Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Greatness And Glory Of God's Word


Tuesday Night Bible Study at Church Of Divine Guidance.


Mikey asked me to teach this Tuesday and I immediately thought of teaching from Psalm 150. It's all about praise.

Psalm 150:1-6 NIV Praise the Lord . Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord . Praise the Lord .


Pastor taught from Psalm 119 on the Prayerline last week and I thought his asking for and getting feedback was great and that I would do 150 the same way. However the Holy Spirit said consider continuing with 119. I thought about it and said no my first thought was 150. The Holy Spirit said consider 119 so I said okay. Pastor's sermon Sunday was from 119 so I got the message.


Pastor highlighted;


Psalm 119:97-104 NIV Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.


The thing that makes the writer wise, gives insight, and understanding is the word of God. The writer was talking about the Torah or the Law, God’s revealed Word.

The English word “Torah” comes from the Hebrew word toh·rahʹ, which can be translated as “instruction,” “teaching,” or “law.” Toh·rahʹ often refers to the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, as God revealed them to Moses. So it is called “the book of the Law of Moses.” or the Pentateuch, from a Greek word meaning “fivefold volume.” Evidently, it was originally written as one book and divided later. This psalm refers to the Torah as

Psalm 119 is an expansion of Psalm 19:7–9: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.”

Psalm 119 refers to the revealed Word of God over and over again, and is mentioned in at least 171 of its 176 verses using different synonyms.

There are 8 basic words used to describe the Word are;

● Law (torah, used 25 times in Psalm 119)

● Word (dabar, used 24 times): The idea is of the spoken word, God’s revealed word to man.

● Judgments (mispatim, used 23 times): “From shaphat, to judge, determine, regulate, order, and discern, because they judge concerning our words and works; show the rules by which they should be regulated; and cause us to discern what is right and wrong, and decide accordingly.”

● Testimonies (edut/edot, used 23 times): This word is related to the word for witness. To obey His testimonies“signifies loyalty to the terms of the covenant made between the Lord and Israel.”

● Commandments (miswah/miswot, used 22 times): “This word emphasizes the straight authority of what is said . . . the right to give orders.”

● Statutes (huqqim, used 21 times): The noun is derived from the root verb “engrave” or “inscribe”; the idea is of the written word of God and the authority of His written word. “Declaring his authority and power of giving us laws.”

● Precepts (piqqudim, used 21 times): “This is a word drawn from the sphere of an officer or overseer, and man who is responsible to look closely into a situation and take action. . . . So the word points to the particular instructions of the Lord, as of one who cares about detail.”

● Word (imrah, used 19 times): Similar in meaning to dabar, yet a different term. “The ‘word’ may denote anything God has spoken, commanded, or promised.”

- From Enduring Word Bible Commentary

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. The author of Psalm 119 is unknown, but most scholars believe that it was written by David, Ezra, or Daniel. 

Psalm 119 affirms that God’s Word reflects the very character of God Himself.


1. Righteousness (verses 7, 62, 75, 106, 123, 138, 144, 160, 164, 172)

2. Trustworthiness (verse 42)

3. Truthfulness (verses 43, 142, 151, 160)

4. Faithfulness (verse 86)

5. Unchangeableness (verse 89)

6. Eternality (verses 90,152)

7. Light (verse 105)

8. Purity (verse 140)

The psalm is arranged in an acrostic pattern. Meaning that it is written so that each section is given a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and and each line in that section begins with that letter. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and this Psalm contains 22 sections of 8 verses each.

 1-8. The Blessing of Obedience.

Blessed... who walk in the law of the Lord. The theme of the psalm is here set forth clearly. Note that most of the ten synonyms for the law are used in this first strophe.

9-16. The Way of Cleansing.

Psalm 119:9 NIV
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.

The answer to the problems of youth in any period of history is to heed God's Word by meditating on it and committing it to memory and by testifying concerning it to others.

Psalm 119:11, 13-13, 15 NIV I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.

17-24. The Delight of Experience.

Psalm 119:24 NIV
Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

This delight is based upon his past experience with God in times of persecution. A note of sorrow and desire runs through this strophe, but the section ends in delight.

25-32. The Strength in Understanding.

Psalm 119:27 NIV
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.

