Choose today

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To a bigger extent than you can possibly realise, the world you live in depends upon you. You and your choices.

Titus 1:15 frames the point both positively and negatively. But you can’t have it both ways. You get to choose.  

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”

The world that you inhabit depends upon your state of mind. We think that if we just adjust the circumstances  (a better bank balance, a bigger car, more compliant children…) we can find that perfect spot. But this puts it the other way round.

The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. You don’t need new improved circumstances. You need a new heart, a new way of looking at things.

So choose.

Choose today. Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.

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“On earth as it is in heaven…”

This is a tremendous sentence.

It is the mighty climax of the first part of the Lord’s Prayer, and, like many of the sayings of Jesus, has become blunted by familiarity. Remember: it is a prayer, not a description. It is couched in the optative, which means that it is an earnest desire for something to be so.

Let it be so on earth as it is in heaven.

The request takes you straight into the conflict -the confrontation- between the earth way of doing things and the heaven way. And the heaven way is the way of God.

But answer this question: would Jesus have us pray something that wasn’t possible? Or is it just a wish, a daydream, a kind of pleasant fantasy? A kind of aspirational over-reach, like saying: “Aim for the clouds and you might just skim the trees”?

There’s no reason to think so. The rest of the prayer is so straightforwardly pared down to essentials: “daily bread,” the forgiveness of sins, the deliverance from evil. It’s as if Jesus is giving them one of those “Idiot’s Guides.”

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It’s as if he’s saying: This is the stuff you just have to know. The bare necessities. You simply must sort out your worry about food and clothing by learning to trust in a God who provides. You have to deal with the hang-on of sin and guilt in your life, and learn to walk in confident gifted righteousness (“Forgive us our trespasses“) and so forth.

And the Big Picture at the back of all this is not what you think that you might achieve by dint of self-effort and gritted teeth, but what God is doing: “Let your kingdom come! Let your will be done in earth as it is in heaven!

Really, the two phrases parallel each other. For God’s kingdom to come is for his will to be done here. God’s kingdom is precisely the “location” where God’s will is done perfectly.

Now don’t forget that “heaven” is a way of speaking about the authority of God. Jesus is encouraging us to pray for that authority to be in evidence where we live, and through how we live. Not as the cringing minions of a bully, but as the first-born inheritors of a massive legacy: we walk in the confident assurance of what we possess. We share in the authority of God.

It cuts against the grain of our natural modesty to say so. Winston Churchill once said of Clem Atlee: “He’s a modest man, with much to be modest about.” It’s a truth about all of us. We are completely correct in looking down upon ourselves for our shoddy performances, our poor grasp of integrity and our tendency to mess up at every turn.

But something has happened to us. In Jesus Christ we are new creatures (2 Cor 5:17). We have been declared righteous!

One of the things that blinds people to a true understanding of righteousness is confusion about how we become right in the sight of God. It is commonly thought that our actions are the determining factor in God’s judgment of our righteousness. That’s not true. There is a relationship between our actions and our right standing with God, but right relationship with God produces actions, not the other way around. That is to say, we are not made righteous by what we do.

Righteousness is a gift that comes from the Lord to those who accept what Jesus has done for them by faith (Rom. 5:17-18). The gift of salvation produces a changed heart that, in turn, changes our actions. Actions cannot change our hearts. It’s the heart of man that God looks upon (1 Sam. 16:7), and we must be righteous in our hearts to truly worship God (John 4:24).

The mistake of thinking that doing right makes us right is the same error the Pharisees made. Religion has always preached that if we clean up our actions, our hearts will become clean too. Jesus taught just the opposite (Matt. 23:25-26). It’s through a changed heart that our actions change. The heart is the issue. Actions are only an indication of what is in our hearts. Actions are the fruit the heart produces.

And what’s going on in all this? The will of God is being enacted in our lives on earth as it is in heaven! The kingdom is coming! The authority of God is challenging every counter-authority and declaring its right to rule.

And what is happening in you is a paradigm for the life of the world. Let it be so here! On earth as it is in heaven.

Even as you speak it, the prayer becomes a prophecy. Even so! Come, Lord Jesus!

The whole prayer suggests six areas where the authoritative lordship of Christ is called forth. Why not ponder these areas as you go into your day?

First: FORGIVENESS. Are you living forgiven or is there something that need dealing with? And are you living forgivingly or is there someone whom you must forgive or receive forgiveness from? Lord, move in on my life! On earth as it is in heaven. Complete forgiveness both to me and through me to others.

