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Showing posts from October, 2009

Our Daily Bread

What does "Give us today our daily bread" mean? It means that we are asking God to take care of all our physical needs. The Bible teaches us that God not only created all things but provides for their needs as well.
All look to you to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. (Psalm 104:27-28)

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. (Psalm 145:15-16)

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why…

Thy Will Be Done

It is striking to me that the prayer Jesus taught his disciples focuses chiefly on God and not us. The first three petitions concern God: his name, his kingdom, his will. This is in sharp contrast with the way I normally pray--too often my prayers are self-centered and egotistical. A failure to give God the glory due him and seek our own glory (be our own God) is at the heart of our sin-marred lives. This petition is meant to bring us to a place of surrender--to pray as Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, "Not my will, but yours be done."

But how are we to determine God's will? Some say that the will of God can be discerned through impressions on the mind or emotions. This usually leads to thought about God's will in terms of what best pleases us. Others think they have a direct line of communication with God that enables them to speak with confidence about knowing the will of God concerning some matter. Others read into unusual events the voice of God directin…

A Parable

There was a splendid fishing trawler docked at a seaport near some of the world’s richest fishing grounds. The large boat was well equipped with everything necessary for netting, landing, and preserving fish. On a regular basis, the officers and crew gathered for instruction in fishing theory. Afterwards they discussed with zeal and intelligence the various approaches to fishing. Sometimes they invited professors from the marine biology academy nearby to offer special lectures. Some maintained that the only way to fish was to anchor and pray that the Lord would send the fish into the nets. Few of these men attended the prayer meetings called for this purpose. Several argued for friendship fishing, noting that fish are easily frightened. Others held to the position that it is best to seek out the young ones, otherwise they will soon swim away into the deep.

In the meantime, day after day the other fishing boats went out early in the morning and returned at evening loaded with fish. The …

Lunch with Charlie

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Heather and I recently took a quick trip to NY. We saw a lot of the city in just a couple of days, but one of the highlights was meeting Charlie Drew for lunch. Charlie is pastor of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church near Columbia University. I highly recommend Charlie's book A Journey Worth Taking: Finding Your Purpose in This World. It presents a comprehensive and clear Christian perspective on life calling--a great book to give to college student or read yourself!

Thy Kingdom Come

The second petition of the Lord's prayer, "Thy kingdom come," encapsulates the entire purpose of God in the world. Why did Jesus come into the world? What is the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament? What is the function and role of the church in God's redemptive plan? What is God doing in the world today? All of these questions revolve around the kingdom of God. It has been said that this petition is at the heart of the message of the Bible.

Derek Thomas in Praying the Saviour's Way, gives the following explanation of "Thy kingdom come":
First, this petition alludes to the sovereign rule of God as King over the entire universe. The Lord who merely speaks all things into existence at the creation is King. His word is authoritative and powerful.

Second, this petition alludes to the covenantal rule of God over his people... On every page of the Old Testament there is the expectation that God is working out a plan and purpose in which he is …

Telescope Magnification and Microscope Magnification

The fist petition of the Lord's Prayer is "Hallowed by thy name." What does "hallowed" mean? We don't use the word that often. Does it have something to do with Halloween? Actually, both words have hallow (from the Old English word halgian) as their root, meaning "to regard as holy." So how do we regard God's name as holy? One translation puts it, "May your name be honored" (NLT). Eugene Peterson's The Message reads, "Reveal who you are." In English, the verb form of holy is sanctify, meaning "to set apart." Peter says, "Set apart Christ as Lord" (1 Peter 3:15). We are to revere God--to exalt him above everything (and everyone) else.

But how can we sanctify God? Can we make him more holy and majestic than he is? John Piper's distinction between telescope magnification and microscope magnification is helpful here. There's telescope magnification and microscope magnification, and it's blasph…

Our Father

How are we to pray? Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer (or perhaps better the Disciple's Prayer, because Jesus did not pray the Lord's Prayer himself--the petition for forgiveness would not have applied to him since he was without sin).

When we use this prayer as a pattern for our own, we begin by addressing God, 'Our Father in heaven' (Matt. 6:9). This is how Jesus constantly addressed God, and how because of Jesus we can address him too. The beloved Apostle John tells us how it is possible that we can call God our Father: "To all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). But do we recognize the significance of being able to address God this way? John later writes in astonishment, "See (Behold!) what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!" (1 John 3:1).
J. I. Packer, in Knowing God, wrote:
You sum up the whole of…

Praying the Savior's Way

I am amazed at the sheer selfishness of much of my praying (when I actually get around to praying!). Far too often, I rush into asking God for things or asking for God's help to do this or that, without first being amazed that I can address God at all!

Making prayer about what God can do for me--my wants and needs, my anxieties and cares, my agendas and to-do lists--reveals that I am once again putting myself at the very center of things. The Bible calls this idolatry. Calvin wrote in his Institutes of the Christian Religion that man's heart is a perpetual factory of idols. The idols of my heart often reveal themselves in my spoken and unspoken prayers.

Derek Thomas in his helpful book on the Lord's Prayer called Praying the Saviour's Way gives some penetrating questions to analyze our prayers.
Are they worshipful?
Are they God-centered?
Are they focused on the kingdom of God?
Are they humble and not presumptive?
Do they reveal an increasing sense of our sinfulness?
Is their c…