Thy Kingdom Come

Understanding the meaning of the wording found in The Lord's Prayer.

Scott Kelly
Jul 14, 2019    36m
In this sermon Pastor Scott Kelly helps us understand the meaning behind the wording found within The Lord's Prayer. This prayer is found in The Book of Matthew 6:9-13, and it is given to us by Jesus as he teaches us how to prayer to God. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Scott Kelly: 00:00 Hey, let me invite you, if you would, to take your Bible and turn to Matthew chapter 6. We're going to be back in the gospel of Matthew today, Matthew chapter 6, and we're going to read in just a couple of moments together verses 9 through 13. Matthew chapter 6 verses 9 through 13. Now, as you're turning, you may glance down at your Bible and go, oh yeah, this is familiar, I've seen this before. It is, as you've probably already guessed, The Lord's Prayer. And that's going to be the focus of our message today, because tucked inside Jesus' most famous sermon, is what many believe is Jesus' most famous prayer. We know it as The Lord's Prayer, but it's really probably best described as the model prayer, or the disciples prayer. So, we're going to take a look at that this morning and why it's important for us.

Scott Kelly: 00:50 Now, if you're not the church going type, you've probably repeated this prayer at some point in your life, or if you've at least heard it, it's very popular. In fact, I didn't learn The Lord's Prayer in church. I learned The Lord's Prayer on the sidelines of our high school football games on Friday night, that's where I learned The Lord's Prayer. Our team would rush out of the locker room, and we would huddle onto the field, it was about the only time I ever got to touch the field on our high school football games. And we would huddle up, and our coach would bring us all in, and we'd put our hands in the middle, and we would say in unison The Lord's Prayer together. Anybody ever do that on the sideline of a sporting event? Well if you've not done it, perhaps you've seen it. Well, I'm convinced looking back, that there are some on our team, and some of our coaches probably, that led us in that prayer because they thought it was some kind of magical incantation to get God on our side. And maybe some voodoo dust or curse on the other team to get them to drop passes, miss field goals, and just lose the game at the end of the night. Well, I'm pretty sure that that's not what Jesus had in mind when he taught us to pray The Lord's Prayer, or the model prayer.

Scott Kelly: 02:05 So if you're willing and able, let me invite you, if you would, to stand. We stand at Shandon in honor of the reading of the word of God. And what I would like for us to do is to read in unison, out loud, The Lord's Prayer. We're going to put it on the screen, and we're going to read from the same translation, the English Standard Version. So if you're willing and able, let's read this together. Jesus opens in verse 9 and says this, "Pray then like this." So let's read this together. "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Bet you haven't done that in a long time. Have you?

Scott Kelly: 03:09 Well, let's pray together. Father, thank you for your people who are gathered for worship today. And Father, we're grateful for the power of your word. And so Lord, as we take a look at how your son Jesus taught us to pray. Father, I pray that it would sink deeply into our souls, and into our hearts. So Father, may you bless the hearing, the reading, and the doing of your word today. And we ask this in the name of your son Jesus. Amen. Thanks. You can be seated.

Scott Kelly: 03:42 Well, on July 12th, 1968 Life Magazine published a heart wrenching cover, showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. A humanitarian crisis was developing as a result of a civil war in this tiny region in Eastern Nigeria. Well, shortly after the publication of this Life Magazine, a 13 year old boy made his way to Sunday school at a church in the San Francisco Bay area. And though he attended church on a regular basis, today on this particular day, this 13 year old boy was on a mission. And according to his biographer, Walter Isaacson, this boy made his way through the front doors of the church, and he immediately confronted his Sunday school teacher, and then his pastor. And he stood in front of his pastor, and he held up his hand like this and he said, if I raise one of my fingers, does God know which finger I'm going to raise before I do it? And his pastor looked at him and said, yes, of course God knows everything. And then this boy pulled out a copy of this Life Magazine and he pointed to the cover and he said, well then does God know about this and what's going to happen to those two children? And at this point the pastor leaned down and looked this 13 year old boy in the eyes. And he said, I know that you don't understand, but yes, God knows about that too. Now, even though the pastor's answer is theologically sound, it left this 13 year old boy deeply and irrevocably dissatisfied. And nearly all of you know the identity of this boy, his name, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple computers, the genius that brought you the Mac and the iPhone, which many of you carry with you this morning. And according to Isaacson, his biographer, as far as we know, Steve Jobs walked out of the church that morning and never returned again.

