Nehemiah 8:10. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Psalm 28:7. The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
I am so full of joy right now!
This morning I went to a morning church service at a little independent Evangelical church called Sutherland Christian Fellowship. They had a guest speaker named Bill Randles. After twenty minutes or so of great a capella singing and rejoicing, the Lord’s Supper* was served and we remembered Christ together with thanksgiving and praise.
The message Bill gave was on simple prayer. In particular, Jesus’ prayer, The Lord’s Prayer:
9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Bill’s explanation was so simple yet so full of sweetness. Essentially, he asked us to consider what we are asking for when we pray in this way. And how terrific it is! We not only situate ourselves properly in relation to God as earth-bound sons and daughters looking upward towards our Father (“our Father who is in heaven”), but in love we’re asking for his Name to be made known and to be honoured and respected in the world and among the people of God (“hallowed be your Name”). Then we ask for him to bring about the end of this age and establish the eternal kingdom of the Father through the Lord Jesus, with everything in subjection to Him (“your kingdom come”), and we pray into the will of God in order to align ourselves with the plans and purposes of the LORD as he makes his Name and salvation known throughout all the earth (“your will be done”). Finally, we confess our dependence on him in every need we have: in our daily, physical needs (“daily bread”) and in all the spiritual needs we have (“forgive us our sins… lead us not into temptation… deliver us from evil”).
I was just absolutely encouraged by this message. In particular, one thing Bill said struck me. This prayer is all about loving God and neighbour. If you love God you will relate to him rightly, on His terms. And if you love neighbour, you won’t kill them, you won’t adulterise them, and you won’t steal from them and so on and so forth. Yet how often do we kill people — even each other in the church — in the way we act and in the things that we say? How often do we put others down, and denigrate them? As I reflect on my friendships even and perhaps especially with other Christians, I recognise that we engage in all kinds of crass and silly jokes. And so I personally came under conviction of conscience that we as a church need to be a holy people, wholly devoted to the Lord in thought, word, and deed, with every aspect of our lives in subjection to him.
So I walked away from that service with a spring in my step! How great is is to bless the Lord and to glorify his name with thanksgiving! Hallelujah! Bless His Name!
On of my favourite song’s stanzas from the day goes like this:
“Come bless the Lord,
All ye servants of the Lord!
Who stand by night,
In the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands,
In the Holy Place!
And bless the Lord,
And bless the Lord!”
Amen! Bless the Lord!