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God's health plan: Prayer and Discipleship

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welcome and talk about theme sheet, handout and presentation working together.
Can’t cover The Lord’s prayer all this in one preach but you will be continuing to explore this in your life groups. That’s why life-groups are so important and you need to be in one.
Today we are just focusing on verses 5-8 which are often missed when people preach on the Lord’s prayer because they just jump straight in.

God’s health plan

Healthier lives, healthier society.
We hear a lot about keeping healthy these days don’t we.
You can see it in adverts both in print and on TV, in discussions on the internet.
The 2 dimensions of being healthy seem to be
What we eat / Inward / take in.
Our activity / Outward / doing.
We have the successful ‘5 fruit and veg every day’ campaign, what we take in by eating. We have the Cycling and walking campaigns, outward, exercise or doing.
Now being healthy not only helps us, but it helps society as we will most likely go to the NHS less, we may take less time off work. By being healthy we cost less to look after and contribute more.
This 2 way health plan is very similar to what we see in our passages today.
What we are looking at today is part of God’s health plan. How to have a healthy heart towards God and towards other people. How Society could be better if we all obeyed God’s health plan.
God’s health plan is called discipleship
And just like the NHS Jesus’ health plan is free for us but still cost a great amount as we will explore today.

New healthy hearts

The divine heart transplant service
Matt 6:5-15 is Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray and it begins by saying that in order to pray we need to have new healthy hearts. Matt 6:5-8 says this.
Matthew 6:5–8 NIV
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Jesus is teaching us that in order to pray we need a new healthy heart that:
Doesn’t seek others’ approval vs.5
Does seek Jesus’ approval. vs.6
Doesn’t try to earn God’s favour. vs.7
Does trust that God’s favour is already earned by Jesus. vs.8
Now why do we need new healthy hearts? Why can’t we just get our old hearts healthy?
We need new hearts because…
Jer 17:9 explains...
Jeremiah 17:9 NIV
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
God looked at everyone throughout history and saw all the wars and evil and hatred that had come from our hearts. He saw that the natural human heart is beyond cure! we needed a new heart!
have you ever been fooled by your heart? Made a decision that you later found out to be a mistake? Maybe in love? Maybe in a career?
We hear so many times ‘follow your heart’, and it can be good advice but mostly it’s not because what we really mean by this is ‘do what feels good’.
The problem is that following your heart, doing what feels good for one person has repercussions on others doesn’t it!
I have had some experience with people in prison and a great program that some friends and family of mine are involved with is called ‘restorative justice’.
This is where the victim of the crime and the prisoner agree to meet under supervision so the victim can explain the effect that the crime has had on their life.
So many times the prisoner begins with the idea that their crime is victim-less, the insurance pays out so no-one loses anything is a common example.
But now they are faced with the reality of people who are scared to go home, to go out, who feel violated and vulnerable because of their actions.
They thought that what felt good for them had no repercussions but it did.
This is why we need a new heart because our natural heart is deceitful and will let us and others down.
Even if our motivations are good, we still can’t know all the unseen repercussions of acting according to our own hearts and desires on others.
So God put a divine rescue health plan in place to send us a heart transplant.
God’s divine rescue health plan…
Ezekiel 36:26-27
Ezekiel 36:26–27 NIV
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Ezekiel was prophesying about Jesus and His rescue mission.
Jesus mission was to give you his living, pure, healthy heart in exchange for our stone-dead, sinful heart.
This is what Jesus did on the cross.
Jesus is the divine rescue health plan...
2 Cor 5:21
2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This exchange of hearts, this exchange of sin for righteousness, dead stone for living flesh is how much Jesus loves you!
And having ...
a divine heart transplant is the only way that we can pray the way that Jesus has taught us.

The heart of a disciple

New heart = Disciple = being a Christian
So, in order to pray the way Jesus teaches us... we first need a new heart, the heart of a disciple.
Our reading today is smack bang in the middle of the sermon on the mount which begins with the beatitudes in Matt 5.
The Be-Attitudes, Jesus’ teaching us how we are to be and it is such a contrast to the way our world is today isn’t it.
Just imagine:
If our world treated the poor, the bereaved, the weak and the persecuted the way Jesus talks about.
If our world was made up of people who hunger and thirst for righteousness, are merciful, pure in heart and peacemakers.
This whole section which begins in Matt 5 with the beatitudes and ends in Matt 8 with the parable of the wise and foolish builders.
This whole section of the bible is Jesus teaching us what a disciple, a learner, a follower, and practitioner of Jesus’ way should be like after they have received their heart transplant.
This is God’s health plan for us to make the best use of our new healthy hearts and it begins like this:
God’s health plan
Become a disciple of Jesus.
Build the Kingdom of Jesus.
The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart!
How do we get healthy? You get a new heart when you become a disciple and then you learn to obey Jesus commands.
How does our world get better? One heart at a time as the kingdom is built and we live out being an obedient disciple of Jesus.
Let’s look together at two passages, one from the beginning and one from the end of this section
Matt 5:1-2 says...
Matthew 5:1–2 NIV
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:
This tells us that...
To be a disciple is to be taught by Jesus.
And this section ends with the parable of the wise and foolish builders.
Matt 7:24 in the NRSV says...
Matthew 7:24 NRSV
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
This tells us that...
To be a disciple is to act on Jesus teaching
Discipleship, being taught and applying Jesus’ teaching begins and ends our section and is the whole point of this section of scripture.
How do we learn from Jesus? We spend time with Him in:
Prayer
Worship
Word
Community with other disciples.
Ministry, putting it into practice
Talk about life-groups
You see, there is a lot of confusion about being a christian and being a disciple.
People often think that anyone can be a christian but only a few special people can be disciples but this just isn’t true according to the Bible.
Well I have some good news for you today!
Look at these Bible verses with me Acts 6:1; 11:26; 19:9
Acts 6:1 NIV
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
Acts 11:26 NIV
and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Acts 19:9 NIV
But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.
These passages tell us that If you are a Christian then you are a disciple because there is no difference in meaning between the words Christian and Disciple. If you are a Christian then you are a disciple, if you are not a disciple then you are not a christian.
Now this is very different to saying I’m a beginner disciple and I’m a mature disciple just as it is very different for someone who is just beginning to start jogging from someone training for a Marathon and God knows this, don’t worry.
This is good news because it’s only by accepting Jesus’ heart transplant that you can run at all!
It’s only by receiving Jesus’ heart transplant that you can truly pray as Jesus has taught us in the Lord’s prayer.
If you want to receive this heart transplant today it’s really easy for you because Jesus has done all the hard work on the cross all you have to do is confess 2 things.
that you realise that your stone heart has let you and others down in how you speak, act and live.
ask Jesus to forgive you and give you His new heart so you can begin to be a disciple and learn to put into practice Jesus’ teaching about how we are to speak, act and live as a disciple.
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