Second: PEACE. Are you living in some form of stress or anxiety (generally speaking) or in peace? Isaiah 26: 3: “Thou dost keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.”

Third: GUIDANCE. God promises to makes his ways plain and to guide us continually. It’s just part of the package of his being a “good, good Father.” He never leaves us to flounder or wallow in confusion. If you asking, then he will make his point loud and clear. In heaven his will is known and done perfectly.

Fourth: STRENGTH. Just as he will not permit us to falter and become fuzzy in our thinking, neither will he let us stumble in any other way, physically, emotionally, intellectually. He provides daily bread.

Fifth: PROTECTION. He watches over us in times of temptation and provides a way of escape. He delivers us from evil.

Sixth: RESTORATION. Every part of our lives, past, present and future, comes under the remit of his eternal authority. Even the things that you thought were lost and broken forever are capable of redemption.

Allow God’s Spirit to challenge you in these areas today. Rise up in yourself and take authority. God does not want you defeated, or lost or broken, but proud of him, confident and happy and enjoying every aspect of your life.

On earth as it is in heaven.

 

 

 

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“Thy will be done…”

 

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It’s a choice. My will or Thy will, Lord. 

This part of the Lord’s Prayer takes us deep into the life of Jesus himself, since it was his specific prayer in Gethsamane. That is to say, he not only taught this but he also exampled it.

Look at Matthew 26: “Then Jesus went with them eto a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face rand prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let sthis cup pass from me; tnevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

So what did Jesus example?

First, that we have a right to ask our Father about everything. Ask, persist, seek, knock -Jesus encouraged his followers to treat God as a loving father who would not withhold any good thing from his children. “Whatever you ask in my name.…” is a generous remit.

Second, between he has a right to say no.

Sometimes (all times), Daddy knows best,and he will not allow something that will cause you problems later.

We cannot measure the “success” of a prayer just by the fulfilment of its request. Don’t forget: God said “No” to Jesus.

Third, Jesus exampled the struggle of choice between my way and his way. It was not easy for Jesus to accept God’s way. So why should it be any easier for us?

I find it moving that at the point of crisis, Jesus reached for support to his friends. We sometimes think he was beyond such need, but that was not the case. When the going gets tough for us, that’s  the time when we need “church” most -and it’s often the time when we pull away,and shut people out. But Jesus didn’t. He reached for God; he reached for his friends; and the angels strengthened him. We are not left to go through these times alone!

And fourth, Jesus exampled the consequence. When you say: “Not my will, but thine be done” then you enter into the prayer-life of Jesus. You have chosen to make Jesus the Lord of your decision. You’ve entrusted yourself to his leadership.

So what about the consequence when things don’t go your way?

Richard Scott writes:

It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result…

He continues:

This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ… To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Proverbs 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience

That last statement  is profound. We may acknowledge -in an abstract way- that “Daddy knows best” but it is the whole business of life to put that concept to the test. Our own feelings and experience shout so loud and insistently, demanding attention and compliance. We think that we do know what’s best for us, and when push comes to shove, we resent any interference.

Do you remember that moment in Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth is confronted by an angry Lady Catherine de Burgh, and replies:

“I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness.”

Ultimately, that’s the bottom line for all of us. The trouble is that we get so blinded by pride (or. indeed, by prejudice) that we cannot see clearly enough to judge. We get suckered by the rush of our own feelings, and “seeking our own happiness” becomes the petulant rant of a spoiled child on the edge of a tantrum.

To trust means to obey willingly, without knowing the end from the beginning.

But there’s one more thing:

“For we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.” (John H Sammis)

The point is that there is favour and joy in compliance. Jesus obeyed his Father’s will,”for the joy that was set before him.” It’s only hard for a moment, and then it’s delightful.

It comes down to quiet trust, doesn’t it?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.”
(Proverbs 3:5-8)

We can worry, fret and fume our decisions, but if we trust Him, we will obey Him each and every time. Being obedient does not mean that we will never face difficult decisions. It means that when we do, we will resolve that He has gone before us; and because we have committed our lives to Him, the way we travel will be straight, sure and manageable. The prophet Isaiah reassured us:

“The Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”
(Isaiah 58:11)

Lord, for the joy that is set before me, let your will done!

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Colonizing Earth with the life of Heaven

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How do we pray?

We pray “Let your kingdom come!

When Pilate quizzed Jesus about it, Jesus replied: “My Kingdom is not of this world. If it was, my servants would fight...”  It’s an important point. “We do not wage war as this world does.” And every time you hear of Christians seeking political control or demanding guns to defend their country, you are witnessing a misinterpretation of this verse.

