It rolls off the tongue so easily: “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.” It’s something we want as disciples of Jesus. To desire the will of God, to applaud the will of God, to do the will of God is not difficult until it is at odds with our own will or agenda for our lives. That’s when truly praying this prayer becomes a struggle for like Adam and Eve we want to pray: “Not as you will, but as I will.” Today in the second week of our series, we explore ‘The Father’s Kingdom’ as Jesus shows us that for God's agenda and priority to come first, we need to surrender our own agenda. In doing so, however, we discover that we are the answer to God’s prayer for this city, this nation and the world. That brings a joy that is felt in heaven and on earth.
#2 in series: Prayer: From his Fullness
Our Father…your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10
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Some pray to see the will of God
Some pray to be the will of God.
Which will you pray today?
1. What does the phrase “Your Kingdom come…” mean to you?
2. How easy or difficult is it for you to pray: “Not my will but yours be done”? Explain.
How do you refer to God? Is he the big guy or the man upstairs? The Good Lord? Or Father? Names are important. They express relationship. They reflect worth. They give identity. That's what makes the prayer that Jesus gives his disciples and us so radical. For up until the 10th Century, there is no reference in any Jewish writings where God is referred to as Father - Lord, Master, The Almighty, the God of hosts but never Father. Yet in the Gospels, Jesus refers to God as his Father 165 times…a name he invites us to pray with him. A name that expresses the relationship God desires to have with us. A name that reflects his heart for us. A name that gives purpose and direction to our prayers and our lives for it unveils the fullness of who God is and what he makes available to us. Today in the first part of the Lord's prayer we explore the Father's character.
#1 in series: "PRAYER: From his Fullness"
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Matthew 6:9
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Who God is reorients everything in your life. Prayer to the Father is a springboard that helps us leap with trust into the arms of our holy God who wants us to experience fullness of life with him. Our Father in heaven loves us, accepts us, treasures us and delights in us. Not only does he want to be involved in our life, he wants to involve us in the fullness of his life and all that his name means for us.
- How do you address God or think of God when you pray?
- How would your prayer life change if you recognised fully who it is that you are praying to?
Name, your Father in heaven always has time for you. Amen.
He's a reluctant and even a defiant prophet who can't seem to fathom the vastness of God's love. Jonah puts limits on things that God never does. So today in the final week of our series: Major Questions in the Minor prophets, Jonah poses the question to us, "Does God really love everyone?" God makes it absolutely clear that the worst and most evil person in the world is not beyond the scope of his grace and that’s good news for us all.
#7 in series: Major Questions in the Minor Prophets
Imagine you are at a theatre production. You have met the main character and his love interest, witnessed a perfect beginning, full of colour, vibrancy, song and life. You've been introduced to the villain who wrecks everything and witnessed the ensuing conflict and darkness that weighs heavy over the scene. You've heard the promise of what will be and what is to come and through the various scenes you've been drawn into victories and been crushed by the defeats. You've been touched by moments of beauty and grace and felt the devastating consequences of bad choices. The tension is brewing. There's an escalation in the plot. Nothing has resolved the alienation that has occured between the main characters. The final word our ears hear is 'curse' - it's bad news. And the curtain goes down. There is silence. The only problem is, it's not a theatre production. It's the Old Testament. As we come to the final scene and final word in the Old Testament, having journeyed through 2000 years between the promise to Abraham and the end of Malachi, navigated around all the plot twists and scene changes, we are still left with an unsolved problem, an unfulfilled promise and a major question that needs to be dealt with - 'What hope do I have?' We'll explore that today.
#6 in series: Major Questions in the Minor Prophets
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Malachi 4:2
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Don't go anywhere. It's just the intermission. Stay for the rest of the story. For there is still another act to come where the unsolved problems are resolved and the unfulfilled promises are fulfilled. Come and meet Jesus who changes everything and guarantees that your story does not end with tears and curses but with unbridled joy and unceasing blessing.
1 What has been the best theatre or musical production you have seen?
2 Where does it feel like the curtain has come down on something in your life?
3 What fills your life with hope right now?
"Half-hearted, Insipid. Going through the motions. Lazy.' It sounds like a coach at a press conference, reflecting on his team's performance after being flogged by the opposition. But instead, it is God reflecting on his people's attitude to worship. They had slipped into spiritual neutral - maintaining the externals, dutifully performing the rituals, coasting along in their faith but not really caring about it. Their hearts were not in it; they had checked-out and become spiritually lazy and complacent. In God's eyes, that was and is just not good enough. So he sends Malachi to reveal the emptiness of their religion, to remind them of his love and to reawaken in them a passion for worship that brings honour and glory to his name. Today Malachi asks us to do some honest reflection as he helps us answer this important question, 'Why should I care?'
#5 in series: Major Questions from the Minor Prophets
“A son honours his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honour due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 1:6a
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God deserves nothing less than your very best...in everything.
1 The term “apathy” literally means “without passion.” What is a household duty that, try as you might, you never find yourself passionate about?
2. Who is the person/people in this world that you would make any sacrifice for to give them your best?
3 What does it mean to give God your very best and how is that evidenced in your life?
"What’s the point?" "Why keep going when it seems that no change is evident, no growth is occurring, no progress is being made?" If you ever been ready to give up, to throw in the towel, to walk away defeated, then you have experienced discouragement. If you have ever thrown up your hands in frustration and said, "God, what do you want from me" then you know the despair that discouragement can bring to your life, your work, your relationships or your ministry. Today as we continue with major questions from the minor prophets, God speaks through his prophet Haggai to give us courage in times of discouragement and to answer plainly the question, "What does God ask of me?'
#4 in series: Major Questions in the Minor Prophets
Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ Haggai 2:4b-5
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When your spirit is low, remember his Spirit is with you. You may not understand how all the parts of your life—the highs and lows, the frustrations and unwanted pauses—fit into God’s plan for your life and work, but he does. So look up, look ahead and keep moving forward in obedience, for his glory will be revealed in ever increasing ways.
1 When have you been tempted to ‘Give up’ in your life?
2 What happens to you when you feel discouraged?
3 What has helped you move beyond discouragement?
It’s an icon in almost every home. The round ‘Tuit’. For all the times you say 'I'll get around to iit' - the projects, the work, the conversations or activities that we have put off to tomorrow when the timing is right or more convenient. How many times have we handed God the round tuit? Put off serving until we have fulfilled a career goal or put kids through education? Put off spending time with him because we are too busy? Put off giving because we just want to get our mortgage, our Uni loans, our debt, our house in order? It’s rarely deliberate or planned. But misplaced priorities can easily lead to squeezing God and his blessings out of our lives. That’s what happened to the people of Israel as they returned from exile. They were too busy with building their own homes and lives rather than re-building the temple. But God will not be pushed to the edges of our life. He has saved, rescued and called us for a purpose. Haggai speaks directly into our busy lives when God’s timing seems inconvenient or we have misplaced priorities as he answers the question that every human asks: ‘Why am I here?’
#3 in series: Major Questions in the Minor Prophets
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” Haggai 1:7
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Are you building a life that reflects your status as a temple of the Holy Spirit? Is your life leaving a legacy that will stand the test of time? Your heart and life will reveal your priorities! God has saved you to be and reveal his living presence to the world…today.
1. What’s your favourite method for procrastination?
2. What are the things that continually squeeze God to the edges of your life?
3. What do your current life priorities reveal about Christ’s presence in this world?
What now? It’s a common question in the face of situations over which you have no control. A flat tyre. No mobile or internet connection. When you can’t fix the sickness of his wife. When a parent can’t remove the pain of a child. When all the options dry up and the struggle is unavoidable. What do I do now? What do you do when the season of uncertainty is inevitable and ongoing? When you have no Plan B? When today’s lousy & tomorrow looks…worse?When what you've counted on comes crumbling down? What do you do when you grow tired of the fight, the struggle? That’s the question Habakkuk faces and his response is as startling as it is confident - “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!" So if you have ever voiced the question “what now”, come and meet the one whose power is real, whose faithfulness is constant and who alone is able to transform your questions into an exclamation point.
#2 in series: Major question in the Minor Prophets
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19
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When the future is rough and the floods of doubt are sweeping you away; when the waters of fear and anxiety are rising and you believe going under is your best bet - Praise God. Praise God for his faithfulness in the past and his promise for the future. Praise God for in this moment the Father is powerful and mighty to save. Praise God for he will act.
1. Share a time in your life when you have felt powerless to do something or change what was about to happen?
2 What is the fear, worry, or anxiety that is rising up in your life at this current time?
"Why this? Why is this happening? How long can you do this? They are good questions that most people have asked at different times of their life. If you have ever been confused by what God is doing in the world. If you have ever wondered why God acts so slow and doesn't just do something. If you believe in God but have encountered some serious questions that you cannot answer, or you don't like the answer that God gives, then Habakkuk is the book for you. He's been described as 'the man with a question mark for a brain' and in a short 56 verses we have his conversation with God recorded. It's a conversation where he asks our same question, "Why this?' and discovers an answer that reorients his vision, corrects his understanding and reveals a God who still has more to say.
#1 in series: Major questions in the Minor prophets
Look at the proud!
Their spirit is not right in them,
but the righteous live by their faith. Habakkuk 2:4
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When confronted or touched by evil and suffering in our lives and God seems silent or uninvolved, remember that no place is too dark for God’s grace to penetrate in a life-affirming way. God always has a plan to deal with evil and always works out justice…in his time. Faith trusts that he is at work, and has more to say, even if we cannot see it.
1 If there was one "why this" from your life that you wished God could answer now, what would it be?
2 What keeps you believing in Jesus when you can't answer some of the 'Why' questions of life?