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When the Reputation of God is at Stake

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 19, 2023 12:00 am

When the Reputation of God is at Stake

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 19, 2023 12:00 am

The most important question the disciples ever asked Jesus was the question, Lord, will you teach us to pray? As Jesus set out to teach them how, He demonstrated that praying well starts with properly understanding God and our relationship to Him. The very first phrase of The Lord’s Prayer is the key to unlocking a successful prayer life in ourselves as well.

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This is why prayer is so encouraging. It reunites you with the glory of God. It reminds you of the nature of God. And you are brought back into this reverential awe that he is on his throne and we are at his feet. See, this is the same Creator God that commanded the morning.

He alone is surrounded with majesty and glory and splendor. Try praying to him. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey continues through a portion of Luke that he calls the disciples' prayer. The most important question the disciples ever asked Jesus was the question, Lord, will you teach us to pray?

And of course he did. As Jesus set out to teach them how, he demonstrated that praying well starts with properly understanding God and our relationship to him. The very first phrase of the Lord's Prayer is the key to unlocking a successful prayer life.

Do you want that for yourself? This message is called, When the Reputation of God is at Stake. We began our study of the Lord's Prayer. We're calling it the disciples' prayer. This is a prayer the Lord wouldn't entirely pray.

He would never have to confess any sin. But it's a prayer that he taught us to pray as he teaches his disciples here in Luke chapter 11 as we work our way through this gospel. One of the things I did this summer was purchase six or seven books just on this passage to expand and develop my own understanding of this signature moment in the disciples' lives. And one of the books that I purchased was a newly published commentary on Luke's gospel by R.C.

Sproul. I believe this was his last commentary before he passed away. He opened the chapter in his commentary on this passage of scripture by writing this. His name was Peter. He had a barber shop in a small town, and one afternoon when he was trimming the hair of one of his regular customers, he looked as the front door opened and an outlaw entered his shop. It was a man wanted by the authorities, dead or alive.

A large sum had been offered as a reward for this man's capture. The outlaw asked the barber for his usual haircut and shave. Peter lathered the man's face and neck.

He sharpened his razor and moved the blade to the man's neck. Peter knew that all he had to do was exert a little force and he could kill this man and claim the reward. It's the last thing in Peter's mind was killing this outlaw. Although he was wanted by ecclesiastical and civil leaders, he happened to be Peter's friend, hero, and spiritual mentor. The outlaw in this chair was the reformer, Martin Luther. He took the opportunity to ask him a question as they talked. He knew that Luther was not only a brilliant theologian and courageous reformer, but a man of prayer. So as they talked that afternoon, he said, Dr. Luther, can you please teach me how to pray? Luther responded to Master Peter the barber there in Wittenberg, Germany, saying, certainly, I will teach you of this matter of prayer. After his shave and haircut, Luther went across the street to his study and wrote out a lesson. Not for the world, although it would eventually be published, but for Peter, his barber. He titled the booklet, A Simple Way to Pray, and all Luther did was explain each phrase of the Lord's Prayer.

Peter, it struck me, the barber had something in common with Peter, the disciple. The other disciples as well, as I've mentioned, the only thing the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them to do was, Lord, teach us how to pray. The truth is, no matter how old you are in the faith, you often have the same question. Am I praying the right way? How do you approach the throne of God? What kind of praying matters? Are we truly praying in the correct fashion?

How do we even begin? Let's go back to the answer Jesus is giving to his disciples and to us here in chapter 11. Now in our previous study, you remember that you begin praying very simply yet profoundly by addressing God as Father. That doesn't mean you can't pray by means of the Spirit or talk to the Lord Jesus, but the model here is for it to begin with this family relationship by calling him, addressing him as Father.

