Saturday, October 19, 2019

“He’s got the whole wide world in His hands”

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Thy will be done: Matthew chapter 6: 9-13
Sermon given by Duurt Sikkens
 
 
 
Good day to you all. “Thy will be done”, well known words from the gospel of Matthew. And today I want to take another look at these words with you, because there is a lot more in this expression than you first realise.
 
Let’s read the whole passage first. Matthew chapter 6, beginning at verse 9.
Our Father 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 debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever, Amen.
 
The first verse begins with “Our Father”.
So first of all let’s remind ourselves that the word “our”in “our Father” refers to all believers of all times, including Jesus himself, and “Father” refers to God.
 
Jesus was the first to use this term “Father”.
Who else in the Old Testament called God ‘Father’? Can you think of anyone? No, there was no one. Nobody had the audacity to say this. Could they have? Of course, they could. It says so in Jeremiah chapter 3 verse 19: where God says “I thought you would call me Father”. Isn’t that wonderful? He wants us to call Him Father!
 
IsHe is our Father ? Yes, because we are born of Him.
God is spirit. And if God is spirit, and you are born of Him, then what does than make you? Then you are also spirit: you are a spiritual being. We move in the world of spirits, in heaven.
 
It’s important for you to realise that. Because as you see me now you see only my physical body, and I am standing here in front of visible, physical people. The Bible calls that “in the flesh ” as opposed to the “in the spirit”.
 
The next verse is : Hallowed be thy name.  
Hallowed is another word for holy, and God’s name is hallowed when all the qualities and characteristics that have been wrongly attributed to God are removed. Sometimes people even attribute characteristics of Satan  to God; illness and death for example. As if they were God’s fault. And this makes it very difficult to get a true picture of God, to know what God is really like.
 
The next verse is: Thy kingdom come:
The question here, of course, is how? Well, the Christ begins as an embryo in the womb of the church of God. And as that grows, so God’s kingdom will grow. And that’s how God’s kingdom will come. It is coming. It is already starting to be manifested. “The Christ in us” we call it. God can reveal His Kingdom on earth through us. Through our love, and patience, and mercy, and the many other aspects that God wants to reveal on this earth. THAT is what is meant by “Thy kingdom come”.
 
Then next verse: Give us this day our daily bread.
This doesn’t refer to your Sunday dinner! You daily bread referred to here, is your spiritual nutrition. Your spiritual food. That is the manna from heaven, and it is for you, but also for others. You can share your daily bread, the manna from heaven, your spiritual food.
 
And then verse 10:
Forgive us our debts, as wehave forgiven our debtors.
In other words: the more you learn to forgive, the more you can experience God’s forgiveness.
 
And then we come to the second part of verse 10, and that’s what I want to talk about today: Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
 
A lot of books have already been written about this verse, but I would still like to try and explain it just a little bit more.
 
How many of you remember having grammar lessons at school? Do you remember what the subjunctive is? You still use it when you say: thy kingdom come, thy will be done. The subjunctive can also be found in the expression: ”May he rest in peace”. And “God keep his soul”. They are all rather out-dated expressions, but we still use them in this prayer. Why? Because the subjunctive form of a verb expresses a wish, or an incentive, a longing. And it is found a lot in the Hebrew language, so I thought it was worth giving some thought to.
 
As I just said, the subjunctive describes an incentive or a wish. And that is one of the main things I want to focus on today, an incentive, a wish, a desire, a longing. Whose? God’s!
You know, I would even go as far as to call the Old Testament the book of desires, the book which shows the desires of God’s heart.
And then we could call theNew Testament, the book of the fulfilment of God’s desires. Because Jesus came to fulfil God’s wishes, his plans. Wouldyou like to fulfil one of God’s wishes?
God has so many profound desires, from even before the creation of the world. His most profound desire is fellowship with people, the human beings that He created.
 
I once asked God: “What is the reason for your existence?”
I was going through a very difficult time in my life, and I wanted to know. And then the Spirit said three words: “You (in the singular), you (in the plural), and we.” What do you think of that? You as a person, you as a group, and then WE! I could preach for ever about this.
 
God sees people first and foremost as individuals, a person. Then as a group, human beings, mankind. And then he says very humbly: We. Together. That’s how your Father is, and that is the reason for our existence. And WE are the reason for His existence. His heart is always drawn to people. He loves them. He wants to have fellowship with them. That is His will, the desire of His heart.
 
