June 28, 2010 David Balzer

Luke 11:1-13: Kingdom Kommunication

Some things have been around for so long, covered with years of dust, hidden under so many OTHER things. That we don’t VALUE them anymore. We forget their true worth.

There’s nothing like finding something old and neglected, and seeing the potential underneath. The true value. Discovering a hidden treasure. We’ve got some people in church with a real eye for that sort of thing.

It might be Andrew Kal, who sees value in all SORTS of things other people are chucking out. He told me that he and Jason found A MOTOR BIKE being thrown out the other week.

Or it might be Steve Bamford. He SAYS he goes down to Canberra for WORK, but he always seems to come back with a of old broken push-bikes. Most people look at them and see rust and bent forks and broken pedals. But Steve sees the original bike – all shiny and polished.

And then there’s Mike Turner. The garage sale HOUND. Picks up all sorts of bargains – as long as the price is right. Things Shelley didn’t even know they needed!

And then there’s Diane Beringer. She’ll see an old lime green chest of drawers on the side of the road. Stickers on the side. Scratches all over the top. Missing knobs. And what SHE’LL see/ is the beautiful wood underneath, the design, and the workmanship. She sees the POTENTIAL.

And she’ll slowly restore it until it’s back to it’s best. Carefully stripping off the old layers of paint. Sanding it back. Then finishing the wood to bring out its character and grain and colour.

There’s nothing like finding something old and neglected, and seeing the value underneath.

And that’s what we need to do with the Lord’s Prayer.

People have been praying it ever since Jesus taught it. We probably learned it when we were kids. But, my guess is, we’ve never really sat down and thought about what it means.

A bit like the boy who thought God’s name was Harold. When his mum asked him why, he said Because that’s what they say in church. “Our Father who art in heaven, HAROLD be your name”

And mostly when we pray it, we chant it mindlessly. Think about something else. Which is ironic really because that’s the exact OPPOSITE of how Jesus WANTS us to pray. The LAST thing he wants/ is for us to repeat prayers MINDLESSLY.

In MATTHEW’S Gospel, just before he teaches the Lord’s Prayer, he says.

(Mat 6:7-9 NIV)  And when you pray, do not keep on BABBLING like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of THEIR MANY WORDS. {8} Do not be like them, for your Father KNOWS what you need before you ask him. {9} “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

In other words, don’t babble mindlessly. Which is just the way lots of people pray the Lord’s Prayer.

And notice he says, “Here’s HOW you should pray. Not WHAT you should pray.” And yet the Lord’s Prayer’s been turned into something that’s part of the ritual of church. Almost as if there’s something magical about the words themselves.

And that’s something that’s GROWN over the years. Layer upon layer of tradition, and ritual, and generation of Christians who’ve ripped the prayer out of their Bibles, taken it out of context, and misused it. Covered up its true worth.

Like painting a beautiful cedar dressing table with lime green paint.

But the Lord’s Prayer deserves much better than that. It’s a rare jewel. And we need to strip it back. Restore it. And that’s what we’ll have a go at doing this morning.

1. The Family Business

The scene is that Jesus has been praying. And the disciples want to pray like HE does. And so they ask him to teach them how to pray.

And from his very first word, they know this is going to be different from the prayers they’ve been used to.

“Father” … How SIMPLE is that! No lengthy introductions. No special titles. Just straight into it. They’re more used to prayers that begin with “Sovereign Lord”, or “King of the Universe”. Or “Almighty and Everlasting Saviour”.

But Jesus just begins with FATHER.

You see, prayer is a FAMILY business. It all depends ON BEING RELATED.

If I phoned up John Howard and asked for a chat, I’d get NOWHERE. Someone would take a message, and that would be as far as it got. But I bet if his DAUGHTER phoned up, wanting to have a chat about her upcoming marriage, she’d get put straight through. WHATEVER he was doing.

THE CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION ARE OPEN BECAUSE OF THE FAMILY RELATIONSHIP. And it’s the same with prayer. It’s God’s CHILDREN who have the privilege of praying to God the Father.

