Thursday, June 30, 2016

Petition Four: Daily Bread + more reflections on the first petition

WSC Q. 104. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A. In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

I said this in the first week that I started the petitions of the Lord's Prayer: When I pray, I normally dive right into the things I want for myself and for people that I love.  I certainly start with praise and thanksgiving, but that is quite brief compared to what Jesus teaches.

When we pray, he wants us to put our wants and needs in fourth place.  This is just behind our prayers to God to help us do his will on earth which is ahead of asking for his Kingdom to come on earth whether immediately or in progressive increments.  All of this is less important than our desiring that we keep God's name holy and that others do the same.

But in all of this, God does want us to come to him for things that we want and need.  We don't have to be completely selfless when we pray.  I am just so floored at God's generosity to us in granting this privilege. We can ask for things for ourselves and for those that we love.

I'm going to mention something about the first petition that just now dawned on me.  You know how Christians like myself offend people by commenting that things they post on facebook are offensive?  What if it's a dirty joke with crude words?  What if it's that overplayed "if you don't like x then don't do x" meme?  What if it's some liberal dribble about loving people and not judging (which I believe in, btw, but not in a way that excuses their sins or acts like everyone will go to heaven)?  What if I want people to stop posting such stuff not because I'm some prudish flat-earther who thinks all people should think like me, but because I'm genuinely concerned that they are dishonoring God's name?  You know that if Johnny constantly dishonors God's name by his words and actions that he is calling curses upon himself.  What more loving thing could I do than to simply ask that he examine himself and his beliefs to see if he is truly following God or if he is just trying to impress his friends as more important than God?  God could be using me to answer my own prayer that his name be hallowed.  God could be using me to save him from hell.

Please, people, always keep in mind Ephesians 4 which exhorts us to live worthy of our calling and professions as believers in Jesus and to not live as the nonbelievers do.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Petition Three: Will Be Done

"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." "we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven."  Thus says WSC Q103.  
To me, this is a continuation of the second petition: to pray that God's kingdom will come.  We bring about God's kingdom by knowing, obeying, and submitting to his will.

We certainly don't do it perfectly and cannot do it without the Holy Spirit's guidance, which is why we must pray every day for God to help us to obey him, to love our Lord by obeying him.

This is such an encouragement when you are seeking to be healed from sin and codependency.  While you want to help fix things, you know that you can't and have to rest on what Christ has done and what he will continue to do as he guides you with his Spirit.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Petition Two: Your Kingdom Come

Q. 102. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

When we pray for God's kingdom to come, it gives us hope that the ugly death and hatred going on all around us is not how it will always be.  Jesus will come back and establish his Kingdom on earth for all eternity.  Evil will be no more, and there will be no more dying or disobeying God.

At the same time, as we pray for God to send his Kingdom and send it soon, we also should be working to make it as much possible now before he returns.  We should fight abortion, prevent the government from destroying innocent lives, encourage young people to not follow their hearts but to follow the Lord when it come to sexuality, and comfort people who grieve and are questioning God.  And we must make disciples of the Lord who follow his commands.  Help save people from damnation by warning them of their errors while at the same time knowing God ultimately saves and not me.

Also, we simply must not despair as another major shooting happened and evil seems to be triumphing.  In the end, it will not win, and indeed, it has already been lost.  Along with the first petition of the Lord's prayer, we must seek to hallow God's name and bring about his Kingdom and Glory.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Petition One: Hallowed be Thy Name

The Lord's Prayer is divided into six petitions.  The very first part, "Our Father, who art in heaven," is actually just the opening. Just the same, it is important to know that Christianity is really the only religion where we can call God our Father.  Judaism, Islam, and other religions know about God, but he is not personal, and he certainly has not adopted them into his family.  As Christians, we truly take for granted the privilege that God has allowed to us.

WSC Q. 101. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A. In the first petition, which is, Hallowed be thy name, we pray that God would enable us, and others, to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.

When I normally pray, the first thing I think of is my own needs.  I also think of people who are sick and to remember both my and Tim's immediate family.  I'll even ask for prayer for the election, our "President" and for God to have mercy on our country.

It is not natural for myself as a human to first think that since I am approaching an infinitely holy God as a sinful human being that I don't even deserve to live, but he has graciously forgiven me and invited me to come to him in his mercy.  What he wants more than anything is to be regarded as holy and for me to live worthy of his Name.

In fact, when I post this blog and go to pray again, I still will not remember the think about caring that I treat God's as holy and pray that the world would begin to do so.  I will praise him and thank him, but I always forget to ask that he help me to honor him and not tarnish his name with what I say or do as someone who walks around using the name, "Christian."

Maybe if I did, I would hear less people using God's name in vain or saying, "Jesus" as if he was merely a curse word or a good luck charm.

Remember the third commandment and the first petition that Jesus taught us to pray when you pray!

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Lord's Prayer

I just finished two series: one on the Ten Commandments and one on the Apostles' Creed.  Both were based on my time with Celebrate Recovery, a wonderful resource to help anyone and everyone healing from either addiction or sin, which is everyone, to heal and to be able to be honest and open about their problems.

