Category — Attributes of God
In the previous three posts, I’ve introduced the idea that Psalm 23 serves as a Model for Living. We’re looking at four values from that Psalm by which David patterned his life. This post brings us to the third value.
David reminds us that as God’s children, we bear our heavenly Father’s name. He “guides us” or “leads us” in “paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” This value states that we glorify and represent the Lord well as we follow Him in paths of righteousness, or in right-living.
The apostle Paul reminds us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10) We are to live in a manner consistent with our heritage—we are the Lord’s children. We bear His name. [Read more →]
October 5, 2012 No Comments
Psalm 23 is no doubt the most well-known Psalm from the Bible. But I’m going to ask us to set aside our familiarity with it for a few minutes, and to consider it with a fresh perspective as a model for living.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23 NIV) [Read more →]
September 24, 2012 No Comments
Those of us who follow Jesus Christ claim that we maintain the sanctity of human life. When it comes to the issue of abortion, we recognize it for what it is: the taking of a human life; killing; murder. We have strong moral and ethical convictions and we back them up with Scripture and our consciences that are being formed by the Holy Spirit to reflect the character of God. We know the arguments and can articulate them well. For us, the issue of abortion has already been dealt with and defeated—intellectually—but to what effect?
For those of us who fall into the above category and who believe we understand the heart of God on the issue of abortion, what impact has our position made on our culture? Have our personal or collective beliefs, convictions and rhetoric made any dent in curbing the number of abortions conducted every year? Since the Rowe vs. Wade decision in 1973, we—as a nation—have the blood of over 54,000,000 babies on our hands. When is enough, enough? When will we realize that our personal and even collective position on abortion, in and of itself, makes no strategic difference? We must speak up. [Read more →]
April 26, 2012 1 Comment
16. Small groups are like the “mud room” in the farm house! Come as you are! A small group must be a safe place to be transparent and honest. In the small group we cry and laugh together. As long as we live behind a facade before others, we will not grow in Christ and we cannot help others grow in Christ. James said, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
17. Small groups provide us with the accountability that we desperately need! A few years ago, I was leading a men’s small group over the lunch hour. One of our guys (I’ll call him Kent) came in late and was noticeably troubled. We greeted Kent and I asked him what was wrong. He blurted out that he had just had a fight with his wife. I asked him if he had reconciled with her, to which he answered no. He explained what their argument was over and it was crystal clear to all of us that Kent was being extremely unreasonable and unloving toward his wife. Playfully, we told him to get back home and make things right with his wife and to let us know how things went. To Kent’s credit, he did! Kent was grateful for our tough love for him (and so was his wife!). [Read more →]
February 27, 2012 No Comments
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) By debts, Jesus is not referring to financial indebtedness, but our sins. The New Living Translation renders this verse, “And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” Just prior to modeling this prayer, Jesus reminded His listeners, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8) If God knows what we need before we ask Him, then why ask? We ask God because it’s fitting to do so.
As we read or pray this prayer, it would be easy for us to see our “daily bread” or the “forgiveness of our debts” as the focal things, but they aren’t. The focal thing in this prayer is God and our relationship with Him. When we express our need to Him for bread and for forgiveness, we interact with Him in a way that cultivates our relationship with Him and acknowledges who He is. God is not merely the “bread-Giver” or “Forgiver,” He is our Father. “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!” (Matthew 7:11) [Read more →]
November 16, 2011 No Comments
In the next stanza of the Lord’s Prayer, we find a shift in focus. “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) Up to this point, the Lord’s Prayer has centered on praising and affirming God’s nature, character and kingship in our lives. Based on our relationship to Him, we also look to Him to meet our needs—“our daily bread.”
Asking God to provide for us is not an abdication of our responsibility to work hard for ours and others’ needs. Rather this request simply acknowledges that everything we have and enjoy is a gift from God. We look to Him as our loving, sovereign benefactor. The psalmist expressed to God: “You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home, and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor. You cause grass to grow for the livestock and plants for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth—wine to make them glad, olive oil to soothe their skin, and bread to give them strength.” (Psalm 104:13-15 NLT) [Read more →]
November 10, 2011 No Comments
The Lord’s Prayer continues, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name….”Our Father in heaven—our God— is holy. He is pure and unblemished. He is not only free from any hint of evil, but He is infinite love, goodness and righteousness through and through. In the heavenly scene in Revelation, the angels cry out before Him, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8)
When we pray to God, “Hallowed be your name,” we both declare that God is holy and that we desire our lives to honor Him as holy. We profane Him when we ascribe attributes or works to Him that are not holy or are inconsistent with His character. Paul warns in this regard, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23) [Read more →]
October 30, 2011 No Comments
“Our Father in heaven….” This opening phrase demonstrates the full scope of who God is. He is our Father. He is close to us; personal, present and ready to respond. And, He is also high and lifted up. He is the Exalted One. He is, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:24-25) He is “our Father in heaven.”
That our Father is in heaven is not meant to frighten us, but it should awe us with a sense of reverence (godly fear) and wonder! The fact that God is both our very present Father and our exalted God in heaven is also extremely comforting! For He is not like an earthly father who may disappoint, act selfishly, capriciously, or weakly. Listen to His voice as he calls: [Read more →]
October 24, 2011 No Comments
So far, we’ve considered the context for the Lord’s Prayer in both Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts. We see from Matthew’s Gospel most clearly that Jesus’ intention for this prayer is that it serve as a model for prayer. Jesus said, “Pray like this….” Let’s take a closer look then, at each component of this model prayer.
“Our Father in heaven….” We begin by addressing God as “our Father.” He is the Father of us all from the viewpoint that He created us. We are His. (See Acts 17:24-31.) More specifically, God has called us into relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Through Christ we become His children; His sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18). So we rightly and reverently address God as our Father. We look to Him for everything: love, protection, provision, and deep relationship. [Read more →]
October 17, 2011 No Comments
In the last post, we began looking at the context of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke’s Gospel. We saw how the incident with Mary and Martha sets us up for a right attitude in prayer—to come humbly with the intent to listen to the Lord. Following the Lord’s Prayer, we find two parables. Jesus gave these parables to remind us about God’s character. As we come to him in prayer, we need to think rightly about him.
The first parable is about a man who has an urgent need late at night and who goes to his neighbor for help. But his neighbor refuses to help him with lame excuses. It’s important to realize that in that culture and day, it was unthinkable for this man not to help his friend. Jesus’ point is clear: God is not like this neighbor who feels inconvenienced by his friend. God cares deeply for us and will help us! Jesus assures us further with the words, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10) [Read more →]
October 13, 2011 No Comments