APC 21st October 2020
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Welcome and Introduction
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Midweek worship. Thank you for all the encouraging comments you have sent me about the Harvest service. Today we return to our short series looking at the Lord’s Prayer. We’ve been reminded that God is like a perfect parent, we can come to Him anytime and we know that he will listen to us because He loves us. But He is also in heaven. He is different and so much greater than us. So we must hallow or respect His name. That means believing that He is real, remembering that He sees and hears all we say and do and being willing to praise and honour Him by the way that we worship and the lives that we live. Today we will be thinking about what it will mean for us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
But first let’s take a moment to pause and to talk to our heavenly Father, let’s pray…
Almighty and most wonderful God, unsearchable and inexhaustible, greater than we can ever imagine, higher than our highest thoughts, enthroned in glory and splendor, we come to give you our worship, to offer our praise and to make our confession, recognizing that your ways are not our ways, you’re your thoughts are not our thoughts.
Lord have mercy on us…
Forgive us our misplaced pride and arrogance – we have been full of our own importance, preferring our ways to yours, imagining we know all there is to know about you, trusting in our own wisdom instead of your guidance, setting ourselves up in your place. But your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.
Lord have mercy on us…
Forgive us our narrow vision and our closed minds- we have tied you down to our own understanding, closing our hearts to anything which challenges our restricted horizons, losing sight of your greatness, failing to listen to your voice or the voice of others, refusing to accept that others beside ourselves have insights to share. But your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.
Lord have mercy on us…
Almighty and most wonderful God, remind us that you have always more to say, more to reveal and more to do. Open our eyes, our minds and our hearts to who and what you are. Remind us that your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.
Lord have mercy on us…
And so fill us with awe and wonder, joy and thanksgiving, praise and worship, now and for evermore, Amen.
Join me as we say the Lord’s Prayer thoughtfully and sincerely together…
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever, AMEN.
Introduction to the Bible Reading
1 Why do the nations conspire[a]
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
5 He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
6 “I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
8 Ask me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron[b];
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Isaiah 9 v 6-7
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Reflection “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.”
Today we are going to look at the third line of the prayer that Jesus taught his friends to pray. “Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Before we can understand what it will mean for us to pray this prayer, we need to understand what this phrase would have meant to the people it was originally spoken to – the disciples of Jesus.
To begin with these early followers of Jesus would all have been Jewish. Being from a Jewish background they would have been very familiar with the concept of Kingship and the long-standing religious and political debate running throughout their nation’s history – Should Israel have a King?
You see, in Israel, the country that Jesus grew up in, there were many periods when the people had no earthly King. At that time most people thought, “God is the King of the whole world. He’s in charge of everything. We don’t need a human person to rule over us.” So for long periods of time Israel was governed instead by Judges.
But as the years went by, many people in Israel began to think differently. They began to say things like, “Well, even though God is our King, many people aren’t living the way God wants. Many of the other countries around us have a King and they want to fight us. Without our own King we are spiritually and politically vulnerable. Maybe if we had our own King, then He could make sure people obeyed God. The King could also organise us better to help us to win the battles if our enemies come to fight us.”
Eventually God gave the people of Israel what they wanted and allowed them to have a King. For years Israel had Kings. Some of them were good. Some of them were bad. But no matter how hard even the good Kings tried, they could never get the people to always obey God. Sometimes the people would obey God for a time and God would reward them. But then they would forget about God and start doing things that made God angry. Then God would come and discipline them so that they would realise they were doing wrong and change their ways.
During this time, God communicated with His people by giving special messages to certain people. These people were called ‘prophets’. The prophets would tell God’s messages to the people of Israel. Often in these messages, God would promise that one day He would send a very, very special King called the Messiah. When this Messiah came, He would bring God’s Kingdom to earth. In fact, He would actually set up God’s Kingdom in people’s hearts so that they would be able to love and obey God in a way that they had never really been able to before.
Eventually God did send this special King, this Messiah. His name was Jesus. Jesus was God’s special King on earth. He lived on earth. He taught people lots of things about how God wants us to live. He showed people the way God wants us to treat each other by the way that He lived. He died on the cross. He came back to life again. He went back up into heaven where He now reigns and rules as the King of the earth. One day King Jesus is coming back to earth to judge the whole world and to set up God’s New kingdom called the New Heaven and the New earth. In that Kingdom, everything will be perfect and people will live happily together forever.
When Jesus told his friends to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” he was talking about this whole idea of God’s Kingdom that we have just been talking about and which they would have been familiar with. Of course unlike us, the disciples did not have the benefit of hindsight. It would take them many years to understand that Jesus was the promised Messiah and to understand what His Kingdom was really like.
But for now all I want us to see is that when Jesus told his followers to pray Thy Kingdom come, they would have had some understanding of the promises that God had given to His people that one day He would send a special King who would bring God’s Kingdom to rule in their lives in new and better ways.
Another important clue to what this phrase would have meant to the disciples comes from an understanding of their language and culture.
One of the languages Jesus and his friends spoke was Hebrew. Hebrew is the language many people in Israel still speak today. In Hebrew, people often repeat a phrase twice. This is called ‘parallelism.’ When they do this, the second thing they say explains or reinforces the first thing they have said.
So for example the Psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet. It is a light to my path”. Jesus often used this style of language in His teaching. For example in Matthew 19 he says, “Many that are first shall be last and the last shall be first.”
