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Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
In Jesus’ ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ He gives us an example to follow. A prayer that covers impactful truths that are the very heart and will of God! I don’t believe He ever intended it to only be quoted. Rather, to help inform and embody our prayer life. Here, in my estimation, are some of His main points within these now very familiar words:
We are called to be His body, His people on this earth. Our mindset and even our prayers are to be plural, not singular. This flies in the face of our individualistic society and its mantra of ‘looking out for number one.’ Our prayers should be for others as well as ourselves. Even as we pray for ourselves, we should realize we are connected to others which in turn are connected to a larger scale will of God; not centered on us.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name
desires deserves the praises of His people. We praise Him not just for what He does, but for who He is! He is faithful when we are not faithful. We love Him, because He first loved us. Worship is prayer’s vitality and centering mechanism.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
A kingdom is a king’s domain. We are to pray that Jesus, the King’s rule, His influence, His love, His leadership enters this world and enters our world. This is reflected in man choosing to serve Him and advance the cause of the King with both proclamation and demonstration. Jesus said, “If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”(Lk 11:20) We should pray that His kingdom and His will would invade the hearts of men.
Give us today our daily bread
We are to ask for our daily needs, for He cares for us. Not only is He concerned with what we need on a continual basis, but there is more timing involved in this prayer; we should pray for this today. God certainly hears our prayers regarding the future that we submit, but He desires the present, continual communion with His church. We must rely on the Father today.
And forgive us our debts (or sin), as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who have sinned against us).
We must petition the Father for forgiveness from our sin with a repentant heart (turning from sin and turning to God). Jesus offers valuable commentary regarding this portion of His example prayer. In verses 14 and 15 we read, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Once again, we do not have a strictly isolated faith. Our love and forgiveness must extent to others just as His extends to us!
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Jesus also prayed for His disciples: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (Jn 17:15) Temptation to sin is a constant battle that we have. We can come boldly to the throne of grace and pray for strength, self-control, and a sound mind that ultimately combats temptation. We can also pray for protection and deliverance from our adversary that is very real- Satan, the evil one!
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.
“Be filled with the Spirit”—the Greek word translated as “be filled” is pleroo (playro’o)
- Pleroo is a verb in the imperative mood which means that it is a command— not a suggestion.
- Pleroo is in the passive voice, indicating that being filled with the Spirit is not something that the believer can do through his own power or efforts. We are commanded to be full, and yet we are not the filler, the Spirit is.
- Pleroo is in the present tense, indicating that this is a blessing that we can experience now. This verb also indicates that it is ongoing, not just once.
We also see from these verses and the ones before them in context that being filled with the Spirit is a part of God’s will for a believer; in order to make the most of our time. More of the already present Spirit in a believer’s life is given so that His Church is better equipped to minister to others and to God.
In the New Testament, “being filled with the Spirit” and “baptism in the Spirit” seem to be interchangeable terms. Baptism comes from the Greek word, baptizo, which means to be fully immersed or soaked. Baptism in the Holy Spirit therefore means to be fully immersed or soaked with power of God’s active presence! This power from on high is specifically for us to be His witnesses.
Being filled with the Spirit is contrasted with being drunk with wine in verse 18. Paul is referring to what one allows to control their life. His main purpose in writing this was not to give a diatribe about drinking alcohol in excess, though that is firmly stated. Rather, his interest is to drive home the point that we are to be influenced by His Spirit, not by something else.
Being filled with the Spirit can certainly be categorized as an experience; a moment in time that we are empowered, a touch, a spiritual blessing. But ultimately we are to understand this command as “continue to be filled,” a way of life, a lifestyle—an ongoing empowerment. We need to continue to be filled because as someone once said, we tend to leak!
How do we receive this ‘extra portion” of the Spirit of God? It starts with our yielding. Yielding literally means to place in order and submission to that order. Christ must take preeminence and ultimately order our lives. Jesus gives us the closest thing in Scripture to a step-by-step process for receiving more of the Holy Spirit in John 7:37-39…
Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
- We must thirst (have a deep desire for)
- We must come to Jesus (ask for and seek it)
- We must drink (believe it and receive it)
We can very easily fall into a ‘performance trap’ in our lives. Our work certainly has value, but at times this value is misplaced or appraised too highly. A false belief within us says “I must meet or exceed certain expectations in order to have worth.” God’s Word has many expectations though doesn’t it? Many believe that the Bible is just a book of “do’s and don’ts.”
“Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” (Rom 3:27-28)
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? …faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-15, 17)
At surface level these two men seem to almost have conflicting viewpoints. Which inspired author is right? Which one is wrong? Both are right! This could be called divine tension. I want to call your attention to the following definition of tension:
A balanced relation between strongly opposing elements: “the continuing, and essential, tension between two of the three branches of government, judicial and legislative” (Haynes Johnson). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.
- Different laws. Paul spoke concerning the Mosaic Law while James, the law of liberty. (Compare Romans 3:20 with James 2:12)
- Different motivation. Paul warned that observing God’s law would not make one right with God in and of itself. He also makes the point that scripture has pointed this out all along. James encourages good deeds or works that are a byproduct of a faith that is genuine and alive. The motivation then would be helping others, not helping you (a means of justification). (Compare Romans 3:21 with James 2:15-17)
- Different source of justification. Paul urges that we are made right with God (justified) when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. On this faith alone are we justified, not by anything we can do to earn it. James speaks of works as a justification of our faith. To put it another way, what we do proves our faith, flowing out from it. (Compare Romans 3:22-26 with James 2:18)
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Col 3:23-24)
Come away with me, Come away with me
It’s never too late, it’s not too late
It’s not too late for you
I have a plan for you
I have a plan for you
It’s gonna be wild
It’s gonna be great
It’s gonna be full of me
Open up your heart and let me in
Confrontation is not something most of us relish. Some of us avoid it like the plague in fact. We’d rather shun someone all the while harbor offense in our heart, or act like nothing happened at all instead of confronting someone and exposing what we feel they did wrong. It really goes back to being so concerned with what people think of us. When should confrontation be a part of our duty as a friend? As a parent or spouse? As a fellow human being? As a Christian?
Paul confronted one of the pillars of the early church; one might even argue THE pillar, Peter, in Galatians 2:11-21. Let me set the stage. Peter used to eat with Gentiles, even lived as if he too were a Gentile rather than a Jew. When James came to town along with some other men who were Jews, Peter began to distance himself from the Gentiles in a way that was very obvious. He did so because he was afraid of what those men would think of him. This didn’t stop with just Peter’s bigotry; the other Jews there joined him. Paul called this hypocrisy!
When we see error, we are faced with a dilemma. Do we confront, look the other way, or do we join in? Confronting a wrong means exposing yourself to possible harm (emotionally or even physically). What would Paul do? It says Paul “opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” He gives us several reasons, among them were : Peter’s actions were hypocrisy and “they were not in line with the truth of the gospel.” He said this in front of them all. We find some helpful traits of effective confrontation from this story that we should implement as well when we are faced with wrong doing (to us or others):
- Oppose them to their face. Go to that individual and share with them what they did (or did not do), what they said, or what act they committed. Do not talk about them behind their back to others, even for their own opinion on the matter. Go directly to the source.
- Make sure they were clearly in the wrong. Paul listed why he knew Peter was wrong. We should establish that before confronting someone. Asking clarifying questions of the individual is the best way of obtaining information, finding their perspective in the issue, and disarming defensiveness.
- Explain why you feel it is wrong. Paul told Peter not just what he did, but why it was wrong and how it affected others. This caused Peter to grow.
- Public confrontation when needed. Most of the time we should confront someone privately. However, in this instance Peter was addressed by Paul in public. He did so because multiple people were influenced by Peter. It was a public wrong/sin/offense so it was confronted in a public manner.
We all miss the mark sometimes (the definition of sin, by the way). Correction is vital to all of us. Let us not be afraid to confront wrongs in a loving, Spirit-led way with the goal of reconciliation and being in line with the truth of the gospel! Let us receive correction with humility and an open mind and tender heart before God.
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Just then, in the midst of my thoughts, the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance a time when I corrected someone because I thought they were being critical; but honestly, it was mainly because I was concerned with what others would think when they read what this individual wrote. I immediately knew I needed to ask them for forgiveness. Whether they needed it or not, I needed it. I had to do it to be obedient; I also knew that this was a step I must take to continue to obtain the freedom I so desire from being a people-pleaser. As soon as I got home I wrote an email to this individual asking for their forgiveness and explaining the best that I could my error in being so concerned with what people might think. I also must point out that I needed to do this regardless of whether the other person was wrong or not in anything they may have done. I had to do as much as depends on me. I hit send. I felt relieved and accomplished.
