Sunday, August 06, 2006


The Lord’s Prayer #1 Our Father which art in heaven

IN 1989 an earthquake almost flattened Armenia. The deadly quake killed over 30,000 people in less than four minutes. In that same short interval countless other lives were changed forever. In the midst of all the confusion of the earthquake, a father left his wife securely at home and rushed to his son's school. When he arrived there he discovered the building had been flattened. Standing there looking at what was left of the school the father remembered the promise he made to his son, "No matter what, I'll always be there for you!" Tears began to fill his eyes. It looked like a hopeless situation, but he could not take his mind off of his promise. He remembered that his son's classroom was in the back right corner of the building. The father rushed there and started digging though he rubble. As he was digging other grieving parents arrived, clutching their hearts, saying: "My son!" My Daughter!" Other well meaning parents tried to pull him off of what was left of the school saying: It's too late!" "They're dead!" "You can't help!" "Go home!" Even a police officer and a fire fighter told him he should go home. To everyone who tried to stop him he said, "Are you going to help me now?" When they did not answer him he continued digging for his son stone by stone.
Courageously he proceeded alone because he needed to know for himself: "Is my boy alive or dead?" This man dug for eight hours and then twelve, and then twenty-four and then thirty-six hours. Finally in the thirty-eighth hour as he pulled back a boulder he heard his son's voice. He screamed his son's name, "ARMAND!" And a voice answered him, "Dad?" It's me DAD!" Then the boy added these priceless words, "I told the other kids not to worry. I told them that if your were alive, you'd save me and when you saved me, they'd be saved. You promised, 'no matter what, I'll always be there for you!' You did it, Dad!"
The father worked more intently now clearing the way for his son and his classmates. "Come on out!" the father said. "No, dad!" his son replied, "Let the other kids out first, 'cause I know you'll get me! No matter what, I know you'll be there for me!" Isn’t what a dad should be like? Some of us were blessed with fathers like that – but sadly some of you today do not have that kind of memory of your dad.
The Lord Jesus exploded all the stereotypes about God when He came to earth. He showed that God is not some kind of impersonal force. God is not some kind of angry tyrant waiting to destroy your life. God is not some apathetic creator that really doesn't care about what's going on on the earth. In fact, Jesus defined God in two words. In the Lord's prayer, Matthew 6:9, He said, "This is how you should pray, `Our Father...'" Circle those two words. God wants you to think of Him as a Father. That is a radical idea. In the Old Testament God is only called "Father" seven times. In this chapter alone, Jesus calls Him Father over ten times. And Jesus called God Father and told us to call God Father over seventy times in the Gospels. God wants you to know Him like a Father. The point I want to make is simply this: God is a Person not a power. I like that because I can relate to a person. I can get to know a person. I can have a relationship with a person. The problem is that for many people the word "father" brings up a negative image. It's a bad experience. It brings back childhood memories, sometimes it arouses regret, resentment, anger, fear, frustration, guilt. They don't have good memories of the term "father". It stirs up deep feelings. If that's the way God is, I'm not interested! Some fathers make their home a hell on earth. They're inconsistent, selfish, demanding. They neglect their kids. They're abusive.
The Lord’s Prayer begins by calling God Father! The Lord’s Prayer is important! Thomas Watson: ‘After this manner pray ye.’ Our Lord Jesus, in these words, gave to his disciples and to us a directions for prayer. As God prescribed Moses a pattern of the tabernacle (Exod 25: 9), so Christ has here prescribed us a pattern of prayer. ‘After this manner pray ye,’ &c. The meaning is, let this be the rule and model according to which you frame your prayers. The Lord Jesus provides us with a pattern for prayer.
Let us have a great esteem of the Lord’s prayer; let it be the model and pattern of all our prayers.
"Our Father,
A. You Need To Realise your Acceptance With God.
There are many Christians today who some how feel that they are not acceptable to God. They feel that there are certain religious things they must do to make themselves more acceptable to God.
Through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ you and I are as acceptable to God as it is possible to be, if we have believed on the Lord Jesus to be our Saviour.
Our brother Jeff, alst Sunday , reminded us of those words found in Ephesians 1:6, “we are accepted in the Beloved!’ God, as a loving father accepts you.
He wants you to know that you are loved and cared for. If you don't get anything else this morning, get this: You matter to God. God cares about you. He loves you. He's interested in you. Psalm 104:13 "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who honor Him..." This is God's most outstanding characteristic. He's caring, loving, compassionate.
One time the disciples were out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and a storm came up. They started taking on water and started to sink. They were tossed back and forth. They asked the most important question, the ultimate question: "Lord, don't you care?" We're drowning! Have you ever felt like that? I'm going under Lord! Don't you care? The answer is, “Yes. Yes, I care a lot.” You have a heavenly Father who cares.
1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you!" Does God care about your health? Yes. Does He care about your house payment? Yes. Does He care about your grades at school? Does He care about how you get along in your family? Does He care about whether you're a success or failure in life? Does it even matter to Him? The answer is, “Yes.” Ps 35:37 "The Lord delights in the well being of His servants." It's like, I love to see my kids succeed. Your Father cares about you.
The Bible makes it very clear that He's nearby when you need Him. He's available, accessable. Paul talks about this in Acts 17:27 when he talks about God is everywhere. "God did this so people would reach out for Him and find Him since He is not far from each of us." God is not a million miles away. He's right here. He's here with you. If you open your life to Him, He'll be in you, in your life.
Today, many kids grow up with absentee fathers. Increasingly, fathers are too busy. They're never around. They're never at home. They're always gone on important days. They're always too busy. Even when they are home they're detached from the family. They may be home but they're reading the paper, watching Monday night football. Even when they're physically present at home, they're really thinking about work. Their minds aren't on their kids, they are absentee fathers who are not really there when you need them.
That's not the way your heavenly Father is. God is not detached. He is not out in never, never land. He is a close God. Three encouraging statements.
GOD IS NEVER TOO BUSY FOR ME. Psalm 145:18 "The Lord is near to all who call on Him." When you pray you don't get a busy signal. Whenever you say, "I've got a burden, a need I've got to talk with You about." God doesn't say, "Not now. I'm busy." His switchboard is never full. He can handle all the requests. He's never too busy for you. You can talk to Him at any time.
HE LOVES TO MEET MY NEEDS. Matthew 7:11 "If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him." God says, "If you human fathers know how to give good gifts to your kids, then I love to give good gifts to My kids." Matthew 6:31-32 "So don't worry saying `What are we going to eat? or what shall we wear?' Your heavenly Father knows you need these things." The point is that good fathers take care of their children. You can count on your heavenly Father because He is close and He is consistent and He is caring. He loves to meet your needs. And He has unlimited resources which human fathers don't. So God is never too busy for me. He loves to meet my needs.
HE IS SYMPATHETIC TO MY HURTS. You say, "I'm feeling low today." God understands. He has x-ray eyes and can look right into you. He can understand why you're hurting many times when you don't even know why you're hurting. God can check it out. He knows. He understands completely.
Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." He's a close God, a close Father. Have you ever been crushed in spirit? If you've lived any length of time you have. You've had a tough week? God understands. You've had a tough day yesterday? A difficulty this week, this month, this year, this life? God understands. He is sympathetic. He is close to the brokenhearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit. That's what it means to have a heavenly Father.
The term Jesus used for Father in the Bible is the word "abba". Jesus spoke Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek. Jesus obviously read Greek and could speak it but the common language was Aramaic. The Aramaic word for "father" was "abba". It's obviously a real simple word that a baby could learn first. Like "papa", "dada", "abba". Daddy is what it means. It's an intimate term, the most intimate term. God says when you come to Him, that's the kind of relationship He wants you to have with Him. God wants you to see Him as Daddy, the most intimate, loving, personal relationship that you can have -- abba, daddy. That's how God wants you to know Him.

