How to Close a Prayer by Pastor Abidan Shah

HOW TO CLOSE A PRAYER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

howtocloseaprayer

Introduction: This is our final message in our series on the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father.” At the end of the service, Ryan will be making an exciting announcement about it so stay tuned. Today’s message is titled – “HOW TO CLOSE A PRAYER.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: Would you agree that how you end a conversation matters? There are conversations that end on a high note and then there are some that end on a low note. Some end with hope and anticipation while others end with doubt and despair. Some end with joy and gladness while others end with tears and sadness. Prayer is also a conversation and it matters how you end it. Jesus ended the “Lord’s Prayer” with the doxology – “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” By the way, according to Jewish custom, prayer was always followed by a conclusion, a doxology. In the Mishnah (m. Ber. 1.4) it says, “In the morning two blessings are to be said…which they ordered to be concluded (with a benediction) must not be left without such a conclusion…” In the Old Testament, you see this repeatedly at the end of prayers. Psalm 106:48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!

Question: How do you end your prayers? Is it with hope and anticipation or is it with doubt and despair? Is it with joy and gladness or is it with tears and sadness? Do you pray? Are you saved? It’s hard to have a conversation with someone you don’t know.

Matthew 613 footnote

Matthew 6:13 with a footnote

This morning we will look at the doxology or the end of the Lord’s Prayer and my desire is that it will encourage you to pray with hope and joy and faith. But before we jump in, there’s an important issue that we need to address. Some of your Bibles may have this statement next to this verse or at the bottom of the page – “The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have these words” or “some late manuscripts add the doxology” or “the NU text omits the doxology.” In many translations the doxology is included but in brackets and in several Bibles it is not included at all. What exactly is going on here?

Matthew 613 brackets

Matthew 6:13 in brackets

Matthew 613 omitted

Matthew 6:13 omitted

My first encounter with this issue came when I was in elementary school. I went to St. Aloysius, a Catholic School, where every morning during school assembly we said the Lord’s Prayer. What was startling to me was how the nuns would end the prayer with “And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen.” Wait a minute! You’re forgetting something! “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Later on I learned that the Catholic Bible did not have the doxology. Why? Because it was based on the Latin Vulgate which also did not have the doxology. Little did I know at the time that one day I would pursue a PhD in the field of New Testament Textual Criticism (I don’t like to brag about that), which deals with these very issues. I believe that the doxology should be included in the text. Why? I don’t have time to go in depth but let me quickly give a couple of things to remember. But before I do that, let me be clear – I am not a “King James Only.” It’s a great translation but I’m not here to defend it.

  • It is true that the doxology is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts that have survived (Aleph and B) from the 4th It is also not found
    Gk Mss Dist Matt Doxology

    Greek Mss Distribution of Matthew’s Doxology

    in 3 manuscripts from the 5th century (D Z 0170). But one thing that many people don’t realize is that 4 out of those 5 seem to have a common origin, which narrows their weight.

  • But, what many people don’t realize is that the doxology is found in 1 early Greek manuscript (W) from the 5th century and 2 (sigma and phi) from the 6th
  • Furthermore, the doxology is absent from only 13 or so manuscripts and 10 of them after the 13th
  • But, from the 8th century on 1504 manuscripts have the doxology! One of my friends (Jonathan Borland) did the math and altogether 98.6% of all Greek manuscripts have the doxology, a few with some variations. They had to be copied from somewhere.
  • It is also true that the Latin version omits it (I just mentioned that) and so also the early church fathers (Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Augustine).
  • But the doxology is found in an Old Latin, (k/1), some of the Old Syriac versions, some Coptic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Georgian, and Armenian.

I can go on and on but the question is why did some manuscripts drop it?

  • Maybe because Luke does not include it, some scribes may have felt that Matthew shouldn’t either. They should have remembered that maybe Luke left it out because the Gentiles didn’t see the need for a doxology at the end of every prayer.
  • Maybe because when the church collectively read the passage, they would stop at “deliver us from evil” and the priest alone would say the doxology. This could have become a norm and the doxology got left out by a handful of manuscripts.
  • Personally, I think its because some scribe thought that it was contradicting the opening of the prayer – “Your kingdom come.” It could be that the scribe felt that if the kingdom was still to come in the future, how can we say “Yours is the kingdom,” as if it is already in the present.

We don’t have all the answers but my conclusion is that the evidence is in the favor of the doxology. Please don’t misunderstand – this does not mean that people who don’t include it are liberals or unsaved. That’s not true. So, why did I go through all this trouble? Our young people are bombarded daily with allegations that the original Bible has been lost in transmission. That’s not true and cookie cutter answers won’t work. We have to, as Peter says in I Peter 3:15, “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”

Back to our message – This doxology reminds us of 3 things about God as we close our prayer:

I. HE IS THE RIGHTFUL OWNER, NOW AND FOREVER. 

“For Yours is the kingdom…forever.”

Background: If you remember the message on – “Your kingdom come” – the Jewish people knew that God was their eternal King. He was their rightful King. And one day He was coming to take His rightful throne over the world and rule forever. By ending with the doxology– “Yours IS the kingdom” – Jesus was saying that even now God was the rightful King. Even now He owned everything and everyone. It was very similar to the doxology that David prayed in I Chronicles 29   10 Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David said: “Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. If you remember, the people of Israel had rebelled against God and had demanded a king to be like other nations. Even though David was the king of Israel, He was humbly acknowledging that God was Israel’s true king. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. 13 “Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name. Is it any wonder that God repeatedly heard David’s prayer and established His kingdom forever?!

Here’s the point: No matter how we come to God in prayer, we need to remember that God owns this entire creation and everything in it, including all our problems and us. Like that old song—

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

……….

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:

Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,

And earth and Heav’n be one.

………

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?

The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.

Application: When you close in prayer, do you acknowledge to God that He owns it all? Do you proclaim Him king over your circumstances and over yourself?

II. HE CAN CHANGE CIRCUMSTANCES, NOW AND FOREVER.

“For Yours is…the power…forever.”

Background: This almost sounds like the last point but there is a difference. It’s one thing to be the rightful owner but it’s another thing to be in control. To say it differently – you can own something but still be helpless to change a situation. By ending with the doxology – “For Yours is the power” – Jesus was saying that the Father was not only in charge but He also had all the power to change all circumstances. By the way, Jesus demonstrated that when they brought a paralytic to Him on a bed. Matthew 9   2 “…When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’ 3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” 4  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house. 8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

Here’s the point: No matter what we are facing in this life, when we come to God in prayer we need to remember that God is perfectly capable of handling that situation, be it physical healing or spiritual healing.

Application: When you close in prayer, do you acknowledge to God that He has power to work in your situation? Do you proclaim Him all-powerful and all capable?

III. HE GETS THE GLORY, NOW AND FOREVER. 

“For Yours is…the glory forever.”

