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The Prayer Of Connection 2-14-2021

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CONNECTING WITH GOD THE PRAYER OF CONNECTION Sunday February 14, 2021 Scripture Reference: Matthew 6:9-13, 2 Chronicles 15:1-5 "Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don't let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one Matthew" 6:9-13 (NLT2) "Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. "Listen to me, Asa!" he shouted. "Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. 4 But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him. 5 "During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land." 2 Chronicles 15:1-5 (NLT2) Intro. A. Look with me again at V.5 "During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land." I wonder if that sounds vaguely familiar to you. To me this sounds an awful lot like the world we are living in today. There are problems on every hand. We are still embroiled in COVID pandemic. We are facing the problems of natural disasters. There are social and moral problems facing our world, political problems and the list goes on. 1. Now let's look again at V.1-4 "Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. "Listen to me, Asa!" he shouted. "Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. 4 But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him. Notice what is said in V.4 "whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord" This is my prayer for you and for myself. We need to stop looking to Washington DC or Sacramento, Wall Street, or Dr. Phil or Oprah to solve the problems we are facing in our lives and start putting our trust where it really belongs and that is in GOD ALONE! I am not suggesting that we abandon Washington or that we ignore the government, but I think it is time we stop looking to these institutions as our ultimate means of support and help. If the government is going to do us any good whatsoever then it must be because God rules in government and if He does not, then that government can never be the help to us we want it to be and I suggest strongly that He does not rule in our government. B. Last week I said to you that our purpose as a church is to connect people with God. I will tell you this without apology it is our disconnect from God that is the central cause of every ill and problem we and our world are facing today. Now I know that for some people they will say that I have made the solution to the problems we face far too simplistic, but I will tell you that I believe this with all my heart. I believe that I will be able to show you through this series of messages that I am going to be sharing with you that this is completely true. C. Now how do we connect with God? When I first asked myself this question, I thought the answer might be difficult or complex but then I had a revelation. Connecting with God is actually very simple. In fact, I think that I can boil down how to connect with God in just one word. Do you want to know what that word is? The word is PRAYER! 1. Now of course you want to know how I was able to come up with such a simple answer to what I am sure most people believe to be very complicated. Here is why I believe that prayer is the key to connecting with God. How is it that a person makes that first connection with God? Many times, at the end of a message like this I will invite you to pray. I will invite you to come to God for the very first time in your life, to ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to give you His new life. How do you do this? You do this through prayer, so your first connection with God comes through prayer. Now think with me about the times when after you made this first decision you had a disconnect with God. The same problem existed there was sin in your life that had caused this separation, or this disconnect. So once again I invited you to reconnect with God to ask Him to forgive that disobedience in your life and reestablish that relationship. All of these things happen through prayer. Then there are the times when we connect with God on behalf of other people. Maybe those are people who also need God's forgiveness, people in your Oikos or people who need physical healing or have a financial need. What do we do to try and connect these people with the God whom we believe can meet whatever need it is that they have? PRAY! Now I am sure people could say "Well we connect with God through reading the bible or through a Small Group or a Sunday school class or even possibly through a sermon I preach. My contention is that it is because of prayer that these other means become a way for us to connect with the living God. 2. Let me remind you again of the one thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to do and it wasn't how to study the scriptures or how to preach or even how to heal the sick. They asked Jesus to teach them how to pray and I am convinced that the reason this was their request was because these disciples knew that the power to understand the scriptures and to heal the sick and even raise the dead came through prayer and connecting to our heavenly Father. D. This is why I have chosen to make The Lord's Prayer the center piece of this sermon series. Here are two reasons I want to walk through this prayer with you. 1. This was Jesus' prayer and therefore this is a prayer that I know will be answered. Don't we all get frustrated with prayers that we have prayed that do not seem to be answered? Well, if we want to learn to pray prayers that are sure to get answered then don't, we want to look to the example of God's own son when it comes to knowing how to pray? 2. The second reason I want to share this prayer with you is because I also believe that every single issue, we face in this life we live is addressed in this prayer. Counting today for the next seven weeks we will be looking at what I think are the seven phrases of the Lord's Prayer and what each of those phrases teach us about connecting with God. Let me give you a very quick overview. a) The first phrase "Our Father in heaven may your name be kept holy." This is the Prayer of Connection this will be our focus for today. Today I want to help us remove the misconceptions that I think many people have about God and these are the things that lead so many to disconnect with God. b) The second phrase is "May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This we will call The Prayer of Surrender. Here we are going to discover God's cure for all the confusion we experience in life. Do you ever ask God, "What is your purpose for my life, what do you want to do with my life?" God has an answer for you. c) The third phrase is "Give us today the food we need." This is the prayer of Dependence. Here God shows us His antidote for our worries and anxieties in