B. You Must Recognise God’s Availability To You
He is close to you. He cares for you.
We love Him because He first loved us.
God is the best Father
(1) In that he is most ancient. ‘The Ancient of days did sit.’ Dan 7: 9. A figurative representation of God, who was before all time, which may cause veneration.
(2) God is the best Father, because he is perfect. ‘Your Father which is in heaven is perfect;’ he is perfectly good. Matt 5: 48. Earthly fathers are subject to infirmities; Elias, though a prophet, ‘was a man subject to like passions’ (James 5: 17); but God is perfectly good. All the perfection we can arrive at in this life is sincerity. We may resemble God a little, but not equal him; he is infinitely perfect.
(3) God is the best Father because he is wise. ‘The only wise God.’ 1 Tim 1: 17. He has a perfect idea of wisdom in himself; he knows the fittest means to bring about his own designs. The angels light at his lamp. In particular, one branch of his wisdom is, that he knows what is best for us. An earthly parent knows not, in some intricate cases, how to advise his child, or what may be best for him to do; but God is a most wise Father; he knows what is best for us; he knows what comfort is best for us: he keeps his cordials for fainting. ‘God that comforteth those that are cast down.’ 2 Cor 7: 6. He knows when affliction is best for us, and when it is fit to give a bitter potion. ‘If need be ye are in heaviness.’ 1 Pet 1: 6. He is the only wise God; he knows how to make evil things work for good to his children. Rom 8: 28. He can make a sovereign treacle of poison. Thus he is the best Father for wisdom.