And this opening designation opens the door in many ways. If he's your father, you can come into his presence anytime you want. And you call him Father because you've called his son your savior. And if you've done that because of Jesus, you now have access to boldly enter the very presence of the throne of God. Hebrews chapter 4 verse 16. And Jesus made it crystal clear when he said, no one comes to the Father except through me. John 14 6. We often think of that as, you know, going to heaven and that's true. But even in the matter of prayer, no one comes to the Father.

You don't have access to the Father except through me. The Son of God is the mediator between the human race and the very throne of God. First Timothy chapter 2 verse 5. I well remember attending an event downtown Cary many years ago where pastors were gathered to pray, inviting the community to pray. And I had been invited to pray at the microphone. I got there late and I walked up as pastors were huddled together and I overheard them as I walked toward them, having a conversation as to whether or not they should pray in Jesus's name unless we offend someone. So when it was my turn to the microphone, I prayed to Jesus and in the name of Jesus and for the glory of Jesus. And everything was about Jesus. And I never went back, by the way.

It's been over 30 years. They don't know who they're praying to. They don't have access if you go any other way than through the name of Jesus. But for the disciples, here's a point he's making. You're calling him Father. That means prayer is for family members only or those who call out to Christ to become a member of his family.

Maybe you have yet to do that. You could do that while I'm preaching. Forget the sermon.

Call out and be saved. And when you have Christ, you have the key, the master key that opens the door into access with God. And that's good news, frankly, as a Christian. Prayer isn't a reward for family members who have it all together. It's for family members, period. So whether you're on the mountaintop as a Christian these days or maybe you're going through a deep valley of despair or disillusionment, prayer is not something reserved for successful Christians.

It is for struggling Christians. And that's because prayer is not a reward. It's a relationship. Father, I'm back and I have access because he's my father. So when you pray, you're talking to a family member.

That never changes as his child. So I don't want you to miss, of course, the opening word. And that's just a little review because everything in this prayer is hinged to the fact, the reality that he is your father. Now, let me make one more introductory comment that this prayer isn't necessarily given to us to just sort of rattle off mindlessly.

The church has been praying this prayer for 2000 years, corporately and privately, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with repeating it. It happens to be scripture. If you want to memorize it, wonderful. You're memorizing inspired scripture.

So you can certainly do that. But Jesus is essentially teaching them a pattern. And I love the fact that this pattern is so simple. It's so easy, so intuitive that whether you're brand new in the faith or you're older in the faith, whether you're an older believer or you're a young child, this is simple enough to follow along. Children can be taught how to pray this. If you want to have them memorize it and pray it as a pattern, well, it's inspired scripture.

That's fine. It's a lot better than, you know, Lord, bless this bunch that munched their lunch. I used to pray that as a kid. It's surprising that God let me live beyond it, but he did. Just keep in mind here that Jesus is not giving so much his disciples something to memorize as he's giving them something to model.

This is a pattern. When you pray, pray like this. Pray according to this as you pray. Now, over in Matthew chapter 6, the parallel account, I think it is a different event, however, Jesus is teaching the multitudes how to pray. Now, here in Luke chapter 11, he's teaching just his disciples, and it's a shorter version.

It isn't even the same thing. But if you combine the two prayer accounts, which we're going to do as we study through this prayer, you'll end up with the same pattern. Father, Matthew adds, in heaven, now notice verse 2, hallowed be your name.

What does that mean? Hallowed isn't necessarily a word we use today. It's a little bit of an old English word.

It doesn't usually come up in our vocabulary. One little boy got it turned around when he said, our Father who art in heaven, Harold, be your name. The kid thinks God's name is Harold. Another little boy just kind of gave up on the process and inserted his own phrase as he says, our Father who art in heaven, I know you know my name. It's actually good theology, isn't it? He knows your name.

