Our Father’s Business

I begin with a bit of background. What I see in scripture is that when Adam and Eve fell in Genesis 3 the earth’s dominion was moved to Satan, the Adversary. Yahweh still owned the earth but the general rule and dominion He had delegated to Adam and Eve and they gave it away. In scripture we see how it was restored in The Great Commission in Matthew 28.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)

Jesus was clear when He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Authority in heaven had never been lost (Psalm 115:16), on the earth it had, and Jesus restored it through His sacrifice as He was fully God and fully man. As Paul put it.

5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)

At the same time, it doesn’t look like Jesus is ruling and reigning on earth, in fact He isn’t. In Matthew 28 He told us to go and bring about change. He wants to rule through His church. Look at these scriptures together, a portion of Matthew 28:18-19 and then Genesis.  

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26–28 (NKJV)

In effect, what we refer to as The Great Commission is a recommissioning of the original command in Genesis to be fruitful and fill and subdue the earth. Yahweh created a garden, heaven on earth, that He wanted Adam and Eve to extend to the rest of the earth. The way it works for us is that we each have a sphere of authority. When we were born again we were commissioned to use that authority to represent the King and extend His dominion in the earth. Though Jesus has all authority He chose to exercise it through a praying and proclaiming church, His body on the earth.

This doesn’t mean we are to exercise control over our society or culture. We are however to be an influence, a change agent, so that wherever we are others encounter His presence. There is the ‘already not yet’ idea of His kingdom in that Jesus already secured the victory but it will not be fully realized until His visible return at the end of the age. In the meantime, we are to reflect and demonstrate His kingdom within our sphere of influence so that wherever we are is a reflection of another kingdom. We are to have the attitude of Jesus that we are to be ‘about our Father’s business’ (Luke 2:49).

Let’s do that.

Carrying His Heart

In my last post I wrote about the relationship and importance of prayer regarding an eternal perspective. Here I am continuing to expand on prayer, beginning with a little bit of context. I have read many accounts of people having amazing spiritual encounters with the Lord and that leading to prayer and travail. I have heard testimonies and read accounts of people praying for hours and it seemed like minutes. Wonderful – not me. I find that I need to be disciplined and diligent in prayer. I have never prayed in the morning, or any other time, and had an experience where even half an hour seemed like it was mere minutes. I have however had greater and lesser experiences of His presence and leading in prayer.

At the same time, I choose to simply follow His command to pray whether or not I have a sense of His presence and leading in the morning. This is simply honouring His requirement to be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). This is one aspect of carrying His heart and I think it is encapsulated in this verse, which I will illustrate.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (NKJV)

The idea of praying without ceasing does not mean praying 24 hours a day, a logical impossibility. It does mean holding our heart in an attitude of prayer and responding to His leading in prayer whenever the opportunity arises.

Here we will focus in on carrying His heart outside of a set prayer time (hopefully you have one). In my life I regularly have experiences of thinking of someone and sensing a call to pray for them. This can happen at any time during the day or when I am walking, hiking or biking. At times I wake up during the night and He brings someone to mind and I sense a call to pray for them. I often wake up during the night, I don’t always pray!

To be clear, there are no flashes of lightening, no deep travail, just the sense of a calling and opportunity to pray. I think this is something available to all of us if we cultivate an awareness of His presence and ask Him to develop and deepen our awareness of Him throughout our days.

I believe this sensitivity to His presence requires a gentleness on our part, which I will illustrate with something that happened a few days ago when I was walking my son’s dog. I came across a large and beautiful butterfly on the sidewalk that was struggling to get airborne. I put my finger under the many legs and it climbed on and I gently lifted it up. It was amazing to study close up, face to face as it were. On my finger it began to move its wings then slowly flew off gaining altitude. I continued my walk.

Think of this as Him calling us to prayer at various times throughout the day. He brings our awareness to something; I saw the butterfly struggling. We then engage with what He brings to our attention, usually a person. We follow up by lifting this object of prayer up to Him and release it (unless He keeps bringing it back) then continue on with our day. This is carrying His heart.

An Eternal Perspective

I began this online teaching blog in January 2014. Prior to starting the blog, I came up with a tagline, “An Eternal Perspective: Living in Time, Preparing for Eternity.” Here I am going to explore the idea of an Eternal Perspective and the relationship it has to prayer.  

We all know as believers that we are to have a prayer life. We have numerous examples of prayer in the Old Testament. Many of the Psalms are prayers. We have Daniel modelling prayer three times a day.

10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Daniel 6:10 (NKJV)

In the New Testament we have Jesus’ teaching us, through the model prayer He provided in Matthew 6, that we should at least have daily prayers (verse 11).

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9–13 (NKJV)

Given the numerous examples of prayer in scripture and the scriptural calls to engage in prayer, it seems important to look at what relationship prayer has to holding an Eternal Perspective. The inspiration for “An Eternal Perspective: Living in Time, Preparing for Eternity” was my awareness that everything we do in time has ripples in eternity. Prayer is one of those things. We see in Revelation that our prayers go into bowls and are presented before the throne.

8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8 (NKJV)

Knowing that are prayers are incense before His throne it is important to anchor our prayers in an Eternal Perspective. We are called to pray because it matters.  

Prayer doesn’t require a certain posture or location. More important than our physical posture and location is the posture of our heart and where are affections are located. We see the importance of this in scripture. Here are Old and New Testament examples.

1 Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my meditation. 2 Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray. 3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up. Psalm 5:1–3 (NKJV)

1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:1–2 (NKJV)

In Psalm 5 we see David expressing his habit of daily morning prayer and he includes in this Psalm the expectation that there will be a response to his prayer, hence his phrase, “And I will look up.”

Understanding Psalm 5 is easy and obvious. Colossians 3 takes us a little deeper. Whether or not it was the unconscious source of my expression, An Eternal Perspective: Living in Time, Preparing for Eternity, I cannot tell you. I can tell you that it encapsulates the expression with the call to set our minds on things above rather than things on the earth. I don’t see these two verses as a call to ignore what is happening on earth, just the opposite. Fixing our minds on eternal things will affect how we live on earth and how we pray. We will pray with an awareness that what happens on earth echoes in eternity, we will know that our prayers, no matter how seemingly weak and futile, matter. We can then pray like David, offering our heart to Him and looking up in expectation that heaven will invade earth.

Therefore, while we have the opportunity here let us pray with expectation and a heart of affection for Jesus and heaven.

The Path

As we journey through life each of us leaves a path for others to follow. One thing that got me thinking about the path we leave is a quote I read a couple of years ago by Scott Rodin. You may have never heard of him but he teaches and focuses on our responsibilities as stewards of God’s gifts and grace. A saying of his that I saved in my prayer list is, “It is not whom you are leading but who is leading you that will determine your legacy.” Implicit in this expression is the idea that we are all walking a path following someone. The other thing that got me thinking about the path we leave is the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. Implicit in both is the idea that our path is the fruit of our choices. Jesus highlighted this issue of our path choices as well.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13–14 (NKJV)

Clearly our choice of path as Jesus presented it in The Sermon on the Mount is one with eternal consequences. Yet beyond that choice we also make daily choices in our walk with Jesus. Below we see some things that the scriptures have to say about the path we take as trumpeted forth by Jeremiah and highlighted by Job.

16 Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16 (NKJV)

7 That path no bird knows, Nor has the falcon’s eye seen it. 8 The proud lions have not trodden it, Nor has the fierce lion passed over it. Job 28:7–8 (NKJV)

These scriptures point to paths not well trodden but important. Yet scripture tells us not only how to find the right path, it also tells us how to stay on it. When we look to Him for guidance and seek His presence, we can be confident He will guide us on the path of life.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5–6 (NKJV)

11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

Thus, I leave you with these thoughts. While we all leave a path for others if we continually look to Him for guidance our path will be marked with signposts like truth, integrity, faithfulness, prayer and meaningful fellowship with others. While there will be failures on our path, we all have them, they can be marked by signposts of repentance. We can leave a path that others will want to follow.