“He leads ME in the paths of righteousness for HIS OWN NAME’S SAKE”. (Psalm 23) The first petition of the Lord’s prayer is that all men may hallow God’s name. It is an evangelistic prayer. It is, also, a prayer for ourselves through whom lost people are to come to know God’s name and nature. We are part of God’s equation! A dead church cannot preach a living Christ. A sinful church cannot preach a holy God. “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness. . .Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master” (2 Timothy 2:19,21) As you speak to the Lord today about your lost friends, will you ask Him to teach you a life of righteousness? He will use you to draw others to himself.
When Thomas encountered the resurrected Lord, he said, “My Lord and my GOD”. (John 20:28) He worshipped Christ. He “hallowed the name”. It should be our daily prayer that all men do the same. Predicting the cross, Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw ALL men to myself.” (John 12:32) No one was left out! No loss acceptable! As we enter this new week with Easter assurance still ringing in our hearts, are we concerned that so many still do not worship God? Unaware, unconcerned, living secular lives, are these people the focus of our prayers? It is a mistake to talk to people about God before we have talked with God about people. The Great Commandment is to love God with ALL our heart. The Great Petition (and the first in the Lord’s Prayer) is that ALL men do so. Is someone on your heart this morning who does not hallow God’s name?
Today is a day of New Dreams. When Christ rose from the grave He gave the first disciples a new first priority. “That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3) was Paul’s dream. It must be ours as well. If Jesus is alive, He MAY be known. If Jesus is alive, He MUST be known. No insult is deeper to God than for us to ignore His son. Perhaps this explains Romans 10:9, “if you. . .believe in your HEART that God raised Him from the dead”. Heart describes the place of our ambitions and desires–the vault where we store what we truly love. Until the Resurrection of Christ changes our deepest loves, until it changes our dreams, we are still strangers to its saving power. In a few hours we will shout together, “He is Risen!” Like prayer, these words only have power if they come from the heart. Bless you, dear friend, on this happy Easter morning.
“that through death he might. . .deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:15) On Saturday of Holy Week, we remember that Jesus was dead. He never leads us into darker rooms than He, Himself, has gone. Having tasted death Himself, He can support us while we taste it. He can guide us through it to the other side. “Death without Christ is the ‘king of terrors’, but death with Christ loses the sting, the power to hurt that it otherwise would have.” (J.I. Packer) This is why the Apostle’s Creed says “He descended into Hell”. Not because the Lord went to the place of retribution for the godless, (Gehenna) but because He went to the place of the dead (Hades). He really died, and can , therefore, really guide us when that day comes for us. We pray today to a God who understands! He leads us by walking the path with us.
“He Himself partook of the same things (flesh and blood), that THROUGH DEATH He might DESTROY the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil”. (Hebrews 2:14) Today is Good Friday. Good because the Lord’s death on the cross was a GREAT VICTORY. With spiritual eyes, we see through the injustice and cruelty of the crucifixion to the purpose of God. “The cross was the devil’s great blunder. By bringing Christ to the cross, he was defeating himself and bringing about his own ultimate doom.” (Martin Lloyd-Jones) The devil has no power over man except that man is estranged from God. Once the price is paid, and the reconciliation affected, the false kingdom of the evil one crumbled. Sometimes, Christians think of the Resurrection as the victory, the cross being the sad and necessary preparation for the happy day to follow. Not so. The cross was the victory! Today is GOOD Friday.
On Thursday of His last week, Jesus met with the disciples in the upper room. How sweet to think of Him desiring time with us as He did with them! Later in the night, He went to Gethsemane for prayer. Gethsemane is proof that Jesus is truly man. Like us, He wants to avoid suffering if possible. “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” (Matthew 26:39) Have you ever prayed something similar? Gethsemane is also proof that Jesus is truly God. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Prayer, for the Lord, was the opportunity to learn what may be asked from God with confidence. It is both talking and listening. It is being honest and being courageous when the will of God points in a difficult direction. As we pray today, remember this “other version” of the Lord’s Prayer. . .”not as I will, but as you will”. Teach us to pray, Lord!
It is a strange silence. Most scholars find no report of any activity of the Lord on Wednesday of the last week. Was it a “day off”? For Jesus? For the disciples? Did they rest? Did they pray? Likely. Rest for the believer is not a luxury. It is a necessity. One of the ways to “get your job done” is to “get away from it” so as to find renewal of body and soul. This will not be the first time Jesus has exampled this wisdom for us. “Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus arose and went out to a lonely place where He prayed”. (Mark 1:35) “He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple”. (Isaiah 50:4). In preparation for our service to God, may He give us the wisdom to find rest.
It must have been exhausting! All day Tuesday, on the last week of the Lord’s life, He faced a series of ugly conflicts with the religious leaders of Jerusalem. (Read Luke 20) At the end of the day, He gave the Olivet Discourse predicting the destruction of Jerusalem and the Coming of the Son of Man. His last word to the disciples was, “Keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things. . .and stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36) Jesus KNEW that the only way to survive and serve in the days that were coming was to PRAY. How true this still is! Like the Lord, we stand in the collision between two worlds, two systems. Even when our Spirit is willing, our flesh will be too weak apart from prayer. God Bless you, friend, for your devotion to the Lord. I am praying with you today, so are thousands of others!
Today is Monday of Holy week–the day when Jesus cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit and cleansed the temple for not being a place of prayer. (Matt 21) It was a day for the Lord to declare His JUDGEMENT. Do you think the Lord might confront us for the same issues? Is our church a place of prayer? Are we bearing fruit to His glory? These two are always linked together. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you would go and BEAR FRUIT. . . so that whatever you ASK of the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16) Thank you, dear friend, for your dedication to this year long prayer journey. When you pray this morning, you will be joining thousands around the world who this Holy week are praying for His kingdom to come. Because of Calvary. . .
“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN SECRET, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6) Today is Sunday of Holy Week. Palm Sunday. Jerusalem’s chance to welcome her King. A day of public praise. But public profession must always rise from private experience. None of us will have the strength for public praise who does not regularly find the Lord in private. The Jewish leaders attitude had been decided long before this day arrived. It is the small and secret moments that we set the direction of our lives. Friend, in this busy Holy week, how determined are you to find time in a quiet place? How anxious are you for the Father’s reward? He hears what we say in public through the filter of what we have said in private.