GNB 2.30

February 3, 2023


“This then is how you ought to pray, [begin by saying] ‘Father, our Father, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Give us today our daily portion of bread. Forgive us our debts [sins, trespasses] as we have forgiven those who owe us a great debt [who have sinned or trespassed against us.] And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the Evil One. For if we forgive others their sin toward us, then we shall be forgiven as well. But, if we withhold that forgiveness, then we shall not receive the forgiveness we desire.” (Matthew 6.9-15)


It truly makes sense to pray with an awareness of the plan of the enemy who stands against us. His plan is for us to live unforgiven and unforgiving lives. We have to reflect on what Jesus was alerting His disciples. The matter of forgiveness is critical to living our life with an eternal fullness. Do you get that? Sin can be described in many ways and as many things. Ultimately, sin is what leaves no room for God, His righteousness and our salvation. The desire of the human creature is to be full and fulfilled. There is, however, this innate emptiness which seemingly is born into us. It is left to us, by God, to choose how and with what we will fill that emptiness. That is the challenge and opportunity of free will. Jesus taught His disciples to pray knowing that it is God’s will alone which should be done on earth as it is in Heaven. And, whether we choose a life pursuing righteousness or not, God’s will shall be done. God has the final say. We can ask all the “what ifs” we want but it doesn’t change the truth that God has the final say over our lives. It is by our pursuit of living toward righteousness that we intake God’s eternal fulfilling. We may not get it perfect every moment of our lives. In fact, we may stumble and fall short of the intended goal for our lives as God has formed and fashioned it. The joy comes when we choose not to stay fallen. That is the desire for forgiveness. We really do not like the state of unforgiveness. We may think we can become comfortable with it. We may rationalize it. We may put it away as if “out of sight, out of mind.” The truth remains that if we stay in sin, then sin stays in us. It is by forgiveness that sin will finally lose its power over us and the consequence of sin, “eternal death and separation from God’s loving and reconciling presence,” is literally put to rest. It is the admission that we are empty and need fulfillment which can only come from being in right relationship with God that will transform our life from dark to light, from bitterness to peacefulness, from struggling to maturing, from dying to living.

Sometimes, I think that pursuing God and His righteousness is more like pursuing to abandon that which is not of God and His righteousness. We have to put things away that actually empty us. That starts by forgiving ourselves. It continues by forgiving others. But, if we are not able to do that then all we are doing is carving out what is good in us so that a greater emptiness results. Remember when I spoke about the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Abraham declared “There is great chasm fixed between us which I cannot overcome.” To attempt to give the Rich Man a cool drink of “water” would have been impossible. It was not so much that the Rich Man was out of reach but that his emptiness was so great it could never be filled full. What he asked for was “water to cool a tongue parched by the flames of Gehenna.” No amount of water can douse those fires. But, what if the Rich Man had asked for forgiveness? What if the Rich Man had confessed his sinfulness and put himself at the mercy of the court of Heaven? Would God has responded positively to him? Instead, he pleaded for physical comfort to assuage a spiritual despair. He commanded Lazarus to be his servant even from Hell and did not recognize the transformation which had happened to both he and Lazarus. The Rich Man still measured life by worldly standards instead of by the reign of the Kingdom. He surrendered to the “it’s too late for me” and did not recognize that he had committed his life to the “it’s too late for others because of me.” Now, I know there is a deeper meaning which Jesus was presenting to the hearers of that teaching. It spoke of the ministry of the gospel which was being given to the disciples and any who would follow after Him and them. But, the honest truth is simply that continuing to speak of the truth of God’s mercy, grace and love in its fullest measure while never decommitting to the empty life of sin will fall on deaf ears. It is called hypocrisy.

And that is the word which best defines our unwillingness to forgive others when we have been forgiven by God through the greatest sacrifice that could ever be made on our behalf- hypocrisy. We dare not parade our witness of salvation around carrying the baggage of our sinfulness as treasure chests. We cannot live in the “already but maybe not.” Understand the danger of declaring we are forgiven and saved by the blood of the Lamb while we heap impossible measures on others to achieve what we ourselves are unable to do. Who among us is perfect? No one. And the One who was perfect and never sinned accepted the penalty of our sin as His own so that we might know the righteousness of God. That is not the sin of one- you. It was the sin of all- us that Jesus accepted on the cross. And from the cross He uttered the words of forgiveness upon all those who were doing the wrong thing. He was forgiving us even before we were born. Our sin put the nails in His wrists and His feet, the crown of thorns on His head, the cat ‘o nine tails across His back, the burden of the cross upon His shoulder and ties which bound Him securely to it so there would be no possibility of freedom except in death. We were judge, jury and executioner. Yet, Jesus forgave us and asked His Father in Heaven to forgive us as well. For Jesus to deny the need to forgive would have broken the Word which had been established by God with us. If Jesus had died without seeking to forgive us there would be no forgiveness: the sacrifice would have been empty. If He had followed the advice of the impenitent thief and removed Himself from the cross there would be no forgiveness: the cross would not have been fulfilled. If He had sought vengeance against His accusers and executioners there would be no forgiveness: “vengeance is Mine alone says the Lord God, the Father of Heaven and earth.” If there was no death, then the tomb would have never been filled with the glory of God which brought life out of death, resurrection out of crucifixion and thus resulted in “no forgiveness.” Jesus had to “literally” die to self in order to live for God and show us the way we, too, must go or else. Jesus rebuked the hypocrisy the “holy ones of Israel” and invoked the righteousness of God by laying down His life for others. He found His fulfillment by extending forgiveness to us.

What shall we do in response? Jesus last words were a prayer. He lived and died and lived again prayer-fully. We have been taught how to do the same. When we live, let us live like this beginning with “Father, our Father who dwells in Heaven, it is our pursuit of life to fully honor and keep Your Name holy….”


Father, our Father, hallowed be Your Name; Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done…ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” We thank You for the provision of Your Word, the true bread of life which came down from Heaven. We are indebted to You for Your choice to forgive us our spiritual debts which have piled up against us, You and others. We know that You have not forgiven us so that we can continue to live in spiritual poverty. Rather, in our decision to follow Christ Jesus we can be made rich to overflowing with faith, hope and love. Fill us up, Lord and restore us to wholeness in Jesus’ name as we forgive others in the manner by which we ourselves have been forgiven by You. Protect us today and all days from the manifestation of evil. We are sorely tempted to act inappropriately and irresponsibly toward those who are the enemy of the Word. Yet, we affirm the command to love even our enemies. We allow You to execute the true justice in and over our lives. We hold ourselves accountable to trust You in all things today and always. For we know that if we do not, then that which is the “kingdom, power and glory forever” will stand as a witness against us instead of standing for us. If God is for us and we for Him then what can stand against us? Nothing, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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