Isaiah offered a wealth of description about the coming Messianic kingdom:  “The government will rest on His shoulders…His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!” (9:6-7).

The word “kingdom” in the original language means “rule” or “reign”. God’s Kingdom is unique-it is not a human kingdom. Earthly kingdoms rise and fall, but the reign of God will prevail and last forever. God’s program involves the rule of righteousness.

Jesus told His followers, “the Kingdom of God is within you.” In a spiritual sense, we are living now in the Kingdom. Both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries announcing that the Kingdom of God was “at hand.”

It is right here, right now, where Jesus rules.

So why pray that it comes?  We are praying that that rule increase and spread, and also we are anticipating the Wrap-up of History when Jesus calls Time.

In that sense, as scholars put it: the Kingdom is both “already but not yet.”

And we pray in both perspectives. We pray for “the increase of God’s government” in the present by calling God to bring revival and change the hearts of unbelievers.  And this in its turn becomes a demand for ethical living on a national, even global scale. How long must we tolerate economic disparity, social injustice and political corruption? Lord, let your kingdom come!

Three words come to mind, as we consider the familiar phrase (though much more could be said). The words are confrontational, prophetic and peacable.

Let your kingdom come!” is deeply confrontational. We are praying towards a confrontation of two ways of living at odds with each other. We are opposing every worldview that is contrary to God. Prayer is political action and social energy. David Wells of Gordon-Conwell Seminary calls this kind of prayer a “refusal to accept as normal what is pervasively abnormal.” We see this kind of prayer in what’s called the imprecatory psalms, protest songs and prayers that complain about the evil corruption in the world. God welcomes our complaints. Why don’t we pray more? We’re not angry enough. God wants us to process our strong feelings about life through prayer.

Second, the request is prophetic. Thats is to say, it considers the world and the time we live in according to the pattern of God’s thinking. History is headed to a climax, a Kingdom-conclusion. How that happens is somewhat debatable (!) but one thing we can know for sure is that God is in control of history.

Our task is to wait, watch and to witness. In this sense, our phrase “Let your kingdom come” is much like the final, concluding words of the Bible: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Third, “Thy Kingdom come” is a peaceable prayer.  Despite this deep sense of confrontation with a prevailing cultural worldview,and despite the prophetic insight that God will have his way, the prayer is a prayer for peace.

God’s kingdom is a kingdom of peace, for there is no fear or threat in it. Anxiety should be a reminder for us to pray, to “cast our cares” on God. When we realize that our sovereign King has things in control, that life has a purpose, that there is a Kingdom apart from our secular culture, we breathe a sigh of relief. Life may seem chaotic, unpredictable, and harsh, but we belong to a Kingdom that will overcome the world. In Isaiah we’re assured, “The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (11:9).

In Tom Wright’s book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, the resurrection of Jesus is the key starting point for understanding for the prayer for the coming of the kingdom. The whole book is worth checking out, but here’s a clip:

“Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.”

Lord, let your kingdom come! Colonize earth with the life ofheaven! I like that! He goes on:

“What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it…). They are [just] part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

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“Hallowed be thy Name…”

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From start to finish, Genesis to Revelation, the Bible emphasises the name of God. It’s obviously a crucial point, albeit one that we often miss.

So what does it mean?

The thing is, that “Those who know your name put their trust in you.” (Psalm 9:10)  To know God’s “name” is to know his character. And the more you know God, the more confident you are in his ability to sort things out (and the less likely you are to get flummoxed under pressure).

And the very first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is this: that the Lord “hallow” his own name. It’s importsnt to realise that it’s not a declaration but a request.

Also, as we all know (deep down), prayer does not move God to do things he is disinclined to do. As Kierkkegaard put it: “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”  And in this case, he has every intention to cause his name to be hallowed.

Nothing is higher on his To-Do list.

The point is that prayer is God’s way of bringing our own priorities into line with his. God wills to make great things the consequence of our prayers when our prayers are the consequence of his great purposes.

Jesus was encouraging his friends to bring their hearts into line with the jealousy of God to hallow his name. There is enormous power in letting God be who he is.

The word “hallow” means sanctify. The same Greek word stands behind both English words. Jesus tells us to pray, “Let your name be sanctified.” Now, the word “sanctify “can mean make holy or treat as holy. When God sanctifies us, it means that he makes us holy. But when we sanctify God, it means that we treat him as holy.

So Jesus is teaching us to pray that God would cause his name to be treated as holy. And so our question becomes, what does it mean to treat God as holy?

