Monday, October 19, 2015

On Earth As It Is In Heaven...

I don’t sleep well at night. (most of this is due to my age, hormones, etc. don’t worry about me) however, when I find myself awake for hours on end, I don’t find it very easy to lie in bed; so I get up. By this I mean I go downstairs and sit in a chair and either surf the internet, or sit at my computer and write……like I’m doing now.

Or I pray.

Most of the time I pray, and as I pray, my mind invariably races ahead to other things, and I have to reign it in over and over it seems. My mind, you see, is my worst enemy I find, especially when I pray.

Many times I find myself, as I struggle to stay focused on my prayers, turning to The Lord’s Prayer. It isn’t because I consider it an abbreviated version of prayer; on the contrary, it is really the longest prayer, if you think about it as you pray it. But it helps me reign my thoughts in on the one thing I need, and benefit most from thinking about; God.

These are the things I realize and think about as I pray the Lords prayer.

Our Father….

This is a big one for me. The very word Father doesn’t denote for me the same things it brings to mind for most people. Daddy died when I was 7 so from that point on, there has been a big fat void in my concept of “Father”. This brings me back to passages of scripture I’ve read over the years where the attributes of God as our Father come to mind, my favorite passage being Psalm 103.

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him
;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us
.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him
.
14 For he knows our frame;[a]
    he remembers that we are dust
.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children's children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
    his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord
, O my soul!

Searching scripture, the attributes of our Heavenly Father are listed over and over, but in PS 103 I find them somewhat encapsulated.  He does all the above for me, and to me. Those are some very comforting things to dwell on.

Who art in heaven…..

Some would look at this and say, “yeah, He is up there, while I’m down here”. But to that I say see previous entry under “Our Father”. Any father THAT involved in my life can’t be that far away. To me, this says heaven is a place; a place to go to dwell, to get away from here…….and all that that implies.

This earth is not my home. I don’t belong here. This is not the place God had planned for me, or anyone who is His child. My place is in God’s presence, as He sits on His throne in heaven.

Revelation 4

4 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings[a] and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

Ezekiel 1:26-28

And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire;[g] and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27 And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.[h] 28 Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

This is the place of God. Our Great Big God Who art in heaven. This is whom the Lords Prayer is addressed to. The all seeing, all knowing, omnipresent, omnipotent God, who remember now, is OUR FATHER! Yes, the same Father who just a few of His surprisingly human attributes are listed in PS 103. Take a minute and think about that… for that is where you will spend eternity.

Hallowed be Thy name….

Many people don’t even know what the word “hallowed” means.

Holy, set apart, sacred, revered…..be Thy name; the name of God, who He is.

We bat God’s name around in conversation, or worse use it as a curse word, when in the early days of Scripture, they didn’t even mention God’s name it was considered so……so…….Sacred, Hallowed, Holy.

If you Google the names of God, the list is amazing…….He has many. But the names of God are not just names in the sense of a moniker like our names. The names of God are a verification of His attributes, His character. So when I think of revering God’s name as Holy, sacred, set apart, I think back to PS 103 and beyond in the descriptiveness of God’s very nature.

He sees, He provides, He is three in one, He is my banner, He heals, He sanctifies, He is my Peace, He is my Shepherd, He is I AM………..

His name? Honor it? Hallow it? Yes, as the one who provides for me, who sees all and everything about and concerning me, who heals me, who delivers me, who saved me, who sanctifies me, who gives me peace, who leads and guides me…….a name……

Thy Kingdom Come…….

This immediately takes me to the gospels where Jesus, over and over, starts a story with, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”

He put another parable before them, saying,The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. Matthew 13:30-32

He told them another parable.The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:32-34

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:43

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. Matthew 13:46-48

52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Matthew 13:52

God’s kingdom…do you want it to come? Reading the above passages, I realize that the kingdom of heaven isn’t a place so much as a desire that takes over your very life, to the point that you will give up all you have to attain it. When you pray, “Thy kingdom come” do you really want the kind of life where your desire for God and what He wants, penetrates to your very core, and changes the direction for your life?

Thy Will be done….

Notice this says, “Thy will” not “My will”.
God’s will…….people will ask, “but, what is God’s will?” 

Don’t complicate this. God told us his will for us back in the book of Deutoronomy 10:12-13

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?

Jesus responded with the same passage in Luke 10:26-28, when ask “What should I do?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

God’s will, for us to Obey Him, to Honor Him in our lives, to Revere Him, to Love Him, to Serve Him, with every fiber of our being……to love others as we love ourselves, loving Him more than both…

What was that thing about God’s kingdom taking over our lives?

God’s kingdom, God’s will…….. Hmmmm?

When I’m struggling with God’s will, I think back to this, and ask myself, “Do I REALLY want God’s will in my life?” Cause if I do, I have to realize that for God’s Will to be done, His kingdom will have to come in my life, which leads perfectly into Jesus’ next phrase….

On Earth as it is in Heaven.....

We have already established that Heaven is a place; a separate place from earth.
Recognizing who God is, desiring God’s will for our lives and His kingdom here on this earth…….bringing heaven down. This is exactly what Jesus did; Jesus, the author of this prayer.
He occupied both places. When He prayed these words, he had a frame of reference for both that we don’t have.

Hebrews 5:7-10
In the days of his flesh, Jesus[a] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.


Hebrews 1:1
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 4:14 
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Jesus, the Son of God, left heaven and came to earth. He understood fully when he prayed and desired for things here to be as they were in heaven.

