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Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:Father, give us this day our daily bread
Text:LD 50 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Prayer
 
Added:2013-03-06
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


LD 50 – Our daily bread

Ps. 107: 1, 17

Ps. 130: 4

Hymn 8: 3, 4

Ps. 78: 7, 9, 10, 11

Ps. 132: 8, 9

 

Scripture reading:       Mt. 6: 9 – 13; 19 – 34; 1 Tim. 6: 6 – 12

Text:                              LD 50

 

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

When a bridegroom and his bride unite in marriage they share all things.   The husband may no longer say to his wife: “This is my money”, or: “This is my car”.   No, it becomes our money, our car, our time, our children.  There is no “yours and mine” in marriage.   When husband and wife becomes one their possessions also become one, so that they share all things.

 

The wonder of the gospel is that this also applies to our marriage with Christ.   When we are united to our heavenly Bridegroom then we share in all His riches.   We are His, and He is ours; and all that belongs to Him also belongs to us.  

 

We were indeed a pour bride.   We had nothing.   But He took us and made us co-heirs with Him of every spiritual and heavenly blessing.   His riches and His glory have become our riches and our glory.

 

How then does this gospel affect our prayers?

 

Well, in the first three petitions we asked our Father in heaven that His Name may be hallowed, His kingdom come and His will be done.   In the next three petitions we ask give us bread, forgive us our sins, deliver us.  Does that mean that the first three petitions were about God and what He wants, and that in the last three petitions we will now turn to ourselves and what we want?  

 

No, there is no division between the first and the last part of our prayer.  We are in a marriage covenant with God; through Christ we became one with Him.   It is no longer His Name, His kingdom and His will on the one side, and our desires and our needs on the other side.   His Name became our glory, His kingdom became our hope, and His will has become our delight.

 

We are now so united with our Father through Christ that His Name and His Kingdom and His will have become ours.  

The three petitions that will now follow are no separate prayer, but an extension of the first three petitions.   We ask for daily bread in order to hallow our Father’s Name; bread for the coming of His kingdom, and bread for the doing of His will, for that has become all our life and all our delight. 

 

The theme for this afternoon is…

Father, give us this day our daily bread

 

We note…

 

i.                    What we are asking for

ii.                  Why we are asking for it

iii.                How we receive it

 

 

In the first place we note…

 

What we are asking for

 

Here in the Lord’s Prayer our daily bread refers to all our physical needs.  

 

When it is called our bread, we do not mean to say that it is our own and that God must give us what

belongs to us.  No, when we ask for our daily bread it means that we ask for that which our Father

has allotted to us.   We ask for that which He in His grace has measured off for us for this day.  

We are glad to receive our daily portion from His hand.   

And we don’t ask anything more.   With that portion we are content and satisfied. 

 

The petition for daily bread is not a petition for earthly riches. 

Of course God may give us in abundance, and He often does, but that is not what we are asking.   We do not ask for silver and gold, for luxury and comfort, but for our daily bread.   It is the prayer of one who is satisfied with the Lord Himself, one who is able to pray with David and say:

 

“Whom have I in heaven but You?   And earth has nothing I desire besides You” (Ps. 73:25)

 

And also:

 

“You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing” (Ps. 16:2).

 

Yes, it is a petition in accordance with the teaching of the apostle Paul in 1 Tim. 6 that godliness with contentment is great gain.  

Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.   But, having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

 

When we ask for our daily bread, it is also in accordance with Christ’s teaching that we cannot serve God and Mammon.   The pagans run after food and drink and are driven by the cares of this world, but we have a Father who cares for us in all things.   Our heavenly Father knows what we need.   Therefore we are freed from these cares and foolish desires to enrich ourselves; free to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  And we may know for sure that our Father who cares for us will also add all the other things – food, and drink, and clothing.

 

When we pray “Give us our daily bread for this day”, then we are not running after our own desires, but seeking the kingdom of heaven.   We ask the bread that is allotted to us for this day, in order that also this day we may be able to serve – not in our own kingdom, but in the kingdom of our Father.  

 

 

Brothers and sisters, we are not craving for bread, we are not starved.   No, in Christ we are fully satisfied.   This petition is not an anxious cry, but an expression of our faith.   Our Father has given us all things already.   In Christ we lack nothing – nothing spiritual, but also nothing physical.  

When we ask God for daily bread then we acknowledge Him as our Father, and we acknowledge that it is He who provides us with food and drink and with all we need.    And, asking for our daily bread, we confess that we desire nothing more than what He has allotted for us for this day.

