#359 - GIVING AND RECEIVING FORGIVENESS (27/5/21)
Today, we continue learning to pray through the four major themes of The Lord’s Prayer: Praise, Petitions, Peace-making and Protection.
This theme is about of peace with God and with others.
During this Coronavirus crisis, have been encouraged to wash our hands thoroughly and regularly . Washing our hands is a great illustration of the daily need to keep restoring peace by receiving and giving forgiveness - our relationships need regular cleaning!
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’ (Matthew 6:12)
‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’ (Matthew 6:14-15)
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ (Matthew 5:9)
Peace with God
This theme is about the restoration of relationships. Firstly, sin damages our relationship with the Father. Confession cleanses us of our sin. John promises,
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1:9).
It’s really important that we don’t so elevate justification by faith that we fail to remember that sin angers our Father and damages our relationship with Him. However, it’s vital to remember that it’s always the blood of Christ -His death for sin- and not our confession that is the means by which we can have peace with God.
If we love the Father, we will be quick to seek restoration with Him through confession. And the good news is that He always forgives and cleanses us in Christ.
Peace with others
Sin also damages our relationships with others. All relationships are strained by unmet expectations. Many people go through a cycle of making a new best friend only to move on when reality sets in. Many people regularly change church because relationships are tough. Much of the problems in our lives and the world are caused by bitterness. It’s not easy but it is certainly is easier, to forgive someone who asks for it and shows some sorrow. However, Jesus never teaches us to forgive only those who ask for it. He teaches us to forgive no matter what.
As you can see, giving and receiving forgiveness is very important to God and is vital for healthy relationships. Jesus teaches us to pray about this on a daily basis. So, our simple response is to confess our sin and express forgiveness as we pray.
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - THIS THEN IS HOW YOU SHOULD PRAY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have any encouraging stories of answered prayer that you'd like to share?
Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we continue to learn from Jesus about prayer from The Lord’s Prayer.
Please read Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1.
Let’s briefly look at The Lord’s prayer together. We're going to break this prayer into 4 themes. I don’t believe that Jesus is teaching us to repeat this prayer as a kind of mantra. Rather, He is teaching us the themes that should regularly feature in a healthy and well-rounded prayer-life. They are like the ingredients to a healthy diet.
1. PRAISE - WORSHIP
“…Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”
Prayer begins with looking up and recalling who God is. He’s our Father. He loves us. He’s with us. He’s for us. He ‘in heaven’. This speaks of His almighty power. He’s imminent and transcendent. He’s Abba Father and Holy, Holy, Holy.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread…”
Prayer also includes asking for things. Please prayers. Jesus teaches us to begin this section by praying ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done’. Not my kingdom and my will! We are to find out what God wants from His word and pray for that.
After praying for God’s Kingdom and will to be done, we turn to our needs. We are to pray for our ‘daily bread’, pray for the things that we need. Pray for other people’s needs.
3. PEACE - MAKING (RECEIVING AND GIVING FORGIVENESS)
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…”
Penitence is a vital part of prayer as is forgiving others. I think that this is often overlooked in corporate and personal prayer. Many people change their friends and change their church because of unmet expectations. It’s easy to walk away, it’s Christ-like to forgive and love.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
We are to regularly pray for protection and pray for others to be protected from dark forces. Too many are unaware of his schemes. Too many of us don’t realise that we are in a war zone. We are not in peacetime.
Peter tells us that we are to be,
‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him,’ (1 Peter 5:8-9).
1. What did God speak to you about from Sunday's message?
2. Why is it important to begin prayer with praise and how do you do this?
3. Which of the four themes of prayer - praise, petition, peace-making and protection do you most overlook and why?
4. Our aim as a Community Group is for each of us to be growing in prayer. What steps does the Father want you to take in order to grow in prayer?
Serving, Investing and inviting
1) Have you got any encouraging stories of serving, investing and inviting that you'd like to share?
2) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?
2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?
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