Series: Matthew: We Need a King

The Lord's Prayer, Pt. 2

March 14, 2021 | Jeff Crotts

Passage: Matthew 6:11-13

I am certain if I took a survey on whether you thought you were ready to face persecution that the answer would be no.  It is not as if we have not been warned.   


ESV  2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted


We should not be surprised as our Lord was clear with his disciples. 


ESV  John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you… 


We know on paper, the Bible’s paper, that suffering, and persecution are coming.  The reality of suffering according to Scripture is what validates that we are true believers and genuinely different from this world. 


My question, like yours, is wondering what the next few months or years might bring in terms of what we may face as we speak the name of Christ out loud. It still seems surreal to imagine losing anything for merely being a Christian.  Far and away, I have not only lived in a religiously free society but a country where Christianity was the predominant religion.  Certainly, you would see Catholic Churches and synagogues here and there on street corners as we drive by.  From time to time, you would also see cult groups like a Masonic lodge or a Mormon church in the city where you live.  Still, these have been the exceptions, not the rule.  Most often Christian churches have been the norm.  Things seem suddenly different, so what has changed?


First, note that this change is not structural. Christian churches are still around, and I think will be for the foreseeable future but the change I am addressing is a changing landscape of a spiritual nature.  It used to be that you might differentiate between a strong church and a weak church based on where they placed their doctrinal accent marks.  For instance, what a preacher was willing to say about Jesus, the Scripture, Heaven, sin, and Hell.  Also, what a church was willing to do, like exercising church discipline on a straying Christian. I mean to say that for the most part Christian churches have subscribed to a generic gospel-based doctrinal statement and preached basic Christian truths to affect people’s behaviors.  To try and help people to live a better life etc. 


So, I conclude the difference between a strong and weak church comes down to what truths and practices are emphasized or not. For instance, a weak church might emphasize reaching out to help a neighbor or just live morally within the community.  A stronger church would be known for teaching and preaching truths as they are laid out in Scripture.  Talking about sin and the need for repentance to be saved and to grow. A weaker church may emphasize program-driven strategies that are meant to draw people into their fellowship.  The seeker-sensitive model has ironically become irrelevant.  You cannot now draw people by using the culture, when the culture calls for isolation.  Not to mention our liberal culture that wants to erase the church altogether.  Seeker-sensitive churches will have to compromise as deeper levels to draw people in.  This movement will inevitably morph into something entirely different and probably unrecognizable. 


Stronger churches emphasize the absolute sufficiency and authority of God’s Word, the narrow road to heaven that is only by grace and through faith in Christ; fellowship built on one reality, knowing and loving Jesus. 


So, what has changed or has been changing in our world?  One thing.  There is, borrowing from Winston Churchill, “The Gathering Storm.”  The real potential of persecution to either regulate the Christian message or affect the church’s ability to freely gather for worship. The big picture is that most churches will be able to meet as long as they are willing to not say certain truths.  If they will practically erase half of their Bibles and not call out sins like homosexuality or same-sex marriage.  If the church will simply allow into the church who openly practice immorality with no consequence of accountability, persecution will not come.  Bottom line. 


By contrast, gathering under the real accountability of the Word of God will increasingly be dangerous. Saying all of what the Bible both commands to affirm and reject offends.  Saying, Jesus is the only way to Heaven and that true marriage is solely between a man and woman offends.  Homosexuality is sin and these are plain and clear Bible convictions.  The straightforward teaching of Scripture will increasingly be erased from pulpits that simply want to avoid persecution.  


About a month ago, a TMS graduate, James Coates, who pastors in Alberta, Canada was taken away in bonds for gathering his church for worship and preaching.  It was his conviction to stay open and preach, so he did.  James was summoned by the authorities, drove himself there, and was presented with the choice to stop meeting or be incarcerated, taken in bonds.  James is presently in jail, currently separated from his wife and children for taking a stand for his church to gather.  James was told he would be released if his church would stop gathering and is he promised to stop preaching. Admittedly, I do not know all the details of how their church arrived at their decision to stay open.  Watching part of a videocast, James’ wife Erin described how they opened but livestreamed.  The order said, to shrink attendance to 15% capacity.  They were forbidden to sing.  They had a masked balcony section with plexiglass.  They reasonably complied with a clear regard for government submission under the teaching of Romans 13.  I understand their church “Grace Life” remains open and that their associate pastor is preaching in James’s stead.


