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I wanted to share one from the archives today. It was from the middle of my series on the Lord's prayer. It goes all the way back to August 9, 2012 when i was a brand new blogger, but the message is still strong in my heart.

Enjoy:

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As the 3rd installment in my look at “Thy will be done” (Matt 6:10) I wanted to run one more idea past you. Many time I hear Christians talk as though the fact that you are in a circumstance means that what is going on is God’s will for your life.

This is actually a form of fatalism that can completely disable your ability to get out of your current situation. How so you ask?

Think about this for a minute. If you think you are in your current place because God has fore-ordained it, you are much less likely to fight for a way out.

We have to stop getting our theology from Doris Day! [Tweet This]
[Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) – more accurately Ray Evans who wrote the lyrics to this song Doris Day was famous for singing in the late 50’s.]

Christianity is not a system of fatalism, where God orchestrates every detail. Everything that ever happens does not happen for a reason, and is not necessarily intended for your long-term benefit. That is not what Romans 8:28 says, nor does 1 Thessalonians say be thankful for everything. Let’s look at what these verses actually say:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

The promise above has to do with God’s ability to take everything that life throws at you and mold those crazy ingredients into an amazing package. (like an amazing cosmic episode of “Chopped”)

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

Here again, the exhortation is not to be thankful for everything, but in everything.

I heard a preacher say once (I don’t know the name of the preacher, but what he said helped me a lot understanding God’s foreknowledge) that God knows the outcome of every possible choice you could ever make. This is why nothing ever takes Him by surprise, and yet you still have choice, and still have the ability to get outside of God’s will.

It is clear in scripture that not everything that happens is the will of God. Adam and Eve sinned – not God’s will – in fact it was exactly the opposite of God’s will. God had a plan in place, and solved the sin problem brilliantly. In fact, the outcome of the New Covenant is a better life for us than what Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden. [Tweet This]

Let that sink in for a minute. Do you realize that God’s intention for a born again, blood bought child of God is actually better than that of Adam and Eve. God is no longer meeting us in the cool of the day, He is living inside! This new covenant ROCKS!!!!!

I am starting to ramble – Back to the point.

Don’t live and pray like the crappy circumstances you are in are God’s plan for your life. Here are 3 steps to a better life for you.

  1. Get up close to God through His word, Prayer and Worship.
  2. Let Him set fresh desires in your heart.
  3. Start doing everything in your power to coöperate with what God shows you.

That’s it. Don’t just live with the circumstance you are in. Cooperate with God and connect with His will for your life. You may not find your circumstances change, but it sure will be better with God engaged.

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

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Don't forget Encounters With Jesus when planning your holiday shopping. It might be just the thing to draw someone on the edge of faith in. And I've heard from some who have been in the faith before I was born that this book has helped them connect with Jesus in a new way. So consider adding Encounters to your Christmas shopping list.

Available in Paperback, Kindle, and Nook versions.

Learn more about Encounters with Jesus here.

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GreaterGlory

Our heavenly Father, may the glory of your name be the center on which our life turns. - Luke 11:2 TPT

What a great prayer.

You’ve probably heard this verse translated like this:

Father, hallowed be Your name. - Luke 11:2 NASB

The only time you hear the word hallowed, or any part thereof today, it’s linked to Halloween. So when Brian Simmons translated the Lord’s prayer in Luke 11, he put a spin on it that you can wrap your heart and mind around.

Allowing the glory of the Father’s name to be the point on which our lives pivot would bring Him to the center or our every decision. It would create an awareness of God in our daily walk. This phrase helps me understand what it means to abide in the vine.

When I abide in Him and He resides in me, His glory and the glory of His name settles to the center of all I am, and then out of that center—that well of life—all my decisions flow—all my choices originate in the fountain head of glory at the center of my being.

Will you pray this with me today?

Our heavenly Father, may the glory of your name be the center on which our life turns.

