The Great Sayings in the Gospels
Sermon 11:: How Shall We Pray?
“Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever…”
Would it surprise you for me to confess that on many mornings in my life I have awakened insane, hallucinating and under a profound delusion?
A number of years ago I worked with a man who had served in the war in Vietnam and had come home with what is called PSTD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He came to work one morning with a frightening story, so frightening that he was still unnerved about it. It seems that he was taking a nap in his living room on the sofa on Sunday afternoon when he was awakened by voices outside his house. One of his sons was visiting with his friends on the driveway and they had gotten loud with their conversation. But my co-worker did not at all perceive things to be this way. In his mind, he had awakened in Vietnam and the voices he was hearing were the Viet Cong, getting ready to attack. He reached and got his gun, rolled off the couch onto the floor and began crawling toward the open window with the intention of doing as much violence as possible to the enemy. As I recall the story, another of his children walked into the room at that moment and asked him what he was doing. This brought him back to reality, the frightening reality that he had almost done irreparable harm to his son and his friends. The man made arrangements for something else to be done with the gun.
I wonder how some of you ladies would feel if your husband was to wake up one morning under such a delusion.
I also wondered how some of the husbands might feel if the wife woke up one morning convinced that you guys had won the lottery, collected the check, and had 50 million dollars in the bank. What if she told you that she was off to buy herself a new car, pick out your new house and then go on to the store to begin the process of buying herself and entire new wardrobe?
In both cases, I am sure, someone would be on the phone to a health care specialist to arrange for an evaluation of the spouse.
Now my delusion, the one that I have often experienced upon waking, is not that I am in a war or that I have won the lottery. You see, I have woken up many days under the deep impression that I belonged to myself and that the day before me was mine to do with as I pleased. And, I am sad to say, that on many occasions I have gone forward into the day with that mind set. The problem is that my perceptions and my perspectives were all contrary to reality. That is what a delusion is, is it not? The person perceives reality in a way completely contrary to fact.
The facts are that I, as a child of God, do not belong to myself on at least three counts. First of all, I am a creature, created by the good pleasure of God for His good pleasure. He owns me outright by creation. Not only that but He created everything in my world. There is nothing that I can conceive of owning that does not already belong to Him for the same reasons. Secondly, Jesus Christ bought me with His Own Blood on the cross, rescuing me from eternal destruction and translating me into His Kingdom by grace. So, He owns me by reason of redemption and that ownership is complete and total. Thirdly, there came a time in my life when He revealed to me what He had done for me and granted me repentance and faith to trust Him as Savior and Lord. In process of time I learned that a part of the process of believing and serving Him was to give myself back to Him voluntarily and completely, and, as much as lies within me, I have done so.
Therefore, on three counts: Creation, Redemption, and Personal Surrender, I belong to Him. So, any day that I awaken with the perception that I am my own, the day before me belongs to me, and I can do what I please in it, I am laboring under a delusion so profound that any rational person could justly certify me as delusional, insane, crazy. See my point? Someone should call the psychiatrist.
1)One of the Great Issues of all time in the Mind of God is the Issue of Ownership.
a)Listen to His Words to ancient Israel:
4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.
5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: KJV
26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine. KJV
4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. KJV
16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. KJV
One of the key issues of knowing and serving God is remembering Who owns what. And the answer to that is that He owns everything, large and small, physical and spiritual, earthly and heavenly. Everything is His property. Being godly and living a godly life involves living, thinking, acting and even feeling that this is true.
b)That Issue becomes even more clear in the NT.
Here, Jesus Christ is revealed to us as the Creator.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. KJV
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: KJV
He is also the One Who has Redeemed us, purchased us, unto Himself.
1 Peter 1:18‑19
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; KJV
And, He is the One Who calls upon His people, demands really, that they give themselves without reservation to Him.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. KJV
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. KJV
c)Reality, then, for the believer, is very carefully and closely defined.
Nothing belongs to us, not even ourselves, and surely not the great issues that surround God and His revelation to us.
Jesus would have us reflect profoundly on this as we close our daily prayers to the Father. There is a very good reason that we are asking God to accomplish His will in the world, grant us grace to obey and serve Him, lead us in the way He would have us go and deliver us from His great enemy. Everything belongs to Him and it is essential that all rational beings obey and serve Him in the ways that He has commanded.
2)Let us examine the particular things mentioned in the Model Prayer by Jesus for our daily reflection.
The Kingdom can only be one thing, the Kingdom of God, which is also called the Kingdom of Heaven, “my Father’s Kingdom,” the Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdom of His Dear Son, the Everlasting Kingdom of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Kingdom which He hath promised, a Kingdom which cannot be moved, “Thy Kingdom” (speaking to Jesus Christ), His Heavenly Kingdom, and the Kingdom of Christ and of God.
Jesus was clear that this kingdom does indeed have a king and that is Himself, but that it has no borders and national boundaries like all other kingdoms. It cannot be defined in terms of physical territory, GNP, or the size of its military. This kingdom is a uniquely spiritual place in which the laws of God rule over the hearts of men and women, boys and girls, and that with their agreement and commitment. It is Jesus the King and all of His people when considered as a group together.
It is called “His Kingdom” because that is exactly what it is, a Kingdom over which He rules as Sovereign Lord in which every citizen has been peculiarly purchased to Himself by a massive work of Redemption, accomplished as a unique work by Jesus Christ Himself.
