Dear CSOPC brother and sisters,
- We look forward to receiving into membership this week Orlando, Maria, and their son, Daniel.
- Men’s retreat next Friday thru Saturday (5/13 – 5/14). Please rsvp to Melissa Haley if you plan to go.
- Joint evening service on May 15 with a missions focus! We will meet at Birkes from 5-7 PM to enjoy a meal and to hear what the Lord is doing in Haiti.
- This week’s devotion (attached) is the second in a series on the Lord’s Prayer.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Our Father … in heaven”
Matthew 6:7-8, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this …”
In response to the disciples’ question, “Lord, teach us to pray,” Jesus taught them ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ (Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). This prayer consist of a preface followed by six petitions. The first three petitions relate to our ‘vertical’ relationship, while the second three petitions relate to our ‘horizontal’ relationships. Last week we considered the first words of the Preface, “Our Father.” God is personal – he is our heavenly Father – he is near to his people – he enters into relationship with his people. He is not an impersonal force ‘out there’ in ‘in here.’ And by grace we are his children. We have been adopted into his family (1 John 3:1; John 1:12-13). We are adopted children of the king. Not only is God ‘our Father,’ but also he is ‘our Father in heaven.’ There are two things we need to note.
First, God is in heaven. He is in heaven and we are not. He is sovereign. As the psalmist puts it, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (115:3). Or as the preacher in Ecclesiastes states, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth” (5:2). Yes, God is near, he is close, he is personal; but he also is sovereign, glorious, and almighty. He is the heavenly one. He is the creator (Gen 1:1). He is the one who ‘dwells in unapproachable light’ (1 Tim 6:16). Thus as we come before the Lord in prayer – we do so as a son before his Father; but also as creatures before the creator of the universe – with humility, reverence, and godly fear. We do not come tritely, flippantly … but with reverence and humility.
Second, as the God who is in heaven, he is powerful to answer our prayer. He is the God who hears and the God who answers. What good would it be to bring our prayers before a God who is weak and incapable of answering? But the God of the Bible is mighty and powerful to answer – always for our good and his glory! As Nehemiah prayed, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him” (Neh 1:5).
Finally, as we conclude our reflections on the Preface, it is good to take note of the twin pitfalls that the opening words guard against. On the one hand, they guard against a ‘cold indifference.’ God is our heavenly Father – we are his children. He is personal, he is near, he hears us. On the other hand, however, they guard against a ‘petty personalism.’ He is our Father, but he is our Father in heaven. He is glorious! He is majestic! He is holy! What a perfect balance. What an encouragement to prayer. Yes, we go to our Father … but our Father in our Father in heaven. May we go to him today!
Rev. Robert Arendale, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC), www.csopc.org