Why His name? What’s so special about His name?

His name is His promise—His covenant.

Moses leaned His name—I AM.

Then Father, through the scriptures and finally through His son, revealed His nature, His character, and His covenant to us though His wonderful name.

Yahweh-Jireh “The Lord will Provide” (Genesis 22:14)
Yahweh-Nissi “The Lord is my Banner” (Exodus 17:15)
Yahweh-Mekaddesh “The Lord Sanctifies” (Exodus 31:1)
Yahweh-Shalom “The Lord is Peace” (Judges 6:24)
Yahweh-Rohi “The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1)
Yahweh-Tsidkenu “The Lord is Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Jeremiah 33:16)
Yahweh-Shammah “The Lord is There” (Ezekiel 48:35)

I AM the bread (John 6:35)
I AM the light of the world (John 8:12)
I AM the door of the sheep (John 10:7)
I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11)
I AM the resurrection, and the life (John 11:25)
I AM the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)

That is some serious glory, some serious promises, and an amazing covenant. Let your life pivot on this. Let it be your core.

Jesus, be the center!

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by today.Encounters With Jesus

Keep the light on.

Ben

For more thoughts on His great name, check out:

Thy Name, Part 1
Thy Name, 8 (well 9) Old Testament names of God
Thy Name, 7 (well 8) New Testament names of God

If you'd like to learn more about my new book - Encounters With Jesus - you can read about it here.

 

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Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10 NASB

I love the story of Robin Hood. Robin of Loxley is such a great hero, isn’t he? I don’t care if he is portrayed as a fox in a floppy hat, or a Technicolor Errol Flynn in green tights. I love the leader of those merry men.

Some love him because of his care for the common man, some for his disregard for corruption in high places. Others find his romantic side endearing.

For me it is his fierce loyalty to a distant king.

Though Richard the lion-heart is off in a distant land, Robin is still in the kingdom – under the reign – of Richard. Robin follows the laws and enforces the priorities of that absent king. He is a loyal subject – in subjection to – the king he can’t see. He does not take advantage of his position to exploit the king absence, the way Richard’s own brother does.

This is what Jesus demonstrated. I know the analogy breaks down. God is anything but absent or distant, though even for Jesus there were days when it felt that way. When He cried out, ‘My God, My God, why hast though forsake Me?’ God may have seemed distant.

Yet, even when Jesus, could not sense God’s Spirit (and, yes, this ‘Father forsaken’ Jesus is God, though that idea makes my brain unravel just a bit) He pressed on in obedience and determination to do the will of the Father, to bow to the reign of the One True King.

When God is silent does your allegiance slip? Is your resolve to follow the Lord strong when all you can see are faint footprints and darkness ahead? Are you willing to follow His voice as He leads you though the valley of the shadow of death?

Lord, give us (me) the courage to follow you when my heart can’t feel You. [Tweet this]

Ben NelsonSee you tomorrow.

Ben

When I first moved my blog to WordPress, and didn’t know any of you wonderful folks over here, I was just starting to blog through the Lord’s Prayer.

In fact, my blogging career (chuckle) started back in June with the Beatitudes followed closely by the Lord’s Prayer. These are 2 of the most significant and crucial passages in the Bible, and so that is where I started.

Then I decided to go back and fill in the blanks between them.

Here I am back at the doorstep of the Lord Prayer, so rather than blogging through it again, and repeating my self, I thought I would index those posts here for anyone who is interested, and we will jump on to what’s next.

Hey - don't feel like you have to read any or all of these, but if anything strikes your fancy give it a whirl. I have tagged (*) a few that I really love, but hey I often agree with myself.

Here is the list:

OUR Father… *

Our FATHER… *

Perspective

How does one Hallow?

