Debts (Matthew 6:14-15)

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Virtually every government on earth has high-security prisons to house  those who have  done evil to others. Either they have wronged individuals or they have wronged society. Some are so violent and bent on destruction they cannot even walk among the rest of the prison population – these are held in solitary confinement. Yet Jesus says that even if such as these offended us, we must forgive them. 

Having included the line “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus now explains more fully just how important forgiveness is. He says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

He does more than simply say that though. He modeled it. When they crucified Him, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Even while being tortured to death by hanging on the cross, He forgave. He did more than forgive – He interceded that they might be forgiven! Such is our example! 

To truly experience forgiveness, one must actually forgive. For apart from forgiveness there is only bondage. Unforgiveness always results in bondage, because unforgiveness rapidly degenerates into bitterness, and bitterness always defiles and injures. A hurt never dealt with leads to a very ugly wound indeed – a festering wound that keeps you from enjoying life the way life was meant to be enjoyed. The smell of it makes you unfit for fellowship with the king, let alone the sight. So to hold to unforgiveness is to impose a massive limitation on yourself. It effectively makes you imprison yourself in a worse way than those in solitary confinement. That is bondage, full stop. 

It really doesn’t matter how a wound happened.  Knowing it was an accident or knowing it was completely deliberate does not change the way you deal with a wound. You must deal with it all the same, and you must do so speedily. Trauma specialists tell us that we must follow a protocol – breathing, bleeding, burns and bones – in that order. Likewise, it really doesn’t matter how the unforgiveness got there to start with. Knowing how the offence occurred cannot change how you deal with unforgiveness either. Unforgiveness is trauma to the soul. It mandates urgent soul care, and that care also has a protocol. Certainly immediate safety (to be delivered away from the injurious person or circumstance) is critical to avoid more injury, and one must arguably experience a degree of security to look at (to address) the soul wound. But forgiveness is the salve that washes bitterness away and stops the wound from festering unto spiritual gangrene. 

Forgiveness is therefore critical to our spiritual health. It is critical to being able to enjoy God and His Kingdom just as much as good health is critical to being able to enjoy our present world. How then how could we possibly believe we are obedient disciples and hold to unforgiveness? How indeed, especially knowing that God has explicitly said He will not forgive us our sins if we do not forgive others? 

One must remember that our sins against God were acts of treason against Him, and He is worth infinitely more than us. In fact, He is infinitely greater than us in every possible respect. So the crimes against our being are far less grievous than our crimes against Him. Yet, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If then we are to be called by His Name, we are bound to imitate His forgiveness toward all those around us. Amen.

When Christ tells us to forgive, he is speaking to those who are most vulnerable—those who have been violated. He knows that he speaks to people whose trust has been betrayed or who face humiliation. His words are intended for those whose character has been unjustly damaged, for the one whose life has been marred by the sin of others.

Knute Larson

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Think about those who have harmed or mistreated you. Is there any malice on your part toward them still? Who do you still need to forgive?

Deliver Us (Matthew 6:13)

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Jesus knew that evil existed and that it was epitomized in the person of the   devil. He Himself had personally met the devil in the wilderness during His temptation (Matt 4:1-11). The devil wasn’t just a concept to Him. Consequently, Jesus taught about the reality of the devil and the reality of evil, because He knew that people encountered those realities on a regular basis. He has taught that the common practice of exaggerating agreement or disagreement through the swearing of oaths is based on a lie from Satan that we should reject out of hand, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” He has taught that His followers should not resist someone who is evil, but instead demonstrate goodness to them, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” 

The principles of rejecting demonic lies and demonstrating goodness in response to evil are useful tools for everyday life. Yet Jesus knew that such principles have limited use among fallen human beings. We need more than a couple of tools to know how to deal with an adversary stronger than we are. We need deliverance. To that end Jesus includes the line in His prayer template, “deliver us from the evil one.”

