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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Melville
 Melville, Australia
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
Title:May we join all creation in the hallowing of God's holy Name!
Text:LD 47 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Calling

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Liturgy from 1984 Book of Praise.  Bible translation:  NKJV

Psalm 19:1

Psalm 104:8

Psalm 145:1,2,3

Hymn 47:2

Psalm 135:6,10

Read:  Psalm 104;  Matthew 10:27-39

Text:  Lord’s Day 47

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is the stuff of jokes, but for some people, men in particular, a mid-life crisis is no laughing matter.  A man wakes up one day and realises that he has probably lived half his life and then he wonders what he had done with it and where it all went.  He knows that you only live this life once and he does not want to waste it.  And so a feeling of crisis kicks in and, according to the Readers Digest, he throws in his job, he moves town, he buys a motorcycle, he joins a gym and he starts acting as though he was twenty years younger.

But it is not just middle aged men who sometimes go through a crisis in their lives.  In fact, crisis or not, most of us go back to the questions “Who am I? What am I here for? What am I doing?  And what should I be doing with my life?”, most of us go back to these questions time and time again.  We ask them in our teenage years, in those years when we go from childhood to adult-hood; we ask them after we’ve been at work for some years, or you’re a mum at home, and one day just rolls into the next; we ask them when disaster happens, when life does not turn out as planned; and we ask them when our working life draws to an end and you become known as a senior citizen.

You only live once, and you don’t want to waste your life, do you?  And so you want to live life well, to its full potential.

But what does it mean to live life well?  What does it mean to live life to its full potential?  What is a life that is worth living, and when can you be sure that it is not wasted?

To be successful in your career?  To tick off each one of your business goals?  To have the best house on the street and a secure, comfortable life? To be happy?  To do something really great?  To be a good person?  To help as many people as possible?

No, that’s not it.  Those are not the things to live and die for.  The Gentiles crave for and chase after these things.  The Gentiles go through life in the vain hope that these or similar goals will give them a life worth living.  But Christians live for something else.  In fact, Christians live for Someone else!  We do not live for ourselves, nor for our dreams.  But we live for God and that He might be glorified in us.  1 Corinthians 10:31,

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

And it is God’s glory, that He be glorified in all things that we pray for when we pray “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.”  And so I preach to you the word of the Lord concerning the first Petition under the following theme:

May we join all creation in the hallowing of God’s holy Name!

1.    We were made for His glory.

2.    We were saved for His glory.

1. We were made for His glory.

In 2003 John Piper wrote a book called “Don’t waste your life.”  In this book he tells what is apparently a true story about a couple who took early retirement from their jobs, when he was 59 and she was 51.  They then moved to Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot boat, play softball and collect shells.  John Piper writes,

“At first, when I read it, I thought it might be a joke. . . . But it wasn’t.  Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life – your one and only precious, God-given life – and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this:  playing softball and collecting shells.  Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord.  See my shells.”  That is a tragedy.  And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream.  Over against that, I put my protest:  Don’t buy it.  Don’t waste your life.”[1]

There is nothing wrong with playing softball, nor with collecting seashells.  There is nothing wrong with living in Florida and enjoying the use of a 30 foot boat.  But what is wrong is to make that your life!  What is wrong is to make that your dream.  To live and to work for an early retirement so that you can do nothing but indulge in collecting sea shells, cruising the seven seas and selfishly living for yourselves. 

It is easy to get sucked in to that, because there is so much focus today on indulging on yourself and your pleasures.  There is such a push for you to look good, live well, and be happy.  There is such a strong voice saying that this is all there is and so you should get what you can while the going is good.  In fact, even a local retirement village has advertised itself asking, “If you don’t start living now, when will you?”  But it is all a lie!  It is not true!  A life lived for self is not a life worth living.  A life lived for self is not a fulfilled life.  Rather, a life lived for self is void, as hollow as the seashells you collect off the beach.  A life lived for self is a wasted life – regardless of the size of your house, the size of your shares portfolio, the size of your caravan and the number of places you’ve been to on holidays.  And the reason why a life lived for self is a selfish life is because you were not created for the pursuit of self and selfish pleasures.  You were created for something else: you were created for God and for the gory of God.

It all starts with focus.  It all starts with the question of who is the centre of your universe and what motivates you to do what you do and to be who you are.  We are by nature very selfish and we live in a culture that encourages us to feed our egos to the point that we convince one another that we are little gods and goddesses in our own little kingdoms, where there is no higher being than ourselves.  We are encouraged to find life in ourselves, to think about my goals, my happiness, my pleasure, my dreams – and to manage my life and to manipulate the lives of others so that I get what I want out of life.