The question is, how well do we know his? So for that reason, right here at the outset, the Lord is going to teach us to get it right. The word hallowed comes from the word hagiadzo, which means to make holy, or to consider as sacred, or to reverence, to be in awe of, to treat as special. This is what the seraphim are repeating as they encircle the throne of God. They are saying what we were singing, holy, holy, holy. See, what the Lord is doing is teaching us to say the same thing on earth that the angels can't stop saying in heaven, holy, holy, holy. This is more, however, than just the repetition of hagiadzo translated holy in the New Testament, or hagiadzo to make holy.

It has to do with his character. You see, in the Hebrew mind, a name was more than just a name. It was their way of prophetically, with optimism, declaring what they hoped their child would become. You may have named your children after some character in the Bible with that in mind.

You might have named your children because the name goes well with your last name, or maybe it's the same first letter that goes along with all the siblings, or maybe to pay tribute to a family member or some historical figure. But in the Jewish world, a name was a reference to character. It was a reference to reputation that they hoped their child would one day grow up to embody. Who they were and what they were called were to become one and the same thing. So a name represented a reputation.

We do the same thing today. We say, oh, you know, that guy, he's got a good name. She's got a good name in the community. That doesn't mean he doesn't necessarily like their name. It means you're referring to their reputation, their work ethic, their moral standing, their character.

They have a good name. So bound up in these opening four words in verse two is a world of respect and reverence and awe and appreciation. God's name is to be hallowed, treated with reverence, considered sacred because his name represents his nature.

They are one and the same, as it were, and he is eternally, stunningly, gloriously sacred. You see, prayer that gets past the living room ceiling or the dome of some cathedral is prayer that recognizes how great God is. You're not even past the opening line here before you break out and you start singing holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty. This is why prayer is so encouraging. It reunites you with the glory of God. It reminds you of the nature of God. And you are brought back into this reverential awe that he is on his throne and we are at his feet.

You see, this is the same creator God that brought Job out of that despair by delivering to him that Torah that revealed to him the glory and the power of God. That God alone commanded the morning. That God alone made the dawn to know its place. That God alone laid the foundations of the earth. That God alone developed the measurements of this planet, as he tells Job. That God alone entered the currents of the sea. That God walked in the recesses of the ocean. God knows where the light lives. God knows the way of the east wind, he says. God moves the clouds along and he tips the water jars of heaven. This is the God who spread out the heavens like a mirror. That he alone is surrounded with majesty and glory and splendor.

Try praying to him. That one has a way of putting everything into perspective. No wonder the only word that can come out of the mouths of angels that are in the closest proximity to the throne of God is holy. Holy.

Holy. J. I. Packer writes in that little book I read this summer that this kind of praying has grasped the greatness of God. Father, hallowed be your name. That phrase sounds like a declaration. Hallowed be your name.

Holy is your name. But it's actually the first prayer request in a series now that begin in this prayer. In the original language the verb hallowed or hallowed be is passive imperative.

And I'm sure that's the most exciting thing you've heard all day. But it is significant because it implies a couple of action points. It can be a divine passive where you are actually asking God to do this. God is the one who exercises the meaning of this verb. It isn't something you do, it's something God does.

So you're asking God to carry out that action. God, would you make your name sacred in the world today? Would you make your name reverenced in our world today? Would you make the world understand that it's holy?

That we stand in awe of it? Father, consecrate your name. Make your name known as holy. And don't we pray that way to our world that denigrates the character and the nature of God.

That uses his name as a curse word. That our world that denies the creative power of God. I'm all but none of upper God. I just arranged the clouds to say I'm up here. I exist.

I'm coming. We pray, Lord, to a world that defies your moral authority. Will you open their eyes by your power? Might they see the glory of your, the beauty of your holiness? You pray that way. You pray for unsaved friends and family members and co-workers. Lord, would you pull off the blinders?

Open their eyes to the glory of your nature. And the beauty of your gospel. We can pray that. God, let your name be hallowed. It's a prayer request.