Background: The Greek word for glory is “doksa” from which we get the word “doxology.” At the end of it all, God wants to get the glory and He will get the glory. It means that when your prayers are answered, it’s not because of how strong or wise or patient or even prayerful you were. It was all because of God, for God, and to God. The best example of this is the healing of Lazarus. If you remember, Jesus was a friend of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus from the town of Bethany. He often visited them. One day He got word that Lazarus was sick. Now you would think that Jesus would leave it all and go help out His friends. Instead, listen to John 11:4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. How strange?! He loved them and so He stayed 2 extra days instead of coming to them immediately! He finally gets there. The sisters are distraught and they get to the grave and Martha says to Him – “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” What was His response? John 11:40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” What was the result? Not only Lazarus was raised to life but many believed in Him. Ultimately, God got the glory.

Application: The real question is “Are you willing to give Him glory in your life and through your circumstances?” Are you willing to let God use you to draw people to Himself?

Are you saved? Are you praying? Are you praying for His kingdom, His power, and His glory?

When God Forgives by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD FORGIVES by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodforgivesIntroduction: We have reached the 6th message in this series on the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father” and today’s message is titled “When God Forgives.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This is probably the hardest line in the Lord’s Prayer, if not the whole Bible. “God – show me the same mercy that I show others.” Just when we are tempted to justify and rationalize our bitterness, resentment, grudge, and spite against someone, Jesus comes back with a P.S. (Post script) in 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Why did Jesus feel that it was necessary to add this comment? Because Jesus knew the human heart. He knew that this petition would be ignored, compromised, altered, and, flat out, disobeyed. R.T. Kendall said – “this petition has made liars out of more people than any document in human history!”

Here are some questions: Is there unforgiveness in your heart? Who in your life deserves to pay for what they’ve done to you? Do you understand the forgiveness that has come to you through Jesus Christ? Are you saved? It is hard as it is to forgive others as a Christian, but it’s so much harder to forgive when you haven’t received God’s grace.

2 things we will consider in this message on forgiveness and my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will fill your heart with forgiveness – from God and towards others.

I. THE DEBT OF SIN 

12 “And forgive us our debts…”

Background: What is interesting is that when we look at the parallel passage in Luke 11:4 on the Lord’s Prayer, it says, “And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Here we find the words sin and debt used interchangeably. To complicate matters, the P.S. in Matthew 6 says, 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Here we find another Greek word used for sin. Some of you may be thinking – “I don’t care about any of this. Just preach to me on forgiveness.” These things matter because when our young people go off to their colleges, these things are thrown into their faces and they’re told – “your Bible has contradictions. How do you know what Jesus really said?” We have an obligation to give them solid answers so that their faith may not be shaken.

So what’s the answer? Keep in mind that Jesus preached in Aramaic and more than likely He used the Aramaic term “hob,” which can be translated as both debt and sin. Matthew is directed more towards the Jewish people, who understand sin as debt but Luke is towards the Greek audience who don’t have the same understanding of sin.

Why would sin as debt connect with the Jewish people? When we study the concept of sin in the Bible, we find some powerful metaphors. In early times, sin was described as a stain that had to be washed. If you remember the prayer of David in Psalm 51:2 “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.” Then there was the idea of sin as a burden that had to be lifted. Again, David writes in Psalm 38:4 “For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.” There are many more but these are the two main ones. By the time of Jesus, another metaphor had become prominent – sin was being referred to as a debt that had to be paid back. Where did this come from? You see it all over the book of Isaiah. If you remember, the people of Judah had rebelled against God. You could say that they had become spiritually bankrupt and God offered them a deal. Isaiah 1   18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword…” What was their answer? No deal. We’ll be fine. God sent the Babylonians against them who dragged them into exile and they lost their land, Jerusalem, and the temple. Now they were in debtor’s prison.

But God showed Isaiah the future and said in 40:2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” Meaning: God not only retrieved His sin debt from His people but He charged them two-fold. That seems so unfair! Why would God make them pay double for their sins? He didn’t. By the way, can we pay for our sins? No. They were disciplined for their sins but they didn’t pay for their sin. Who did? Isaiah 53   4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Here’s the point: The Jewish people didn’t pay their debt but the Messiah would one day. What could they do? Isaiah 55   1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.” The Jewish people knew that they were feeding on God’s nourishment at the Messiah’s expense. I’m not suggesting that all of them realized that but they were supposed to. Isn’t it beautiful how Jesus picks up on this very imagery and reminds them that their very existence was by the grace of God?!

Here’s the point: Sin is a debt that none of us can repay. It cannot be written off because that would compromise the holiness of God. Someone had to pay it and that someone was Jesus. Like that old song – “He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song Amazing Grace Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.”

Application: Has your sin debt been wiped clean? Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Have you received the gift of God? Do you realize what Christ went through to pay your debt of sin?

II. THE CANCELLATION OF DEBTS 

12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Background: While the first part of the petition has zero problems, the second part – “as we forgive our debtors” or as Luke puts it “For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us” – this is where the problem comes in. Is Jesus implying that our forgiveness from God is contingent/dependent on our forgiveness of others? Just when we try to move along to the next topic, Jesus drags us back in with the P.S. – 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Does this mean that we have to forgive others before we can receive God’s forgiveness?” “Will God hold back his forgiveness towards us until we forgive others?” Typically, conservative scholars and commentators try to make sure that we don’t make forgiveness of others a condition to receive God’s forgiveness because that would remove grace out of the picture and make salvation “work-based.” So, they do all kinds of hermeneutical gymnastics to prove that Jesus didn’t really mean what He said.

What did Jesus mean? To understand what Jesus meant we have to understand the context in which He said those words. To start with, the idea that God’s forgiveness for us is somehow connected to our forgiveness for others was nothing new among the Jewish people in the time of Jesus. In fact, a Jewish wise man, scribe named Ben Sira wrote two centuries before Christ – “If you forgive someone who has wronged you, your sins will be forgiven when you pray. You cannot expect the Lord to pardon you while you are holding a grudge against someone else.” The Jewish people didn’t have a problem with what Jesus said because it was not about eternal forgiveness but temporal. It was not about judicial forgiveness but relational.

Agriculture in Israel1

Agriculture in Israel1 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Agriculture in Israel2

Agriculture in Israel2 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

To understand this we need to maintain the debt metaphor that Jesus used. Most of the Jewish people at the time were under heavy debt. They could not survive without borrowing money at high interest rates. If there was a bad harvest, drought, illness, death, it was pretty much over. To make matters worse, the creditor could change the terms and it would become even worse. God in His word had established certain restrictions on usury. Exodus 22   25 “If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. 26 If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. 27 For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious. So also, God had instituted the Year of the Jubilee, every 49th or 50th year. Leviticus 25   13 “In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. Meaning: You have someone’s land because they couldn’t pay. You made a lot of money out of that but now return it so that family can have a chance to stand again. 14 And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another… Meaning: You still have your wealth. Your family can buy more but don’t be mean.