life. Anybody here want to get rid of some worries and fears about the future? Well God addresses these things in this prayer. d) The fourth phrase is "Forgive us our sins." This is the Prayer of Cleansing. So many people live lives that are filled with regrets and guilt and resentment. Here God will show us how to live with a clean and clear conscious. e) The fifth phrase is "As we have forgiven those who sin against us." This is the Prayer of Release. Here we will find God's cure for all the hurts and scars we have experienced in our life. f) The sixth phrase is "And do not let us yield to temptation but rescue us from the evil one." This is the Prayer of Deliverance. Here we will discover God's promise to protect us and give us power over temptation. g) The seventh phrase we do not find in all bible translations. It is this "Yours is the kingdom, power and glory forever." The reason some translations do not include this is because they feel it was an add-on by early church leaders to the prayer, but I feel it has significance and I want to share it with you as the Prayer of Fulfillment. It is our prayer to see the fullness of God working in our world today. D. Ok today we are going to give our attention to this first phrase of the prayer, "Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy." As we begin this study, I want to give you a key phrase in understanding this part of the prayer and here is that phrase. "God Is A Person, Not A Force." You see for a good many people God is just a force in this world, but here is the problem with this thinking. You cannot have a relationship with a "force" and that is why some many people do not have a relationship with God. That is why there is this huge disconnect that exists in our world today. Because people see God as little more than good or bad Karma, they are not able to relate to Him. Have you ever wondered why it is that we end our prayers with "In Jesus Name" and not "May the force be with you?" 1. I happen to be a Star Wars fan and the other day Sue, and I were watching a few of the old Star War movies and I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. Luke Skywalker was always being told to "Look to the force" but what Luke could never get away from was the fact that he needed a "person" to relate to. He kept calling out to Obewane Kenobi even though Obewan kept telling him to look to the force. 2. God is our Father and as a Father I can relate to Him and have a relationship with Him. As a father I can get to know Him. Here is the big problem and this is the problem I want to address in the rest of this message that I believe will help us establish the connection with God that we all need. The Big Problem is that for so many people the word "father" has a negative connotation. The word "father" brings up memories that are very unpleasant for us. For an awful lot of us those memories we have, that baggage we carry is not even something we are fully conscious of. We may not even be aware that our image of our earthly father is affecting our relationship with our Heavenly Father. For some the image of father is one who was unreasonable. You think of God as one who makes demands on your life that can never be met or achieved no matter how hard you try. For some the image of God is one who is unreliable. You remember a father who was not trustworthy and father who kept on breaking promises so when you hear the word "father" you instantly equate unreliability. For others the image of father is one of uninvolved. You remember a father who was never around or even if he was, he didn't care about you or what was going on in your life so now you see your heavenly father in this same light. 3. A study showed that 25% of white children grow up in a home without a father. For Hispanics that is 50% and for black children it is 75%. Is there any wonder as to why we see so many teens disconnected from God and the church? So, few have any image or understanding of who God is or what He is really like. I also read this study about famous atheists throughout history. It was done by a man named Dr. Paul Vitz and the only common denominator he could find in all these well-known atheists was that they all hated their fathers. It would certainly seem to say to us that a hatred for our earthly fathers can easy be translated into a hatred or at best a disconnect from our Heavenly Father. Trans. Obviously I think there are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there about who God really is and what He is really like. If we could explode those myths and misconceptions, we could open the door for a lot of people to reconnect with God. This morning I want to quickly share with you what the bible shows us are four true characteristics about God. I have a lot to share in a short time so let's, jump right in. Here is the first thing we need to know about God. I. GOD IS A CARING FATHER. A. God Cares For You More Than You Will Ever Understand. 1. I know that sometimes we all feel like God's doesn't care, that maybe God doesn't even love us but friends the facts are that God cares for us, He loves us more than you and I will ever be able to comprehend. Listen to these verses from "The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. V.11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. V.13 The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. V.17 the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him." Psalms 103 8,10-11,13,17 (NLT2) Friends these are just five verses in one chapter of scripture that more than confirm for us that God cares for us and loves us. You will probably hear me say this several times today but DON'T DEPEND ON YOUR FEELINGS! Feelings are fickle; feelings are fleeting, feeling while they maybe real are often false. B. Life's Most Profound Question. 1. We are all familiar with the story of Jesus and the disciples in the boat in the middle of the night when a fierce storm arose. Jesus continued to sleep while the disciples panicked. In that moment, these disciples asked the question that every one of us has asked and probably more than once. It is found in Mark 4:38 "Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, "Teacher, don't you care that we're going to drown?" Mark 4:38 (NLT2) 2. There it is, "Teacher don't you care?" Haven't you said this before, "Jesus don't you care that my job is about to vanish?" "Jesus don't you care that the doctors say I have cancer?" "Jesus don't you care that my marriage is on the rocks?" "Jesus don't you care about the direction my children are going?" Listen to these words from 1 Peter 5:7 "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT2) You may be familiar with the word "cast" being used here. Actually, a better word to use is "drop". For me to cast implies an effort to get this thing away from me but I already know I am not able to remove this thing myself I need to just drop it in the lap of Jesus. And notice what else this verse says, drop ALL your cares on God. Not just the so called "Big" things but EVERYTHING! Trans. I wish I could spend more time here, but we must move on. Here is the second truth about God we need to know. II. GOD IS A CONSISTENT FATHER. The fact of the matter is that human fathers are often unpredictable. A. Human Fathers Are Often Unpredictable. 