But that isn't all that's implied here. In fact, it's interesting you might note that the unbelieving world isn't even mentioned in this prayer. The disciples are praying that God's name will be revealed to them. Lord, make your name sacred to me. Make your name holy to me. Make me reverence you. Because if I reverence God, I will reflect God in my life to that unbelieving world. You see, it's actually a lot easier to say, God, would you just go do that? And you open their eyes and you reveal yourself as glorious and your nature as magnificent. It's another thing to pray, Lord, would you do that in me so that I answer this prayer request? As one author put it, this is praying, Lord, I want to take your glory and go public with it. I want my life to protect, enhance the reputation of your name. Lord, your reputation is at stake in my life.

I don't want to let you down. That's a harder prayer request. That is what I believe the Lord is implying as well. Father, make my life in private such that it isn't just holy in private, but it is holy in public. I'm your child.

Is there anybody in my world to ever be surprised that you're my father? You see, the disciples were to live with this sense that the reputation of God was at stake in them. That's true.

It's true today, beloved. God's reputation out there in that world is not an ounce any better than your reputation and mine. They define God by what they see in us who supposedly represent him.

So let me be as practical as I can. If you're vulgar out there, well, God must not care about purity. If you're immoral, well, God must not care about morality. If you're lazy, well, God must be undependable. If you're unkind, well, God must be vindictive. If you're a liar, well, God must not care about honesty. If you're worried about the world, well, he must not be all powerful.

If you're anxious about the future, well, he must not be in control after all. His reputation is at stake. Father, hallowed be your name is a prayer request that is to be answered by the disciple.

It's a commitment to accept the responsibility for the reputation of God. This is a much bigger prayer than I thought. Dare we pray it? We must. Since 1905, Hebrew National, you may recognize that name in the Delhi section.

I was just there this last week. My wife trusts me just for a few things. Donuts never make the list, but they come home with me. They've been producing hot dogs and sausage products under the watch care of rabbis and did for nearly 90 years until they were sold. It was founded in 1905 by a Russian Jewish immigrant who made quite a mark for the quality of the sausage or the hot dog because he held to higher standards in food production than the laws required back then in 1905 in Manhattan. I remember years ago, I had it in my notes, I found recently Marsha brought a package home from the grocery store for the first time and that night as we were eating, she said, listen to this, and she read the motto on the package.

Their motto is, we answer to a higher authority. I said, honey, that'll make a good sermon illustration. Can I have the package? She's used to that strange behavior, so she gave it to me. Let me read to you what was on the back. I'm not sure it's even there now, but it was back then.

Listen to this. The word kosher literally means fit to eat. Hebrew National will follow strict biblical dietary laws, use only certain cuts of kosher beef, and meet the highest standards. Kosher stands for quality and goodness because we answer to a higher authority.

Imagine a company so convinced that they answer to a higher authority, it completely governs the way they make a hot dog. What if Christians lived as if stamped upon the packaging of our lives were the words? We answer to a higher authority.

We follow a biblical standard. Our lives will be marked by quality and goodness. That's exactly the commitment we're making if we dare pray these opening words. Father, hallow it be your name. Make your name holy. May the world around me see nothing but quality and goodness and an adherence to your word. Father, you're praying I accept the responsibility of protecting your reputation.

Hallow it be not my name, but your name. Let me live in such a way that the world sees a life marked by that kind of quality and goodness. So then what would happen? What would happen is the prayer requests might be answered more often. They will see your quality works, your good works, and do what? Glorify your Father who is in heaven. That was a lesson called When the Reputation of God is at Stake.

Stephen Davey is in a series from Luke 11 that he called The Disciples Prayer. I hope you'll be along with us for all of it. If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to install the Wisdom International app to your phone or tablet. Once you do, you can take this Bible teaching ministry wherever you go. You can follow along on both the Wisdom journey and this program, Wisdom for the Heart. Install the Wisdom International app today, then join us back here next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. Copyright © 2020, New Thinking Allowed Foundation
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-19 01:07:29 / 2023-04-19 01:16:38 / 9

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