Week 7: November 13

Amen - Living with a Yes! by Randy Ness

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DAY 1: For Yours, Not Mine

“For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:13)

The Lexicon helps flesh out these three key concepts: Yours is the kingdom (sovereignty, royal power), and the power (miraculous power, might, strength) and the glory (good opinion, esteem, honor, praise).

When God created us, he planted these three seeds of desire for stewardship, strength, and affirmation within us. These are essential attributes for helping to care for His creation and being in relationships. However, this original design can go awry.

In my morning news feed, I read this about an embattled billionaire NFL team owner: “So his case is a lesson in how elite figures exercise power, particularly to advance their own agendas.”

And therein, lies the issue for all of us. When God’s agenda is replaced by our own agendas, then misuse and abuse of others and things occurs.

Note how the use of the word “kingdom” serves as bookends for Jesus’s model of prayer. “Your kingdom come” (v. 10) and “For Yours is the kingdom” (v. 13).

The closing of the prayer is a definitive reminder that God is pre-eminent, not us. It is a call for us to realize and relinquish a “for me/mine” ethic with a “for Yours” ethic.

Furthermore, our ceaseless striving for power and glory creates a constant tension and angst within us. Conflict and discontent grow in our souls. We seek one fix after another for comfort. Our striving leads to restlessness and exhaustion.

David Timms writes:

“Only as we relinquish our own pursuit of power and glory can we know the freedom of the kingdom and the richest blessings of the Lord’s Prayer. True liberation comes when we surrender power and cease striving for it. Real release happens when we give up the dream of personal fame and glory. It’s counterintuitive, but it is the kingdom way.”

For Reflection:

1. Describe some of the ways in which you seek power and glory. Where do you most look for significance and affirmation?

2. How does Timms’ statement about relinquishing your pursuit of power and glory strike you? What steps are you willing to take to relinquish your own pursuit?

DAY 2: Becoming Part of His Story

As I prepared for writing this devotional, I read the following sentences from David Timms’ book, Living the Lord’s Prayer. They are sobering to me, maybe they will be for you, too:

“The Bible is not about how God fits into our story, but how we fit into His.”

“How often do we open the scriptures to understand ourselves? We want God to clarify our lives, not highlight His……How does the Father want to bless us, use us, help us, heal us, guide us, and give to us? If we study the Book at all, its often to get advice for our own issues – our needs, wants, and feelings.”

“However, the Bible is not a therapy textbook. It reveals God’s story and relentlessly asserts that the main character of history is Christ.”

“The drama of the Word beckons us to join God’s world, where He takes initiative, has control, and determines the outcomes. All history is really his story, not our story.”

Gulp. These sentences point toward two difficult responses for any of us. Surrender. Obedience.

In John Chopka’s message on October 16, he explained the etymology for “obedience” as rooted in “listening.”

Furthermore, David Augsberger, a Mennonite author, claims that “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.” Could this advice for human relationships also be a clue for my relationship with God? Does God feel my love when I actively listen for Him?

Perhaps, the process of surrender and obedience begins with:

1. Attentive Listening - Taking time out from the ceaseless striving in our lives to seek Him, be with him, listening for His promptings.

2. Heartfelt Response - Deciding to willfully act on the invitations He sets in your heart. Having the faith and selflessness to at least try.

Realize that this is a continual, ongoing process. On this side of heaven, we will struggle with our human will. Give grace to yourself. Rest upon God’s promise to be with you. Let your faith sprout and grow.

Allow your story to become part of His Story.

For Reflection:

1. What are the biggest challenges for you to listen attentively to God?

2. Think about a time you had a heartfelt response to God’s nudging. What happened? How did it impact you (and possibly others)?

DAY 3: Amen Revisited

When you hear (or use) the word Amen (a Hebrew term), what does it mean to you?

For many, it is simply acknowledging the end of something like a prayer. It’s “we’re done, let’s move on now.” It’s generally dismissive in tone.

Other times, it is used as a polite affirmation of something said. We may hear “Amens” during sermons or in conversations with friends. It becomes “I agree.”

But Amen as used throughout scripture is so much more significant than that. (For examples, see: 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:20-21; I Peter 4:11; Jude 25)

It is a powerful, positive, and resounding “Yes!” It is a full body and soul embrace of whatever was said or done.

David Timms says:

“Amen captures the assurance of the soul. It expresses acknowledgment, agreement, commitment, and confidence. No Greek word conveyed the same range of nuances, so the early church simply carried this Hebrew term into their daily vocabulary.”

Eugene Peterson also eloquently explains:

“We come to God with a history of nay-saying, of rejecting and being rejected. At the throne of God we are immersed in God’s yes, a yes that silences all our noes and calls forth an answering yes in us…Amen! Amen is recurring and emphatic among God’s people. It is robust and exuberant. There is nothing cowering or timid in it. It is an answering word, purged of all negatives…When we Christians sing or shout “amen,” God hears our unequivocating assent to his irrevocable Yes to us, the Yes of our redeemer Lamb, the Yes of our creator King.”

