(Kersten, The Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2, Part 24)

The Petition for the Provision Of Temporal Needs

Lord's Day 50

Psalter No. 100 st. 1, 2
Read Hosea 2
Psalter No. 397 st. 3, 4, 6, 7
Psalter No. 431 st. 5
Psalter No. 100 st. 1, 2


    When the Lord Jesus descended from the mount of transfiguration, He
was immediately confronted with the power of Satan and the revelation
of sin. On the mount He not only showed Himself to His disciples in His
glory and majesty, but He again submitted Himself to His passion, which
Moses and Elias referred to when speaking with Him. They spoke of His
end which He should accomplish at Jerusalem. When Christ descended, He
was met by a lunatic whom He delivered from Satan's claws. The
disciples had been unable to work this deliverance because of their
unbelief for which He rebuked them, saying, "O faithless and perverse
generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?"
Concerning this the disciples disputed who among them would be the
greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. In their blind zeal they would
forbid one from casting out devils because He did not follow them. Soon
after they would ask fire to come down from heaven upon a Samaritan
village which would not receive Him, because His face was as though He
would go to Jerusalem.
    The Lord resisted all this, testifying that He had not come to
destroy men's lives, but to save them. Then power went out from His
words and from the signs and wonders He performed, even upon those who
did not know the inward working of the Spirit of God to salvation. That
power still lies in the ministry of the Word. Sometimes there is a
delight in the service of the Lord, externally considered, more than
the world can give. A clear example is found in the scribe of whom
Matthew and Luke wrote. He said, "Lord, I will follow Thee
whithersoever Thou goest." He was willing to forsake everything in the
world to follow Christ along with the disciples. But the Lord who
Himself had taught that anyone intending to build a tower first sits
down and counts the cost, turned him away, saying that the foxes have
holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has not
where to lay His head. Following Jesus as this scribe wished to do in
his own strength would result in such a bitter disappointment and not
only injure him, but would also cause others to hold the work of Christ
in contempt. It was the same as with Orpah who accompanied Naomi,
because she felt attached to her mother-in-law as the words spoken by
her mother-in-law about the God of Israel and the people of Israel had
made an impression upon her. But when she reached the border, and
learned what the service of Jehovah would entail externally, she could
not leave her people and her gods, so returned to Moab.
    We need that power of Christ in us by which we can forsake our
former way of life, or better still, by which we can lose our life to
find it in Him. In Him are all things temporal and eternal which are
necessary for our salvation, including all that we need in time to
fulfill the Lord's counsel which He determined for His people on earth,
that which they shall carry out until their last moment. All is in
Christ, for He bore the burden of God's eternal wrath, not only in soul
but also in body. He underwent all suffering as Isaiah sums it up
prophetically in that familiar text, "He has borne our griefs and
carried our sorrows." They were our sorrows, namely those of His
people, for whom He gave Himself as Surety and Mediator. This accounts
for His poverty. He Who was the possessor of heaven and earth, humbled
Himself to such a depth of poverty that He had not where to lay His
head. This He did as Mediator, that by so doing, He might be a fountain
head of blessings for His people to fulfill all their needs, a comfort
in their adversities, and a cause of encouragement to flee to Him with
all their needs of soul and body. For of Him and through Him and to Him
are all things; to Him be the glory forever. This is fleeing to the
Lord with all the needs of our temporal life. We shall make this the
subject of our discourse as we discuss the fourth petition explained in
the fiftieth Lord's Day of our Heidelberg Catechism.
Q. 125. Which is the fourth petition?

A. "Give us this day our daily bread"; that is, be pleased to provide
    us with all things necessary for the body, that we may thereby
    acknowledge thee to be the only fountain of all good, and that
    neither our care nor industry, nor even thy gifts, can profit us
    without thy blessing; and therefore that we may withdraw our trust
    from all creatures, and place it alone in Thee.

    This is the petition for the supply of our temporal needs which,
      I. Teaches dependence upon God in this temporal life;
     II. Aims to acknowledge God as the only fountain of all good, and
    III. Demands the withdrawal of our trust from all creatures.
    The Lord's Prayer contains six petitions. The first three are
especially and exclusively directed toward that which tends to the
glory of God: Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done.
