Lord's Prayer: Your Kingdom Come

Preached: July 13, 2008

Dear Father, Keep Bringing Your Gracious
Reign to Our Hearts and Others
Luke 12:32

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The word from God through which the Holy Spirit comforts our hearts today is Luke 12:32

Don't be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

This is the Word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

Have you missed the coming of the Kingdom? I'm not talking about some rapture where the King secretly returns to snatch away believers. I'm not talking about some Middle East Armageddon where Gog and Magog and the forces of Antichrist are defeated by the King. And I'm not talking about Jerusalem as some sort of earthly world capital with the temple rebuilt or some sort of thousand-year, millennialistic reign of Jesus on this earth. All these are perversions.

I'm talking about the true Kingdom. The Kingdom of God over which Jesus reigns. The Kingdom he teaches us to pray for. Have you missed the coming of the Kingdom?

With faith in your heart, you can confidently say: “No, I have not missed the Kingdom.” For you see, when the true, Christian faith that confesses Jesus as your God who ransomed you from sin and death to reign over you as your King -- when this faith lives in your heart, God's Kingdom has come to you. Jesus reigns as your King. You have not missed out. Jesus explains it this way, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21 NIV).

So why then do we pray, “Thy kingdom come”? Because we want his kingdom to keep on coming to our hearts. We want him to keep on reigning over us as our King. And we want his Kingdom to come to the hearts of others, so that they too are his people and he is their King.

“Your kingdom come.” With those words we pray, “Dear Father, keep bringing your gracious reign to our hearts and others.” That's the theme this morning. We first want to see how our Father does brings his kingdom and secondly we want to see his purpose for doing this.

A. You're pleased to reign through your Word and Sacraments

1)How doesn't his Kingdom come?

How did God's kingdom come to your heart and how does it keep on coming? First of all, we must see that our own efforts, strivings, struggles, or prayers cannot bring his kingdom to us. Think about what the passage for the text today says. Did Jesus say, “Don't be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased with you, or with your efforts, or with your prayers, or with your personality”? If he had said that, then we would have every reason to be afraid. For how often don't our efforts, prayers, personalities fall short of what is pleasing to God!

But Jesus didn't say that, did he? Rather he said: “Don't be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). He doesn't mention anything in us as a basis for the Father being pleased. The Father does not give his kingdom based on who we are or what we can do. Rather, he gives his kingdom because that is his good will and pleasure. That is what he wants to do. That is what pleases him, to show his grace and love and generosity by freely giving his Kingdom to undeserving, unworthy sinners like you and me.

2) What does he use to bring his Kingdom to us?

So how does his Kingdom come to us? Not by the worthiness of our own efforts or asking. So how does it come? Think about what Jesus said to Pontius Pilate in the Gospel reading today. “My kingdom is not of this world . . . You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 17:36, 37 NIV).

Do you see how Jesus connects his Kingdom to the truth, which is God's Word? He makes the same connection is some of his parables about the Kingdom. For example, he says that the Kingdom of God is like a sower who throws his seed on all different kinds of ground and the seed on good ground produces a great harvest. That seed, Jesus says, is God's Word (Mark 4:14). The Kingdom and the Word are connected.

Now where the Word of God is correctly taught, there God the Holy Spirit is powerfully at work. For the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Galatians 6:17). With that sword the Holy Spirit advances the Kingdom of God. He brings Jesus into hearts to reign as their King.

As you prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” you pray that our Father continues to give his Holy Spirit through his Word so that we believe his promises. For only the Holy Spirit can work faith that trusts the promises that God's Word makes. No one can say that Jesus is Lord or confess him as King, except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).

It pleases our Father to work in this way, to bring his Spirit and his Kingdom through the outwardly lowly words of Scripture. And not only through the words of Scripture but also through his words connected to water in Baptism and his words connected to bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. Through God's Word in the Scriptures and in the Sacraments, the Holy Spirit brings God's kingdom by working faith that trusts in Jesus, our crucified and risen King.

