Thursday, 06 February 2014 21:50

Hallowed Be Thy Name

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HALLOWED BE THY NAME Dear friends, what is a priority matter for you every day when you get up, besides brushing your teeth? We all have priority items in our life, don’t we? Even children do. When something is a priority that means it is something first in line for you to think about or do. Is praying to God such a main matter for you every day again too? When we are true Christians we learn that praying to God is truly one of the most important priority matters for us, indeed, on a daily basis! Does God find you praying to Him when you get up before breakfast and you get ready for school or work, or with the 101 things you have to do in the home as wife and mother? How good and wonderful really when we have this prayer as a priority matter every day again, calling out to God even as Jesus taught us we may, saying, “Our Father who art in heaven”, and bringing our petitions to Him. Today we will look at the first important matter in prayer that we should have as confessing Christians. Studying the Lord’s Prayer together let us think about the first petition in that prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray. What is the first and priority petition according to Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2? “Our Father Who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” What a gracious grand beginning of prayer requests this truly is! When this first petition also is something you and I pray, that is such a gift of God. It leads to many other Christian fruits in our lives too, even with God’s very answer to this first prayer request. Is this first priority request something alive and well in your heart and life too, whatever stage of life you may be in, and however busy you may find yourself? Is “Hallowed be thy name” a daily prayer request you make, by God’s grace, in all you think, say, and do? The theme for this message now is, “Praying the first priority petition.” Let us each examine ourselves in this regard thinking in particular on the following three points: 1. The aim with this petition 2. The attitude with this petition 3. The answer to this petition. When Jesus says as the first matter of prayer to pray, “Hallowed be thy name”, what is meant really by this prayer request? What did Jesus mean with it? Will you notice with me right away that this request is God-directed, God-focused? It is not first of all about our needs or wants but about God’s honor and glory in our lives and in this world. Here let us think specifically of the words in this first priority request. The word “hallowed” is not a very common word today. Do you know what it means? To “hallow” means to hold in reverence, to honor, to glorify and exalt. When you and I pray “Hallowed be thy name” in reference to God, in truth, then that means we ask God that His Name be reverenced, set apart as supreme and glorious. It means that we ask the Lord that God truly be given the honor and respect from us and others, due unto Him. Yes, that truly He be honored and exalted by us, each one, and be praised in our families, and indeed, by all peoples throughout the whole world! Then when we also say “Hallowed be thy name”, I think you know that word “name” refers really to God Triune in the fullness of His being and the totality of His works! God’s Name refers to God Himself and Who He is and all that He does! “Hallowed be thy name” could also be stated as, “Hallowed be thou, O Triune God in all Your works and ways as God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!” So also we hear the psalmist say for example in Psalm 8: “O LORD our LORD, how excellent is thy Name in all the earth.” In Psalm 115:1 too the psalmist calls out: “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy Name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” All God’s names in the Bible are actually descriptions of Him, and not all His names altogether fully describe Him in His infinite glory and wondrous marvelous works as God of creation, God of providence, and God of redemption! In this first and priority request in prayer, when truly prayed, we are asking that God be honored for Who He is and all He is and for all His wondrous works! We are asking that God may receive the respect and honor due to Him as God over all, God supreme and glorious in every way and work of His. “Hallowed be thy name” literally translated is, “Let be sanctified, set apart and magnified above all, your name!” We have to say too with God’s name is meant especially and climactically God’s name as revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. We can say this on the basis of John 12 for instance. In that passage when Jesus also expresses His willingness and submission to laying down His life for sinners, yes, even to suffer and die on the cross of Golgotha, then we are told also in that context Jesus prays in John 12:28: “Father glorify thy name.” And what does God the Father say in John 12:28? “Then came there a voice from heaven saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Consider here too Philippians 2:5-11 which tells of Jesus humbling Himself to death on the cross and God raising and exalting Christ, “…giv[ing] him a name above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow….” Do you see it with me? Is it clear what Jesus would have us ask always as priority matter in our life when it is well? In this first petition we request and, indeed, Jesus calls and invites us to ask from God that He would move us and enable us, and many others, to hallow, to honor, to exalt and praise His name above all other names! From this first request Jesus teaches us to pray before God in prayer, we learn what should be our priority in life, our all-consuming aim in life. The main focus and aim in our life is that God be honored and glorified. For this purpose we were created. For this we are given to breathe and live, that God Triune might be magnified and praised by us in all of our life and every detail of our lives. The Westminster Larger Catechism in its opening question and answer asks: “What is the chief and highest end of man?” The answer based on God’s Word is: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy Him forever.” So you see in all our life this should be our aim, that God be praised as is His due! And that aim is reflected in this first petition: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Is this your prayer too, by God’s grace? Your Spirit-worked aim in all of life? That God be glorified by you and so many more? Glorified and praised truly and more and more in all you think, say, and do? Yes, in your work, in your marriage relationship or in your single life, in your childhood and youth, and as older ones? Are you seeking to honor God’s Name above all in your worship, in your leisure time, in your schooling and studies? What about in the car when driving, or at home when behind the computer? What about with the music you listen to and the movies and television you watch, and with the money you have and spend, and with the food you eat, and the books and magazines you look at, etc, etc? In the whole of your life and mine, from beginning to end, in secret and in public, wherever we are and whoever we are with, and in whatever we do, in thought, word, and deed you and I are called as confessing Christians to have and to reflect this priority aim and focus: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” As we consider this first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, can you say that the concern and aim of this first and priority request is also your concern and aim in life? Listen here to how the Heidelberg Catechism, a Reformation teaching tool, explains on the basis of Scripture the first petition. “Hallowed be thy name.” That is, “grant us, first rightly to know thee, and to sanctify, glorify, and praise thee in all thy works, in which thy power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy, and truth are clearly displayed; and further also, that we may so order and direct our whole lives, our thoughts, words, and actions that thy name may never be blasphemed, but rather honored and praised on our account.” In light of this faithful teaching, I ask you, does God know this priority petition lives in your mind and heart too as the uppermost prayer request for you every day? Maybe even for you too, you pray that you may pray this first priority prayer in spirit and truth? If you don’t have this priority aim in life to glorify God above all and in all and to hallow His name in everything, you can’t truly be said to be a Christian, can you? No, if this prayer is not your prayer and care in spirit and truth, it means you are not a true Christian, not yet really converted to God in spirit and truth. As fallen sons and daughters of Adam, of ourselves we seek all things but the glory of God. We seek the treasures and pleasures of this world and our own honor and glory above everything else, and regardless of God and others. God’s true people may sometimes fall into this but they can’t keep on living this way. Living in sin and in our sinfulness means really always missing the mark and aiming life in a totally wrong and worldly and foolish direction. Living in sin, if not repented of, ultimately only leads to divine eternal condemnation and everlasting punishment! The gospel message is all about God coming to deliver sinners from the way that leads to destruction and to flee to Christ Jesus in whom is fullness of salvation for sinners like us. And, yes, fullness of life and eternal life through Christ’s redeeming work as only Saviour and Lord. If you are yet unsaved, let this first petition of the Lord’s Prayer and this priority request we may ask of God for us in our lives awaken you now to call upon the Lord to save and redirect a sinner like you too while it is yet the day of grace! No one learns to pray the Lord’s Prayer except by God’s saving and sanctifying grace, and that grace is still freely offered to all who confess their sin and call upon the Saviour of sinners to save a guilty wretched sinner also like you. “Hallowed be thy name.” We have seen so far when it is well with our soul we pray this request truly, and time and again. Then we have this prayer as our God-worked aim also in our minds and hearts that God’s Name and Being and all His works and ways be honored and glorified by us in everything and in the whole of our life. But now having said this all, let us be honest, who of us doesn’t fall short in living by this aim? Do you know what the reformer Martin Luther said in regards to this first petition? “I know of no teaching in all the Scriptures that so mightily diminishes and destroys our life before God, as does this petition.” As another put it too: “It is impossible to think of anything that goes more completely contrary to fallen human nature than this first petition.” And is there any true Christian who will not humbly admit and confess this too? That also, however, brings me to our second point under the theme, “Praying the first priority petition.” We have thought about the aim of this petition and now let us consider the attitude with this petition. Clearly the attitude with this prayer, this priority request, is one of humility before God and others. The fact that this is a priority prayer matter by itself is an admission of so much failure and inability of ourselves ever to live in a way that you and I hallow God’s Name in and with everything. The true Christian confesses with sorrow: “Lord, this isn’t natural to me, and I need Your supernatural grace and saving power from start to finish so to live that truly and increasingly I honor and glorify Your Name, in all my ways.” In teaching this as a first petition in prayer Jesus also shows thereby He knows how weak and faulty we are in and of ourselves. He knows our frame. He remembers we are dust. He knows what sinners we are and how totally depraved by nature. It should be noted that this first petition is also in the passive verb form. “Hallowed be thy name.” This is praying then: “Lord, let Your name be glorified in and through us. Let it be in our lives and those of others, that God Triune in all His Being and works and ways be known and honored and magnified! Our Father Who art in heaven, please accomplish this for us and in us. It is something for which we must be supplied by You shall it really be true in our lives from start to finish!” The true believer prays this priority petition with the humble attitude: “Lord, we would, I would, know You and love You and live for You and honor You as You command, but please grant what You command, or nothing will ever come of it.” Do you too have this humble attitude in prayer to God asking: “Grant us this, Lord! Yes, please give also this first petition request of the Lord’s Prayer. Make this happen and fulfill it in our lives, mine and my loved ones, and with all Your people, Your church, throughout the whole world, Hallowed be thy name!” God’s true people are marked with humility. The right attitude with this first petition is one of humility. We are never in our right place when not confessing and owning up to what sinful, guilty, wayward people we are on our own, and always undeserving of the least of God’s mercies in and of ourselves! Is there anyone of us that just doesn’t have reason to be oh so humble in reference to the first and priority petition of the Lord’s Prayer? Is your attitude humble before God and others, thinking of this first and priority petition? We need to notice yet another point in connection with the attitude with this petition as Jesus gave it and meant it. We are to pray this first petition not only in all humility but also in integrity or with honesty. What I mean here is, truly praying, “Our Father Who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” while at the same time not caring at all that in all your life in every detail, without exception, you truly seek to honor His name, means praying hypocritically. If you pray “Hallowed be thy name” but then won’t let go of certain sins and ungodly ways in your life that rather than bring honor to God actually brings dishonor to Him, and discredits and blasphemes His name you are not praying genuinely, are you? Can you pray this first petition and indulge in any sin and ungodliness at all? We all know the honest answer, don’t we? The point is now, when you and I truly pray this first and priority petition not only do we pray it humbly but also heartily, sincerely! Is that how you pray this first petition too by God’s grace in your life? The Bible gives us examples of people who refused to humble themselves before God and who cared not at all about living for God in all their lives. I think, for example, of someone like Absalom who was so full of himself and the vain things of this world. Likewise I think of a man like Belteshazzar as told about in Daniel 5. He was so full of his own honor and glory and despised to honor and glorify God and His name and cause. We know the sad and terrible end of both those men! It is the reality that not to live for God and His glory means to live for self and sin and to perish forever in hopeless misery and destruction therein. We may yet proclaim to all the gospel call to awaken to sin and flee to the Saviour while it is still the day of grace! Ask God by His Spirit and Word to teach you to pray the Lord’s Prayer in spirit and truth and you will begin also to learn to pray the first and priority petition that God rightly is due. “Hallowed be thy name.” You won’t live and die without this prayer in your life, will you? God forbid. When we truly pray this first priority petition by God’s grace, your attitude is humble and honest before God and you reflect a fervent desire to live wholeheartedly for God and His glory, and not allow yourself any exceptions to this overall God-given calling and goal and aim for life. Then you take care and make every effort also to order your life accordingly, by God’s grace and power. Is this something alive and well in your life too, dear friends? If so, doesn’t that also have you realize by God’s grace, every day even, how much you need the Saviour and His cleansing and renewing work in your life? Indeed, isn’t this very life of so seeking to live for God and His honor in everything, something which actually makes you see and realize all the more your desperate need of Jesus the Saviour over and over and over, from start to finish? And you see here again is where the gospel message is so wonderful and encouraging. Why? Because, the gospel tidings are, Jesus as Saviour perfectly hallowed God’s Name on sinners’ behalf even as He suffered and endured the equivalent of the agonies of eternal hell for them. And Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that Jesus Christ through His once for all sacrifice and by His death and resurrection on sinners’ behalf is now exalted as Saviour of sinners and His name is above every name in heaven and earth, now and forevermore! The precious gospel proclaims and promises to us that in and through Christ, by grace through faith in Him, we will be more than conquerors! Praise the Triune God the salvation work God our Saviour has begun for all who trust and follow Him will also be fully accomplished by Him for us and in us, through His almighty grace and saving sanctifying power! The answer to the first and priority petition of the Lord’s Prayer is to get more of Jesus Christ in us, and with us, and around us. The answer to this first priority petition is to know Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord more, to fellowship with Him more and to glory in Him more, to abide in Him more and to need Him more, to cherish and love and serve Him more and more! This is our third main point. It is ever looking to Jesus in faith and repentance and always again feeding on Christ Jesus and His gospel Word and in remaining with Him that all God’s people will truly and gladly and increasingly be hallowing God’s Name in and with everything! Then you can’t find contentment apart from hallowing God’s name. Then your life at home, at school, at work, at church, and in this world is, time and again, about hallowing God’s name and wanting nothing more in anything you think, say, and do! Then too you become truly sorry when you fail to hallow God’s name, knowing He is so worthy that His name and being and all His works be always and forever honored and praised by us. Then you long also for heaven at times when you know there and then we will no more ever have to battle with sin and shortcomings. No, but in the new heavens and earth God’s name will be praised and honored as is His due as Triune Saviour God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, forever and ever, without letup, in all our activities and words and thoughts in that most glorious place! The point now is, it is in the way of being focused and ever feasting on Christ Jesus as crucified and risen Saviour, and who He is for sinners like us as proclaimed in God’s Word. That leads to hallowing God’s name and wanting to do nothing but that in everything with everyone everywhere. Hallowing God’s name happens when you and I are focused on and filled with Jesus and His gospel riches. As godly John Owen once put it: “Holiness [in our lives] is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls.” Is the first and priority petition of the Lord’s Prayer also your prayer: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name”? Do you know of this high aim as expressed in this prayer, and do you show the Christian attitude of humility and honesty before God and man in connection with it. And do you relish the holy answer to this petition as revealed in Christ Jesus, the Saviour of sinners? Oh, may God Triune bless His gospel of Jesus Christ to us also through this message now that truly and increasingly you too be a person, by God’s grace, genuinely praying the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer and living accordingly! Maybe today you will pray this prayer in spirit and truth even for a first time? How many people say the Lord’s Prayer but it is just a hypocritical chant or a totally meaningless religious bead activity as they live lives blaspheming God’s name in so many ways. But you won’t so live and die, will you? No, stop and examine yourself in this regard! Indeed, may the Lord now by His Holy Spirit bless this gospel word that we all, you and me included, be a people, one and all, who live glorifying and hallowing His Name in all we ever think, say, and do. And that we keep on praying this first and priority petition in spirit and truth for as long as we live. “Hallowed be thy name. Yes, Lord, by the thoughts of our hearts, and by the words of our lips, and by the works of our hands, and to You be all the glory, from start to finish, our Saviour God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” Even so, let me close with this praise doxology based on the closing words of Psalm 72: Now blessed be Jehovah God, The God of Israel…., And blessed be His glorious Name, To all eternity; The whole earth let His glory fill. Amen: so let it be; The whole earth let His glory fill. Amen: so let it be. Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor
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