I’ve been really moved by the prayers lifted up with the Global Day of Prayer and today I’d like to teach from a few of the prayers and the scriptures they contain because they take us right to the heart of the gospel message, strengthen us for Christian living and prepare us for this life and the life to come.
Almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
We gather with believers all over the world,
to glorify You as Creator of heaven and earth.
You alone are holy and righteous.
We submit to Your authority.
We praise and adore You alone.
Father, we honour You
Lord Jesus Christ, we honour You
Holy Spirit, we honour You
This opening prayer is consistent with the opening of the Lord’s Prayer which Jesus gave us to teach us how to pray – “Our Father in heaven – hallowed by your name”. When we pray, praise and adoration is always a great place to start. 祈るときはいつも賛美と崇拝から始めるのがいいでしょう。
Discussions I’ve had recently in my own family and in the Bible studies have been about what to pray for when we don’t know what to pray for. When everything seems to be normal – nothing is terribly wrong or terribly brilliant, and we may not even feel like praying – why should we pray and what should we pray about?
Remember that God is always worthy of praise and we would do well to focus on the words we have prayed here that “God alone is holy and righteous” and that “We submit to His authority” so “We praise and adore Him alone”. By praying these words, right from the start, we set our relationship with God right and at the same time we distance ourselves from the world. 神はいつも賛美されるべき方だということを忘れないでください。そしてさっき祈った言葉、“神だけが聖であり義である”、私たちは神の権力に従います”、“私たちはあなただけを賛美し、拝します”に焦点を合わせるといいでしょう。それらの言葉を祈ることによって、初めから神と私たちの関係が正しい状態になるのです。
When praising God and honouring His name, it’s helpful to know some of the names and titles of God: Jehovah, The Lord, God, Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer, Light of the World, Rock, I Am, Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Immanuel, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, Son of God, Son of Man, Alpha and Omega, Bright Morning Star, King of Kings, Lord of Lords and so on. I’m not going to explain all meanings and depths of these names and titles today but God has them for a reason – they’re there for knowing and exalting and they’re a great way to start praying.
Our Father in heaven,
Thank You for loving the world so much
that You gave Your only Son, Jesus Christ,
to die on the cross for our sins
so that we could be reconciled to You.
Fill us with your love as we faithfully intercede for the lost,
the hopeless, the helpless and the world.
Thank You Father, for adopting us into Your family.
Here is the gospel in a nutshell and we would do well to be eloquent with this so that we can easily and simply explain what it is that we are living for to those who ask. It’s also good for the strengthening of our own faith to have a clear and simple statement of belief.
According to the words of this prayer, “God gave his only son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins so that we could be reconciled to Him.” What a wonderful statement of faith.“神は私たちの罪のためにたった一人の御子イエス・キリストを十字架にかけるために与えてくださったので、私たちは神と和解できるのです。”
Stuck for prayer? Meditate on that! Not sure how to explain what you believe? Use that!
Let me share two other key scriptures that put the gospel message in a nutshell and that are useful for strengthening our own faith and for sharing with others.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
My favourite: 3 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. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us,not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:3-8
If you ever want a snapshot of the gospel message, there it is. Meditate on it till it fills your heart with wonder.
Father of mercy and grace,
We have sinned.
Our world is gripped by the power of sin.
Our hearts are grieved by injustice, hatred and violence.
We are shamed by oppression, racism and bloodshed in our land.
We mourn all loss of life in murder, war and terrorism.
Our homes are broken and our churches are divided by rebellion and pride.
Our lives are polluted by selfishness, greed, idolatry and sexual sin.
God of mercy, forgive our sins.
Pour out Your grace and heal our land.
More than anything else, this is what I wanted to share with you today. More than anything else, I want to call the church to repentance. I know we might only want the juicy bits of God’s love and grace but I tell you that we cannot receive God’s love and grace if there is no repentance. 何よりも私は教会を悔い改めに導きたいと願っています。
We need to repent.
