Archive for May, 2012
Hallowed Be Thy Name
“And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” (Exodus 3:6, ESV)
When I say Oreo, what is the first thing that you think of? Is it a cookie, with an intensely good filling and a mediocre outer layer of chocolate(ish) wafers? The name Oreos is hallowed throughout much of the modern world. God’s name is also hallowed. His power can be seen all over the world. While people may call His power by different names, the bible says that God is active in every aspect of our lives. The point of creation is to glorify God. When Jesus prayed, “Hallowed be thy name.”, He was praying that the name of God would be glorified in His creation.
How God Automatically Glorifies Himself In His Creation
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1, ESV)
God’s has glorified Himself in His creation. Take a second and think about all the things that people take for granted. We take for granted the forces that bind our cells together. We take for granted the sun, a mass so large that it could engulf us a million times over. We live in a universe so vast that it could, hypothetically go on for all of eternity. Yet it seems to the goal of humanity to minimize the glory of God into acceptable concepts, like eternity and infinity, so that we may understand His glory through scientific means.
How You Glorify God
Look around you. If you are in any area surrounded by people you will see between three and ten advertisements for different products. Sitting at a computer you can see advertisements for DELL, Intel, and Windows. While online we are bombarded with images that advertise a multitude of products, all trying to make their name known. One way that God makes Himself known is through His followers. The change that happens in the hearts and lives of His followers proclaim the glory of God. The way that believers can reflect the glory of God is by talking about the good things that He has done in their lives and continuing to follow and submit to the things that God is doing in their lives. God’s glory will be reflected across creation no matter who is living and how they act, yet God uses people and nature to make His name glorified.
When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:9, ESV)
There are several stories in the bible that are just glossed over. For instance, Hosea married a prostitute, yet when reviewing most Sunday School class curriculum, one rarely finds mention of this story- even though it takes up a whole book of the bible. The story of the Roman Centurion is one such story. A centurion was a commander in the roman army, much like a sergeant or corporal in today’s armies. The Centurion was a Roman, detested by Jews. So why is this man’s faith admirable? Well to understand the risk that the Centurion took, we must understand where he was coming from.
“When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant.” (Luke 7:3)
While it’s now considered insensitive to think of a race as inferior, it wasn’t so Jesus’ day. The Romans were superior. They had greater armies, greater technology, and greater populations and lands. They acted as though they were the superiors: They lived in the finest houses, took the best looking Jews as slaves, and were able to abuse Jews as they saw fit.
As the Jews were not Roman citizens, they didn’t have access to the civil laws that were customarily given to Roman citizens.
Being Roman meant you had a lot of Roman pride. You were a citizen of the most powerful nation on the earth, and it was expected that you would be very proud of your heritage. Roman culture was to be held high above the customs of the lands that Rome conquered. A decent Roman would have nothing to do with the pathetic cultures that surrounded him or her.
Roman soldiers were a whole new class of ugly. Watching Easter Passion Productions gives you a rather tame view of these men. Many Roman soldiers were from the Italian Peninsula, and hated leaving the comforts of their home. Some were mercenaries, hired to keep the peace. Regardless of that, these men were nasty. They would rape the Jewish women. They killed, and no one gave it a second thought. They would steal, sometimes out of need, and other times out of desire. They drank, and drank excessively. They were pigs.
A Good Man
“And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” (Luke 7:4-5)
This man was good. He was not like the soldiers around him. We can assume that this man was more like the idealistic representations of Roman soldiers that we’ve seen in the movies: Probably a large man, with a lot of difficult decisions to make, and yet he has built a synagogue for the Jews. We can tell that he is a peace loving man. We can tell that he is a compassionate man, because he is asking Jesus to heal his servant.
Not Even In Israel
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:9)
The thing to learn from the Roman Centurion is that there is no such thing as an untouchable. It was culturally unthinkable for a Centurion to seek out a Jewish carpenter and ask Him to heal his servant. He was willing to risk his reputation because he had faith in Jesus. How much are we willing to risk to come to Jesus and ask for His help? Is it our reputations? Our lattes? Our iPods?
This Roman centurion was willing to give it all- but not for himself.
For a friend.
And that’s what made him more faithful than anyone in Israel.
“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3, ESV
There will come a time in your life when there will be no one there to contend for you. Whether it is personal failure, loss of status, or loss of employment you will come to a spot where you realize that there is nothing there to define for you who you are other than God. It is at those points that you will have one thing left to remember: God contends for you. He defends you. He is your refuge.
At this point in his life David has heard and done great things but experienced horror after horror. Samuel had anointed him king and he had killed Goliath. He had married the daughter of the king and his career path was set. He was ready to ascend to the thrown. This is not what the Lord had planned for him. Just as David got to the top of his professional career he had to flee. He left his wife, his home, and his path.
He had nothing left except God. Depression probably plagued him. His mood swings are evident through the Psalms. He had gotten it all taken away from him. Now David was not perfect, but he did not necessarily deserve what he got. King Saul grew jealous and tried to have him killed. He simply had to run away from everything.
In our lives we run into ruts, problems, devastation and carnage. Some of us bear the wounds of going to war, some of us bear the wounds of abuse, some of us bear the scars of continued sin. Let the scripture offer you a cool drink and a place to rest. Let scripture minister to you with Psalm 3:5 “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” Again with Psalm 3:8 “Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people.” Sit under the ministry of Psalm 3:4 “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.”
God acknowledged David’s foes. The Lord led David in the wilderness. The Lord did not abandon David and David grew threw his experience in the wilderness. If you are a Christian and you are reading this know this: the Lord is contending for you. He is defending you. He is providing for you. He is with you. If you are not a Christian know that your despair is no longer warranted. Repent of your sin and humbly come to Christ and you will be saved. The blood of Christ leads us to God who does not abandon, give up, or give in. The Lord is steadfast in defending his children.
May you find peace in Christ,
“Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.” Proverbs 14:2, ESV
Jesus walked with integrity all the time. There was not an instant in which Jesus changed into a state that was imperfect, rather he kept in perfection as his father called him to do. As any Christian would tell you this is not an easy thing to do. Christians in this world experience imperfections. We sin and we must repent. However in the church there are some sinners who are devious. They walk in ways that do not reflect Christ. When they are caught in sin, if they are caught, they make a big show of repentance but never actually transform. This is very dangerous.
This has been a huge struggle for me personally. It has been said that my grandpa, who was a salesman his whole life, could have sold ice to Eskimos. I inherited that capability. I can look people in the eyes, connect with them, and get them to like me if I want. However this is sometimes a veneer rather than myself. I can easily walk in deviousness, distracting people from my sins. This requires much repentance and honesty.
The reason why honesty is so essential in church is that dishonesty creates a false religious standard. Walking in uprightness leads to humility as repentance becomes necessary because of sin. It is easy to look your sin in the eye when it is obvious to everybody. He who walks in deviousness conceals his sin, so others are lured into thinking he or she is perfect. However this is not the case and it sets a false standard. Say the woman in deviousness reads one author, others may think real religion is found in that one author. Say the man doesn’t listen to certain kinds of music, others might think that real religion is found in that legalism. This is false.
Real religion is found in Christ who exchanges our dirt for his righteousness. If you are walking in deviousness forsake that dead lifestyle and start walking upright in fear of the Lord. Please pray for me as I continue to walk upright, that the Lord would strengthen my spine. Let us grow in repentance together as the church universal.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.(ESV)
During the sermon on the mount when Jesus showed us how to pray he starts by addressing God. He could have started with a different word such as King, Creator, Lord, Judge, Savior. But he starts with a more personal note, Father, the picture this paints for us sheds light on how prayer works. If you ever watch a child after they learn something new often their reaction is to run home and tell the parents all about it. The parent already knows that a caterpillar becomes a butterfly but they listen lovingly to their child inform them all about it. In the same way when we pray to God we are like a child running to their parent. He already knows our praises, our thanks, confessions, petitions. But prayer isn’t for his benefit it’s for ours. Like the parent, God listens to us because he loves us. And because the problem of sin is taken away we can run to the God who created the universe and call him Abba, Father.(Galatians 4:6)
“And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.” (Mark 1:19-20, ESV)
John the beloved lived a life customary of that of a Christian. He suffered greatly, but was also blessed in his ministry. John began his spiritual journey on a harbor in Galilee and finished his journey in Ephesus, the same place that was written to by Paul in the book Ephesians. It is believed that John was one of the youngest disciples, and that he was also one of the disciples that was the closest to Jesus. John wrote five of the sixty-six books of the bible. He wrote one gospel, the epistles, and Revelation, the book of the bible describes the full glory of Jesus and things that are to come. John the beloved was the first living man to see Jesus both fully crucified, and fully basking in heavenly glory. In essence, John lived a full life.
John the Disciple
John’s gospel is unique. John places a great deal of emphasis on the personality and feelings of Jesus. John includes narratives such as the “wine into water” miracle that is not found in any other gospel. John’s relationship to Jesus is one of friendship. This gave him a unique view into what Jesus felt and why He reacted how He did.
John learned a lot from Jesus. He passed out bread and fishes that had miraculously been multiplied to feed the multitudes. He saw Jairus’s daughter raised from the dead. He feel asleep in the garden of Gethsemane. While it cannot be proven by scripture, most biblical scholars agree that John was one of the disciples who went to check the empty tomb. John was instructed by Jesus, led by Jesus, and loved on by Jesus.
John’s book emphasis love between believers. On top of correcting different churches doctrine, John also emphasized that a community of believers was essential to a Christian’s spiritual prosperity. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John all emphasize different themes of Christian community.
The last book that John was inspired to write told the end of the story. Revelation is a prophecy about how the story of humanity will end. John was the very first living man to see Jesus in all of His glory. John saw the beast, the angels, the saints singing and praising the Lord. He saw all that would happen, and that in the end, how all the believers would go to be with the Lord.
What does your relationship with Jesus look like?
John enjoyed physical community and interaction with Jesus Christ. To John Jesus was the Savior, but He was also a compassionate and loving friend. John and Jesus ate together, walked together, joked together, and worked together. John served the Lord Jesus Christ, but he also played and hung out with Jesus. A funny, if not extremely corny, Youtube video is “Jesus Is My Friend.” This entire song is dedicated to the fact that Jesus is my friend, and that I have a friend in Jesus.
Is Jesus your friend, or is He a tyrant that you fear will strike you with a lightening bolt the next time you sin? Friends rarely, if ever, strike friends with lightening bolts. As John has recorded, there is an eternity of suffering awaiting those who do not repent of their sins. The people who do not repent are not friends of Jesus. They are His sworn enemies. Yet, those who repent of their sins become friends of Jesus, and while they should respect His power, they should not fear that He will smite them from the face of the earth.
Jesus wants to see you grow in your faith. He will instruct you like a good friend will. He will encourage you when you are weak, but discipline you when you do not recognize your error. John got this level of personal treatment physically, but we today experience that level of friendship through the Holy Spirit.
The enemies of the Lord rage and they do so in vain. David was probably writing about a literal enemy, however the enemies of the Lord include all of those who would want to distort God’s gospel. These people are not necessarily held in derision by the Lord, they just labor in vain. The Lord laughs at their feeble efforts to crush him. Imagine a single electron who got the idea to kill an elephant. Such an effort would be in vain. That electron could do no more to injure the elephant than you or I could do to injure or hurt God. Let this be a warning to those of us who are headed into stations of leadership and responsibility: the Lord holds in derision those who try to destroy him or his church and he pours his wrath out on them.
When David wrote Psalm 2 chances are that he was talking about a specific enemy. Whether it be the house of Saul, the nations around Israel, or even in his own house there were many people who wanted to see the mission of the Lord stopped. God laughs at them according to verse four. The will of the Lord is accomplished no matter what. Those who try to thwart his will ultimately become a part of it by giving him glory in feeling his wrath over sin. God has made his decision, his will is set, his king is decided.
David was the king referenced in verse six, but there was a greater king who came. Jesus came in the line of David to fulfill what the house of David could not do. This was achieving glory for the nation of Israel. Such glory was given to the son from the Father after the Son lived the perfect life, was crucified, and rose on the third day. Now those who try to stop the mission of Christ are laughed at by God. The early church was persecuted, and because they were persecuted they dispersed, and because they dispersed more people heard the word and were saved. God got the last laugh.
Psalm 2 ends in a warning:
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalm 2:10-12 ESV)
Those of you who are young and are deciding what to do with your life understand this: those who try to attack the mission of God are laughed at, held in derision, and then put under wrath. Come to God in humility, repent of sin, and take refuge in him.
