Monday, October 7, 2019

Worship A Holy God


Worship A Holy God.
A Sermon by Thomas G. Carter
Preached Oct. 6, 2019
            “Hudson Taylor was the most widely used missionary in China's history. During his 51 years of service there, his China Inland Mission established 20 mission stations, brought 849 missionaries to the field (968 by 1911), trained some 700 Chinese workers, raised four million dollars by faith (following Mueller's example), and developed a witnessing Chinese church of 125,000. It has been said at least 35,000 were his own converts and that he baptized some 50,000. His gift for inspiring people to give themselves and their possessions to Christ was amazing.”[1]  Taylor is thought of being on of the fathers of the modern missionary movement.  Yet he only wrote a small book on Song of Solomon.  He didn’t write anything about missions or church or faith.  Yet those who knew him wrote that just before the sun would come up every day, you would hear a match strike and a lamp would light as Taylor would wake up and head out to worship The Father.  It was the most important part of the day for Taylor, He would be worshiping God before the sun even came up.[2] A. W. Tozer was a great pastor and teacher who was always instructing the church on the need to worship God.  He called worship the churches crown jewel.[3] King David, the man after God’s own heart, gave us a treasure trove of worship in the book of Psalms.  He worshiped God with his whole life and said this in Psalm 27:4:
“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.”[4]
David worshipped a Holy God, and this is what we need to long for as well. What does it mean to worship God and how do we do that, are important questions to explore?  We will seek to find that answer in the month ahead.
            Worship starts with loving God as it says in both testaments of scripture: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”[5]  We can plainly see this in how the ten commandments start:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods, before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven about or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I am the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations, of those who hate me,”[6]
Clearly, we are to worship a Holy God.  The whole life of the Jewish faith centered on the worship of the living God.  They had the tabernacle that traveled with them and they moved from Egypt to the promise land.  It was always supposed to be in the center of the camp of the Jewish people.  This was so it would be the center of all the activity in the camp.  Later the place of worship was to be in Jerusalem on the High point of the city.  For Christians we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
            We are that temple which the Lords spirit dwells in. Paul say to the church in Corinth:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!  Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.[7]
Because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit our lives are to be a living example of worship to God.  When we sin we are taking the Lord with us.  You don’t have to know much about the scriptures to know that God hates the sexual sins the most.  Notice what God Says about that in verse 15: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!”[8]  This should move many of us Christians to our knees when we sin against God.  There are many examples in scripture about how important proper worship is to God.  One example is in 2 Samuel 6 where David is trying to have the Ark of God brought to Jerusalem.  It was never to be touched and was never to be carried on a cart.  They broke both because it was on a cart and the cart stumble Uzzah reaches out and touches it to steady it and he was killed by God. God means business. Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
            We are to worship God more than just what we do here on Sunday mornings or other worship type services.  John MacArthur in his book “The Ultimate Priority” has given us Four Kinds of Unacceptable Worship.   These are very much something for us to consider as we learn to worship our great and powerful God.  First, we need to know that we are not to worship false Gods.  Paul talks about this clearly in Romans chapter 1 verse 21-32:
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,  and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.  And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.[9]
We can see here the direct results of there improper worship of God in the God has given them over to the sins they are doing and the consequences of sin.  Sin has consequences and the more we sin the more that sin can dominate or lives and in slave us to it.  Christ has set us free from sin, but many Christians today return to that enslavement we have been freed from.  We can even worship the false God of materialism with out being conscious of it.  The bible say says in Job 31:24-28:
“If I have put my confidence in gold, and called find gold my trust, if I have gloated because my wealth was great, and because my had had secured so much; If I have looked at the sun when it shone or the moon going in splendor, and my heart became secretly enticed, and my hand  threw kiss from my mouth, that too world have been an iniquity calling for judgment, for I would have denied God above.”[10]
If what we have, or possessions, become the center of or lives to the point we need them, we will have denied God and begin to worship them as God.  Habakkuk 1:16 says “Therefore they offer sacrifice to their net and they burn incense to their fishing net; because through these things their catch is large, and their food is plentiful.”[11] Paul tells us that people who worship false Gods are worshipping demons.  Check this out: “No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become shares in demons.”[12]  Paul also says in Acts 17:29: “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.”[13]  We all know that we are the image of God so why do with think that our creator would have been made from these same materials. [17]
            Secondly, we can worship the true Go in a wrong from.  In Exodus chapter 32 the children of Israel have not seen Moses for a long time so they god to the priest Aaron to make them a god to worship. They believed it to be the God that had brought them out of the land of Egypt.  Moses comes down the mount and finds what they are doing and breaks the stone tables that the ten commandments were written on.  He reflection on this in Deuteronomy 4:14-19:
“The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it.  “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth. And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.”[14]
When God revealed Himself to Israel, it was not in a visible form.  We are not to reduce God down to any image.  What ever you think God looks like it is not acceptable.  God is though light. [17]
            Third kind of deviant worship is the worship of the true God in a self-style manner.  It is when we make worship about us and not about God.   Tradition is a big thing that we do to make worship about us.  You don’t have to be any in old church long before you might hear the phrase, “We don’t do that in that way.”  We like what we like but think about the service what if we only sang one song.  What if we didn’t light the candles.  What if we sat while we sang the songs?  Not that I am wanting us to do that but for some just hearing those worlds make them uneasy.  Jesus says this in Matthew 15:3 “And He answered and said to them, “Why do yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”[15] [17]
            Finally, there are people worshiping the true God in the right way but with the wrong attitude.  Today, is your whole heart in worship?  Do you give what is the best gladly to God?  Malachi talks about our worship attitude, he says;
“You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’ But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts.  “But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts.  “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you.”[16]
Does this sound familiar to you.  We often worship God with our lift overs.  If we have extra money, we tithe.  We go to church if there is nothing else going on.  We avoid getting involved with the church so we can do other things.  The bibles we own just get dusty because we never use them.  The world looks at many people who come to church every single Sunday as hypocrites.  Can others say that about you?  What matters the most?[17]
            The great hymn Holy, Holy, Holy, gives us the right view of the Holy God that we worship.


