Peace In His Presence – Playing Catch-Up, III (184-185/365)

I open today’s message with a sobering perspective, from Psalm 10:2-11. Here we are presented with a picture of wickedness.

In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;

let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.

For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,

and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.

In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek Him;

all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

His ways prosper at all times;

your judgments are on high, out of his sight;

as for all his foes, he puffs at them.

He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;

throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”

His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;

under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.

He sits in ambush in the villages;

in hiding places he murders the innocent.

His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;

he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;

he lurks that he may seize the poor;

he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.

The helpless are crushed, sink down,

and fall by his might.

He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,

he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

Psalms 10:2-11

From this set of verses in Psalm 10, we see how the wicked apparently have one or a combination of three things in their mind: That is, to prey on the weak, to glorify themselves, and to mock God who made them. Simply put, their focus is on themselves – or, rather, in their own world, they are the first and foremost priority.

What’s interesting about all of this is not necessarily how the Psalmist was able to elaborate on all the wicked could do as expressed in these verses, but in what we read in the verse that precedes all of it:

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?

Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 10:1

The way I’m seeing all this so far is it’s as if to say that without the presence of God, people ultimately turn to wickedness by default. Let’s take a look at ourselves for a moment, particularly before we came to believe in the salvation that comes only through Christ.

Let me ask you guys, have we been so blatant in preying on the weak? Have we gone as far as lying in wait to ambush the poor? Have we gone as far as murdering the innocent, crushing them in arrogance?  Or perhaps we haven’t been arrogant in our actions, but maybe in our choice of words? Have we been puffing ourselves up, bragging about how we’re better than others and mocking them? Or maybe we’ve gone as far as making fun of God Himself?

Now I wouldn’t blame you if you stood up and told me that you did none of these things – or at least, you didn’t leave any evidence. But here’s the thing – you may not have done any of these things, but you certainly thought about it. And what’s one thing for us to learn from the Sermon of the Mount? That is, if you’ve thought of killing someone, or committing adultery with someone, you may as well have already done the sin.

Hold that thought, and let’s now fast forward, generations later, to the time of Jesus Christ, as expressed in the Gospels. We see in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke that in one particular moment the disciples approached Jesus and asked Him to teach them how to pray. From the exchange that follows we get what the world now knows as the Lord’s Prayer.

Every Thursday I join a Bible Study with our dear Pastor Joedy, and last Thursday in particular, I was brought up to speed – this group was at the tail end of exploring the Lord’s Prayer for themselves. They were already in talking about ‘Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil’; and while I took time to listen to Pastor Joedy’s wonderful perspective, I left that online call, challenged to take on the Lord’s Prayer for myself.

What I found out was, as in everything revealed to us by the lens of Grace – in the words of Russell Peters, ‘fantastic’ and ‘mind-blasting!’

Note: If you’re reading this after reading my past 2 or 3 posts, please bear with me, because I believe I’m writing and re-writing my thoughts on the matter for my own retention. Feel free to skip to the end.

Christ shows us that in our prayer, we can surely call God one of so many things – We can call Him our Maker and our Creator and we wouldn’t be wrong – He is, after all, all these things and more! But no, for probably the first time ever, Christ would tell His disciples by way of His example of praying, that we can call God all these things, but get used to calling Him, FATHER…

…and not merely FATHER, but OUR FATHER. He is not just the Father of Israel, not the Father of just those who worship Him – He is OUR Father, no matter what color our skin is, no matter what nation we belong to – He is OUR Father, Father of all the men and the women of the world… and this is not to say that He replaces our earthly Fathers, but He takes on a far greater role than this – For see, if the disciples were eventually to exclaim that Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He was telling them now, God is the Father of Fathers – He is OUR FATHER, in Heaven.

And as we go down the line, we can call Our Father in Heaven so many things – He is Almighty, Everlasting, Glorious and Mighty, and we wouldn’t be wrong in saying this either; But just as Christ guides us to acknowledge that God is Our Father more than anything else, He would not have us acknowledge His great power and wisdom, before He would have us appreciate how He is hallowed.

What does it mean to be hallowed? Friends, I believe what Christ is having us recognize here is that because God is our Father of Fathers, and He is Our Father in Heaven, this means that He is Holy. God may be infinite in power and eternal in wisdom, but before all of this, we understand that He is Holy. What does it mean to be Holy? Dictionary describes it as being ‘set apart’, but I will just try to simplify things by saying that when God is Holy, we’re saying that He is infinitely superior to us. We can never hope to reach Him. The mere truth that He is Creator and we are His Creation is already proof of His holiness.

And the thing is, it doesn’t just say that He is hallowed and holy – No, just His Name is already Hallowed. We say that there is power in the name of Jesus, but there is certainly holiness in the name of God.

Do you see the rich revelations that there are in the prayer that Christ shared with His disciples? We would be doing such a disservice and we would certainly be disrespecting God if we were only brought to repeat these words verbatim!

Anyway, Christ goes on to say, ‘Thy Kingdom come, and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. For lack of time I’m going to go straight to what I think of the latter part of this section, based on what Christ has already done. Remember, all of this was shared to the disciples BEFORE Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension… and if we’re still scratching our heads, wondering what the Will of God is, apparently one way of seeing it has been revealed to us in this prayer that we keep on saying!

What IS the Will of God? I think we can have a picture of it in Christ’s words that follow. Before Christ’s death, He told His disciples to ask of their Father in Heaven, to ‘give us this day our daily bread.’; But as we see in John 6:33-35, Christ exclaimed that He was the bread of life. And we just celebrated in Communion that we remember His body in the breaking of the bread.

Friends, I believe what is being said here is that the Will of God is for us to find satisfaction that goes beyond anything that this world could offer. For there are no guarantees that we will not starve, but Christ says that we will not grow hungry. Notice the choice of words there… our bodies may not be filled with food, but our beings have been so satisfied that we would still be at peace. We wouldn’t grow hungry.

What IS the will of God? Christ said to His disciples that we ought to ask Him to ‘forgive us of our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’ But just as we remember Christ’s body for satisfaction out of this world, so we remember His blood for forgiveness beyond our imagination. By the shedding of Christ’s blood, we have not only been forgiven of each and every sin – no, sin ITSELF has been separated from us. Christ BECAME our sin so we BECAME His righteousness.

And so no longer do we forgive to be forgiven. No, instead, we find ourselves willing and able to forgive, because Christ has given us such a great forgiveness first!

What IS the Will of God for us? That we would not be led into temptation – but see, in the light of Christ being our bread of Life, who is our satisfaction beyond what this world could offer, we are no longer as easily grasped by the temporary pleasures of this world, nor are we so easily moved by the temporary disasters that happen!

What IS the Will of God for us, done here on earth as it is in heaven? For us to be delivered from evil – and, see, while bad things may still happen to us in this lifetime and in this reality, friends, let us face all of it with confidence, knowing that we have ALREADY been delivered by the greatest evil – sin that leads to death, and death that leaves us in fear.

Friends, the will of God for us is Christ – He is our daily bread. He is the forgiveness of our sins. And because we have Christ, who is the bread of Life, so we are not so easily swayed by temptation. And because we have Christ, who became sin so we became His righteousness, we face anything and everything in this world, knowing that we have been delivered from evil.

And so we praise Him – For the wicked are left apart from the will of God, preying on the weak, exalting themselves and trying to take God down… But because we have Christ, we join God’s kingdom, in awe of His power, and in wonder of His glory, proclaiming – God’s will be done for them, as it has been done for us.

All through Christ, who is God’s will done here on earth as it is in heaven.

I hope you have been blessed today. May the Lord continue to bless each and every one of us with fresh revelations as we continue down the line of celebrating God’s goodness and greatness, in this, the second half of the year 2022. He truly is Our Father in Heaven, and we celebrate His absolute holiness, as well as His power and glory, poured out upon us through His Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;

you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear

to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,

so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalms 10:17-18

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