The peril confronting the psalmist makes him call for strength and comfort. He realizes that the quickening he desires comes from an understanding of God's teachings.

33-40. The Need for Guidance.

Psalm 119:33 NIV
Teach me, Lord , the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.

In phrase after phrase, the speaker pleads for God's guidance in ordering his life and in refraining from folly.

41-48. The Courage for Witnessing.

Psalm 119:41-42 NIV
May your unfailing love come to me, Lord , your salvation, according to your promise; then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word.


This appeal for help is not selfish; it is inspired by a desire to have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me. The speaker further declares that he will witness to kings without being ashamed.

49-56. The Source of Comfort.

Psalm 119:49-50 NIV
Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

In the time of affliction, God's teachings have been his stay and the songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

57-64. The Resolution of Faithfulness.

Psalm 119:57 NIV
You are my portion, Lord ; I have promised to obey your words.

Thinking upon his ways brought him to the point where he could turn his feet unto God's testimonies. His gratitude is evident in his promise to arise at midnight to thank God.

65-72. The Discipline of Affliction.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted. Having gone astray before his affliction, the psalmist now sees a beneficent purpose in his suffering.

73-80. The Justice of Retribution.

Psalm 119:78 NIV
May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts.

He pleads for God's blessings upon himself and shame upon his enemies. His end desire is that he may strengthen the faith of others.

81-88. The Hope in Darkness.

Psalm 119:81 NIV
My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.

In a succession of sobs, he expresses his hope and determination in his darkest hour. With each plea for comfort he reiterates his desire to be faithful.

89-96. The Triumph of Faith.

Psalm 119:92 NIV
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

The hope of the preceding strophe becomes an assured victory here. He affirms that he will never forget God's precepts

Psalm 119:93 NIV I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.

Now the part that Pastor talked about on Sunday.

97-104. The Joy of Enlightenment.


Psalm 119:98-100 NIV
Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.

The psalmist describes how his study of the divine law has made him wiser and more understanding than his enemies, his teachers, and the aged. The emphasis is here upon the law itself, the source of knowledge rather than on native intelligence.

105-112. The Light of Life.

Psalm 119:105 NIV
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

His pilgrimage through life is under the guidance of God's teachings. He thus vows to follow the light wherever it may lead and whatever dangers may be involved.

113-120. The Inspiration of Loyalty.

Psalm 119:113-114 NIV
I hate double-minded people, but I love your law. You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

This loyalty gives him a sense of safety and the inspiration to face the future.

121-128. The Time of Intervention.

Psalm 119:121-122, 126 NIV
I have done what is righteous and just; do not leave me to my oppressors. Ensure your servant’s well-being; do not let the arrogant oppress me. It is time for you to act, Lord ; your law is being broken.

After declaring that he has diligently followed the right, the psalmist appeals for action on God's part. So completely have his oppressors disregarded God's law that only divine judgment is left for them.

129-136. The Wonder of Illumination.

Psalm 119:129-130 NIV
Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

The greatest wonder is the inner light that gives understanding even to the unlearned man. The psalmist is brokenhearted over those who do not keep God's law.

137-144. The Challenge of Righteousness.

Psalm 119:137-138, 142, 144 NIV
You are righteous, Lord , and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true. Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live.

Because the Lord is righteous, his judgments and testimonies, also, are everlastingly righteous.

145-152. The Assurance from Prayer.

Psalm 119:145-146 NIV
I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord , and I will obey your decrees. I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes.

Recalling the many times he has prayed unceasingly for divine help, he cries again for God's quickening power. Then he reaffirms his faith in the Lord's nearness and the verity of His teaching.

153-160. The Consciousness of Need.

Psalm 119:154, 156-156, 159 NIV Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise. Your compassion, Lord , is great; preserve my life according to your laws. See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, Lord , in accordance with your love.

The severity of the speaker's affliction and his understanding of his personal need are clearly shown in the repetition of quicken me in verses 154, 156, and 159. The enduring nature of God's righteous judgments is his hope and assurance.

161-168. The Peace in Love.

Psalm 119:165 NIV Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

Even in the presence of potent enemies, the psalmist has an inner peace that grows out of his love for God's way.

169-176. The Determination of Steadfastness.