[1] “The Life and Ministry of James Hudson Taylor,” Ed Reese, https://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/biotaylor2.html
[2] Joseph S. Carroll, How to Worship Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody,1984,) 15-16
[3] Ibid.,16
[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 27:4.
[5] Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:29-30
[7] Ibid., 1 Cor. 6:15-20
[8] Ibid., 1 Cor. 6:15
[9] Ibid., Rom.1:19-32
[10] Ibid., Job 31:24-28
[11] Ibid., Hab. 1:16
[12] Ibid., 1 Cor. 10:20
[13] Ibid., Acts 17:29
[14] Ibid., Deut. 4:14-19
[15] Ibid., Mat. 15:3
[16] Ibid., Mal. 1:7-10
[17] John Macarthur, The Ultimate Priority (Chicago: Moody, 1983), 7-12

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Forgiving Others.



Forgiving Others


“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
Today’s blog will be a group of scriptures to think and meditate on about this hard subject of forgiveness.

1. We must forgive our debtors. “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
2. Forgiving others is an absolute necessity.  “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:15-15
3. Jesus says we must forgive often. “Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22. “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4
4. Read the parable of the unmerciful servant showing how sinful it is not to forgive; God sends judgment on sin. Matthew 18-23-25
5. Put away bitterness and anger; forgive as God forgives.  “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Eph.4:31-32
6. Be imitators of God.  “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Eph. 5:1-2
7. The father of the prodigal son forgave him and accepted him as completely as if he had not sinned. Luke 15:20-24
8. Jesus commands us to forgive others. “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Mark 11:25
9. Love keeps no record of wrongs.  “[love] keeps no record of wrongs.”  1 Cor. 13:5
10. Love covers (overlooks) a multitude of sins.  “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8
11. Restore with gentleness one who has fallen into sin.  “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”
12. Paul tells us we must forgive and restore one who has sinned against us.  2Cor. 2:5-11
13. Forgive a repentant sinner and affirm your love.  “so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.”  2 Cor. 2:7-8
14. When we forgive others, we outwit Satan.  “But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”  2 Cor. 2:10-11
15. Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery and treated them kindly.  Gen 45-50
This comes from the book “Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling by John G. Kruis.  I highly recommend everyone get a copy.  God bless!