At each meeting, recoverers recite the 12 steps of recovery based on AA but with Scripture and 8 steps of recovery based on the beatitutes followed by the Serenity prayer.  As helpful as those are, I feel like it would be more helpful to draw from more historical source and on Scripture.

Scripturally, we do not have problems or bad choices, we have sin the separates us from God and will for eternity unless we surrender our lives to Jesus who lived the only perfect life and died in the only complete sacrifice for all the sins of those he will save.  He rose again from the dead.  Being both God and man he intercedes between us and the Father.

It would be helpful for people who come to church for recovery to recite the 10 commandments to show them what exactly is their sin and why it is so deadly.  It would also be good to recite the Apostles' Creed because it shows what all God has done to both create us and save us from our sins.  Jesus is the only solution to our sins.  Not 12 steps and not my resolve to make better decisions.  Only Jesus can save me.

The Lord's Prayer would be a better prayer to pray than the Serenity Prayer.  The Lord's Prayer was specifically taught by our Lord to the disciples when they asked him how to pray.  The Serenity Prayer has good moments, but is not biblical, is attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, a liberal, and is not really God's solution to the sin and tragedy in our world.  God doesn't want us to merely live in the world and take its blows.  He wants us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and fight for justice in order to make it more like the Kingdom of God.

So this is my start to the Lord's Prayer.  It is divided into six petitions, so the next six posts will be about those.

When you pray, it is also good to come just as you are and not do anything extra whether it is to light a candle, draw a circle, or any other unbiblical ritual not prescribed by the Lord.  The principle behind the 2nd commandment, the one to not make a graven image, is that we do not try to worship God in ways that he has not commanded.  God cannot be manipulated.  God wants us to come to him through Jesus with nothing but ourselves.  Anything extra that we do is relying on our own efforts and telling the Lord that we don't believe he cares more about us and our loved ones more than we do.  I can't think of anything more arrogant and less trusting in the Lord.  Just come as you are with nothing else.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Apostles' Creed: Life Everlasting

"And the life everlasting. Amen."

I honestly don't have much to say about this one.  Humans will live forever.  God's elect believers will be with him forever in heaven and the rest will live in eternal agony in hell.

If that is the case, then from a recovery standpoint, you need to repent of your sins and make Jesus your Lord.

If people have a choice between heaven and hell, they will choose heaven, but they will not choose Jesus as their Lord and have someone rule over them.  But you cannot have heaven unless Jesus has taken over your life by God's grace and poured his Holy Spirit into you.

But our Lord is gracious and waits to come back to earth so that many people will come to repentance.  If I had it my way, he would come back today and I would not have to hear about wars, Islamic terrorism, liberal/LGBT bullying, and self-righteous "Christianity."  Jesus would come and sort everything out.  But I am not God or nearly as gracious.

Hebrews 3:13, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."  I encourage you to come to Jesus if you have not done so already.  He will take away your sins and put his righteousness on you.  Just believe and abandon the sins that you are in love with with a gorgeous Savior who is way better!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Modalism: why it is idolatry

When God gave his Ten Commandments to Moses and Israel, his first one was not, "You should all get along because everybody worships me."

No, he said, "You will have no other gods before me."  Of course the other nations had different gods, but Israel also had many gods throughout their history and God judged both them and the other nations for not keeping his command.

This commandment applies today when someone says he worships Jesus but it is not the Jesus as God has revealed him in Scripture.  There is a non-Trinitarianism that is attractive called "Modalism."  It is attractive because it still calls Jesus God, but it is still not Trinitarian just like Mormonism and Jehovah's Witness beliefs.  It states that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are not three members of one Godhead, but that God is only one and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are just manifestations of him.  People who believe this worship a false God because this is not the God of Scripture.  The main celebrities that hold this view are the preacher TD Jakes and the singing group Philips, Craig, and Dean, both within Oneness Pentacostalism.

God has to be three distinct people to be a Trinity, and he has to be that way from all eternity.  He had no beginning, and will have no end.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have all existed alongside each other from all eternity.  They are all God but they are not all each other.

This is important because for God to be eternally loving he had to have someone to love and to love him back.  He has had three persons loving each other always.  If God had not had this, then he would be a cold, impersonal god, the same as Allah that the Muslims worship.  He would have never sent Jesus to save us and would not love us enough to forgive us of our gross sins that should have killed us.

God has to be three separate persons because Jesus would not have been raised from the dead had God the Spirit not been a separate person from him.  If they were all one, then God would be dead and not God.

If they were the same, then there would be no intercessor between God and man for our sins.  God would simply be that unknown god beyond the mountains that many pagan tribes worship and who need human intercession.   No, but gloriously, God is three separate persons, and we have someone in heaven interceding on our behalf, and we have someone here with us to guide us in the Holy Spirit.

Modalists do not believe in the same Jesus that I believe in and are not true Christians.  God can save them, yes, but they are not true believers.  Therefore, I will not participate in a church event that has TD Jakes as a speaker, which will happen at my church over the summer.  I might sing some PCD songs, but I won't attend their concerts either.  Not on purpose.  We need to have a right knowledge of the Trinity to properly worship the correct God, and we need to be more discerning about who we recommend as theologians lest we dissolve into apostasy.