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
(Proverbs 1:22 ESV)
Proverbs is commonly called the book of knowledge or the book of wisdom. In truth Proverbs is a part of a collection of books that are known as the “wisdom literature” of the bible. This part of the scripture focuses on the practical nature of the Word of God. Proverbs itself gets very specific and almost comical in discussing many aspects of life. Proverbs is, in and of itself a very practical book that focuses on the glory of God found in everyday life as well as larger concepts. Proverbs 1 talks about the nature of wisdom. Proverbs 1:20-33 talks about wisdom as if it is a woman on the side of the road, a good woman who is full of virtue. True biblical wisdom is the ministry of the Spirit and is not hard to find when one’s heart is opened to it.
When I first became a Christian I podcasted and read a lot, however the scripture was not my friend. I thought that it was too intimidating or hard to understand until I started reading it. Of course there were parts that were difficult to understand and even harder to read. However what I found was that the wisdom of the scirptures was not hard to mine. I didn’t have to apply myself to deep devotionals to understand even the lightest concepts.
When Christ left earth he promised us that we would not be alone. Rather that he would send us a gift to help us. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 ESV) This power from on high is the Holy Spirit illuminates scripture in a supernatural way. “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. We have the mind of Christ and therefore we can understand.
Of course it’s not just that we can understand, its that understanding is calling out to us. It’s a free gift. It’s well advertised. Christian, if you love Christ, please get wisdom! Don’t just sit there in complacency, rather pursue God’s grace and hope. If you are not a Christian please don’t be too surprised when the things of God do not make sense, rather come to Christ and repent of your sins.
This post was originally published January 2010. It was intended to be part of a 10 part series. Only five were published and we are now back to finish what we started.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.” (Mathew 6:9-13, ESV)
Over the next few weeks we are going to dissect the Lord’s prayer from start to finish. This prayer is what Jesus used to instruct the original 12 disciples on how to talk to the Father. This prayer is guideline on what to ask God for, and what a Christian’s mentality should be towards God.
A Word On Prayer
I would like to stress the point that prayer should not be ritualistic, and should definitely not includepassionless chants. Prayer is personal or corporate communication with God. Prayer, like human communication, has several different forms such as petitions, thanks, laments, and just catching up.
Prayer should not be formal or pompous. It is important to remember that God is our Father and we should talk to Him as such. I have never said thee or thou to my earthly father, so I see no reason to use such language with my Heavenly Father. God is not interested in banter, and He knows your heart. Putting up a front to Him is useless and disrespectful.
This series is designed to assist you in your prayer life. We pray the ideas you read in these articles will strengthen your personal relationship with God.
This was originally published in March 2010 and was meant to be part of a ten part series. However only four were published, so now we are returning to finish was we started.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (1 Timothy 4:7, NIV)
Paul had an amazing life. He went all over most of the Roman empire, preaching and ministering to people. He wrote a large part of the new testament and is credited with bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul actually started his religious career a Pharisee, who went from town to town in ancient Israel stirring up hate against the Christians in that town. As a matter of fact the bible tells the story of Stephen, a young man who was killed for his faith. The bible says that a man named Saul held the coats of the men so they would not get in the way as they stoned Stephen. Then that man Saul went on his way to Damascus, where Jesus met him on the road and struck him blind. He continued along his way to Damascus and prayed and fasted for three days until Jesus sent a man named Ananias to pray for him and remove the scales from his eyes. From that point on Paul traveled around the world preaching Jesus.
It was never easy for Paul though. Starting his ministry was difficult, considering that his reputation for killing Christians was well known. It is never recorded that he was slow or cautious in speech, and it got him in a lot of trouble. Paul had to be lowered down the wall of the first city that he is recorded to have ministered to. They wanted to kill him. Paul had several ships sink out from under him. Paul was deserted by most of his friends. He was bitten by a poisonous snake. He was flogged, beaten, spit upon, and insulted by members of his own country. Paul never had it easy. He was always working, always traveling, always giving of himself to the people that needed the gospel in their lives.
What was it about Paul that made him so impactful and so successful? He persevered, kept the faith, and loved Jesus his whole life. Paul remained humble, he never took things to seriously. It is never recorded that he railed against anyone who beat or whipped him. Paul just kept going, he never slowed down. He always kept his eyes focused on Jesus, and he understood that true contentment and joy were only found in Him.