Source:
“Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling”, John G. Kruis, copywrite 1994 published by Baker Books, Grand Rapids.
Scripture from “The New American Standard Bible” copywrite 1995 by the Lockman Foundation, La Habra 
Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Daily Bread



Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  Mat. 6:11

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  James 1:17

            Many people take time to pray over their meals to say thank you for the meal that the Lord has provided them.  Some at the end to the day will say a prayer of thanks for some blessing that they feel came from the Lord.  A child might say thanks for parents or grandparents and maybe for some toy that they have gotten.  When we say thanks to God we are acknowledging where these things come from.  God gives us our daily bread and so we need to look at praying for what we need.
            The Life Application Bible says, “When you pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are acknowledging that God is our sustainer and provider.  It is a misconception to think that we provide for our needs ourselves. We must trust God daily to provide what He knows we need.” Acknowledging God as our provider is seen later in chapter six when Jesus talks about worrying about food and clothes.  Jesus says: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). By seeking Christ, we will by default acknowledge that it is God who is our provider.
            Praying for what we need is to be for this day. We are given today and today should be the focus, or most of our prayer.  Jesus would say in verse 34 of chapter 6 that, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Today, we need food to eat we need to be sustained today.  If the Lord wills us to have tomorrow, we will need to pray for what we need when we get there.  This being said, we don’t take steps to prepare for tomorrow, but our main focus should be on today. Tomorrow will have its own worry and so to focus more attention on that we forget to live today, and we can miss out on the needs we have today.
            Now when asking God to give us our daily bread, does not mean that we don’t work.  God has given us abilities that are also gifts from above.  This gives and abilities are to be used, to the glory of God.  When you think about this, it is to God’s glory that our work provides the things we need to sustain us.  The book of Proverbs talks about the lazy man going hungry (Proverbs 19:15).  Work has always been part of Gods plan, just read Genesis Chapter 2 where man was to attend to the garden that God had planned.  We are to work, and our work provides us food, but all that does come from God.
            Lastly, we need to pray for what sustains us, not to spend time praying like God is a genie that grants us wishes. Now, God gives us beyond what we ask or even imagine, but we aren’t to be greedy people.  Our focus is always to be on God and His righteousness.  We are to seek His kingdom as well.  As we grow we need to pray and seek the will of God for our lives.  That in turn should be reflected in our prayers.
            Prayer is a reflection of us knowing and loving God.  As we grow in our walk with God it will be reflected in how we pray.  We learn to pray and our prayer should be to have God teach us His will, so that our prayers will be a better reflection of our walk with God and what we need from God.  It should be a prayer of our hearts that God would teach us to pray.


All Scripture is from New American Standard Bible.  Copyright 1995 by the Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA

Life Application Study Bible.  Copyright 2000 by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Prayer and the Will of God