We are not saying, “Lord, your name is hallowed!” We are saying, “Lord, cause your name to be hallowed!” That is, cause your word to be believed, cause your displeasure to be feared, cause your commandments to be obeyed, and cause yourself to be glorified. All those things. It’s rather akin to that plea of the Psalmist; “It’s time for you to move in power!” (And let me move in response too!)

That is to say, as John Piper put it: “You hallow the name of God when you trust him, revere him, obey him, and glorify him.”

And it has a knock-on effect on us too. A.W. Tozer phrased it this way in The Pursuit of God: “The “layman” need never think of his humbler task as being inferior to that of his minister. Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act.”

To hallow God means to hallow the work of your own hands

But for whom are we praying when we pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”? Whose heart are we asking God to change when we pray, “Father, cause their heart to believe you and fear you and obey you and glorify you”?

First it’s for us ourselves. Second it’s for those who do not know to do so. It’s a prayer that the name of God spreads worldwide – like that oft-repeated tag to “Make Jesus fam0us.” It’s a missional request tied up with the following request to “Let your Kingdom come.

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus commands us to seek God’s kingdom first rather than seeking food and clothing. In other words, we are to seek to let God be the Ruler and King in our lives now. His kingdom is a present reality wherever he rules as King. (See Matthew 12:28)

But just as important as the personal dimension is the worldwide dimension. Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper (in Luke 22:18), “From now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” In other words the coming of the kingdom is not only a present spiritual experience but also a future historical event. It refers to the time when the King will come in glory with his angels in flaming fire and gather his elect from the four winds and establish his kingdom on the earth.

Jesus described it in Matthew 13:41–43, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

So when we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we are asking God to draw history to a close and establish his kingdom on the earth. And who will be a part of this kingdom? Listen to the glimpse of it which John describes in Revelation 5:9–10, “Worthy art thou (Lord Jesus) to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.”

So when we pray, “Father, let your kingdom come,” we should mean, “Father, rule in my life. Be my king. Get the victory over my anxiety about life’s necessities.” This is the personal dimension of the coming of the kingdom.

And over all the earth, over every situation, over every crisis and political upheaval; over danger and heartache and worry and fear, “Let your name be hallowed.”

(Drawn in part from John Piper’s famous 1984 sermon “Hallowed be thy name”)

 

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“As I walk from earth into eternity.”

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“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:2,4)

This is the only Psalm ascribed to Moses. It’s an appropriate ascription, since only Moses encountered a God who described himself as “I am who I am.” (Exodus 3) That phrase, according to the vagaries of Hebrew translation could mean ” I was who I was,” or “I will be who I will be,” or even “I was who I will be.” Faced with this conundrum, James Moffatt translated the sacred name of God as “The Eternal One.”

But what does that mean? It’s a dizzying concept, like looking over the edge of a precipice and being unable to see just how deep the chasm is.

And which way do you look? Awareness is everything. People worry a lot more about the eternity after their deaths than the eternity that happened before they were born. But it’s the same amount of infinity, rolling out in all directions from where we stand right now.

And neither can we really square the circle and argue that eternity is not an extension of time but an absence of time; as if it’s a strange mathematical point of endlessness, a point with no width, occupying no space. We need to know more.

So Moses, in a few deft strokes, paints a picture of the eternality of God. He works his way back, from the previous generations, to the formation of the mountains, to the creation of the earth, and to eternity past (“from everlasting”) and then moves swiftly forward to eternity future (“to everlasting”). Verse two might better be translated, “Even from everlasting to everlasting, you are, O God.

The point is, God is eternal.

And we are invited -summoned, like it or not- into a relationship with an eternal God. This morning I woke up singing that song from Hillsong:

“Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity.”

That last line is a game-changer. In and of itself, that truth can be rather unsettling and awesome. But Moses makes it clear that it is altogether possible (and was, in fact, the case) that we, the finite creature, can have a relationship with this eternal God. The personal pronoun “our” occurs in relation to God both in verses 1 and 17. The eternal God is our God. He is our dwelling place.  

There is nothing that can give meaning and value to life like the reality of a personal relationship with the eternal God of the universe. As Augustine put it, “Thou hast created us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” To know that in spite of our finiteness and sin, we can know the infinite holy God in a personal way provides a sense of stability and substance to life that cannot be found in any earthly thing or relationship.