We are content with the portion that He gives us, and satisfied, for we are assured of His love and care, and we are assured that whatever He gives us is best for us.  

 

As we pray this petition we also understand that what is best for us, is very seldom earthly riches.  

What we need is not always prosperity.    Sometimes we need illness.   It may even happen that we need poverty.  

Yes, we seldom know what is best for us.   But our Father knows.

 

Therefore we are content.

Knowing that our Father in heaven knows what we need, and that He knows it better than we ourselves know, our petition is simple and sober.

 

 

Dear congregation, Scripture teaches us to ask from God only that which He has promised us.   We don’t ask anything that our Father has not promised. 

If we can find it nowhere in Scripture that God has promised the believer earthly riches in this life and that all Christians will be rich and prosperous – if there is no such promise in Scripture – then we don’t pray for such a thing.  

We live by His promises only.  

If He has not said anywhere in Scripture that His children will have easy and comfortable lives on earth, then His children don’t ask for such a thing.   We ask and we pray only for that which our Father has promised us, and with that we are content, and filled with comfort, as we live in the glad expectation of the fullness of all the riches that He has promised us.

As pilgrims towards the heavenly city of God, we do not want to carry too much baggage with us – our daily portion of bread will be enough, lest we be hindered on the way by the burden of riches.

 

It is God’s Name and His kingdom and His will that gives meaning to our life, not the riches of this world.   Yes, it is the everlasting life that we received in Christ our Lord that changes our bread into a feast.  One peace of bread in His service gives us more satisfaction than a royal feast could give the ungodly. 

 

As David says: the little that the righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. – Ps. 37:16  

 

It is not the bread itself that gives meaning to our lives.   The bread itself has no life in it.   The bread will benefit us only when we receive it through faith from the One who has become our Father.  

Because we trust Him, and because we are content with His fatherly care for us, therefore we come with this simple and sober petition.   Only the bread which You, Father, have allotted to us for this day, we ask.  

And whether our daily bread is much or little can make no difference to our joy and contentment anymore, for we trust in the wisdom and the faithfulness of our Father.  

 

Knowing our riches in Christ we no longer pray for silver and gold, luxury and comfort, but for daily bread – that which we need for this day to serve our Father in heaven. 

 

Fully comforted in our Lord Jesus Christ we are assured not only of our daily bread, but also of our Father’s blessing on the bread.   For it is His blessing that turns a piece of dry bread into a feast.   And without His blessing even a lavish feast becomes bitter.  

When we live daily by faith, trusting our Father to care for us, and receive our bread through faith, then we are also assured that the bread which we receive from our Father’s hand is also filled with our Father’s blessing.

 

Yes, whether our daily bread is much or little does not make so much difference, because: ultimately our eyes are focused on something else.

 

We note that in the second place…

 

Why we ask for daily bread

 

Since our whole life has become a living sacrifice to God, we ask for bread and for all our daily needs with the purpose to glorify God.  

 

The last three petitions flow from the first three.   Our whole life is now directed to God to live unto Him, to seek His glory, His kingdom and His will.   And thus, when we pray that He will provide in our daily needs, then our daily needs are made subject to the glory of His name, the coming of His kingdom, the doing of His will.

 

And thus we pray: Our Father in heaven, You who care for us in all things, will You in this day provide in all our needs in order that we may be free from the cares of this world, free to serve You in all that we do.

 

 

You still remember what we confessed in Lord’s Day 45, that prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness which God requires of us.   Thus, when we pray for our daily bread, this petition is part of our thankfulness.

By asking for our daily portion of bread we acknowledge and honour our Father as Father.   His name is honoured and thanked by this petition, for by this very request we acknowledge that we receive all things from our Father’s hand only, and expect nothing apart from His gracious care for us.  

Living through faith, living by His promises, we claim His promises as our own, and thank Him for it.  

He who said that He will never leave or forsake us, who also promised to provide in all our needs, is faithful.   And thus, through faith, our petition is free from worldly cares.

 

We give heed to the words of the apostle where he exhorts us:

 

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” – Hebr. 13: 5

 

There you have the promise; a promise on which you may rely, a promise in which you may find rest, a promise that delivers you from the cares of this world.

 

David says:

 

“I have been young, and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread” – Ps. 37: 25 

 

In the same way our Lord Jesus taught us that we must not worry about food and clothes, because our Father in heaven knows what we need.  

 

 

But, someone may ask:  “If God has promised it to us, why do we still have to ask for it every day?” 