Scott Kelly: 06:05 Now all of us, every one of us in this room, and those outside of this room. All of us build our lives on some gospel, some belief, some expectations, some good news that we believe is going to redeem our lives, bring sanity to our world, and offer us some measure of hope. Now to use language that's common in the Old, and especially the New Testament. We all have, every one of us, we all have and we all nurture a kingdom. A kingdom. Now your kingdom is that part of the world where what you say goes, it's where you have control, or to use another biblical word where you have dominion. Now, Dallas Willard, until his death in 2013 was a philosophy professor at the other inferior USC, The University of Southern California. He said this, he said, "Your kingdom is the range of your effective will." It's the range of your effective will. And each one of us spends a good part of our time, during each day, trying to exercise or impose our will on the people, the circumstances, and the events around us. So it raises a question. What happens when your kingdom, the range of your effective will, conflicts with the will of another? Now what happens when the range of your effective will, your kingdom, conflicts with the person sitting next to you? And what if the person sitting next to you happens to be your spouse, what happens? Now, for those of you that are married, you learned early on that the two most important words in your marriage are yes and dear. Right? You learn that pretty quickly. I got one applause, that's good. The rest of these folks have not learned yet, so thank you for that.

Scott Kelly: 08:10 So here's what happens when our kingdom conflicts with someone else. Do you remember putting your kids in the back seat of your car, maybe you remember this as a child and going on a family trip? You and your siblings jumped into the backseat, and it only took a few moments before one of you stopped and drew an invisible line down the middle of the backseat of the car. And you said to your sibling, do not cross that line, or there will be blood, but ever done that? Most all of us have done that, right? And then it didn't take long before each of you were trying to impose the range of your effective will on one another. Dad finally gets fed up with it, turns around, points of the back seat and says, let me tell you something, this entire car is my kingdom, and I'm about to pull over and show you both who's King. Anybody ever made that threat? Absolutely. So let's be honest, when our kingdom conflicts with someone else's kingdom, can we just be honest for a minute? We have a tendency, don't we? We have a tendency to become like, well, bickering children, don't we? We draw lines, create boundaries, we build fences, we issue threats and ultimatums, we claim sovereignty over our small minded self-serving worlds.

Scott Kelly: 09:36 You may be thinking, what does this have to do with The Lord's Prayer? Well, I'm so glad you asked. Because whether you realize it or not, the focus of The Lord's Prayer, the focus of the model prayer, is the kingdom of God. It's the kingdom of God. As a matter of fact, the kingdom of God is central to The Sermon on the Mount, because Jesus' very first words in Matthew chapter 5 are, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." So the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of Heaven, is the focus of The Sermon on the Mount and The Lord's Prayer. So it raises a question, what is the kingdom of God? Well, let's use our definition provided by Dallas Willard, shall we? The kingdom of God is the range of God's effective will. The range of God's effective will. It is where everything that happens, and everything that is, meets with God's approval and delight exactly as God wants it. Now I think we can all agree that that is not the case, that does not describe the world that we live in today, right? Because everything in our world is not as God wants it. So why is that? Well, it's actually pretty simple theologically and biblically, and it's this, other kingdoms still remain, other wills that are opposed to God's will are still present. And guess what? One of those stubborn wills is mine, and one of those stubborn wills is yours. So the tension behind the model prayer, the question that resonates behind the model prayer is simply this, whose kingdom is most important to you, yours or God's? Whose kingdom, whose will, is more important, yours or God's? Because whether you realize it or not, you may be drawing an invisible line between you and God, creating a boundary. Or maybe you're drawing a line between you and other people, the people that you're related to, or the people that you work with, or maybe even the people that you worship with.

Scott Kelly: 12:06 So in the few minutes that we have remaining, what I wanted to do is to repel into The Lord's Prayer. This is not a comprehensive dive, we don't have time for that, but we're going to repel into the model prayer. And I think you're going to discover this morning firsthand, not from me, but from Jesus, not only the model prayer and what should be a reality in our lives. But also the model person that Jesus wants us to become, the defining qualities of those who make God's kingdom a reality here on Earth. So let me set it up for you. The model prayer has five parts, five requests. The first two requests, and we're going to read it again in just a moment, the first two requests are foundational. If we don't get these first two correct, then what follows doesn't really matter? Now, if you prefer a sports analogy, then the first two parts of the model prayer are the offensive strategy. The final three parts embody the defensive strategy for us as followers of Christ. So that is a structural understanding of The Lord's Prayer.