Whatever your position is on their stand, I admire James’s courage and bravery to stick to his convictions.  This could happen in our country and the not-so-distant future.  We too may face like circumstances where a line is drawn in the sand.  The differences between a weaker church and a stronger church will increasingly become easily discernable.  Dare I say, things are becoming more clear. 


Are we ready?  By God’s amazing grace, the answer is a resounding yes.  His grace is sufficient, his power is perfected in weakness.  Persecution, like what James Coates is enduring is sad but bear in mind that the more authentic the church the stronger it becomes.  


So our text moves us from the question, “Are we ready?” to the issue of comes down to knowing how to brace for the impact persecution will bring.  The answer is to stay in a posture of worship.  Our text brings us there, Matthew 6:11-13.


Prop: Face anything life throws at you, praying three prescribed petitions. [Daily Provision, Complete Pardon, Spiritual Protection]
 1. Daily Provision (v. 11)


This is the second half of six requests.  The first three are vertical and the last three are horizontal.  The first is heavenly and the second earthly.  The first speak is broad sweeping in terms of spreading God’s witness in the world.  His name and his kingdom.  His church.  The second three are narrow and specific.  First, corporate, second, individualized, and personalized.  The first says, “Life is bigger than here and now”, the second says, “The Lord cares about my day-to-day needs.”  God is Big and God is Love. 


Our government may trend away from our faith, but God will never leave us.  And this God brings us to the prescription for trust, by telling us what to do no matter what life throws at us.  God is telling you to pray and what to specifically for.  How are we to survive in our changing world?


So, we remember to pray for God’s name to be hallowed, set-apart, spreading his glory.  We pray for God’s witness in the world to grow through conversions (which by the way, is the only way to truly change our culture).  We pray for God’s will to be done through believers and his church.  And now we come to our individual needs.  On the one hand, God holds the whole universe together and on the other hand, he holds our lives together. 


“God holds all the whirling worlds and spinning stars in the palm of his hand.”  We have now seen Mars, God made Mars.  This same God cares whether you eat today. 


Jerome the early church Father could not bring this earthly request down to an earthly level.  He called bread, the super-substantial bread.  Bread for him symbolized something more than physical.  A kind of miracle bread, God reigned down from heaven.  More akin to supernatural manna “flakey”; “wafers made to taste like honey” (Ex. 16:14, 31).  The Roman Catholic Church thought “daily bread” to represent The Holy Eucharist.  This kind of thinking takes us into the ethereal, what is not true to life.


But, there is another unhelpful extreme to isolate this request merely to food.  Focaccia bread, French bread, Sour Dough are all breads I enjoy but this not about comfort but provision.  There is a reason bread is still used as a synonym for “money”.  Bread is a basic and plain metaphor, not for luxury but for needs.  The basics of food, clothing, and shelter are in mind.


The idea of “daily bread” intensifies this request.  The assumption may be made that Jesus on the Mountain preached to for the most part a culture day-laborers.  They understood.  The occupation of day-laborer remains today.  This is common around the world where people wake up, go to a certain spot to be picked up, and hired to earn a day’s wage.  This was a common sight when I lived in LA.  You find work to feed your family. 


In Jesus’ day, you would make a Denari.  This was just enough to buy food for your family to eat.  This is the work-life that makes sense of the word, “daily” (v. 11).  A word not found elsewhere in other Greek literature.  Matthew did not make this up.  This obscure word was found as an antiquated, obscure piece of papyri and was used in reference to a “shopping list.”  Making the point that you make enough money to buy food by evening as you anticipate the next day.


[Sproul] After the Korean War ended.  South Korea was left with a large number of children who had been orphaned by the war.  The relief agencies came in to deal with all the problems that arose with having so many orphaned children.  One particular problem was discovered in terms of their physical health.  Even though the children had three meals provided for them, they were restless and anxious at night and had difficulty sleeping.  As they talked to the children, they soon discovered that the children had great anxiety about whether they would have food the next day.  To help resolve this problem, the relief workers in one particular orphanage decided that each night when the children were put to bed, the nurses there would place a single piece of bread in each child’s hand.  The bread wasn’t intended to be eaten; it was simply intended to be held by the children as they went to sleep.  It was a “security blanket for them, reminding them that there would be provision for their daily needs.  Sure enough, the bread calmed the children’s anxieties and helped them sleep. 


