Our Father

With Father’s Day approaching, I thought it would be a good time to look at the Lord’s Prayer – Our Father who art in heaven… Following is from my archives – a brief teaching I put together for our homeschool group several years ago.

Our Father who art in heaven  

For you have not received the spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out Abba! Father!   The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:15-16

My Dad
My Dad

We are adopted children of God, our Father. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, but one truth my dad taught me was that family is family, and no matter what one does or doesn’t do, they are still a part of the family and will always be loved and accepted. We may get irritated with one another, exasperated, or feel any other of the myriads of emotions that go along with being closely associated with one another, but we will never quit loving and can never stop being family. In our fallen world this truth isn’t always applied, families do fall apart, relationships are torn asunder, but with God things are different. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:11

We are part of God’s family now. Our Father who art in heaven allows us to call him Abba, ‘Daddy.’  We will never be alone, forsaken, or displaced. This world may get rough, things may fall apart on us, we may struggle, but we will never be alone, we will always have a family that is there for us.

Hallowed be Thy Name

Not only is God our Father, but He is Holy, He is unique, He is awesome. He is to be respected, loved, and honored. When we go to Him in prayer, we go with praise and adoration, remembering that He is our Father, but He is also all powerful, mighty, and able to do abundantly beyond our expectations. He is the founder of all and therefore able to take care of all. We go with confidence before Him, knowing His love and His mighty power.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

We are to desire God’s ways, God’s truths, God’s principles to be applied to us and the world around us. As we pray for others, God’s ways should lead us in our prayers. Are we praying for workers to go out into the harvest?  Are we seeking the lost?

As you think of God’s will, certain images come to mind. I would encourage you to read the following sections of scriptures and see if your images line up with God’s.

Isaiah 58, Ezekiel 34:4; 11-12; 15-16; Jonah; Matthew 11:4-6; Matthew 23

Give us this day our daily bread.

Daily we are to seek God for our provision. As we read on in Matthew, there are many verses about how God cares for us and knows our needs. I would encourage you to read the following: Matthew 6:25-34; 7:7-11.

Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.

For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15

It says in Isaiah we are not to hide ourselves from our own flesh. I think this means we are to look honestly at ourselves and our dependence and need for Jesus our Savior. When we think we are better than we are, we tend to judge others harshly. When we realize what we are capable of, we tend to show mercy.

It is not always easy to forgive. I think at times like that it’s good to remember that God knows and looks upon our hearts, and knowing He knows us far better than we know ourselves, we can seek Him to change our hearts and help us to forgive.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil

Here we seek God for His protection, protection from within and protection from outside forces. A few good verses to read further about this are Ephesians 6:10-18; Romans 8:26-39; and Jude 24-25.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever

The prayer ends with praise, reminding us Whose kingdom, Whose power and for Whose glory.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come. Rev. 4:8b

To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. Rev. 5:13b

Amen

For further guidance on the Lord’s Prayer, I would recommend reading what Martin Luther had to say about it:

A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther – Lord’s Prayer Excerpt

A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther Full Version

 

Anglerfish

Recently I went to a talk where a scientist from our local University, UNC-Charlotte, was speaking about bacteria.  He shared that at one point in time he was working as a marine biologist in Florida and that they would go out and get samples of marine life.  One of the animals they caught was the anglerfish.  The anglerfish lives in the deep dark places in the oceans and uses bioluminescence to attract prey.

I find this fascinating.  The anglerfish has “a piece of dorsal spine that protrudes above their mouths like a fishing pole.”  National Geographic   At the end of the ‘pole’ there is a bulb filled with bioluminescent bacteria.  These bacteria live in symbiotic relationship with the fish. The Professor said the anglerfish farms the bacteria, proving them nutrients and purging the dead bacteria.

I looked up some other information and found that anglerfish also live in a symbiotic relationship with their mates.

When a male anglerfish finds a female, he will bite her side and become attached to her.  Male anglerfish do not have the bioluminescent rod so they can’t attract prey the way females do.  Eventually “the male physically fuses with the female, connecting to her skin and bloodstream and losing his eyes and all his internal organs except the testes. A female will carry six or more males on her body.” National Geographic

Another article said that the female is constantly releasing the bioluminescent bacteria into the water, providing a source of bacteria for female offspring.

