The Lord’s Prayer

Prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer is that common prayer taught by Jesus to his followers which all of us know.  The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray as John taught his disciples to pray.  What followed is the loveliest prayer for the child of God.

Luke’s recording of the Lord’s Prayer does differ from Matthew’s gospel.  Luke’s prayer is shorter.  The first three phrases pertain to the Father and our relationship to him.  The second three phrases pertain to our relationships with the world.

We begin with an address of “Father”.  Father is a familiar term.  It denotes both recognition of his authority but also of his goodness and provision.  The Father is always safe.  He doesn’t strike out in anger…ever.  Our “Dad” is in charge of the universe and this gives us security as we approach him.

We desire and pray for his name to be set apart.  He is different from the created order insofar as he is perfect and flawless.  We desire his kingdom to expand and we desire to yield to it.

When his kingdom comes it comes with peace, it comes with order.  Chaos and disruption are banished and in their place comes freedom and peace.  But…that kingdom cannot come unless we consciously yield to it.  This takes a deliberate standing down of our passions and desires.

We see his provision in the supply of the daily bread.  He gives us what we need to live today.  This includes food and finances to meet our obligations.  If we are lacking in either, then let’s approach our Father and ask for what we need.

We also want our relationships with others to be upright.  To sin against someone, slander them, deride them, betray, steal, or break trust in any way is to incur debt against that person.  We need the Father’s forgiveness in these things if we are to walk in his ways.  Likewise, we agree with the Father’s forgiveness by extending that same forgiveness to others when they sin against us.  This makes for upright relationships in the kingdom.

Finally, we ask that the Lord not lead us into temptation.  We need his protection from the evil that assails us.  We need his spiritual lest we be swept away in a tide of sin.  We are vulnerable.  We are fragile and susceptible to sin.  We need his help.

In all of this, we have a healthy upright relationship with the Father and with the world around us.  The Father is our provider and our sustainer.  This prayer is a humble expression of our faith and trust in him.

This message comes from Luke 11:1-4. Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.

Choosing First Things

Mary and Martha…two sisters approach life in two different ways.

Here is the story.  Jesus visits Mary and Martha.  Martha is a take charge kind of woman.  She greets Jesus, invites him into the home, and immediately sets herself to serving him and others.  Her sister Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to him talk.  Not surprisingly, Martha is exasperated.  She approaches Jesus and asks him to intervene…”tell that sister of mine to help!”

We can see the tension in Martha’s tone.  She is weighed down with burdens.  Her request was probably preceded by a lengthy internal conversation.  Nobody is helping and she is all alone in her work.  It isn’t fair…

Jesus lovingly chides her.  He tells her that Mary has made the better choice.  The wise choice is to spend time with the Lord.

Here is good news.  Do you identify with Martha?  Martha made a choice to be distracted and therefore can make a choice to not be distracted.  The picture above reminds us of the number of things that vie for our attention.  None of them compare to Jesus.  The distraction could be work, education, music or something that sounds a little more sophisticated then social media.

So why do we do this to ourselves, deliberately choose distractions?  It is not our purpose to fully explore this question now but it does have its place.  At one level, it is mere folly.  At another level, it may well be that we are so in debt (the word debt is used liberally here, not necessarily literally) that distractions serve us like alcohol.  They blunt the realities of a life out of control.

Give it up.  Quiet your soul.  Submit.  Leave off with these lesser things.  Choose differently and be delivered from the tyranny of what demands your attention.  Distractions literally plunder the soul and deprive it of oxygen.  It simply is not true that this thing must have your attention.  Spinning many plates is not a sign of prowess.  It is a sign of foolishness.  Let it die.

In its place, allow the life of our Lord to infiltrate you.  Breathe in his truth and presence.  Be calm, be nourished.  Live.  Be balanced and from him, move forward to tend to your day.

This message comes from Luke 10:38-42. Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.

The Good Samaritan

One of the most beloved and well-known of Jesus’ parables is the story of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus was approached by a lawyer, who wanted to ‘test’ Jesus.  So, he asks a question of Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The question is legitimate in every sense.  It is the question with which we must all concern ourselves.

Jesus responds by quoting Deut. 6:5, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.  He then adds that one must love his neighbor too.  Do this and you will live.

The lawyer wanted to make sure he was in the right so he asked a follow-up question, “Who is my neighbor?”  What follows is a beautiful and yet piercing story about obligation to others.

A traveler was attacked, robbed, and left for dead.  Two religiously trained men saw him, avoided him, and continued on with their concerns.  The contrast between religious qualification and self-absorption could not be more pronounced.  Then a third man comes by, a Samaritan.  The Samaritan was viewed by the Jew as inferior in EVERY category known to man.  Yet, the Samaritan sees the wounded man, tends to him, takes him to safety, and pays for his lodging needs.

The lawyer to whom Jesus is telling the story seems to have changed his disposition.  Rather than “testing” Jesus or seeking to “justify” himself, he seems to be engaged in our Lord’s teaching.  Jesus now asks him, “Who was the neighbor?”  He turned the lawyer’s question around.  The lawyer now submits and says “the one who showed mercy.”  Jesus tells him to go and do likewise.

This teaching of Jesus comes to us from the outside.  It is foreign to human survival, it clashes with schedule, personal agenda, bigotry, and SELF-ABSORPTION.  To love one’s neighbor is to see him.

This message comes from Luke 10:25-37. Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.

Empowered and Sent

In Luke 10:1-12 we see Jesus sending out 72 people on a short-term evangelism mission.

