A sermon podcast of Hope Alliance Church
When Jesus concludes his paradigm for prayer, he is showing us our desperate need to pray for heart direction. In this wilderness journey called life, just like our forefathers, we all have God's direction, but we have hearts that embrace unforgiveness, wander into temptation and are gripped by evil. Prayer and the intimacy with God it facilitates is a means or not only asking for a transformed heart, but also pursuing it.
When Jesus tells his disciples to pray for daily bread, he is invoking the great Exodus story of their past. In so doing, he calls them to pray for provision and contentment. And as they will go on to see, he is ultimately telling them to pray for more of him. It's in Jesus that we realized the ultimate Exodus, meet God's provision and find true contentment.
The context of prayer is a holy God who comes down the mountain to engage with us - how miraculous! Our prayer then is in many ways a divine negotiation. We make our requests known while seeking God's kingdom and will. Likewise prayer prepares us to act. God's will and kingdom advance on earth as his people embody them in the particularities of their daily lives.
Prayer is not a means of coercing God. Instead, prayer is a posture of sincerity that comes to God in the context of a relationship with real desire and real needs. And our Father already knows what we need and stands ready to meet us with his covenant faithfulness and love.
Prayer is not a performance and God is not an audience. He is a loving Father who desires an intimate relationship with us. Prayer is the means by which we engage our Father and cultivate this relationship. And when we do, we gain the true reward of prayer - the very presence of God with us.
Our world and our flesh are constantly telling us that we need to prove ourselves. But just like the rich young ruler who met Jesus, the questions "what do I have to do" and "what do I lack" typically leave us exhausted. True life comes when we believe that God is good, so I don't have to prove myself. When we tase the grace of God and come to him like a child, we find true and full life.
God is good so I don't have to look elsewhere for satisfaction. The story of the woman at the well and her interaction with Jesus demonstrates God goodness in his pursuit of people, his restoring power, his offer of full life and even his willingness to expose our brokenness. It in those moments of seeing our brokenness that we realize we haven't believe God is good and have looked elsewhere.
The Bible warns us that the fear of man is a snare aiming to catch and devour us. We fear others when we revere them to the point of granting them control over us. In a word, we worship them. But the good news of the gospel is that we don't have to fear others because God is glorious. It is when we live deeply into this truth that we find real peace.
God is great, so I don't have to be in control. When we embrace the gospel of the reign and rule of Jesus, we are invited to a different perspective on life as the resurrected Jesus brings true peace to even the stormiest moments of life.
The gospel is the true declaration that Jesus is the victorious, rightful and eternal King who has brought peace to earth through his incarnation, death and resurrection. We access this peace through repentance and belief - deposing the would be kings of our lives and turning in active faith to the rule and reign of Jesus.
Followers of Jesus should be known by their love of their neighbors. This has always been God's design - that his people would be a blessing to the world. In order to be intentional about loving our neighbors - we want to BLESS them through prayer, listening, eating together, serving and sharing our stories.
One of the first realities we see of disciples of Jesus is that they are inviting other people. Specifically they are telling their friends and even those throughout their village to "come and see." Most of us are not evangelists or apologists, but we are all witnesses. And disciples of Jesus are always asking others to "come and see."
To be the church God is calling us to be, we need everyone serving. This means serving each other, serving those in need and serving the church. And as we do this, even if its unglamorous at times, we are quite literally building something together for the glory of God.
To be the church God is calling us to be, we need everyone engaged. That means we are intentionally in - not dragging our feet or reluctant, but diligent and empowered by the Spirit. And it means we are active - not just hearing, but doing.
At Hope we are committed to making disciples to the glory of God. To be intentional about this, we embrace a simply Jesus identity and a multi-congregational structure that desires to see the gospel within reach of every single person in the Lehigh Valley (and beyond).
Jesus said that we bring glory to God by finishing the work he gave us to do. What is the work of the church? To make disciples. This means introducing people to Jesus, helping them embrace the gospel and enabling them to grow in their faith. To glorify God we need to make more disciples and mature disciples.
The glory of God is the reason we exist as humans. And it's the reason the church exists. The glory of God enables the world to know God and to worship God. As we take up this divine purpose, we are charged to be fruitful and multiply - to grow, so God's glory increases.
As the book of Numbers concludes, once again the character of God is on full display, namely in his gracious care for his people. He shows his care for the insignificant, for those carrying a special calling or burden and for those in dire circumstances. This care points directly to Jesus, the ultimate manifestation of the care of God for his people by laying down his life.
The Israelites were called to engage the Canaanite enemy and lay claim to the entire land of promise on the basis of God's faithfulness. Though they fell short, Jesus came and announced the defeat of the actual enemy - sin and death. And on the basis of our union with him, he calls us to engage in the battle against sin. This fight is largely fought, as the apostle Paul reminds us, through the renewal of our minds.
Just as the nation is ready to lay hold to the land God has promised, two tribes express their desire to settle east of the Jordan River. Moses' response shows us their folly. In settling down, they are actually settling for less than God has offered. Just like them, we tend to get bogged down by our stuff, weary from the journey and comfortable where we are and thus settle for less of God and less faith in God's promise...
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