Tag Archives: Matthew

4 Things Before Saying Sorry (The Lord’s Prayer)

Was thinking this morning about The Lord’s prayer – I love how God designed such a simple framework for us to be able to come to him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our [sins],
as we also have forgiven those who [sin against us].
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. ’
– Matthew 6:9-13

Yet for so many of us – as soon as we think about God or come to pray, we become immediately conscious of our unworthiness and the various ways that we have failed God and others. Yes, sin is a thing and it does have the effect of isolating us from God and people. We need God’s forgiveness and cleansing to be healed and made righteous for sure.

But what struck me this morning was how much there is in the Lord’s Prayer before you get to the lines ‘Forgive us our sins…’.

Think about it.

The Lord’s Prayer doesn’t start with ‘Forgive me Father for I have sinned…’ does it?

In fact there’s actually 4 things that we pray before we get to asking God for forgiveness. Interesting eh. I don’t believe this is a mistake on God’s part or that He overlooked something here.

The Lord’s Prayer wasn’t designed to be prayed by perfect Christians who’ve already got everything sorted out. No, it’s a way that anyone can approach the Father, no matter where they come from or what they’ve done.

Embedded in the opening lines of this prayer is a wonderful demonstration of God’s love and commitment to us as a good Father!

1) “Our Father…”

Regardless of where you feel like your life is at, these two words show us two things:

‘Our’ tells us that we belong to a group of people. I’m not a perfect husband, father, son or brother – but my status as a member of a family doesn’t change depending on my righteousness. Starting with ‘our’ reminds me that I always remain part of a group of people who call on the Name of God – regardless of what my life might look like right now.

‘Father’ tells us that His relationship to us doesn’t change. We don’t start with ‘Lord’ or ‘Master’ and then finally say ‘Father’ once we’ve gotten cleaned up through prayer. We start with Father. He is always ‘our Father’. It doesn’t change.

2) “Hallowed Be Your Name…”

This shows me that I can still give God glory and worship from an imperfect life. The idea that we have to get our lives perfect before we can come to God is a religious lie. It’s THROUGH prayer and worship that we become righteous.

I’m not condoning sin or saying it doesn’t matter – but just pointing out that Jesus deliberately put ‘Hallowed be thy name’ in the prayer ahead of ‘Forgive us our sins…’.

God has made a way for us to give Him glory even before our lives get sorted out and often it’s as we start to worship Him that we move into a place where He can deal with our sin.

3) “Your kingdom come, your will be done…”

This reminds me that about God’s overall mission on earth. This line gives me the WHY of my life… why I’m here, why God has given me the gifts and talents he has. It’s because He’s extending His kingdom.

I’m not just asking for forgiveness so I can stop being a ‘bad person’. My being cleansed and made righteous means that I can move and work in His kingdom more effectively.

4) “Give us today our daily bread…”

In natural human relationships, we don’t tend to do kind things for people who’ve upset us… at least until they’ve apologised to us!

But again God shows us just how different He is to us. Whether or not my kids behave doesn’t change my fatherly desire to make sure they’ve got what they need to survive.

God is a good Father! We can just ask Him for stuff. It’s not a matter of rooting out every little thing we might have done wrong before we can ask our heavenly Father for what we need.

Finally…

Obviously I’m not downplaying the need for us to ask for forgiveness and repent of our sin. It’s vitally important and one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict us and show us areas of our lives where things are out of alignment with Him.

I’m also not saying that living righteously doesn’t help us see our Father more clearly, worship more powerfully, understand His mission more readily or ask Him for our needs more effectively! Purity and holiness in our lives enable us to move in a closer way to God’s heartbeat and see things that we’d be blind to otherwise.

But I do believe this… that God has much more for our lives than just a constant cycle of ‘sin-repent-sin-repent’! Jesus died on the cross to cleanse us from sin so that we can get on with the real business of His kingdom and His plans!

So the next time you think about God or come to prayer, put your fears and unworthiness to one side for a moment and remind yourself that He’s STILL your Father, you can STILL worship Him, you’re STILL part of His mission and you can STILL ask Him for things.

His heart towards you and promises for you don’t change!

Advertisements

The Tempter

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” – Matthew 4:1-2

The dictionary defines ‘tempt’ as meaning ‘to entice or try to entice (someone) to do something that they find attractive but know to be wrong or unwise’.

Right from the first moment we meet the devil in Genesis 3, he’s doing business with humanity – enticing and offering a substitute for God’s best.

What’s interesting here is that the devil pitches up after Jesus has fasted and waited on God for 40 days and right before Jesus gets his breakthrough.