Later, I found myself checking my inbox to see if they replied. “I wonder how they took it,” I thought. In that moment I realized part of my motivation for wanting to see a reply was flawed. Sure, I wanted to find out if they forgave me. But ultimately I think I wanted to be liked. That is certainly humbling to admit. I must be okay with possibly never receiving a response because in the end, I did what I felt convicted to do. It’s out of my hands and my thoughts do not need to be imprisoned. Part of freedom is walking it out. The Lord breaks off the shackles, but we must continue to refuse to put them back on again.
I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. (Psalm 119:45 NLT)
It is easy to just view the disciples as a bunch of colossal goofs that are insensitive and selfish, sleeping while their Master is agony and travailing in prayer. But Luke 22:45 gives us a different view of what is motivating the disciples: “He found them exhausted from sorrow.” Jesus knew their condition! He knew that they just ate the Passover Supper that it was late at night, and they were exhausted and sorrowful as well. Sleepiness is even a symptom of grief. BUT, he still appointed them to prayer for that “hour.” Jesus told them to pray so that they would not enter into temptation. He knew what was ahead for Himself, but also fully well what was ahead for them “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (earlier in vs. 27). Christ Jesus had such deep concern for them that he checked on them three times.
I don’t believe that Jesus’ instruction to His disciples to watch and pray was merely telling them the importance of personal prayer or that they needed the discipline of prayer in their lives. I believe that Jesus was calling them to a specific “hour” or span of time in which was to be spent in prayer. I firmly believe that we as a church are being called to an “hour” of prayer. I believe that this is a prophetic call. Are you sleeping spiritually? Please pray with me.
The world’s economy has the following philosophies:
- I must try to be the person (or company) that someone looks to exclusively for <insert service or product>.
- I must not allow others to learn too much from me, because I will make myself (or company) obsolete, not needed, or desired as much.
- I must not give away freely <insert service or product> that I could benefit or profit from.
- If I am the “only game in town” that will raise the demand for my supply, thus raising the price and/or profit for me.
How the world does business has greatly influenced our mindset unfortunately when it comes to serving, ministry, and leadership. If I protect what I have and do not share it so that others may do what I do; I increase my worth to those around me. Ultimately we don’t give freely, graciously, and extravagantly to others because we don’t want them to pass us up!
God’s economy is completely different. God so loved the world that He freely gave His son; John the Baptist pointed to Jesus instead of receiving the attention (or profit) for himself; Elijah gave a double portion of his anointing to Elisha. Jesus sent out his twelve disciples/apostles/leaders with the following instructions:
“Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:5-8)
If we only want to make our name (or service that we offer) great, then we should keep our flawed business world’s economy. If we want to make Jesus Christ’s name great and multiply ourselves and what we do for our church and God’s kingdom then we should freely give and impart what we have to others. We must duplicate ourselves to be a true success. Make yourself expendable!
All of us have experienced the white hot heat of a vibrant and intimate relationship with God before. You know, when you have a hunger for His Word; prayer seems effortless; worship songs are playing in your head and you can’t wait to talk about Him. But then something happens; it becomes different, not as enjoyable, more of a chore, just not the same! We are left scratching our heads as to why things have changed, particularly when it happens gradually. Romans 12:11 admonishes us:
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
How does one keep their spiritual fervor? When life seems to be beating you down even on a good day, how do we not lack zeal?! In the context of his total thoughts, the Apostle Paul surrounds vs. 11 above with how we do it. A summary of Romans 12:9-21:
- Love must be sincere. God desires authenticity in our relationship with Him and others
- Hate what is evil. We must make sure we remove all known sin in our life. It can’t have a hold on us, if we want a hold on God!
- Cling to what is good. That’s “G.I. Joe Kung-Fu death grip” kind of clinging.
- Be devoted to one another. Be a man or woman of commitment. Stick with your commitments.
- Honor one another above yourself. Make others more important. It’s not all about us! If you have a struggle, pray for someone else going through the same thing.
- Be joyful in hope. Happiness comes from happenings. Joy however comes from the Holy Spirit. Fan that joy into flame.
- Patient in affliction. “This too shall pass” and the Lord matures us through these trials.
- Faithful in prayer. Pray even when you aren’t feeling it. He will meet you where you are. Listen as well as speak.
- Care for those in need. This is a perspective gainer.
- Practice hospitality. Receive people in your life, often God will speak through them.
- Bless those who persecute you. You are in the same company as Christ: He was persecuted and chose to only bless them in return. Do likewise.
- Rejoice and mourn with others. Enter into their life, share life, and give life.
- As much as depends of you, live at peace with everyone. You do what God would have you do. Leave the other person’s response in God’s hands.
- Do not be overcome with evil. Jesus freed us from the power of sin, why should we be slaves to it again?
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”