The last three petitions, subordinate to the first three, are directed
toward the fulfillment of our needs and wants. Give us this day our
daily bread; Forgive us our debts; Lead us not into temptation. We are
to direct them in such a manner that we seek the Lord's face with holy
fear and childlike submission to His will, so that we ask only as the
Lord is pleased to dispense to us, even when His ways are different
from what we had imagined or desired, to submit to Him. For this cause
holy reverence is required. We ought always to give heed to this
whenever we pray, for praying is speaking to Him Who inhabits eternity.
It is a seeking of the Lord's face.
    I hear that there are people who keep their eyes open when they
pray. Is there not enough to distract us? Should we not with our
children show some reverence when we approach unto God and call upon
Him to commend our needs unto Him - our needs for both time and
eternity? For that is the case. In this prayer the Lord teaches us to
pray for the needs of soul and body.
    In the last trio of petitions the Lord begins with the prayer for
our bodily needs: "Give us this day our daily bread." This petition is
therefore, not a request that the Lord may give us of that spiritual
bread to eat, namely Christ, in the exercise of faith. For our
Catechism gives as its meaning, "Be pleased to provide us with all
things necessary for the body." This time then we must speak about the
petition which asks for the supply of the bodily needs. Yes, this
petition even precedes those asking for that which is necessary for the
salvation of our souls, namely, the remission of sins and the
deliverance from all temptations and the power of Satan.
    Does this not conflict with the Word of the Lord which He spoke in
Matt. 6, saying, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His
righteousness"? Does not this order oppose the admonition the Lord gave
in John 6: "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat
that endureth unto everlasting life"? No, the prayer which Christ gave
us here does not conflict with these admonitions. In the first place,
the Lord gives four petitions for fulfillment of the good we need, and
afterward two petitions for averting the evil of sin and the
temptations of Satan. In the second place, Paul tells us that which is
natural is first, and afterward that which is spiritual. In the third
place, in order to serve God's counsel, God's children need sustenance
for their temporal life. They need daily bread. In the fourth place, to
mention no more, when the Lord teaches His people to pray the Lord's
Prayer in this order, He takes the weakness of His people into
consideration; because they are often engaged with many cares in their
temporal life and numerous anxieties which oppress them. This would be
detrimental to their souls, unless they are given the privilege, as we
sang from Psalter No. 100 to commit their way to God in faith. Christ
merited an opening to the throne of grace for His church so that they
may approach it also with these needs that concern their temporal life.
They may seek His face with childlike liberty, forsaking all vain
confidence in creatures, confiding only in Him Who will satisfy His
people with His goodness, Who will withhold no good thing from them
that walk uprightly, not even in death!
    Thus the Lord teaches us to pray, "Give us this day our daily
bread." When bread is mentioned here, it means, as our Catechism states
correctly, "all things necessary for the body", all that we need for
our life and for the sustenance of our life - not only food and drink,
but also clothing, shelter, and warmth; in short, all we need to live.
    The Word of God often speaks of bread in this broad sense. Take,
for instance, that familiar statement in Genesis, "In the sweat of thy
face shalt thou eat bread"; next, the vow Jacob made in Bethel: "If God
will be with me, and will give me bread to eat, then shall the Lord be
my God." There by bread, Jacob meant the provision of all physical
needs for which God's people shall seek the Lord, so that He may hear
their prayer, and acknowledge their dependence on the Lord; that they
may not be apprehensive but surrender themselves in childlike
confidence into the hand of the Lord.
    These cares can be heavy and the anxieties many. The adversities
and afflictions of God's children are many. They are described for us
in God's Word. I shall mention only the adversities in which Jacob
found himself when He said, "All these things are against me." It
seemed that he would die of grief. Think also of the prayer of Augur,
who desired neither poverty nor riches that the Lord might keep him
from stealing. The ways by which God leads His people are often of such
a nature that these words become true: There are not many rich, nor
many nobles whom the Lord chose for His heritage. His hand often
contends with them so that they may lead a dying life. The promoters of
revolution would like to divide all the world's goods equally, but they
overlook the fact that even with such distribution, only the blessing
of the Lord makes rich. Even with equal possessions we would not be
alike. God often brings His children in such circumstances that He
seems to blow into all their earnings, that they may cleave more unto
Him and reckon themselves as strangers on earth. O how the Lord through
such dealings, loosens the hearts of His people from the world, so that
they may seek those things which are above where Christ sits on the
right hand of God.