My Father's way may twist and turn, My heart may throb and ache,But in my soul I'm glad I know He maketh no mistake.My cherished plans may go astray,My hopes may fade away,But still I'll trust my Lord to lead For He doth know the way.Tho' night be dark and it may seem that day will never break;I'll pin my faith, my all in Him, He maketh no mistake.There's so much now I cannot see, My eyesight's far too dim;But come what may, I'll simply trust And leave it all to Him.For by and by the mist will lift And plain it all He'll make,Through all the way, tho' dark to me, He made not one mistake.

C. You Must Respond In Adoration
“Hallowed Be Thy Name.”
The prayer says: Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name! What is it to hallow God’s name?
All forms of Blashemy should make you shiver.
Hallow means to reverence:
[1] To melt in tears for sin as a child weeps for offending his father: When Christ looked on Peter, and Peter remembered his sin in denying him, he fell to weeping. Clemens Alexandrinus reports of Peter that he never heard a cock crow but he wept. It is a sign that God is our Father when the heart of stone is taken away, and there is a gracious thaw in the heart; and it melts into tears for sin. He who has a childlike heart, mourns for sin in a spiritual manner, as it is sin he grieves for, as it is an act of pollution. Sin deflowers the virgin soul; it defaces God’s image; it turns beauty into deformity; it is called the plague of the heart. 1 Kings 8: 38. A child of God mourns for the defilement of sin; sin has to him a blacker aspect than hell. He who has a childlike heart, grieves for sin, as it is an act of enmity. Sin is diametrically opposed to God. It is called walking contrary to God. ‘If they shall confess their iniquity, and that they have walked contrary unto me.’ Lev 26: 40. A childlike heart weeps for sin, as it is an act of ingratitude. It is an abuse of God’s love; it is taking the jewels of his mercies, and making use of them to sin. God has done more for his children than others; he has planted his grace and given them some intimations of his favour; and to sin against kindness, dyes a sin in grain, and makes it crimson; like Absalom, who soon as his Father kissed him, and took him into favour, plotted treason against him. Nothing so melts a childlike heart in tears, as sins of unkindness. Oh, that I should sin against the blood of a Saviour,
By having An attitude of sympathy towards our heavenly Father. We lay to heart the dishonours reflected upon our heavenly Father. When we see his worship adulterated, and his truth mingled with the poison of error, it is as a sword in our bones, to see his glory suffer. ‘I beheld the transgressors and was grieved. ’ Psa 119: 158.
By Having An Attitude of love towards our heavenly Father. He is unnatural that does not love his father. God who is crowned with excellency, is the proper object of delight; and every true child of God says as Peter, ‘Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’ But who will not say he loves God? If ours be a true genuine love to our heavenly Father, it may be known by the effects. Then we have a holy fear. There is the fear which rises from love to God, of losing the visible tokens of his presence. Eli’s ‘heart trembled for the ark.’ 1 Sam 4: 13. It is not said his heart trembled for his two sons Hophni and Phinehas; but his heart trembled for the ark, because the ark was the special sign of God’s presence; and if that were taken, the glory was departed. Every true child of God fears lest God should go, and the glory depart. Let us try by this whether we have a filial disposition. Do we love God, and does this love cause fear and jealousy? Are we afraid lest we should lose God’s presence, lest the Sun of Righteousness should remove out of our horizon? Many are afraid lest they should lose some of their worldly profits, but not lest they should lose the presence of God. If they may have peace and trading, they care not what becomes of the ark of God. A true child of God fears nothing so much as the loss of his Father’s presence. ‘Woe to them when I depart from them.’ Hos 9: 12. Psa 73: 25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
By having An attitude of honouring our heavenly Father. ‘A son honoureth his father.’ Mal 1: 6. We show our honour to our Father in heaven, by having a reverential awe of him upon us. ‘Thou shalt fear thy God.’ Lev 25: 17. This reverential fear of God, is when we dare do nothing that he has forbidden in his Word. ‘How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ Gen 39: 9. We may know God is our Father by resembling him. The child is his father’s picture.
Whomsoever God adopts for his child is like him; he not only bears his heavenly Father’s name, but his image. ‘And have put on the new man, which is renewed after the image of him that created him.’ Col 3: 10. He who has God for his Father, resembles him in holiness, which is the glory of the Godhead. Exod 15: 11.

