Thursday, 27 January 2011

'Hallowed be Thy Name'

Some versions of the Lord's prayer translate this part of the prayer as 'Holy is Your Name'. From addressing God as a child at the begining of the prayer we now address Him as a worshipper.I appreciate the fact, as one who is unworthy to enter the presence of God in his own goodness, that the Lord has encouraged us to go through the door to speak to Him as part of His family.

How great indeed is the Name of the Lord at every level. It is the highest name and the only name under heaven through which we can be saved.It is at the name of Jesus that demons must flee and through which the apostles healed the sick.It is this name and the person the bears it that must be first in our hearts and the name we must never take it in vain or use it in a self serving way. Phil.2:9-11 states(see also Isa.45:23-24): "Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." For the Jews the holy name of God was so revered that it was never casually spoken or written of.Likewise for us it must then be held in the highest honour and be our desire 'to spread through all the earth abroad',the honour of honours of it! And by the same token, grieve us deeply when we hear it being dishonoured or taken in vain.

How precious it is for those who know the name of Jesus Christ and know him as Saviour,Lord and Friend.How well did the former slave trader John Newton write of how this name was be a healing balm for his wounded soul and for all those who call upon it:

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Our Father Who is in Heaven

Jesus tells us that when we are to address God in prayer we are to call Him Father. I think that by and large we take this too often for granted for we do not realize fully what an incredible privilege this is or the great implications that this means for us as children of God.I think we would do well to meditate on this great truth.

I remember when I was in my twenties when I was studying for a theology exam on Methodist doctrine. I was learning John Wesley's definition of 'the witness of the Spirit', and at the time was worried because it was just a few hours before the exam took took place. I decided to learn it line by line.

'The testimony of the Spirit as an inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God directly witnesses to my spirit, that I am a child of God; that Jesus Christ hath loved, and given himself for me; and that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God'.

At first I was anxious about the exam, but as I repeated the words: 'the Spirit of God directly witnesses to my spirit, that I am a child of God', something happened within my heart and the words became alive to me by the Spirit who did in fact witness to the fact that I was indeed a child of God. Then added to that were the words:'
that Jesus Christ hath loved, and given himself for me; and that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God'. I became ecstatic and experienced such joy and blessing that I had not had for such a long time.I was a child of God, Jesus did not only love me,but gave his life for me and that I,even I was now reconciled to God. All anxiety about the exam then disappeared because I could now see it in the correct perspective.
Before my dog died a few years ago I used to walk him along a certain route which lasted about twenty minutes or so.During that time I would try to use it as an opportunity to draw close to God through praying the Lord's prayer. However, more often than not I would not have finished the prayer as I would sometimes get stuck at 'Our Father who is in heaven' and be unable to pray on.I didn't want to move on because the implicaton of those words was just so powerful to me and by moving on I was worried that I would lose the closeness that I was experiencing through meditating on it and by praying to God as a young child would talk to his father.

Reader if you are a Christian, I would encourage you to meditate upon this wonderful blessing for some time, for surely if you are a child of the King you are then so richly blessed by Him.Thank Him and praise Him continually that it is so.For it is a gift from the King of Kings to you.Go to Him and talk to Him as a child would his father and let your requests, fears, desires and hurts be known to Him.His heart for you is a heart of love.'O what manner of love the Father has given on to us, that we should be called the children of God.'Amen.


Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Lord's Prayer: The Greatest Prayer in the World.

Our Father Who is in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
Forgive us our sins,as we also forgive those who have sinned against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but
Deliver us from the evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Over the next few days I aim to look at what is commonly known as the 'Lord's Prayer' commenting on each phrase and petition one by one. We can take confidence when we pray it because it is the prayer that the Lord taught His disciples to pray. We therefore don't have to second guess what He teaches us:He taught us to say these words so now we can pray them in faith, not worrying whether we are praying things which are beyond us or that we have no right to pray. What relief is that- We know that He will hear us and that He wants to answer our requests.

Spurgeon one time discovered a book of children's addresses which had broken the Lord's prayer into the following heads:
Father who is in heaven: A child away from home
Hallowed be Your name: A worshipper
Thy kingdom come: A subject.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven: A servant.
Give us this day our daily bread: A beggar.
Forgive us our sins: A sinner
Lead us not into temptation: A sinner in danger of being a greater sinner still.

