- Yours Is The Kingdom
- Matthew 6:9-13
- Lyndol Loyd February 11, 2018
This morning we are wrapping up our series, “Teach Us to Pray.” We have been working our way through the Lord’s Prayer breaking it down segment by segment and line by line. We been trying to think of the Lord’s Prayer not so much as a rote memory prayer that we can reel off at any given time, but more so as a framework or model of how we should pray. Today we come to the final line of that prayer, “For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”
Human beings have a kingdom problem. We tend to think everything is about my kingdom, my power and my glory. One of the best commentaries I know on this complex topic is a by one of my favorite theologians, Dr. Seuss in his book, Yertle the Turtle.
It’s a story about a little pond filled with little turtles who were ruled, or so he thinks, by a king named Yertle. One day Yertle the turtle king decides that his kingdom needs extending. “I’m king,” he said, “of all I see. But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.” So he began to bark orders to stack turtles up to build himself a turtle thrown.
The king lifts his finger and a whole pond of turtles scramble to obey, first dozens and then hundreds. They all exist for his sake, his kingdom, his power, and his glory. Atop his throne at last, he can see for miles. “I’m Yertle the Turtle, oh marvelous me, for I am the ruler of all that I see.”
Yertle thinks his throne is as secure as a throne could be. I suppose in a way, it was. But in the end, his throne turns out to be a turtle tower of Babel. “And the turtle on the bottom did a plain little thing. He burped. And that burp shook the throne of the king. And today that great Yertle, that marvelous he, is king of the mud. That’s all he can see.”
This is how self-made thrones always end up. They can be human thrones, turtle thrones, or any kind of throne. If it is not the throne of God, it will always collapse and end up in the mud.
However, the Kingdom of God is different. It is unlike any other kingdom that has ever existed. The economics of the Kingdom of Heaven run counter to many of our own ideas or thoughts.
Jesus characterized the Kingdom of God by saying things like, “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16) and “But those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)
This is biblical truth. It’s just the way things are in God’s Kingdom. We are wise to learn this lesson and commit ourselves to God’s Kingdom. Instead we’re tempted to stack some turtles, and put ourselves first, but Jesus invites us to a life focused on His Kingdom, His power and His glory.
Let’s take one more opportunity to read the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray as we find it in Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV),
“9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Like it or not, we are little kingdom builders. We want to make our families, work, friends, and sometimes even our churches, into little kingdoms under our control. We want life to be about our agendas, our wants, and our needs. Some people are bold and obvious about this and others are rather stealth and subtle. But we all have the same problem.
Think about for just a moment how this “Personal Kingdom” building agenda impacts our lives. Think about how it plays out in your job and in your friendships. Think about how it changes your relationship with God. Think about how it impacts your marriage, your parenting, the way you use your resources.
With all of that firmly in mind, contemplate this: Jesus is inviting us to recognize, every day, that another Kingdom is at work in this world that may not be as visible or look as impressive to human eyes or seem as urgent. But it is the most important Kingdom of all.
We may wonder from time to time whether God’s Kingdom is going to be the last kingdom standing, but it will be. So we pray, “Your kingdom, not my kingdom.” In these words we express humble surrender.
We pray those words and as we do, it moves us from selfishness to selflessness. Instead of living my life as if it is all about me. It becomes a choice to consciously choose God’s view instead of my limited view.
Quite honestly, it has to be a daily choice. I made a decision to follow Jesus as a young boy, but each day I have to make the decision to renew that commitment that I’ve made. Each and every morning God gives to us a new twenty-four hour period. With that time I can choose to build my own kingdom and do my own thing or to pursue God’s kingdom and His purposes.
As a college student, I remember being challenged to think about the thirty minute segments of my day. This was a new concept for me. If you had asked me if I loved Jesus my answer was an absolute yes. But as I contemplated my life in thirty minute blocks I discovered that some of those periods of time reflected a love for Jesus while others did not.
During certain portions of my day my commitment to Christ came through in whatever I was doing in my everyday walking around life. However, in other thirty minute segments of my day I realized that there were moments when I frittered away the gift of time I had been given as if it didn’t really matter. Other moments it seemed almost as if I neglected God all together.
How about you? What do you think you would discover if you examined the thirty minute segments of your life? Would the evaluation reflect that you’re building God’s Kingdom or would it reflect that you are building your own?
Jesus understood this pull that takes place in our lives between the two kingdoms and so instructed His disciples to pray, “For yours is the kingdom…”
One of the things I have discovered in life is that I might be able to do many things, but whenever I rely exclusively on my own power at a certain point I always come up short. I always hit my limit. I just do. So do you. It is called being human.
When we pray, “Yours is the power,” we discover that God can supply all we need. It seems upside-down, but this is how things work in God’s Kingdom.
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I need power of my life?
- Do I face challenges at work I can’t seem to manage?
- Are there places and situation in this world I am concerned about?