Praying for deliverance is usually something we see only at charismatic prayer and healing events, or in the odd illustration a pastor uses during a sermon. Jesus apparently designs that it should not be so rare. He includes it in His prayer so that we might likewise pray at least as regularly as we normally pray. For the Christ-follower, that means daily at least! 

One might not think we really need daily deliverance from the demonic. Yet how often are we tricked into believing an untruth? Even if we reject the very great majority of them, the reality is that virtually no one has a worldview that is entirely Kingdom minded. If we did, we would act as Jesus did every day. The fact that we do not is evidence that we have believed and yet believe some things that are just not true.

How often do we respond negatively to what others impose upon us? Yet Jesus did not turn from the lash or the cross. Nor did He use His power to make bread from the stones, but how often do we seek to satisfy ourselves through our own power instead of relying on the goodness of God? He did not presume upon God’s agents of intervention by throwing Himself down from the temple. But how often do we do foolish things for the sheer pleasure of the experience, presuming we will feel no consequence? Promised all the world’s power and wealth, He did not yield to idolatry. Yet we almost daily fall for the allure of want. All that to say nothing of the spiritual forces arrayed against us, or of the wicked plans of demonic beings for our ultimate destruction.

It is true of course that we are saved. For that we are thankful. It is equally true that we are in the process of being saved. In that we must be prayerful. We may be the people of God and children of our heavenly Father, but until the day that we are set completely free from our fallen fleshly state, we stand daily in need of deliverance as much as the Israelites in Egypt did.


Not only do we have Jesus to intercede for us to protect us from the enemy, but we ourselves are also to ask God to keep us safe from the enemy’s hand.

R. C. Sproul

APPLICATION: Intentionality

We do not know what we will face in the next 24 hours. Pray that God would keep the evil one far from you and your house.

Avoiding Temptation (Matthew 6:13)

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God does not tempt His people. We know this for certain because James 1  says, “When  tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” All the same, Jesus encourages us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation.” 

As true as it is that God does not tempt, it is likewise true that mankind is sinful. While those who accept the new covenant in Christ are justified before God because of Jesus’ work on the cross for us, and while we are sanctified by the Spirit’s presence in our lives, we yet live in fallen human flesh on this side of the resurrection. Consequently, there are still all-too-human tendencies and habits that every child of God leans into that dishonour His Name. Some are ingrained habits that we know are wrong but find very difficult to break. We call those ‘besetting sins’. Others we are ignorant of, though we commit them regularly. Like a subtle dependence on our own righteousness (instead of His), they are invisible to both us and those around us. Yet all of them are personal impurities that God would have us set free of. 

There is only one way to get rid of such impurities – we must find them out and ask God to put them under the blood of Christ, washing them away forever. The strategy for dealing with them is straightforward. The challenge is finding them out that we might effect the strategy. This we do either by ourselves in the presence of God (often in a time of prolonged prayer). Or we wait till the impurity inevitably is brought to light by trial. 

Obviously the first is the better course of action. Waiting for a trial – a testing of our faith – is not the wisest course of action. Both because they are difficult to endure and because trials are always in sight of other created beings. But our impurity will be brought to light nevertheless. God will not suffer forever our willful ignorance and inattention. Christ will make His bride the Church ready, even if it means bringing us through difficult and stressful situations. All must be made pure. The sanctified must be thoroughly sanctified. 

Jesus the Son of God, sanctified by the Spirit already upon Him at His baptism, “was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” The Spirit led Him into the desert, where He fasted for 40 days and nights and then was tempted by the devil. Jesus endured both a long introspection before God and a severe trial. A most harsh and thorough trial it was too, to be in direct confrontation with the most vile and deceptive of spirits. 

Yet Jesus persevered and was proven blameless throughout both His prolonged fasting and His trial. There were no points of impurity brought to the surface in either, for He had none. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He endured it all in willful submission, that He might be tested as all flesh is tested.