    In this prayer the Lord speaks not only of bread, but of daily
bread. It speaks of daily needs which we require each day. It seems
that the Lord wishes to admonish us not to reach into the future or
grasps for the riches of the world. "For they that will be rich fall
into temptation and a snare", says the apostle. We ought to be content
with what the Lord allots us daily, and thus live by the day as it were
in dependence upon Him. We may not rejoice and be glad in material
things, although that is our nature. We are of the earth, earthy,
Scripture says. It is our nature to reach for much more than is
included in daily bread. When Alexander the Great had won dominion over
the world, he bemoaned the fact that there was not another world for
him to conquer. Alas, though we had the whole world, it would not give
us satisfaction. The Lord wishes specifically to teach us to be content
and to realize that it is He who feeds us, even with daily bread.
    How can the Lord say that it is *our* bread? What right have we to
anything that we receive or possess in this world? Adam in the state of
rectitude had received dominion over the entire world and everything
was subjected to him. But in his sinful fall, he was dethroned as
universal king and became a slave of Satan. Because of our wretched
fall in Adam, what right to any daily sustenance is left to us?
Whatever we have above eternal death is more than we can rightfully
claim. How then can we say, "our daily bread"? Only because our daily
bread is a gift of the Lord. He apportions to man His inheritance.
    Here again you must make a twofold distinction: In the first place,
what this prayer means for the people of God, and in the second place,
what it implies for all people in a general way. I mean this, that by
common grace - it can certainly do no harm to speak of this again,
because some people are hopelessly confused about it - by common grace
God the Father, in the way of His providential support upholds all
creatures in His long suffering. Read what is written in Rom. 9:22:
"God endured with much long suffering the vessels fitted to
destruction." God the Father gives all creatures, pious and wicked,
great and small, their daily sustenance. Yes, sometimes He blesses the
wicked with great abundance. But it is and remains true, that each one
of us must give an account to God for all the blessings received.
Therefore our fathers said: "An unconverted person is an abuser and
robber of the blessings God gives him in his temporal life." If you so
desire, read the expositions of the Catechism with which you are
acquainted and notice how they emphasize that man by nature is an
abuser and robber of the gifts of God, because God does not receive the
glory for the kindness which is shown to them.
    In Hosea 2 which was read to you a short time ago, the Lord
complains that in their backsliding, the people of Israel did not know
that the Lord had given them corn, wine and oil which they prepared for
Baal, and did not give glory to God. They misused the gifts to serve
idols and thus aggravated their guilt. Common grace, then, is a gift of
the Father, a work of His providence, and therefore does not rest upon
the atoning work of Christ. If there is one point I should like to
impress upon the congregations it is this, that the atoning work of
Christ extends no further than to the elect, to restore them into the
favour and communion with God out of which they fell in their covenant
head Adam.
    The new theologians, e.g. Honig, want the atonement of Christ to
extend further than only to the salvation of the elect. Our fathers
strongly opposed it. So did the well-known Dr. John Owen when he said
that even the sympathy of Christ as High Priest concerns only the
elect. If we do not insist upon this line of distinction, we shall
sooner or later find ourselves embracing the error of general
redemption. General redemption is the worst thing you can imagine. It
robs God of His honour, and places man upon the throne.
    For that reason I place such emphasis upon what I have said, that
God gives all people the daily bread which they need for their temporal
life, namely, food, drink, prosperity in business, and even His Word
which still comes to them under the ministration of common grace. There
is even a working of the Holy Spirit as the third Person in the divine
Essence, when there are common convictions. I shall go a step further
and say that these workings of the Hotly Spirit are not founded on the
expiatory merits of Christ. For all that is founded on the expiatory
merits of Christ is to the glory of God, since all the perfections of
God are glorified in Christ. For that reason I said that when this
petition asks, "Give us this day our daily bread," God's people do not
receive their sustenance by way of common grace.