If you’re a Christian – if you’ve recognised your sin, repented of it, and resolved to follow and serve Jesus, then one of the privileges is prayer. Anywhere. Anytime, About anything. It’s 24/7 technical support.

God is listening. Because Fathers listen to their children.

But that title of “Father” also says something about US. Because if you’re a child of your heavenly father, then there should be A FAMILY RESEMBLANCE.

Our CHARACTER should be like HIS. Our ACTIONS should be like his. Our PRIORITIES and FOCUS and GOALS and MISSION. All these things should be like God’s.

Because when God’s your Father, then God’s business/ is YOUR business. So to call God ‘Father’ is a declaration – a commitment- to be doing your Father’s business. (And we’ll see how that’s important in the rest of the prayer.)

2. What’s in a name?

Jesus continues. “Hallowed be your name.” To hallow something means to make it holy. In other words, Jesus’ desire is that God’s NAME would be MADE HOLY.

But what’s THAT mean? In this situation, God’s name is to do with his REPUTATION. His status before people.

We still talk about that today. If a certain person has A GOOD NAME in the community, it means they have a good REPUTATION. They’re RESPECTED, and HONOURED.

If you’re in business, it’s important to have a good NAME. We’re always asking each other, aren’t we, “Do you know a good plumber, or a good mechanic, or doctor?”

People are drawn to, and feel confident with, businesses with a good name.

But sometimes businesses do things which result in their NAME being DEGRADED. PROFANED. They get a reputation as UNRELIABLE, or DISHONEST, or LAZY, or UNPROFESSIONAL.

Their NAME is MUD.

And so, if a business wants to STAY in business, they have to try to REPAIR their image. Restore their reputation. It might be new advertising. Or extra warranties. Or discount prices. Or new quality control. Maybe even something drastic like sacking poor workers.

All things aimed at RESTORING the good name they USED to have That’s what it means to HALLOW their name.

And Jesus wants GOD to do exactly the same thing. You see, when he chose Israel, and RESCUED them, He earned himself a GREAT NAME.

That’s what Solomon says in 1 Chronicles 17. Listen to what he says. V20

(1 Chr 17:20-21 NIV)  “There is no one like you, O LORD, and there is NO GOD BUT YOU, as we have heard with our own ears. {21} And who is like your people Israel–the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and TO MAKE A NAME FOR YOURSELF, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt?

God’s fame and renown and reputation had across the earth because of HIS SAVING ACTIONS.

And Solomon himself certainly lived up to that fame. He was cream of the crop. And God’s name was honoured while HE was on the throne.

But it didn’t last. It was all downhill after Solomon. A long steady drop-off into wickedness and idolatry and godlessness.

And eventually God runs out of patience. He’s sick of people dragging his NAME through the mud. Spitting in his face. Treating him as insignificant, or irrelevant, or obsolete.

And so he sends them into exile. Out of the Promised Land. First Israel goes off to Assyria. Around 722 BC. Then Judah is exiled to Babylon. That’s around 586 BC.

And it’s there that God speaks to them. Through the prophet Ezekiel. And he’s got some amazing things to say. He’s going to TURN THINGS AROUND. Turn over to Ezek Ch 36 with me. It’s on p613 of the church Bibles.

Pick it up at v16. God explains that he exiled the people because they defiled the land by their actions. V18. So he poured out his wrath. And v19. He dispersed them among the nations.

And then look at what they did when they GOT there. V20.

(Ezek 36:20-21 NIV)  And wherever they went among the nations THEY PROFANED MY HOLY NAME, for it was said of them, ‘These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’

Like the incompetent or dishonest employee, who drags the business’s name through the mud. That’s what Israel do with God’s name. Profaned it. DE-HALLOWED it.

And understandably, God’s not too impressed. V21.

{21} I HAD CONCERN FOR MY HOLY NAME, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone.

But that’s all history. Drastic action is called for. And God’s got a plan. Like the boss who sacks the employee, or calls in the auditors, he does it for THE SAKE OF HIS GOOD NAME. V22.

(Ezek 36:22-23 NIV)  “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have PROFANED among the nations where you have gone. {23} I will SHOW THE HOLINESS OF MY GREAT NAME, which has been PROFANED among the nations, the name you have PROFANED among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,

Do you get the impression that God doesn’t like having his name profaned?