So how does God's good pleasure bring you his gracious reign, his kingdom? Through his Word and Sacraments, Through them he holds before you your King, Jesus Christ. He brings you his body and blood that ransomed you to be his very own people, that washed you clean as his reborn child. And as your risen and ascended King, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit so that you believe his promises of forgiveness and eternal life.

3) How does God answer this pray through our actions?

That's how his kingdom came to you and keeps on coming to you. And so when you pray, “Thy kingdom come,” know that God answer that pray as you go to his Word and Sacraments. For us to pray those words and then not use his Word and Sacraments is like going to the doctor and then not taking the prescription. How will he react when you return two-weeks later with the same problem telling him, “I just left the medicine sitting on my living room end table because it looked nice there”?

In the same way, as you pray, “Thy kingdom come,” you are asking much more than you ask from your doctor. You are asking for the riches of his kingdom and the healing that brings eternal life. God wants you to ask for these great things. Know and believe that he wants to give them to you. But he answers that prayer and brings you those riches and healing as you use his Word and Sacraments with a heart of faith. That is what please him. So pray boldly.

And as you pray those words, “Thy kingdom come,” think of the multitudes of others who are not part of his Kingdom. Their unbelief excludes them. You are praying that they may hear the Word of truth and believe, just as you do. You are praying that Jesus reign in their hearts through his Word and Sacraments. Know and believe that God answer this prayer through you. As you share his work and support mission work, his kingdom comes to the hearts of others.

Dear Father, keep on bringing your gracious reign to our hearts and to the hearts of others through your Word and Sacraments.

So we have seen how the Father brings his kingdom to our hearts and others. Next we ask what his purpose is.

B. Your pleased to reign for our good and your glory

1) How does the Good News of the Kingdom banish our fears?

As we turn back to the passage for today, we see a partial answer, “Don't be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32). “Don't be afraid.” Part of the Father's purpose in giving you the kingdom is to take away your fear and so do good for you.

Don't be afraid. How broad those words are! Don't be afraid whether its the fears of earthly life, the fears of sickness, accident, hardship, loss. Don't be afraid even of those greater, unspeakable fears, the fear of falling short of God's standard, the fear of divine justice punishing us, the fear of death and hell's hopelessness.

To all those fears, Jesus says, “Don't be afraid.” Why not? “For the Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom.” He wants to do you good. Look he sent you his own dear Son. He didn't even spare his own Son for you but gave him up for us all. It is his good will and pleasure to bring you into his kingdom.

What does this Good News do with our fears? It banishes them, exiles them. Instead of that fear of not meeting God's holy standards, we believe and confess, “My King has taken away my dirty rags of failure and clothed him in his royal robes of righteousness. His robes meet God's standards.” Instead of the fear divine justice punishing us, we believe and confess, “My King has suffered my punishment in my place. He hung on the cross under God's death sentence instead of me.” Instead of the fear of death and hell's hopelessness, we believe and confess, “My King has conquered death rising from the dead on the third day. He has opened the gates of Paradise. He will safely bring me into his heavenly kingdom, for he is my King and I am his blood-bought citizen.”

And with these greatest of fears banished, so also the other fears that stem from them. For why fear anything in this world, since our crucified and risen King rules over all from God's right hand. Even the worst disasters or the greatest cruelty cannot separate us from him.

2) How can we as citizens of the Kingdom glorify our God?

So we, as citizens of his kingdom, can live our daily lives in service to our King without fear. Do what is right and good. Show kindness to others. Give honor and glory to God alone in all that you do. Don't be afraid of what others might think, say, or do. For your King is taking care of you both body and soul. Live in anticipation of the heavenly kingdom where we will serve our King in perfect righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

All this brings glory to our God and King. This is the ultimate purpose for which your Father gives you the kingdom: So that we may glorify our God and King both now and for eternity. So flee from sin and live in love and peace so that others glorify your Father in heaven. And live with your eyes fixed above eagerly awaiting the return of your King. “Dear Father, keep bringing your gracious reign to our hearts and others so that we can glorify you in our lives and for all eternity.”

You have not missed the kingdom. It is coming to you today through his Word of truth. Live as his citizens to his glory as you pray: “Dear Father keep bring your gracious reign to our hearts and others.”

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313