And make no mistake about it:  the pull to live a self-focused, godless life is strong with the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh encouraging us down the road of sinful, selfish pleasure.  And that is why it becomes all the more pressing to pray,

 “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.”

Our Father in heaven, may Your name be holy, may Your name receive the glory it is due. 

The prayer that God’s name be hallowed is not a statement; it is a petition.  We are not praying, “Our Father in heaven, Your name is hallowed” but may it be hallowed, may it be seen and regarded and worshipped as holy, as sacred.  It is a petition, a request to God in which we pray to God, asking Him to help us see that He alone is God, and that He is different from anything else in all of creation.  It is a prayerful request that that His name will be honoured and praised in all that we say and do.  It is a prayerful request to God that we and all creation live not for ourselves but for God and for the glory of God.  Lord’s Day 47 of the Heidelberg Catechism explains it like this:

“Grant us first of all that we may rightly know You, and sanctify, glorify, and praise You in all Your works, in which shine forth Your almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy and truth.  Grant us also that we may so direct our whole life – our thoughts, words and actions – that Your name is not blasphemed because of us but always honoured and praised.”

To pray “Hallowed be Your name” is to pray that we give God His rightful place in our lives as well as the creation.  It is to acknowledge that we and all creation were made for His glory, and to give Him the glory due to His name.  It is to remove yourself and everything else from the centre of your universe and to give glory to the almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy and truth of Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

And that is the problem with the world.  The problem is not collecting sea shells nor enjoying the Atlantic or any other ocean from the deck of a luxury cruiser.  But the problem is one of focus – and the accompanying decisions and way of life that results from such a focus.

A right focus where God’s name is hallowed or glorified in all of life can be found in Psalm 104.  In this psalm the psalm writer rejoices as he reflects on the good things of this world: the cool, fresh water that refreshes the land and the wild animals; the grass that grows as food for the cattle; the trees, the majestic cedars of Lebanon where the birds make their nests; the high hills and cliffs for the badgers and wild goats; the sun and the moon, the seasons; the seas that team with innumerable things, both great and small.  And what is more, the psalm even rejoices in the enjoyment of these good things!  Psalm 104:14,15.

“He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.”

You see, to enjoy the good things that God has made is not wrong.  In fact, the Lord takes great delight in our enjoyment of His gifts.  Not only did He first place Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a land well watered, with an abundance of good food and even, it says in Genesis 2, where there was gold, good gold, as well as Bdellium and the onyx stone, prized gem stones, not only did the LORD first place Adam and Eve in such a garden, but when He redeemed a people for Himself, the nation of Israel, He led them to a good land.  Deuteronomy 8:7-9,

“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.”

So the LORD blessed His people with great blessings, blessings that He encouraged them to enjoy.  However, in their enjoyment of these things, the LORD warned them strongly that they were not to live for these things.  “Beware”, God said in Deuteronomy 8, “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God …

“lest – when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up (that is, when your heart is proud), and you forget the LORD your God . . . then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’”  (Deut. 8:12-17.)

You see, that is the problem with the love of money, the love of wealth, of leisure and of luxury.  The problem is when we live for these things and seek our pleasure in them.  The problem is when the things that in themselves are a blessing end up becoming a distraction in our worship of God, our hallowing of His name. 

And the things of this life, the things that we live for are a distraction in as much as they cause us to look at and take our ultimate pleasure in them rather than in the God who gives them.

And that is what Psalm 104 makes clear.  Psalm 104 exclaims in delight over the good things that God has made and has given for man to see and enjoy.  But the focus of Psalm 104 is not on those things but on the One who made them and gave them to us!  That is how the psalm begins:

“Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: you are clothed with honour and majesty, who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.”  (Psalm 104:1,2.)

And in verse 24 the Psalm writer exclaims,

“O LORD, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your possessions.”

And verse 31,

“May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in His works.”

And the last lines of the psalm, verse 35b,

“Bless the LORD, O my soul!  Praise the LORD!”

You see, that is what it means to hallow God’s name.  That is what it means to “sanctify, glorify, and praise” the Lord in all His works.  That is what it means to direct your whole life, your thoughts, words and actions, so that His name is honoured and praised.  It is to live for Him and for His glory and to declare His glory in all that you see, all that you receive and all that you enjoy.  And it also means that you don’t ask the mid-life crisis questions of “How can I get more out of this life for myself?” but you ask, “How can I best glorify  God in my life and with the gifts that He has given me?  In whatever state I am, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, how can I live out my life in a God-glorifying manner, for the hallowing of His name?”