So when Jesus tells his friends to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” that is what he is doing. He is using parallelism. He is saying, “Pray that God’s Kingdom will come.” “Pray that God’s will, will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
You see, that’s what God’s Kingdom is. It is not just a place but it is a place where God’s will is done perfectly. It’s a place where people always do what is right and what makes God happy. It’s a place where no one suffers and everyone is treated fairly.
So when we pray, “Lord may your Kingdom come” we are really saying “Lord let people on earth obey you and love each other the way people do in heaven.”
This is why Jesus came. He came to bring in a New Era of God’s Kingdom on the earth. You see, before Jesus came to earth people did not have the Holy Spirit living in them all the time. That’s why they could never really love and obey God consistently, even if they had a human King who was spiritual. So for centuries the Jewish nation were waiting and hoping for the day when Jesus, the Messiah, God’s Heavenly King would come.
When Jesus did come, He died, He rose again and He went back to heaven. Even though He is sat down in heaven today, Jesus is still busy. One of the things He does now is this. When someone is so sorry for the wrong things they do that they want to change; when they believe that Jesus died for them and when they ask Jesus to come and be the King of their lives, Jesus hears the prayer of their heart and He sends His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) to live in that person.
The Holy Spirit will then motivate that person to want to stop doing and saying things that hurt themselves and others. The Holy Spirit will give that person a new desire and a new ability to actually start living in ways that are good and kind. In this way, Jesus sets up His kingdom in that person’s life. Other people around will feel the positive effects of these changes.
So while people in the past longed for God’s Kingdom, in the present God’s Kingdom does actually come to earth when people trust in Jesus and when Jesus motivates and helps them to obey God’s ways. When people start living more the way God wants, the way people in heaven are living, God’s Kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.
So to pray, “May your Kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” is to say to God, “Lord, let more people trust in Jesus. Let their lives be changed by you so that they live more like the people in heaven.”
It is also to pray, “Lord, continue to help me to change by your Holy Spirit so that I might live more like the people in heaven too.”
Perhaps you have been struggling for years to be a better person or to give up a particular habit but you just cannot seem to do so. Could it be that you don’t have the Holy Spirit living in you? Why don’t you cry out to God and ask Him for the gift of His Spirit – invite Him to come and take up the reigns of your life.
Maybe you have already done that years ago, but presently you’ve been neglecting your relationship with God or deliberately refusing to go God’s way. Perhaps you have grieved the Holy Spirit and don’t sense His presence or His power in your life. Then don’t waste another moment, fall on your knees and confess your sins to God. His forgiveness and His refilling with His presence and power are only a prayer away.
And lastly, who are the people who you know and care for at home or in work who desperately need the Holy Spirit in their lives? Why not take some time this week and pray for them, asking that God would have mercy on them and come and set up His Kingdom in their hearts and lives.
Prayer- Teach us to Pray
Lord God our Father, like the apostles of old we ask, “Teach us how to pray”
Teach us the secret of prayer – when to speak and when to keep silent, when to accept and when to keep on seeking, when to persevere and when to let go. Like the apostles of old we ask, “Teach us how to pray”
Teach us the power of prayer – its ability to challenge to encourage to transform all of life. Like the apostles of old we ask, “Teach us how to pray”
Teach us the blessing of prayer – its ability to teach, comfort and strengthen. Like the apostles of old we ask, “Teach us how to pray”
Teach us the potential of prayer – its ability to help us express our worship, discover your will and hear your voice. Like the apostles of old we ask, “Teach us how to pray”
Teach us the joy of prayer – its ability to convey your forgiveness, to reveal more of your love, and open up new experiences of your presence. Like the apostles of old we ask, “Teach us to pray”
Lord God our Father, hear our prayer so that all we do and ask and think may give you the glory that is rightfully yours.
Take a moment in silence now to pray for one or two people you know who need God’s help….
We offer all these prayers in the name of Christ, Amen.
It’s been a joy and privilege to share with you again today. Thanks again for logging on. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s reflection on the third line of the Lord’s Prayer. Please do spend some time in quiet over the next couple of days and ask yourself, what do the words, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” mean to you?
Unfortunately with the new restrictions we are unable to meet for church services for the immediate future. So for the next while I’m planning to have online reflections on Sundays and on Wednesdays to keep us encouraged and in spiritually good shape. We’ll be looking at the Lord’s Prayer and in between having the odd special service.
At the end of November we will be entering the wonderfully reflective season of Advent. This Sunday we will be thinking some more about what it will mean for us to pray for God’s kingdom to come and really mean it. I will include a video clip for the children and we’ll post a printable colouring page for you to download to help them learn the lesson for the day.
Let me encourage you to be generous in your financial support of our two chosen Harvest charities. You can contribute using the church Bank details that you will find on the church website. Just remember to mark your transaction for the Harvest. Alternatively you can ring Aleida our treasurer and organise an alternative method of payment that would be more suitable for you.
So there’s lots to look forward to. So let’s keep positive and keep on tuning in.
In the meantime, let me lead you in a Benediction after which I invite you as always, to say the grace together…
your ascended Son has sent us into the world
to preach the good news of your kingdom:
inspire us with your Spirit
and fill our hearts with the fire of your love,
that all who watch our lives and hear your Word
may be drawn to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and for evermore, Amen.”
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.