    Dr. A. Kuyper taught that all people without exception, both elect
and reprobate live on the level of common grace as far as natural
things are concerned, and on the level of special grace in Christ for
that which concerns salvation. I advise you to study that precious work
of Thomas Boston in which he very clearly explains that not all people
receive temporal blessings in the same manner, but that God's children
have a sanctified right to all temporal blessings as a special benefit
which the Lord by His atoning death on the cross merited for them. This
is not true for the reprobate but only for God's elect for whom Christ
merited salvation and all that is related to it.
    In this way the elect have received again in the second Adam the
right which they had lost in the first Adam, namely, the right to the
goods of this temporal life in so far as they are conducive to their
true welfare. Therefore they ask in the favour of God, "Give us this
day our daily bread," meaning, "Let me eat and be satisfied, let my
business be blessed and my labor fruitful." But in the very first place
this petition means, "Lord, let me taste Thy fatherly favour so that,
whether I eat or drink or do anything else, I may do it all to Thy
honour." Now, in the manifestation of God's favour in Christ as they
are experienced in the heart, God grants to His people a divine right
to all the benefits which He gives them. This represents a wealth so
great that they must exclaim with the apostle, "Whether things present,
or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is
God's." (1 Cor. 3:22, 23)
    I draw a sharp line of distinction as to the dispensation of
temporal goods. The earth as well as heaven is maintained by God's
providence. Grass does not grow because Christ has shed His blood, but
because of God's providence. God's people have this advantage, that
they have obtained a divine right in Christ, through which they may
speak freely of their daily bread; for it is the bread which Christ
merited for them. He hungered for them that they might be satisfied; He
thirsted for them that they might drink; He hung naked upon the tree of
shame for them that they might be clothed. Thus, in the little which is
often given to God's church, they have an earnest of the eternal
inheritance they shall receive, because in Christ all is theirs.
Therefore only in Him shall they be the possessors of the new heavens
and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Let me give you an
example: The Lord promised Abraham the entire land of Canaan. How much
of it did He possess? He bought a sepulcher in a hillside to bury
Sarah, but in the promise it was all his. Though God's people may only
have a burial plot, in that plot they have an earnest of their
inheritance in the new heaven and earth. The little which they hold in
God's favour constitutes their wealth and causes them to leap for joy
in the Lord. Thus this petition gives us to understand our dependence
upon the Lord for the whole of our lives, so that we may follow after
Him and receive His benefits out of His hand as He dispenses to each
according to His good pleasure. In the second place there lies in this
petition the acknowledgment that God is the only fountain of all good
as is stated here, "That we may thereby acknowledge Thee to be the only
fountain of all good."
    The emphasis falls upon the acknowledgment of God. What was God's
purpose in all His works? Was it not His own honour? Why did He in
eternity predestine some to life and some to destruction? It was His
purpose to glorify Himself in His attributes in creatures outside of
Himself. Of course, God needed no creatures; He is and remains the
perfectly glorious, the ever blessed One. The Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit do not dwell in an eternity of idleness, but They work
eternally in Their decrees. Nevertheless God made the creature
according to His good pleasure, for He decided to create and He brought
them forth in order that His perfections might shine forth in them. God
executes His decree. When we now ask, "Give us this day our daily
bread; care for us in this temporal life; let Thy hand grant us what we
need;" we do so to acknowledge that this God alone is the only fountain
of all good, that He preserves and blesses man and beast and will never
forsake them that put their trust in Him. "That we may thereby
acknowledge Thee to be the only fountain of all good", and thus
acknowledge our dependence upon Thee in order that Thou might keep us
from all unrighteous dealings.
    There are many complaints of theft in our day. It seems that the
distinction between what is mine and what is thine is no longer
acknowledged. It seems to be no sin to take what belongs to another.
But God's judgment as well as His holy displeasure will fall upon those
stolen goods. They will certainly not profit us. Let us impress upon
the minds of our children that they must never take anything to
themselves, not even a penny to which they have no right. Let us walk
honestly among men before the Lord. Even if we should suffer want, let
us never lay hands on that which is our neighbor's. As I have already
said, that which is our neighbor's is his by virtue of divine
providence. God knows well what He has given. God is the Fountain of
all good, is He not? Let us then shun covetousness, the root of all
evil, says the apostle.
    If we are caught in that snare, we think that we have nothing to
spare; we consider that everything these days is so expensive, and
because the wages which we must personally pay our employees are
increasing, we need to be careful with what we have. What then is left
for another? Ah, let us rather think of those who have much less than
we. Ought we not to be ashamed because of our complaining? Should we
not always pray with David, "Incline my heart to Thy testimonies and
not to covetousness"?
