Our Father – Where We Grow Up

Our Father, I know from long experience that I do not do well in the candy aisle.

OK, here I am at the campfire still. I’m getting stinging smoke in my eyes now, and some mosquito bites. But let’s keep looking at the Lord’s Prayer from the point of view of a child.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13). I read a commentary on this verse that I thought was definitely a child’s point of view of the Lord’s Prayer. It compared God not leading us into temptation to a mother avoiding the candy aisle when shopping with her children. “Praying, ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ is like praying, ‘God, don’t take me down the candy aisle today.’ It’s recognizing that we naturally grasp for unprofitable things and that God’s wisdom can avert the unpleasantness of our bellyaching.” 

You know, there are myriad examples of ways we keep children from temptation. There is a whole industry devoted to it – baby gates, toilet seat locks, cupboard and drawer latches. Even with all of that, we sometimes have to chase them down as they run, giggling, toward a busy street. For a toddler, that is temptation – doing something forbidden (actually, for grownups too!). And so, we have to put blocks in their way to keep them safe.  Maybe sometimes when we find blocks in our way it is God answering our prayer to lead us not into temptation. 

God always has a purpose. Remember the commentary from the first blog on this subject: “Through ongoing sanctification, the believer more and more resembles their heavenly Father – i.e. each time they receive faith from Him and obey it, which results in their unique glorification.”2 Through ongoing sanctification, through obedience and yielding we become like Him.  

The word above translated “temptation” also means testing. Ellicott’s Commentary3 notes that “[t]he Greek word includes the two thoughts which are represented in English by ‘trials,’ i.e., sufferings which test or try, and ‘temptations,’ allurements on the side of pleasure which tend to lead us into evil.”  

This is where the child learns that some things are “nos.” This is where she learns to yield to the will of the Father. Learning to choose obedience. To not play in the toilet water. To begin to grow up. 

Receiving a place in the family of God, receiving daily spiritual and physical sustenance, receiving forgiveness: this is like being the little baby child, drinking the spiritual milk. But forgiving others, sharing what we have been given, yielding daily to God’s will for our lives, obeying His commands to love even our enemies, passing the test – the enduring, the waiting, the sanctification part, the becoming like Jesus part – that is where we grow up. 

Perhaps Jesus is saying to me in this part of the prayer: You are a little child of God. He is your loving, strong Father. Pray like a child who knows her weakness and vulnerability. 

“But those who are conscious of their weakness cannot shake off the thought that they might fail in the conflict, and the cry of that conscious weakness is therefore, ‘Lead us not into such trials,’ even as our Lord prayed, ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass away from me’ (Matthew 26:39). And the answer to the prayer may come either directly in actual exemption from the trial, or in ‘the way to escape’ (1Corinthians 10:13), or in strength to bear it.”3 

Our Father, I know from long experience that in myself I am weak. I do not do well in the candy aisle. I do not endure trials patiently. And after very bad days I even sometimes find myself playing in the toilet water again. Oh Father, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me! 

“We beg for forgiveness, protection, and deliverance just as a young child asks for help and safety as she prepares to fall asleep at night.” — Jeremy Linneman, The Lord’s Prayer is Meant to Be Lived4 

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3 

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:13-14 

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV)  

Our Father … 

1Lead Us Not into Temptation, but Deliver Us from Evil | The Lord’s Prayer Petition 5 By Stephanie Soderstrom and Terry DeYoung https://www.faithward.org/how-to-pray-like-jesus-the-lords-prayer-petition-5/  

2HELPS Word Studies by Discovery Bible 

3Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers 

4Blogged by Dr. Peter Cockrell https://pjcockrell.wordpress.com/2022/08/07/the-lords-prayer-is-meant-to-be-lived/  

Photo of candy aisle by Tiia Monto https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Candy_in_store_2.jpg  

Burning Bushes

There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up … God called to him from within the bush … Exodus 3:2, 4 

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Revelation 22:17 

God got Moses’ attention with the flames that didn’t burn up the bush. Once He got Moses’ attention, He called to him from within the bush. J.D. Walt recently wrote that we are called to be burning bushes too. 

“The only reason the Word of God has been bound into books is so it might become unbounded in our hearts, our minds, our very flesh and blood bodies and unleashed through our lives in the world. We are meant to become living bearers, holy manifestations, burning bushes, Spirit filled fiery pillars of the Living Word of God who is Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.” — J.D. Walt, The Only Problem with the Bible1   

We are meant to become burning bushes, givers of light that are not consumed, God drawing through us.  

Jesus said,You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14 

… you shine as lights in the world as you hold forth the word of life … Philippians 2:15-162 

There is another way that we become light in the world. When we become living sacrifices and God’s cleansing fire falls on us. 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 (ESV) 

And just as people were drawn to the burning bush, they are drawn to the flame of the sacrifice and can turn to the Living God. In the story of Elijah and the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18:16-39) there is a foreshadowing of this drawing when fire from heaven fell and burned up Elijah’s sacrifice, and the adherents of Baal worship confessed that the Lord is God. 

Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!” 1 Kings 18:38-39 

Oswald Chambers wrote of the call of God coming out of the flames of yielding. 

“If you abandon everything to Jesus, and come when He says, ‘Come,’ then He will continue to say, “Come,” through you. You will go out into the world reproducing the echo of Christ’s ‘Come.’ That is the result in every soul who has abandoned all and come to Jesus.” Oswald Chambers 

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Revelation 22:17 

… for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29 

But maybe you are wondering, as I did, if God is a consuming fire, why wasn’t the bush consumed, why wasn’t it burned up? Why aren’t we burned up on the altar? I think it is because God is life and light and love, and what He burns up is sin and darkness and anything that is harmful and keeps us from Him. Only the ropes that bound Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were burned in the fire, but they walked with Jesus in the fire unharmed (Daniel 3:22-25). 

If we cling to the things that God’s holiness consumes and refuse to yield, we will get burned – and consumed with them in the end. Or, at the least, we will be left with nothing as the “wood, hay, and stubble” are burned up (1 Cor. 3:12-15).  

But if we put ourselves on the altar as a burnt offering and let His fire fall on us, we are cleansed and purified and set free. We are called to be burning bushes, to be burnt offerings on the consuming fire of His altar, a witness to His transforming power, His glorious majesty, and His unfailing love. And the more we let him burn away the darkness, the purer the flame, the brighter the light. And the needy, hurting, imprisoned people of the world are drawn to the light of the fire and we are able to call out to them from our burning bushes, “Come!” 

… his word is in my heart like a fire … Jeremiah 20:9 

The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Leviticus 6:12 

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit … Acts 2:2-4 

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Revelation 22:17 

https://seedbed.com/the-only-problem-with-the-bible/ 

2 Berean Study Bible 

Photo, Flame by Annie Roi https://flic.kr/p/9VB6y7  

Gaping Holes

Our garments have holes in them because they are our own garments, not the ones God wants to clothe us with.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 

Recently, a visiting pastor, Craig Darling, spoke about the above verse. One thing he said really stuck with me. He said, “There are gaping holes in the garments of our sanctification.” I thought, yes indeed. If you look at what Paul is urging of us you can see where those holes might be. He is asking for, not just some humility and gentleness, but complete humility and gentleness! All the time humble and gentle? Patience, putting up with people, love, unity. Those are all the hard ones. Those are the ones you want to read quickly and go on, the ones you want to make excuses for. 

Yet we are supposed to wear these things like a garment: 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14 

Why a garment? So that when people look at us, they see Jesus.  

Sanctification and justification are two different things. Justification takes a moment; the moment we receive, believe that Jesus took our sins when he died on the cross and gave us in return His righteousness before God. Sanctification, however, takes a long time it seems, as the Spirit puts his finger on sin, and we yield to Him, things like self-righteousness, self-justification, self-pity, fearfulness and doubt, unforgiveness, uncontrolled anger and tongue – and an entitled attitude to hang on to all those things. Some of it needs deep heart-healing, even becoming aware that we need healing. Some of it needs death to self and pride. A lot of it needs letting go of the hurt, the expectations and demands, the desire to control, to inflict vengeance and our own brand of justice. It takes committing it all to God. 

“So my decision to receive Him, although made only once, I must affirm in thousands of ways, through thousands of choices, for the rest of my life–my will or His, my life (the old one) or His (the new one). It is no to myself and yes to Him.” — Elisabeth Elliot, A Path Through Suffering

And right there, that is the key. Our garments have holes in them because they are our own old garments, not the ones God wants to clothe us with. The garment God wants to clothe us with is woven by the Spirit of God. It cannot come from us; it is the fruit of the Spirit.  

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22 

A recent excellent blog by Beholding Him Ministries confirmed what the Lord was saying to me.  

“… sometimes when we are discussing the fruit of the Spirit, it comes more about if we can list all nine from memory rather than “am I allowing God to have His way in my life?” Sometimes we spend all our attention on the first couple: love, joy, peace, patience and none on “kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Perhaps that is needed by the body of Christ, for our “kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” will prove out our love, joy, peace and patience.”One Who is Faithful (emphasis mine) https://beholdinghimministries.org/2022/06/24/text-51/ 

Lord, I want the world to see You. Take off my holey garment and replace it with your holy garment. Only you can make me complete or completely anything – especially completely humble and gentle.  