The more I read about and learn about God’s creation, the more in awe of Him I become.  There is such diversity, sometimes oddity, in all the amazing things He has made. When my children were younger, and we were homeschooling, I remember going to sea aquariums and looking at all the variety of fish and thinking not only is God amazing but He must have a wonderful sense of humor too.

And He gave us dominion over these animals, His creation, the work of His hands, which He loves.

The Anglerfish, one of God's magnificent creatures. "Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great." Psalm 104: 25

Pentecost – the Holy Spirit

Pentecost – I believe in the Holy Spirit

The Creeds are such great reminders for us of our core beliefs as followers of Christ. With today being Pentecost, I thought it would be a great opportunity to remind myself what I believe about the Holy Spirit, who was sent by the Father to teach us, to comfort us, to help us in our weakness.

I believe in God the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth…

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son…

And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified;
who spoke by the Prophets.

I Believe - Holy Spirit

John 14 the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” ~ John 14:25-27 ESV
as the Spirit gave them utterance
The Coming of the Holy Spirit When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. ~ Acts 2:1-4 ESV
The Spirit helps us in our weakness.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~ Romans 8:26-27 ESV

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost
of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again
according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Apostles Creed

Sharing

Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I was talking to my stepmom this morning and we were reminiscing about Ned.  He was the priest at the church where I became a Christian and the priest that brought my dad back to church.  We were talking about how he taught grace and taught us to bring Jesus into every situation.

My stepmom said that he taught us that we should bring Jesus into every situation, like if the toilet overflowed we should call Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – and Jesus would come, right into whatever mess we were in.

We’d go to the Wednesday night prayer and praise services, where many times everyone would end up circling the alter, holding hands and singing praise songs. After the meeting we’d go have dinner or dessert and spend hours talking about the things Jesus had done for us, about the miracles in all the everyday things we experienced.  We saw Jesus in everything and we’d share our faith and our love with one another.

She said, that’s why the Bible tells us to not stop meeting and sharing with one another, because sharing causes us to see and remember, it causes us to be thankful and see God’s hand where it is.  It brings us out of the mundane and into the presence of a Holy God – A Holy God who became man and walked among us, A Holy God who fills us with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, so we are never alone.

Not only did Ned preach Jesus, He lived in relationship with Him and shared Him with us.  Ned was never above us, he was a fellow sinner in need of grace, but he knew where there was a fountain flowing freely and he wanted us all to know.  He loved us, his congregation, and he was there for us pointing us to the true source of love through his stories, his laughter and his tears.  I am so thankful that God gave us Ned at a point in my life when I truly needed Him, but you know I still need Ned’s in my life.  I need people who are real, down to earth people, people who exude Jesus.

Flowers with Hebrews 10:23-25

I Believe

I believe in Jesus Christ…

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

The Old Testament of the Bible tells us the story of God and His creation.  Written over hundreds of years and by several authors, the Old Testament tells us a cohesive story about the God who created us, about the deception of Satan that brought about the fall of mankind, about sin and darkness, about death and despair.  But it doesn’t leave us there – it tells us of God’s love for us, His plan to redeem us, to save us, His plan to restore all things through His love and light bringing us life and hope.

Today is the first day of Advent.  Advent is a time to prepare our hearts to celebrate Christmas, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and Jesus was God’s plan.  Throughout the Old Testament, God speaks to us through His prophets, revealing His plans so that when the time was right, we would see the truth and know that God Himself has walked among us.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1 ESV

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven,

For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness ~ Ezekiel 34:11-16 ESV

and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man;

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel ~ Isaiah 7:14 ESV

Immanuel – God with us…

and the Word was God ….  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:14 ESV

NICENE CREED

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the prophets.