Scott Kelly: 13:10 So let's start in verse 9 where the first of two foundational ideas that Jesus presents to us here in The Sermon on the Mount as he teaches us to pray. Verse 9, Jesus says this, "Our father in Heaven, hallowed be your name." So as Jesus teaches us to pray, the very first thing he does is he invites us to live in the presence of God, to live in the presence of God. So when we pray, here's what that means, it means that we acknowledge that our lives are oriented relationally around God. And by praying, we acknowledge that he is in fact our creator, that we were formed in our mother's room, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. But he's not just our creator, he is also our Father, which is a term of endearment used by Jesus more than any other.

Scott Kelly: 14:04 Now, most of you have prayed the traditional translation, "Our father who art in Heaven." Now, I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, when I was younger, that felt more like the opening crawl of a star Wars movie. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. That's what The Lord's Prayer sounded to me. But Jesus is not suggesting that we're praying to a father who is aloof and distant and away from us, so let's dispel that misunderstanding about The Lord's Prayer. You see the word Heaven in verse 9 is actually, this is interesting, is actually plural. So it should be translated our father, the one in the Heavens, it's plural. And that really seems a little strange us, because we're not necessarily used to thinking of Heaven as a plural reality. But to those Jews who would have been listening to Jesus here in Matthew chapter 6, it would have made complete and perfect sense. Because to the mind of a Jew, Heavens plural, mint comprehensively the space that God occupies around us, above us and beyond us. The three atmospheres of Heaven, if you will, this is how a Jew would think. The atmosphere immediately around us, above us, and beyond us, so Heavens carries the idea of the omnipresence of God. So Jesus is telling us that our Father is immediately present, he is immediately near, and he is immediately personal. So we live and work, we play and we worship, and we sleep in the presence of God. That is what Jesus wants us to be aware of, and this is a life changing, kingdom focused orientation.

Scott Kelly: 15:55 Now, our friend and Columbia resident, Reggie McNeil, explains it this way. He says, "When we live in the presence of God, everywhere we go, and everything we do is informed by our relationship with God. Just as everything I do, and some things I don't do, as a husband are informed by my marriage to my wife. I don't go to my house to be married. I carry my marriage with me everywhere I go". So in the same way, as followers of Christ, because Jesus is speaking here to his followers, followers of Christ carry this relationship with God everywhere they go. So when we pray, Jesus wants us to know, first and foremost, that we live in the presence of God.

Scott Kelly: 16:47 Now the second request, the second foundational idea, is in verse 10. Jesus continues, and he says these very familiar words, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." Now interestingly, Heaven here is singular. So it refers to that space above the atmosphere that is beyond us, where the range of God's effective will is complete and comprehensive, unlike what it is here on Earth. So it raises a question, what is in fact the mission of God, the mission of God? Because this is what Jesus wants us to grab hold of, the mission of God. Well, it's simply stated, to extend and expand the range of God's effective will, to extend and expand the kingdom of God with the good news of the gospel. So what Jesus is saying here in this prayer, is he is inviting us to participate and progressively establishing and extending the range of God's effective will. Not one political party at a time, not one country at a time, not one program at a time, but one person at a time. That is how God's will progresses.

Scott Kelly: 18:09 But if we're going to grab hold of this as a church, there's going to have to be a shift in our thinking. A significant shift in our thinking, from a church centric mission, to a kingdom centric mission. Because if all of our resources, and all of our energy, and all of our programs are focused on the real estate that we occupy here at 5250, we do not have a kingdom centric mission, we have a church centric mission. So that's why we believe in living sent. So on a practical level, that means that the kingdom of God is much bigger than the real estate that we occupy here at this address. The church is the tool that God uses to advance the work of the kingdom.

Scott Kelly: 19:07 So Jesus opens the model prayer with two questions, answering two questions, and addressing them because they are the most important questions you will ask in your life, and they are universally common to every human being who has ever lived. The two questions are this, who am I, and why am I here? Who am I, and why am I here? It's the question of identity and purpose. Everybody that lives, and everybody that breathes, at some point in their life is going to ask these two questions. Who am I, and why am I here? It's the question of identity and purpose. Do you want to not know why there's such fascination with and personal DNA testing? We want to understand our identity. And Jesus opens The Lord's Prayer, the model prayer, by telling us that he wants us to live and pray from our identity established in relationship with God through Christ, and to have a clear understanding of our purpose. Every single person alive asks those two questions and Jesus addresses them right out of the gate in the model prayer.