And what IS this great plan? God’s plan to hallow his name? V24.

(Ezek 36:24 NIV)  “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.

THE RETURN FROM EXILE. That’s God’s plan for restoring his name. For HALLOWING it… It’s his SAVING Israel the FIRST time around which GOT him the good name. And saving Israel again will RESTORE his good name.

But that’s only the start. EXTERNAL changes are only the beginning. God’s got bigger changes in mind. V25.

(Ezek 36:25-28 NIV)  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. {26} I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. {27} And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. {28} You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

God promises to do something on the INSIDE as well. Because if all that happens to people is that they’re back in the land, then NOTHING WILL CHANGE. The same things will happen. They’ll just turn away form God, and drag his name through the mud all over again.

So what God promises/ is that he’ll wash his people clean. On the INSIDE. Forgive them. Give them a fresh start. And he’ll CHANGE them too. Give them his Spirit, so they’re actually ABLE to obey him. And keep his laws.

It’s exactly what he offers each one of us!

It’s this passage that Jesus is talking about with Nicodemus in John Ch 3. Jesus says that no-one can see the Kingdom of God unless he’s BORN AGAIN. Completely changed. Change that only God can bring.

And when Nicodemus says, “Please explain”, Jesus replies that Nicodemus should know what he’s talking about. He says, “No-one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is BORN OF WATER and THE SPIRIT”. Exactly like God promises through Ezekiel.

But like ALL of God’s promises, it depended on human obedience. His people needed to TRUST his word. To ACCEPT the gift he offered them. To ALLOW him to wash them clean.

And they didn’t. No sooner were they back in the land, than they were off marrying Canaanite women, worshipping other idols. All the stuff they were doing BEFORE they were exiled.

And so, even though they’re IN THE LAND. They’re not really back from exile. They’re certainly not FREE. Persia rules them. Then Greece. Then Rome.

3. Here comes the Kingdom

Until you get to Jesus. And he prays that God would HALLOW HIS NAME. Restore his honour. Bring the exile to a close. In other words, to BRING IN HIS KINGDOM. The place where God would reign over his people in peace and purity. Where the people would actually be CHANGED. And ABLE to serve God as they should.

For God to hallow his name/ means no less/ than to bring in his kingdom. And that’s exactly what Jesus prays next, “(Hallowed be your name) YOUR KINGDOM COME.

The picture Jesus has in mind/ is of God’s earthly kingdom being established. A place where God rules in such an obvious way, that his will is done as surely as it’s done in heaven. People who’ve been BORN AGAIN. Who have his Spirit, and have the ability to see God’s will through. To DO IT.

God’s people/ in God’s place/ under God’s kingship. That’s what God’s kingdom is.

And that’s where Jesus comes in. Because he’s come to BRING that KINGDOM IN. Right through Luke’s gospel we’ve seen the kingdom. Right back in Ch 1, the angel says it to Mary,

(Luke 1:32-33 NIV)  Jesus will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the THRONE of his father David, {33} and he will REIGN over the house of Jacob forever; his KINGDOM will never end.”

And we see Jesus GROWING that kingdom. Bringing it on. He PREACHES it (4:33; 8:1). The disciples SEE the Kingdom of God when Jesus is transfigured (9:27).

In Lk 11:20 Jesus declares that his driving out demons is a sign that the Kingdom of God has come.

And finally, at the Last Supper, 22:18, thinking of his and resurrection. Jesus says that he won’t drink wine again UNTIL THE KINGDOM OF GOD COMES.

That’s the event that BEGINS the kingdom. Jesus’ and resurrection. It’s the MEANS by which God can forgive his people, wash them clean. Give them a new Spirit.

But it doesn’t all COME AT ONCE. The kingdom BEGINS, but there’s more to come. It doesn’t come with a rush like a tidal wave.

In Lk 13:18 Jesus describes the kingdom as a mustard seed that starts small and grows big. And eventually fills the whole earth. In Lk 13:29 it’s a feast to which people FROM ALL CORNERS OF THE GLOBE come.