Galatians 3:26 says, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” We are God’s children by faith, and God our Father will have us cleansed of all impurity that we might stand before Him and walk with Him in perfect fellowship for eternity to come. Yet we know we are full of impurities, so it is far better for us to ask Him to not lead us into temptation. We can instead prayerfully ask Him to search us by His Spirit (who searches all things, even the deep things of God) in gentleness and grace. That we might be shown whatever impurity lies deep within. So that we might confess it to Him, so that He might put it away from us forever by the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross. 


We Christians must look sharp that our Christianity does not simply refine our sins without removing them.

A.W. Tozer

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Plan a spiritual retreat to spend time in reflection before God. Ask the Spirit to search you thoroughly. Confess any revealed sin to God. Thank Him for His gift of refinement.

Forgiving (Matthew 6:12)

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Psalm 41 was written by King David. He wrote, “O Lord, have mercy on me;  heal me, for I  have sinned against you.” David understood that mercy, healing and forgiveness all have the same root. They all spring up out of love for the other. Yet mercy cannot be fully exercised if there is unforgiveness, and healing cannot be acted on without mercy first. So forgiveness has its place as the first expression of love, most especially for those whom we do not naturally love. It is, if you will, the least expression of God’s love

For this reason it is God’s least expectation of His people. They should – as His people – manifest this aspect of His character as a bare minimum. It may be a bit much for any parent to expect their children to exhibit the more subtle aspects of adult character, but it is not too much to expect them to at least pick up their most common behaviour. And if our creator God has ever demonstrated anything to us as His children, it is forgiveness. 

He demonstrated it in approaching Adam and Eve in the garden, calling out to them after they had willfully and deliberately sinned against Him. He demonstrated it in calling to Noah, even though Noah’s whole people group had descended into thinking “only evil all the time”. He demonstrated it to Terah’s generation, scattering them and blessing them with various languages instead of destroying them at Babel.

He demonstrated it to Abram, forgiving him for fathering Ishmael when he was promised a son through Sarah. He demonstrated it to Isaac, who lied to the people of Gerar. He demonstrated it to Jacob, who took advantage of his brother and lied to his father.

He demonstrated it to Moses, who killed the Egyptian. He demonstrated it to Aaron, who made the golden calf. He demonstrated it to the Israelites, who acted shamefully at Mount Sinai. He demonstrated it to Israel as a nation, who fell into idolatry over and over during the time of the Judges. He demonstrated it to Saul, who He let live and reign, even though he was double-minded. He demonstrated it to David, who committed adultery and first degree murder.

He demonstrated it to Peter, who denied Him three times over, and He demonstrated it to Paul, who severely persecuted God’s people.

In fact, the whole of the Scripture is a story of God forgiving us, of God delaying judgment in hope of our repentance, of God giving sinful mankind days, months, years and even decades to turn from sin. It is the story of God giving entire people groups generation upon generation to stop their idolatry and to turn to Him as God only. The pages of the Bible drip with forgiveness, compassion, mercy and love. 

So when Jesus tells us to pray, “Forgive us our debts,” it is not surprising to hear Him add the clause, “as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  In expressing an assumed forgiveness of our fellow sinners in His template for prayer, Jesus clearly communicates the idea; Forgiveness is the litmus test. If we are truly God’s, we must – as a bare minimum – truly forgive just as God forgave us. In fact, we are only forgiven as we have forgiven others because God expects His own to act as He does.

We become like the people we think about the most. If you dwell upon past hurts, you become just like those who hurt you. Hurt people hurt people.


APPLICATION: Intentionality

Who have you forgiven? Who do you need to forgive?

Daily Bread (Matthew 6:11)

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Moses, writing to Israel to encourage them in following the Lord, wrote,  “Remember  how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”  

Hunger is not always a bad thing. It can remind us of our spiritual frailty, calling attention to our slavish need to occupy our mouths. It can remind us of our physical frailty, pointing out our desperate need for daily sustenance. It can test our ability to overcome physical promptings. It can test our ability to maintain focus and stay on track. It can cause us to cry out to God for mental, spiritual and physical endurance. All of those are good things. 