Jesus’ direction was from the north, heading to the south. He had just passed by Samaria. His overall direction was Jerusalem and he was headed there to die.

So, if he is heading south to die, what is with this mission?

Jesus is bringing the kingdom of God to the people. He came to seek and save the lost and this mission is simply part of this broader mission. Along the way, he gives his followers some helpful direction on how to conduct their work.

First, the need is great but only a few workers are active. They are to go out with very few resources. This forces them to rely upon the Father, not upon their own abilities. Furthermore, they look for persons of peace (POP). The POP are individuals who are receptive to the gospel. Should the evangelists find no receptivity in a town, they move on to other towns.

The principles Jesus lays out here are critical for our missiology. We look for people who are responsive to the gospel. When there is receptivity, we continue to invest and work. Where there is no receptivity, we decline to harden people by relentlessly preaching the gospel. This may sound harsh but this is the methodology of the Master.

Considering this story, we note, almost with peculiarity, the advancement of mission in the face of a larger mission to die. We also note the strategic response of gospel preachers to the receptivity of the gospel. Missiologically speaking, Jesus gives us a template for reaching unreached people groups.

He also gives us help in using discernment. Why bang our heads against a wall of resistance?  Why try to, in our own strength, create receptivity to God when we are unable? This is not faithfulness, this is stupidity! Let’s discern people’s response to the gospel and respond accordingly.

Essentially, we work where he works and move on where he moves on.

This message comes from Luke 10:1-12. Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.

Transplanted to Middle Tennessee by Hurricane Harvey and Irma?

We invite all who are here from FL, TX, LA and anyone temporarily transplanted by Harvey and Irma to come worship with us. Our doors are open to pray with you, love on you and worship the God of the storms who dwells in us. Directions Here. #hurricane #harvey #irma #storms #refugees

Experiencing True Kingdom Power

The message today is part of a shorter sermon series on “Practicing Faith in Williamson County.”

Part of living in this present age (Titus 2:11-12) is taking time to know the present age.  We noted last week that the postmodern age is upon the West and in this larger context we presently live.  Additionally, we noted that Williamson County is an exploding area of the country with 1) jobs, 2) education, and 3) quality of life, being the reasons people are moving here.  In one sense, very talented and driven people are drawn to Williamson County.

The result is a very competitive yet family values driven culture.  With a booming economy, it may be very difficult to survive here and with the values that bring people to this county, how do we live out faith here?

The first answer to this questions is this:  embrace God’s power for this present age, the Holy Spirit.  Seriously, someone might say?  What is does that mean?  With the demands of the job, surviving by hard work, and real power structures at work, talking about the Holy Spirit may come off as weird and misplaced.

We read of the early believers in Acts 4 being filled with boldness and operating in great power.  This is significant because these believers were “uneducated”.  They were common people who were living in the face of great opposition by a world system totally at odds with the gospel.  Yet, being filled with the Holy Spirit they were enabled to live and prosper in their present age.  By prosper, we do not mean they excelled in jobs, education, and quality of life!  By prosper, we mean they advanced the kingdom of God!

The Holy Spirit is a person who is also God.  As such, being filled with him is to be filled with boldness, clarity, and power to live in one’s present age with a witness that pierces the values of a world system.  However, we often face blocks to his filling: preoccupation with the pleasures of this world, lack of trust, and habitual sin.  In order to experience greater filling, we must of necessity…yield.  To yield is to practice faith in the Spirit to protect us, lead us, and empower us.  It is quite possible that his power over us is limited because we are holding onto something that limits him.

The believers of Acts 4 were bold and free in their witness.  They were not free from difficulty but they free from sin!  So, we may walk in greater intimacy with Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, and function in Williamson County, free of the desire/goal of “winning” over others, trusting in wealth for protection, trusting in education for promotion.  We pursue all things as believers in our context but being empowered by the Spirit, we are subject to none of these things.

This message comes from Acts 4:13-22.  Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.

New Location… New Website!

Practicing Christian Liberty in the House of God

We do not all see things the same way.  Some practice certain practices which others believe to be inappropriate or wrong.  So how do we get along when we’re all living under the same faith roof, so to speak?

Paul gives some excellent guidance in Romans 14.  There are three sections:  how God views your brother, how you should conduct yourself, and how we should not treat each other poorly.

There are weaker brothers (Rom. 14:1) and stronger brothers (Rom. 15:1).  God loves your brother, that is, the one who doesn’t see things as you do.  Furthermore, God has welcomed him into the household of faith -and- that very brother answers to God for his faith practice, not you!  All of this is to so position the conversation that we get out of the way.  Your brother answers to God, who loves him.

The next section deals with how you walk your road.  Whether you practice or abstain, do so unto the Lord, not other people.  The Lord is the one you will answer to so let’s behave rightly before him.  Let’s be clear in our minds as to why we do or do not do certain things because we want to be firmly convinced, not wishy washy in our positions.

The last section speaks to how we treat each other.  Jesus died for your brother.  Yes, the one with whom you disagree, he matters to Jesus.  If your behavior grieves him, stop.  Stop before you destroy him.  We do not put stumbling blocks in front of each other.  When someone stumbles, he commits sin and this is no way to “practice liberty.”  In view here is confrontational, high-handed practices in your brother’s presence.

The issues that may bother our congregation are possibly:  alcohol, tobacco, tattoos, political leanings, and the matters.  How will you walk this out?  Can you love your brother enough to not judge or dismiss him, when he disagrees with you?  Can you move him?

This message comes from Romans 14:1-12.  Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.