I figure that if Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith desires things on earth to be like they are in heaven that should be my prayer also. And seeing God in PS 103, desiring His will for my life and His kingdom to come by what I’ve said before, this is a logical next step.

Give us this day our daily bread

What is YOUR daily bread? Breakfast, lunch, dinner?

For me there are two levels to this request, the physical and the spiritual.

Feed me Lord, both physically and spiritually. He is faithful to do both.

I never go hungry. I never have, and I find it unlikely that I ever will. Physically, I am well feed. My cupboards are full. I have very few physical needs.

But in the day when this prayer was prayed, starvation, lack of clothing, were realities that haunted everyone. For some on this earth they still are; but not for me.

Provide our needs. By asking we show trust we know He can and He will.

The verse from Matthew 6 automatically comes to mind:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The encapsulation of “Give us this day our daily bread”; in the physical sense.
But Jesus also addresses the spiritual sense of this request too.

In John 4:31-34 is says,
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”

So you ask, “What IS our daily bread?”

To do God’s will.

Refer back to Deut…. Remember?
Yes, it is easy to sit here with a full stomach and a hot cup of coffee within reach, and a fully stocked kitchen and say rather flippantly, “God will provide my needs.” But shouldn’t I be more concerned about God providing my spiritual needs to “do his will” and “to accomplish his work”. To feed me with the bread of heaven that I can’t possibly provide or buy for myself. Maybe that is the comparison here of physical and spiritual. And by doing that kind of work, I pray for those whose physical needs aren’t being met, and ask how I can be His hands and feet to help provide their daily bread. .

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us……

Trespasses, debts, infractions, things owed…. sin………

Regardless of the way it is worded, we all know it means wrongs done against God and others.
I seldom give this a thought anymore. I’m covered by the blood, I’m saved by grace, yeah, I screw up, but when was the last time I REALLY sinned? When was the last time I really felt like I needed God to forgive me of something? Bold huh? Or maybe just stupid…..

But I DO owe a debt I can’t pay. I have been reminded that I am the sinner who owes much, and didn’t have the grace to forgive others. 

Forgive.

We get caught up on the words like trespass and debt and kinda skip the first and biggest word.
Forgive. 

It can be hard to forgive, sometimes impossible. (I’m not judging, just saying what I’ve been told).   But when you recall that Jesus hung on a cross, beaten and bloody, and actually ask God to forgive those who had done this to him, it sort of clears the fog as to the extent of forgiveness He was and is talking about. 

Who do you need to forgive? Cause it says, “as we forgive others”.


Jesus actually follows the Lords prayer with the following statement, 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Colossians 12:13-14
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

So you ask, is God’s forgiveness conditional? Yes, on the contingent that we forgive as he does. 

Scripture is encouraging here…..once again, PS 103. “12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us
.”

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    
nor repay us according to our iniquities.

Another reminder that is God can forgive me, then I am to forgive others…..there are no limits to this, go guidelines, or limitations……forgiveness………..unequivocal, pure unadulterated forgiveness. Walk away, let it go, forget about it.

This is often a good opportunity for us, even in the Christian community to split hairs, and that is exactly what Peter tried to do when he ask Jesus the following question:

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[g] 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[h] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant[i] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,[j] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[k] until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”


I don’t think you can improve on that explanation.

And lead us not into temptation…….

Now just to be clear here, God tempts no man.

James 1:12-14 says: “12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”

Also, temptation itself is NOT a sin….giving in to temptation is the sin. But we are all tempted each and every day, aren’t we?

My temptations seem small and trivial. Too many snacks, ignoring things around me, just tempted to let them go. But temptation is temptation. And by walking into it, giving into it, what are we really saying? Am I trusting God to get me through it, out of it?

I realize as I pray this phrase that I need Gods help here more than I realize.

The next phrase explains this….

But deliver us from evil……

Temptation comes from the evil one, Satan, as he is called. Let’s face it, it started in the garden and hasn’t let up. The battle still rages and it is a battle not over sin, but for our souls in the way that we are going to have to choose to trust God or not.

When we are tempted, do we turn to God for help? Scripture says we can.

1 Corinthians 10:13 “13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Complacency has cost some of us so much that the damage done by it can be and is irreversible. I need to develop a mindset here, that when temptation comes, first remember the source of the temptation, and run from it, run straight into the arms of God, to help in the fight.
Temptations now-a-days are getting to be more costly it seems.

Internet Pornography, alcohol, drugs, money, lying, cheating……. Giving into them can bring consequences that will never go away. If God is truly faithful, and we know He is, then we can remember the above verse, especially as we pray this prayer; a prayer of deliverance from the evil one.

Sometimes when I pray this prayer and I get to this phrase, I say “but deliver us from the evil ONE” because it helps me realize and remember that I am in a battle for my soul. Jesus has saved me, but I want him to able to say to me when I stand before Him on that great day, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.” And Satan doesn’t want that for me, so the battle rages. The enemy is out to destroy me and Jesus knew it, or he wouldn’t have given his disciples and us such instructions on how we are to pray to our Heavenly Father….

SO, this is not a comprehensive explanation of the Lord’s Prayer; there have been entire books written on it. But this is my explanation of what I think about as I pray it. These are the reminders that come to mind for me of God’s faithfulness, and presence and steadfastness to me as I pray the prayer His Son taught us to pray.

 By the time I get through to the end of the prayer, my mind is better focused and I am better able to concentrate, not on what I want to pray, but on whom I’m praying too, and suddenly the who and why of my prayers seem somewhat inconsequential and I know that “My Father” has got it all covered. 

Jesus knew just what I would need……..


HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!!

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