    Do not say too often, "I have to figure on living beyond today; if
I should become sick or old, what then?" But, does not our petition
say: Give us *this* day our daily bread"? This daily bread refers to
the simple things that are indispensable for our temporal life. "This
day" means that we should cast off all vain cares because God is the
Fountain of all good. If God does not grant His blessing upon our
labors, what will they profit? But true dependence upon the Lord leads
us to expect all good things from the blessings of His hand only. Then
we live by the day, then we live close to God's throne of grace, and
then we acknowledge the gifts of God. By nature we undervalue them. The
people of Israel said, "Our soul loatheth this light bread." Their soul
loathed the manna God gave them from heaven. When there is no
acknowledgment of the divine origin and no feeling of our dependence,
we despise God's gifts.
    A few years ago (during the war), we experienced days of hunger
when we became undernourished and were at the brink of despair. Now you
are astonished to see how much is thrown away. We ought not to throw
away a single crust of bread, even though poverty is not the reason,
but we should appreciate what God gives us. Otherwise God will most
assuredly break the staff of bread. Moreover, without His blessing His
gifts will not profit. When Israel said, "Give us flesh", God gave
flesh in His wrath, and the people died with the flesh between their
teeth. God's blessing is greater than money or goods. May you not
forget that God's blessing makes rich. Go visit the families, the large
families with six, seven or eight children. Many think that large
families have too many cares. But you should visit large families and
observe the rich blessing that rests upon them, whereas small families
often have much more trouble making ends meet. God demands that we walk
in His ways and do not despise the blessing of children merely for
temporal prosperity. God demands that we acknowledge Him alone as the
One who can give blessings and as the One who can satisfy us with those
blessings. We must live by the day.
    God is bringing His judgments and punishments upon the world. He
demonstrated those judgments upon us in the last world war. We were
humiliated, both rulers and people. We were brought low because of our
sins. The injustices committed against us by the Germans were not
outside of God's government, and God did us no wrong. But what about
the present? Think of what is happening in the Indies. Events are
proceeding according to plan. Now ask yourselves, "What will become of
the Netherlands?" You can say it in a few words. Our nation has been
financially dependent upon the Indies. Our prosperity, our riches, and
our welfare came from the Indies. Soon the Indies will fall and the
Netherlands will collapse. But that is not all. There are also people
in the Indies who are in our care, because we are called to protect
them lest they fall into the hands of revolutionists. This is the duty
of the Netherlands. Our nation is called to bring them the Word of God
and to cause the light of the Gospel to shine there. But matters have
gotten so far out of hand that the people are being surrendered to the
power of the revolution and they will be terrorized, robbed and
emaciated by those who are honored here.
    This is to be expected. We have many schemes, many fanciful ideas
and illusions of peace. We must have prosperity. This is certain for
everyone, and it is true also for an entire nation, as we read in Psalm
127, that it is vain to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread
of sorrows; for so He giveth His beloved sleep. In this passage God
opens His hands for His church, shows the wonders of His grace,
describes His work in the hearts of His dear people, and bestows those
blessings in Christ Jesus, which are cast into their lap and given to
them, as it were, in their sleep. Hence arises the acknowledgment that
whatever I have received did not come to me by my strength nor by my
ability. I have nothing to boast about when my business prospers and my
labor is blessed. Moses said to Israel, "Say not, 'The might of my
right hand has gotten me this wealth.'" No, when the grace of God is
glorified there arises in the soul the acknowledgment that God is the
only fountain of all good, which bears this fruit, as we come to our
final thought, that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures and
place it alone in Thee.
    This requires much grace and effort. When a grocer prospers, we say
that he is a good business man; and if another meets with failure, it
is his own fault. But grant "that we withdraw our trust from all
creatures, and place it alone in Thee." Grant that we do not trust in
our wisdom, in our ambition. Does this mean that we are to live
carelessly? No, that is not what it means. A man must do his work
faithfully and the wife must set her heart upon her family. Do not
forget, this last. What a wife can earn for a family cannot be
expressed in figures. A man can say, "Here is my weekly salary", but
what the wife earns for the family by using the weekly salary wisely
cannot be expressed.