Even better, it humbles us. It causes us to become aware that we are frail. That we are weak. That we are not able to create food of and by ourselves. We can grind the grain into flour, and press the olive into oil, but it is not us that creates either grain or olive.   Hunger makes us realize that we are – and always have been – completely dependent on God for literally everything. Yet if that is so for physical things, how much more so for the spiritual? 

The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, and during that whole time they ate manna from heaven. Bread that God Himself provided. Bread that pointed to Jesus, who said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” It was a daily reminder that God our Father not only provides for us physically, but provides for us spiritually. Of course, He does that with great abundance that each might have all they need, just as He did with the manna. 

Every day, creation witnesses to that. The whole of the general revelation of creation is speaking to us about it, even now as you read this. As Psalm 19 declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” We also have the whole of the Word of God available to us each day – the specific revelation of God in its entirety. So the spiritual ‘table’ the Lord has set for us is very full indeed – perhaps even fuller than the physical table! But just as each Israelite was to gather what they needed for the day, and not try to hoard it for the next, so also the Spirit illuminates a particular part of the revelation of God for us each day. He gives us insight and understanding that we can take and apply for that day. This is our daily bread. It is what we need spiritually, for this day

Going without that daily spiritual bread weakens us, just as going without daily physical nourishment weakens us. Only much more so, because going without physical bread for a meal or a short season can help focus our spiritual acuity, but going without spiritual bread winds up focusing something else. We find ourselves with an added emphasis on physical want and emotional need. Going without spiritual nourishment for a season is like reverse repentance. It is rebellion against the spiritual aspect of our personhood, and it becomes the first step toward idolatry. 

Jesus told us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.” Not merely that we might have something to eat each and every day, but that we might have something to feed our souls and keep our spiritual focus. Amen.

Do we serve out of duty or delight? Mutual communion is the soul of all true friendship and a familiar converse with a friend hath the greatest sweetness in it … [so] besides the common tribute of daily worship you owe to [God], take occasion to come into his presence on purpose to have communion with him. […] We use to check our friends with this upbraiding. You still [always] come when you have some business, but when will you come to see me?

Thomas Goodwin (quoted by J.I. Packer)


Even before your day begins, set your eyes, heart, mind and soul on God.

Provision (Matthew 6:11)

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The book of Genesis reveals that God made the whole world in 6 days. It  cannot be lost  on us that God made all of our physical surroundings, even plants and animals, prior to creating man. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  

That order was not without manifold purpose. Clearly, God wanted to provide mankind with a world ready for him. He made a whole world full of fresh air, water, trees, plants, fish, birds and animals for Adam and Eve. Everything we would need for life. God our Father is our provider. Not only of physical things, either. God also grants us the tremendous gift of relationship. Immediately after creating them, “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  Wow. Relationship with Him, relationship with each other, relationship with the created world. Blessing, work and calling! Truly it can be said, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” The abundance God made allows us to know for certain that He will not be unable to provide for our tomorrow.

Of course, sin obscures that idea. We begin to think that what is before us right now is all that will ever be. Indeed, apart from the creator, everything around us is a most limited resource. So mankind selfishly hoards. The result is that many do not have what they need. The few grow large, the many go without. Fortunately, God our creator and sustainer is not limited to what is. He can make more simply by speaking. So to turn to Him for our daily need is not only necessary, but wise. In him there is no want. To that point Jesus instructs us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”  

It is a prayer that asks God only for bread, not for the rich food of the over indulgent. It is a prayer that asks God only for daily need to be met, not for freezers full of abundance. It is a prayer that asks God for today, not for every day hereafter. It is a prayer that keeps our eyes on Him and does not let our eyes focus on abundance instead of Him. It is a prayer of humility that anticipates tomorrow’s prayer of humility. 

