Monthly Archives: October 2016
Readings: 1 John 4:7-14; Romans 13:7-10; John 13:1-5; 31-38
I remember listening to an Argentine pastor years ago, Juan Carlos Ortiz was his name. He spoke about preaching on this theme – love one another – as Jesus has loved you.
He preached on the same thing for six months.
In time his elders became concerned. They asked him if he could perhaps choose another theme.
His response was simple. “Until you do it, I will keep preaching it”.
Clearly they had some work to do.
Don’t worry. Six months is not that bad. I heard a story about a preacher on the radio this week – who started a series on Job – and kept going for 24 years. Okay not all the time – just on Sundays – and he did take a break for Easter and Christmas.
In case you thought last week was a challenge – that we should serve one another – here you find the underlying foundation of that service.
Love. This is part two of the message about serving one another. Remember we asked the question: “how will you be remembered” last week. Jesus says they will know we are his followers by our love.
So to the text in John 13.
The Gospel reading is unnerving really. As John begins to unravel Jesus’ teaching on love and the new commandment, Judas whom he also loved, is ominously brought to our attention;
Listen again: Joh 13:1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. (Or – he loved them to the end.) Joh 13:2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.
How sad that this man represents the very opposite of what Jesus models and teaches on love. Jesus clearly took a risk on this Zealot.
How secure are you when it comes to taking the risk of loving others? You have to be very clear about who you are in Christ.
Jesus certainly was very clear about his identity and destiny. Look at the next verse:
Joh 13:3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
Knowing this, he was able to show them the full extent of his love in the first act if you like:
Joh 13:4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Joh 13:5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. We skipped the debate with Peter in the reading today – his resistance to having his feet washed.
Peter was not what you would call an early adopter of new ideas.
It’s the same today. You preach about things for years, and people resist.
They argue, debate and question – and seem to miss the point entirely. And then they hear someone else speak about it and the lights come on.
Often if and when the penny drops – when they actually get it – they’re unstoppable.
Joh 13:8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Joh 13:9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
It’s all or nothing Peter.
It’s worth reading the rest of the narrative we missed. Putting it simply, Jesus washed their feet – and they were to do the same. Jesus continues:
Joh 13:16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Joh 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
It kind of reinforces what we talked about last week about serving one another. We don’t have to carry a bowl and towel around with us and wash peoples’ feet all day. The point is that the servant did that chore – and we are actually servants.
The power behind that kind of desire to serve one another is the power of love – God’s love which is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us (Romans 5:5).
Through John 13 Jesus continues to reveal his plan and it reaches a highlight in verse 33 and 34:
Joh 13:33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. Joh 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
One would hope that our late adopter Peter would pick up on this and say – okay this is important. Jesus is giving a NEW commandment. I’d better take note – maybe write this down.
But no – he’s off on his crazy mission again:
He says this: Joh 13:36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Joh 13:37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus knows better. He says: Joh 13:38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
You’ve got these two men who are really type A men – wanting to get it done. Judas tries to force Jesus’ hand to overthrow the Romans. Peter wants to lay down his life impulsively. On the spot.
In the meantime – Jesus gives this new commandment. Love one another “as I have loved you”.
Not just washing feet. But giving up his life on the cross.
John backs this up in his first letter in chapter 4: 1Jn 4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1Jn 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1Jn 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
The real challenge is working out what this sacrificial love means in our modern world.
Do we know what this is? This is not about loving your neighbour – meaning wanting the best for them (as yourself).
It’s about loving each other as Jesus loved us. He is the model, the standard, the template. We are to love each other as Jesus loved us:
– here – across the wider church – and reaching the persecuted church.
WHAT DOES LOVING EACH OTHER MEAN TO YOU?
I had fascinating conversations with people through the week about this. We talked about how we need to stop petty arguments becoming big issues. That Jesus’ love is sacrificial. That it means giving time to people to help in practical ways. That it involves honesty – that Jesus took on a parenting role with his disciples. That training was involved in sending them out and then evaluating how they did. That it’s very hard if you want to be honest. That we need to resolve things – and tell people gently when they are out of line. That integrity and discipline is involved.
I found his poem which may speak to you about risk-taking in love:
Fully Alive – by Dawna Markova
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
THINKING FURTHER ABOUT LOVE – here are some thoughts from my reading:
- This is not romantic love, not just being nice, or only loving those who love you back.