1. [] I remember a period of time when something was going on in my dad's life while I was in High School and I remember how I used to hold my breath as I arrived home because I never knew what dad would be there. The one who was nice and friendly or the one who was upset and angry. Remember I said earlier that sometimes these misconceptions of God influence our lives and we don't even know it. I can barely remember what I did yesterday, but I remember one night when I came home from my job working in a print shop and I always had a certain amount of ink almost embedded in the skin of my fingers. I remember I was going out with some friends but before I could go my dad made me go out in the garage and use some hand cleaner he had to try and clean my hands up. I can still remember how stupid I thought that was and how it embarrassed me in front of my friends. 2. Now I won't get into my own unpredictability as a father. Trans. The fact is we all need an anchor in this life and God is the only anchor that will really hold us. B. We Need An Anchor. 1. Here is what James 1:17 tells us, "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." James 1:17 (NLT2) Friends GOD NEVER CHANGES!! Once again, I will say to you that it doesn't matter what we "feel". What matter is what is "real" and what is real is the fact that our God is totally and completely consistent, He never changes. What you and I perceive as changes are in reality our failure to know and understand God and His ways. What did the prophet Isaiah say to us, 55:9 "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 (NLT2) 2. Friends, everything in this world is temporary. You job is temporary, your house is temporary, your marriage is temporary, your money is temporary, your car, my boat, your; well, you get the picture. The only thing in this life that you can really count on to never change is the love and caring consistency of God. Trans. OK let's look at the third truth about God. III. GOD IS A COMPENTENT FATHER. A. There Is No Issue In Your Life That God Can't Handle. 1. I am sure you have done this as I have. We say at least to ourselves, "This thing is too small to bother God with I will only bring to Him the really big things in my life. I can handle the rest myself." Can I share a truth with you that I think can really help all of us? "Everything is small stuff for God." Did you get that? Everything is small stuff for God. Can you imagine any problem or issue that you face that is too big for God? If you can then this is certainly not any god, I need to commit my life to. What does the bible tell us, Matthew 19:26 "Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible." Matthew 19:26 (NLT2) 2. Do you remember where Jesus called on the people to have faith like a child? Why did Jesus do that? Because children believe that anything is possible. When my kids were younger, they used to think I could do anything. They used to even bring things to me to fix for them, LOL. They used to think that I had all the money in the world and could buy anything, LOL. This is why Jesus calls us to have the faith as a child because this is the faith that really believes their Father can do anything. 3. Friends our God is bigger than any dream you may have. Is there a place in your life where you have been doubting God? Is there something you need God to do in your life, but you have been afraid to ask because you just aren't sure it can be done? I ask you today to trust in God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but to recognize who God really is and ask Him to do what for you seems impossible but for Him is really no big deal. Trans. OK here is one more truth about who God is. IV. GOD IS A CLOSE FATHER. A. God Is With Us Right Now. 1. I love this statement I read in a book on The Lord's Prayer is says, "God does not dwell beyond life, but in the midst of it." That is such a power truth! How many times have I said to you that Beth Meddler had it all wrong when she sang, "God is on a distant star?" My friends that is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! God is not on a distant star and He is not away on business or on vacation or anything else. God is HERE RIGHT NOW! Once again, I say to you "Do not depend on your feelings". I don't care if you can't feel God right now, your feelings are false. Listen to what the apostle Paul said in Acts 17:27,28 "His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him-though he is not far from any one of us.28 For in him we live and move and exist." Acts 17:27-28 (NLT2) 2. Friends God is never too busy for us. We have all had earthly fathers who were too busy for us. Too busy to help us with a school project, too busy to play catch, too busy to answer a question. You see none of us no matter how great our fathers were none of us had a perfect father, but our heavenly Father is perfect. He always has time for us. The facts are people that God has more time for us than we seem to have time for Him. LIFE APPLICATIONS A. The one part of this phrase in the pray that I can't spend a lot of time with today is "Hallowed by your name." But let me say this, to hallow the name of God is to recognize that God is different from us. He is NOT like my earthly Father. When we fail to trust in God's love for us, when we fail to believe in His promises, when we see God as incompetent or fail to see Him as someone who is always with us, we also fail to hallow His name. B. I really have just one question for you today, "Is this your God?" This God that I have described to you today is this the God you know? You know, the fact that God created you does not mean He is your Father. We see an awful lot of this in our society today, but the fact that you have the ability to make a baby does not make you a father. God created you to love you and He has proven that love as no other father on earth has ever done, but He will not compel you to accept Him as your father. That must be your choice. 1. You may sit here today with a lot of misconceptions about God; misconceptions that have been exaggerated from an earthly father that was far from perfect, but Jesus said that the truth would set us free. I have endeavored today to show you the truth, now it is up to you as to whether or not you will allow this truth to free you. ANNOUNCEMENTS SONG PRAYER 8
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