For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
This series is meant to awaken, to cultivate a place where we live in an attitude of God consciousness. We have looked at me-centered prayer that takes us out of God-consciousness. It’s a lifelong challenge. This is how author Donald Miller puts it:
“The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me.”
“We’re all bad at prayer” John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
One of the downsides of being a Christian for any length of time is the ease with which answers come through the lips – regardless of whether they spring from the heart.
C. S. Lewis once wrote that there is all the difference in the world between reading a map of the coastline and feeling the spray of the ocean upon your face. People come to church, he said, not to be taught to read maps about God, but to feel the spray.
Do you want to feel the spray? I do.
As we have been unpacking the PAPA prayer- Jesus called God the Father Abba, a term very similar in feel to Papa, daddy, very relational, full of love and trust. Papa forms an acronym: P - Present yourself to God. presentingA - Attend to how you are thinking of God. attendingP - Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God. purgingA – Approach God as the ‘first thing’ in your life
Today we will look at the first two, not in a formulaic way; remember prayer is a launching pad to relationship with God. We will look at it in the context of communion, and we’ll do that with a distinct flavor today as well.P - Present yourself to God.
Your emotional bottle. Stop trying to be who you think you should be and just tell God about where you are. Get in tune with whatever is going on inside of you.
Presenting yourself to God is to simply say, ‘God, this is me.’
At the mall the directions kiosk has a little star on the map, ‘you are here’. That’s all you say to God. ‘Here I am. I’m happy, I’m sad; I’m angry; I’m scared.
’ Don’t just explain it though as if it’s a medical diagnosis with detachment, really let the thoughts and feelings come out of your heart.
That honesty is on our part is a breath of fresh air for God. Have you noticed on some mall signs they now trace a map from where you are to where you want to go? I might be here but I am in such unfamiliar territory I need help with the simplest of directions. Do you ever feel like that with God? Me too.
Jesus is constantly giving us those directions: through the Bible; through others guidance and counsel; through that still small voice that speaks within our heart and mind. Interestingly, Jesus’ direction isn’t always concrete; it’s often more attitudinal
. It’s more relational.
Do you have a fearful, or angry disposition with God and others, perhaps even yourself?Or will we let Him cultivate a spirit of trust, and active surrender to a life of love and service in ourselves?
That’s what communion is about in many ways. When the Israelites celebrated deliverance from slavery in Egypt in the festival called Passover, because passed over them, they used wine. Today we use juice.
Wine is called the blood of grapes
in Genesis 49:11. It was a symbol of friendship and covenant, a forerunner to the heavenly banquet, and these symbols were made clear when Jesus took the wine at His last Passover, gave thanks for it, and gave it to the disciples saying, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.”
It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
"What do you want?" Jesus asked.
She said, "Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand."
Jesus responded, "You have no idea what you're asking." And he said to James and John, "Are you capable of drinking the cup that I'm about to drink?"
They said, "Sure, why not?"
Jesus said, "Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that's not my business. My Father is taking care of that."
This cup is the same thing you have in your hand: a cup of wine/juice- a cup of blood. Of freedom and obedience; and a cup of happiness and peace in the midst of difficulty and tough times.
That same question is asked of us, “Can you drink the cup?”
Jesus wants that question to pierce our hearts so that our own personal answer can emerge, not a trite ‘Christian’ answer.
Before we drink the cup we must hold it and examine it. It’s like life- we don’t just live it; rather we must know what we are living. Reflection. Some of the greatest pain and joy of living come not only from what we live, but more from how we think and feel about what we are living.
This is what it means to present yourself to God. This cup is not drunk frivolously.Matthew 26:37-38
"Stay here while I go over there and pray." Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, "This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me."Luke 22:44
"Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.Matthew 26:39
"My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?"
Jesus presented Himself to God the Father, His Papa. He could say yes to the Father because He possessed a trust beyond betrayal, surrender beyond despair and a love beyond fears.Luke 22:43
An angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder.Psalm 116:5; 10-13
The Lord is merciful and upright, our God is tenderness…
My trust doesn’t fail even when I say, “I am completely wretched.”
In my terror I said, “No human can be relied on.”
What return can I make to the Lord for His generosity to me? I shall take up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.
The psalmist wasn’t afraid to really present himself to God. To be completely authentic. Say what’s in your heart. Make it a lifestyle to tell God where you are. Pay attention to your dreams. Walk thru that doorway to see where it leads with God.Can you drink this cup?A - Attend to how you are thinking of God.
Never pretend, don’t try to convince yourself you’re seeing something you’re not. If God feels distant, tell God that.Attending is about whom we think we’re talking to.
What picture of God comes to mind when you pray? Who do you assume He is? What’s He like?
Larry Crabb writes that, “The richest prayers often arise out of an emotionally empty heart.”
We are never more fully who we really are than when we follow God whether we experience Him or not. If you attend to God and sense only the darkness of a cave, you are perhaps in the best school for learning the Papa prayer.
Who do you see God as? A pygmy in a wheelchair- prayer is talking to an undersized person who’s too disabled, though he means well, to do much of anything?
Smiling buddy? Watchmaker? Cosmic vending machine? Impersonal force ala Star Wars?
Cruel tyrant? Moral crusader perhaps a ‘theological crusader’?
An upcoming movie illustrates this so well for me: Evan Almighty
The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
You hold in your hand a broken cracker symbolizing the broken body of Jesus Christ. This is the image of God we have in our midst in communion. A God who loved you & I so much that He came to be one of us.
It says in John 1 that God ‘tabernacled’, (literally tent); God tented with us! He took our form, subject to our desires and temptations, and showed us how to live. He died on a cross because we have in us an uncontrollable and unquenchable selfish streak that will lead us to death if not for Jesus.Philippians 2:1-11If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.How’s that for an image of God?Isaiah 52:13-53:12"Just watch my servant blossom! Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd! But he didn't begin that way. At first everyone was appalled. He didn't even look human— a ruined face, disfigured past recognition. Nations all over the world will be in awe, taken aback, kings shocked into silence when they see him. For what was unheard of they'll see with their own eyes, what was unthinkable they'll have right before them."
Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field.There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him.He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence.Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening?He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people.They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man,Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true.
Still, it's what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain.The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many "righteous ones," as he himself carries the burden of their sins.Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors—Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest.He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
Lets eat to remember this God of ours. A suffering servant.
Next week we’ll look at:P - Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God
.A – Approach God as the ‘first thing’ in your life.