Thy Name, Part 1

Thy Name, 8 (well 9) Old Testament names of God

Thy Name, 7 (well 8) New Testament names of God

The Increase of Influence

3 Peeks at the Will of God *

Don’t Undermine Your Prayers

The Will of God vs Your Circumstances

Pull It Forward! *

Thy, Thou, Us and Our – A Template for Life

A Visit to the Fridge

Abandon Your Offenses *

Know Forgiveness or NO Forgiveness

Finding Your Way Out of Temptation-ville

Anybody Want A LifeSaver?

Where Did You Get That?

Take it From the Top

Forever

Ever Increasing Peace!

Divine Punctuation

Bring Me the Bill

7 Things Jesus Modeled in the Lord’s Prayer

If you got this far you must be ready for a nap - or just waking up from one.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

See you tomorrow.

Yours,

Ben

But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matt 6:15)

Did you know that unforgiveness is one of the biggest causes for sickness in the world. Bitterness and unforgiveness make you physically sick. Forgiveness is the key to a healthy life. This is not just theology – it has been observed by the medical profession for years.

In 1st Corinthians 11:30 when Paul is talking about communion he states that many are sick and even die in the body of Christ because they do not “judge the body rightly.” I believe the body he is speaking of here is the body of Christ, or the Church. This idea of judging rightly the body of Christ has to do with the fact that we do not see each other as Christ does. Remember He has forgiven, and sees each of us as though we had never sinned. When we judge others in the body as guilty of harming us, when Christ sees them as holy and forgiven, we give the enemy a foothold – a place to hang on.

One other facet of this is a tendency for us to hold onto condemnation of ourselves. The argument above stands for self condemnation as well as the condemnation of those around us in the body of Christ. I know it sounds like psycho-babble, but the fact is many saints who stand forgiven before God, do not see themselves as God sees them, and so they live in condemnation. Living in condemnation has a number of horrible effects.

First off, it is the easiest way to get “stuck” spiritually. What do I mean by stuck? I am talking about that inability to move forward in your relationship with God. Perhaps it is a sin you cannot overcome, or a prayer life you can’t get off the ground.

Another effect of self-condemnation is your inability to overcome a chronic illness. In the same way unforgiveness can make us sick, self condemnation has a kind of double down effect. Not only do you have the stresses of unforgiveness that can cause illness, but the guilt and condemnation give you no hope of breaking free. This is due to the fact that when you think you deserve something – whether as a just punishment, or because there is a good natural reason, you do not feel the same sense of righteous indignation that would stir your ability to fight.

For instance, if two men have lung cancer, and one has been a smoker for 20 years, and weighs 400 lbs, eats poorly, and has never cared for his health, and the other is a 24 year old Olympian athlete who has never eaten anything but organic food, never smoked, when you pray for the young man, you will pray a passionate prayer about justice and how unfair it is that this man has cancer. On the other hand, for the old heavy smoker, you might be more likely to pray a prayer asking for mercy from God.

The same thing is going on inside them. The old smoker will feel it is his fault, and that he deserves this punishment. After all, how many surgeon general’s warnings did he crumple up and throw away?

But the stripes that Jesus bore actually paid for those 20 years of foolishness, and they are just as gone as any other sin that would make this man guilty. [Tweet This] And God is just as able, and just as willing to heal in either case.

While I am on the subject of fairness, I want to throw one more aspect on the table. Sometimes we stay sick because there is a cause for our sickness. We may not be at fault, but we see that there is a cause. This is common in accident victims. The accident may not have been your fault, so you don’t feel the blame or self-condemnation, but the fact that there is a cause, a good reason for you to be in pain, allows the enemy a place to hold on.

What do you think? I hope these 3 posts on forgiveness give you hope, and help you to deal with the hard stuff of living in relationships.

If you missed the last two in this series they were - Forgive It or Forget It!  and Can a Christian have Unforgiveness?