Spurgeon goes on to state that the petitions are like a ladder, beginning at the top then descending down.The petition of the child is at the top and is the highest position that any man can have:'See what manner of love the Father has given onto us that we should be called the sons of God' 1 John 3.2. Not even the angels can achieve this position.
The next rung down is that of the worshipper. How high and glorious is this.It is indeed high but not as high as that of a child, but with the angels we may worship the triune God.Below this we have the subject of the King asking : 'Thy Kingdom come '. He is lower than the worshipper but higher indeed than the servant who prays 'Thy will be done'. Next is the beggar who asks for bread. Then beneath this is the sinner who asks for his sins to be forgiven, Spurgeon states that asking someone to forgive is always lower than asking them to give. As long as we are on this earth we should be praying that God would have mercy on us. Lastly is the sinner who is frightened of becoming an even greater sinner who prays 'Lead us not into temptation.' Yet as Spurgeon points out it is perhaps only the mature child of God who is aware of his own frailties. It is only the son of the Father who in devoted service and has suffered the onslaughts of Satan who knows how much he needs mercy when his back is being hard pressed against the wall.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

1 Timothy 6

1 All those under the yoke of slavery must have unqualified respect for their masters, so that the name of God and our teaching are not brought into disrepute.

2 Those whose masters are believers are not to respect them less because they are brothers; on the contrary, they should serve them all the better, since those who have the benefit of their services are believers and dear to God. This is what you are to teach and urge.

Teachers and the Love of Money

3 Anyone who teaches anything different and does not keep to the sound teaching which is that of our Lord Jesus Christ, the doctrine which is in accordance with true religion,

4 is proud and has no understanding, but rather a weakness for questioning everything and arguing about words. All that can come of this is jealousy, contention, abuse and evil mistrust;

5 and unending disputes by people who are depraved in mind and deprived of truth, and imagine that religion is a way of making a profit.

6 Religion, of course, does bring large profits, but only to those who are content with what they have.

7 We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it;

8 but as long as we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.

9 People who long to be rich are a prey to trial; they get trapped into all sorts of foolish and harmful ambitions which plunge people into ruin and destruction.

10 'The love of money is the root of all evils' and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds.

Final Charge to Timothy

11 But, as for you Man of God, avoid all that. You must aim to be upright and religious, filled with faith and love, perseverance and gentleness.

12 Fight the good fight of faith and win the eternal life to which you were called and for which you made your noble profession of faith before many witnesses.

13 Now, before God, the source of all life, and before Jesus Christ, who witnessed to his noble profession of faith before Pontius Pilate, I charge you

14 to do all that you have been told, with no faults or failures, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15 who at the due time will be revealed by God, the blessed and only Ruler of all, the King of kings and the Lord of lords,

16 who alone is immortal, whose home is in inaccessible light, whom no human being has seen or is able to see: to him be honour and everlasting power. Amen.

17 Instruct those who are rich in this world's goods that they should not be proud and should set their hopes not on money, which is untrustworthy, but on God who gives us richly all that we need for our happiness.

18 They are to do good and be rich in good works, generous in giving and always ready to share-

19 this is the way they can amass a good capital sum for the future if they want to possess the only life that is real.

20 My dear Timothy, take great care of all that has been entrusted to you. Turn away from godless philosophical discussions and the contradictions of the 'knowledge' which is not knowledge at all;

21 by adopting this, some have missed the goal of faith. Grace be with you

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

1 Timothy 5

Treatment of Church Members
1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.
3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.
11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, 12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. 13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. 14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15 For some have already turned aside after Satan. 16 If any believing man or[b] woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.

Honor the Elders
17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,”[c] and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”[d] 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.
21 I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. 22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.
23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.
24 Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. 25 Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.

Monday, 10 January 2011

1 Timothy 4

Some Will Depart from the Faith
4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus

6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

1 Timothy 3

Qualifications of Overseers
1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Qualifications of Deacons
8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Monday, 3 January 2011

1 Timothy 2

Pray for All Men
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ[a]and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Men and Women in the Church
8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.