It's the question that Star Wars and the Superhero films deal with every time. Who will win the cosmic battle? Will good or evil prevail? Will darkness or light prove stronger in the end? Who will rescue and protect people from the forces of evil? It’s no movie blockbuster but the Bible affirms that there is a cosmic battle that spans both the heavenly and earthly realms, the effects of which are still present today as God’s Kingdom advances in the world and our lives. In the last petition of the Lord's Prayer, we recognise the presence of evil in the world and we find strength in the one who alone has definitively won the battle over evil to give us a victory and future that no-one can snatch away. So today we pray for and find comfort in the Father’s Protection.
#6 in series: Prayer- From his Fullness
Our Father…devil us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13b
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It’s true. The devil is a powerful enemy. Every time we live in our identity as God’s children and seek to live out his purpose for our lives – to advance God’s kingdom of grace and forgiveness in this world - we will be involved in a dangerous battle. But in the midst of that battle know this truth: The devil is a defeated enemy. Christ has overcome and given you the final victory.
1 When you pray, “Deliver us from evil,” what do you have in mind?
2. What's the most 'evil' thing you have witnessed in your life or where do you see the evil one at work today?
3. In what ways has life been a battle against the evil one for you?
Like a stalker, it harasses you and your identity with unwanted and obsessive attention. It never leaves you alone, following you wherever you go - at home, in the schoolyard, at your workplace, in shops, restaurants, even your car. It knows your history, your routines and where you are most vulnerable. Every step you take there is an orchestrated and calculated attempt to deceive you and shift your allegiance, trust, and confidence away from God and toward some substitute that promises a more secure identity. The only way through is to pray for the Father's Guidance, and that's what Jesus invites us to do today.
#5 in series: Prayer: From his Fullness
Our Father…lead us not into temptation. Matthew 6:13a
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Satan constantly inserts question marks where God has put a full stop. When doubts arise and questions abound, remember who you are – a beloved child of God. For that final word is the grip of grace that holds you securely and will never let you go.
1 What are the times when you are most vulnerable to temptation?
2 What is one thing you are finding hard to trust God with at this time?
You owe me! They will pay for that! Ever heard those words? Ever uttered those words? Ever wished that someone would pay for the hurt, the pain, the suffering that you have experienced? Jesus knows how exceptionally difficult forgiving those whose words or deeds have marked you deeply and painfully can be. That's why he invites us to ask the Father to forgive us; to give us freedom, freedom from the past, freedom for the future, a freedom that reconciles, builds community and brings life to all relationships. The Father specialises in removing any indebtedness so that we can truly embrace others with love. That's what we'll explore today as we experience the Father's forgiveness.
#4 in series: Prayer - from his Fullness
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12
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Forgiveness is the ultimate miracle of God's grace and a gift that rehumanises us. It opens doors that we thought were closed forever, transforming relationships and making the kingdom of God visible for others to see. It builds community enabling us to offer comfort, tenderness, love, forgiveness and joy to each other.
1. What are you most thankful to God for when you think of your Father?
2. How has your dad shown you what forgiveness is all about?
3. On a scale of 1 to 10, how forgiving are you in your life (1 = “one strike and you’re out” and 10 = “forgiving is as easy as breathing for me”)?
'The Hungry Mile' was a colloquial name that workers gave to a docklands stretch of road in Darling Harbour during the Great Depression. Maritime workers would walk from wharf to wharf in search of casual, low-paid day work. Success in gaining work meant money for food and shelter, failure meant going hungry. For 85% of Australians, food insecurity is not something we think about but for 15% it is a daily reality where praying 'Give us this day our daily bread' is a prayer for survival. Globally,1 in 9 people live in hunger; 60% of those are women. A child dies from hunger related diseases every 10 seconds and 22,000 children die each day due to conditions of poverty. But what does it mean to pray this prayer for the majority of Australians who live in relative affluence? Today in the third part of this series 'Prayer - from His fullness' we come face to face with "The Father's provision" and discover the promise, faith, invitation and challenge that praying these six little words brings to our lives.
#3 in series on the Lord's Prayer: 'Prayer: From his Fullness'
Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11
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Living and believing the truth of this prayer will bring a gratitude, contentment, confidence and generosity that will transform your own life and impact the lives of others in amazing ways.
- If a genie in a bottle, gave you three wishes, what three things would you ask for?
- Share three things from the last week that you are thankful for.
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?