    Mothers, set your hearts on your families, on your children. Be
concerned about their welfare. It will not do to spend all you have. If
the deacons step in to assist the poor, is not that a dishonor? No,
that is not a dishonor, and I praise the congregations since they
understand their duty to assist the poor; oftentimes it is the cause of
joy and encouragement.
    Although it is no dishonor to receive assistance, nevertheless you
are duty bound to give your full attention to your work. God has given
us a vocation on earth, even though in the practice of that vocation we
are not to put our trust in our own wisdom or in any other creature,
but in God alone. Remember the wicked King Ahab who put his trust in
Assyria. He seemed to be justified too. Was he not saved from the hands
of his enemies? In the end the Assyrians oppressed and distressed him.
That was the result of his deeds when he refused to trust in God. Think
also of King Ahaziah who went to his physician as though there were no
God in Israel. He sought help from a heathen physician. Did not God
show that He was jealous of His honour?
    "Grant that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place
it alone in Thee." Yes, this is easily said, but the sharp trials which
God's children experience in this respect are many. When the Lord takes
everything away, and removes everything to which we cling, allowing us
only a bare existence, not only in our spiritual life, but also in our
temporal life, how incomprehensible God's ways seem to be with His
people. How often do they feel constrained to say, "I see no way out,
and what will become of me." I have known families in which the wife
said mockingly, "You may send the children to bed without bread. Now
where is your God?" But the man got on his knees, and said, "Lord, I
have no other refuge but Thee alone." Before he said, "Amen", God
fulfilled his needs. God brings us into extremities. Why? Because we
place too much trust in man. God deprives His children of their
comforts. He lets the waters rise to the lips, so that one shall say,
"I have none beside Thee alone; Thou art my refuge and strength." This
is what it means to put our trust in the Lord and cast all our cares
upon Him, saying with childlike confidence, "He has delivered me in six
troubles and in seven no evil shall touch me." Let God's people testify
from their experiences. When they come to this extremity they always
find that God is not far from them, but that He answers before they
    Oh that this might be true for our nation also. How much better
would the outlook be than it is now. I am concerned about the condition
of our land, of the rulers and of the people. God demands of them all
that they look away from people and place their trust in Him alone. He
says in His Word: "Prove Me now herein, if I will not open you the
windows of heaven." If we forsake God, we make ourselves worthy of
judgment, and may expect trouble after trouble.
    O what a privilege God's people have in truly fleeing to God for
refuge. He has testified in Psalm 81: "Thou calledst in trouble, and I
delivered thee;... for I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of
the land of Egypt:... Oh that My people had hearkened unto Me,... (I)
should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey
out of the rock should I have satisfied thee." But the people would not
hearken and they have estranged their hearts from God, which made the
Psalmist complain in Ps. 81, as we shall now sing from Psalter No.
        "O that to My voice
        Israel would hearken!
        Then they would rejoice,
        Walking in My ways,
        Bright and joyous days
        Ne'er a foe would darken."
    Are there not some instructions in this Lord's Day for every man?
Are there not some instructions for our youth, for our children, who
may have so many difficulties? Do you ever give any thought, fathers
and mothers, to the difficulties which our children may have -
difficulties which they cannot accept in their lives and which worry
them more than you think? Do we ever try to accommodate them? Do we
help bear their burdens from time to time? Can our children unburden
their hearts to their fathers and mothers? Or do we thrust them away?
    I mean something more. I mean to say that in expectation of the
problems which will face them early in life, and of the difficulties
which they will have; the one with his military service, another with
his vocation, and a third with his engagement or approaching marriage,
we should teach them early in life to say, "Lord, lead me by the hand,
and give me my daily bread." In anticipation of marriage, teach them
early to seek the Lord, that He may care for them. Teach them early to
bring their needs to God. The Lord Jesus said, "After this manner pray
ye, Our Father which art in heaven, Give us this day our daily bread."
For the eye of God is upon us. We live out of the hand of God's
providence. No one is excluded from it, neither in early life nor in
later life. Let us then bow our knees in secret and tell Him our needs.
If there are financial worries in these days when everything is so
expensive, if you are oppressed because of sickness, then give glory to
God and say, "Lord, I confess before Thy holy face that nothing can
avail me without Thy blessing. Let Thy blessing rest upon us and upon
our children."
