Week 30 July 22 - 28, 2018

If you could take one class taught by Jesus Himself, what would it be and why?

Of all the important topics in the Christian life, what would you prioritize as the primary subject to learn directly from our Lord?

For the disciples who followed Jesus on earth for three years, they were blessed with many first-hand lessons from the words and actions of Christ on the reality of new life in the new kingdom.

However, despite the limitless power and wisdom of Jesus, what the disciples wanted to learn most from Him was how to pray.

This is why Jesus takes time in Matthew 6:9-13 to teach us how to pray to the Father. In just five verses, He reveals what true prayer in the kingdom of God looks and sounds like for believers.

So, let us pull up a chair and listen closely to the instruction of our Lord, because we have all been enrolled in the school of prayer and class in now in session.

First, in the opening of the passage, Jesus begins by teaching us that prayer is about a relationship. Verse 9 says, “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” These words remind us that when we pray to God we are praying to a person. For believers, we can have intimacy with this person because He is our adopted Father. We also have reverence for Him because He is the Father of heaven whose hallowed name is the standard of perfection. This means that when we pray to God, we need to relish in His love as our Father, and revere His holiness as our Creator.
 Next, our second lesson in prayer teaches us the daily call to surrender. Verse 10 proclaims, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This reminds us that we cannot come to God in prayer hoping that He will accomplish our will. Instead, we have to surrender our hearts to Him consistently so we can accomplish His will.

Continuing in the passage, Jesus points to a third lesson: that prayer is an act of dependence. Verse 11 states, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This statement keeps us aware that every large and small gift that we receive to live each day comes directly from God’s gracious hand. He knows what we need right now and wants us to focus on our needs for today, so we can trust that He will provide our needs for tomorrow.

The fourth lesson we learn from Christ in the school of prayer is that we need to show and receive mercy. Verse 12 tells us to ask God to “…forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This teaches us that although Christians can be forgiven eternally from the penalty of our sins when we are born-again, we need to ask daily for our sins to be forgiven and to show that same grace to others.  In this act, it allows for the blessing of God to be bestowed upon His children.

Finally, the fifth lesson that Christ teaches us about prayer is that we need to petition God constantly for His protection. Verse 13 concludes, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” As sinners saved by grace we are prone to wander. We need to plead with the Lord unceasingly for His protection from Satan and from ourselves. Many times we pray for God’s help in the moment of temptation, but Jesus teaches us to pray that we don’t even begin going down the path of temptation when we are standing at the crossroads.

Learning these five lessons in Christ’s school of prayer will take us more than one semester; they will take us a lifetime. This is why we are called to pray without ceasing. We need to grow in our relationship with God through prayer every single day. This is based on our daily surrender to His will, our daily dependence on His provision, our daily willingness to receive and show mercy, and our daily pursuit of protection from the temptation of sin.

 When it comes to prayer, there is no more important topic that we need to learn, and no better teacher who can teach us how. Only through putting these words of Christ into practice can we truly learn to pray the Lord’s way.

Learning to Pray the Lord’s Way

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Silently Surrendering Our Soul

In Psalm 131, King David writes three short verses that give direction on how believers can find true hope during times of trial. First in verse 1, he encourages us to be honest before the Lord when our soul struggles to worship God. David states, “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up.” In verse 2, he shows us the posture we must take when we need to repent of this sin and trust in the Lord’s restoration. He proclaims, “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother.” Finally, in verse 3, David reminds us that God will restore us when we believe our true source of renewal is always God Himself. He concludes, “…hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.”

Restoring What the Locust Ruined

In the book of Joel, God declares He will cast judgment on Judah for their covenant disobedience by sending a swarm of locusts to ruin their land. However, He not only warns of harsh punishment, He also offers an opportunity for restoration. In 2:25 He says, I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.” This reminds us that God will tear us down when we are living in rebellion, but He will also build us back up when we commit to repentance.

The Future of a False Christian

In today’s church there are many people who have had a false conversion and are living in deception as a false Christian. These people may have had an emotional experience that led them to pray for salvation, but they were never saved because their heart was never truly God’s. Jesus warns about the future of these false Christians in Matthew 7:21 when He states, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Tragically, for those whose hearts have never belonged to Christ, verse 23 reveals His final words to them will be, “I never knew you; depart from me.”

Week 31 Readings:  July 29 – August 4

-Day One:  Jonah; Matthew 11

-Day Two:  2 Kings 13-14; 2 Chronicles 25; Psalm 53; Matthew 12

-Day Three:  Amos 1-3; Matthew 13

-Day Four:  Amos 4-6; Psalm 55; Matthew 14

-Day Five:  Amos 7-9; Matthew 15   


Tips to Keep You on Track

          This week’s reading will take us on a journey inside the belly of a great fish as we read the book of Jonah. Written by the prophet Jonah around 780 BC, this short book is an ancient Hebrew narrative that chronicles Jonah’s prophetic ministry to the rebellious city of Nineveh. Through Jonah’s dramatic story of being swallowed by a fish for disobeying God’s calling to preach repentance to the Ninevites, we learn two important lessons. First, at a human level, the book addresses sinful attitudes of religious pride that Jonah and the Israelites had towards their enemies. Second, at a deeper divine level, the book points us to God’s universal love that extends beyond all national and cultural borders. As you read this book, consider the true heart of God and meditate on the words of Jonah in 4:2 that our Creator is “…a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”