Saturday, November 5, 2016

Talking to God - Kingdom, Power, and Glory

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory

We have spent months studying the Lord’s Prayer. We begin by recognizing and acknowledging who God is. God is the Almighty in Heaven, but he has chosen us as his children, so we can address him as “our Father.” We worship him and lift up his name as holy. This must always be our context for prayer. We do not lift up our prayers to someone who is just one of us. God is love; he cares for us. But he is also all powerful; he can answer our prayers. 

We begin our petitions of God by asking for his kingdom to come and for his will to be done; in asking this, we also humble ourselves and bend our will to his. We call upon Jehovah Jireh - God our Provider - to give us this day our daily bread. We entrust ourselves fully to his provision. 

We continue our prayer by asking for forgiveness and for the power and grace to forgive others, and we ask for the power to resist temptation and deliverance from Satan and his tricks.

As we complete this series on the Lord’s Prayer, we will look at how we close the prayer. For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen. When we look in the Bible, this closing isn’t included in our text, but in some of your Bibles, there is a footnote which tells you that it is included in some manuscripts.

This postscript in the Lord’s Prayer is perhaps the oldest piece of Christian writing outside the New Testament. We’ve been praying the Lord’s Prayer this way for nearly 2000 years. But it is not a new prayer. Listen to how King David prayed in 1 Chronicles 29:10-13:10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

“Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 
Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

Everything in heaven and earth belongs to God. The Kingdom is his. Majesty has been defined as royal power, and if you think of the majesty of beautiful mountains, consider that God made them, and they are only echoes of his majesty. God’s kingdom is of infinite worth; I can’t list all of the scriptures about God’s Kingdom, but when Jesus spoke of the kingdom, he affirmed that its worth was greater than anything we could or would ever own. God is indeed exalted as the head over all, the ruler over all things.

Considering God’s power: If you think of the most powerful people in the world, consider that God made that person and has their lives in his hand. James 4:14 reminds us that all lives are only a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Even the most powerful. God makes the most powerful people in the world pale in comparison. We can speak of people as having power, but God is power.

God’s glory has been defined by Dr. Fred H. Klooster as the summary of all of God’s attributes. The majesty, splendor, beauty, and brilliance of God who dwells in unapproachable light are expressed by this indefinable term. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (pp. 879–880). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

John Piper defines God’s glory this way: “I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we're created in his image, and we're trusting his promises so that we make him look gloriously trustworthy.”

When we acknowledge that all glory is God’s, we demonstrate that God is of infinite worth. That his attributes contribute to his worth, and that he is not just worthy because of what he does, but because of who he is. 

Now, a few minutes ago I referenced James 4:14 — as humans we have a limited lifespan. We are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. But God is eternal. That’s why we acknowledge that the kingdom, power, and glory are God’s forever and ever. They are without end. While Zambia recently celebrated 52 years of Independence, and the USA celebrated 240 years, the kingdoms of this earth rise and fall. But God’s rule never ends. 

We conclude the Lord’s Prayer fittingly with “Amen.” So be it. We can pray this prayer with confidence, not even asking “if it is the Lord’s will” because we have absolute assurance that this entire prayer is within God’s will. After all, Jesus doesn’t teach us to pray it conditionally. We can pray it with all confidence. As Hebrews 4:16 tells us, Let us approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Amen.