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The Powers That Be

Romans 13 has introduced two phrases to the world that seem to pull in different directions – at least in the way they are used. On the one hand we have “the powers that be.”  We commonly use this phrase to describe nameless authorities handing down impersonal judgements: —  “Apparently, in their infinite wisdom, the […]

The Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak

My teenage years were haunted by Gethsemane.  For a serious-minded 14 year old, this was the ultimate display of godly devotion.  Here was Christ leading the way in the school of prayer – showing us how to “give it all up for God.”  In desperation He prostrates Himself before the Father, He pours out His […]

Suffer the little children and forbid them not to come unto me

What does a true disciple of Jesus look like? Perhaps we imagine soldiers assembled before their commanding officer. Or students in the school of their Rabbi. Or labourers in gospel service. Or worshippers at the feet of their Lord. In Matthew chapter 19, Jesus gives us a hands-on portrait of the kingdom: 13 Then were […]

Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief

Are you a believer or an unbeliever? The Christian answers: “Yes!” Mark 9:24 is the confession of all weak and failing Christians – which means all of us! They are the words of a father seeking deliverance for his son who is oppressed by a spirit.  He tells Jesus, “And ofttimes it hath cast him […]

Seek and ye shall find

Everyone prays.  At least when they’re desperate.  But no-one seems to know why it works or how it could. It’s an uncertainty that keenly afflicts westerners labouring under three false assumptions. 1) We think of “nature” as a closed system, grinding along according to iron laws. 2) We consider ourselves to be self-sufficient masters of […]

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen

Modern translations put this verse in footnotes.  It does not appear in Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, nor in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew that we have.  It does appear in the Textus Receptus and so, for 300 years it appeared in all the English translations from Tyndale onwards.  In that time it has […]

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

It is often said that the “Lord’s Prayer” is poorly named since its petitions are not those that the Lord Himself would make.  Jesus would certainly pray “Father” – “Abba” even.  He would certainly hallow the name of God and seek His kingdom.  And He is the One who supremely did the will of the […]

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

Spot the common theme in all these sayings: —  I owe you an apology. —  How can I ever repay you? —  Give credit where it’s due. —  I’m forever in your debt. —  You robbed me of my dignity. —  You cost me my reputation. —  It’s pay-back time. All of these statements use […]

Give us this day our daily bread

I’ve noted before that many people are reluctant to pray “small prayers.” Often Christians have told me they wouldn’t bother God with their piddling requests, after all He’s got more important things to care about. It’s an odd position to take when you think about it.  As though the affairs of the world were getting on […]

Thy kingdom come

First we remember who God is (Father) and where we have come in Christ in order to speak with Him (Heaven).  At this point the Lord’s Prayer is wonderfully personal.  The One on the throne is Father. Then we ask that the Lord’s gospel character (His name) be more richly prized in our hearts.  Here […]