- When Jesus washed his followers’ feet, Judas was there. He loved them all.
- This is not a lofty ideal but a reality.
- Jesus’ cross demonstrates that “God so loved the world.”
- We do do it and can do it.
- Some people are very difficult – it doesn’t change our commitment to love them.
- We also fail – but we are in the forgiveness business – and that includes forgiving ourselves.
- Loving as Jesus loved is high-risk behaviour.
My thoughts include these:
Jesus also confronts people who are wrong. As does Paul after the cross – sin still has to be rooted out.
1 Corinthians 13 has love at the centre of all gifts which operate in the church.
I thought we could read it together: Replacing “love is” with “We are” and so forth.
Let’s say together:
Co 13:4 We are patient, we are kind. We do not envy, we do not boast, we are not proud. 1Co 13:5 We are not rude, we are not self-seeking, we are not easily angered, we keep no record of wrongs. 1Co 13:6 We do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. 1Co 13:7 We always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. 1Co 13:8 We never fail. (ok that’s a stretch but it makes the point).
The song “One thing remains” by Chris Quilala helps us:
Higher than the mountains that I face, Stronger than the power of the grave; Constant through the trial and the change, One thing remains [x2]
It has this chorus: Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me [x3]
That’s the point. It’s God’s love working through us. From the indwelling Holy Spirit.
When we are mean and selfish, narcissistic, cliquey, uncaring, we are not living according to the Spirit, but the flesh, what the NIV calls the “sinful nature” which is contrary to God.
In fact we are warned after the cross, after the message of grace, by Paul writing to believers, not to grieve the Holy Spirit. (See Ephesians 4:29-32).
Which as an aside means that quite a lot of us have a wrong theology of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit can be grieved. He is a person. Just by the way – if I hear you pray about the Spirit as a force or as an “it” in church from now on I am going to stop you and make you pray that line again. 🙂
The person of the Holy Spirit works in us, changing our hearts and renewing our minds – and pouring out his love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). He is the source of unfailing love.
Let’s love one another, people.
- It’s Jesus’ one command that is new. A new covenant love.
- Loving our neighbour as ourselves is old. It’s still valid though.
- Loving one another as Jesus sacrificially loves us is the sign of the new – the new covenant – new life – new birth – new community – new Israel.
- New hope – new future – new Kingdom in our midst.
READINGS: Galatians 5:13-23; 1 Peter 4:7-11; Mark 10:35-45
SERMON 23 October 2016
I found this comment written about me by an ex-student when I was a school chaplain – it was posted 4 years ago this past Friday.
(student) to Robin E Palmer
21 October 2012 at 14:36 · Wellington ·
robin, aka mr palmer. i liked how you were REV at school when i was there. i liked how you you weren’t high strung like most of the teachers i had. whenever i used to see you in the corridor either going from class to class or to the staffroom no matter how busy you were you always took time to ask me how my day was or just used to smile and greet me wholeheartedly.
At our Jubilee service a year ago I spoke about what people remember about you. I put that sermon in the capsule this week. It’s entitled “Monuments or Footprints”. Here’s the quote about teachers (and adults generally):
“People don’t remember everything you said or taught them. But they do remember how you made them feel.”
I am sure that Jesus made people feel amazing – even though they themselves may have been pretty bad people.
My student remembered that I wasn’t highly-strung like some of my colleagues. That in itself is interesting. But listen again to the rest of his comment:
whenever i used to see you in the corridor either going from class to class or to the staffroom no matter how busy you were you always took time to ask me how my day was or just used to smile and greet me wholeheartedly.
It doesn’t cost much to be like that. And it wasn’t a strategy – like churches sometimes promote – like courses on “how to make friends and influence people.” If you have a heart for people, you take an interest in them. And you’re there for them. They know that if they’re in trouble they can call for help. You are there to serve them.
I love this story in Mark’s gospel about James and John, the sons of thunder.
Boys are very different from girls. I always watch to see which parents get uptight when boys charge around being boys. It’s almost always the ones who raised girls. They have no idea.
These two are always up to something. Poor Zebedee. Listen again:
Mar 10:35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” (Seriously?)
Mar 10:36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. (Patient again)
Mar 10:37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
Jesus’s response is interesting: Mar 10:38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” Mar 10:39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, Mar 10:40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
They get full marks for enthusiasm and passion. And being clueless – about status.
But before we get impatient with them, look at how the rest react:
Mar 10:41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. What were they thinking? Probably – what about us??
Teaching time. Jesus has to spell it out. Team talk. Huddle up boys.
Mar 10:42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Mar 10:43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, Mar 10:44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. Mar 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Serving others – being there for them – is clearly central in this Christian life.
The Galatians reading has this line: serve one another in love (5:13).
Peter puts it this way, after reminding his readers to offer hospitality to one another without grumbling:
1Pe 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms…
The wonderful thing about the local church – when it is healthy – is that people don’t have to tell you what their status is. Their position – not their on-line status!
They simply share the gifts – the graces God gives – with others – in service.
The first 50 years of this congregation had a lot of hard working people who served here. We give thanks for them and remember them with thanksgiving. They weren’t perfect – like James and John. But they showed up and pitched in.
So the next 50 years are there – for us to be part of one way or the other. Remember what I said a couple of weeks ago about planning to leave a bequest to the work here so that the next generation will be blessed – just as we have been by the previous generations giving and sacrifice. That’s one aspect of this.
More importantly – how will we be remembered? As people? When someone opens the capsule in the future and sees your photo or name?
I am remembered at least by my old student as someone who was friendly and smiled – asked how he was. At least he knew he could contact a friendly person in a crisis.
How about you? Jesus, Paul, and Peter all speak about us serving others.
You can only really serve by being involved.
And many of you are – and I commend you for the way in which you do serve.
But it’s not just doing your turn on the tea duty roster. It’s about relationships – you have to really know each other to be there and make a difference!
I encourage those who are yet to get involved – to sign up somewhere.
You can’t serve one another from a distance. Often it’s easier just to go straight out the door here – and remain an observer. Or to serve in an advisory capacity – telling people when things aren’t to our liking.
There are things we can do:
- Join a home group – best place for really growing and making friends.
- Stay for tea and meet some new people. Invite them for coffee through the week.
- Pitch in to help – share the load. We need everyone rowing on this waka. Offer to help in practical ways. When you’re not on the roster.
- Equip yourself to be more effective in your Christian journey. Read. Learn. Ask questions.
- Take on something new which will stretch you. You don’t have to be as crazy as me – learning Mandarin. I really want to be able to greet my neighbours and be friendly in my street.
And when in the new year we have a weekend where we will learn new things about connecting with people out there – we agreed at our AGM to adopt our mission plan which included inviting Jim Wallace along to teach us – come along. Book the 11th of March in the meantime. It’s a Saturday through to after lunch. A time to upskill as Christians.
Jesus calls us to be like him.
- To serve one another in love.
- And to love others with that same love – so that they genuinely want to know why we are different. So engaging, positive, hopeful, and willing to serve. That’s Christian witness.
Then Peter’s recommendation applies again:
1Pe 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
1 Peter 4:11 If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Readings: Psalm 121:1-4; Micah 6:6-8; Luke 18:1-8
SERMON (16 October 2016 at Bay of Islands Uniting Church, Paihia).
We’ve just spent 8 weeks looking at the Lord’s Prayer in a series of sermons. Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, and he gave them that template. I’ve enjoyed preparing for these and presenting them. Prayer is at the heart of our faith, our lifeline if you like. (The series starts here: https://bbpsermons.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/sunday-7-august-2016-lords-prayer-series-part-1-our-father/ Lord’s Prayer Part 1)
Jesus also models prayer in his own life. He often goes off alone to pray. (Luke 4:42; Luke 5:16 Mark 1:35).
His passion for prayer is seen in the one incident when he looks like a protester. You will remember this startling scene when he clears the temple with a whip in hand, overturning the tables. (Mark 11:17; Matthew 21:13; Luke 19:46 as examples, plus John 2:15 who along recalls the whip being fashioned).
In Luke’s account he declares: “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ (Luke 19:46).
So Jesus gives a parable. Usually parables leave us thinking – even scratching our heads as we try to figure out what their meaning is (with the exception of the parable of the sower).
In the gospel reading today the parable is unusual in that Luke tells us what it is about before we hear the story. Luke 18:1 says: Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
The parable is often labelled “The parable of the unjust judge” – which is quite topical here in New Zealand. There have been a number of debates and discussions about judges – in our case people have felt some of them have been too lenient. If so they can appeal to a higher court, we are told. And they do.
The case of Oscar Pistorius in South Africa also hinges on the view that the judge was too lenient. It’s amazing how angry people get when they think that justice has not been done. And what experts they are suddenly in law!
In this case in our reading today the judge is more problematic when you think about the context in which Jesus was speaking: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. (v2)
There’s a recklessness in this description. Here’s a judge who sounds like a loose cannon – it’s possible that he has no restraint at all. In those days one would expect at least some fear of God in a judge.
In this case it’s more serious – the greater crime for a judge would be indifference towards the plight of people treated wrongly.
Especially as in this case when a widow is seeking justice. The Scriptures made it clear that widows and orphans were a priority. They were vulnerable – there was no husband to take up their concerns.
We don’t know what injustice had taken place – we know only that she says repeatedly: ‘Grant me justice against my adversary'(v3). In those days she would have to represent herself, even in a criminal case.
We can assume that the case had implications about her survival. Someone had probably done her in financially. Or maybe she had lost her home.
There’s a curious twist in this parable. It’s the reason the judge gives for surrendering to this persistent and bold lady. I’m not sure what Bible translation you use normally.
The one I have used for over 30 years – the NIV – says this: “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’” (vs 4-5)
The readers of Luke will make the connection to the purpose given for this parable – it’s about persistence in prayer. Her persistence paid off.
The twist is in the phrase the judge uses to explain why he gives in to her pleas – “That she won’t wear me out with her coming.”
The phrase “wear me out” can also be translated as “give me a black eye’ – it’s a boxing term for pummeling your opponent.
That’s persistence. It’s a word that implies bruising! She beats him black and blue emotionally.
So Jesus’ point is this. If persistence can wear down a bad judge, how much more will persistence pay off in our prayers to a good God – a righteous judge.
Remember when Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray? In Luke 11 and Matthew 6 we have these two accounts where he gives them what we call the Lord’s prayer as a pattern for prayer?
- When you pray say “Our Father.” This is about a relationship. In Luke 11 after the teaching on the prayer he says these important words: If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”(11:13)
- In Matthew’s account we read: If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (7:11). Again this is about a relationship.
God is not being compared to the unjust judge in terms of similar behaviour – it’s about the contrast – the difference. It’s a classic “how much more” approach which was a standard Jewish argument in those days.
So this is how Jesus explains the parable:
Luk 18:6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Luk 18:7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? Luk 18:8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
Psalm 121 comes to mind – He neither slumbers nor sleeps (v4).
How quickly will they get justice? That’s a great question. Sometimes we pray for decades before we see a result. I think sometimes that God’s economy is very different from ours. And God’s sense of timing.
It brings to mind that lovely passage in Isaiah 55: Isa 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isa 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
There are Christians around the world who are crying out to God because their lives and loved ones are threatened. Clearly those who are martyred may not get justice immediately, but that too will come.
Our prayers, also, are not merely that we be rescued from challenging situations. Even Jesus’s prayer in John 17 touches on this: Joh 17:15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
The Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:13 is no different: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
The persistence for us is not just in pleading for God to hear our prayers because we need a solution – or healing – or help. We need to persist in our prayer life because like any relationship, you can drift away if you don’t keep communicating. It’s the relationship that upholds us, that sustains us.
In a broader sense, persistence for us means practicing consistency. Paul says simply “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). This does not necessarily mean a 24/7 prayer meeting, although these do take place around the world. Those who hold down jobs can’t be there 24/7, but their relationship with God is 24/7.
Philippians 4:6 & 7 are a powerful help too: Php 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Php 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Once we have presented our requests to God, we are promised peace, no matter what the outcome actually is. The prayer could be answered with a “yes”, a “no”, or a “wait”. The relationship with this good Father is unchanged. And if the end does come, He has a place prepared for us (John 14).
The last line of the parable is worth looking at too. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
For us – it’s about faith now – each day – as we trust him on our faith journeys. Many of Jesus’ parables are about readiness, preparedness, alertness and watchfulness.
May you trust him – may you not give up – may you be persistent as you keep praying and never give up.
May you build a 24/7 relationship with Him, constantly listening to Him and remembering His promises, and lifting all people and situations before His throne of grace (including our leaders on the world and national stage.- see 1 Timothy 2:1-2).
When we were first married, my wife and I lived on the 11th floor of a block of flats. She waited often until she heard the bus then jumped in the lift and rushed off to catch it. Economy of time is one of her gifts. She had thirty minutes on the bus to close her eyes and pray. I complained as I had to drive – one cannot pray with one’s eyes closed when driving!
There’s a lesson in this little story. Pray with your eyes open – watch and see what God is doing, especially when you pray for individuals who are sick or have special needs. Pray with your eyes open as you watch the world around you too. There will also be times when your eyes are closed and you enter into another place with the Lord, into intimacy and into a special sanctuary, wherever you are.
Jesus modeled prayer with his requests to, and time out with His Father. Prof James Torrance of King’s College Aberdeen used to say that “the heart of the New Testament is the relationship between the Father and the Son” (C Kruger Baxter: The Great Dance, p21). With His prayers came a cultivated listening ear and a desire only to do the Father’s will.
Our relationship with God means that we too can pray without ceasing. And we too can seek His will and His ways. Every day.
Readings: 1 Chronicles 29:6-13; Psalm 63:1-4; Matthew 6:6-13 (including footnote in NIV).
“For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
So we’ve reached the end of this series on the Lord’s Prayer. We’re still saying it together. I wonder if these reflections have made any difference to you? As you pray?
Just a question – how many of you heard the whole series? All seven plus today? Well done!
Anyone read the ones you missed on the bbpsermons website? Well done too!
Some highlights as we look back. The line that I enjoyed the most quoted from Tim Keller was this one. It’s about who we pray to. You may remember this. It was part 2 – Hallowed by thy name.
- His fatherliness makes his heavenliness non-intimidating.
- His heavenliness makes his fatherliness not just comforting but absolutely liberating – he is all powerful to keep his promises. Amen!
In that same week I said this:
And so we are to “hallow” God’s name – to honour and revere it. It’s really about adoration and praise. To honour his name is to give him the credit for who he is and what he has done. To focus on God rather than all other things.
Here’s the test question: What preoccupies you when you are in thought – wrestling with the things of life?
Tim Keller suggests this: what is always on your mind – that’s usually what you adore – what you love the most.
Today we pick this up in a sense – as we look at the doxology at the end of the prayer:
For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.(v13)
We’ve looked at the kingdom, and the power.
It’s the glory that jumps out from the page for me. Yours is the glory!
David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29 came to mind as soon as I looked at this again. David had just done what many people have done here, and can still do. He provided for the next generation through a bequest. Not only does he dedicate the nation’s wealth for his son Solomon to use in the building of the temple when he is gone – he also gives his personal wealth for the project. He gives it while still alive.
1Ch 29:3 Moreover, in addition to all that I have provided for the holy house, I have a treasure of my own of gold and silver, and because of my devotion to the house of my God I give it to the house of my God:
That’s the context of the other giving of the leaders – and his beautiful prayer.
It struck me that we might not be here were it not for bequests from previous generations. And we have the same choice to leave something for the work here at Browns Bay when we die. That’s by the way. It has to be said. Have you made some provision for the future of the work here when you have gone?
Look how David’s giving releases giving on behalf of all the people.
1Ch 29:6 Then the leaders of ancestral houses made their freewill offerings, as did also the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of the thousands and of the hundreds, and the officers over the king’s work. 1Ch 29:7 They gave for the service of the house of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. 1Ch 29:8 Whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the LORD, into the care of Jehiel the Gershonite. 1Ch 29:9 Then the people rejoiced because these had given willingly, for with single mind they had offered freely to the LORD; King David also rejoiced greatly.
And then David prays:
1Ch 29:11 Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.
1Ch 29:12 Riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all.
1Ch 29:13 And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.
I reckon we could use this as an offering prayer. In fact, I remember Durban North Presbyterian singing this during the offering back in the 1970s.
In the reading from the Psalms today the same pattern comes up:
Psa 63:2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Psa 63:3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psa 63:4 So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
Three words. In David’s prayers. And the one we have in Matthew in the Lord’s Prayer.
Kingdom. – we know this. That’s what we are to seek first.
Power. – this helps us in our praying. This father has the power to provide for his children.
Glory. – this is new. We don’t talk much about the glory of God.
- Do we understand this concept?
- Do we seek to give him glory?
- The glory is his. Is this something we can give him? Or is this also something we should seek?
- Let’s explore this word. It has different facets to it.
SO ABOUT GLORY – FIRSTLY.
The Old Testament word is Kabhod.
You may recognise the word in the name of an unfortunate character named Ichabod – in 1 Samuel. That’s a tale in itself. He was the grandson of Eli – when the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines and Eli’s rebellious sons Hophni and Phineas are killed. Eli hears the bad news and falls of his chair in shock, breaking his neck. Phineas’ wife goes into labour and Ichabod is born. His mother names his this because “the glory has departed from Israel” (1 Sam 4:21-22.)
God’s glory – kabhod – was his presence. The word also means “heavy”.
You get the sense of the weight of his presence. We seek his glory when we seek his presence.
When Solomon’s temple is built later, he prays that God will make his presence real (2 Chronicles 6:41-42). In the next verse 2 Chronicles 7:1 we read:
2Ch 7:1 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2Ch 7:2 The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. 2Ch 7:3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”
There are moments in worship for us too, when we are aware of his presence, there’s a weight on us, the presence of his glory.
Glory – in the new Testament – is the word DOXA from which we get the word “doxology” – a short declaration of praise.
The word also means splendour or brightness. So we get for example in Hebrews 1 this powerful statement:
Heb 1:1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
- Heb 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Heb 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
And of course that well known John 1:14 – the culminating verse of the prologue to John’s gospel:
- Joh 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth
I was saying at tea last week that when we see Jesus we are unlikely to come up with the questions we say we’d like to ask him. Like “why did you let me get this disease?” I think we will be silent and prostrate on the ground like John in Revelation 1:
- Rev 1:14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. Rev 1:15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. Rev 1:16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. Rev 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
There’s some glory there – splendour and brightness. His presence.
There’s something about worship that is often not understood. We’ve talked about it before – and in this series – about entering the presence of the King. A Holy God.
When his glory is revealed – that heaviness of his presence, and his splendour and brightness – we stop nattering and yapping to each other – the focus is on God. And often we are silent.
The prophet Habakkuk says this in the context of the people’s worship of idols: Hab 2:20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
His glory involves his presence and his splendour. And it can silence us when we are in awe of who He is.
THIRDLY we give Him glory in worship – in the songs we sing, and the prayers we pray. We also give Him glory when we we do all these things we have looked at in the last couple of months:
We give Him glory when we live by the tenets of this prayer template called the Lord’s Prayer.
- We hallow his name – honour his name.
- Pray for his kingdom as a priority (elsewhere Jesus says “Seek first the Kingdom of God”.)
- Do his will – bringing heaven to earth.
- Trust him for our daily needs – one day at a time.
- Forgive like him – celebrating our forgiveness.
- Ask for his protection from trials and freedom and deliverance from the evil one.
- Because it’s His Kingdom that matters, his power that makes it possible for us to do this, and his name which receives the glory. Not us. It’s never about us.
Two weeks ago we listen to a song entitled “Hidden”. I gave you the words.
We’ll get to sing it at some point. The last part of the song captures some of this. Listen again:
The sun, moon and stars, Shout Your name, they give you reverence; And I, will do the same, With all my heart I give You glory |2x|
I want to seek You first, I want to love You more; I want to give You the honour You deserve; So I’ll bow before You, I am overcome, By the beauty of this perfect love. |2x|
Are we seeking him first? Loving him more? Giving him the honour he deserves? I encourage you to explore a more intimate relationship with God. And entering into worship with all your heart is part of that.
- Be open. The songs we sing – sing them with all your heart. Both here and on your own. Listen to them at home.
- Focus on God – seek his presence and the fullness of his Spirit.
- Seek his glory both here and in your wider life.
Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
Let’s pray David’s prayer as we close:
1Ch 29:11 Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. 1Ch 29:12 Riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. 1Ch 29:13 And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.
Readings: James 1:12-15; 1 Corinthians 10:9-13; Matthew 6:7-13;
- What’s the greatest temptation you have faced?
- Come on – share with us today. Don’t be shy.
It’s a great question. Naturally we don’t really expect you to share these challenges publicly. But it’s worth giving it some thought.
- Does it relate to the ten commandments?
- Tempted to steal? Covet? Commit adultery?
Adrian Plass tells a great story of a woman who caught a train to work each day and met someone on the train. She could see that this relationship was going places it shouldn’t go. So she told her husband about it. His advice was pretty simple. Change trains.
If you’ve heard that one before – it’s still a good story. We have to make choices that keep us out of trouble.
Most of us are not at risk of being tempted to rob a bank or something equally public and embarrassing for our families.
We probably don’t have the energy for the more hectic sins people commit.
Temptation for us is probably subtler. It could involve one or more of these challenges:
- Like not getting out of bed on Sunday and neglecting worship or prayer. Or bible reading.
- Or giving up on the important things we should be doing in God’s kingdom. We ought to be seeking His Kingdom first, and we often worry more about the things Jesus tells us not to worry about.
- Or indifference to the poor and neglected – the marginalised. We are sometimes overloaded by the huge needs we see in the world, especially on TV. We can switch off and no longer have the compassion God expects us to have.
- Or possibly holding onto anger and resentment.
Or the more common sins listed by Paul as he writes to the Corinthians in his second letter. It’s a great line and an ominous warning to the church:
2Co 12:20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.
A lot of these are about how we speak and treat each other – and about relationships.
Our greatest temptations in church are often related to the tongue. James spells out the danger: Jas 3:5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. Jas 3:6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
THE MAIN PRINCIPLES about temptation are clear from the readings today:
- God does not tempt us. (James 1). We ourselves are deceived by temptation really.
- He allows us to be tempted – but has promised not to let it be more than we can cope with. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
We still have to be guarded against temptation. Alert. The roaring lion image in 1 Peter is a sobering one. 1Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Deliver us from the evil one – that’s the key prayer. What does this mean for you?
Talk to the person next to you and ask them what comes to mind when they pray that line of the Lord’s prayer.
So what did you discover about your neighbour? What does the evil one get up to and how are we to be saved from this? What are the real dangers when it comes to evil and the evil one?
Here are some of my thoughts:
- We are attacked in line with our strengths often. Self-confidence and pride actually prevent us from really trusting and obeying God.
- The evil one puts doubts in our heads about God’s promises. “Did God really say?” is the classic line from Genesis 3.
- The only offensive weapon in the armoury of God in Ephesians 6 is the word of God. Know your bible and take on those lies with the truth.
- We need to pray to be delivered from the evil one because the attacks are very real.
C.S. Lewis wrote “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight” (C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letter. 1941, p. 3).
THE EVIL ONE IN SCRIPTURE – here are some key verses as we explore this further.
- Job – Job 1:6-12
Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. Job 1:7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
The idea that Satan wanders around looking for targets is an old one. We have already mentioned 1 Peter 5:8 – the roaring lion. He’s on the prowl!
Often though he is more subtle.
- He is a thief of the truth. In the parable of the sower he steals the seed:
Luk 8:12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
- He is a liar. Jesus in his very direct conversation with the Jews in John 8 says this: Joh_8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
- The evil one holds people in his power. Peter in Acts 10 when preaching says this:
Act 10:37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—Act 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him
Jesus liberates people from his hold.
- Jesus describes the evil one’s tactics when talking about himself as the good shepherd:
Joh 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
- The more risky one for us – one of our greatest temptations – is to do with our emotions, especially anger:
Eph 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, Eph 4:27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
The word foothold there is “topos” from which we get the word “topography” – it’s a place where we let him have authority. Stay angry, and you are giving him space in your life.
- Not only does he want to camp in our lives when we allow sin to take root in anger that is not dealt with, there’s a constant barrage that he sends our way:
Eph 6:16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Those arrows can include doubt, depression, illness and persecution.
- He can also appear in disguise:
2Co 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 2Co 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 2Co 11:15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
False teachers abound. We need to be careful what we watch when it comes to Christian TV programmes.
- We also need to be encouraged because Jesus prayed this in his great high priestly prayer in John 17:
Joh 17:15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
Clearly we should not be surprised at the onslaught.
10. Finally, He prays for us. Be encouraged.
Heb 7:23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; Heb 7:24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Heb 7:25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Heb 7:26 Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
We’re not alone in praying for safety and freedom from Satan’s evil tricks.
“Thy will be done” here means God’s desire is for us to be victorious! May you be victorious!
Note: As this is the last in this series on the Lord’s Prayer, you may like to listen to the prayer here, as sung by Jackie Evancho. (If you are getting this by email go to the webpage to click on the link.) Albert Hay Malotte is the composer.