Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Lord’s Prayer: Forgiveness Required


We return, this morning, to look at the petition of the Lord’s Prayer that deals with forgiveness. We spent last week on this, and it appears that we will be returning to it next week also. There is much that is going on here. And I want you to understand as much of it as possible. It is as you grow in your understanding of the truths of Scripture that you will grow in your devotion to Jesus.

Everything that I will say about this petition turns on one small word.

and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6.12

The little word that I want you to notice is the word ‘as’. What’s it doing here? It’s expressing a relationship. We are to pray that the Father forgive us our sins against Him even as we have forgiven others their sins against us. This little word makes a very big difference.

A Prayer

Father,

We've just had an election, and it confirms some things about our nation. We are a divided people, a very divided people. Our Lord Jesus commented on a people who are divided.
Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
It seems, Father, that, unless you do something quite dramatic, the future of our nation is not good. It seems that our future holds great troubles and that will be especially the case for those who are disciples of Jesus. We are increasingly among those who will no longer be tolerated.

But our hope is not in some political party, or some government official or even in our own ability to weather the coming storm. Our hope is in You. You are our God. And You have promised to care for us. So, we look to You, Father. We are depending on You to guide us to wisely prepare for and then deal with what is coming our way.

At the same time, Father, make clear to us that our situation isn't something that has surprised You. No, all that is going on, all the division and all what goes with it - these things are all a part of Your plan for our world, for our nation, for us. And it is for such a time as this that we now live. So, teach us what kind of people we need to be. Grant us the ability to do the things that You will call us to do. Remind us that as Your servants we are to live for Your honor and for the spread of Your kingdom. Make us ready to pay the price of following Jesus. And impress upon our hearts the fact that the afflictions of this life will produce an eternal weight of glory for us to enjoy later.

Father, it seems to me that many in the Church in America are not ready for what is coming, not really. But I do pray that there will be many who will be ready and that among them will be the saints of Faith Reformed.

Thank You, Father, that while the things that are seen are transient, the things that are unseen are eternal. Grant that we will be able to set our hope on those eternal things. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Friday, November 9, 2018

For Sunday

Reading of the Law of God
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20.2,3

Confession of Sin
Our Father, we come to You aware that we have not obeyed Your Law. We have looked to other gods. We have not trusted You alone, nor submitted to You alone, nor sought refuge in You alone. We have not honored or served You as You deserve. We have sinned, and we sincerely repent of it. We ask that You would forgive us. We know that our only hope for this is Jesus, our faithful Savior, in whose Name alone we offer this prayer. Amen.

Declaration of Pardon
LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! Psalms 85:1-4

May the Father forgive us by the death of his Son and strengthen us to live in the power of the Spirit all our days.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Scripture to Meditate On

Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Psalms 119:23

I'm guessing that you've notice the word 'plotting' in the first part of this statement. Someone is out to get our psalmist. What drives this home is the identity of his antagonists: princes. In the previous verse our writer referred to those who scorned him and held him in contempt. That's bad enough. But here we have people who have some power to make life really difficult. The psalmist is being threatened and the consequences of such threats are quite serious.

And yet, our friend doesn't give himself to worry and how to defend himself and all of that. The danger notwithstanding, he continues to invest the time and effort needed to think about what God has said about life and how to live it well. And that, actually, is why he doesn't give in to worry and the like. He understands something of God's ideas about life.

There are many things that Satan will use to distract us from what is really important, things like pondering the implications of the Word. Some of them are threats, like what the psalmist faced, while other distractions are good things which are offered as substitutes for what is better. The wise Christian understands his enemy. And he knows that the key to living well is knowing God's thoughts about the nature of reality, life in this creation. That is the priority of his life.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Lord’s Prayer: Forgiveness Received


Today, we will take a look at one of the key elements of the Christian faith: forgiveness. It makes sense that in the prayer that He calls His disciples to pray, Jesus includes this petition:

and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12

There is much going on here, much to understand and much to enjoy. So, we’ll just be looking at the first part of that petition today and return next week to look at the rest.

We’re going to start where we often start, by looking carefully at the words. Being sure to understand the words is so critically important. Many problems arise because people aren’t clear on the words. And much that will benefit can be missed because people aren’t clear on the words.

A Prayer

Father,

There are many things about our lives that we really do enjoy. And we have You to thank for that. But there is one thing that we rarely enjoy. And that's change. It feels uncomfortable. It feels scary. There is so much that is unknown about life after the change. We just don't like it. And yet, so much of life is defined by change. How often we organize things with some goal in mind, and for one reason or another, we need to go to plan B. That sort of thing is a weekly or even daily occurrence about the relatively little things of life.

But then, there are the big changes, large life changes. Father, this is where it gets scary. Life was feeling fairly comfortable. We had our routine and understood how things worked. But then, You decide to change something. This isn't just a tweak of things according to plan B. This is big. This is when life gets uncomfortable. This is when it gets scary.

Father, this is when we need You to remind our hearts that, for one thing, we are Your servants. Life for us isn't about our goals. It's about Your goals. We are here so that Your kingdom would come. And sometimes - oftentimes - that means change. Help us, Father - help us to submit to Your will and to set aside what we want. Remind us, Father, that the goal is to hallow Your name.

At the same time, Father, we need You to remind us that we are Your children, and You are our Father. And as our Father, You are so very for us. So, whatever change You bring into our lives, in some way or other, it will result in good. Please make us believe this part of the Gospel as we face change.

And finally, Father, comfort our hearts with this thought: though we face lots of change, some of it quite large, there is something that will never change. And that is You. Your faithfulness to Your promises will never change. Your plan to fix the world will never change. Your love for us will never change. This is another part of the Gospel that we need to believe. And we look to You to make that happen also.

So, Father, as we live out our lives, day by day, grant that we will deal with change, both large and small, by trusting You, by believing with complete confidence that You really do know what You're doing with our lives. Grant that in this way we will live wisely and make You look as good as You really are. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.