Prayer and the Will of God

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is heaven.”  Matthew 6:10

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  Luke 22:42

            We have been looking at the subject of prayer in the last few blogs, and that continues in today’s as well.  Many people say they do not know how to pray, and so it’s important to look at what the Bible says about it.  Jesus taught his Apostles to pray, in Matthew 6:9-13, with an example of prayer.  This week let’s look at the meaning of, “your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 
            Selfishness and our own desire for control, dominates a lot of our lives.  The world tells us to look out for number one   We have big sections in books stores on self-help and self-esteem, and most teach that you are number one.  There are some good things in those books too, but we need look to the scripture for direction on how to live.  God’s will might not line up with our will, and that can make our walk with God difficult. Following our will can cause us to sin.  We will battle self and flesh our whole life (Romans 7:21-25) and that should be present in your prayers.
            This scripture is deeper than praying for the future kingdom of Christ to come here on earth, though we should pray for that too.  We need to ready our lives for the kingdom of Christ by seeking the will of God.  It starts by us aligning our lives to that of Christ.  Then we must seek the will of Christ to be done in our lives.  Jesus gave us an example of aligning to the will of God, even when it was hard.  In Luke 22:42, Jesus was facing the cross and a horrible death.  He was also facing, for the first time, a separation from The Father.  The flesh was weak, but Jesus still submitted to the will of God and used prayer to seek it.  Prayer is where we can find help to seek and align our self with God’s will.
            Obedience is the outcome of us seeking the will of God for our life.  We are to be obedient to God.  He desires it more than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22).  Did you know that it is even a sin to not do the good you know you should do?  That means that if it’s the right thing to do and don’t do it, you sin (James 4:17).  Sometimes doing God’s will does not come easy, and it does come in conflict with what we want to do.  That means we need to go to God in prayer about it.
            Remember that Gods will is, “good, pleasing, and perfect” (Romans 12:2).  The devil will want you to hate God’s will.  He will want you to think there are problems with it, and it is intrusive.  Yet, we know that it’s anything but that, once we are aligned with it.  Romans 12:1, tells us to go as far as offering our lives as living sacrifices to God, and not to conform to the patterns of this world. In doing so, we can be transformed to the will of God, as our minds are renewed.  We need to have our minds renewed, and that will begin by seeking it through prayer. 
            Jesus, in the prayer, says the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven.  We need to pray that what is done here on earth to be like that in heaven.  Heaven on earth will truly happen when Christ comes back to earth, but we can always seek revival to take place in our lives, and in Christ’s Church.  We could see a glimpse of heaven on earth through a church that is walking in the will of God.  It is hard, even for a church like it is for people at times, to align with God’s will.  Church is made up of people and so, if the people aren’t aligned to God’s will, then the church will not be too.
            This prayer may be simply written, but it has powerful and deep meaning.  I have only covered the surface of what it says.  There are books written on this subject.  I hope that we all truly take time daily to seek God’s will for our lives, our church, our families, our nation and we start that in prayer.  The Holy Spirit will guide us, help us pray and help us to find the answers in God’s word.  Seek God’s will today!

All scripture is from The New American Standard Bible, copyright 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA

Photo by Thomas G Carter

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Kingdom Prayers


Kingdom Prayers

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

“He who testifies to these things say, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”  Revelation 22:20

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” Psalm 122:6

            We are looking at the example of prayer the Lord Jesus gave us as He taught us to pray.  The next part is to pray for the Kingdom to come.  This phrase I think is skipped by many, I would guess, because we don’t fully understand what Jesus is teaching us here.  When we come to something we don’t understand we should dig in and find out what it means, because it could be important, and we might miss something that could change our lives.  “Your Kingdom come” is one of those things that is important, and we need to examine what Jesus means by this.
            Jesus’ message was, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mat. 3:2; 4:7) Jesus is the rightful king of the nation of Israel!  He is the only one to sit on the throne of David.  Anytime Christ is walking on the earth, then the Kingdom of God is at hand.  With that knowledge, when Jesus is teaching the apostles and those around Him to pray, it would make sense that He would say pray that the Kingdom would come!  We celebrated Palm Sunday or the “Triumphal Entry”, that is when Jesus entered Jerusalem as the King (Mat. 21:1-11).  We do know though, He was rejected by the people as the king.
            Even though Jesus was rejected by the people and crucified, we know that He rose again, and so the King lives (Mat. 28:1-7; John 20:11-18).  Although Jesus went to be with the father and to prepare a place for us, He will be back for us (John 14:2-3).  Jesus will someday not just come back for us, but will also rule over His kingdom here on earth (Rev. 20:4-6).  This will be exciting times for all the earth and is yet to come.
            This as we know is not our home and is full of pain, suffering and evil.  As a believer we know that Jesus is coming back, so we can pray that He would come back and come back soon.  There are more than 63 scriptures about the kingdom of God coming, and so it is an important part of our prayer life.  It should affect even how we pray for others as well.  We don’t want our friends to miss the kingdom, so we need to pray that they come to know Jesus.  For those suffering we need to pray for them in light of the kingdom to come as well.
            The last scripture I have listed above says to pray for Jerusalem.  Israel will be the center and place of Christ earthly kingdom (Rev. 20).  Even though we know that the Jewish people are back in their land we know that peace has not yet happened there.  Where the great temple of the LORD was in the city, there is a Muslim mosque.  The only part left of the great temple is a wall called the Wailing Wall.  The Jewish people want their temple back and they will in the end, when Christ comes back to rule.  For this to take place there will need to be peace in that city.  When praying for the kingdom to come, we need to pray for peace in the city of God.
            This is only skimming the surface of this subject on the Kingdom of God, but I hope it causes you to dig deeper into this subject.  Adrian Rodgers gives us a few things to think about on this subject of praying thy kingdom come.  He says  we are to learn of His coming, long for that day to come, pray that it would come, and pray that there would be peace in Jerusalem that there might be peace on earth. (Rodgers)  Do you look forward to that day?  I hope so.
Come, Lord Jesus!