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. 2 Timothy 1:9 

Still wrestling …

Image from Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Debbie_Reynolds_Auction_-_Charlton_Heston_%22Col_George_Taylor%22_primitive_robe_of_rags_from_%22Planet_of_the_Apes%22_%285852145450%29.jpg#metadata  

Snuggled In

God, through Jesus, gives us this overcoming victory, but we have a part in it – the “make every effort” part.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1: 3-7 

I have been thinking the last two weeks about overcoming (see Overcoming and He Who Overcomes ). God, through Jesus, gives us this overcoming victory, but we have a part in it – the “make every effort” part. Sometimes that is confusing, as there appears to be a conflict between justification by faith and working out our own salvation. Which is it? Just believe or make every effort? I like how Charles Spurgeon explained it: 

“It is not man’s effort that saves him; but, on the other hand, grace saves no man to make him like a log of wood or a block of stone; grace makes man active. God has been diligently at work with you; now you must diligently work together with him.” — Charles Spurgeon 

Peter admonishes “make every effort to add.” Adding things like self-control and perseverance, and even mutual affection and love requires, in the “making every effort,” a dying to self. Jesus said that the dying must be a daily thing. A continual effort to die, which in itself seems like a mysterious paradox. 

Before I go on, you may be wondering about the title, Snuggled In. This whole blog came about because of a misreading on my part. In the Bible Hub Strong’s Concordance definition for the word (pareispheró) translated “effort” (where it says “make every effort” in the above verse) there is this under Usage: “contribute besides, bring in besides, smuggle in.” (Apparently, this word was used in ancient Greek for smuggling). Well, instead of “smuggle in,” I read “snuggle in.” 

At first, I laughed at myself, but, actually, when you look at the definition of pareispheró, “snuggle in” makes perfect sense – and provides the key, at least for me, to “making every effort.” 

Here is the Strong’s definition: “[Strong’s] 3923 pareisphérō (from 3844 /pará, “from close-beside” and eispherō, “bring into”) – properly, “bring deeply into,” i.e. from very close beside). 3923 /pareisphérō (“personally carry-through“) is only used in 2 Pet 1:5 referring to carrying through with real personal involvement (energy). This strongly stresses the need of the believer’s deep, personal involvement in the faith-life.”i 

Deep personal involvement, from very close beside. This, to me, assumes relationship, humility, and dependence. There is a contribution we have to make to our sanctification. Jesus said “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door.”ii Paul admonishes us to work out our salvation. But it is not an effort made, struggling alone, under the eyes of a critical God holding an impossible checklist, shaking his head in disappointment over our many failures. Rather, it is an effort made close beside Him. Snuggled in. Close beside a God who loves us and works in us everything we need, a God who has already granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness. A God who comes along beside us to help. A God who even lifts us up and carries us.

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Psalm 68:19 (NLT) 

The Sovereign Lord is my strength. Habakkuk 3:19 

“We talked about duty. We talked about picking up your cross and following Jesus down a road of suffering and pain. We talked about denying yourself, putting off the deeds of the flesh, and fighting the fight of faith. We talked much about labor, and little about grace. We quoted, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” but didn’t finish the sentence: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13).” — Steven Lee (emphasis mine) iii  

God is my strength in this making-every-effort journey. If I stay snuggled in. Yes, I have to make an effort. We are not blocks of wood (though we are living stones!). But I make the effort to die to self snuggled in beside the One who died for me, who knows the way – who actually is the Way – who has gone before, who gives me the grace and the strength and the soul-penetrating Word that changes me, who works in us all what we need to stand victorious with him in the end. 

Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. Psalm 63:7-8 (NLT) 

i Bible Hub, HELPS Word-studies Copyright © 2021 by Discovery Bible

ii Luke 13:24

iii From Chore to Treasure https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/from-chore-to-treasure

Image free download from Pixabay 

Gethsemane

Jesus was pressed there at Gethsemane, the pure olive oil for the Light of the world, for the sanctification of those who would follow Him.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Matthew 26:36[i]

Do you know what the word Gethsemane means? The place where Jesus prayed that the cup would pass from him; the place where he sweat great drops of blood?[ii] Gethsemane comes from two Aramaic words. The word for wine press, and the word for olive oil. Gethsemane means an olive press. The place where the olives are pressed to get olive oil.

Pure olive oil was used in the Tabernacle for the oil lamps which were to burn continually.

Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. Exodus 27:20

The lamps that never went out are symbols of Jesus, our Light perpetually, faithfully.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

The pure olive oil was also made into the anointing oil used to sanctify, or consecrate, the Tabernacle and the priests.

Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them … He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him. Leviticus 8:10, 12

Jesus came to sanctify, consecrate, set apart a “kingdom of priests,” and a Temple in which he can dwell.

For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. John 17:19

Jesus was pressed there at Gethsemane, the pure olive oil for the Light of the world, for the sanctification of those who would follow Him.

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matthew 26:42

Thank you Lord Jesus for yielding to the press at Gethsemane that you might bring us light and life and freedom from sin. Let us pray for his strength to yield with him to our own press, following him to the cross, that we might be little lights in a very dark world.

Pray for strength to say with Jesus, Father may your will be done.

 

Image By Gold2874Hans Lie (according to Exif data) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24742929

 

[i] All Bible verses taken from the New International Version of the Bible.

[ii] Luke 22:44

%d bloggers like this: