Monday, 10 February 2014 12:49

Give Us This Day

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Continuing with our study of the Lord’s Prayer, line by line, notice when we pray as Jesus taught us we may and should also pray this petition: “Give us this day our daily bread.” In today’s message, dear friends, we get to think about this request. It is actually most wonderful that the Lord Jesus also included it. Our aim is to see this and even so be much motivated to pray this prayer regularly. “Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and “Give us this day our daily bread.” Our theme is “Reasons to pray this fourth petition with praise to God.” We might also just say “Reasons to be so thankful in praying also this fourth petition.” Can you think of reasons to pray this with praise and thanksgiving? For one, doesn’t this fourth petition so demonstrate and prove God’s thoughtfulness towards us? Clearly God here shows He cares not only for our spiritual needs but also for our physical and material needs. The Lord God is the Saviour God for soul and body. He cares for our whole being. Let us not forget this! Never should you or I think that the God Who made us, body and soul, doesn’t’ much care for our physical and earthly wellbeing but only for us spiritually. Rather, as this fourth petition brings out and as David says also in Psalm 103: “The Lord knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” In other Scriptures too we see God go out of His way physically to feed and nourish famished and hungry people. Think of God caring for Hagar and Ishmael in this way [Genesis 18:21]. And remember God taking care to provide for his servant, Elijah, by the brook Cherith where ravens literally brought him bread [I Kings 17]. Think of the time too when Elijah was so drained and famished physically and emotionally and an angel of the LORD came and provided miraculously a great meal for Elijah not once, but twice even, as recorded in I Kings 19. I could go on speaking of the Obadiah in King Ahab and Jezebel’s time being an instrument to provide food for 100 prophets who were persecuted and destitute from the daily necessities of life [I Kings 18:13]. What about God’s provision of manna and water and meat in the wilderness journey? Think too of Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 and later the 4000, in each case crowds that could have totaled more than 10,000 with women and children included. The first point now is that we see the thoughtfulness of the Lord as revealed also in this fourth petition. The Lord invites us here to bring all our needs to Him daily, and to ask Him to supply our needs. We may ask not just about our many spiritual needs but all our physical and material needs as well. It is striking even how the Lord Jesus here puts the matter of our physical needs even before the fifth and sixth petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, dealing with more specifically spiritual issues and soul and heart matters. Don’t ever think your daily needs are of no concern to God and He doesn’t want to be asked concerning those needs. The Lord cares for us in every way in all our needs. As Paul states in that rich verse in Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” In Matthew 6 Jesus so brings out too God’s care for all His creation, and certainly most of all for mankind. In vs. 25-32 Jesus stresses the Father’s tender care for people, especially also His people. Listen just to vs. 30: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” You and I have need of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, jobs, and health to live and function here on earth. And all that is included in this fourth petition, asking for our daily bread from God’s fatherly hand. In vs. 32 we read in connection with our earthly, physical, material needs: “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” speaking of food and clothing and housing etc. I say, considering this all, isn’t it true how good Christ Jesus is to include this earthly matter in our prayers to Him? How we should praise the Lord also for this fourth petition as we pray this prayer regularly. Do you pray also this fourth petition regularly to the Lord? Do you pray this request in thanksgiving and praise to God seeing how it shows God’s thoughtfulness towards us? Notice next another reason to be so thankful with this petition is that it so shows and proves God’s generosity towards us. Why this point too? Here just stop and consider how abundant are God’s provisions for us on this earth. What abundance and variety and endless supply of provision God gives to us here on earth in all our earthly needs. In His creation, even with this fallen world under the curse of sin, what abundance and variety of food this earth may bring forth by God’s fatherly hand and care. What food there is for us from land and sea that God provides not only for people like you and me but for all other creatures too! When we think also of the way God has nourished this earth that all the food required to feed all the people on earth more than adequately can be well provided, isn’t it amazing, really? And a ll the clothing needs and supplies for shelter, etc, are all there in more than abundant supply actually. Must we not say that all the poverty and hunger and places of great need in this world are mostly because of the sin and greed and corruption of mankind? Even in times and places of great calamity and devastation on account of storm or famine or disease it is possible, if the whole world rallies together, to supply the needs there are and if people won’t hoard and cheat and loot and steal and hate each other but care for one another. My point here is the Lord has made available so many resources to us amply to provide for this whole world. As the psalmist states in praise in Psalm 104:24, it is certainly true: “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.” Isn’t there so much reason for each one of us, even when in times of great need, still to say in the words of Psalm 103: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits”? The point is, the Lord gives so much provision if we only stop to consider it. What can help us consider it too is thinking of those who are deprived of many of the blessings for our physical wellbeing that we are so accustomed to. We know there are people suffering from hunger and thirst and homelessness and lack of clothes and without jobs and living in places with little or no medical care in this world. There are people who suffer and endure much poverty and discomfort and ill health and so many real needs in life. In this fallen world always this will be the case, and it should remind us not only of the need to pray the fourth petition daily but also never to take it for granted either. The abundance and supply of our daily needs which we consider normal in this part of the world is not normal for many people in this world. Shall we not forget this? The fourth petition by itself is worded so to remind us of all others even as we regularly pray this request for ourselves. Jesus said when you pray, ask also for this matter: “Give us [not just myself, notice] this day our daily bread.” How we should be humbled and melted thinking of God’s thoughtfulness and His overall generosity towards us in His daily provision for us in this world. Do you agree with me so far with these first two points? Let us move on and consider yet another reason to be so thankful for this fourth petition and to pray it with thanksgiving, and that is, just think of God’s wisdom displayed in giving also this petition. God’s wisdom shows itself here surely in God teaching us with this fourth petition to live in daily humble dependency upon Him in all our needs for body and soul. Is not a repeated problem in our lives as human beings that we think everything depends just on us? How many people live and act as if all their earthly blessings are just on account of their own hard work and choices in life. We can so easily congratulate ourselves, isn’t it true, for all that we have, forgetting what it says in James 1:17, that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” In Deuteronomy 8:18 Moses lovingly and earnestly warns the Israelites before they enter the promised land where many earthly blessings would be given them, “But you shall remember the Lord your God: for it is he that giveth you power to get wealth.” We read of Uzziah in II Chronicles 26:5b: “And as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper….[and then in vs. 15b-16 of that same chapter]…he was marvelously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God…” This is always such a danger for us, also as Christians, that we forget our total dependency upon the Lord for the least blessing in life and every blessing in life. Not only are we dependent on God wholly for our blessings in life but also to enjoy those blessings in a right and profitable way we are ultimately dependent on Him. God in great wisdom then gives this fourth petition ever to teach and remind us to live in humble daily dependency upon the Lord for all our provision for body and soul. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Yes, we must be responsible and do our best in all our daily tasks. But all blessings flowing from that is not ultimately our doing but always and again God’s goodness and loving kindness to us, indeed, His undeserved mercy towards us. Let us not forget this and be thankful for God’s wisdom in reminding us with this fourth petition, time and again. When we have it so well too, with the plural form of the petition as Jesus gave it, let us always keep in mind the many others not so blessed as we may be in our cities and country and world. This petition is wisely given also to remind us, don’t you think, not to get all focused on earthly and material blessings. We live in a world of consumerism and materialism where enough always calls for more and more is never enough. We live in a culture where all too many by their words and deeds reflect having lots they don’t want and wanting so much else they don’t have. This fourth petition teaches us: “Be rightly focused, not hoarding earth’s treasures and pleasures but praying for God’s daily provision for body and soul to live wholly to Him and for His praise and our neighbor’s good.” “Give us this day our daily bread." This petition calls us to ask the Lord for all that is necessary for our existence and for daily life as best enables us to live for the glory of God and the good of others. Thanks for God’s wisdom in so guiding us with this fourth petition in prayer to God. Here again the 16th century Heidelberg Catechism explanation also on this fourth petition is so helpful. “Give us this day our daily bread" is a prayer, the Catechism explains on the basis of Scripture, where God’s people ask the Lord: “Be pleased to provide us with all things necessary for the body, that we may thereby acknowledge You to be the only fountain of all good, and that neither our care nor industry, nor even Your gifts, can profit us without Your blessing; and therefore that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place it alone in You.” What a faithful teaching this is on the fourth petition! Isn’t this same reflected too in the wise words of Agur in Proverbs 30:8 when he asks: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient [or most suitable and fitting] for me.” We know Agur meant: ‘Lord, please grant to me for my daily needs just that which most enables me to live faithfully and obediently and thankfully to Your praise and honor in all my ways.’ The fourth petition as Jesus wisely worded it reminds us of what Paul states in I Corinthians 10:31: “Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Who of us doesn’t need this reminder daily, also just in regards to our food and drink, never mind with all our other physical and earthly cares and responsibilities and blessings? Do you see with me what reasons to be so thankful to God for the fourth petition as given and to pray it regularly in praise to Him? Yes, not only for how this petition reflects God’s thoughtfulness and His generosity and His wisdom to us but think next also of how it tells of His mercy towards us. What gives reason to speak of God’s mercy and graciousness in connection with the fourth petition? Is it not the case that this whole world and each and all of us in particular have made ourselves most undeserving of the least blessing from God? Because of our sins and sinfulness by nature and every day everyone, you and I included, can’t claim ever we deserve a single cup of clean water from God let alone all our daily bread and provision for our earthly life. Think of it, how this world today by and large lives in rebellion and denial and wickedness and base ingratitude before God their Maker and only Provider of all good things! Doesn’t God have every right to starve this whole world because of all its defiance and evil against Him and His Word and will, and its endlessly ungrateful behavior before Him? But see how God yet supplies this world with so many earthly blessings, more than can be calculated by far! Shouldn’t we see God’s compassion and mercy still for this fallen world in all the physical, earthly, and material blessings He yet provides? In Matthew 5:45 Jesus mentions how the Father who is in heaven “makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” How His mercy and graciousness in this should amaze us truly! Does it amaze you? Or do you think you just deserve what God all gives you? If you know anything of your guilt and sin by nature before God and in everyday life won’t you be, and shouldn’t we all be, constantly amazed at God’s mercy in providing us with so many blessings as He does yet when even one blessing is more that we can ever claim as something we deserve? As one put it: “Who will send His provisions to His enemies? Men spread nets for their enemies, but behold, God spreads a table! Unbelievable! God puts bread in the mouths that are opened against Him! Oh, the royal bounty of God!” Yes, shouldn’t we stop and consider this more often, God’s mercy so boundlessly shown to us in our provision for daily life? Sometimes people ask: “How can a good God allow evil in this world and tragedy, suffering, and hurt?” But how about asking: “How can a holy and just God give so many blessings and good things still to a people who deny Him and worship idols, who disregard and disobey His Word and will, and who disown Him as the Source of every blessing day in and day out? How can God still go on giving and giving and giving again so much to a rebellious and undeserving people?” The least blessing is always way more than any of us deserves because of our sins. So yes, let us realize the mercy of God as also brought out in this fourth petition: “Give us this day our daily bread.” You can’t truly pray this prayer without a repentant and believing heart in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Fount of every blessing. Will this fourth petition serve to remind you daily of God’s mercies and underserved lovingkindness to you in so many ways? How many make a dart of God’s mercies to shoot Him down as it were! He gives us brains and skills and we serve the devil and ourselves with it! He gives us food and drink and we gorge ourselves and thank ourselves and forget Him, the gracious provider of all that we receive! How many never ask for a blessing on their meal or give thanks for their meal, just ungratefully and mindlessly taking it all for granted. God says of Israel of old in Deuteronomy 32:15 that as a nation they became fat, that is, filled with so many blessings from God. But then they kicked against God and forsook Him! Oh, for sure, if the goodness of God will not lead to repentance before Him, and if people just go on in sin against the giver of every blessing and abuse His royal merciful favors, then all the mercies of God will one day come in as further witnesses against us. If you are one presently disowning and not serving the Lord who gives you so much, may this message about praying ”Give us this day our daily bread” be used of God to convince and convict you of sin. May it, by God’s Holy Spirit, now become a means of turning you from sin and leading you in true repentance and faith and humble gratitude before God for all His mercies and benefits granted to you. For Jesus’ sake God is merciful to all who appeal to Him for His forgiving and renewing grace, and for all that we need every day for body and soul in a life pleasing to God and faithful and fruitful before God and all people. Saying this also brings me to the last and climactic point. What reasons we have to be so thankful for the fourth petition and to pray this prayer regularly in praise to God. We have mentioned so far seeing the thoughtfulness of the Lord with teaching this petition to pray, and God’s generosity, wisdom, and mercy with this petition giving reason for praying it with praise. But do you know the main reason to pray it with praise? We should pray it with praise and thanksgiving because of Jesus Christ the Saviour! For this fourth petition too we not only may pray time and again but it is one the Lord also delights to answer time and again, all only always in and through Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. Jesus Christ as Saviour of sinners has through His life and death and perfect salvation ministry opened the way for God to pour out blessings upon us for body and soul. No good thing will He withhold from His people for Jesus’ sake. God Triune is an overflowing fountain of all good, yes, in and through Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. In connection also with our food and drink and all our provisions for daily life, consider what Jesus suffered on behalf of sinners to open the fountain of God’s blessings for us in all our needs. The gospels tell to us and show us how different times Jesus suffered such hunger and thirst. Think of Jesus in the wilderness for forty days without daily food! Hear Jesus on the cross cry out with parched lips and dried out mouth, “I thirst!” We know Jesus lived his life as a poor man mostly. When Jesus was born, His crib was a manger or an animal feeding trough in a stable owned by another. In the thirty years in Nazareth as a carpenter with his adopted father, Joseph, we are left with the impression He lived in very simple circumstances with luxuries rare and few, if any at all. When Jesus was on His own in His work of ministry are we not told too that He had no place of His own and often no place where to lay His head at night. See too how in the end Jesus was crucified mostly naked on a cursed tree, and He saw His very simple belongings taken from Him and divided among the soldiers by gambling. And when Jesus died, He was buried in someone else’s carved out tomb. Jesus did not suffer and endure this poverty and hunger just for no reason. It was all part of the punishment and curse for sin which He came to suffer and endure in the sinner’s place. So Paul exclaims in II Corinthians 8:9: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” Oh yes, this is and remains the precious gospel of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners! Because of Jesus’ Person and work as Saviour, God delights in mercy and His compassions fail not and are new every morning. If Jesus had not come as Saviour, God justly could consume this whole world in endless misery and need, in righteous punishment in body and soul on account of our sins and sinfulness. But God so loved the world He gave His Son to be Saviour of sinners. For His Name’s sake still, God is so gracious and grants so many blessings for us also just in our physical and material needs. How can we ever thank the Lord enough for all His goodness and mercy and provision to us in and through Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners? Let this fourth petition be prayed by us in true thanksgiving ever praying it in praise considering God’s thoughtfulness, generosity, wisdom, mercy, and the Saviour as reflected in this request, “Give us this day our daily bread.” There is reason to pray this prayer so thankfully to God our Saviour also because by it the Lord teaches us to be spiritually minded even in and with all our material and physical needs and cares. Is the fourth petition a heart-felt prayer you make in daily praise to the Lord too, by God’s grace, and is that evident in word and deed then also from you, by God’s grace? The fourth petition truly prayed gives reason over and over to say also “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!” Even so, God bless you each and all in truly praying also the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen. Yes, as someone put it: Most gracious Father, God of all, To thee we come, on thee we call, By whom both man and beast are fed: Give us this day our daily bread. All our supplies on thee depend; Whate’er we [need] in mercy send; Thou art the glorious fountain-head. Give us this day our daily bread.” Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor
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