This story reminded Judy of a childhood friend who had grown up in this same desperate way.  When adopted into a new family, she would stay up at night and take food from the refrigerator and hide it under her pillow, to know she would eat the next morning.  Our Lord knows our needs, our daily need.  Money and provision can become such a drain.  The root cause of so much debt is in reality the anxiety over what you have or believe you really need.  Not the reverse.  The constant threat of job security is someone’s lack of performance, caused by worry.  Instead, wisdom with money and job performance comes from relying on the Lord.  We first report to him.  Persecution drives believers to these conclusions.  Practicing daily reliance by prayer is the path prescribed and commanded by our Lord.  Whether providing for yourself or your household, this is first an act of faith.


ESV  1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1Ti 5:8 ESV)            


According to 2 Thessalonians 3 we work.


ESV  2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.

12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 


And we do so by faith without anxiety (cf. Matt. 6:31-34).  A promise to be embraced in view of Christ’s bigger picture of the kingdom.  God’s provision will come in this life and certainly in the life to come.  There is a bigger story. And with gratitude.


ESV  1 Timothy 4:4-5 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer


This second personal petition moves into the realm of personal relationships.  Physical food to physical people. 

2. Complete Pardon (v. 12)


This moves us again into a realm of real-life germane to every believer.  A heart issue that will consume you if left undealt with.  The temptation not to forgive.  Understood in the context of persecution where someone’s livelihood can be threatened.  Daily bread can be withheld by standing for Christ where compromise your testimony, your conscience, and biblical principle is being required of you at risk of your job.  It is here where prayer for pardon comes into play. 


Just as we need daily provision of bread, we need a daily provision of grace.  In some ways, this moves more clearly from the physical to the spiritual.  Some translate this same word [otheilnmata] as “trespass” but I believe “debt” is better.  A word used to describe something owed or being under obligation.  What makes someone a “debter” the term used at the end of verse 12.  “Debt” describes a kind of sin.  When we sin against God there has now become a deficit or discrepancy or shortfall between us and God.  As if you have stolen something away from God’s holiness.  On a far lesser scale, when we sin against others, we steal from them, making things what they ought not to be.  Reconciliation is required.  Something deeper than monetary debts is owed back, here Jesus speaks to a moral debt. 


[Sproul] We usually think of debt in monetary terms so how does this translate into a moral debt?  Imagine a little boy who walks into an ice cream parlor and orders an ice cream cone with two scoops.  The waitress dutifully prepares his ice cream cone, then says, “That will be two dollars.”  When he hearts this, the little boy begins to cry.  He looks helplessly to the waitress and says, “But my Mommy only gave me one dollar.”  What would you do; you would say, “Let me satisfy the young man’s debt,” then you would reach into your pocket, take out some money, and pay the waitress the extra dollar.  Since the money you are offering is legal tender, the waitress would have to accept that payment, and the little boy could then go home and enjoy his ice cream cone. 


But suppose that when the little boy was told his ice cream cone would cost $2 he turned and ran from the store without paying-right into the arms of a police officer on his beat while the waitress is crying out, “Stop, theif.”  The officer would bring the boy back into the store and ask the waitress what happened, and she would explain that the boy had just stolen the ice cream cone.  Once again, you see all this happen, so you say, “Wait a minute, officer, please don’t put this by in jail, I’ll pay for his cone.”  In this scenario, the waitress does not have to accept your money because now the boy has a moral debt, not just a monetary debt.  The distinction between a monetary debt and a moral debt is important because it can give us a deeper understanding of what took place on the cross.  When we sinned, we fell into a moral debt to God.  Jesus paid our debt at the cross, but because it was a moral debt, the Father was not required to accept the Son’s payment.  However, in His mercy and His grace, He allowed Jesus to pay our moral debt. 


It is important to see that Jesus is not teaching conditional forgiveness.  This is canceling forgiveness.  The word “forgive” [Aphns] is the beautiful word meaning to let something go.  You are not holding an obligation against them.  You simply cancel the debt.  This is exactly what Jesus did when we were saved. 


ESV  Colossians 2:13-14 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.