Our society needs to repent. Our church needs to repent. We each need to repent.
As we have prayed, our lives are polluted by “selfishness, greed, idolatry and sexual sin”. Let me use this image: The sin in our lives is like an iceberg. We only see the top 10% of it. The other 90% is hidden away out of sight, even to ourselves.
Our selfishness is in many ways ‘normal’ in the way we take care of ourselves. There can be a fine line between the good things of God and sin. A fine line between loving ourselves in a godly way and living for ourselves in a selfish way. Ask a young person what ‘freedom’ means and see if you can distinguish their answer from ‘selfishness’.
Selfishness often manifests itself as an unwillingness or an inability to love sacrificially. Our societies today reflect this in the unwillingness of many to get married and have children. It’s also reflected anytime there is unwillingness to love a neighbour, a stranger or even, perish the thought, an enemy.自分勝手さはしばしば献身的に愛することをしようとしない、又はできないこととして現れます。
We need to repent of idolatry. The common Biblical images of this are statues made in the image of God. Yet idolatry today might be more in the shape of a car, an iPod, a certificate or even a mental image of something or someone cool, impressive or great. Simply put, an idol is anything that threatens God being preeminent in our lives.
But most of all for the church in general, for us, I believe there is a great need to repent of spiritual apathy. A lack of concern. Being casual about God. Lukewarm. Offhand. Carefree. Blithe. ‘Maybe’.
This attitude of the heart dishonours God and it leaves us distant from Him and short on blessing. しかし何よりも無関心を悔い改める必要が大きいのです。関心のなさ、神に対して何気ない、生ぬるい、無造作、気楽、思慮のない、‘たぶん’ このような心のあり方は神を侮辱し、神から私たちを遠ざけ、祝福に欠けます。
Today we celebrate Pentecost. Pentecost is the day the church was born when the Holy Spirit was poured out in power on all believers in Christ. It’s a day on which we ask God to send us more of His Spirit, to equip us and fill us. How can God fill us with His Spirit if our lives are already full of other things, or if we simply don’t have the zeal to make room for Him? 今日はペンテコステを祝う日です。もっと聖霊を送ってくださるよう、私たちを用い、満たしてくださるよう神にお願いする日です。私たちがすでに他のもので満たされているとしたら、神はどうやって私たちを聖霊で満たすことができるでしょうか？
We need to repent of this and make a new start, a new set of priorities in our hearts.
The key Scripture for the whole Global Day of Prayer is right in line with this theme:
“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn
from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
(2 Chronicles 7: 14)
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19,20
Before I continue, I’d like to have a brief time of repentance. Let’s pray and repent silently. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in this.
King of Glory,
Come and finish Your work in our cities, our peoples and our nations.
From all continents and islands we cry:
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Be lifted up ancient doors
so that the King of glory may come in! (Psalm 24)
Come fill the earth with the knowledge of Your glory as the waters cover the sea.
The Spirit and the Bride say:
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!
Let the ancient doors of sin, false religion and pride be lifted up so that the King of Glory may come in!
This brings us to what the message of Pentecost is all about. Allowing the risen Jesus to continue and complete His work in our lives and our world.
Saying to God the Father, “Come! I want You in My Life.”
Saying to Jesus, the Son, “Come! I will follow you wherever you lead me!”
Saying to the Holy Spirit, “Come! Feed me! Refresh me! Fill me!” and committing to live in such a way that the Holy Spirit is free and unhindered to fill us and work in every aspect of our lives.
This, then, is how we know what love is. This is how we enjoy God. This is how we can rejoice in all circumstances. This is how we can have the power to break sin habits. This is how we can learn to forgive. This is how we are set free. This is how we don’t worry. This is how we make godly decisions. This is how we walk with God. This is how we enter full life.
Sing and pray. ‘I Love You Forever (Pour Out Your Spirit)’