    Mothers, be not overcome with excessive fear that you will have too
many children. Fathers, be not too apprehensive that you will have too
many cares. The Lord crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies,
and those tender mercies can give us so much of what we need, so much
peace, and such abundance that all our cares are taken away in a
moment. It always makes me happy to see the love and mutual affection
which is found in large families, and the faithful care which God shows
them so that they lack nothing. I ask you, one by one, if you have any
complaint, dare you say, "Lord, I have a complaint about Thy providing
hand"? No, you have no reason to and you may not. All is comprehended
in this petition: "Give us this day our daily bread", so that we may
lay all things open before the Lord, and tell Him what we need and what
we lack.
    May also an unconverted person use this prayer? So much is being
made of this among the young people; so much advice is being given
them, and there are so many strange explanations, that I would like to
say something else. I would say that God has not only spared, helped
and saved unconverted, even wicked people as they prayed, for example,
the wicked King Ahab who humbled himself that God postponed the
judgment, but also that you must never neglect prayer. You must show
reverence in Catechism and in church. You must shut your eyes and fold
your hands, and set your heart upon the prayer. I would also like to
remind you again of the difference there is between one and another in
the eating of our daily bread. Because of this difference I drew the
line very sharply earlier in the sermon, stating that the world which
lies under the curse does not exist because of the atoning merits of
Christ. The world continues to exist in the power of God's providence
and in the dispensation of common grace.
    Christ humbled Himself and became like unto us in all things, sin
excepted. He took upon Himself our human nature, but not as it once was
in the state of rectitude. In the state of rectitude Adam did not weep;
he did not hunger and he did not thirst. In that state there was no
death. Christ took the human nature upon Himself in subjection as the
result of sin, although He Himself did not bear the judgment of sin. It
was because of His subjection to the results of sin that He was weary
with His journey, that He was thirsty and hungry, that He wept at
Lazarus' grave, and that He died; so that He could be of help to His
people in all things.
    When at the table a slice of bread is cut, you would do well to
notice the difference between common and special grace. If you may see
it, then say, "Oh, Lord, make me a partaker of the portion of Thy
people and grant that I may enjoy what Thou givest in Thy favour."
God's people have all temporal blessings in His favour and not merely
in the dispensation of His providence. This makes people fat for the
day of slaughter, and the reprobates shall be held accountable for
their use of the gifts, for they are robbers of God's honour and
abusers of His gifts.
    Finally, with a few words I would encourage God's people. Do not
complain too much, people of God. Do not complain about God's dealings.
Much rises up against us in the world. Here one is sitting on the brink
of despair, there one is being oppressed, yonder is another who can see
no way out. Do not look too much to man. Ask the Lord to give a token
of His favour. Then you can pass through poverty and adversities. "Give
us this day our daily bread", for we receive what we need in order to
serve God's counsel. If God has sustained you forty years, will He do
it no longer when you are sixty? Has He not said in the Revelations to
John, "See thou hurt not the oil and the wine"? This means that there
is always a little left for the church of God, and His people have a
sanctified right to that little in Christ. Therefore they have in that
little more than the wicked have when their corn and wine are
increased. May the food and drink which you receive be seen in that
light, so that you may marvel at it saying, "I have received a
sanctified right to it, for Thou, Lord Jesus hast merited it for me."
That will give us a joy that the world does not know. May we have a
little experience of this so that we may withdraw our trust from man. I
have often been put to shame by people, I am willing to admit, but with
the Lord we are never put to shame. He remains the faithful and
unchangeable One. May we continually put all our trust in Him as the
Fountain of all good, expecting from Him that great salvation that is
prepared for us in eternal glory. There no inhabitant shall say, "I am
sick." Let the world have the overhand for a short while. Soon the
great day will come and we, people of God, will receive the inheritance
and rejoice in God's eternal favour. The Lord grant us a dependent
life. It is necessary and profitable for us to be kept by God on close
reins. For the life and walk of God's children must be above the things
of the earth in the ministration of God's grace, acknowledging Him, of
Whom, through Whom and to Whom are all things: to Whom be glory
forever. Amen.

Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2
(continued in part 25...)

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