Today we continue to consider this opening phrase of The Lord's Prayer. Yesterday, we saw that 'The King is revealed' - He shows us who He is, principally, in His Word. Today we begin to look more specifically at what it means for God to be 'Our Father in heaven'.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” (Matthew 6:9)
Our view of the nature of God has been influenced by many things and will be warped in many ways. The most influential thing is our relationship to our own parents; nothing will have shaped our relationship to God and others more than this. How we view God and our view on how He views us, is influenced by our parental relationships.
How was your relationship with your mother or father growing up? Maybe you need to ask God to heal your heart and thinking so that you can live in His perfect love. God, for the Christian, is a perfect, always loving, never rejecting Father.
Becoming a child of God
‘Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.’ (John 1:12-13)
To become a child of God, one must ‘receive Him’ - receive Jesus. However, the great mystery is that although we have to choose to receive Jesus, this choice and our subsequent new birth, are the choice of God.
‘He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.’ (Ephesians 1:5)
God does not just forgive (justify) us when we receive Jesus, He also adopts us into His family. This is the highest privilege that anyone can have.
J. I. Packer wrote, in his book, Knowing God,
'If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity , find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life , it seems that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better that the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. Father is the Christian name for God.'
A child of the king is a Christian’s new identity, and a great source of joy and security. Notice how the Lord’s Prayer opens with an encouragement to begin our praying by reminding ourselves of God’s identity as ‘Our Father…’ and our identity as His children. Let me encourage you to start addressing God as your Father when you pray. Let's pray now,
“Father, I thank you that through Jesus I’ve been adopted into your family. Help me to remember this and pray and live in the light of this astounding truth. Amen”
During this series, let's aim to memorise and meditate on The Lord's Prayer.
TIPS ON MEMORISING SCRIPTURE
We will only do this, and persevere in doing this, if we believe that it's truly important to hide God's word in our heart. So get faith!
Don't disqualify yourself if it's hard - it is hard!
Write the text somewhere that's easy to find and use - a note on your phone, a post-it on the fridge...
Include the reference (book/chapter/verse) throughout the process
Read it slowly and carefully x 10 (Don't rush or dismiss this accurate repetition)
Recall it, without looking as much as possible x10
Do this a few times through the day - a habit is best formed by doing this at the same times, and places each day.
Revise regularly (and revise previously memorised verses)
Make it a habit to learn new verses - skill comes over time
USE IT! Actively use it to pray, worship, counsel, prophecy, and counter temptation and lies by quoting truth - it’s the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).
TIPS ON BIBLICAL MEDITATION - THE 'COME TO JESUS DAILY METHOD'.
Biblical meditation is to prayerfully read, repeatedly, a section of the bible and pray, worship and respond as God leads. Here are a few tips and questions, what I call the 'come to Jesus daily method', to help you when meditating:
PRAY - Ask for the Spirit to help you and to speak to you. Keep the goal in mind - having a relationship with God!
WRITING- Writing/journaling is often a great help as you answer the questions below. Remember, don't allow worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, perfection... to stop you from writing - it's between you and God. In meditation, I encourage you to write in the first-person, speaking to God - "I see that you are...I sense you speaking to me about...I pray for...."
GOSPEL- What does God, through this text, say to you about salvation through Jesus?
UP- What does God, through this text, say you about Himself – His worth, character, attributes, will, promises…?
IN- What does God, through this text, say about you, His church and how we are to relate?
OUT- What does God, through this text, say about non-believers and our mission?
RESPONSE – Is there anything else that you want to pray, worship God about, do, ask forgiveness about, ask God to help you to change…?
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY – WHO IS THE KING? (FOR THE WEEK OF 24/2/20)
Have you ever been lost and how did get ‘un-lost’?
Introduction - please read in your group
Maps are extremely useful but we must have the correct map and learn how to use it. A Christian receives a new map; the bible now directs their lives. For a map to be useful, it has to be scaled down, which means that much detail is removed. The Lord’s Prayer is a scaled-down ‘map’ to prayer and who God is; each phrase is a signpost to a wider path - we are to take each phrase and expand on it as the Spirit leads us. This opening phrase of the Lord’s Prayer teaches us that when we pray, it is helpful to begin by recalling who our King is. Focussing on Him will stir our hearts in worship, remind us of His love toward us, and His power to do the things that we ask for in prayer. Prayer should always begin with an ‘up’ focus - as we declare to our own souls ‘this is your King’.
Please read Matthew 6:9-13.
What have you been inspired by this week through the devotions?
How does knowing the King as Father change one's approach to life?
How does one become a child of God? (John 1:12-13)
‘Heavenly Father’ is a phrase that speaks of God’s power over all things; How does such a vision help us in prayer and worship?
God is revealed, principally, in the bible. Most clearly, we get a vision of the Father in Christ His Son (which is also in His word). What have you read in the bible recently that inspired your vision of God?
Pray - In groups of 3-4
In groups of 3-4 (Try to get into the same groups each week if possible)
Is there anything that you want prayer for out of this week’s study?
Is there anything that you want prayer for more generally?
How connected to God do you feel at the moment and how could you go deeper this week? (let's follow up on this when we next meet together).