So how do we find rest in this God of eternity? Nikos Kazantzakis described that sense of eternity in the life of a simple monk:

“With the passage of days in this godly isolation, my heart grew calm. It seemed to fill with answers. I did not ask questions any more; I was certain. Everything – where we came from, where we are going, what our purpose is on earth – struck me as extremely sure and simple in this God-trodden isolation. Little by little my blood took on the godly rhythm. Matins, Divine Liturgy, vespers, psalmodies, the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening, the constellations suspended like chandeliers each night over the monastery: all came and went, came and went in obedience to eternal laws, and drew the blood of man into the same placid rhythm. I saw the world as a tree, a gigantic poplar, and myself as a green leaf clinging to a branch with my slender stalk. When God’s wind blew, I hopped and danced, together with the entire tree.”

And one day soon we will walk from earth into eternity. There’s a marvellous description of that breakthrough moment of death, andof angelssurrounding a dying man, at the end of C.S.Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters:

“He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realized what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time.’ All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered…He saw not only Them; he saw Him.”

Make no mistake about it – this breakthrough into eternity is what we are designed for! And the only way, the only truth, and the only true way into this life, wears the form of a man.

But Moses concludes the psalm in a quieter vein, -for that is where we live right now- encouraging the readers to live out the sum of their todays with confidence, knowing that nothing that they do is wasted or without value.

So today Lord.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, 

that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days…

May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendour to their children.

May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; 

Establish the work of our hands for us –  yes, establish the work of our hands.”

 

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“Our Father in Heaven…”

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The Lord’s Prayer begins with the words “Our Father.” In two brief words a great deal is said. We are reminded that we are in this business of life together. We are summoned into a mutuality, a corporate relationship, a family.

And the head of the family is the Father.

Remember that Jesus had been asked by his disciples that he might teach them to pray. He’s making it as simple and as accessible as possible. Perhaps there’s even a hint of him saying, “Why, there’s nothing to it. It’s as simple as saying, ‘Our Father…'” Certainly, the fatherhood of God was a characteristic trait in the teaching of Jesus. It was the simplest, warmest and most familiar way of expressing God’s desire for relationship.

But the idea of the fatherhood of God does not only express love and tenderness, however, but also leadership, discipline and authority. And when Jesus located “Our Father” as “in heaven” he wasn’t providing a map reference or a spatial descriptor, but making a spiritual point. “Heaven” is a metaphor for the authority of God.

And those on earth -if they have any sense!- recognise that authority structure. As Ecclesiastes 5:2 puts it: “God is in heaven;  and you are on earth,  so let your words be few.” Psalm 2: 4 carries the same idea: “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.” 

And Jesus shares this authority. That’s how Matthew concludes his gospel, with the risen Christ declaring: “‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)

The writer to the Hebrews takes it even further: “We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.”  (Hebrews 8:1)

The fact that He is seated is symbolic of the posture of a king whose army had been victorious in battle. He is not standing, or pacing or worrying. He has presented the perfect sacrifice for sin on our behalf, and He has obtained the complete victory over sin and death. He is our undefeated, conquering King!

He’s not just seated anywhere. He is seated “… at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 8:1). A seat of honor. A seat of power and authority. And God has placed all things under His feet. (Ephesians 1:20-22)

When God raised Jesus from the dead, He seated Him in the highest position possible. His throne is established in heaven where He reigns and rules over all. (Psalms 103:19) He’s in charge and upholds all things by His powerful Word.(Hebrews 1:3)

But there’s much more to say. So far we have merely acknowledged what we already knew: that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) live and operate in authority. The wonder is that we  too, as believers, are summoned into the same sphere of activity. Paul says that we are already seated with Christ “in the heavenly places.”  What does he mean by this since we are still on earth?

In Ephesians 1:3-6 Paul writes “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

Again,in the second chapter: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” (Eph 2:4-7).

In Ephesians 1, Paul prayed a prayer for the body of believers in Ephesus. One part of that prayer was that they know the exceeding greatness of his power to those who believe (Eph. 1:19). That exceeding great power is the same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies. Ephesians 1:21 tells us that Jesus is seated far above every principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named.

The great power that God worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead is the same creative power of God that worked in you to make you alive when you were dead in your trespasses and sins. The moment you made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, that same power was exercised on your dead, unregenerate spirit, causing it to be reborn in the likeness of God Himself. Any man who is in Christ Jesus is a new creation: old things have passed away, all things are new, and all things are of God (2 Cor. 5:17).

So when we pray “Our Father in heaven” we are reminding ourselves of a chain of command, and of our authority structure. And when we pray “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” then we are declaring the place and purpose for the exercise of that authority.

Ready to be who God called you to be?

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