But over the years people have given a different interpretation to thewill of God. In the original Greek, there is nothing compelling about the word “will”. No coercion. No force. Because that’s not how friends and loved ones treat each other.
Nowadays people give their own interpretation to the words “will of God”, and I don’t agree with that.
The word “will” is essentially an expression of well-being, of pleasure in something you are enjoying, something that brings joy.
In Revelations chapter 4 verse 11 it says: “by thy will they existed and were created”.  It could just as easily have been translated: For your great pleasure or enjoyment they were created.
 
That gives you a totally different idea of the meaning of the word will. Because whereas nowadays the will of God is always associated with force and coercion, originally the will of God was that He created everything for his own enjoyment. And now he is restoring it all for even more pleasure. The will of God implies joy and happiness.
 
But people have distorted the original meaning of the word. People who think they know exactly what the will of God is. They think they know exactly what He wants and what He doesn’t.
 
Do you know people like this? If they haven’t got a good argument to back their ideas, then they drag the will of God into the equation to put more weight on their opinions. Well, that won’t help, and it’s not right to manipulate people’s opinions by saying ’it is the will of God’.
For example, if they think someone is suited to the mission field, then they should say “Personally I think you would make a good missionary”. But they don’t. They say that it is God’s will: that it is God  who wants them to go to work abroad as a missionary. This is then often doomed to failure, which is why many people return from the mission field disappointed and disillusioned, even though they were told that it was God’s will. It makes it all so confusing.
 
Just remember if God wants you to do something He will tell you personally. And another thing. Do you know, Jesus never went to a foreign country. He said: Begin among the people round about you, that’s often the most difficult place.
 
And so often, people who have no real grounds for what they say, use the will of God as a weapon. As leverage to get what they want.
 
Remember the expression: “Dieu le veut”. “it is God’s will”. It spread all over Europe, and that’s how the crusades started. It was shouted from every castle and church: it is the will of God that we wage war on the muslims. And it cost so many people their lives.
And what about all the acts of terror during the Inquisition. I even heard some Arabs say on television that the trauma of the crusades still plays a large role in the collective memory today.
So many wars waged in the name of God.  That’s not what HE wants.
 
So really it all comes down to the fact that most people have a distorted and incorrect idea of what God is like. Many Christians too. There is even talk of a fatalistic attitude to life, because if it is God’s will, they say, then you just have to accept it. So you shout: “Praise the Lord”, and “Thy will be done”.  And let it happen. Just imagine your earthly father was like that……….
 
Now, let’s talk about these words, “be done”. Thy will be done. There is something very interesting about this. We have seen that His will means his wish, his longing, his desires.
 
Now in the Greek the verb “to do” has the stem: GEN. This makes us think of words like, genes, genetic, generation etc., or  begin by the beginning, like genesis, becoming, coming into being. In the genes there are hereditary factors. So what about God’s GEN, the spiritual gen of God, his  hereditary factors? Well, they are in God’s seed. Another word for seed is word, and you can receive that word.
 
 
Actually a better word to describe that process is conceive, because in general the human spirit is seen as female, and God as male. You receive the gen of God, and then a process of development begins in you. You have received the seed of God, and that seed is germinating within you, God’s character, his godliness, is beginning to grow in you.
 
In you, a physical human being. So what is born of the spirit, is spiritual, and that’s YOU, a human being here on earth. So being a  ‘Child of God’ means that you are a descendant of God. You are part of his family tree. You belong to the generations born of Him.
 
By the way, the word  ‘generations’ in Genesis 2:4 where it says “these are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created” is a translation of a Hebrew word TOLEDOT and that really means ‘birth’ or ‘conception’.
 
So that is not just dry history about generations passed, but the beginning of something new, something alive. If it weren’t you wouldn’t talk about birth and conception. Think of the tiny beginning in a womb. THAT is creation, bringing forth new life.  And restoration, that is breathing new life into the old creation. Because God is not going to start something new on another planet. He is not giving up on His creation! No, He is searching for his people, and beginning a new process of restoration, to restore his creation.
And that began in that tiny seed in Mary. So God certainly has faith in us. He has enough faith to begin a total renovation of His creation.
 
Now in Genesis chapter 15 verse 6 there is a very old expression, which you can easily miss when reading the passage. It says: ‘Abraham trusted God’, and what follows can best be translated with the following words: and God said that in doing this, he met His expectations. By trusting God and believing in his words and promises Abraham met God’s expectations. He did what God had hoped He would do. What did God think of that”? He says, I am so happy that you believe in me and trust me, because then you meet my expectations exactly. Not because of your spectacular faith, but because you trust me, because you have faith in what I tell you: that life will come forth out of you. And then there was the child of the promise: Isaac. Because Abraham believed and trusted God.
 
So it’s wonderful that God has expectations and desires,  isn’t it? God stimulates desires in you. For example, compassion, and a desire to help. He makes something come alive within you. He kindles a spark of mercy. So that as you look at the misery in the world, tears spring to your eyes. You want to do something about it? But what? There is so much pain and suffering in the world these days. And God arouses the longing within you, and brings it to life. And then He says: together we can do something about it.
And to do this you don’t necessarily have to be one of the doctors in a big organisation like MSF, Doctors without borders. And you don’t necessarily have to be a missionary in a foreign country. All  He asks of you is: “have you got the courage to believe that what I have created in you, the spark that I have kindled within you, that it is of God.” That is God’s plan. And it all happens through you.  Who believes that?
 
You want so badly to fulfil God’s desire, his plan. To do what pleases Him. Why? Because you are full of compassion. And God feels that too, and He says, let’s do something about it. You are full of mercy. What do you think of that as a perspective for the future? The word merciful becomes flesh, in you. You manifest it in your life, in your personality, in what you do. That is what is meant by living according to His will, doing the will of God.
 
And now the rest of the sentence of the prayer. “Your will be done ON earth, just as it is IN heaven”. You have to understand that properly, otherwise you won’t know what He means by “on earth as it is in heaven”. Your will be done ON earth, just as it is IN heaven. In other words, the way it is in heaven, is how it’s going to be on earth. That’s a really wonderful thought.
 
Spiritually,every person is in heaven. In the spiritual realms. Every one, is either with his spirit in the kingdom of light or in the kingdom of darkness. Each and every person. And every person who believes in God and Jesus, is brought from the darkness into the light. That is certain. But at the same time, physically, you are still here on earth. And that is good too, because it means that all the spiritual elements within you, can be manifested in you, in your life on earth. In heaven on earth. May I put it like this: the Christ lives in us on earth, and we live in Him in heaven, and so you have heaven and earth meet.
 
There is another wonderful expression in Revelations chapter twenty-one verse three: “God’s tabernacle is with men”. God lives in a tabernacle, and the believers on earth make up that tabernacle. And so He dwells among the people on earth. So those words “on earth as it is in heaven” could be explained as “Your desires are conceived in heaven. They are coming into being, in heaven, and then they will be born on earth. Because if something is conceived, then it will also be born, be revealed. So what happens? Your wishes are conceived first and foremost in heaven, in your spirit. They are inspired by God in you. Make sure it is God who inspires you. That these wishes really are God’s will! And then they will be carried out on earth. God’s will on earth. It runs parallel. It begins invisible, and becomes visible.
 
Do you know the expression: to bring a child into the world. Good. God is bringing His children into the world through mankind.
People who are just like Him. Wonderful.  In the natural world a woman conceives and brings forth a child into the world. And in the same way God’s spiritual children will be conceived in heaven and brought forth on earth. Born again. It is a great mystery that we should cherish.
 
Jesus says somewhere, “As I hear, so I speak”. Jesus passes on what His father says. That’s how original Jesus is. He doesn’t need to be original, because His father is original. What He sees in heaven, He does on earth, and what He hears in the spiritual realms He tells us.
And what happens on earth then? Let me try to explain.
 
The visible is an image of the invisible. That’s clear. Everyone knows that. That expression. But the visible is also the result of the invisible. Because first there was the invisible, and from that the visible came forth. Whatever happens in your spirit, manifests itself on earth. What you see happen is a sign, it is a shadow of a reality of a higher sphere. The reality of God. We call that a sign. And a sign is always a sign of something, of another reality, a deeper truth. If I make the sign of a cross, then everybody recognises it’s special meaning, the deeper truth behind it.
 
So what did we learn first? Well, one of the first things we learn is to give someone spiritual bread. You feed someone’s spirit, with that daily bread. When you have done that, then the signs follow, so that, for example you can feed hundreds of people, just like that. Did you know that?
 
The miracle of feeding the five thousand was possible because it was an illustration, a shadow of a greater truth, a greater reality, and that was feeding the five thousand with His word.
 