Any person who is seeking Him in prayer under the guidelines of this model that He is setting forward, is representing himself (herself) as a member of that kingdom, a subject to this King, and one upon whom a massive gift has been bestowed.
13 Who (the Father, v.12) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: KJV
By a mighty act of God, this individual has been removed from a kingdom ruled over by the “power of darkness” and has been “translated” into Christ’s kingdom. The word “translated” literally means to cause to change position or location. This is the case of every single inhabitant of that Kingdom and anyone who prays to the King of that Kingdom is called upon to acknowledge His ownership both of the kingdom itself and of each person who dwells in it.
The Kingdom of Heaven is a thing of amazing power. But here is one thing that many who contemplate the Power of God and His Kingdom fail to recognize many times. The greatest exercise of His Power has been in the Work which Jesus Christ did on the Cross and that which God has done through Him in the salvation of the people of His Kingdom.
15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, KJV
In v.19 of this text, the apostle Paul marshals together all of the words of the Greek language which have to do with strength, power, and ability.
First of all, you will notice that in order to actually appreciate the power of God there must be an actual work of revealing grace, even to the child of God.
Secondly, I would have you take note of the words themselves. Paul is desiring that God reveal to His people “the exceeding greatness of His power (‘dunamis’ – dynamite) to usward who believe, according to the working (‘energeian’ – energy) of his mighty (‘kratos’ – force, might) power (‘isxus’ – strength).” The last few words are actually to be read “according to the energy of the strength of His might.”
But, what is being described is the force, the power, that was brought to bear on the universe in order to bring the people of God to saving faith. We “believe according to the working of His mighty power.”
The power that has brought us to God is indeed mighty, but it is that power and that along which brought us to God. Nothing of our coming to Christ is attributable to our own strength or power. Jesus would have us acknowledge that every day when we pray, remember it, consider it, ponder it, and then steadfastly refuse to take credit for our own conversion to Him.
When a person does something significant or when he is shown to be a wonderful individual for the great traits and characteristics he possesses, he/she deserves to be acknowledged for having done a great thing. This is the theory upon which the “Glory of God” is based.
He is in possession of all of the traits which make a person grand to us and He is perfect in all of those attributes. Not only that, but He has done mighty and wonderful things beginning with Creation and culminating in the Work of Jesus Christ.
For those things He is due all of the recognition that would be proper and right as considered by a truly rational and right-thinking person.
This portion of our prayer points out that God Himself is so uniquely revealed as to His attributes and His wonderful works that He is the only One Who should be praised. The ‘Glory’ belongs exclusively to Him and that fact is recognized by those who worship Him according to His instructions.
d)Let us also consider the extent of His Ownership of those things.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.”
There is never going to be a time when it will be otherwise. There will never be a day when any glory is due to us.
I know that there are many people who are looking forward to being rewarded at the Great Judgment of God. Now, for sure, there are going to be rewards. (Although I am not sure how many there are going to be for those so sure that they will get them.) But here is a thing that the Great Judgment is going to reveal. No good thing done by any person has ever been done apart from the merciful, gracious, persistent and condescending work of the Holy Spirit of God. No one has ever conceived of a work that is pleasing to God and then initiated it, carried it through, abode faithful in it, and caused it to be a blessing to others and a glory to God apart from massive, continual, and merciful help from God. Therefore, anyone rewarded for such a gift is going to honestly testify that any glory due for the good done belongs exclusively, completely, and eternally to God and to Him alone.
3)And, finally, there is the issue of how we react to this truth.
To use a phrase that has grown trite, how do you feel about being the total property of God? Or, the better question is, How do you believe the Lord Jesus would have us respond to this issue?
Would He have us acknowledge God’s ownership grudgingly, sadly, resentfully? You know that is not the case. If we know anything of scripture, this truth is one that He would have us embrace with joy, thanksgiving, celebration and complete satisfaction. “I belong to God in every way possible and I am thrilled to have it be so.”
I wonder what we would hear if we could eavesdrop on one of the old saints contemplating this reality.
“O Lord, I am so happy that I am yours and yours alone!”
“I want to belong to you, to be owned by you in every possible way.”
“I long to live and breathe in You, to be filled by You, to be possessed by you in body, in mind, in soul and in spirit. I want to experience your ownership of my whole person and do it so completely that there is room for nothing else.”
Growing up in a preacher’s home, there often were times when I would have to tell my friends, “no, I am not allowed to do that,” and it was because my father had principles by which he lived and by which he directed his family and he would not compromise on them. In my own mind, however, I obeyed but grudgingly. I wanted to go to that movie, or that dance, or that party. “I can’t do it because my Dad is a preacher,” I would tell myself. I was not happy to be under his rule at those times.
And, there have been times when, as an adult, I have been grudging about the ownership of God upon my live and times, I am ashamed to say, that I have outright rebelled against that notion. But when my mind is right (and some say that is not often) I am so happy to be His and to be able to do what He would have me do. I am thrilled to be given grace to turn away from sin and toward obedience, to give an hour to prayer rather than to pleasure, to meditate on scripture instead of watching a movie, to fellowship with a saint and not listen to the blasphemy of an unbeliever.
When my mind is right, I say, I am thrilled to the depths of my soul that God owns every piece of me and I desire to relinquish all of me to His rule, to His authority, to His service.
Jesus would have us close our prayer in complete joy that we no longer belong to the kingdom of darkness but have been translated into the Kingdom of His Dear Son.
May it ever be so, and that more and more, in your heart and in mine.