Bottom line: You have to forgive their debt:

  • Regardless of how you feel
  • Regardless of whether or not they’ve asked you to
  • Regardless of how much they owe you
  • Regardless of how much you had planned on doing with what they owed you
Agriculture in Israel3

Agriculture in Israel3 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

What if you refuse to forgive their debt? 17 …but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God. 18 “So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety. If you refuse to forgive their debt –

  • You will not dwell in the land in safety
  • The land will not yield its fruit
  • You will not eat your fill
  • And you will not dwell their in safety

Here’s the point: This petition is not about going to heaven. That has been covered under our judicial forgiveness. This petition is about how you live on earth. It has to do with relational forgiveness. This has to do with God’s blessing in your life. If you refuse to show mercy to others in this life, God will not show mercy to you in this life.

Whose debt do you need to cancel today? Who has failed to pay up to you?

This is so hard because we judge ourselves by our motives and others by their actions.

By the way, you don’t have to go far to find these people. They are right around you.

Let me warn you – it matters how you cancel their debts. Don’t go and tell people – “I forgive you” – unless they need to hear that. Most of the times when people do that, they are using forgiveness as a club.

Jesus gave the best demonstration of debt cancellation on the cross. Luke 23 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

When God’s Will is Done by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD’S WILL IS DONE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodswillisdoneIntroduction: We’re in the 4th message in our series on the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father.” This morning we will focus on the next line – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and the message is titled – “When God’s Will is Done.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: The hardest thing for me this week was coming up with a title for this message. I tried everything from – “How to find God’s will for your life” to “When God guides your life” to “What is God’s plan for your life” but the more I studied this passage, the more I realized that this petition is not about finding God’s will for our personal lives. It’s about submitting to God’s grand will for the entire world. It’s about telling God, “I am setting aside my prayer for guidance and direction in my life and I want to embrace your sovereign will to redeem and restore this world through Jesus Christ.” Now someone may say – “I guess our life doesn’t matter.” To the contrary, when we pray this way, God is not only pleased with us but in His grand will He reveals His place for us. But first the midpoint of the circle of life has to shift from us to God. It’s not you in the center waiting for God to guide you but God in the center carrying out His will and showing you where you fit in.

Question: What concerns you more? God’s will for your life or God’s grand will period. Many of us are praying – “God, show me your will for my life” when we should be praying – “God, carry out your will in this world. Do what you have determined to do. I want to be with you. Not that you need me but I need you.” When we pray this way, not only do we discover God’s will for us but we pray with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Application: Are you seeking for God’s will for your life? Are you waiting for God to reveal His perfect plan for your life? Maybe it’s time to rephrase your prayers – “Not my will but thine be done.” Are you saved? I Timothy 2:4 tells us that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That’s God’s first will for your life.

3 things we will understand about “God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.”

I. WHAT IS THE WILL OF GOD? 

Background: To understand it, we need to ask the same question we did in the last message about the “kingdom of God” – “What did it mean to Jesus’ audience when He mentioned “God’s Will?” If they knew their Old Testament, they knew several things–

  • God has a secret will and a revealed will. Although William Perkins, a Puritan theologian, gave these designations much later in the 16th century, they are still valid. Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
  • God’s secret will includes God’s hidden decrees by which He governs His universe. It is His plan for how He will complete what He promised to Adam and Eve, began with Abraham, through His people Israel, by His Son Jesus, and into the New Heavens and the New Earth. Sometimes God even lets us in on some of His secrets through prophecies in the Bible but most of the times He chooses to keep them hidden from us. Isaiah 46 9 “…I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.’” Daniel 4:35 …He (God) does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”
  • God’s revealed will includes God’s clear commands for our moral behavior in life. It is His precept for how we should live. God clearly reveals them to us through His Word. Deuteronomy 30   11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

Both these wills are important and they go hand in hand – If you remember in Genesis when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, what was God’s revealed will for them? They should love him, forgive him, and not hurt him. They disobeyed God’s revealed/moral will. But later on what happens? God raised Joseph to become the second in command in Egypt. Then there was a great famine in the land and his brothers came to Egypt looking for grain. When they found out his true identity, they were scared for their lives but do you remember what Joseph said to them? Genesis 50:20 “…as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to…save many people alive.” There you see God’s secret will in action.

Application: Are you obeying God’s moral and revealed will in your life? Are you living your life in a way that pleases God? Are you trusting God’s hidden and all-powerful will in your life? Are you resting in the fact that God will work all things together for good? When we begin to understand the depth and power of God’s will (both secret and revealed), we lose all fear and anxiety in this life.

II. WHICH WILL IS MENTIONED HERE? 

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Background: What did Jesus mean when He gave this petition? Did He mean the secret will or did He mean the revealed will? Was Jesus referring to God’s perfect will for the world or was He referring to God’s moral expectation of me? There is a big difference. If it is His secret will, then we are saying – “God, do what you need to do to accomplish Your purpose in this world.” If it is His reveled will, then we are saying – “God, help me to do what I need to do to obey your commands in Your Word.” As much as I would like to say it’s both or focus on God’s revealed and moral will, the real focus is God’s secret will. If you remember, the first 3 petitions are in the 3rd person and divine passive. This means that “Your will be done” is not a request to God but just a humble declaration. What we are saying is “God, may your secret will be done in Your world. We surrender ourselves to your divine purpose.” By the way, we find this same petition in the Kaddish (Ancient Jewish Prayer) – “Exalted and sanctified is God’s great name in the world which He has created according to His will, and may He establish His kingdom in your lifetime.” Meaning: Not only has God in His sovereign will created this world and glorified His name but, one day soon, in His sovereign will, He will also establish His kingdom among us. All of that is part of His secret will for His world.

But before we move on, listen again to the whole petition – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What does that mean – “on earth as it is in heaven”? Some people misunderstand this. I did too. They think that what Jesus is saying here is that – “In heaven God’s will is always and perfectly done but that’s not the case on earth. People rebel against God and refuse to obey His commands and follow His plans. So we are asking God to try to do on earth what He’s always able to do in heaven.” That’s problematic. It assumes that somehow God is not in control over what’s happening in this world. I think about what’s happening in our world and in our own nation today. Think about this whole HB2 mess that’s going on. I’ve wondered in my heart – what is God up to? He does not approve this. Why is He allowing this? Is it beyond His control? Is it just man’s free will running its course? Listen carefully – Yes, human beings have a free will to choose God and His way or rebel against it. Having said that, every moment and in every situation, God is in perfect control over this earth and not a single thing is going on without His permission. Do you believe that? Listen to–

  • Proverbs 16:4 “The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.”
  • Psalm 37   12 The wicked plots against the just, And gnashes at him with his teeth. 13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees that his day is coming.
  • Psalm 2   1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.