Psalm 119:176 NIV I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

The psalmist sums up his message by pleading for further spiritual help, while declaring his intention to stand fast upon the foundation of God's teachings.

Throughout his affliction, the author clings to the truths he learns from the Scriptures

Psalm 119:89-91 (NKJV)89 Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.91 They continue this day according to Your ordinances, For all are Your servants.

His love for the Word of God and his dedication to remember it and live by it is a theme that is repeated over and over.

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV)11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!

Psalm 119:15-16 (NKJV)15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

Psalm 119:24 (NKJV)24 Your testimonies also are my delight And my counselors.

Psalm 119:34 (NKJV)34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Psalm 119:44 (NKJV)44 So shall I keep Your law continually, Forever and ever.

Psalm 119:47 (NKJV)
47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love.

Psalm 119:55 (NKJV)55 I remember Your name in the night, O LORD, And I keep Your law.

Psalm 119:60 (NKJV)60 I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments.

These are the lessons for us in this great psalm. The Word of God is sufficient to make us wise, train us in righteousness, and equip us for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NKJV)15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Scriptures are a reflection of God’s nature, and from them we learn that we can trust His character and His plan and purposes for mankind, even when those plans include affliction and persecution. Blessed indeed are we if our delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law we meditate day and night

Psalm 1:1-2 (NKJV)1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

Bible Study Audio




Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down - Session 6 - Forgive Us Our Debts





The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by R. Albert Mohler, The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful prayer in the Bible, taught by Jesus to those closest to him. We desperately need to relearn its power and practice.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have become so familiar that we often speak them without a thought, sometimes without any awareness that we are speaking at all. But to the disciples who first heard these words from Jesus, the prayer was a thunderbolt, a radical new way to pray that changed them and the course of history.


Far from a safe series of comforting words, the Lord’s Prayer makes extraordinary claims, topples every earthly power, and announces God’s reign over all things in heaven and on earth. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book in the study notes. 

Last week we talked about Jesus telling His disciples that they should recognize their total dependence on God and ask that He provide their most basic physical needs.

The petition “give us this day our daily bread” reminds us of our dependence on God for even the most fundamental needs of life. Jesus in this model of prayer points out the difference in the Creator ant the creature. God’s name is to be hallowed in heaven.  We, on the other hand, are incapable of even getting basic sustenance without his help. Jesus teaches us to exalt God while humbling ourselves.
 

FORGIVENESS: THE GOSPEL FOUNDATION OF THE LORD’S PRAYER


 Matthew 6:12 NIV And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Let's first talk about the significance of Jesus using forgiveness of debt. 

Debt for us today can be very stressful.  Too much debt can put serious strain on our lives restricting our ability to live stress free lives. The Bible says that debt makes us slaves.

 Proverbs 22:7 NIV The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Today debt can cause strain in relationships.  It is the number one cause for divorces.  However in Jesus’ day it meant literal slavery and or prison.  We even had debtors prisons in the early history of the United States.

This is the context in which Jesus teaches us to pray “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Jesus’ use of the word debts is meant to evoke in our mind both a serious offense and a corresponding serious punishment. To be forgiven a debt was no mere trifle, but an act of extravagant mercy.
        
 The petition “give us this day our daily bread” emphasizes our most urgent physical needs, the petition “forgive us our debts” emphasizes our most urgent spiritual need. Saying we owe a debt to God means that we have failed to give him the obedience he is rightly due. We owe God our obedience, and we have failed to pay up. Thus, as sinners, we stand before God condemned, rightly deserving his just wrath. Only God’s forgiveness can clear our guilt and establish a meaningful relationship between God and us.

We can only say these words and ask these things of God when we stand on the finished, atoning work of Jesus Christ. Indeed, this petition demonstrates that the theological bedrock of the Lord's Prayer is nothing less than the gospel. We can only rightly pray the Lord's Prayer when we recognize that we are deeply sinful and only God’s grace in Christian remedy our souls.

God’s forgiveness of sin is the basis of the gospel.  The gospel, or the Good News, is the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God, and of Jesus's death on the cross and resurrection to restore people's relationship with God.

This kingdom arrived with the coming of Christ, who urged his hearers to repent because the “kingdom of God is at hand.” Christians are now part of that kingdom. As Paulstated, “[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Thus, even though we await the full expression of God’s kingdom that will come in glory and power at the return of Christ, we are at this time living under the reign of God as his people—we are citizens of that kingdom.