I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

Daily Scripture Readings for Advent

Where my Hope Comes From

Sometimes it’s good to get back to the basics of what I believe and remind myself of who and whose I am.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

There is a song that we used to sing at a church I went to when I lived in Tallahassee, FL.  The lyrics were based on Isaiah 43 – ‘Yahweh You have created me, You have called me by name and I am yours.’  What an amazing comfort it is to know and believe that God has called me by name and I am His.  Another line says something like ‘though I walk through the fire I will not be scorched or burned for God is with me…’

During my time in Tallahassee, I went through some dark days, my world seemed to be crashing around me.  During that time, I had a dream and in the dream I was seeking help, turning to different people, friends, counselors, pastors for help but everyone was too busy – and then a voice in my dream said to me, “Tami, even if you lose everything and everyone, I will never ever leave you.”

Where does my hope come from?  From God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. ~ Psalm 121 ESV

He knows me, all my faults and weaknesses, but He has called me by name. He has called me His child, and He has promised to never abandon or forsake me.  One day I will sit on His lap and He will wipe away every tear and there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more mourning.  In my heart of hearts, I can cry Abba Father and know I am loved.

Sometimes… a lot of times… I forget this.  I get caught up in the trials of day to day living, I get caught up in my fears, I get caught up in my failures, but when I remember, when I remind myself, that my Father, God Almighty, the Creator of Heave and Earth, has called me by name and I am His, I know peace, deep, deep peace.

When I remind myself what I believe…

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” ~ John 10:28-30 ESV

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ~ Galatians 4:4-7 ESV

“Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
You tell me that you’re pleased and that I’m never alone
You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, It’s who you are, It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you It’s who I am, It’s who I am, It’s who I am
I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers only you provide
Because you know just what we need before we say a word
You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, It’s who you are, It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you It’s who I am, It’s who I am, It’s who I am”
Good Good Father by Housefires

Apostles Creed

Vampires, Priests, and the Cross

Several years ago, I read a book that to me, even though I wasn’t a Christian at the time, had a profound Christian message that has stuck vividly in my memory through the years. In the book, the author writes about an encounter between a priest and a vampire.  crossThe priest was holding up a cross, which was glowing, radiating power up the priest’s arm and he felt comforted knowing that while he held up the cross the vampire was cowered in front of him.  The vampire had a hostage though and was threatening to do harm to the hostage.  The vampire tells the priest that he will let this boy go if the priest will put the cross down and fight him ‘your religion against mine.’  The priest hesitantly agrees and the vampire lets the boy go.  Then the priest starts to think and he thinks that as long as he has the cross he is safe and now that the boy is safe, why should he put down the cross.  As he thinks this, the cross starts losing its glow, then the vampire walks up to him, takes the cross and breaks it in pieces.  The vampire then tells the priest that if he had put his cross down, he would have won the battle, and he went on to tell him that he forgot what his religion was about; the cross and the other symbols the priest held dear were just symbols and, without faith in the God behind them, they were meaningless.

This Easter, we need to rejoice in the fact that we serve a living and mighty God and not an idol or an empty symbol.  Sometimes when we are confronted with the evil, the horrors, the pains and sufferings of this world, it’s easy to forget that our God is in control.  It is easy to start trusting in things, in symbols, in status and in our actions to get us through.  We start putting our faith in what we can do (even the good we can do, like Bible study, prayer, etc.)

Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh? Gal. 3:3 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. Eph. 2:8&9

or in what we have (riches, success, accomplishments, reputation)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, thought the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. Hab. 3:17&18

and forget that our religion is not about what we can do or what we have been blessed with but about a living and true God and what He has done and what He has accomplished for us.

Lord, Thou wilt establish peace for us, since Thou hast also performed for us all our work.  O Lord our God, other masters besides Thee have ruled us, but through Thee alone we confess Thy name. Isaiah 26: 12&13

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to the adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight.  Eph. 1:3-8

This Easter, we celebrate the victory of our God, a God who became flesh and blood to dwell among His flock.  One who died upon a cross to pay the penalty for our sins, to fulfill His covenant with us, and to set us free from the bonds of death.  The true and living God who has called us by name and has loved us first so that we might love Him.  This Easter, as we think of the cross, remember it is a symbol of hope, power and strength, not because of what it is, but because of what it represents to us who have Faith in the One who died on it.  So let us remember the cross, but let us worship the resurrected Savior and let us not forget that one day soon He is coming back to take us home. …and He shall dwell among them and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Rev. 21:3-5

Tami Munden