This request of Matthew 6:12 is the daily ongoing recognition that Jesus has forgiven our moral sin debt by his Cross.  Whereby we reestablish our communion with God because of this forgiveness!  Our debt has been paid once and for all, so the only deficit we can have with Christ is communal.  Or you could say relational. This is the heart cry of 1 John 1:9.


ESV  1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 


Jesus is showing how this first action leads to the second.  Rehearsing God’s gracious forgiveness in your life serves to soften our hearts to “forgive our debtors” (v. 12).  True forgiveness is never forced as some kind of “tit-for-tat” obligation.  This is why petition has to be regular and ongoing because our hearts are constantly hardening.  Like when you are working to wet clay, shaping it into pottery.  As soon as you neglect the process, the clay begins to dry, making it unmoldable.  To keep the process going, the potter will constantly drizzle cold water over his clay as it spins and forms into what the potter desires.  This prayer for pardon keeps our clay wet for the Master to mold us.  A prayer that is seeking grace and giving grace in tandem. 


It has been said, “You are never more like God than when you forgive.”  Grace is for people who do not deserve it. 


Do you remember the parable of the unforgiving servant (cf. Matt. 18:21-35)?


ESV  Matthew 18:21-35 Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.'27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.'29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.'30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." 


We live in a world that is changing at an exponential pace.  Instead of hardening, soften.  Remember at the end of chapter 5.


ESV  Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you


This is how we protect our hearts from hardening.  That said, there is an enemy who we are never to love.  The name of our enemy is “sin.” This leads us to our final daily prayer.

     3. Spiritual Protection (v. 13)  

 The language of this verse can at first blush appear confusing.  Questions arise, like “How can a holy and loving God ever lead someone into temptation?”  “Why do we need to ask our Father not to do this?”  The answer obvious answer is that, our Father never leads us into sin because doing so is contrary to his nature. 


ESV  James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.


What about when he led Jesus into the wilderness?

ESV  Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

The simple answer is how the word “temptation” is understood within its particular context.  The word “temptation” and the word “trial” are the same in Greek [perazmas].  In fact, James 1 interprets this same word in two different ways within the span of 15 verses.

ESV  James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds

ESV  James 1:12-17 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.


Making the distinction between what is a “trial” from God and a “temptation” from our heart we can now understand what we are supposed to pray from Matthew 6:13. We pray that our “trial” does not turn into a “temptation.”  Our changing world is not taking God by surprise.  You are not living in a world for which you should never have been born.  God has you right here for such a time as this.  The deciding factor for whether this world’s pressure tempts you to sin or not comes down to one thing.  Grace.  You and I need grace, and this is a prayer for grace.  Praying, “Lord, keep me from giving in to my own sin or worry, while I am struggling to make ends meet.”  “Lord, give me the grace I need to forgive a real enemy.”  “Help me to trust your promises while I endure these circumstances.” 


ESV  1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (


This is praying for protection from an enemy that you are commanded not to love.  You.  Your sin.  But, within the very next verse, this same enemy is personified.


Verse 13 concludes this thought, “…but deliver us from evil” (v. 13).  God is not the author of sin, so someone else is.  That is none other than Satan.  Where do I find Satan in this text?  It is in the word “evil” (v. 13).  Taken in masculine form, you can translate “evil” as “evil one” (v. 13).  Jesus prayed for protection from Satan using this same language in his high priestly prayer (cf. John 17).


ESV  John 17:15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 


And the Apostle John used the same language speaking to young men in the church.


ESV  1 John 2:13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 


This is the fight for every believer, depicted throughout the New Testament.


ESV  Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.


ESV  James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.


ESV  1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.


Martin Luther claimed an acute awareness of Satan’s presence.  It is alleged on one occasion while in his study, he threw an inkwell across the room believing he had seen Satan there.  Luther, referred to Satan’s unbridled assault as “anfectung.”  The attack to compromise, fall into despair, or to deny the faith.  All real temptations that originate from Satan but rise from within our hearts is this: we do not pray for grace. 


Conclusion:  I ask again, “Are we prepared?”  Being a consumer-Christian no longer works for surviving spiritually in this world.  We need to take the posture of prayer, praying regularly.  A worshipper in need of grace, relying on grace, praying for grace.  We pray for provision, for pardon, for protection to keep going.  A surprisingly simple plan and approach within a very complex world.  We take this posture why?  Because we are worshippers of the true God.     


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