First, this prayer establishes that we are sinners in need of forgiveness. Jesus okidentifies that our deepest, most urgent spiritual problem is nothing less than personal rebellion against a holy God. Our fundamental spiritual problem is
not a lack of education, lack of opportunity, and inability to express ourselves, or unmet social needs. Our problem is sin. We have transgressed God’s law and spurned his commandments. As a result, we need his forgiveness.
        
 Second, Jesus teaches us not only that we have sinned but also that we have the hope of forgiveness. It is easy to miss just how audacious the words of Jesus actually are. Jesus is teaching sinners, rebels against God, to have the audacity to approach God's throne—a throne established in justice and holiness—and ask for forgiveness. The only thing that can account for this boldness is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only the work of Christ on behalf of sinners could possibly enable a sinner to go before God's holy throne to petition that God forgive his debts. Only those with hearts fixedon the Lord Jesus Christ and his atoning work on the cross can appeal to God’s mercy and redemption.
        
Third, we see in this passage that God is willing to forgive sin. By teaching us to pray in this way, Jesus implies that God desires to forgive our sin. Scripture repeatedly makes this point:
        
[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Tim. 2:4)
        
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
        
Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Ezek. 18:23)

Richard Sibbes famously said, “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”

By agreeing with God that we are sinners and repenting of that sin by asking for forgiveness, God clears our debts on account of Christ’s work for us.

The only way we can be forgiven is through the sacrifice of Jesus.  Jesus Christ the Son, whose perfect obedience and perfectly accomplished atonement on the cross purchased all that is necessary for our salvation.
 Jesus Christ met the full demands of the righteousness and justice of God against our sin.
        
Paul summarized the work of Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We do not earn the righteousness of God in Christ; instead it is given to us freely when we believe the gospel: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23–24). Indeed, nothing in us or achieved by us is the grounds of our acceptance with God. Instead, as Paul made clear, “To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).

When God saves us he starts the sanctification process which means that he is working through the Holy Spirit to confirm us to the image of Jesus.

Romans 8:28-29 NIV  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.


FROM FORGIVEN TO FORGIVING: THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS



It's because we have been forgiven that we forgive.  Not only does Jesus teach us to petition God for forgiveness, he also teaches us to pray that God forgive us in the same way that we forgive our debtors. Now we must be very careful with this clause so that we don’t take it to mean something that Jesus would not affirm. Jesus is decidedly not saying that we are forgiven by God because we have forgiven other people. That would make the grounds of our acceptance with God our own works and not God’s grace. Scripture is very clear that we are justified before God by faith alone, not by works of the law.
        
What Jesus is affirming in these words is that when we experience God’s forgiveness,  we are fundamentally transformed into forgiving people. We become new creatures.

 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

When Jesus said that we should ask God to forgive us because we have forgiven others we’ve misinterpreted what He said. God’s forgiving us has nothing to do with our forgiving others. That would make our forgiveness based on works and that contradicts

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.


Those who truly know the forgiveness of sins, forgive others. Jesus emphasized this point a number of times throughout his ministry:
        
 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?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matt. 18:21–22)
        
 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)
        
 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents,
 forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, “I repent,” you must forgive him. (Luke 17:3–4)

Jesus’ words on forgiveness are clear. Without forgiving others we will not be forgiven.
           
Again, the grounds of our forgiveness is never our own works. But forgiveness is necessary evidence that we have received forgiveness. If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. Hard hearts have no place in the kingdom of God. The reason, of course, is that the King himself is a forgiving king. Just as he forgives us when we rebel against him, so the citizens of God’s kingdom forgive one another.









Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down - Session 5 - Give Us This Day - God's Abundant Physical Provisions




The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by R. Albert Mohler, The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful prayer in the Bible, taught by Jesus to those closest to him. We desperately need to relearn its power and practice.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have become so familiar that we often speak them without a thought, sometimes without any awareness that we are speaking at all. But to the disciples who first heard these words from Jesus, the prayer was a thunderbolt, a radical new way to pray that changed them and the course of history.


Far from a safe series of comforting words, the Lord’s Prayer makes extraordinary claims, topples every earthly power, and announces God’s reign over all things in heaven and on earth. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book in the study notes. 