When we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, it is not with a tone of defeat and despair. It is with the rock solid assurance that God is perfectly in control of what’s going on and He will work His perfect secret will in His own way and time. We have total faith that God is in control and His purpose will prevail.

Application: Does it frustrate you as to what is happening in our world today? Do you get fearful for your children and your grandchildren? Trust God and know that He is perfectly in control. His plan is not for a moment in jeopardy. He is still on His throne. We may not be able to see His secret will but we can trust Him to be in control.

III. HOW CAN WE FIND GOD’S WILL FOR OUR LIVES?

I’m always amazed and amused as how people decide what is God’s will for their lives! They base it on coincidences, feelings, dreams, conversations, etc. I’m not suggesting that God cannot speak through these things. Let me repeat what I said earlier – first the midpoint of the circle of life has to shift from us to God. It’s not you in the center waiting for God to show you His will but God in the center carrying out His grand will and showing you where you fit in. In other words, when we approach God and say to Him – “‘May your will be done on earth and heaven’ – I am here to trust you and obey you. I am unworthy of anything. I am just grateful that you have saved me. I want to do whatever pleases you.” When we pray such a prayer of submission, God in His sovereign grace turns the box of jigsaw puzzle over and shows us the whole picture and then gives us our tiny piece and says “I’ll help you finish your part of the puzzle.” The Jewish people were not praying for some special individualized prayers. They were simply praying that God will do what He had already begun and what He was intending to complete in His time.

It all comes down to the song – “Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” Stop looking for signs and things to line up. What if they don’t line up tomorrow?! Then what?! Instead, Trust His secret will and obey His revealed will. Trust that He has the whole world in His hands and Obey whatever He has called you to do.

Are you saved? Are you trusting and obeying

When God is Our King by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD IS OUR KING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodisourking

Introduction: We’re in our series through the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father” and today we will hear our third message titled – “When God is Our King.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: In 2004 Britain’s Channel 4 aired a documentary titled – Britain’s Real Monarch. It made a stunning claim that the real king of England was actually a forklift driver from Australia named Michael Hastings. This was not just some crazy theory but it actually had some historians and genealogists behind it. They claimed that it all began in the 15th century when the War of the Roses was being fought. King Edward IV who was king at the time was actually illegitimate. He was not the son of Richard, the 3rd Duke of York but was actually from an affair between his mother Lady Cecily Neville and a local archer named Blaybourne. He should not have been the king. Instead, the rightful heir to the throne was his brother George Plantagent and his direct descendant Abney-Hastings. So when you trace this line, instead of Tudors, Stuarts, and Windsors, you see a lot of Hastings. They asked Michael Hastings (he died in 2012) if he would contend for the throne and he said that he had no such intentions but he thought about sending some past due notices to the Queen since her family has been living in his castle for 500 years! His son Simon also said that he has no desire to contend for the throne but then added – “It does make you think about how things could be different.”

Does it ever make you think how things would be if Jesus were the King? Do you ever wonder what this world would be like if God was indeed the sovereign ruler of this world? Would there be so much crime, violence, hate, lies, injustice, immorality, lewdness, vileness, poverty, sickness, hunger, despair, and hopelessness? Why doesn’t God answer the petition – “Your Kingdom come?” Why does it feel as if the rightful king is in exile? Listen carefully – God’s kingdom has come. Those who have received Christ can see it. It is growing and one day when all will see the King and bow before Him.

Question: Is Jesus the king of your life? Is He in control of your life? Are you doing all you can to spread His kingdom in this world? Are you saved? To be saved, all you need to do is receive Him as your Savior. But don’t stop there. Make Him the sovereign ruler of your life. Make Him the king of your life.

3 questions we will answer to understand the petition – “Your Kingdom Come.”

I. WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD? 

Background: Bible Scholars have argued for quite sometime about the meaning of the “kingdom” or the “kingdom of God/heaven.” To understand it, we need to ask “What did it mean to Jesus’ audience when He used that phrase?” If they knew their Old Testament, they knew that–

  • God was the eternal King who created the heavens and the earth. Psalm 47   6 “Sing praises to God…Sing praises to our King7 For God is the King of all the earth…”
  • God was the rightful King over them, His people Israel. Isaiah 43:15 “I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.”
  • Most importantly, God would one day come to rule over His world forever. Isaiah 40:10 “Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him” and Psalm 146:10 “The LORD shall reign forever…”

This was also part of their daily prayers. In the Shemonah Esreh or the Amidah, the 2nd blessing says – “Who is like You, Lord of the mighty acts, and who resembles You, O King, who orders death and restores life, and causes salvation to spring forth?” The 8th blessing says, “Grant a perfect healing to all our wounds; for You, almighty King, are a faithful and merciful Physician.” The 11th blessing says, “…reign over us, O Lord…Blessed are you, O Lord, the King who loves righteousness and judgment.” I can go on and on. Also, listen to the Kaddish (also an ancient Jewish prayer from the time) – “May he establish His kingdom in our lifetime and in our days.” Sounds like the Lord’s Prayer, doesn’t it? When we study the other Jewish literature from the time, we again find that the Jewish people knew that God their King was coming and one day He would reveal His kingdom by lifting up His name in all the earth, by judging the wicked, by rescuing His people, and, by reigning sovereign over all creation forever and ever.

Even though the Jewish people had been under many foreign rulers (the Assyrians, Babylonians, and the Romans), they knew that ultimately God was the true king of the world; God was their true king; and one day He was coming to take His throne as the King forever.

Here’s the point: Sometimes it is easy to get discouraged when we read the news today. It seems as if there is no end to violence and wars and battles. There seems to be no end to the depravity and hate and evil. Many times God’s people have suffered terribly. But here’s something you can hold on to – there is one king who is still on His throne and He always will be. He is the Living True God. There’s one kingdom that has no end. It is His kingdom of the Eternal King. One day the rightful king will do away with all the wicked and their wickedness and He will vindicate and reward his people.

Application: Are you afraid of the future? Are you discouraged about the future of this world and our nation? Do you wonder what God is up to? Let me remind you to rest in the fact that He is still in the rightful King and His kingdom shall prevail.

II. WHEN WILL THE KINGDOM OF GOD COME? 

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come.

Background: There is something unique about the way Jesus talked about the kingdom. Unlike the Jewish people who believed that one day God would come and reveal His kingdom, Jesus did not talk about God coming or the kingdom being revealed. Instead He merged the two and said, “The kingdom has come.” I know this may seem a little trivial to you but please don’t miss this point. What Jesus was telling them was – “I am the God you read about in the scriptures and I have come. Also, I have brought with me the kingdom you’ve been praying for. You have to go through Me to get into the kingdom.” Boy, did that make the leaders angry! There would’ve been no problem if Jesus had said – “God is coming” or “I’ve come to set up the kingdom of God.” The problem was that He merged those two. Their reaction was – “Are you claiming to be God, our king, who will establish the kingdom that will never end? How dare you? We know who you are. We know your parents. You are a nobody.” Jesus made it clear to them that “Entering God’s kingdom was by receiving Him as their Savior and receiving Him as their Savior was entering God’s kingdom.” So how did they respond?

