Dear Father God; Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for all that you’ve allowed into our lives this past year, the good along with the hard things, which have reminded us how much we need you and rely on your presence filling us every single day. We pray for your Spirit to lead us each step of this New Year. We ask that you will guide our decisions and turn our hearts to deeply desire you above all else. We ask that you will open doors needing to be opened and close the ones needing to be shut tight. We ask that you would help us release our grip on the things to which you’ve said “no,” “not yet,” or “wait.” We ask for help to pursue you first, above every dream and desire you’ve put within our hearts. We ask for your wisdom, for your strength and power to be constantly present within us. We pray you would make us strong and courageous for the road ahead. Give us ability beyond what we feel able, let your gifts flow freely through us, so that you would be honored by our lives, and others would be drawn to you. We pray that you’d keep us far from the snares and traps of temptations. That you would whisper in our ear when we need to run, and whisper in our heart when we need to stand our ground. We pray for your protection over our families and friends. We ask for your hand to cover us and keep us distanced from the evil intent of the enemy; that you would be a barrier to surround us, that we’d be safe in your hands. We pray that you would give us discernment and insight beyond our years, to understand your will, hear your voice, and know your ways. We ask that you would keep our footsteps firm, on solid ground, helping us to be consistent and faithful. Give us supernatural endurance to stay the course, not swerving to the right or to the left, or being too easily distracted by other things that would seek to call us away from a close walk with you. Forgive us for the times we have worked so hard to be self-sufficient, forgetting our need for you, living independent of your spirit. Forgive us for letting fear and worry control our minds, and for allowing pride and selfishness wreak havoc over our lives. Forgive us for not following your ways and for living distant from your presence. We confess our need for you…fresh…new…again. We ask that you make all things new, in our hearts, in our minds, in our lives, for this coming year. We pray for your refreshing over us. Keep your words of truth planted firm within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the power to be obedient to your word. And when the enemy reminds us where we have been, hissing his lies and attacks our way, we trust that your voice speaks louder and stronger, as you remind us we are safe with you and your purposes and plans will not fail. We ask that you will be our defense and rear guard, keeping our way clear, removing the obstacles, and covering the pitfalls. Lord, lead us on your level ground. We ask that you would provide for our needs, we ask for your grace and favor. We pray for your blessings to cover us, we pray that you would help us to prosper and make every plan that you have birthed in our heart to succeed. We pray that others would take notice of your goodness and could not help but to say, “These are the ones that the Lord has blessed.” Help us to be known as great givers, help us to be generous and kind, help us to look to the needs of others and not be consumed by only our own. May we be lovers of truth, may the fruits of your spirit be evident in our lives – your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. Set you way before us. May all your plans succeed. We may reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing. To you be glory and honor, in this New Year, and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Subject: “The Lord’s Prayer” (Forgive us debts; as we forgive our debtors).
Forgiveness, Temptation, and Deliverance In an earlier chapter I stated that the Lord’s Prayer falls into seven petitions: three pertaining to God, or those known as the theocentric petitions, and four that are man-ward and are known as the anthropocentric petitions. It is with the latter group—those having to do with the foundational and fundamental things in our lives—that we wish to deal at this time. They deal with that ugly thing called sin. It was Charles Spurgeon who said that no prayer of mortal man could be complete without a confession of sin, and this part of the Lord’s Prayer faces up to this business of sin, the reality of it, and how to deal with it. One of the things that marks us today is that we will not face up to reality. Not only is it true of the isms, but it is true of many individually. We want to deal with things that are theoretical—not with things that are actual. But this prayer is real and actual. And Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Forgive Our Debtors I want you to note these three wordings: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” is Matthew’s account of it. If you turn to Luke 11:4 you will find that it is, “And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” It was Tyndale in his translation who brought forth the word trespass, and you will find in some churches today where there is formal religion, liturgy, and ritual, the use of “forgive us our debts,” while others will use “forgive us our trespasses.” Two little girls were talking about the Lord’s Prayer as repeated in their churches. One said, “We have trespasses in our church,” and the other said, “Well, in our church we have debts,” and they were both probably right as far as the churches of our day are concerned—they have both debts and trespasses! Which one is accurate? There is no difficulty here at all since all of these words refer to the same thing, and that thing is sin. In Scripture there are many words for sin. Sin is a complicated and mysterious thing. Goodness and virtue are simple. One of the things