In this regard we have to be reminded that God’s promises are not meant to make us passive.  Instead, we ask Him for our daily portion of bread exactly because He has promised it.  

His promises are the ground for our petitions.  

And His promises stir us to action. 

We live by His promises, and we live from His promises.  

Yes, we ask Him, because: we know and believe His promises.

 

Dear congregation, now that we know what we are asking, and also why we ask for it, we want to know in the third place…

 

By which means we are to receive our daily bread

 

The Lord said to Adam:

 

“Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it’, cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.   It will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat the plants of the field.   By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food…” (Gen. 3:17 – 19)

 

When God pronounced this curse on the earth because of sin, He was not cursing our labour.   Nor was He cursing labour.   No, labour is something beautiful which God has given to man even before the Fall.   He was to tend and keep the garden.

However, after the Fall, the curse on the earth does mean that our labour has become difficult and painful and that our labour is often frustrated.   Our labour is affected by thorns and thistles.   Our labour is now in the sweat of our brow, which means that it will no longer be easy.  

But also in this fallen state labour itself remains good and necessary, and it still carries a reward with it.

 

This is maintained also in the New Testament.   For example: where the apostle says, “keep away from every brother who is idle…If a man will not work, he shall not eat” - 2 Thess. 3: 6, 10. 

 

Now then, if it is true that we receive our daily bread through hard labour and if we eat our bread in the sweat of our face, do we then not gain our bread and butter according to the measure of our labour?  

Why then shall we still ask it from the Lord?  

 

Brothers and sisters, we ask it from God, because without His blessing all our labour is in vain.  

You would not even have a job if it was not for His grace.  You would have no health and no ability to work.   Also in this matter we live daily by His grace only.

 

We need His strength and protection every moment in order to fulfil our daily calling.  

 

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.   Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.   In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves” – Ps. 127  

 

With the fourth petition we acknowledge that we are totally dependent upon God, that we are not able to do anything without His blessing.   If He would close His hand for one moment, all our labour will be in vain and our bread be lacking.

 

So then, it becomes clear that we receive our bread by means of faithful and diligent work, but that we do our work with prayer and thanksgiving, knowing that even our ability to work and all the fruit of our labour, we receive daily by grace alone.

 

 

Now, the ungodly also receive bread – for as long as God still holds back His wrath on them.  But, they receive bread not as children.   Instead, they gather their bread like thieves and robbers – not thanking the Lord, nor using it in His service.

 

Over against that, Scripture teaches us to receive all our temporal blessings as stewards of God.   The bread we eat is not our own as if we really deserve it.   We receive health, the ability to work, time and opportunity, only for a while.  One day we have to give account of all that; even of our daily bread, how we have used it in the service of our King.  

Knowing this, we ask for our bread with our eyes focused on the glory of His Name, the coming of His kingdom and the doing of His will, for He has become our life. 

 

Yes, we receive our bread as children.   We receive it with thanksgiving, knowing that also in this matter – which may seem so natural and normal – we live by grace alone.  

 

Dear congregation, do you see how this petition is the fruit of God’s salvation and the fruit of faith?  

It is a prayer that testifies of our new life in Christ.  

As children we may sit down at the table of our heavenly Father and receive our bread from His hand, not only a few times in a year at the Lord’s Table, but as often as we eat our daily food we receive it through faith as tokens of God’s love and care for us.   

In that sense our table at home also becomes the Lord’s table.

 

Knowing God’s promises, the food on our table becomes to us sings of His faithfulness.

We have a Father in heaven who cares for us.

 

Yes, we have to labour with diligence and fulfil our task and calling faithfully – and that involves hard labour; at the same time it is ultimately through faith alone that we receive bread from our Father’s hand.   And bread thus received is also bread for which we give thanks.

 

So then, brothers and sisters, understanding all this, we are modest in our request: Father, in Your grace, according to Your promise, give us this day our daily bread.   We understand our need, that we do not need riches and luxuries, we do not need an easy life, we do not need to fulfil our own satisfactions and desires.   As children in Your house we need nothing more than what is necessary for the glory of Your Name.  

Father, give me this day not what I need to make a good living or to prolong my life, not what I need to run after my own plans, but Lord, only that which is profitable for Your kingdom I ask.

 

We do not pray for the bread of next year, gathering up riches on earth. 

We pray for that which is necessary to serve the Lord this day.  

And we pray with full confidence, and with thankfulness, fully comforted by the abundance of His Fatherly love and care for us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Amen.

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

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