Tag Archives: Father

Today’s Scripture – November 28, 2017

Luke 11:9-13 (NIV) “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
“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!”

This paragraph is the explanation of the parable of the persistent neighbor. (Note the word “So” at the start of the section.) the key to this section is the progressive tense of the verbs. A good translation would be “keep asking…keep seeking…keep knocking.” The emphasis is on persistence in these activities, like the neighbor in the parable, as opposed to a single prayer request.

The verbs also progress in intensity, from simple asking, to active seeking, and finally to aggressive knocking at the doors of heaven until the request is granted. The focus is on the definiteness of the need in the mind of the one who asks, seeks, and knocks, and the strength of their desire to have that need met. If the need is small and indefinite and the desire small, so that a single prayer is rattled off and then forgotten, the odds of receiving a response from God is correspondingly low. But if the need is desperate, driving the petitioner to his or her knees in progressively deeper desperation, the odds of God taking up their need is high.

And we, as God’s people, can pray without fear that He will give us something nasty in response to our prayers instead of what we need. Like the popular adage among Christians that a person should never pray for patience, because God is likely to send more trials in order to help that person to build patience. But Jesus’ teaching show the inaccuracy of that theology, as well as how insulting it is to God. No halfway decent father would give his child something nasty (a snake or a scorpion) instead of a requested need (a fish or an egg needed for food). Love compels them to give what is asked for that is genuinely needed. And God is much more loving than any earthly father.

The bottom line is simply this: when God’s children cry out to Him persistently for what they genuinely need, they can count on Him to provide it for them. If they need sustenance, He will provide sustenance, as He did for His people in the wilderness.  If they need power, He will provide power, just as He did for the people in the first century Church. If they need wisdom, He will provide wisdom. And if they need patience, the power to continue in trying circumstances and not give up, He will provide that, too.

Father, I have tested You in this and have never found You wanting. Thank You for Your faithfulness, Your love, and Your consistent demonstration of care for me. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – November 19, 2017

Luke 11:1-2 (NIV) One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name…”

Jesus’ disciples knew that He prayed constantly often going off by Himself to do so in private. The constancy and focus of His prayers reminded those in His group who had been John’s disciples of John’s prayer, which he taught to those following him. So they asked Jesus to teach them to pray, like John had taught his own followers.

Jesus had no problem teaching them a form-prayer as was commonly shared between masters and their disciples at the time. The prayer that He taught them was very simple and easy to remember, but included every major theme about life in the kingdom of God. It is the basic prayer of which the version in Matthew 6:9-15 is an expansion.

The address used in this prayer is Father. This was a drastic departure from the prayers used and taught by the religious leaders of the day. The terms that they used for God in their prayers were exalted terms, and theologically correct terms, like “Almighty God,” and “Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” But Jesus brought His followers into an intimate relationship with God from the first word of their prayer. When one comes before an Almighty God, one comes with fear and trembling, afraid to bother such a great God with their own trivial needs. But to come before a Father, even a Father in heaven, opens up a whole different dimension. There can be honest and open dialog with a Father. There can be honesty both about the things that are going well, as well as about the struggles that are being experienced and legitimate needs that the child has. And the needs can be expressed without fear that God will give something unpleasant in response (Luke 11:11-13).

But, at the same time, the pray-er is never to forget who they are praying to, slipping into an unwarranted familiarity. The first petition is actually a commitment: may Your name be holy. In the Scriptures, a name is more than a title given to someone; at its root it represents the character of the person named. These few words are a commitment that the pray-er will not only acknowledge God’s character as holy in their own lives; they will represent God’s character as holy before the world by living according to His commandments, so that their lives as the people of God will enhance His reputation.

Father, the words are so simple that we can rattle them off quickly and carelessly, missing entirely the import of what we are praying. Imagine! We get to call You, the God of the universe ,Father! And we get the great privilege of allowing our relationship with You, and the transformation that You have brought to our lives, to shine Your character out into the world through us, so that our every word, our every action becomes a testimony to Your holy and gracious character. Lord, make it so in me today. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – September 16, 2016

Matthew 6:9 (NIV) “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,”

The first phrase is this verse, “This then is how you should pray…” connects the Lord’s prayer to the preceding section.  Jesus was not giving His followers a rote prayer to be mindlessly repeated.  He was showing them what prayer looks like in the kingdom of God.  This prayer is a direct contrast to the wordy prayers of the idolaters that He just finished condemning.  It contains no pleading, no begging, no babbling or “vain repetitions.”  Instead, its main focus is on God, and on the things each member of God’s kingdom legitimately needs each day.

The prayer begins with a recognition of the pray-er’s relationship to God.  “Our Father in heaven.”  Today very few people really appreciate the ground-breaking, earth-shattering, tradition-rocking impact of teaching believers to address God, the creator and ruler of the universe, as Father.  Prior to Jesus, some rabbis had written about God as the father of Israel in a philosophical sense.  But Jesus made it personal.  He instructed His followers to address God in the same way that He Himself did, to see themselves as God’s rightful children right at the outset of their prayers.

This invitation to address God as Father came with two qualifiers:

  • The word “our” is vital, not incidental. When any one of God’s children approach Him in prayer, they always come as a member of God’s people, a part of the people of the kingdom of God.  There is comfort in this, knowing that no matter what is going on around me, I am not alone, but am part of a great multitude beyond numbering (cf. Revelation 7:9), past, present and future, all working toward the same goal.  There is also responsibility and accountability.  As a part of the body of Christ, every Christian who addresses God as Father is inextricably linked to all others in the kingdom.  There are no “lone rangers.”  Every prayer request must be brought with the understanding that I do not stand alone, but that my actions, my attitudes, and even the things I pray for, affect the whole Church.
  • The words “in heaven” qualify our relationship as well. Even though God has opened up a relationship with His people as our Father, He is still the Almighty God.  No one should ever enter into His presence casually, or flippantly, or with a chip on their shoulder.  Even people that were very close to God, people like Moses, David, Daniel, and Paul, approached Him with honor, respect, and holy fear, aware of the power and majesty that they were allowed to approach.  Even though Jesus opened the way for all into God’s presence, it is still God’s presence that the way is opened into.  We will never find the slightest hint of overfamiliarity in any of the first apostles, those who knew Jesus first-hand.  And even Jesus approached the Father with honor and reverence.

The first real petition in this prayer is “hallowed be Your name.”  This is both a request and a commitment on the part of the pray-er, all in one phrase.  The prayer is that God’s name, His reputation in the eyes of the world, would remain holy and awesome.  The commitment is that I will ensure that He is honored in my life as holy through my every thought, word, and deed.  As one who is called by His name, the world will see God through the lens of my life, and if my life is not holy and genuinely righteous, then God’s reputation will suffer on account of me; His name won’t be hallowed.

Of course, no one can live a genuinely holy and righteous life apart from God’s power and strength working through us, which is why the prayer aspect of this phrase is so important.  For all of us who earnestly desire to hallow God’s name with our lives, He Himself will help us to be genuinely holy.  All of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

Father, there is so much wrapped up in these two short phrases!  We so often rattle off the words of this prayer, and never really stop to ponder what we are really praying for.  Help me when I pray this in the future, to genuinely pray it from my heart.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – October 3, 2015

John 5:24-26 (NIV):  “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.  I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.”

Here Jesus claims, in no uncertain terms, to be the hinge pin of eternal life.  Many teach today that it doesn’t matter what a person believes, as long as they are sincere.  If they are sincere, then God receives their worship as if it were directed to Him.  But that is clearly NOT what Jesus taught.

In this teaching, Jesus tells us that eternal life is dependent on hearing (that is, receiving and acting on) HIS words, and believing the One who had sent Him, the Father.  Jesus is the source of all spiritual life for us, which translates into eternal life, because HE has life in Himself, just as the Father has, and He will give that life to those who truly follow Him.

At the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)  No amount of sincere belief in a different way will bring eternal life to a person, because only on Savior has real life to give.

Notice also that the time for this eternal life to be given “is coming and has now come.”  This eternal life was not something for the future; it was something that people could experience immediately.  Some interpret this as referring to Jesus’ ability to raise people from the dead, especially Lazarus, who heard Jesus voice and lived (cf. John 11:38-44).  But Jesus was referring once again to the spiritually dead of Israel, the ones Ezekiel had been shown in his vision of the valley of dry bones.

Jesus was even then, by His presence, His actions, and His words, calling out to everyone who was lost, dead in their sins.  The Jewish leaders were just as dead as the “tax collectors and sinners” that they despised, but they didn’t realize it.  They heard Jesus’ words, but they never really heard what He was saying, and so remained dead.  The sinners, on the other hand, hungrily listened to Jesus’ words, received them eagerly, believed in the Father, and were not only forgiven, but made spiritually alive.  In the end, they would be the ones who would not be condemned, but would instead be received into God’s kingdom.

Father, there really is a big difference between reading Jesus’ words today and really hearing what He has to say to us.  And it is interesting that so many who claim to be spiritually alive cannot seem to hear Jesus’ words, and thus show themselves to be truly dead instead.  But those who hunger for real life and who turn to Jesus in faith, immediately receive what they are hungry for.  They are transformed, made truly alive, and given the ability both to hear and to understand.  What an amazing miracle to watch this new, genuine, eternal life infuse a person’s life!  Thank You, Lord, for doing this for so many, including me.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – September 16, 2013

Matthew 6:9 (NIV):  “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,”

Whenever someone prays to God, it is essential that they set the stage correctly.  And, when we are dealing with the almighty, eternal God, acknowledging who He is and elevating Him in our hearts is the right way to do it.

Jesus began His model prayer with two acknowledgements and one commitment.  The first acknowledgement is that God is the eternal Father.  He created the heavens, the earth, the sea, the dry land, and all that is in them.  He created the physical bodies and immortal souls of mankind.  He is the author and originator of all life, and apart from Him there is no life.  There are many these days who deny these truths, believing that all life originated spontaneously from non-living matter (something that flatly contradicts a well-established and thoroughly tested natural law).  People who believe that cannot, and usually WILL not, acknowledge God as Father.  But without that solid understanding, without it undergirding everything in a person’s life, they end up praying to a god who is merely a concept of something higher than themselves.  There can be no real relationship with a god who is not the Father of the one praying, and their prayers are useless.