Up to this point, the Lord’s Prayer has revealed a great deal about the  character of God. We have seen that for those who are in Christ, God is a caring Father. Jesus emphasized God’s transcendence and omnipotence by observing that he is “in heaven.”

He established the worth of God and the value of his glory by teaching that God's name should be hallowed. Finally, Jesus emphasizes that God is king—the sovereign Lord who will bring his kingdom to every corner of the earth.



Give Us This Day


He now instructs His disciples to ask that God provide for us.  This request is an acknowledgement that we are dependent on God as our provider.

Matthew 6:11 NIV - Give us today our daily bread.

The petition “give us this day our daily bread” reminds us of our dependence on God for even the most fundamental needs of life. Jesus in this model of prayer points out the difference in the Creator ant the creature. God’s name is to be hallowed in heaven.  We, on the other hand, are incapable of even getting basic sustenance without his help. Jesus teaches us to exalt God while humbling ourselves.
 
God is our Creator and He designed humans to be dependent. From the moment of birth, we rely on the kindness of others to meet our needs. We need our parents to feed us, dress us, and even train us to sleep. Even as we grow older, we remain tremendously needy. We depend on others for relationships.

He knew that Adam needed help in order to accomplish the command to subdue the earth.

Genesis 1:26-28 NIV - Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

We need communities in which to live and work. We depend on the government for safety and security.

Romans 13:4 NIV -  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

1 Peter 2:13-14, 17 NIV -  Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

The Apostle Paul even says that we should pray for our government leaders.

 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV - I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

We have no sufficiency in and of ourselves, and we delude ourselves by believing we can be truly independent of others.

The church is a place or community of people which when functioning in the love of Christ is a place populated by people who support each other.

  Acts 4:32-35 NIV - All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

 Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV - And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.


PHYSICAL NEEDS IN BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

Before the fall mankind depended on God to provide but there was always surplus and abundance so there was no need to ask for Him to provide because there was nothing disturbing the relationship.

After the fall however their experience was quite different, as is ours today. Our default experience is no longer abundance but scarcity. Food must be produced by the sweat of our brow, and its existence is never certain.


Genesis 3:17-19 NIV -  To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Since the fall there are no guarantees. With regard to food there are droughts, disease, insects, etc.  There are financial disasters.

Thus, after the fall we become even more dependent on God for our daily sustenance. We are no longer merely creatures in need of provision; we are sinners in need of the Creator’s mercy.

We talked about God being the Father of those who have become part of His family through Christ. In our prayer we acknowledge that He is our Father, and as our Father He provides for our physical needs.

Matthew 7:9-11 NIV - “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  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!

Earlier in our study we emphasized the fact that in this prayer the petitions are not for self only but for others.

The first-person singular (I, me, my, mine) is completely absent from the Lord’s Prayer. Evidently, prayer should not center on you or me.

Jesus did however recognize the need for physical resources. Asking that God provide for physical needs is not unspiritual.  People who teach that we should not be concerned about our physical needs being met are suspect.  I don't mean obsessing about physical comfort I’m talking about our needs.

Our lives are not divided between spiritual activities and earthly activities, but both spiritual and secular activities are to be to the glory of God. 

German theologian Helmut Thielicke once described the horrors of World War II and explained that one of the most terrible realities of the war was widespread deprivation and starvation. He reminded his readers that we should never undervalue physical needs, observing that a hyper-spiritual theology that ignores physical needs has never had to come face-to-face with the horrors of deprivation.

In asking that God provide our daily bread Jesus is saying that God is concerned about everything that affects us from our ability to eat to our greatest needs.  The emphasis is on need.

The Bible Eve tells us that we should help each other.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:17-18 NIV

This word shows us that we ought not pray for opulence and riches, only for the needs of the day. Further, this word teaches us to pray for our needs every day, seeking God’s provision in our life hour by hour. In sum, the word daily here teaches us to train our hearts to depend consistently on God, rather than just in times of need.

AN OLD TESTAMENT ILLUSTRATION


There is an example of daily provision in God providing for the Hebrews while the sinned and grumbled in the wilderness for 40 years.

Exodus 16:4-7 NIV -  Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”  So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord , because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?”

God knows exactly how much to provide.