that is attractive about sin is that it is like a maze or a puzzle; it is something that you do not know too much about. Let us turn to an illustration for this thought. If I were to hold a straight stick behind my back and asked ten people to draw a picture of it, I have a notion that they all would draw just about the same kind of picture—it would be straight. Now that represents goodness—it is always just one way, and it cannot be two ways. But if I held a crooked stick behind me and asked ten more people to draw a picture of it, I have a notion that there would be as many different pictures of that crooked stick as persons drawing it. That represents sin. Sin can be crooked in a million different ways; Scripture, therefore, uses many different words for it. It would be of interest to look at some of those words. It is called debt because it is a debt to God. It is called missing the mark because we fall short of the glory of God. It is called lawlessness, disobedience, trespass, crossing the boundary, or a moral aberration. Then there are such terms as impiety, blasphemy, and disharmony, meaning that which is out of harmony with God. These are some of the words that are used to set forth sin in all of its complexity today. But they all may be crystallized into one meaning in the use of the word “debt”—something that we owe. There are sins of omission as well as sins of commission. We say we have done what we should not have done, but we have left undone those things that we should have done. And today you and I are in debt to God. We owe Him something, and we have not paid that obligation; we have not discharged our responsibility. “And forgive us our debts [our sins], as we forgive our debtors [those who are indebted to us].” This is on a legalistic basis and, frankly, I am rather afraid to pray the prayer just like that. It was a Puritan theologian who made the statement that to pray the prayer with an unforgiving spirit means in actuality to say, “God, do not forgive me because I do not forgive those who are around me.” How many people there are today of whom that would be true! They have an unforgiving spirit, and yet they have the audacity to say to God, “Forgive me as I forgive those round about me.” If God forgave us as we forgive those round about us, I fear that few of us would ever be forgiven. For in the heart of man there is an unforgiving spirit. David committed a grave sin, and God said to him, “You are to be punished, David. But I will let you choose your punishment. Would you prefer to fall into the hands of God or into the hands of your enemy?” It did not take David long to arrive at a conclusion in that matter, for he cried out to God, “Oh, let me fall into the hands of God, for He is merciful, and let me not fall into the hands of man.” (See 2 Samuel 24:10-14.) I am grateful that I do not have to stand before my enemies in judgment. I often receive many kind and gracious letters in response to my ministry, but every now and then I receive a harsh and critical letter—and how distressing it is. It is difficult to see how it could have come from the heart of a Christian. And when I read a letter like that, I am glad that I do not have to stand before that person in judgment, for I would not stand a chance. Perhaps they ought to be thankful that they will not have to stand before me, because they might not get off so easy either. You see, we would not be very gracious to each other. We are not even gracious to ourselves. We sometimes hear the expression, “I wanted to kick myself.” God has no such attitude toward you. He is gracious, and David said, “Let me fall into the hands of God—He is merciful—and let me not fall into the hands of my enemies.” That is grace. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” is not grace—it is legalistic. I thank God for another verse of Scripture: And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32) Today God is forgiving us on the basis of what Christ has done for us, not on the basis by which we forgive. The redemption of God is in full view when God forgives us. It does not refer to our salvation when we read, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” He is speaking there to those who are already saved and have the nature of God. He does not wait for you to forgive before He forgives. That is not His method of settling the sin question. He gave His Son to die, and it is on that basis that God forgives and saves. Do you know that it is more difficult for God to forgive sin than it is for you or me to forgive infringements? I can make this clear with a homely illustration. If you should step on my shoe and spoil my shine and then say to me, “I am sorry, will you forgive me?” I would say, “Sure. I was going to have another shine anyhow. Forget it. “ But it is a vastly different matter when we watch a judge who is trying a criminal. He should not let that criminal go free just because he expresses sorrow for his act. The judge is in the position of being a ruler and is obligated to uphold the law. So it would be more difficult for the judge to forgive than for me to forgive you for having spoiled my shine as you stepped on my shoe.
Week # 10
Weekly Pattern: Personal Relationships
Prayers from the Bible:
1). What is forgiveness?
2). What is temptation?
3). How do we forgive?
4). How do the book of Matthew make this phrase?
5). How do the book of Luke make this phrase?
6). What is this phrase referring to?
7). How often must I forgive others?
8). What if I don’t want to forgive?
9). How quickly must I forgive?
10). Do I have to forgive in order to heal?
11). What if I forgive and not forget?
12). Can I be saved and not forgive?
13). Is God a forgiving God?
14). What is the difference between forgiving from the head/heart?
Weekly Reading Assignment: (Acts 19-20)
Weekly Song: (Matthew 26:30)
Weekly Praise: Hallelujah to our Lord
Let’s Hallow His name by rehearsing Who He is: