Summary: Compare the god of your imagination to the God that Jesus knew, and revive your relationship with God.
This being the fourth Sunday of the month, we will be looking at one of the 9 characteristics of a successful participant in God’s mission for our church. This morning, we will be looking at the characteristic of the passion to know God.
The guiding text for this morning’s message comes from Matthew 6:9-13.
This week, I enjoyed spending three evenings with a few of our youth going to the Institute of Basic Life Principles. We ate, we talked and we learned a great deal about conflict resolution, God’s way.
When I spend time with people, I listen to what they say and store up illustrations for future messages. I can say without a doubt, if I ever give a talk on "the worse ways to die," I will have 45 minutes worth of illustrations.
Not only do I listen to people’s conversations for illustrations, but I also listen to people’s prayers to discover what they believe about God and how they see God? When we pray, we often express what we believe about God or what we want others to hear we believe about God.
But when Jesus prays, He always expresses what He knows personally about God. Jesus speaks from first-hand experience. Many of us simply repeat what we’ve heard or what we wish God would be like.
This morning, we are be looking at the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray. And in teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus reveals five truths about the real God.
First, Jesus reveals that God relates to us as "our Father." We see this in verse 9.
From the very beginning, I’ve given this church the freedom to call me Dana or Pastor Dana. I’m not so concerned about what you call me to my face. I’m more concerned about what you call me behind my back. But I sometimes wonder if what you call me would give me insight into how you see me.
Some of you didn’t start to call me Pastor Dana, but you’ve gradually begun to call me Pastor Dana. I interpret that as a growing respect for me. Some of you started calling me Pastor Dana, but you’ve gradually begun to call me Dana. And I interpret that as a growing friendship with me. And then there is my wife, who only calls me Pastor Dana when I’ve done something wrong.
History indicates that before the time of Jesus, no one called God "Father" or "Baa-ba (Mandarin)" or "Otoosan (Japanese)." God was always beyond the reach of human beings. Either sin or the distance between heaven and earth separated us from God. But when Jesus came, he bridged the relationship gap between a holy God and an unbelieving humanity.
Jesus teaches us to address God as "our Father." In fact, John 1:12-13 tells us, "Yet to all who received [Jesus Christ], 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."
The reason why Jesus instructs us to call God, "our Father," is because Jesus is the One who makes possible for us to have a Father-child relationship with God. And as we look further into this prayer, we will discover what kind of Father God is to us.
Second, Jesus reveals that God rules our lives. We see this in verse 10.
One of my first jobs was a counselor for a summer camp. I got along so well with my boss, that we often made fun of each other. One evening, as he was driving me home, we began to make fun of each other. I said some things that were so hurtful that he began to cry. When I got home, I was worried because I realized that although he was my friend, he was also my boss.
Jesus, through this prayer, is letting us know that although God is our Father, he is also the King of Creation. We can be sure of God’s love, protection and provision, because He is our Father, but we need also to know that His instructions are not suggestions or opinions. They are the decrees of a King.
For instance, Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." If you’ve never read this verse in the Bible, it’s really there. God calls husbands to love their wives sacrificially, just as Jesus Christ gave his life on the cross as an act of love for the church.
About three months after our daughter was born, I struggled greatly with that command from God. I was going to school full-time, working part-time, shopping, cooking, cleaning and taking care of Esther part-time.