 Exodus 16:5, 17-18 NIV - On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”  The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

He not only provided food and protection but their clothes didn't ever wear out.

Deuteronomy 8:4 NIV - Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.

We can be sure, as God’s children, that He will provide for us today.  God may not provide for us in the way that we think is best. But we will always find that he provides for us according to his infinite love and care.

BREAD OF EARTH, BREAD FROM HEAVEN: ECHOES OF ETERNITY IN JESUS’ PETITION FOR BREAD


Thoughts from Mohler:

This passage teaches us that God designed physical needs to point to our deeper spiritual needs. Our need for daily physical sustenance is a faint echo of our daily need of spiritual sustenance and satisfaction from God.

  Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV - But humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors 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 .

The only way that we will taste the goodness of God’s provision is by living according to what comes from the mouth of God. This is why Jesus regularly referred to himself as the “bread of life,” the true man sent from heaven

John 6:35 NIV -  Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

He is God’s ultimate provision for our spiritual lives.
           
Each day, as we pray for our daily bread, we should be reminded of our daily need for Christ to forgive our sins and empower us for obedience. Each time we pray for daily bread, we should recognize our deeper need for the bread of life—the only one who can truly satisfy.


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Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down - Session 4 - Your Kingdom Come






The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by R. Albert Mohler, The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful prayer in the Bible, taught by Jesus to those closest to him. We desperately need to relearn its power and practice.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have become so familiar that we often speak them without a thought, sometimes without any awareness that we are speaking at all. But to the disciples who first heard these words from Jesus, the prayer was a thunderbolt, a radical new way to pray that changed them and the course of history.


Far from a safe series of comforting words, the Lord’s Prayer makes extraordinary claims, topples every earthly power, and announces God’s reign over all things in heaven and on earth. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book in the study notes. 


Whose Agenda Is It Anyway?


Matthew 6:10 NIV - your kingdom come,  your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Last week we learned that the very first petition that Jesus taught his disciples that they should make in prayer is that God’s name be hallowed.  Jesus is not merely saying that God’s name is hallowed; rather, he is asking God to make his name hallowed. The verb hallow, however, simply means to “make holy” or “consider as holy.  Just as we speak of “having a good name” as a way to refer to a good reputation, the Old Testament uses the same idiom to refer to God’s reputation. A name is something personal. It always feels more or less unpleasant when others misspell or garble our name: it stands for our honor, our worth, our person, and individuality. . . . There is an intimate link between God and his name.

How then does God “hallow his name” in the world? First, “hallowed be your name” is a request that the church be sanctified. The church is the steward of God’s name.  We must petition God to “hallow his name” in our discipleship, in our prayer, in our preaching, in our witnessing, in our work, and in eternity. Our ultimate concern is not that our lives be comfortable, but that God be glorified, and that our lives, even our prayers, put God’s glory on display.  Faithfulness in the Christian life makes the glory of God go public.

The second petition, “your kingdom come,” builds on the first by showing us how God’s name is hallowed in the world. God reveals his character and reputation as his kingdom spread to every corner of the earth and as citizens of that kingdom do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

The Lord’s Prayer is for revolutionaries, for men and women who want to see the kingdoms of this world give way to the kingdom of our Lord.

But what is God’s kingdom, and what does it mean to pray for its arrival?  

We’re going to talk about that today.

Pastor likes to say that the kingdom of heaven is inside us.  

Luke 17:20‭-‬21 NKJV Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;  nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The context of Jesus’ statement is a question put to Him by His Pharisee detractors who had asked when the kingdom of God would come (verse 20).

Jesus’ answer was that the kingdom of God was not coming in the manner the Pharisees were expecting. The kingdom would not be inaugurated with spectacle or splendor; there would be no great and magnificent leader who staked out a geographical claim and routed the Romans; rather, the kingdom would come silently and unseen,

Matthew 13:24‭, ‬26‭-‬33‭, ‬38‭-‬50 NKJV Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;  But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’  He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ” Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,  which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”

The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.  The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,  who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,  and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

In fact, Jesus says, the kingdom had already begun, right under the Pharisees’ noses.

