individually defined personal god – In today’s world there are some that have “created” their own god (which is nothing more than humanism – I am god).  Humanism molds, and defines God through personal experiences, combining parts of world religions that seem believable and workable for a person.  The Bible says God is the one God for all us, whether we realize it or not. When we truly pray we are not praying to gods we have each created in our own minds; we are not praying to some mystical god concepts as varied as we are; we are not praying to any personal idea of god. We pray to him who is our God - the one true God for all people.

 is not, and never will or can be, a private personal slave - God is the one true God of the whole earth, with the concern and destiny of the whole earth in his hands; whether we like it or not we are our brother's keeper.  The whole is just as important as the parts.  God's concern for the whole earth should be mirrored in our praying.

 is not, and never will or can be, a private personal possession - he belongs (if we may use that word) to us before ever he belongs to me. This means that self-centered presumption in prayer is outlawed, as is prayer that is an attempt to manipulate God for our own private ends.

There are two levels at which God is our Father - he is our (that is all mankind's) Father; and he is our Father (that is the Father of all who are related to him through faith in his Son Jesus Christ).

 'OUR FATHER' - BY VIRTUE OF CREATION

Because he is the Creator of all that is God is the Father of all. Everything that exists, exists because of God's creation and power. He is the source of all life. He is the sustainer of all life. This sheer dependence on God for our physical life we share in common with all.

 'OUR FATHER - BY VIRTUE OF SALVATION

Through our faith relationship and union with Jesus Christ the Son of God, those who believe in him own God as Father in a unique and special way. Although God is the Father of all by virtue of creation, that fatherhood is largely unknown and unacknowledged, with most of the people of the world living as orphans, not knowing to whom they owe their existence.

  •  To all who believed in him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God' [John 1:12,13].
  • Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. ... by him we cry. "Abba,Father." The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God's children' [Romans 8:14-16].
  • God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, the spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir' [Gal 4:4-7].
  • In his love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves' [Ephesians 1:4b-6].

  • Dear friends, now we are children of God ...' [1 John 3:2].

 

II. 'IN HEAVEN' - GOD IS NOT LIKE IDOLS

  The over-riding theme of the Bible is simply this: that God is the one true God, and that men have substituted for him gods of their own making: earthbound gods, powerless gods.  God loves us and sent His one and only Son that we may have a right relationship with Him.

  When we address God as 'our Father in heaven' we are expressing the “utter otherness”, uniqueness and holiness of God.  He is not a fabrication of human hands or of human minds. He is over and above and beyond all other concepts of god we imagine and create, and he looks with anger and scorn on all the gods we might put in his place. He is called 'the God of gods' - Deuteronomy 10:17; Daniel 2:47, 11:36.

 NOT LIKE A POWER to perform our will

  Although some people substitute physical and/or conceptual idols for the one, true God, others pray to and seek counsel from various powers they imagine, putting these 'powers' in God's place. This has always been the case, and always will be the case where the one, true God is not known, or is very poorly known.

  The God to whom we pray - our Father in heaven is not some power established by the human mind or will: He is so far over and above these supposed powers that He can turn their 'counsel' into foolishness for his own purposes. Thus, the Christian who knows the one, true God by knowing Jesus Christ has no need to pursue guidance from any of these sources which include astrology, numerology, tarot cards, Ouija boards, palmistry, clairvoyance, séances, mediums, past lives therapy, channeling, angel messages, dreams, spirit guides, and so on. In fact, as far as the Bible is concerned, to seek help from such sources is sin.

 GOD IS NOT (LIKE) US

Nor is God like us: limited, finite, largely ignorant, weak. He is, as we will see in a little while:

  • Eternal: he exists outside of time.
  • Omnipresent: present everywhere.
  • Omnipotent: all powerful.
  • Omniscient: all knowing.

Unlike us, he is also changeless, dependable and perfect.

 IN HEAVEN - THAT IS HE IS TOTALLY SET APART: HOLY

  This otherness, this uniqueness of God, which we have seen in the three points above, is what the Bible means by his holiness. 'Holy' means 'set apart'.  It includes his moral perfection and purity, but it is much more than that.  It is that quality of God that sets him apart from everything else that is - from his creation, from man and from idols.  He is not 'common'.  He is not ordinary.  He is utterly unique.  He is one of a kind.  He cannot be put in a box, or stuck with a label.  He cannot be likened to anything with any degree of accuracy because there is nothing like him.  As it is written a couple of times in the Bible: 'he does whatever pleases him' (Psalm 115:3; 135:6).  This holiness, this uniqueness, is also included when we pray to our Father in heaven.

 IN HEAVEN - THE ALL-POWERFUL

  The God to whom we pray is also powerful. Powerful beyond our imagining. He stands in authority over all that exists. No power can thwart his purposes. No authority can undermine his.  It is only this truth that gives any significance to prayer; without it prayer is nothing more than singing in the dark, emotionally soothing and comforting for the moment perhaps, but ineffective. It is only he who is the Almighty Sovereign Lord of all who has any final power and authority to answer our prayers.  The Biblical teaching on God’s power and wisdom (which at first seems to make prayer redundant and beside the point) is the only valid basis for genuine, expectant prayer.  God must be who He is to be able to answer all our prayers!