Reread that. Reflect on it. Have you experienced that type of Amen?

When used in this way, Amen becomes the most powerful four-letter word we can ever utter.

How fitting for Jesus to use Amen at the end of His prayer. It becomes our opportunity to fully embrace the previous aspects of the prayer with a resounding Yes!

For Reflection:

1. What have been some of the most powerful “Amen” times in your faith journey?

2. How have you experienced nay-saying and rejection? Are you able to allow yourself to be immersed in God’s Yes?

Highly Recommended Resource:

For a sense of using Amen as a resounding Yes response to God, see this music video Amen by Charity Gayle, Joshua Sherman, and a circle of friends and musicians. 

DAY 4: Living An Amen (Yes) Life

I realize this week’s devotionals are loaded with quotes from David Timms, but he just expresses the meaning of Amen so well, I struggle to paraphrase it. The final chapter, “Amen – Living with a Yes” alone is worth the price of his book. Consider these excerpts:

“The Lord’s Prayer calls each of us to live in the Yes.”

“This Yes emerges not from a vain sense of invincibility or an egotistical sense of self-confidence but from a deep trust in the Lord’s grace and provision.”

“As we hear afresh the Lord’s unequivocal Yes to us, we discover new levels of hope, even amidst pain and despair.”

Timms confronts the critical, judgmental spirit we often encounter in our culture, workplaces, churches, and families. Read on:

“Amen. This ancient word also challenges our human practice of nay-saying. All too often the No rises up within us and against us, or we blurt it out against others. We receive and dish out truckloads of criticism.”

“Every effort we make receives critical assessment rather than encouragement. Every positive word we receive is overwhelmed by waves of negative words that crash over us.”

Timms differentiates between “critical spirit” and “critical thinking” as follows:

“Critical thinking at its best displays gentleness, analysis, thoughtfulness, and constructiveness. The critical spirit at its worst is close-minded, intolerant, aggressive, and destructive.”

What does living the Amen-Yes life look like?

“Jesus models this lifestyle. The only people whom he openly criticized were those who reserved the strongest Yes for themselves and took a perverted pleasure in pronouncing a strong No on everyone else. (The Pharisees).”

“But Jesus constantly affirmed the beaten, the broken, and the burned-out. These people, victims of the critical spirit of their age, crushed in spirit, drained of hope, shamed by their circumstances, rejected by the mainstream – those who lived in a world of constant no’s – received grace from Christ.”

“Jesus lived in the Yes and sought to draw others into that same place.”

For Reflection:

1. How would others describe me on a critical spirit scale?

2. How can I turn my critical spirit (one of nay-saying) into a life marked by resounding Amens?

Day 5: The Lord’s Prayer: Your Version

Last year we visited my son’s family in San Francisco. One day, I rummaged through their basket of children’s books looking for something to read to our twin two-year old grandsons (who are the cutest little hooligans ever; I have photos to prove it! But I digress).

I found a children’s book version of the Lord’s Prayer. I was struck with its creative re-wording of the Lord’s Prayer in a manner and style that kids could understand and comprehend. It was insightful and profound for me, as well.

At about the same time, our small group was doing a study and reflection on the Lord’s Prayer. We used the Lexicon (in the Bible Hub app) to look at specific words to both clarify and illuminate their meaning. We were encouraged to re-write the Lord’s Prayer using our own words.

For one of our group members re-writing the Lord’s Prayer was such a meaningful experience that he readily volunteered to read it aloud to the group. It was inspirational to see him take a familiar prayer that had become dry and dusty from years of repetitive recitations during his Catholic upbringing and breathe new life into it in ways that now seeped into his heart and soul.

Throughout this devotional series, we have ended each week with a different Biblical version or translation of the prayer.

Now, it’s your turn.

Take a piece of paper, your journal, or your electronic device, and begin writing the Lord’s Prayer using your own words.

Reflect on any sermons, devotionals, or small group discussions that you were part of. What new ideas emerged for you? What has touched your heart? What new words give power and meaning for you?

You may be able to do this in one sitting, but also allow it to evolve over time. Chew on it. Meditate upon it. Allow the Holy Spirit to form it and shape it in a way that inspires you.

Make the Lord’s Prayer a prayer that is personal to you and one that you can keeping coming back to.

Continually offer your evolving version as your gift to God.


Optional Exercise: 

If you are the parent or grandparent of children and/or teens, how would you rewrite the Lord’s Prayer for them? Consider using this effort to guide and stimulate conversation with them. It just might be the best holiday gift you’ve ever given and that they have ever received.