365 Days of Grace From God's Word

Month: September 2022

The Lord’s Prayer – Our Prayer

Matthew 6:9 – “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘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 today 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 the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NIV) 

Last week I looked at the verses that came before this passage.  In those verses Jesus taught us about not praying for show, and to keep our prayers simple, not adding words upon words.  In these verses Jesus teaches us just how simple – yet powerful – prayer can and should be.  Entire books have been written about this one prayer, but let’s take a quick look at it. 

First, Jesus teaches us that there should be reverence in addressing God.  We probably address God differently in our prayers, but we should go to God reverently.  Keeping in mind that our relationship with all people should reflect our relationship with God, respect is important!  Perhaps, this is why many people treat others without respect, they have lost their respect and reverence for the creator of all people.

Next, Jesus teaches us to pray for God’s will.  We pray for so many things in our lives, and in the lives of others.  The most important thing, however, is to pray for God’s will to be done.  We know that God desires for us to have not only eternal life, but an abundant life here and now (John 10:10).  Knowing that God desires for us to have this quality of abundance in our daily lives, why wouldn’t we pray for God’s will!?

In verse twelve, Jesus teaches us to pray for forgiveness in the same manner in which we have forgiven others.  Ouch!  I’m sure that this is difficult for all people at times, but forgiveness should characterize our lives.  The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in Colossians 3:13 – “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Verse fifteen is often overlooked, especially when we recite this prayer together in worship.  Jesus tells us that forgiveness is given when we ask, but only if we have a forgiving spirit.  A forgiving spirit certainly takes spiritual strength and discipline, and is only achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, Jesus teaches us to pray for guidance in our daily lives.  Jesus teaches us in John 16:13 that the Holy Spirit will provide this guidance: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”

Today, let’s pray this simple yet powerful prayer.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide our steps so that we may stay in God’s will, live abundantly, and that we will have a forgiving spirit. 

Posted by Ramón Torres

Pure Motives

Matthew 6:1 – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (NIV)

The story is told of two brothers, both of whom took an oath to share the gospel with someone every day.  One night, one of the brothers realized just before he went to bed that he had not shared the gospel with anyone that day.  Quickly he got dressed and ran into the street and shared the gospel with the first person he saw, and wouldn’t you know it just happened to be his pastor!  The question this story begs is this – what are our motives for our acts of righteousness?  The reading for today is all about having the right motives. 

Jesus takes it for granted that his followers would be practicing righteousness, but warns them about doing so in order to be seen.  He assumed his followers would be giving to the needy (verse 2), and he assumed his followers would be people of prayer (verse 5).  We need to be people who live righteously, but we must continually check our motives. 

Let us note that Jesus was not condemning public worship when he said to go into a private place to pray (verse 6).  The gospels give us plenty accounts of Jesus attending synagogue and the temple.  Jesus was, however, making the point that our prayers should be heartfelt communication between God and ourselves, and that our giving should be done out of true love and generosity.  Any act of righteousness or religiosity that is performed with the intent of letting others take notice of ourselves is the wrong motive.  Christians should be seen and heard, but our motive for being seen and heard is not to draw attention to ourselves, but to God.

Today, let us pray for pure hearts and pure motives.  Let us seek to show Christ to others, and let’s pray that Christ overshadows ourselves.

Posted by Ramón Torres

Towards Perfection

Matthew 5:43 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (NIV)

Today’s reading continues from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus continues to teach us about holy living.  My favorite quote from Mark Twain is from when he said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible that I do not understand that trouble me, it’s the parts I do understand that trouble me!”  Today’s reading is certainly a challenging, if not troubling, passage.  Through his teachings, Jesus makes it clear that love is often not a warm feeling, but a deliberate action – and it doesn’t always come naturally.  We are sinful, and as such it is not natural for us to love those who treat us poorly, but that is what Jesus commands of us.  Love is an action that takes the power of God’s Spirit working in us, or else we will fall short. 

Jesus was God in the flesh, and he modeled for us the perfect example of a godly life.  Our goal, as Christians, is to be Christ-like.  This is why, in verse forty-eight, Jesus tells us to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect.  Jesus modeled godly love throughout his life, and he even modeled godly love as he forgave those who killed him.  Can we be perfect?  Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 that we have all sinned, therefore we know that we are not perfect, at least not for long!  Perfection, however, is what we strive for. John Wesley is often quoted as saying that our goal is to move on towards perfection.  He was, however, preaching from Hebrews 6:1, which states: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection” (NKJV).

Perfection may seem too high a goal to shoot for, but if we set our sights lower and fail, how less of godly love will we achieve than if we set our sights on perfection!  Today, let us deliberately, and consciously, love everyone.  Let us seek the power of the Holy Spirit, and strive for perfection, as we seek to live as Christ-like as we possibly can. 

Posted by Ramón Torres

The Power of Our Thoughts

Matthew 5:27 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell”. (NIV) 

Throughout the Old Testament, the people of God were well aware of sin, and they were well aware of their own sin.  They knew of two types of sin.  First there were sins of commission.  These were the things that were sinful to commit, such as the seventh commandment found in Exodus 20:14 – “You must not commit adultery.”  The second type were sins of omission, or things that were sinful if when failed to do something.  An example of this would be the fourth commandment as found in Exodus 20:8 – “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” 

In the reading we have for today, Jesus raises the bar significantly when he tells us that even when we think of sinful things, we have committed a sin: “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).  Jesus tells us that holiness is truly a matter of the heart.  Can the transforming power of God really change our thoughts? Absolutely!  In Romans 8 we find these words: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6).  Our minds must be governed by the Spirit.  Then, Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 

How dangerous are our thoughts?  Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV). If left unchecked, our actions often follow our thoughts.  Using exaggeration to make his point, as was the practice of Jewish Rabbi’s of Jesus’ day, Jesus tells his followers that it would be better to gouge out an eye, or to cut off a hand, than to be led astray.  In other words, our thoughts are serious business!

Today, let us seek the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, that our thoughts would lead us into holy living. 

Posted by Ramón Torres

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