In my experience, I’ve always found that he comes around in that time between sacrifice and breakthrough. When we’ve paid a price to set ourselves apart for God, or we’ve taken an action of obedience, but we haven’t seen God fulfill his promise yet. That’s prime devil-zone.

He comes in with lies (‘what are you doing? God’s not going to come through… you’re wasting your time’) or he comes selling something less than what God has promised, but with the bonus that you can have it right here, and right now.

The passage goes on and three times Jesus resists him, until the devil finally leaves… and ‘angels attend him’ (v11).

If we stand firm through temptation, then we will receive the promise that God has for us. And it’s not some second-rate substitute – it’s the real deal!

One Thing After Another

Matthew 8:28 – When he came to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes, two people possessed with demons met him there, coming forth out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no man could pass by that way.   

Consider this from the disciples point of view.  They’ve only just finished facing death out on the water – and now they land and there’s two demon-possessed guys waiting for them!  It sounds like a script from a video game!

So much of what we deal with in life is about perspective.  One perspective would be ‘We’ve only just escaped from the sea with our lives intact – and now we’re facing demon-possessed people’!  Another would be ‘God just showed His power over the winds and the waves!  I wonder what He’s going to do with this situation’!

We have to understand that as followers of Jesus, He will ABSOLUTELY lead us into impossible situations – because He wants us to display His power in them.  Our part is to learn not to fear, but to trust and believe – no matter what we’re staring down.

How can you change your perspective today to see the obstacles in front of you not as roadblocks but as opportunities for God to show His power?

He’s Asleep!

Matthew 8:24 – Behold, a great tempest arose in the sea, so much that the boat was covered with the waves, but he [Jesus] was asleep.

What is funny about this situation is that in the previous verse the disciples all ended up in the boat because they were ‘following Jesus’.  Jesus then promptly falls asleep, right at the moment that a huge storm blows up!

The disciples must have been wondering ‘what was Jesus thinking’?!  We didn’t ask to come on to the boat – He led us here, and now He’s asleep! 

There will be times when it feels like God leads us into difficult or dangerous situations, and then ‘falls alseep on us’ – doesn’t seem to respond to our prayers or cries for help.  Like the disciples, we have been obedient and simply followed him and trusted Him! 

What they didn’t realise was that they were in the middle of a training exercise!  Jesus had led them there to display His power to them.  Your boat will not sink if the King of Kings is in it!  The more we come to see and understand that fact – the more peace we will have when confronting even the most difficult storms that we face in this life. 

They

Matthew 20:31 – The multitude rebuked them, telling them that they should be quiet, but they cried out even more, "Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!"

The ‘power of the crowd’ is evident here.  It is not one person who rebukes the blind men, it is the ‘multitude’.

There are times when we feel like we can’t do what we know God is asking us to do – and we fear ‘the multitude’.  What will ‘people’ say?  What will ‘they’ think?  Who is the multitude?  What authority do they have to speak over our life and set the course of our direction? 

There were two authorities here – the multitude and Christ.  In spite of the resistance, the men appealed to the higher authority and walked away healed!

A Bit Too Familiar

Matthew 13:57 – They were offended by him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country, and in his own house."

Jesus goes to preach in his ‘hometown’, but they couldn’t get over the fact that He had been the little boy who had grown up amongst them.  Because of their unbelief He was unable to do many miracles there. 

So he makes this statement – a prophet is honoured everywhere – except in his own country and amongst his own people.  We’re usually quick to honour people who come from other places, but how quick are we to honour those who live and minister among us? 

We can get so familiar with the gifts and abilities of others that we start to treat them with a second-rate attitude. 

Jesus will often speak to us through those who are closest to us.  If we get a familiar attitude with them, we can miss the voice of God. Let’s not be the kind of people who dishonour that which is close – but who honour the ones that we live with!

Blaspheming The Holy Spirit

Matthew 12:32 – Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is to come.

The nature of this verse makes it a concerning one – that the person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.  There are Christians who genuinely fear they may have done this and have gone past a point of no return.

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is much more than saying something bad about the Holy Spirit.  It means to attribute the works of the Holy Spirit to the devil – and in particular the work of conviction of sin & repentance. 

If the Holy Spirit is bringing conviction into our hearts and we’re saying ‘that’s not the Holy Spirit, that’s the devil’ and we harden our hearts against it – it becomes easy to see why those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven.  It’s not because they can’t be forgiven, but simply because a person who holds that the work of the Holy Spirit is the work of Satan will not repent when the Spirit convicts them. 

There is no sin, no matter how huge and big, that God will not forgive us for – if we come to Him humbly and repentant.  Hear his voice convicting you of sin and respond accordingly.