 IN HEAVEN - THE ONE WHO KNOWS ALL THINGS, WHO SEES THE END FROM THE BEGINNING

  As our Father in heaven God has no limitation of wisdom and knowledge: he is omniscient (he sees, hears and knows all things). He knows everything. This is related to his timelessness (his eternity) and his omnipresence (his being everywhere). Along with his sovereign authority and power this characteristic of God makes prayer relevant and valid. It is no use praying to a god who doesn't know, or who has limited knowledge. Nor is it any use praying to a god who is not wise.

 PERSONAL CHALLENGE:  To which God do you pray?

  • Think about this questions when you pray:
  • Is he your strong, dependable, loving, caring Father?
  • Is he also the Almighty, glorious, powerful, sovereign Lord of all?
  • Do you come into his presence confident of his love and acceptance and willingness to listen?
  • Do you come also, confident of his awesome ability and authority to respond to your request in the best way possible?
  • Do you also come acknowledging who he is?

 The Lord placed his throne in heaven; he is king over all' [Psalm 103:19].

 There is no one like the Lord our God. He lives in the heights above' [Psalm 113:5].

 Lord God of our ancestors, you rule in heaven over all the nations of the world. You are powerful and mighty, and no one can oppose you' [2 Chronicles 20.6].

How's your Prayer Life?
April 17, 2018

How's your prayer life? 

Prayer is not that complicated.  It's simply conversation with God.

However, I believe most people suffer a poor prayer life for one simple reason.  Their love for God is lacking.

When I was younger I went to dad for almost everything, and I told him almost everything.  Things changed as I grew older.  As a teenager I rarely spoke to my dad unless I really needed something.  My relationship with him had changed.  Later in life that all changed again.  In our last couple of years together (he died last year) I talked to him a lot.  Now that he’s gone I miss him terribly.

Good relationships are fashioned out of love.  Love leads to communication.  When love breaks down so does communication.  I suppose some of you never knew your dad.  I imagine that effects your prayer life because your concept of "father" isn't whole.  Some of you may not have a dad that is very lovable.  Your prayer life must be effected by this also.  But, whatever the situation God, our heavenly Father, loves us like a true father loves his true children.  Once we know the love our heavenly Father has for us, our prayer life can, and will grow.

In the movie, “THE SHACK”.  There's a little girl who calls God, "PAPA".  I identify with that.  When I was a child I prayed often to my "PAPA".  Love and trust was a simple thing back then.  As life got more complicated so did my relationship with God.  Sin piled up, and I avoided God more and more.  I prayed less often.  I imagine many of you are just like me.  You’re prayer life suffers unresolved sin.  

The first words we say in the Lord’s Prayer are so important.  We call Him, “OUR FATHER”.  God is our father because He made us, yes.  God is our Father because he continues to provide for us and support us, yes.  But God is our Father primarily because He loves us so much.  As John would have it, “What love the Father has for us that we should be called Children of God, and such we are!”  This love is never so clear as when we see His Son, our brother in humanity, sacrificed for our sinful nature on the cross enduring the pain we’ve earned by our sin, and dying our death which we deserve because of our wickedness.  Believing in THIS good news for the forgiveness of our sins will lead to (as Martin Luther once said), “We may go to Him with all boldness and confidence as true children go to their true father and ask for all things.”  So true prayer can only be said by those in a LOVE RELATIONSHIP with this Heavenly Father of ours.

Christians believe that only those prayers said in, and through, Jesus are heard by our Heavenly Father.  That’s because Jesus establishes and keeps that love relationship with our heavenly.  And the Scriptures are clear; we are miserable failures when it comes to being Holy as God is Holy.  But Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are acceptable to make us holy and right in the presence of our heavenly Father.  So we lean on Christ, not ourselves for God’s love.

If your prayers seem empty or hollow these days then take your sin to God in prayer, and know God loves you in Christ.  All your sins are forgiven.  Try not to look at the world for your blessings and joy.  Look rather to your eternal salvation first.  

I find the more I return to God as my PAPA the better my prayer life becomes.  There’s nothing more I want in life right now then to have my kids speak to me about their joys and sorrows and tell me about how important their relationship with Dad is.  And the older I get I find I am less judgmental as their father because of the love we have for each other.  All I want is to hear from them.  I want to be their PAPA.

If you don't love God you won't want to hear Him, or speak with Him.  If you do love Him your prayer life will grow.  God wants you to be free of your sin, shame and guilt.  God wants to forgive you.  He has given His Son for that to be possible.  Go to Him in prayer and find release.  Ask for His presence in your life.  It all begins there.  He is calling to you.  Can you hear Him calling His dearly loved child?

As we begin this 9 week journey to a better prayer life I would like to invite you to begin with a simple little prayer.  Don't ask for anything more than a better relationship with your heavenly Father.  And know you can go to Him with anything that weighs heavy on your heart.