Sermon: The Lord’s Prayer, Part 7 – The Prayer of Fulfillment
This morning we finish up our sermon series on The Lord’s Prayer with the final phrase “For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory forever.
A note of interest: This phrase of the Lord’s Prayer is not included in any of the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament. Biblical scholars believe that this is doxology or act of praise was a later addition of the early church.
In his contemporary translation of the New Testament Eugene Peterson chooses to include this phrase and translates “Thine is the kingdom, “as “You’re in charge” “and the power, “ as “You can do anything you want!”
“and the glory,” as “ you’re ablaze in glory.”“Forever and ever, Amen. “ as Yes. Yes. Yes.”
So what are the kingdom, the power and the glory of which Jesus’ prays. John Dominic Crossan in his book on the Lord’s Prayer describes the kingdom of God as “The Great Divine Clean-up of the world, the ongoing transformation of the world. Swords are beaten into plowshares. The time when God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. A kingdom which is both present and coming brought about by justice and non-violence through our partnership with God.”
Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California describes the Kingdom of God as God’s plan for history and all of eternity. He likens the Kingdom of God to a great ocean liner. “If you get on an ocean liner with me in New York,” he writes and we’re going to go to London on that ocean voyage you could do a lot of different things. You could sleep all day,.walk around the deck, eat at six or eight banquets a day, play shuffleboard, or read.
You would have a certain amount of freedom but it‘s limited freedom. The ship is going to London whether you like it or not.” This reminds me this morning of Jesus’ great triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the cheers and cries of the people. Jealous of Jesus’ popularity and fearful that all this commotion will upset their Roman occupiers the religious leaders demand that Jesus tell the people to be silent. Jesus informs them that even if he told the people to be silent “the stones would cry out.”
The kingdom of God is like an ocean liner God’s overarching plan for all of creation for history and eternity.
And nothing can stop it. While the kingdom of God is God’s plan for Creation and eternity, the power of God “For thine is the power” is the way God’s kingdom comes is not the kind of way that we normally associate with power.
It’s not established by military force, but is displayed by Jesus who instead of entering triumphantly into Jerusalem seated on a milk white stallion as a military victor with his spoils paraded behind him Jesus enters Jerusalem seated upon a lowly donkey with only the children and the poor, halt and lame show.
The power or program of God’s kingdom does not come through religious institutions that have turned religion into a business but by overturning the tables the money changers restoring the Temple into a house of prayer.
The power or program of God’s kingdom does not align with government institutions which oppresses its people but says to Pontius Pilate you have no real power over my life I give it up of my own free will.
The power or program of the kingdom of God the way that the kingdom of God comes on earth as it is in heaven is displayed not from a throne but a cross revealing our sinful human nature yet pronouncing “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Zehariah 4: 6 “not by might, nor by strength but by my power says the Lord.”
While the kingdom of God is God’s plan the power of God is his way of accomplishing his plan, the glory of God, “thine is the glory,” is his purpose.
Everything which God does is with the purpose of making God’s self known of revealing his glory.
The glory of God is revealed through Creation through the sea and sky and dry land seeds bearing plants and trees animals of every kind. The glory of God is revealed in humankind made in the image of God no two of us have been created alike no two of us have the same finger printor distinct features.
We see the glory of God revealed in the order of Creation, from the theory of relativity or string theory connecting all things. God is a God of wonder and mystery from the great ocean depths to the outer reaches of the universe God’s glory is revealed.
We also see the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul writes that “The glory of God has been revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.” “Jesus is the expressed image of the invisible God.” In Jesus, we see what God is like. God is filled with mercy and compassion. God is loving and just. God is self-giving and desires equity and justice for all.
So God’s glory is revealed in all that can be seen, in creation, in human beings, in Jesus’ life death and resurrection. Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
How then “do we live within God’s kingdom? How do we live by God’s power? And how do we live for God’s glory?
The first key to living in God’s kingdom is to put God first. In his sermon on the mount addressing the multitude not to worry about what they will eat or drink or about what they will wear for God knows they have need of these things, Jesus says but to “seek first the kingdom of God and all of these things shall be added unto them.”
Jesus is saying to us here that to seek the kingdom of God to live within the kingdom of God is to live by putting God first in everything. Putting God first in our finances. How many of us have put God first in our finances? If it doesn’t hurt at least a little bit when you put your money in the offering plate, if there is no real sacrifice in your giving, some sense of security, some comfort you may have to give up there’s a good chance you are not putting God first in your finances.
Secondly, it also means putting God first in our interests. I’m talking here more about quality than quantity but if you’re making time for basketball and baseball and your car, or gardening or movies or your stamp collection and not leaving time to worship God with other believers, to fellowship and pray then God may be taking a back seat in your interests.
Third, it also means to put God first in our relationships. I’ve been convinced that when God is at the center of my life when my relationship with God is my number one priority, my relationship with others is always healthier and more meaningful.
Fourth, to have a meaningful relationship with God it requires that we also put God first in our schedule. Give God the first part of your day. Your first waking moments and the last before you fall off to sleep at night.
An hour or hour and a half if the pastor is a little long winded on Sunday morning.
If you really want to have fun and grow, attend Adult Sunday School. And volunteer at a soup kitchen or with Habitat for Humanity or Berks Women in Crisis.
Put God first in your schedule.
Finally, put God first in your troubles. Jesus says “come unto me all who are weary and heavy burden and I will give you rest.”
When we put Jesus first in our life we can be pretty assured that we are living in God’s Kingdom (righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit).
The second way to live a fulfilled life is to live by God’s power. “For thine is the power.” To live by God’s power is to live by the Spirit. After the resurrection and before his ascension Jesus instructs the disciples to wait and pray in Jerusalem assuring them that “they will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
We experience God’s power through the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit manifests its power in our prayer life. It is through prayer, the Apostle Paul writes that “The Spirit of God bears with our spirit that we are the children of God.” That the spirit intercedes for us when we do not know how to pray with sighs and groans too deep for words.
Yoked to the Holy Spirit we receive the gifts of the Spirit the gifts of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. The Holy Spirit will also lead us to take risks to leave our comfort zone to change.
Jesus told Nicodemus, a religious ruler who was unable to think out of his box, “You must be born again, anew.”
The wind the Spirit blows where it will. You see it but neither know where it comes from or where it is going so it is with all who are born of the Spirit.
If we are going to ever experience the power of God, if we are ever going to stretch our faith, we have to be willing to take some risks to obey; even when the seas of life look rough to do the thing we might feel the most afraid of doing.
Maybe there’s something you have wanted to do: to serve at a soup kitchen, to start a new business, to heal a broken relationship but have been afraid. To live by God’s power is a life surrendered to the Holy Spirit.
Finally, real fulfillment comes by living for God’s glory. Whose glory are we living for? Some of us are living for what our parents want us to be, for our parents’ glory. Some of us are living for what our spouse wants us to be, our spouses glory. Some people live to bring glory to themselves.
But God wants us to live for God’s glory. “You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15
“My father is glorified by this, that you bear fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me so I have loved you. Abide in my love… love one another as I have loved you”. John 15:8,9
How do we live for the glory of God? We live for the glory of God when you and I love one another. Love is not always easy. God knows. But in loving one another whoever he or she may be we fulfill the greatest of the commandments, we live for God’s glory.
In living for God’s glory we are also not afraid to lift up the name of Jesus. Who by grace has done something beautiful in our lives and wants to do the same in the lives of others.
Who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from the evil one
For thine is the kingdom, the power
And the glory forever. Amen.