Sermon from February 18th, 2018

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“Lord, Teach Us to Pray #5: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

Ephesians 5:15-21; Matthew 6:9-10

By Pastor John Bent

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Sermon Text
Good morning! I’m glad to be back! Last Thursday, I flew to Sioux Falls, SD for a board meeting of the Institute of Lutheran Theology.  That’s our seminary in Brookings, S.D.

Saturday afternoon, after a great couple days of hard work, I left for the Sioux Falls airport only to find that my flight to Denver was 2 hours late - which meant I missed my plane back to Kalispell. Which meant Pastor Ralph had a job he didn’t expect!  Thank you, Ralph!

The travel agent in Sioux Falls told me she couldn’t get me on another flight to Kalispell until Monday. Two nights in SF - but I could still get to Denver.  I figured Denver was a better bet.

When I arrived in Denver 2 hours late, I talked to a couple more agents and finally found a flight on a different airline to Seattle at 6 Sunday morning. When I asked about a hotel, I was told they were full unless I wanted to spend $500.

So, I walked the Denver airport trying to find a corner to set up camp – which means sleeping on a concrete floor in the darkest place I could find. I was feeling sorry for myself, when Jesus spoke to me as clear as a bell. “Could you not wait and watch with me for one hour?”

Remember those words? That’s what Jesus said to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his arrest. He asked them to pray with him, instead they fell asleep. Sometimes the Holy Spirit can be just plain irritating! I said, “OK, OK, I get it!” And I began to pray for all the people who were stuck in the airport. “Lord, show me somebody to encourage.”

About 3:30 I got up, washed my face, shaved, and walked around the airport until the bagel shop opened at 4:30 and the plane loaded at 5. When we were in the air, I introduced myself to the young man in the seat beside me. It turned out he attended church in Seattle.

I asked him what he did for a living. He said he managed a group of IT programmers. I asked him if he liked his job. He shook his head “no” so I asked him what he’d like to do, what captured his imagination. He said, “I want to write articles for an automotive magazine.”

I told him, “God has given you that skill and desire.  If you follow him, he’ll open the door for you to use your gift to serve him.” For the next 2 hours, I encouraged him and prayed for him. When we got off the plane he turned to me and said, “You don’t know how helpful this was for me, thank you.” 

That would have never happened if my will had been done. God’s will was that I spend the night on the floor in the Denver airport praying and waiting for a divine appointment he had set up for me. “Thy will, not mine, be done on earth as it is in heaven.” “Ok, Lord, I’ll try to remember that!

I got to Seattle Sunday morning and boarded a plane home. My seatmate was an Alaskan who grew up in church but had drifted and was truly curious about where God fit into his life. So for the next hour and a half we talked. Never would have happened if my will had been done. But it was God’s will that I spend the night on the floor in the Denver airport waiting for “Thy will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.” “Ok, Lord, I’ll try to remember that!

I have a question for you!  What will make heaven so heavenly? Are you ready for this? It’s that God’s will, not ours, will be done in everything.  You see, I think I know what’s best for me. I can even insist on my own way, but in doing that I miss out on something far better.

I miss out on God’s will for me. Heaven will be heaven because it’s where God’s will is perfectly done. I hope to learn that before I leave this world! How about you?  When we really understand who God is and what he wants for us, nothing could give us greater security, joy, fulfillment than to be where his will is perfectly done!

So why do we resist God’s will? Sin has obviously twisted our will to resist God. But there’s more to the problem. Let me explain. God created us with a will, a sovereign independent will. A will is a wonderful thing. It’s the motor in our boat. But it needs to be controlled.

Children need guidance, training, discipline to direct the power of their will. So do athletes, race horses, and pets of all kinds. Even plants need pruning and training. Our will, left to its self is savagely selfish. God’s purpose isn’t to destroy our will but to mold, train, discipline it.

Jesus talked about two roads, one narrow and hard, the other wide and easy. One leads to life, the other to death. One requires submission to God’s will, the other, leaves us slaves of our own sinful nature. Will we trust God enough to do it his way, or reject him and let our own rebellious nature take control and then suffer the consequences, like Adam and Eve?

God’s will is not mysterious. It’s not hard to find. It begins with obeying what we already know to be his will. Let me give you an example:

The first commandment is “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me.”  Yet the world tempts me to believe it’s the things God gives, not the God who gives them that is the source of my life. To deal with this temptation, we need to get on our knees and fervently pray. “Lord Jesus, save me, let Thy will, not mine, be done on earth as it is in heaven!”

The second commandment is to honor God’s name. But we are tempted to misuse God’s name in order to be accepted by our peers. Your name is precious to your Heavenly Father. He would never misuse your name, so why should you misuse his?  The best way to deal with this temptation is to get on our knees and fervently pray. “Lord Jesus, save me! Let Thy will, not mine, be done on earth as it is in heaven in the way I use your name!”

Marriages are in crisis in our nation. It’s God’s will to bless families and marriages. Yet we reject his commandment “You shall not commit adultery”. Instead, we use our will to justify pre-marital sex and living together before marriage. We want God to bless our will but allow us to reject his will. What a mess we’ve made and our children suffer the consequences. The only way out is to submit our will to God’s will in how we think about sex and marriage.

The Bible tells us Jesus was fully human. He was tempted in every way like us, but he didn’t sin. He never exerted his own will over his Father’s will. Again and again he prayed, “Thy will be done on earth even as it is in heaven.”

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced separation from his Father, being loaded with the sins of the world and becoming a curse so we could be saved.  It was an overwhelming task. He prayed. “Father, let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but Thine be done.”

Sometimes it will be tough to figure out, “Is this God’s will or my will?”  Sometimes we’ll know what God’s will is but our sinful nature is so strong, we’ll reject God’s will. We’ll choose our own will over God’s. It’s called sin.  And only Jesus’ blood shed for us the cross can provide us with the forgiveness we need to get us back on track and back in God’s will again.

Sometimes God’s will isn’t so obvious. That’s where we must pray and get into the Word. If we seek him, he will reveal his will to us so we can trust, obey, and move ahead.

In Psalm 37:4 the Lord says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:4-6

In other words, the Lord can transform our desires, our will, to match his own so that we can pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and really mean it.  But that won’t happen until we are converted and the HS comes to live within us by faith. Without Jesus living within us by faith, it’s impossible to please God or do his will or even desire his will.

In Jeremiah 29, the Lord tells his people. “I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11

In Prov 3 he says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” Prov 3:4-5

In Micah 6 he says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Let me close by reading again from Eph 5.  “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is, his good and perfect will.”
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Eph 5:15-21

I find it helpful to remember, the Lord hasn’t asked me to do anything he hasn’t already done when he was on earth. He doesn’t ask anything of me that he’s not still doing for me in heaven. This world is in such a mess because we resist God’s will for us.

When I was in the Denver airport, laying on my back on a concrete floor feeling sorry for myself, Jesus was praying for me – and for Christ Lutheran, and for the other stranded travelers, and the two men I would meet the next morning. Jesus asked me, “Could you not wait and pray with me for one hour?” Pray what?  “That God’s will, not yours, might be done!”                    OK, Lord, I get it!

Will you pray with me?  “Lord, may Thy will be done in me as it is in heaven.”


Christ Lutheran Church • 5150 River Lakes Parkway, Whitefish, MT 59937 • 406-862-2615

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