Some questioned the timing of the kingdom of God. Jesus responded in Luke 17:20 “…The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, “See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Some opposed His preaching. So Jesus began to preach in parables. When His disciples asked Him why, he said in Matthew 13:11 “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”

Some opposed His miracles and said that He had demons. Jesus responded to them by saying in Matthew 12:28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Some came to check Him out like Nicodemus. Jesus said to him in John 3:3 “…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Some acknowledge that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, like Peter. Jesus said to him in Matt. 16   17 “…Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…”

Some questioned their position in the kingdom of Heaven. So Jesus called a little child and set him in the midst of them and said in Matt. 18:3 “…unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I can go on but here’s the point – Receiving Jesus is receiving the kingdom and rejecting Jesus is rejecting the kingdom. To enter the kingdom, you have to be born again. To enter the kingdom, you have to come to Jesus as a humble child and be converted.

Application: Do you belong to the kingdom of God or are you still in the power of darkness? Are you willing to humble yourself and be converted?

III. HOW DOES THE PRAYER FOR THE KINGDOM WORK?

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come.

Background: Once again, do not forget, the first three petitions are in the third person and they are divine passive. This means that we are not ordering God to hurry up and bring the kingdom. We are simply declaring that we are under His rule and He is the king who does what He pleases. It is a declaration not an instruction. God will bring His complete kingdom when He is ready to. The question I need to ask myself is – “Am I submitted to Him in every area of my life? Is He the rightful king in my life?

But we don’t stop there. We do all we can to live in a way that we declare Him King in every part of the world in which we live – Politics, ethics, morality, art, literature, etc. Yes, one day He will make all things right but until then we need to live out His purpose in this world.

Colossians 1 13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

Are you saved? Are you submitted to the King?

When God’s Name is Lifted Up by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD’S NAME IS LIFTED UP by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodsnameisliftedup

Introduction: We are in the second message in our series through the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father” and it is titled – “When God’s Name is Lifted Up.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: This morning we will look at the second line of the Lord’s Prayer – “Hallowed be Your Name.” Now, before we jump in and start unpacking this line, there is something very important to note here: The Lord’s Prayer can be divided into 2 halves: the “Thou-petitions” and the “we-petitions.” Thou-petitions – “Hallowed be thy name,” “Thy kingdom come,” and Thy will be done.” We-petitions – “Give us this day our daily bread,” “Forgive us our debts,” and “Lead us not into temptations but deliver us from the evil one.” The first part of the prayer is about God’s name, God’s Kingdom, and God’s will. Then follows the second part about our needs, our sins, and our security.

Here’s the point: Prayer is first about God and His purpose and then it is about us and our petitions. Many times we begin with what’s on our list and that’s fine but we should first begin by asking what’s on God’s list. Later Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Question: How do you see prayer? Do you begin with your own needs and wants? Are your prayers self-centered rather than God-centered? Is it any wonder that many of our prayers never get answered? Are you saved? If not, you will never understand what’s on the heart of God. It’s only when you receive a new heart and mind, you can do that.

3 basic questions we will ask in order to understand “Hallowed be Your Name.”

I. WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT GOD’S NAME?

Listen again – 9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Background: To understand the importance of God’s name, we need to keep in mind that in the biblical culture a person’s name was a description of his/her character. This is hard for us to understand in our culture today. We give names based on what sounds good or what is popular. We name our children after someone in the family or some famous person or even a street sign (like Nicole was named after a street sign in New Orleans!). But in the Bible, names were very significant, especially God’s names. If you remember, when God came to Moses and spoke to him through the burning bush, what did Moses ask God? Listen to Exodus 3   13 “…Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” That’s an odd question. If it is the God of your fathers, then why do you need to know His name? There’s something critical here. The question was not – “Who is this God?” The answer to that would’ve been “Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the Hebrews.” But, the Hebrew word is “mah” which means “what” not “who.” What they were asking was – “We know who He is but does He have a name that will tell us what He will do for us in this situation?”

For e.g. I’m one of the chaplains at the local hospital. Many times I run into some of you when you’re visiting someone in the hospital and you introduce me as “Abidan.” I have no problem with people calling me by my first name. I don’t get offended over that. Typically, when I am introduced by just my first name, the person just politely nods. That’s when people clarify – “Oh by the way, he’s Pastor Shah, my pastor.” All of a sudden there’s a change in their demeanor. I’m not just some friend who happened to be passing by but a pastor and many times they’ll ask me to pray for them, which I gladly do. By the way, I have other names: To my children – “Daddy,” as a former teacher and educator – “Mr. Shah,” and as an academic – “Dr. Shah.” (little too early for that)

So also with God – He is God but that’s too generic. He has many names that signify who He is and what He does in particular situations. By the way, what was God’s answer to Moses? Verse 14 “…I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” What God was saying is – “Tell my people ‘I am the God who was with them; I am the God who is with them; and I am the God who will be with them.’” 15 “…This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’” In other words, “I am the God who established you as a people; I am the God who allowed you to go into slavery; and I am also the God who will set you free.”

God’s names are very important because they teach us His character and His work in our lives. My challenge to you is go beyond the generic “God” and get to know His names:

  • If you are in need, He is “Jehovah Jireh: the God who provides.”
  • If you are sick, He is “Jehovah Rapha: the God who heals.”
  • If you are in turmoil, He is “Jehovah Shalom: the God who is our peace.”
  • If you are in the wilderness, He is “Jehovah Shama: the God who is close to us.”

I don’t have time to go through all of them. Jump over the New Testament and you find Jesus as Emmanuel, Son of God, Lion of Judah, and the Lamb of God.

Application: How well do you know God? Are you satisfied with the generic “God?” What difficult situation are you facing? I promise you there is a name of God in the Bible with your particular need. Call God by that name. He will meet you right where you are.

II. WHY SHOULD GOD’S NAME BE HALLOWED?

9 “…Hallowed be Your name.”

Background: The Greek word “hagiazein” is a rare word that means, “to sanctify.” It has the idea of exalting and lifting up God’s name. Daily in this sinful world, God’s name is being brought down and being tarnished. There’s no name that get’s as misused and misrepresented as God’s name. Do you remember your parents telling you – “Don’t drag our name through the mud?” God’s name gets dragged through the mud constantly.