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

Sign photo credit: quantumlars via photo pin cc

Ash tray photo credit: frigante via photo pin cc

But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matt 6:15)

Is it impossible for a Christian to have unforgiveness in their hearts? What I mean to ask is does unforgiveness in my life prove that I am not a Christian, or not forgiven? I believe that we are all in a walk, and growing in our faith. One is a Christian when they surrender their life to Jesus. There is a point in time when we step from darkness to light, from the kingdom of satan (by the way – I leave that “proper name” all lower case just to dis satan) to the kingdom of God. And at that point in time, you are no longer under the condemnation of God. You have begun a walk that will never end. From this moment, right through all eternity, we continue to grow more and more like Jesus.

So one day you are just walking along and you see someone who once hurt you deeply, walking down the aisle of the grocery store. You avoid them like crazy, trying not to end up picking out soup together. God points out a place in your heart where there is still pain, and maybe even anger. You remember what they did to you like it was yesterday. What do you do about it?

God is a genius at walking our faults right up in front of us, so that we can deal with them and turn them over to Him for healing.

What would Jesus do?

That’s actually pretty easy, because He already did it. Or perhaps I should say the Father already did it. Check this out – God did not hold your sins against you. Consider this passage from 2nd Corinthians: “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:18-19)

Here is the key to living in community, and it will work in the Church, or in the work place, or even in your home. Don’t count their trespasses against them. [Tweet This] It is actually the job that you have been given from the Father according to this verse. You have been given the ministry of reconciliation – namely – not holding their trespasses against them.

So this goes for the lost you are trying to reach, as well as the family you are wishing you didn’t have to go visit this weekend. If you can cut them the same slack you cut yourself when you fail or fall short, or mess up, you will find that you can do a much better job of loving them.

Have you ever noticed that when someone rides up the shoulder of the highway and swerves right in front of you, they are a jerk, but when you find yourself in an awkward situation on the road, and have to slip into line, it has to do with circumstances beyond your control, and you were simply forced to do it. It wasn’t what it looked like right? Or how about when you are on line in the grocery store and it is taking forever. You are the next in line, and suddenly the next register over opens up, and some guy walks up just as they open, and gets out of the store before you have actually gotten to the cashier. You feel like – why didn’t they ask me to come over and go first. It’s not fair!!!!! Hmmm – it’s stuff like this that constantly tests your ability to forgive, to step back and not hold others trespasses against them. To take a look from their point of view.

Stop in tomorrow when I talk about the Fringe Benefits of forgiveness

If you missed yesterday’s post check it out here. Forgive It or Forget It!

Thanks for stopping in today.

Ben

Sign photo credit: quantumlars via photo pin cc

Soup photo credit: Ben Nelson

But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matt 6:15)

So here is a concept that I am not sure we embrace. According to Jesus we are forgiven in the same measure that we forgive. Definitely not what I wanted to hear. My concept of forgiveness is that God separates all my sins from me as far as the East is from the West, that He forgets my transgressions, and treats me as if I had never thought a single evil thought.

Let’s take a look at one of Jesus’ parables and see if we can get some help. In Matthew 18, which by the way is entirely about forgiveness and restoration of relationships, Jesus tells a parable.

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying,

‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.

But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’

So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’

He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.

So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.

So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35 NASB)

This is such a powerful story and demonstrates exactly what Jesus is teaching here. Your ability to forgive demonstrates your understanding of what you have received. When you receive the full pardon for all your trespasses against the Father, and yet do not forgive that which has been done against you, it demonstrates your lack of comprehension of what has been done for you. It actually goes to demonstrate that you have not actually received that forgiveness.

Remember that the forgiveness of God is a free gift, which must be received by faith. Through this faith we see just how completely we need forgiveness, and how completely inadequate our attempts to pay or cover our sin have been. When we demonstrate hatred for others and a vengeful spirit, we demonstrate that we have not received that new nature, we are not born of the Spirit that can set us free. You cannot live in mercy and justice at the same time. When we have received mercy, and can’t give mercy, we walk back into the realm of justice, and undermine the mercy we have received.

