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Worship Series: Lord’s Prayer
Worship Theme: Our Father in Heaven
- CW 226: To Your Temple I Draw Near
- Change My Heart, Oh God
- Our Father Who from Heav’n Above
- CW 411: What a Friend We Have in Jesus
- CW 440: On Eagles’ Wings
Watch the livestream beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.
Message: Prayer Is Powerful and Effective
Pastor Jake Schram
What do you think is the most iconic movie quote? Most of us love quoting movies. And even if we are tired of someone saying the same old clichés again and again, it’s hard to catch yourself from joining in. It has become part of the way we communicate. There are just so many of them. The words mixed with the timing, mixed in with the emotion of the movie gives some quotes lasting impact in our society. Here are just some. “Here’s looking at you, kid (Casablanca).” “Bueller...Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).” “I’ll be Back (The Terminator).” “Just keep swimming (Finding Nemo).” There are so many quotes, but the one that stands out to me as the most impactful is of course from Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker have just finished a climatic lightsaber duel. Luke with furious vengeance screams, “You killed my father.” Vader then drops a verbal bombshell. “I am your father.” At the time, it was a plot twist hard to see coming. It was so sudden and juicy. Who could expect such a good guy like Luke Skywalker to have such an evil Father like Darth Vader? Today we see another unexpected twist. We see who our true Father is but the roles are reversed. With our natural sin and the evils we commit, who could possibly want to be our Father? The answer is the perfect and holy God the Father. He invites us to pray to him and promises the words directed at him to be powerful and effective.
This is an encouraging message. John was writing this around 90 A.D. The people he was writing to were under attack from false teachers. There were people going around trying to tear Christians from the love of God. John’s letter was to strengthen the pure and growing faith he saw reflected in the lives of Christians in spite of these attacks. And John writes words that speak directly to the heart of God’s children. So what does he say that’s so meaningful? Let’s take a look.
In the first verse, it’s like John can’t hold back,” See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Before we go any further, I want to make sure we understand how important this verse is. How many of you have had a bad day this past week? It’s ok to admit it. I had a bad day this week. My wife had a bad day this week. It’s just the way life is sometimes. Raise your hand if you had even one bad day this week. This message is huge when you have a bad day. Because you might be feeling unloved, you might feel hopeless, or extremely anxious about life. And WHAM! The Father still has great love for you. You are not just anyone. You are God’s child.
Look at the change he enacted in us. Titus 3:3 says, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” Though I hate to admit it, that’s a really good description of me. Or at least it used to be. See God changed that. That’s not how he sees us anymore. Because he’s turned us into his royal subjects, priests, soldiers, friends, and most importantly, children of God.
I don’t tell you this to make you feel like babies, but instead to ensure you that you are adopted into his family. In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. That Baptism you went through, that was like his adoption papers. And God promises to do for you what all good fathers do. He promises to provide for your daily needs, give you protection, offer guidance, instill in you identity and self-worth, bail you out of eternal trouble, and be there for you when you need to talk in prayer.
That’s why this message is so important. That’s why John blurts it out. Sin tainted us so that we could not climb to God’s level of purity. But making us his children he came down to us. And like any good Father who can afford to, provided us with clothing. He clothed us in righteousness through his Son Jesus.
Rarely do I ever disagree with the way people translate things in our English translation of the Bible, but I’m not the biggest fan of the way verse 2 is translated. It says, “Dear friends.” Ok, not bad, but I want you to know the word here is loved ones. There are multiple words used for love in Greek and the word used here is the love that happens in spite of someone’s shortcomings. I point this out because I want you to know, as children of God you are loved with a bottomless love by God the Father.
Not everyone will agree with this message. Just like the enemies in the text, there will be people trying to tear you away from God’s love. But there is something I’ve learned in the past couple years. If you can truly find someone who loves you, if you can truly find someone who accepts you for who you are, it can bring you a lot of confidence. You are secure in that love. Also, when you know what will happen to you at the end of your life, that can bring a lot of confidence. Because whether people believe you or not, whether you make mistakes or not, whether you live a long time or not, you know without a shadow of a doubt that there is someone still there for you loving you exactly the same. And he always will be. This is your Father, the one who lavishes you with his love.
