Message Recap: Pray!

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This week, Paul Jackson closes our sermon series, Pray!, as we reflect on the importance – and necessity! – of prayer in our spiritual lives. We have to remember that prayer actually changes things. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman; He doesn’t force His way in, but instead moves into the places in which He is invited.

Prayer is so important because it truly changes our circumstances, and because it changes us as individuals. Prayer grows and matures us as Jesus followers.

Matthew 6:9-13: Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” 

The linchpin of Christianity is taking our understanding of scripture and actually applying it to our lives, living it out as Truth.

Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There are several kinds of prayer (including adoring, beseeching, and confessional), and this week, in particular, we are looking at prayer of forgiveness.

There creates a spiritual dissonance when we ask God to forgive us when we have yet to forgive our own debtors. Church, we are called to be a people that forgive – there’s no getting around it!

Matthew 18:21-35: Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.  Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Perhaps we have a hard time forgiving others because we don’t realize the incredible grace God has shown us. We are the ones with the impossible debt – not those that have hurt us. Forgiveness is something that we can grow in (praise!). What it takes is seeing the generosity of God toward us, so that we can extend generosity toward others quickly and joyfully.

Harboring unforgiveness is a scheme of the enemy. He wants us to be unforgiving, so that he can steal, kill, and destroy us. God calls us to forgive others because He wants the absolute best for us, and in forgiveness we will find abundant life. The process of forgiveness – though healing can take time – started and concluded on the Cross.

Forgiveness is a choice and an action. Let us be ones that are quick to forgive, knowing well the vast, immeasurable forgiveness that has already been shown to us. The Kingdom of God is not of talk but of power, and forgiveness is powerful.

Biblical references: Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:21-35

Questions:

  1. How can there be an upgrade in your prayers this week? In frequency, in depth, in intimacy, in faith?
  2. Are you adoring God, beseeching Him, confessing, and receiving deliverance in your prayers?
  3. Do you have unforgiveness in your heart? If so, release that to God and choose freedom through being quick to forgive because of what Christ did on the cross for you.
  4. Is there anyone you can invite in or share what God has done for you and in you?

 

Sermon Recap: Thanksgiving

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This Sunday, we had the incredible opportunity of hearing from Renae Burford about thankfulness (which, as she reveals, is not only a commandment of God’s, but is also immunity-boosting. Praise!).

Firstly, let’s check out the physiological benefits of thankfulness (according to science): it boosts immunity, decreases aches and pains, produces greater interest in exercise, improves sleep and you feel more refreshed upon waking, improves alertness, increases joy, pleasure, optimism and happiness, helps with quicker recovery from stress and depressive episodes, increases capacity to help others, and decreases a sense of loneliness. Not only is thankfulness pleasing to the Lord, but it is actually really good for us.

Thankfulness, by definition is: “awareness of benefits received from an external source; expressive of thanks”. There are 98 times thankfulness is mentioned in scripture, but we are going to look specifically at 5 of them.

Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we pray with thanksgiving in our hearts, that is the key to receiving the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds.

Additionally, thanksgiving gives us clarity when determining God’s will. 1 Thessalonians 3:16-18 states: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We are to rejoice, pray, and give thanks at all times, according to the Bible. Friends, we must remember thankfulness is not a tool of denial; the Bible does not guarantee we won’t face suffering in life. What is does promise, however, is God’s goodness in every circumstance (even painful ones).

Thankfulness gives us an alert mind in the midst of confusion. Colossians 4:2: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Scripture also gives us warning when we do not give thanks, as seen in Romans 1:21: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Our minds are sharpened by thankfulness, and they are made dull by lack of thanksgiving.

Thankfulness gives us confidence when we are in need. David declares his confidence in Psalm 118:17: “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”

Thankfulness is an alternative to temptation. Ephesians 5:3-4: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper saints. Let there be no filthiness or foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Let your mind be so full of thanks that all the things that bring death and destruction are displaced.

According to a psychologist, “if I want more gratitude, I’ve got to be willing to actually participate in a change process by which I allow my brain to be aware of what it is grateful for.” Let there be thanksgiving; let it be. Allow yourself to be thankful. It begins by being aware of all that you have actually received. Your participation is key, not your circumstance. Thankfulness is such a powerful gift from God for us.

In order to become a more thankful person, we must be aware of its competitors: materialism (which says, “if I have this, its because I earned it”) and entitlement (which says, “because I exist, God owes me this”). Entitlement and materialism kill thankfulness because they cut it off at its beginning. Remember, thankfulness is “the awareness of the benefit received by an external source, or an expression of thanks”. God does not owe us anything, and certainly not just because we exist. Materialism and entitlement are so engrained in us as a society because we are a prideful people, and it is a rarity to admit our dependency on another. We want to be independent. To be thankful means you can acknowledge that you received something that you didn’t deserve, and awe is the right response to such great generosity. Jesus’ death on the cross is the most awesome gift we could ever receive, and to accept it is awesome because we must acknowledge that we don’t deserve such a gift. We are not entitled to God’s pursuit; his love is generous. We cannot earn it, but what we can do is be in awe of his generosity.

When we assume the kindness of God should just be ours because of our existence, we become more susceptible to sin, apathy, and anger toward him. It is your awe that will lead you to love God well, and your loving God well will lead you to joy in obedience (and receive the best that he has for us). Let us allow God’s generosity to lead us into awe of him, and be thankful for all that he has done.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! See you on Sunday for the beginning of a new series.