At this point, we think of the atheist, antichristian, and the terrorists. Not true. It begins with God’s people. Jesus did not create the Lord’s Prayer but adapted it from the Kaddish, an ancient Aramaic prayer of the Jewish people. Listen to it – “Exalted and hallowed be His great name in the world which He created according to His will. May He let His kingdom rule in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the whole house of Israel, speedily and so on. And to this say: Amen.” The Jewish people knew how seriously God took His name. When He gave the 10 commandments in Exodus 20, the 3rd commandment said 7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Repeatedly, the people of God had broken this commandment. A perfect example of this is in Jeremiah 7 where God said to the priests in verse 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, 10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name…” (God is saying – “My name represents truth, justice, holiness, righteousness, etc. but you have the audacity to stand before Me, knowing who I am, claim to belong to me, and still do things that I hate”) 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes?…” says the LORD. Later, Jesus quoted the same passage when He cleansed the temple.

Here’s the point: Taking God’s name in vain is much more than saying G or GD. It’s about misusing and misrepresenting God’s name. It’s about claiming God’s name but living contrary to His will. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say – “I know so and so claims to be a Christian but you should see how he/she acts outside the church.” That is taking God’s name in vain. When a man claims to be a Christian but acts bitterly towards his wife, he is taking God’s name in vain. When a woman claims to be a Christian but hatefully towards her husband, she is taking God’s name in vain. When a young person claims to be a Christian but does the same thing as the world, he/she is taking God’s name in vain and God hates it.

Application: Are you profaning God’s name or are you exalting God’s name? Are you the one who keeps desecrating God’s name with your lifestyle? God expects me to be a righteous husband, a righteous father, and a faithful shepherd. When I fail to do that, I profane His name. Are you the one who keeps dragging God’s name through the mud?

III. WHO HALLOWS GOD’S NAME?

9 “…Hallowed be Your name.”

Background: We need to understand something very important here. The statement is addressed to God. We don’t hallow God’s name. God hallows His own name. Furthermore, all three of the “Thou-petitions” are in 3rd person. Remember “Person” in grammar class? 1st person – I, me, we, us; 2nd person – you, yours; and 3rd person – he, she, it, they, them. Some people mistakenly change the 3rd to the 2nd person – “God, please hallow Your name, please bring Your kingdom, and please do Your will.” That’s incorrect. Plus the verb is a divine passive. Instead, it should be – “May God’s name be hallowed; may God’s kingdom come; and may God’s will be done.” Each of them is more a declaration rather than a command to God.

Here’s the point: God doesn’t need a petition or a reminder to hallow His name. He is going to do what He needs to do about His name. Listen to Ezekiel 36   22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.

Sometimes people ask – “I don’t know what God is up to…all these atheists, terrorists, and antichristians keep profaning His name.” Every day God is abolishing everything that is contradictory to His holiness and one day He will abolish them permanently. Don’t worry about His job. Worry about your life because hallowing first begins in His own people. He wants His name to be hallowed in us first.

Question:

  • Are you taking God’s name in vain?
  • Are you misrepresenting God’s character?
  • What is in your life right now that maligns God’s name?
  • Are you saved

When God is Your Father by Pastor Abidan Shah

 

WHEN GOD IS YOUR FATHER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodisyourfatherIntroduction: This morning we are in our series through the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father” and today’s message is titled – “When God is Your Father.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: Along with Psalm 23, John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, Jeremiah 29:11 and a few others, the passage we just read is one of the most well known passages of the Bible. It is the Lord’s Prayer or the Pater Noster or sometimes even known as the Disciple’s Prayer. It is found twice in the Gospels – one here in Matthew 6 and a shorter version in Luke 11. It could be that Jesus taught the same prayer several times or it could be that Luke placed it at a different point in his gospel, as he often does. What is interesting about Luke’s version of the prayer is that he gives us the context in which Jesus gave this model prayer. Listen to Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” What is very interesting to me is that the disciples did not ask Jesus – “teach us to preach or teach us to evangelize or teach us to do a miracle” but “teach us to pray.” Why? Because they witnessed how important prayer was to Jesus.

Question: If you were one of the disciples, what would you have asked Jesus? How important is prayer to your daily life? Many of you shared with me this past week, how much you are looking forward to this series. Many of you have shared with me that you have begun to pray as never before. That’s wonderful! How about the rest of you? Here’s another question – Are you saved? Do you know Christ as your Savior?

This morning we will be looking at just the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer, just the designation that Jesus uses for God – “Our Father.” I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes so you can see what that title represents. Also, if you don’t know God as your father that today you will believe in Christ as your Savior.

I. COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS:

  1. Jesus was the first to call God – “Our Father.”

Not true. This is a popular misunderstanding that was proposed by a German scholar by the name of Joachim Jeremias. Later on this same scholar revised his view but no one listened to him. It preached too good! Here are some examples of previous usage:

  • Moses said to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 32:6 Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?
  • In Isaiah 63:16 it says, “Doubtless You are our Father…You, O LORD, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.”
  • In Malachi 1:6 where God says to His people “A son honors his father, And a servant his If then I am the Father, Where is My honor?…”

The point is this – Jesus did bring us a special intimacy with God. Ever since the Garden of Eden, God has desired to have a close relationship with us as a father to a child.

  1. “Abba Father” represents a little child’s name for father.

Once again the same scholar was responsible for this misunderstanding and once again he tried to correct it but to no avail. When you study the literature from that time, the word “abba” is not just a little child’s word for father but also a grown child’s word for father. Just like a 4 year old and a 40 year old can use the word “daddy,” a little child and a grown child can use the word “abba.”

The point is this – We’ve tried to insert our modern psychology into the first century world. Yes – there is something special in how a little boy or girl looks up to his/her father but this is not all that Jesus had in mind when He said “Our Abba.”

Some of y’all are wondering – what are you trying to get at? When we understand the real reason why Jesus said “Our Father,” it will change the way we think about God and pray to Him. It will revolutionize our prayer life! So what is the correct understanding?

II. CORRECT INTERPRETATION:

  1. Abba Father means God is our Creator.

Listen again to Deuteronomy 32:6 – “Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?”

Here “Abba Father” has the idea of God being our Creator. When we say “Our Father,” what we’re really saying is “God, You are the source of our existence. We were created by you and we exist because of you. You’re not depended on us but we are depended on you.” Paul said the same thing in Acts 17:28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” Offspring means we are God’s children who depend upon Him. Paul goes on in verse 29 to say, “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.” Meaning: As God’s offspring, He gives shape and sustenance to us and not the other way around. He doesn’t depend on us but we depend on Him.

This is increasingly hard in our culture to understand where fathers have become dispensable. Fathers are nothing more than “sperm donors.” Mothers, on the other hand, have to carry the child for nine months, go through the pain of childbirth, and then provide nourishment and nurture for the child. Ladies – no disrespect to you but this is part of the reason why our society is so messed up today. We have pretty much told fathers – “We don’t need you. We can do without you. Just do your thing and get out of sight. We have the government, the school, and the church to raise the child. ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’” Growing up, my dad was everything to me. I know this is a tough message for some of you but this is not meant to hurt you or pull back the scab. This is not to blame you for some deadbeat dad. But we have to return to the standard.