Various translations render the Greek of Luke 17:21 various ways. The phrase translated “within you” in the KJV and NKJV is translated as “in your midst” in the NIV, NASB, and NET; “among you” in the NLT and HCSB; and “in the midst of you” in the ESV. Earlier versions of the NIV had “within you” with a marginal note suggesting “among you.” There is obviously a difference between saying “the kingdom of God is within you” and “the kingdom of God is among you.”

“Within you” comes off as an unfavorable translation, seeing that Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees at the time. Jesus was surely not saying that the kingdom of God resided within the Pharisees’ hearts. The Pharisees opposed Jesus and had no relationship with God. Jesus in other places denounced them as “whitewashed tombs” and “hypocrites” (Matthew 23:27).

The better translation would be “in your midst” or “among you.” Jesus was telling the Pharisees that He brought the kingdom of God to earth. Jesus’ presence in their midst gave them a taste of the kingdom life, as attested by the miracles that Jesus performed. Elsewhere, Jesus mentions His miracles as definitive proof of the kingdom: “If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

There are three popular interpretations of Jesus’ words in Luke 17:21 that the kingdom of God is within you (or among you): 1) the kingdom of God is essentially inward, within man’s heart; 2) the kingdom is within your reach if you make the right choices; and 3) the kingdom of God is in your midst in the person and presence of Jesus. The best of these interpretations, it seems, is the third: Jesus was inaugurating the kingdom as He changed the hearts of men, one at a time.

For the time being, Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). One day, however, the kingdom of God will be manifest on the earth (Isaiah 35:1), and Jesus Christ will rule a physical kingdom from David’s throne (Isaiah 9:7) with Jerusalem as His capital (Zechariah 8:3).

The kingdom of God is not something that is part of the political systems of this world. No government on earth truly represents God’s kingdom. Instead, Christians are citizens of a kingdom that will one day arrive in consummate glory. Our hope is not that the governments of this world will transform into the kingdom of God, but that the kingdom of God will come from heaven to earth in power and glory.

In Scripture the kingdom of God must be understood as something that is already here on earth but not yet fully present. In other words, the kingdom of God has been inaugurated but not yet consummated.

This kingdom arrived with the coming of Christ, who urged his hearers to repent because the “kingdom of God is at hand.” Christians are now part of that kingdom. As Paulstated, “[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Thus, even though we await the full expression of God’s kingdom that will come in glory and power at the return of Christ, we are at this time living under the reign of God as his people—we are citizens of that kingdom.

The kingdom of heaven is what the writer of Hebrews said the faith heros were looking forward to.

Hebrews 11:13‭-‬15 NKJV. They all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.


Biblical Theology of the Kingdom


the Bible speaks about God’s kingdom in terms of creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation.  “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and
blessing.

Creation


Each of these features is present in the earliest manifestation of God’s kingdom in the garden of Eden. God’s people, Adam and Eve, live in God’s place, the garden of Eden, under God’s rule and blessing.

The Fall

Adam and Eve are exiled from the garden, no longer able to enjoy God’s blessing because they rebelled against God’s rule.

Redemption

In the work of redemption, God continued the work of building a kingdom on earth. Thus, God called Abraham and his children (God’s people) to be a light to the nations (Isa. 42:6; 49:6). He promised them the land of Canaan (God’s place) where he would dwell with them in the tabernacle and then in the temple. Finally, God gave the Israelites his law and the sacrificial system so that they might draw near to him (God’s rule and blessing).  Yet, as we all know, Israel failed to do and to be what God desired of them. Like Adam, they rebelled against God.

The prophets spoke of a day when God would fully and finally bring his kingdom from heaven to earth. Jeremiah, for instance, spoke of a day when God would inaugurate a new covenant, when the law would no longer be written on tablets of stone but would instead be written on the tablets of people’s hearts. In other words, the law would no longer only be something outside of us (demanding obedience and condemning our failure) but instead would be something God etched on our hearts giving us the power to obey his commands.

Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord : I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Jesus came preaching the inauguration of the kingdom. His disciples were allowed a glimpse of his kingdom in glory during the transfiguration (Matt. 17:2;  Mark 9:2).