To that point NT Wright wrote, “The Kingdom-prayer isn’t a prayer, such as some religions would advocate, for our desires to be taken away or annihilated. In bringing them into the prayer within the setting of the earlier petitions for God’s honour, his kingdom and his will, it asks for our desires to be satisfied in God’s way and God’s time.”

Amen. God knew what Adam and Eve needed, and made a world that produced it. Each day that the night ended and the sun rose, God caused the plants to increase and the fruit to be produced, so that those He made in His image would have all they need for the day. And He did that all before He put Adam and Even on the scene. He didn’t create refrigeration or IDF (individually quick frozen) technology in advance. He didn’t create pensions and retirement funds in advance. He created daily provision in advance. That’s all, and there is a something for us to be gained in noticing that.

God knows what we need today. Ask Him. He is well able to provide. But only expect what you need for today, not what you might need for tomorrow. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.

William Shakespeare

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

What has God provided you with today?

Working (Matthew 6:10)

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We all die. Sooner or later, the body gives out, and the soul passes into   eternity. Only two people have ever avoided death entirely (Enoch and Elijah), and it is highly probable that they are the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11. Of course, in the end those two witnesses die too – for even Jesus Himself did not avoid dying. He overcame it in the resurrection, but death itself remains until the very last day. 

For this reason some have believed that our present life is of little value. That what really matters is making it to heaven, so that one can do what really matters on that side of eternity. Consequently, although they’ve may have been saved and even though they may live moral and upright lives, they spend little effort on bringing His Kingdom come. Content to know their surety, they assign the work of rescuing the lost to the clergy. Or to the very passionate – those they’ve attributed a ‘gift’ of evangelism and/or mission to. 

They have forgotten the very example they cling to. For Christ poured out his life on the earth for the poor, the forgotten, the downcast, the oppressed and the broken. Jesus preached the Good News everywhere He went – always making it a priority.  He did so, and even faced the cross, “for the joy that lay before Him.” Further, it was not only joy that was set before Him. Entirely as a result of what He did on earth, “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”

NT Wright wrote, “The present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die. God will raise it to new life. What you do with your body in the present matters, because God has a great future in store for it. […] What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbour as yourself—all these things will last into God’s future. They are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it, ‘until that day when all the blest to endless rest are called away’). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.” 

So when we pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we must not only be asking Him to bring about His Kingdom, and that His will might be effected on earth – we must be committing ourselves to work to the very same end. For surely this is the abundant life, that God allows us the privilege of working alongside Him, in bringing about His purposes in the here and now! Not only to be a blessing to many now, but so that He might reward His obedient children all the more when His Kingdom is fully here, manifested physically as well as spiritually! Amen.

Though I am always in a haste, I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit.

John Wesley

APPLICATION: Intentionality

How are you planning on honouring God in what you do today? 

Be Done (Matthew 6:10)

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How much time do you spend thinking about what God has for you in   heaven? It is not an idle question. What we think of heaven is critical to living the Christ-life on earth. If we think heaven is a place of endless rest and relaxation, we will be inspired to simply wait for it. We will act like tourists lining up to board the plane to their vacation instead of diligent servants of our King and Father. 

We work toward what we pray for. So if we pray as Jesus instructed us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and think God’s will is for nothing more than our eternal rest and pleasure, we will seek exactly that in the here and now. Perhaps that is one reason why so many of God’s people are not actively working to spread His Kingdom. 

But heaven is not an eternal spa day, with angels waiting on our every beck and call. Such a thing might seem very pleasant through the eyes of one who desperately needs a vacation, but it would rapidly become a bore to us, and a chore to angels. Sabbath is desperately needed and critically important. Yet God did not make the week a string of seven Sabbath days, and He did not make us to live in such a mode forever. Nor is it an endless Sunday morning worship service. Worship is infinitely more than singing songs and listening to messages, and far more than a meal and a presentation.