You see, God’s plan is bigger than Israel ever thought possible. Bigger than just ethnic Israel in the land of Palestine. The kingdom is STILL growing. And it’s going to fill the whole world.

And it’s a plan that Jesus can’t achieve all by himself. God’s plan involves YOU AND ME building that kingdom. YOU AND ME hallowing God’s name by living for him. Sharing his priorities. Speaking up for him. Pushing back the boundaries of the kingdom. Until he comes again.

In Lk 19 Jesus describes the kingdom like this. He’s the king who’s gone away. And we’re the 10 servants who’ve given gifts to use. When Jesus returns those who’ve faithfully used them, and built his kingdom, are rewarded.

And that’s what we’re to be doing now. So when we pray that God would hallow his name, and bring in his kingdom, we’re also declaring our intention to be PART of that process. TO be instruments in hallowing his name, and bringing in his kingdom.

4. Sons trust their Father (Give us each day our daily bread)

But that’s not the end of the prayer. The second part of the prayer shows us HOW we’re to DO the first. The road we follow as we build the kingdom.

As we hallow God’s name. And help to bring his kingdom in. We’re to trust our Father to meet our needs. “Give us each day our daily bread”. That’s what sons do.

You see, ABUNDANT PROVISION is part of God’s kingdom too. Look back to Ezek 36. It’s not just changed PEOPLE in the kingdom, but a changed LAND. A land that’s FULL OF FOOD. Look at v29.

(Ezek 36:29-30 NIV)  I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. {30} I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine.

And down in v35.

(Ezek 36:35 NIV)  They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become LIKE THE GARDEN OF EDEN; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.”

Revelation describes it as a wedding feast. A party. That’s what the new heavens and earth will be like.

And so, as we’re building God’s kingdom TODAY, and trusting God to meet our needs, the bread he provides should REMIND us of the wonderful provision that’s waiting for us in the NEW heavens and earth. The new Garden of Eden. The new Israel. The new Jerusalem.

Just as we sometimes catch a glimpse of heaven when we meet with God’s people, so his DAILY PROVISION is a foretaste of the abundance of heaven.

Why not add this idea to the grace you say at dinner? What a great thing to be LOOKING FORWARD TO as you enjoy God’s provision TODAY!

(Give us each day our daily bread)

5. Sons show the family resemblance

And lastly, we’re to pray that God would forgive our sins, as we forgive everyone who sins against us. And that God would not lead us into temptation.

That’s BEHAVIOUR which befits sons of God. Sons and daughters should show the family resemblance. The same way that God forgives our sins is how we forgive the debts people have with us. They might be sins. But they might just as easily be financial debts, or books we’ve loaned. Or tools.

Have the generous, forgiving Spirit that your Father has. That’s the family resemblance. That’s a sign of the kingdom of God.

It’s a sign of God’s kingdom. When God’s people are changed. Remember back to Ezekiel? When their hearts of stone are changed into hearts of flesh. When God’s Spirit ENABLES us to follow his laws, and WANT what he wants.

As we GROW in those things. As more people become Christians. That’s a sign that God’s KINGDOM is growing. That God is BRINGING IN his kingdom. And answering our prayer.

And as we keep doing that. God will keep answering his prayer. Until one day the kingdom culminates. The mess that this world is will be bulldozed. And Jesus will come back. And the NEW world will begin. God’s eternal kingdom.

Listen to how Peter puts it in 2 Peter 3:10.

(2 Pet 3:10-14 NIV)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. {11} Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives {12} as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. {13} But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. {14} So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

That’s what we look forward to when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. It’s not some boring mantra to be recited by memory week after week. It’s a radical, future-oriented, life-changing vision for the future.

It’s no safe, small, insignificant little prayer. It’s powerful, and challenging, and huge. Properly understood, it lifts our eyes from our own problems, and gives us a vision of God’s eternal purposes. It stretches our faith. Shows us our importance in God’s plans.

“Father, Make your name holy again by bringing in your kingdom. As I trust you for my daily needs, and forgive those around me. Forgive my sins, and make ME a person who hallows your name, and brings your kingdom in.

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