The Lord’s Prayer

Have you noticed that the Lord’s Prayer says “us” and not “me”?

Our Father 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. (Matthew 6:9, 11-13)

Just a few weeks ago, I came across these words:

You cannot pray the Lord’s Prayer
And even once say “I.”
You cannot say the Lord’s Prayer
And even once say “My.”
Nor can you pray the Lord’s Prayer
And not pray for another,
For when you ask for daily bread
You must include your brother.
For others are included
in each and every plea—
From the beginning to the end of it
It never once says “Me!”  [1]

 [1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Lord’s Prayer.

The Blessing of God

Frequently Jesus would tell people the kind of people who God blessed. To be blessed of God simply means to be favored by God.

In our study of Luke’s gospel, we examined Sunday four blessings from Jesus in what is known as the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-23). Yet, Jesus pronounces blessings throughout the Luke’s Gospel. Here is a list to follow up from Sunday’s message.

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Luke 7:23)

“Then turning to the disciples he said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!’” (Luke 10:23)

“As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Luke 11:27–28)

“Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!” (Luke 12:37–38)

“Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.” (Luke 12:43)

“‘and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid cat the resurrection of the just.’ When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, ‘Blessed is everyone who will feat bread in the kingdom of God!’” (Luke 14:14–15)

“For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ (Luke 23:29)

Eight Thoughts on Preparing to Preach Through the Gospel of Luke

Tomorrow morning I begin preaching/teaching through the third book of the New Testament, the Gospel of Luke. I want to share eight thoughts with the North Richland Hills Baptist Church family as we begin this time together. My thoughts are in no certain order.

1. I have wanted to preach through one of the Gospels for a long time. One day when I am old and if God allows me to pastor/preach for a long time, I want to look back and see that I preached through one the Gospels. You could say this feat is on my “bucket list.”

As I begin my time with you here in the Mid Cities of DFW, I think it is the right time to start this journey.

I have a desire to read and reread these stories with you to see the impact they will make on this community and our community of faith. As we preach through these stories, I want to look out on Sunday mornings to see the faces of godly saints who have grown up on these stories and have relished them for years. I want to see this Gospel’s impact upon older saints who are close to the end of their lives. I can already imagine the pleasure many will take in hearing them again. Hearing the narrative of Jesus’ life has a calming effect upon His followers as it repairs us for it brings tremendous assurance to God’s people.

I want to witness the impression these stories make upon new believers and those who have yet to come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Many think they know the words of Jesus as they assume His words are always nice and safe. Little do they realize the force of His words. Jesus wasn’t and isn’t nice. For many in our midst, Luke’s Gospel will be like a sword being removed from its sheath; it will have a devastating impact upon many. For many, Luke will unnerve them and jar them before his words brings life change.

More than anything, I think I will learn the most by leading this journey. I have a hunger for this.

2. I just finished reading the entire Gospel of Luke in one setting. It took me a little more than one hour and ten minutes. Each of the sixty-six books of the Bible were written to be read at one setting. The average person reads between 200 and 25o words per minutes and there is a little more than 19,000 words in Luke’s Gospel. I encourage you to read straight through the Gospel of Luke as we begin.

3. Luke is the longest book of the New Testament. Luke has 1,151 verses while Matthew has 1,071.

4. Much of what Luke includes in his Gospel isn’t found in the other three Gospels. Because Luke decided to do his research (Luke 1:1-4), we are now able to read about the original Christmas carols by Mary, the mother of Jesus, Simeon, and the angels of heaven. Because Luke wrote his Gospel, we have the parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31), and the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). In fact, you will find a total of seventeen parables between Luke 9:51 and 19:44 and fifteen of these parable are unique to Luke. If it weren’t for Luke’s Gospel we wouldn’t know about the two disciples who spoke to Jesus along the Emmaus Road after Christ’s resurrection (Luke 24:13-25). And stop to think how much of the Christmas story we would lack if it weren’t for Luke.

5. Luke is the only Gospel with a sequel (Acts).

6. I am filled with anticipation as I begin this journey with you but I am afraid that some will not. It is reported that when Dr. W. A. Criswell told First Baptist Church Dallas that he was planning to preach through the entire Bible, the congregation groaned in reaction. While I am not planning such an audacious goal, the thought of preaching through the longest book of the Bible may not be inviting to all.

Most Americans like short stories and few read long books in our days. The television commercial has produced in us a short attention span. Many Christians have failed to train their minds to really think. Consequently, there is tremendous pressure on pastors to tailor to this trend. Yet, the Bible has much to say. If I limit my teaching/preaching to only to that which fits into a “thirty minute sitcom” slot, how much would be sacrificed?

I don’t think pastors have to preach topically and selectively in order to reach people for Christ. I think God’s Word will attract non-believers and I am praying that many sinners will repent of their sin during this series. Pastors have been preaching through books of the Bible all through the centuries of history. I am not sure how I could improve on their efforts by reorganizing Scripture.

7. I’ll try not to refer to the Star Wars line where Darth Vadar says, “Luke, I’m you’re father.” But I’m not sure if I can resist…

8. A Brief Outline of My Preaching Plan. We will attack the Gospel of Luke like this. I plan to preach in the Gospel of Luke for 33 Sundays in 2013 or about 65% of the time. We will devote the other Sundays to other suitable words from Scripture. We’ll begin 2013 with a message from Luke 1:1-4 and segue to Luke 3. We’ll come back to the remainder of Luke 1 and 2 later (November and December) as I think it will be appropriate as we near Christmas.

I will break the preaching schedule up into seven sermon series on Luke’s Gospel beginning with The Man Who Won’t Go Away and ending with The Christmas Story. Along the way I plan to preach the following series:

Plastic Jesus: How Did Someone So Real Become So Fake;

Jesus Attacks Legalism;

Jesus Love Sinners;

The Upside Down Kingdom;

and Facing Life with Faith.

During 2013, we will take a couple of breaks from Luke as we consider the Old Testament book of Jonah for one month, we’ll also do series on NRHBC’s Core Values, and lastly, we’ll devote five weeks to Questions I’ve Wanted to Ask God.

I don’t have all of 2014 planned but I can already tell that we will take the better part of three plus years before completing Luke. If the Lord wills, we should be done with all of Luke 9 before Easter of 2014.

I ask you pray for your pastor as I lead us through this journey. I ask that you pray for yourself and for others. My hope is that God will grow our church during this time. Will you invite non-Christians to hear God’s Word in the coming Sundays? May the Lord bless the preaching and reading of His Word in 2013.