Think of it this way. There are only 2 covenants that we can live in. We cannot expect to live in the New Covenant in the mercy of God, and not extend that forgiveness to those around us. [Tweet This]

Come back tomorrow when I answer the question: Can a Christian harbor Unforgiveness?

Thanks for stopping in today.

Come back soon,

Ben
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As I leave the Lord Prayer (for the moment at least) I wanted to take a quick look at this as a model once again.

This is not intended (though any public reading of Jesus words has value) for public reciting on a weekly basis. As I said when we first started this study, that can become no more than vain repetition, which Jesus repudiated.

This IS a great place to start as an outline or structure for your own prayer life. [Tweet This]

Our Father - Remember with Whom you are speaking

In Heaven – Remember His (and your) perspective – Pray from outside your circumstances if you can.

Hallowed be Your name – (#1 Worship) Begin with Praise, Adoration, Worship. If you run out of time, you will have done Job 1.

Your Kingdom come – (#2 Submission) Your prayer life should have the specific intent of getting into alignment with God’s reign.

Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven – (#3 Intercession) Here we ask the Father to bring a manifestation of His economy into the lives of those around us, and those He puts on our heart.

Give us this day our daily bread – (#4 Supplication) Here we deal with our needs and wants.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors – (#5 Confession) Do not leave prayer without a clean slate between you and the Father. This may actually be #1 since Jesus twice tells us to fix our relationships before we approach the Father.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil – (#6 Guidance) Lord, you lead, I follow.

For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever, Amen. - (#7 Worship) We end where we begin with our main job in life – Worship the King!

Not every prayer has to have all of these elements, but this is a great place to start.

Thanks for reading today.

Come back soon.

Ben

PS - If you are new to the blog, you can check out "the Lord's Prayer" category for dozens of posts as we moved through this prayer phrase by phrase.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Wipe our Debt
Wipe our Debt (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt 6:12,14-15 NASB)

I find it interesting that verse 12 uses the word debt, and verses 14 & 15 uses trespass or transgression.

Debt in verse 12 is literally anything owed -

Thayer's lexicon says this debt is an obligation imposed by

  • Law
  • Duty
  • Reason
  • The times
  • The nature of the matter under consideration

So then this is a very broad word. The request made to Our Father is to forgive all obligations, as we have forgiven all that by obligation is owed to us.

Here's Your Bill Sir

This would include money, honor, obedience, advancement, and friendship. This would apply to all our relationships including, friends, spouses, parents, children, acquaintances, and business associates. The Lord never bisects our lives between personal, business, spiritual, or social, the way we tend to. [Tweet This]

We are asking the Lord to forgive all our debts - everything we owe anyone, in the same way we forgive anything owed us.

In 14 and 15 Jesus brings it back more specifically to our sin debt. Our debt of sin is forgiven in the same way we treat everything we owe.

How are you at paying your debts? How are you at forgiving your debts?

Thanks for stopping in today. Come back soon.

Ben

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Amen (Matt 6:13)

Finally Jesus closes His model prayer  using the word Amen. The word “amen” is not like the ham radio sign off – “over and out!” It is not us telling God we are done now, or worse that we are now dismissing Him.

Amen, when used at the end of a sentence has the implication – “let it come to pass.” Jesus uses this word often. The striking thing about the way Jesus uses this word is where it comes in His sentences.

Jesus starts His sentences with ‘amen’. The thing is that when He does this it is usually rendered truly or verily. In looking this word up, I was impressed by the following information about this ancient word in

Thayer's - Greek English Lexicon

“The word "amen" is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech. The word is directly related -- in fact, almost identical -- to the Hebrew word for "believe" (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean "sure" or "truly", an expression of absolute trust and confidence.

Today, not only our prayers, but our lives need to be punctuated with Amen – fore and aft! [Tweet This]

Thanks for reading today.

Come back soon.

Ben

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