2. We were saved for His glory.

The people who go through some kind of mid-life crisis often feel or fear that life is somehow passing them by.  Time is marching on, and, if they are not careful, opportunities will slip through their fingers, and soon it will all be gone.  And all this leaves them with a sense of unease or even dissatisfaction with the life they are living.  But they don’t want that, and so some people will make up what is colloquially called a “bucket list”, a list of the things to do before you die.

But is it right to draw up a bucket list of the things to do before you die?  And if you do make up such a list, what should be on it?

The term “bucket list” because popular through a movie of that name, first screened in 2007.  The movie describes the life of two men who are both diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and who both decide to go around the world, ticking off the things they wanted to do:  skydiving, flying over the North Pole, visiting the Taj Mahal in India, riding a motorcycle on the Great Wall of China, seeing Mt Everest as well as the pyramids and going on a lion safari in Africa.  But the problem with such a list is that it is so self-centred!  The problem with such a list is that it suggests that to get the most out of life, you need to taste all that life has to offer.  And no doubt if you live out your life in such a way, someone will get up at your funeral and eulogize your passing and saying, “He lived life to the full.”  But did you really?  Is that what life is all about?  How far removed this is from the petition, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name”!

Could you imagine for a moment, the apostle Paul having such a bucket list?  Could you imagine the apostle Paul telling the Philippians that there were still a few more things he wanted to do for himself before he died?  The apostle Paul did, of course, have quite an amazing life and by the end of it he had many stories to tell:  about shipwreck and being stoned to death, being beaten almost to death, in peril of robbers, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in weariness and toil and sleeplessness and hunger and thirst and fasting, and being cold and without clothes.  (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)  But he did not have a bucket list, a list of things that he wanted to do for himself, that he might enjoy the fleeting pleasures of this world before he passed on from this present life.  And the reason why Paul did not do so is because that was not what he was living for!  For Paul understood the meaning of what our Lord Jesus told His disciples in  Matthew 10:39,

“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

You see, the apostle Paul did not live for himself, for his own pleasures, his own security, his own goals and dreams.  Rather, he learned what it means to live for the glory of God!  He learned what it means to deny yourself, take up your cross and walk in the footsteps of your Lord.  The apostle Paul knew what it means to hallow the name of God in the life that you live.  He endeavoured to direct his whole life – his thoughts, words, and actions, that God’s name was not blasphemed because of him but always honoured and praised.

And not only did the apostle Paul do this:  so did our Lord Jesus Christ.  In John chapter 12, Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us both what His life – and our life in Him – is all about.  Listen to what it says in John 12:23-28.

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.

27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come with the intention of living a happy, safe and comfortable life here on earth.  He did not make His decisions on where to go or what to do on the basis of his own comfort or safety or even honor.  But He came to die so that in His death God might be glorified, His name might be hallowed.  And it was in the death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, that His name was ultimately hallowed, that He was glorified.  For it was in saving death of Christ God’s almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy and truth was displayed in its complete fullness.

And now you belong to Him.  Now, in body and soul, in life and in death, you belong to your faithful Savior Jesus Christ.  And now the goal of your life is that for which you were created in the first place:  to live to the praise of God’s glory. 

That is what you have been saved to do:  to glorify God and enjoy Him forevermore.  To live not for the vain and fleeting pleasures of this life but for the pleasures that are found at His right hand forever more! 

And that is also how you are to read Matthew 10.  Do not fear the things and people of this world.  And do not be overly anxious about your life – your health, your wealth and your wellbeing.  For that is not the most important thing. What is important, however, is that God’s name be hallowed, that He be glorified in all our thoughts, words and actions.  And so we will put God first, loving Him more than anything else.  And so health and wealth and hobbies and desires and even parents and children and husbands and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends are no longer the centre of our lives.  Yes, we will enjoy and take pleasure in the good things that God gives us, but only in the context of serving Him and living for His glory. 

And so we pray “Father, hallowed be Your name.  Father, may You receive the glory in all things.  Father, teach us not to live for ourselves, nor the vain things of this life, but teach us to live for You and the hallowing of Your great and holy name.  It is for Your glory that we were made, and it is for Your glory that we were saved.” 


[1] John Piper, “Don’t waste you life” 2003: Crossway Books, p46.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2013, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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