they seem almost exclusive, two elements merge beautifully in the
preface, or invocation, of the Lord’s prayer in the first part of
Matthew 6:9. They are the majesty of the King of heaven and the
loving concern of your Father. “We should not miss the balance in
this opening to the prayer. We address God intimately as Father, but
we immediately recognize his infinite greatness with the addition in
heaven.” (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, p.
to your heavenly Father. This is how you should pray. Christ gave you
this prayer as a model. Jesus gave this prayer (in slightly different
language) in response to his disciples’ request that he teach them to
pray, Luke 11:1-4. The language Jesus uses in Luke 11:2 suggests that
these words be used, while the introduction in Matthew 6:9 implies a
model. Those are not contradictory. Use the prayer, but don’t let it
become an empty form. Remember the summary which the Lord’s Prayer
presents. The invocation is followed by six comprehensive petitions.
The first three deal with God’s name, reign, and will. The final
three deal with our bread, debts, and foe.
live in a culture full of labor-saving devices. We expect our coffee
to be instant, we want fast food. But prayer can be hard work, and it
certainly does not provide instant gratification of our desires! In
Matthew 6:5–8 Jesus teaches you first things about the hard work of
secretly. Do not pray to be seen by men. Don’t be a hypocrite in your
prayer. Some pray to be seen of men, as did the Pharisee were in the
habit of doing. I have seen a Muslim’s formal, public prayer is an
example of that. The hypocrite prays to be seen by men, and as soon
as he prays, he has his reward. His prayer has accomplished all it
was intended to do! Don’t pray with an eye to an audience. This sin
can be subtle. Beware of the pride involved. Don’t ask, while you are
praying, “What are others thinking of me?” Beware of the
way that sin can affect your heart—even while you are speaking to
your Father in heaven! Sin can intrude even into your prayer, even as
you come to God’s throne of grace. Christ’s warning is needed because
you and I are self-centered by nature. We tend to take our eyes off
of God and focus on ourselves.
Do you want to know what a person is like, what his priorities are? We used to say, look at his checkbook, but now it would be his online banking statements! But the point is the same. Where you spend your money, and in particular, how you give money are important. In Matthew 6:1–4 Jesus tells you to seek, not your own honor, but the honor of your Father in heaven.
Give because you are children of your
Father in heaven. The God who redeemed Israel provided for the poor.
In Deuteronomy 15 God ordained sabbatical years in which debts were
canceled. God also provided for the poor through gleaning (Ruth
gleaned in the fields of Boaz), Deuteronomy 14:17–21. “Whenever
Jesus speaks of ‘your Father in heaven’ . . . he has in view the
exclusive relationship between the Lord and those who will share in
the bliss of the kingdom of heaven, and share in it now already.”
(Herman Ridderbos The Coming of the Kingdom.)
There is nothing more important that you can do today or any day in 2020 than to listen to and believe in the testimony of John the Baptizer. Listen to his words and see, know the One to whom he points in John 1:14–34.
attention to the voice. John testifies. John the disciple, the author
of the Gospel, introduced another John, John the Baptizer, back in
verse 6. He was sent by God, he came for witness. His purpose was to
give testimony. That is what he does, see verses 15, 19, 32.
Significantly he testifies, verse 15 – present tense, as some
translations reflect. John the Baptizer had been executed during the
public ministry of Jesus, long before John the disciple wrote his
Gospel. The testimony of John continues. It is relevant. The text
repeatedly identifies John’s speaking as testimony. It is
objectively true. Our post-modern world tells you it’s all about
you. If you find peace in Jesus, fine, just don’t try to insist
that anything is objectively true or universally valid. You have your
way, I have mine. Yet even today, our court system refuses to bend to
that kind of subjectivity. John is giving true testimony. He is a
faithful witness. He is testifying not about earthly things, but
matters with eternal consequences.
and Christmas celebration seem to go together. In John 1:10–13 the
Apostle makes the point that the Word coming into the world gives to
those who believe in him the right to be children of God.
the world’s rejection of Jesus. The world rejected its Creator! In
v.5 John hinted at the conflict between light and darkness. Now the
world’s rejection of Christ becomes explicit. “World”
occurs three times in v.10, first in its clause each time, and with a
progression from a neutral reference to the creation to identifying
the body of sinful rebellion against God. Although he was in the
world, the world which he had made, it did not know him. The world
refused to recognize him for who he is. It refused to render him the
honor and worship he deserves. Matthew details the murderous intent
of Herod. The people, by and large, simply ignored the greatest event
to that point in the history of the world! Men still ignore it. Yes,
I am disturbed by efforts to root out of public life any mention of
Christ at Christmas time. But the self-centered complacency of our
culture is an even more serious rejection of the eternal Word.