We are to the halfway point of our sermon and people don’t like to hear what I say next. People tend to think the Bible is alright...until the Bible calls what they like sin. There are still morals and commands God wants us to follow. And sometimes we are really, really bad at following them. But here is something John encourages us to do because when you are a Christian you stop sinning. Let me explain. This does not mean we have sinless perfection, but it does mean our lives will no longer be characterized or dominated by sin, but by doing what is right. The People’s Bible commentary phrases it like this. God has changed us from death row criminals into children of God. Now we get to act like it. God’s grace which he gives us is free, and yet the cost was high. It cost Jesus his life, his own blood dribbling down on the cross. In our text, the disciple challenges us to treat his grace with the value it deserves. People should be able to tell who we are based on our actions.
Everyone is going to break God’s law. Everyone. We are all sinners. But here John tells us to fight. Especially in light of Jesus taking all those sins away. We can have the confidence to show the love he wants us to in our lives whether that means getting out of our own sins or helping others out of theirs. Or it could be just plain showing God’s love through our actions.
There was a pretty obscure rapper named Bizzle who came out with a song like 7 years ago. There was this one section that stuck with me and describes exactly what I’m trying to say here.
“God loves you, no matter what you struggle with.
At least struggle though. Don’t just give up and quit.
Forget how you were born. We were all born in sin.
But Christ died for your sin. You are born again.”
But why? Why do we keep on struggling? What’s the point if God has died for all of our sins anyways? There is no difference in deserving to go to hell. All of us deserve that. You’re not any better or more deserving of heaven than me. And I’m not any better or more deserving of heaven than you, regardless of whether I am a Pastor or not. We are on the same playing field. We need a Savior. So why struggle? One reason is to show our love for God. Another is because every centimeter the devil gets us to move away from God’s law, every sin that we look at as just normal in our world or not worth the effort of keeping is another centimeter further from God. And the Devil is sneaky. He wants us to not notice when we fall away from God. Those centimeters slowly add up until our faith is dissipated. And that’s part of why we struggle, why we fight the good fight and run the good race, so that we continually keep our eyes on Christ. We can direct others to him so that they are saved. We spend time in his Word and God pours out his Holy Spirit upon us. And we pray to God as he lavishes us with his love.
Part of the struggle is prayer. Prayer is a powerful tool that exercises the faith we already have. And it works. Earlier we talked about how we can pray to God even in the worst of situations. I’ll let you know right now, you aren’t restricted to praying only during bad times. God wants you to pray to him in all situations.
Let me give you an example of how powerful prayer can be. Another Christian artist used to sing this song called “Prayin’ For You.” In it, he talks about how he was praying for a good friend of his. He describes how this person knows the Father, but hasn’t felt very close lately. His days are filled with tears. The world made him think that because he didn’t have money, girls, or shiny wheels he didn’t amount to anything. And so the artist prays for this close friend, hoping that God will work on this guy’s heart. At the end of the song, the artist reveals one more thing as he is praying for this guy. He says, “...and matter of fact there’s somethin’ else he’s concealin’ see, the person that I’ve been prayin’ about is really me.”
It’s easy to relate with this man. Because we’ve all had times where we’ve needed the help. But the help is there. God is “Our Father.” We pray to him and he listens. I’ve prayed these same things so many times and God answers them. I mess up all the time, but I pray for God to help me... and you too. Prayer is a powerful and effective tool. God has blessed us here at Salem. He continues working in our sometimes hardened hearts. He has brought you here to hear God’s Word. He’s given most, if not all of you faith in a Savior, and he’s forgiven all of our sins. He’s answered my most important prayers already right there. And we can be confident he will continue to answer our prayers in the way that is best for us. You are his children and he loves you very much.