But the invisible came first, so let’s learn about that first. If you have learned to open someone’s eyes spiritually, so that he can see something of God, then as a sign you will one day give sight back to a blind person. The same goes for those who can’t hear. If you are able to open someone’s spiritual ears, then one day you will be able to make a deaf person able to hear again.
 
In many churches we started at the wrong end. If there was a sign, then it was proof that God was with them. But God works in exactly the opposite way.
 
And the best thing of all, is that if someone is spiritually dead, and there are many of those people around, then you can bring them spiritually back to life through this word.
That is the resurrection from the dead! You can resurrect these spiritually dead people with the gospel. Because these are words of eternal live. And if they eat those words then they will live for ever. And if you are able to do this, then at some time you will also raise people from the dead, physically, if you think that is important.
 
But that’s not the point. The point is that these are signs of the unseen truth, a reality of God’s will being done.  Wonderful isn’t it. To be able to show a person how God had meant them to be. That’s the part I enjoy most. Seeing people start their new life in God’s kingdom. A new born spiritual being, with a new name, a new identity. And then you can show them what God is really like. What His will really is.
 
Where was death conquered? Where? In Heaven. Thespiritual death has been conquered. The more you realise the enormity of this truth, the more you will understand that the earthy death is an image of this. Death is conquered in heaven, so in us too. Jesus did that. Because he knows what an impact death has on people.
 
Death, in the Hebrew language, means that you are cut off from life. Someone has cut through the bonds connecting God and humans. That was the spiritual death. Because when Adam and Eve ate from the tree they didn’t fall down and die physically.
No, they had had fellowship with the wrong spirit, and so they came into contact with death. Where do the greatest miracles happen? The greatest miracles happen in heaven. That’s where they happen. And a great miracle is that death has been conquered, so that mankind can be freed from the fear of death. It is a great miracle that you have become an eternal person instead of a temporary one. And if that’s not a great miracle, I don’t know what is!
 
You have received of God’s spirit. The most precious thing there is. God is spirit, and you have received spirit from his spirit, from his being. That is the conception. You are no longer born in sin, but in pure innocence and from pure love.
 
Another miracle is that you have learned to walk spiritually. First holding someone’s hand, and then on your own, independently. You have learned to look and see in the spiritual world. You see much more than what you see physically on earth. You hear the voice of the shepherd. All these characteristics and qualities develop.
 
Another great miracle is the future. That is now. The powers of the coming ages, that is what is spoken about. The age, the period of time, the era, whatever you like to call it, started when Jesus was born. Then God began a new era of restoration. That is the coming era, and you are right in the middle of it. You are living the future with him.
 
Other things may happen to you as well. Things that you didn’t want to happen. Bad things. The point is: how do you react to them? Do you remain in Christ, just as He remains in you?
 
Another great miracle, and this is something I have experienced personally, is that I am who I am. I can be myself. Despite circumstances. Last week a sister in the church came up to me, and to my great surprise she said: “I am a happy and contented person”. It brought tears to my eyes. Because she has had to go through so much, she and her husband. And there are still problems. And yet she stands there happy and contented.  I think that’s a miracle.
 
And you too willbecome what you were originally meant to be. You could say that will be your new name. The one that suits your being. One that describes your real nature and personality. Wear that new name proudly like a crown. It depicts the essence of your being.
 
And have the courage to follow Jesus’ example. He, with his crown, his personality, as He really is -  not as people have depicted him to be! -  and you with yours. And when these two meet it is wonderful. Because He loves you. He loves YOU.
 
I think that is one of the most moving things that can happen. The greatest miracle of all, for me too. It always amazes me, and I wonder at it again and again. It gives me so much joy to know that someone sees me as a loved one. I never used to believe it could happen. How could someone love me? And that idea came from the completely wrong self image I had. A picture of myself that wasn’t right at all. God sees me as His beloved child. You are also God’s beloved. He loves you.
 
And if being a Christian is just a role you play, then you don’t know your Father at all. And all I can say is: “Step off the stage, and step into the reality of Jesus Christ, who will restore you to who you really are, to who you were meant to be. And we have all this, and much more, through Jesus, the Lamb of God.  
 
Amen
 
 
 
 
Lord, Thank you that if Your will be done in the unseen world, in the spiritual realms, then it will also happen on earth. Now, and in the future.  
 
Amen.