Listen carefully – When we pray “Our Father in heaven,” we are telling God that we need Him and that we are depended on Him. He is our source and our sustenance. Without Him, we would not exist and without Him, we cannot survive.

Application: What do you think when you say “Our Father in Heaven?” Are you acknowledging that God is your creator? Are you admitting to Him that you are His creation? Are you reminding Him and your self how much you are depended on Him?

2. Abba Father means God is our Superior.

Malachi 1:6      “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts.”

Here Abba Father has the idea of God being our Superior. When we say “Our Father,” what we’re really saying is “God, You are above us. You deserve all honor and respect. You are not subject to us. We are subject to You. You don’t obey us. We obey You.” We find this echoed several times. Ephesians 4 (There is) 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 1 Corinthians 8:6 “yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him.” By the way, the one person who lived this perfectly was Jesus Christ. He always honored and obeyed His Father. Hebrews 5:8 “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

Once again, this is also increasingly hard in our culture to understand where fathers have lost all respect and authority. For several reasons – they are just as guilty or clueless or just another male-mom. Let’s look at each one of them briefly:

  • Just as guilty: If you yourself have issues, how can you tell your children to behave? No wonder your kids don’t honor you.
  • Clueless: If you are like the typical TV dad, can’t do anything right and always the last one to get it, is it any wonder your children don’t respect and obey you?
  • Male-mom: Please don’t misunderstand – Yes, 2 Corinthians 1:3 describes God as “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” but we can do that without becoming a second mom. God designed every family to have only one mom, a caregiver and nurturer. Dad should invoke authority and respect. My kids know that I love them and I am gentle with them but they also have a healthy fear of me. So also with God.

Listen carefully – When we pray “Our Father in heaven,” we are telling God that He is the boss. He is in charge and He has authority over us. We will obey and respect Him.

Application: What do you think when you say “Our Father in Heaven?” Are you acknowledging that God is your superior? Are you willing to submit to Him and obey Him? Are you willing to affirm – “Father knows best?”

3. Abba Father means God is our Redeemer.

Isaiah 63:16 “Doubtless You are our Father…You, O LORD, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.”

Here Abba Father has the idea of God being our Redeemer. When we say “Our Father,” what we’re really saying is “God, You are our Redeemer. We are in a mess and we need you to rescue us and set us free. You are our only hope.” The greatest example of this is found in Exodus 4 when God sent Moses to free His people Israel from slaver in Egypt – 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.’” By the way, was God bluffing? No. When Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go, every male firstborn of man and livestock died the night of the Passover.

Once again, this is also increasingly hard in our culture to understand where fathers have checked out. So many children have no fathers to defend and recuse their sons/daughters.

Illustration: Third grade was a rough year for life. Mom got really sick and was in the hospital for months. Dad had to take care of her and preach and travel to make ends meet. It was a dark period in my life. To top it all, my teacher in 3rd grade was not nice. She was mistreating me, playing favoritism. I had lost all self-worth. I say that carefully because I am a teacher/principal and I have a very high regard for teachers. My mom was a teacher. Dad saw my report card and he wasn’t happy. He asked my why I wasn’t paying attention. I told him I was. He asked me if I sat up front? I told him that the teacher did not have a seat for me. She told me to see who is absent and take their seat for the day. He asked a few more questions. Nothing more was said. Next day, I saw him going to the office. I thought I was in big trouble. I wasn’t. In fact, the principal realized what was happening and what this teacher was doing. Things were different from then.

That’s how God our Father is. He killed His own firstborn to rescue us from His own wrath. He is our Redeemer. When you come to Him for help, He doesn’t sit back and judge you. He immediately comes to your rescue.

Invitation: Is God your Father? This prayer is not just about imitation but participation. When we are in Christ, this becomes our prayer. Are you in Christ

Salt and Light: The Myth of a Secular Nation

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here or watch the video here.

SALT AND LIGHT: THE MYTH OF A SECULAR NATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

saltandlightWe are in our series on the Life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we come to Matthew 5 to what Augustine called the “De Sermone Domini in Monte” = Sermon on the Mount – the passage in which Jesus gave the Beatitudes, the Six Antithesis, the Lord’s Prayer, the Golden Rule, and other important principles of the Christian life. With that in mind, today we will begin a long miniseries titled, “SALT AND LIGHT – THE MYTH OF A SECULAR NATION.” There is something in this series that is very vital for our personal lives, our families, our church, our community, and our nation.

Matthew 5:13-14 (Click to watch video of reading by the Mount of Beatitudes)   13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Overall Background: You may not know but the Sermon on the Mount has been discussed and debated ever since it was first written. As early as the first century we know of a document called the Didache that tells us that the early church struggled with how to obey such high standards that Jesus gave to His disciples and to the multitudes. People throughout the centuries have questioned if it was even possible to apply these rules and could it be that they were meant for another time and another place. Some people claimed that this passage was only meant for those who lived before the cross and that Jesus did not expect them to obey them but was just showing them how God’s standard of holiness was too high and how much they needed His grace in their lives. Others claimed that the list of righteousness and holy living has nothing to do with the past or the present but with the future millennial kingdom. In other words, there has to be an ideal environment for this high standard to be achieved.

So what do we do with the Sermon on the Mount? Do we just skip over it? I believe that the Sermon on the Mount is for every Christian of every generation. When you truly study this passage in its context you realize that Jesus did not give this sermon just to make us feel helpless before the holiness of God or to make us feel hopeful for some future Kingdom of God. He meant this sermon to be obeyed by all believers of all ages. There are some powerful truths embedded in these verses – truths that will change the way we live the Christian life, truths that will bless our homes and our families, truths that will change the way we function as a church, truths that will transform our community, and truths that will change the direction of our nation.

The Sermon on the Mount is a kind of Christian life that not only brings personal blessings but it also transforms the world around us. It’s not a life that runs from the world or a life that compromises with the world but a life that seasons and brightens the world around us. Daily I come across people who are either fed up with the world or fearful of the world. The Sermon on the Mount challenges us to live in such a way that the world sees our good works and glorifies our Father in heaven.

Application: Do you think we need this kind of a Christian life? Do you think our community needs this kind of a life? Do you think our nation needs God’s blessing? Are you being the salt and light in this world? Let’s ask a deeper question – are you saved?

This morning we won’t look at just one passage but several passages from the Sermon on the Mount. We will set the foundation for the rest of the series. If we get this message, we will get the rest of the series. 3 things stand out in this Sermon:

I. JESUS DID NOT CALL US TO A LIFE OF ISOLATION FROM THE WORLD. 

Matthew 5 1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them…

Background: Some people think that this proves that Jesus did not want the multitudes. “He saw the multitudes and went up the mountain with His disciples.” Not true. Let’s go to the end of the sermon in 7 28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 8:1 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. This was not a private lesson just for the disciples.