When we pray “your will”, we are praying for what God designs. We understand that it is God’s will for us to worship Him, and to love Him, and to serve Him. We also understand His will is for us to honor one another and to seek to bless one another. We know that it includes righteous behaviour on our part, both when we are with others and when we are by ourselves. That God’s will is manifested by working toward it and seeking to heal, to release, to spread His glory. Further, we know that we don’t always fulfill that will. We stumble and fall. We do what He would want us to do only imperfectly, and with mixed motive. That is not the case in heaven. In heaven, what God wants is realized with urgency, for there His will is uncorrupted by sin and the enemy’s influence.

What Jesus urges us to pray then, is not toward some idealized vacation. But toward greater and greater fulfillment of God’s rule and instruction. Jesus would have us to pray and seek to embody all He would have us to be and do here and now, just as we one day will be and do all He ever designs, perfectly and without sin, and forever. We start with simple obedience (Micah 6:8) and we go on from there in ever more strategic obedience (Matthew 28:19-20).

Jesus modelled that for us. He modelled it in devotion to God and application of His Word. He modelled it in healing people from sickness and in delivering people from spiritual oppression. He modelled it in spreading the Good News that God’s Kingdom of heaven was very near. He modelled it while walking the dusty streets of ancient Israel. While ministering to lepers. He modelled it while living in poverty. He modelled it by ministering across cultures. He modelled it in accepting wrongful arrest, imprisonment and even while being nailed to the cross.

The Christ-life is full of joy and peace and a sweet walk with the Lord. But it is not all fun and games. It constantly pushes us toward God and away from everything that distracts from God. That makes it a challenging adventure of walking in faith, and at times lonely and arduous and even painful. The Christ-follower must know that those seasons are not times of abandonment, but times of growth. Every moment in the obedient disciple’s life is used of God to either grow His Kingdom inside us (by the demolition of stronghold of wickedness in our thinking, or a new lesson of His ways learned, or a new worldview of His Kingdom gained) or to advance His Kingdom beyond us (by the same means, but in others around us). It could be said that until we see the Lord, both we and our world are constantly under renovation. Amen.

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.

Phillips Brooks

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What is God doing in your life today? In the lives of those around you today?

Will (Matthew 6:10)

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Any idea that God was obligated to respond positively to our prayers must  be  immediately dismissed on account of our sinfulness. Any idea that God would be obligated to respond positively to our prayers if only we were more holy must likewise be immediately dismissed after considering the cross. For in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus (the most holy man ever to walk the face of the earth) asked God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Yet God denied that request. Jesus didn’t just pray that once, either. He prayed it three times, and He prayed it earnestly and ferverently. Luke records, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” 

One must think then; that if God the Son asked, and then repeated so, and prayed so earnestly and in such great anguish of soul that He literally sweat blood about it – that God the Father would surely grant that request. Especially because it was a request to avoid extreme suffering, and a request made by the Son. But he did not. It was in fact as Isaiah had foretold, “it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.” 

Of course we have the New Testament’s testimony of the fruitfulness of that effort. And that testimony lends us the necessary courage to read the harsh reality of Christ’s suffering without feeling like God is the most uncaring of Fathers. 

Speaking on the day of Pentacost, Peter noted that Christ was “not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.” Instead, “God has raised this Jesus to life…Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” The whole of the rest of Scripture details how Jesus’ suffering bought untold numbers of redeemed souls for God’s great glory. His suffering gives every Christ-follower eternal life and purpose. It gives us the peace, presence and power to act as God’s people. Moreover, it set in place a chain of events that will ultimately result in the restoration of all things. So was it all worth it? All that sweat and anguish, all that pain and suffering? Of course it was worth it. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Not at all. 

This is truth; God’s will is always to our ultimate great benefit, but it is not always to our immediate comfort. To pray as Jesus instructed us, “your will be done” is therefore not an easy thing to do, because it risks discomfort – even great discomfort leading to death. Yet Christ asked us to pray it all the same, just as He prayed it all the same. Even knowing that the Father had sent Him to that precise point in time for the very purpose of suffering and dying the cruelest of deaths. Still, Christ prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Not because He was unaware of what lay ahead, but because he was keenly aware of it. His was a total surrender to God and to God’s purposes. 

Ours should be too. For Jesus, looking forward to the suffering before Him, also looked up to the Father He knew so well. He knew that the Father loved Him. He knew how much the Father loved Him. So He chose – in spite of what must have been the greatest anxiety – to trust His Father implicitly. He chose surrender to the Father’s will, knowing that the Father would not abandon Him forever. Even if it felt exactly like that

Jesus could do that because He knew this thing we can and should all know; God is good – all the time. And God, who is good, cannot be out-given. All we offer to Him He blesses and hands back to our tremendous and overwhelming joy. Even and perhaps especially, our suffering for His glory.  Amen.

Grace enables us to suffer without complaining, and even to use that suffering for God’s glory.

Warren Wiersbe

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Praise God that our suffering as His followers is never in vain. He yet will redeem every dime spent for His honor and every tear shed in His service.

Come (Matthew 6:10)

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Anyone who has ever tried to organize a church or community event will  realize that  getting multiple people to the same point in space and time is a rather significant thing. Everyone has their own agenda and their own obligations, so the event we seek to schedule has to be one that becomes a priority for all invited for the time suggested. If it is not a priority for them, it’s all but impossible to plan. It becomes exponentially more difficult if just one of the parties invited is completely unaware of the event (as in a surprise party). How much more difficult if many are unaware and at the same time most are indifferent?

Yet it is to God’s great glory that this is exactly what He is doing. Not only with every human soul, but with all created beings. Further, He is doing this while numbers of them are not merely unaware or indifferent, but actively working against Him! God is bringing history to a conclusion. He is bringing the blessing of Himself to lost mankind. Not only that, but He is doing so while all the time having expressly told created beings that He is going to do it. As though to give His enemies every possible opportunity to try to thwart Him. But do it He will, as all His prophets have already foreseen the foregone conclusion. 

As N.T. Wright wrote, “The prophets had promised it. Ezekiel: yhwh himself will come to be the shepherd of Israel. Zechariah: yhwh will come, and all his saints with him. Malachi (with more than a tinge of warning): the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his Temple. And, towering over them all, Isaiah: there will be a highway in the wilderness; the valleys and mountains will be flattened out; the glory of yhwh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” The day will come. God will come to the earth, and His Kingdom will be physically and fully manifested here. What we can only perceive with spiritual sight now we will then see with physical eyes. God’s kingdom will come. 

Then we will no longer have to pray, “your kingdom come,” because it will have already come, as fully and completely as it could ever arrive. God’s kingdom will come. But until it is fully physically manifested on earth, we pray. Not only for its eventual fulfillment, but for ever greater manifestations of it in the here and now

We pray that because we long to see more of it during our lifetime. To enjoy more of it, and to see the joy of others as they enjoy more of it. To see more of the purity of His Kingdom. To experience more of the peace of His Kingdom. To know more righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit

We have those things now, of course. But not in perfect measure, nor in lasting measure, for at present His Kingdom is not yet fully manifested. When His Kingdom is fully manifested it will be one of complete health and well-being and complete and everlasting provision. One in which we do not see peace come and go, or health fade and sickness reign unto death. One in which we do not see prosperity whither away due to corruption or loss. For, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

So we pray as Jesus instructed us to pray, “your kingdom come,” that we might see more of more of His rule breaking into our brokenness. That we might see done on earth what is a regular, daily and almost mundane experience in heaven

We may say that in the possession of the Spirit we who are in Christ have a foretaste of the blessings of the age to come, and a pledge and guarantee of the resurrection of the body. Yet we have only the firstfruits. We look forward to the final consummation of the kingdom of God, when we shall enjoy these blessings to the full.

Anthony A. Hoekema

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Today, pray for more opportunity to bring the Kingdom of God into your community.