Nothing is beyond His ability, His resources. Nothing even taxes Him. Whatever problem you've got -- at home, at work, at school -- God can handle it. He is a capable Father.
Luke 1:37 "For nothing is impossible with God." Nothing is impossible with God! God is capable.
Ephesians 3:20 (Living Bible) "God is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes!" God says, You think of the biggest thing you can think of and I can top that! Think of the biggest problem you can give me and I can handle it. Think of the biggest request you'd like to make and I can meet it. Because He is a capable Father.

God wants to meet your needs. He wants you to stop looking everywhere else to have those needs met, not to your husband, wife, family, boss, girlfriend, boyfriend. He wants you to look to Him.
Philippians 4:19 "My God shall supply all of your needs." That means everything, finances on down. All your needs. God takes care of His children. He is a loving Father.
The logical question is, “Is everybody God's child? How do you get into God's family? Is God the Father of everybody?
(1) God is a Father By creation; it is he that has made us: ‘We are also his offspring.’ Acts 17: 28. ‘Have we not all one Father?’ Mal 2: 10. Has not one God created us? But there is little comfort in this; for God is Father in the same way to the devils by creation; but he that made them will not save them.
(2) God is a Father by election, having chosen a certain number to be his children, upon whom he will entail heaven. ‘He has chosen us in him.’ Eph 1: 4.
(3) God is a Father by special grace. He consecrates the elect by his Spirit, and infuses a supernatural principle of holiness, therefore they are said to be ‘born of God.’ 1 John 3: 9. Such only as are sanctified can say, ‘Our Father which art in heaven.’
The Bible says, "To as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the children of God." Believe and receive. We believe and we receive.
There is only one way to get into the physical human family here on earth. That is to be born into it. Every one of you were born. That's how you got into the physical family of the human race.
How do you get into God's family? You are born again. That's what Jesus said. It just means starting over. It's a spiritual birth and it's just as important as your physical birth. You were physically born into the human family, then you get spiritually born into God's family. How do you get spiritually born? We are children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
God wants you to have a close relationship with Him. He is caring and consistent and He is competent and close. He wants to provide for your needs. Your greatest need is to first start trusting Him.

During Communion
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
He's reliable. He can be counted upon. He's dependable. He's worthy of trust. James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from the Father who does not change like shifting shadows." Circle "does not change". Some fathers are unpredictable. They're fickle. A lot of teenagers say, "I never know what to expect from my dad. I can't figure him out. Depending on the mood he's in, one minute he's silent, the next minute he's violent, one's minute he's tough, the next minute he's easy. I can't figure him out."
Inconsistent fathers produce insecure kids. God is a consistent father. He's not moody. He never has a bad day. He never wakes up grouchy. [Wife was asked, "Do you wake up grouchy in the morning?" She answered, "No, I usually let him sleep."] God is never grouchy. He's not moody. He loves you just as much on your day off as he does on your day on. Your good days and your bad days. Because He's consistent. It's not based on who you are.
2 Timothy 2:13 "Even if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself." Isn't that an incredible verse? It says even when I'm unfaithful and inconsistent and I'm unreliable, God can be counted on. He's reliable, consistent. He can't disown himself. Because of His very nature, He's consistent and faithful. That is such good news because everything in the world is changing. Constantly. While everything else is falling apart and changing on me daily there's one thing I know I can always count on. That is, I can always count on God to always act the same way toward me no matter how I feel. He is always caring and He is always consistent, no matter what I think, no matter what I feel, no matter what I do, He is caring and He is consistent.
Malachi 3:6 God says, "I the Lord, do not change." He is immutable, unchanging. Everything else shifts and changes but God is my rock. Nothing changes with Him. He's consistent.
He forgives us consistently because His Son has paid the penalty for our sins.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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