How did the multitudes find Him? Let’s go to the verses immediately preceding the sermon on the Mount – Matthew 4 23 And Jesus went King of Kings Sermon on the Mountabout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people…25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

Bottom line: The multitudes did not find Jesus. He went and found them. One of the problems in our churches is that we are either running from the multitudes or we are waiting for them to find us. We like to talk about how bad the world is and how far we have come and how things are not what they used to be. Sometimes we’re doing everything we can to keep the world out. Make no mistake – we need to stay away from worldliness but not stay away from people. There’s a big difference. Jesus was not worldly but He loved people. He went out and met the needs of the people and then people followed him.

This does not mean that He was naïve about the multitudes. What kind of people were in the multitudes? Matthew 4:24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, (What do sick people do? They moan and groan and complain.) and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Do you think some of them fussed with each other? Do you think some were greedy, lustful, critical, and demanding? Of course! Ministry is messy. Jesus did not consider the crowd to be a burden. Sometimes we tend to think that the crowd is a burden. You’ll hear things like – “We got too many people here now.” “I don’t know every body anymore.” “It’s hard to keep up.” “I liked it when it was small.” Jesus loves this! It’s for the people that He came.

If Christianity is going to survive in America, it will have to go to the multitudes and that will be messy but that’s all right. God has not called us to isolation. He wants us out there seeking and saving that which was lost.

For e.g. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, learned from George Whitfield that if change were to come in England, they would have to go outside the church to fields and the docks and the markets. At first Wesley didn’t like it. He was too traditional. But on April 1, 1739 Wesley preached to a group gathered on Nicholas Street. Guess which passage? The Sermon on the Mount! He was chastised by church leaders but listen to what he wrote in his journal on July 11, 1739: “Permit me to speak plainly…God in Scripture commands me, according to my power, to instruct the ignorant, reform the wicked, confirm the virtuous. Man forbids me to do this in another’s parish; that is, in effect, to do it at all, seeing I have now no parish of my own, nor probably ever shall. Whom then shall I hear, God or man? “I look upon all the world as my parish…” England was riddled with immorality, skepticism, atheism, and the coming of Wesley saved it. He went to the people. We’re looking for new ways to grow our churches. Maybe we need to try the Jesus way!

Application: What do you think about the multitudes? Do you run from them? Do you spend your time criticizing them? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and save them? If not, step out of the way and let others do it.

II. JESUS DID NOT CALL US TO A LIFE OF COMPROMISE WITH THE WORLD 

2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Background: Just when you think that Jesus would laugh over sin, He raises the bar. Sometimes we think that in order to win the world we have to become like the world. Nothing is further from the truth. In the weeks ahead I’ll be preaching on each of these beatitudes. Let me just tell you – the Standard is high, very high!

Here’s more – 4 Blessed are those who mourn, (Some were complaining) For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, (Some were proud) For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, (Some were hungering for the things of this world) For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, (Some were bitter and hateful) For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, (Some had hidden sins) For they shall see God.

Sermon on the Mount (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Sermon on the Mount (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

If we want God’s blessing in our lives, it has to be the way of holiness and righteousness. We can’t go around that. In fact in Matthew 5:20 Jesus says to them, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Pharisees and the scribes at a high standard but Jesus said – “Your standard better be higher then theirs if you want to get to heaven.” Then He goes through a series of “You’ve heard it said… But I say to you.” Regarding Anger – 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Regarding Lust – 5:27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Nothing destroys our testimony before the world than hypocrisy and hidden sin.

Application: How is your sin life right now? Is there hate in your heart? Is there anger in your life? Is there unforgiveness towards someone? Is there lust? Is there greed? Are you having trouble seeing God? Could it be because “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”

III. A LIFE OF BLESSING AND RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT TRANSFORMS THE WORLD.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

Background: Just when you think Jesus is only interested in our personal spiritual lives He makes a statement that I feel is one of the greatest passages in the entire Bible. Salt seasons our food. It makes it worth eating. But if the salt loses its flavor then it is worthless for the food. It has to be thrown away. People just walk over it.

Christianity is being trampled upon in America. It’s because Christians have lost their flavor.

Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

For e.g. As you know, Nicole and I went to Israel in January. One thing that really got me were the ultra Orthodox. They reminded me of the Pharisees and the scribes, maybe not in every aspect but regarding tradition. These people wear black robes, black hats, and black shoes. They have long sideburns and they’re constantly doing their Torah reading and mumbling their prayers. They are an oddity. They’re different. They’re strange. They’re judgmental. I asked our guides about them and both of them had some not so nice things to say. Both our guides were Jewish but secular Jewish.

I thought about our churches in America and Christians in America. In some ways, we have become an oddity. We have become different and strange. By that I’m not saying that we are different as in God’s people different but different as in old, outdated, harmless, naïve, flavorless, and “matter of time before they’re extinct people.”

Jesus went on to say in verse 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Wayne Grudem in his book “Politics according to the Bible” writes about the work of historian Alvin Schmidt. He notes that “Christianity and Christian influence on the government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy in the Western world; prohibiting the burning alive of women in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education for all children in a number of European countries; and outlawing slave trade and slavery.

I’m amazed at how some Christians have been backing away from the public square when we should be the ones taking the public square. The reason we have the freedom we do and the blessings we do is because this nation was founded to be the salt in the light of the world. The reason we are compassionate towards people, animals, the less fortunate, the ones who are sidelined, and abused is because of Christianity. We have been beneficiaries of someone else’s faithfulness. Much has changed. Either we are hiding our light or we have a false light or we have no light.

When you and I begin to live the way Christians were meant to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, with the life of Christ in us, with the word of God on our lips and in our hearts, we become the salt and the light of the world. Do you want to know why the world and America and our community is in such a mess? Stop blaming Hollywood. Stop blaming the politicians. Stop blaming the atheists and the sexually immoral. They’re just living by their nature. Start looking in the mirror. If our Christian lives were what they were supposed to be, this world would be a better place. If we were teaching our children how to live the blessed life, they would be the change makers in our society today.

It’s not too late. Today’s the day to begin. First, if you are not saved, you need to get saved right now. Let’s go a step further – what are you doing right now to impact our community? What are you doing to make this 30-mile radius the best place on earth? Are you praying for our nation? Are you getting involved in politics? It’s not enough to preach the gospel. It’s also important to impact the culture. This is not just so we can keep preaching but also so that our society will remain civil, kind, compassionate, and blessed.

By the way, what did Jesus say in the Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6 9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Meaning: The very first thing that we are to pray for after glorifying God is for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

%d bloggers like this: