July 24, 2017

Our Father . . .

In 1984, we attended three different churches representing three denominations in two states. However, they had two things in common. One was that they were vibrant and growing, lively places to be.

The other was that they hallowed the name of God. That is, instead of preaching Christian responsibilities to their congregations, their church leaders spoke of God’s power and what He was doing in their lives.

The members of these churches responded in joyful service and by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with their friends and neighbors. One of these churches had four building programs in ten years. They were happily bursting at the seams.

Anyone who is in a “you must do this, you must not do that” setting knows discouragement eventually sets in, wearing thin that human confidence of “I can keep these rules” and replacing it with a sense of failure.

Today’s devotional reading is about the Lord’s prayer, and when I read it, these three churches came to mind.

“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ And he said to them, ‘When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come . . . .” (Luke 11:1–2)

The word ‘hallowed’ is not used often these days and only a couple dozen times in the New Testament. There it is mainly translated as ‘sanctify’ or ‘make holy.’ That means to set God apart as sacred, putting Him above all else. Paul wrote this description of what that meant for his life . . .

“But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:15–27)

Not everyone is called to be a person like Paul, but all Christians are to hallow the Lord, consider Him above all else. As I make plans for this day, this is a good place to start . . . with the model prayer Jesus gave, the life of putting God first as Paul modeled, and the need of own life to exalt the Lord in my thoughts, words, and as I tackle that to-do list.

Jesus, there is much more in this prayer. It begins with “Our Father” and I want to begin this day and every other day thinking of that relationship I have with the Father through faith in You, the Son. Help me recognize always who You are and what You care about, and that Your perspective is from heaven and far more encompassing than mine. Most of all, remind me often to exalt You, sing praise to You, tell others about You, and do whatever I do today to honor You and give You glory!

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