The second acknowledgement is that God is our Father in heaven.  This reminds the one praying that God is no earthly father, with human failings and frailties.  He is the Almighty God, who was, who is, and who is to come.  Such an acknowledgement prevents presumption and irreverence when we approach God’s throne.  Instead, with the clear understanding of Who He is, the true pray-er approaches God in reverence and awe; aware that the right to approach Him with our requests is truly an awesome privilege – one that must never be taken lightly.

The commitment that Jesus included is that the one praying will hallow, or make holy, God’s name.  In the Ten Commandments, God required His people to never misuse His name (Exodus 20:7).  To many that simply means that they should not use God’s name or the name of Jesus as an interjection or a curse word.  That is definitely true, and God will not hold anyone guiltless who does that.  But people also misuse God’s name in other ways.  His name is often misused by Christians when they support their actions or arguments by saying, “God told me…” when God has not spoken to them at all.  But the most common way that God’s name is misused today is when someone goes by the name of Christian, acknowledging that they are one of God’s people, and then acts in ways that are not godly or Christlike.  Such actions, words, and attitudes bring disrepute to God’s reputation, and dishonor His name and His cause.  This is the exact opposite of hallowing God’s name, and makes those who act this way subject to His judgment.

When we come before God’s throne with our requests, Jesus rightly recommended that we don’t just begin with a list of our requests and demands.  Instead, we need to put ourselves in the proper place before God by acknowledging that He is our Father, the one who created us, and who graciously gives us life.  We must acknowledge that He is God Almighty, our Father IN HEAVEN, who is worthy of our awe, our adoration, and our absolute obedience.  And we must commit ourselves anew to making and keeping His name, His reputation, holy and unsullied through our every thought, word, and deed.  Then we will be in the right frame of mind to appropriately present our requests to Him.

Father, it is awe-inspiring to me that You allow us to come before You in the first place!  Help me always, Lord, to remember who You are, and to always keep my commitment to hallow Your name through my life right in the forefront of my life, every moment of every day.  Amen.

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In Sync

          Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.  For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.  Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
”I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.  I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.  And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.  By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
John 5:19-30 (NIV)

The picture most people seem to have of Jesus these days is that He was just a very special man.  He taught people, He outsmarted the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, He prayed a lot, and He did miracles.  But this picture falls desperately short of the reality as Jesus taught it and lived it out.

Jesus was and is God.  It is pretty much that simple.  Some people balk at this because they refuse to accept the reality of God – obviously if you don’t believe that God exists, it’s silly to believe that a person could be God.  Some others balk because “if Jesus was God, who was He praying to?  Himself?”  And I will admit that it seems a little bit bizarre to have God praying to God.  And retreating into our theology of the Trinity, the three-person God of the Bible doesn’t usually help these people to make better sense of the whole thing, because our best theologians usually come up short themselves trying to put the concept of the Trinity into easily understandable human language.

But in this set of verses Jesus directly addresses the issue of how the Trinity actually works.  Jesus starts out by telling us that “the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”  What He is pointing to here, is an interrelatedness of person that we can hardly fathom – an interrelatedness so profound that two individuals actually act as one.  When the Father speaks a word, the Son speaks it with Him; when the Father pronounces judgment, the Son’s voice speaks at the same moment; when the Father has a mission at a well in Samaria, the Son is right there at the moment that the Father acts.  And this is not a case of the Father giving the Son an order and the Son smartly saluting and carrying it out.  This is actually more like one brain with two bodies that move in perfect synchronization.  It is for this reason that Jesus can claim that He is not simply telling the people what God wants them to hear, but that He is actually speaking the Father’s words themselves.  Two persons so interrelated that they move and act and speak as one.

Later on, Jesus tells His disciples about the Holy Spirit, the third person in this interrelated organism that they will be able to experience for themselves when He comes to live in them.  And, at that point, the disciples themselves will be able to be led and guided and given the words of God to say as the Spirit of God within them moves them in accordance with His will.

And this interrelatedness extends even as far as Jesus’ ability to give life to those who are dead, spiritually or physically.  Since God the Father has life in Him, God the Son also has life in Him.  Since God the Father can give life to whomever He wants, the Son can, too.  And, of course, the greatest life-giving miracle of all will occur on that day when the Father-Son-Spirit calls an end to all time, and raises to life all of those who have ever died on the planet, so that they can be given their appropriate eternal reward or punishment.  Imagine the scene as graves burst open and long-decomposed bodies from the land and the sea reassemble themselves to stand before the Son of God in His majesty so that He can deliver to them His verdict as the Judge of the universe.

Jesus proved Who He was over and over again through the miracles that He did:  healings, resurrections, controlling the weather.  He did it by the words that He spoke.  And He did it through His greatest miracle of all, orchestrating His own resurrection from the dead!  Jesus was and still is God.  But whether we are willing to believe that or not, at the end of all things, every one of us will hear the voice of Jesus calling us back to life, and then stand before Him as Judge of the world.

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