Scott Kelly: 20:14 So what follows, the next three requests summarize the three most common battles, the three most common struggles, that you are going to experience as a follower of Christ. Hands down the most common struggles that you are going to encounter as a follower of Christ. This is our defensive strategy, if you will. These are the attitudes and behaviors that will derail you in your walk with God. They will obscure your identity, and they will hijack your purpose in life. So all three struggles you have to know are relational in nature. The first, is in your relationship to God, the second, in your relationship to others, and the third, your relationship to yourself.

Scott Kelly: 20:59 So let's take these one at a time. Verse 11, let's pick up what Jesus said here in the model prayer. Jesus very simply says, "Give us this day our daily bread." Now, this request focuses on your relationship with God, and this is the battle of trust. It's the battle of trust, and if you haven't encountered this yet as a follower of Christ, I promise you, you will. Jesus knows this, which is why he wants us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." Because here's what he knows, your identity and your purpose are going to migrate to whatever you trust. Doesn't matter what it is, your identity and your purpose are going to migrate to whatever you trust. So Jesus wants us to pray this, "Give us this day our daily bread." Because here's how the battle of trust takes place for those of you that are followers of Christ, you know this, Jesus knows this. This life will bring you to your knees. You're going to run into something that is going to challenge the very foundation of who you are, you're going to get a biopsy report that discloses that you have stage three cancer, you're going to be served with divorce papers, you're going to encounter bankruptcy, your business goes under, you may discover that your teenage son or daughter is using and abusing drugs, you may discover that your spouse is addicted to pornography. And when that happens, when that happens, you're going to be faced with the question. And the question is this, do I trust the idea of God, or do I trust the person of God? Do I trust the idea of God, or do I trust the person of God? Because it is one thing to come to church and say, God, I trust you, but it is a completely different thing to say, God, I trust you with me. Huge difference between the two. And so Jesus wants us to trust not the idea of God, not our just our theological constructs and our doctrine, but to trust the person of God.

Scott Kelly: 23:30 You say, why bread? What's the significance of bread? We'll think about it this way, your body is designed to receive nutrition and calories and measured portions one meal at a time. None of you are going to go home tonight and eat dinner and say, you know what? I've got busy day tomorrow. I'm not really sure what's going to happen, so I'm going to go ahead and eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner tonight. None of you will do that. You may try, it will not turn out well, because your body is designed to receive nutrition and calories in measured portions one meal at a time. Think about this, how do you fight cancer? One day at a time. How do you restore your marriage? One day at a time. How do you parent a wayward teenager? One day at a time. How do you fight through an addiction? One day, and maybe one breath, at a time. How do you finish an undergraduate degree? One day at a time. "Give us this day our daily bread." This is the battle of trust, and you're going to fight it. And if you trust the person of God, and not just your theological construct, not just your idea of God, then you're going to receive the provision of God. This is the battle of trust. "Give us this day our daily bread."

Scott Kelly: 25:02 The second defensive strategy, verse 12, let's look at this one, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." And I think we all realize here that Jesus is not talking about a financial transaction, this is spiritual and emotional capital, the range of human relationships. So he focuses on our relationship with others. First, with God, the battle of trust. Secondly, relationship with others. This is the battle of mercy, the battle of mercy. Now, forgiveness is not natural to you and me. Did you know that? Forgiveness is not natural to us as human beings. Because of indwelling sin, our default is vengeance. It's to set things straight, to make things right, to make sure everybody understands us, and how they've wronged us. Do you know what gets in the way of kingdom work more than anything else inside the church? Two words, hurt feelings, hurt feelings. And we have a tendency to turn our hurt feelings inside the church into weapons, and we draw lines, create boundaries, issue threats and ultimatums. Forgiveness is a supernatural process, it's a process, not an act. It's a process that requires us to be more concerned with the kingdom of God, than the kingdom of self. Now, I want you to consider this, the supreme virtue in the kingdom of God is not justice, it's not justice. Now, in a free democratic society, a nation of laws like ours, the supreme virtue is in fact justice. That's why our culture cries for justice, social justice, social justice. Now keep in mind, justice is God's idea, and it's disclosed to us in scripture beginning in Genesis all the way through Revelation. So justice is God's idea, but it's not the supreme virtue in the kingdom of God.