After his resurrection Jesus declared that he had been given “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). The Great Commission is rooted in Christ's declaration that he is the king on the throne of all creation. In our current stage in redemptive history, therefore, God’s kingdom is made up of those who believe in Christ (God's People) gathered in local churches across the world (God’s place) under the law of Christ and partaking of the new covenant (God’s rule and blessing).
Now we have a few key insights helpful in interpreting this petition—“your kingdom come”—in the Lord’s Prayer. God’s kingdom is essentially his reign over his people for their good and his glory. God’s reign is not just his absolute sovereignty; is also a redemptive reign that transforms hearts and creates obedience.

Now we have a few key insights helpful in interpreting this petition—“your kingdom come”—in the Lord’s Prayer. God’s kingdom is essentially his reign over his people for their good and his glory. God’s reign is not just his absolute sovereignty; is also a redemptive reign that transforms hearts and creates obedience.

THE COMING KINGDOM


According to Scripture, how does the kingdom of God come from heaven to earth?

It does not come through moral reform and social justice, which is a good thing but can lead to a very liberal view of lifestyle and sin. It does not come through political processes either which can also be good but taken to legalistic extermes.

The Bible teaches that God’s kingdom only comes as God’s people preach God’s Word, which, coupled with God’s Spirit, produces life and obedience. To use the language of Paul, God’s Word and Spirit change the hearts of sinners such that they are rescued out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of his dear Son

Colossians 1:13‭-‬14 NKJV  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

THE REIGN AND RULE OF GOD: YOUR WILL BE DONE


The “will of God” can be used in two different ways. First, Scripture can speak of God’s will of decree, or what we could call God’s sovereign will. When Scripture speaks of God’s will in this sense, it refers to his absolute, sovereign rule over all things.

Psalms 115:3 NKJV But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

Second, Scripture uses the phrase “will of God” to refer to God’s commandments. Theologians also refer to this use of the “will of God” as God’s revealed will. The revealed will of God speaks to what God expects of his human creatures. The Ten Commandments, for instance, are an excellent example of God’s revealed will.  The call to repent and believe the gospel would be yet another example of God’s revealed will.

Acts 17:30‭-‬31 NKJV Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Jesus is not talking about God’s sovereign will because that is already set both in heaven and already on Earth. Jesus is clearly referring to God’s revealed will. He is asking the Father to reshape the hearts of every single person such that God is obeyed and glorified by men.  When the kingdom of God arrives anew and afresh in the hearts and lives of the lost, they begin to obey God from the heart, just as the angels in heaven. In this age, the age of the inaugurated kingdom, we know that reality only in part. In the comingage, the age of the consummated kingdom, we will experience that reality completely.

It is no longer “my will” that is preeminent, but his.  “Here more clearly than anywhere the purpose of prayer becomes plain: not to make God do my will (which is practicing magic), but to bring my will intoline with his (which is what it means to practice true religion).”

WHAT ARE WE REALLY ASKING?


For the kingdom of God to come means that all other kingdoms (including our own!) must fade into oblivion.  By praying “your kingdom come,” Jesus Teaches us that we are ultimately meant to value God’s agenda, not our own.
We mentioned before that God's kingdom is not something that we can make happen. We can't do it  through humanitarian efforts and good works. We can't do it pushing a particular political party or a particular government with the kingdom. Christians too often fall prey to the temptation that we can bring about the kingdom of God by political force or some other sociological means. But God's kingdom is not of this world. As Jesus teaches us in this prayer, we are dependent on God and God alone to bring the kingdom to every heart and every corner of the earth.  We cannot manufacture God’s kingdom by our own efforts. Instead, we are called to be faithful in the Great Commission, trusting that God by his sovereign, supernatural grace will spread his redemptive reign to every tribe, tongue, and nation.
        
So what are we asking when we say “your kingdom come”? We are asking for something wonderful and something dangerous all at the same time.
        
        
        •We are praying that history would be brought to a close.
        
        
        •We are praying to see all the nations rejoice in the glory of God.
        
        
        •We are praying to see Christ honored as king in every human heart.
        
        
        •We are praying to see Satan bound, evil vanquished, death no more.
        
        
        •We are praying to see the mercy of God demonstrated in the full justification and acquittal of sinners through the shed blood of the crucified and resurrected Christ.
        
        
        •We are praying to see the wrath of God poured out upon sin.
        
        
        •We are praying to see every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
        
        
        •We are praying to see a New Jerusalem, a new heaven, and a new earth, a new creation.


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