- Do I lack the strength needed to restore and heal a broken relationship?
- Do I have a friend or family member who needs power beyond what they can muster?
- Do I struggle with worry, fear, or concerns that keep me up at night?
If your response to any of these questions is “Yes” the answer isn’t to try harder. It is not to pull yourself up by your spiritual bootstraps. The answer is to admit, “I can’t do it. I lack the power to make these things right.” When we come to this point, we can cry out, “Yours is the power,” and then lean into God’s power.
There is an epic example of this in Scripture that we find in Acts 12. It demonstrates how clearly different human power and God’s power are.
Acts 12 is the story of believers who asked for God’s intervention – and got it. Acts 12 is also a tale of two kings. One of them was King Herod who had James, the brother of John executed. When he discovered that the political response to the execution was positive, he decided to have Peter executed as well. Herod had Peter arrested, imprisoned, and heavily guarded, intending to carry out the death sentence after Passover.
But the church was praying! They weren’t just praying. They were earnestly praying. They were pouring their hearts out to God. In the battle of two kingdoms, prayer is a powerful weapon.
Now imagine being Peter. You are in prison waiting to die. You’re sound asleep and all of the sudden an angel is shaking you to wake you up. Peter followed the angel out of the prison, but had no idea what was really happening, thinking it must be a dream or a vision.
In other words Peter didn’t really understand that God’s power was at work even though he had been a witness to Pentecost and the Resurrection. He was still learning about the amazing power of God… just like we are.
The next thing you know, Peter was free. What a clash of kingdoms. Herod made a declaration, imprisoned Peter and posted all kinds of armed guards. God sent one angel and Peter was freed. God wins! Shortly thereafter, Herod died.
Chances are you’re not ever going to be arrested, thrown in prison and placed on a death sentence. But many of you know what it is like to come up against something in life that feels much bigger than you are. When you do, know this, God loves you just as much as he loved Peter.
God knows that our own power isn’t sufficient to meet all of the challenges of this life so he offers us His own power. Ephesians 1:20 says, “How incredibly great is His power to help those who believe Him, the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.”
Jesus understood that our power is often not enough so He instructed His disciples to pray, “For yours is…the power.”
Is it even possible to pray, “Yours is the kingdom! Yours is the power! And mine is the glory?”
Yes, yes it is. Unfortunately, I know this because I’ve done just that. Back when I was in college I was active in my Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry. From time to time we would send outreach teams out to area churches to lead worship services. It was a lot of fun. We would throw a group of eight or ten of us in a van and make a road trip.
One particular time our team was asked to come to First United Methodist Church in Childress, Texas to fill in while their pastor was away on vacation. My job that particular Sunday morning was to sing a solo during the offering. We arrived early. I met with the sound guy. He tested my background track and checked the microphone I was going to use. The song was one that I done many times before so I was fairly comfortable with it.
When it was time to take the offering I walked up front and took my microphone. The music began to play. I sang the first verse and then my mind went completely blank. I couldn’t think of the words of that song to save my life. The music kept playing and there I stood with everyone looking at me as I turned ten shades of red. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more embarrassed in my whole life.
After the service was over, they had all of us college students stand at the back door to greet everyone on their way out. To a tee, every person that walked past me said something to me about how wonderful my song was. I knew it wasn’t true, but they said it anyway.
Later, on the two and a half hour drive back to Lubbock, while most of my friends were sleeping or studying, I felt like I heard the voice of God speak to me and it wasn’t easy to hear what He had to say. “Lyndol, you said yes to go sing today because you like all of the praise you get whenever you do it.” Here I had been singing about God’s Kingdom and Power, but I had been looking for my own glory.
When God’s Kingdom is breaking into our lives and when His power is flowing, the Evil One will entice us to take the credit and try to get the glory. We must battle this temptation toward pride and self-glorification.
After the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33 win over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl last Sunday, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was given the game’s MVP award for a game in which he became the first person in Superbowl history to throw and receive a touchdown pass in the same game.
It must of been surreal for him to stand there receiving the MVP Award when he had previously thought about leaving football all together when it seemed like his opportunities had passed him by.
If you were watching the presentation ceremony you know what happened. Foles was holding his seven-month old daughter as he received the award and the first thing to come out of his mouth was, “Unbelievable. All Glory to God.”
The glory is never meant to be ours. The glory is all God’s. If we find ourselves wanting to claim the glory the antidote is passionate worship. When we are on our knees in prayer, lifting up our voices in worship or pointing to God and declaring, “To God be the glory,” it is hard to be consumed with pride.
When the disciples notice the power of Jesus’ prayer life and they want to learn how to pray the way that he prays, one of the things Jesus taught His disciples to do was to pray, “For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
One writer paraphrases the end of this prayer with these words: “Because you are the one in charge, you have all the power. And the glory too is yours forever, which is just the way we want it.” “Just the way we want it” isn’t such a bad way to sum up the word, “Amen.”