Scott Kelly: 27:15 The Supreme virtue in the kingdom of God is in fact love. Now, lest you think that's warm and cuddly and squishy, think again. How many of you have ever been to a wedding, and you heard the pastor of minister, read from First Corinthians chapter 13? Most of you probably have. Every time I hear that, I want to raise my hand and go have the bride and groom actually read that passage? Have they actually taken a look at it? Especially that first one, "Love is patient." Can we just start there? Because they have no idea in that moment what they may be committing to, in the world of patience. It's why we have such a big parking lot at Shandon, is because some of you as family households come to church in four to five different cars, because you can't wait on each other. You're not patient, so we have to have this big parking lot for you to park in. I just said that didn't I? So patience, preach it somebody, say patience. Well look, the supreme virtue in the kingdom of God is love. Because First Corinthians chapter 13 verse 5, can we look at this, "Love does not take into account a wrong suffered." There it ism couldn't be any clear. Here's what that means, love does not fixate on justice. It is willing to receive injustice and grant forgiveness, some of the hardest work you'll ever do. This is why Jesus says to grant mercy, to grant forgiveness.

Scott Kelly: 29:04 The battle of trust, the battle of mercy, and then the final battle that we're going to fight as followers of Christ, is the battle of purity. Verse 13, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." The focus of this request is on you, this is personal folks, it is personal. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Now, here's what we do, we love to objectify evil, don't we? We love to insist that evil is something that's out there, and we'll talk about it, we'll teach on it, we'll discuss it, but evil is something that's out there. But actually evil is not just something that's out there., evil is something that is in here. And it goes by a biblical name, sin. All of us, no one is exempt from this, have this evil that exists inside of us. James chapter 1 verse 14, Jesus' own brothers said, "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire." That's the evil that dwells within every one of us, even as followers of Christ, it's called indwelling sin. We all have it. Well, what desire is James talking about? Well, the desire is this, to make self, to make me, the center of the world, the center of my kingdom. That's the evil that all of us wrestle with every single day. The belief that this world should be organized, and orchestrated, to please and serve me, that is the gospel of the kingdom of self. And so Jesus says, here, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil." Not just the evil that's out there, but the evil that's in here.

Scott Kelly: 31:01 A few verses, a later passage you know, Matthew 6:33 said, "Seek first the kingdom of God." The kingdom of God. You see, by teaching us to pray, Jesus is equipping us to exchange our will for God's will. That's what prayer is. It's an exchange of wills, to exchange my will for God's will, with every breath, every decision, every moment. That we might live in the presence of God, that we might participate in the mission of God, knowing full well that we're going to fight three persistent battles in our walk with the Lord.

Scott Kelly: 31:50 So what happens when we pray this prayer? What happens when we grab hold of the ideas that are present in the model prayer, the disciples prayer, as Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew chapter 6? Well, I'll close with this. There's an all tradition on large Australian ranches, which as you can imagine, are located on parched and dry land. You see, there are two ways of keeping cattle on these large Australian ranches. One is to build a fence hundreds of miles in length around the ranch, that's one way to keep the cattle on the ranch. But the other, more preferred, way is to dig a well directly in the center of the ranch. Directly in the center. And let me tell you something, as the people of God, we have a choice, we have a choice. We can build fences at great expense and great effort on our part, or we can all point to and position ourselves in relation to the well. Now imagine for just a moment what a gift it would be, what a gift we would be to the world, to this community here in Columbia, and quite honestly to each other, if we were utterly committed to the life giving water of Jesus as our center. Well that is Heaven on Earth. That's my prayer for Shandon.

Scott Kelly: 33:53 Let's pray together. Father, it's our great joy to sit at the feet of Jesus, and hear his words from The Sermon on the Mount as he taught us to pray. And father, may those words which are probably very familiar to every one of us, may they resonate afresh in our hearts today. And may we be confronted with the question every single day of our lives, whose kingdom is going to win today, mine or God's." And may the tension of that question cause us to realize that we live in your presence, and that you've called us to participate in your mission. In partnership with your son, Jesus, to progressively establish and advance the kingdom of God here on Earth, just as it is in Heaven. Father, I know there's some in this room who are fighting the battle of trust right now, their world has been rocked, they have no one to blame but God. No one to blame, but you. So father, I pray that they would receive the grace and the mercy of your daily bread. May they trust you in this moment, this hour in this day, so that the kingdom of God can reestablished in their hearts. Father, for those that are refusing to grant forgiveness, they're not trusting in your mercy nor exercising your mercy, well, I pray there would be a breakthrough today. And Father, for those that are fighting persistent sin in their lives, whatever it may be, I pray that this is the day that there would be a breakthrough. Father, thank you for your son who taught us to pray, that the kingdom of God would begin first with us, then extend beyond us to the outermost parts of the world, one person at a time. So Lord, our prayer is that today the kingdom would take root in our hearts, and proliferate in every place we go. And we ask this in the name of your son, Jesus. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206