References

Rodgers, Adrian. https://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/read/articles/can-we-hasten-the-second-coming-of-christ-15204.html. 2018. 10 April 2018.

All Scripture from The New American Standard Bible, copyright 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA


Photo by Thomas Carter

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Prayer Begins With Adoration


Prayer Begins With Adoration

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who is heaven, Hallowed be Your name.’”  Matthew 6:9

            Many people today ask the question: “How do I pray?”  There are also people that pray, but they pray in the wrong way.  Some even view prayer as a selfish way to get what they want.  They view prayer as though God is some cosmic Santa Clause and He will give them everything they want.  When people view God as someone who gives only what we want, they often walk away from God when they don’t get what they want.  The person who doesn’t pray because they don’t know how to pray, so they don’t, miss out on all that God has for them (John 16:24).  These next few blogs I want to spend some time talking about prayer, so that you can be confident in your prayer life and will revolutionize your walk with the Lord.
            When Jesus was on the earth He set an awesome example of prayer.  He would pray often and at times all night long (Lk.6:12).  Jesus also taught how to pray.  The Sermon on the Mount was one of the most important teachings of Christ on prayer (Mat. 6:5-15).  The Bible is full of prayers, but Jesus spent some time teaching us how to pray and so it’s important to pay attention to what he tells us about prayer and how to do it.  When you see this model, you can see it play out in effective prayer throughout scripture.  What is called the Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer, it is not necessarily a prayer we need to pray, but it is an example we need to follow when we pray.
            Jesus starts this example of prayer by acknowledging who you are talking to.  We must call on the name of the Lord.  Address the Lord and address Him with praise.  The name of the Lord is holy.  God is Holy, and His name is to be held in the highest regard.  Sometimes I think we overdo the word holy and so it loses some of its meaning.  How do we hold the Name of the Lord?  In the Ten Commandments we are told not to take the Lord’s name in vain (Ex.20:7).  We are told that we are to keep the name of the Lord sacred and hold it in highest esteem, yet when I walk around I hear it used all the time.  When we say things like “Oh my god” are we not taking down the name of God.  If we say “Good God” when we are not talking about something good that God has done, are we not losing the meaning of God?
            If you read your Bible much you have heard about scribes.  Scribes were the people who copied the scriptures by hand so that we would have them today.  They worked so carefully that we find no real error in their works.  They took the most holy name for God very seriously.  We see it in our Bibles in all caps as “LORD”.  They held the name in such high honor that they would do things like wash their hands before writing it.  They would write it and break the pencil so that it could not be used again.  To make sure their thoughts were pure they would write it without the vowels to help ensure they didn’t take the name in vain.  Yet today Lord and God are used as though they are nothing and meaningless.
            Proverbs tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Pr.1:7).  This fear is more than just an awe fear, but also the fear that the LORD could do great and powerful judgements to me and others.  Take time and look at the Old Testament and even at the transfiguration of Christ and see how people reacted in the presence of the LORD.  When we add this all together with what the Lord Jesus taught when He said pray, “Our Father who are in heaven, Hollowed be YOUR NAME” it will change everything we know about prayer.  It puts the focus on the Lord and not on us. 
            This week take time to think about the LORD and who He is and value His name when you pray.  Maybe take time to pray a prayer that asks for nothing.  Just take time to acknowledge the LORD and who he is.  I have done this, and it is powerfully humbling to see who God is and who we are in comparison.  Prayer starts with the Name of the LORD and is about Him!

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All scripture is from The New American Standard Bible, copyright 1995 by the Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 

Photo by Thomas G Carter