Sermon from February 4th, 2018

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“Lord, Teach Us to Pray #4: Thy Kingdom Come!”

Revelation 4:1-11; Matthew 19:13-15


By Pastor John Bent



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Sermon Text
Good morning! Yes, we were in Hawaii visiting Grace’s sister. Yes, we had a great time, and believe it or not, yes, we are very happy to be home, snow and all!  Today we continue our study of the Lord’s Prayer.  Our focus is the second petition – “Thy Kingdom come”.

This petition may be more relevant to our nation today than ever before. The intense polarities raging around us are fueled by each side’s desire for their own kingdom to come and their own will to be done. It feels like we are living in a war zone and we are.

It may appear that the battle is between the liberals and the conservatives, capitalists and socialists, Republicans and Democrats, religious and pagan, but don’t be fooled. The real battle line is between the kingdom of men and the kingdom of God.  The Bible warns us that just like what happened at the tower of Babel and at the cross; all these rivals will eventually come together. They will recognize their true enemy is not each other, but Jesus.

So what’s the solution for the fear, the division, the animosity that has gripped our nation? It’s the coming of the Kingdom of God. Let me describe God’s kingdom to you. It’s a place of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

It’s a place of abundance and security, where the rich and powerful freely step to the side to give first place to the poor and weak. It’s a place of generosity rather than stinginess. A place of forgiveness rather than resentment, a place of sacrificial love rather than hatred.

Is it really possible for that to happen?  It’s already happening. The Kingdom of God broke in on our world the morning Jesus rose from the dead. It’s growing and it can’t be stopped.  So how do we get in on it?  It starts with a humble request. “Thy Kingdom come”.

Sincere, persistent prayer unleashes the power of God in our world. It changes things. Let me give you an example.  Twenty years ago things were not good in Cali, Columbia. Drug lords had taken over the city. Shootouts between rival gangs made the streets a war zone. Civic leaders, law enforcement, school administrators, and pastors who attempted to confront the problem were harassed, threatened, even killed.

Finally, following the murder of a local pastor, leaders from a number of churches got together to pray. Out of their prayer meetings came the idea to have an all-city prayer gathering in the gigantic downtown soccer stadium. The news spread and pastors and people came from every congregation. The stadium was filled to capacity and thousands more gathered outside the gates, maybe 100,000 people.

In one great show of solidarity, Christians from across the city set aside building their own kingdoms and joined their voices to fervently pray that the Kingdom of God would come and drive out the drug lords and the gangs.  They prayed that the kingdom of darkness, murder, and crime would be overthrown by the kingdom of God.

But as they prayed together something else began to happen, the Holy Spirit revealed that the powers of fear, suspicion and pride that had long separated denominations and congregations also needed to be overthrown. So they prayed about that too. One by one the drug lords were arrested, their distribution systems broke down and they moved out. A new unity began to form in the Body of Christ in that city. The kingdom of God came to Cali.

Prayer changes things – but the question remains - “Do we want things to change? Or is it easier to just complain and blame somebody else?”

I remember visiting with a fellow pastor a few years ago. He was telling me about a painful crisis in his church. After a lengthy conversation, I said to him, “I guess we better pray about this.”   He smiled and said with a twinkle in his eye, “You mean it’s finally come to that?”

Do you remember this line from the hymn? “O what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”  When we pray, “Thy kingdom come” we are asking God to overthrow every kingdom that stands against his rule in the universe. That’s revolutionary!  Before we pray “Thy Kingdom come” we should consider “Do we really want things to change, or would we rather just complain and blame somebody else?”

Tyrants for the last 2000 years have recognized the threat in this prayer. They have outlawed it and slaughtered those who prayed it. Yet this prayer, thy kingdom come, brought down the Roman Empire, abolished slavery in Europe and America, and toppled the Berlin wall in 1990. I believe this petition, prayed in faith, is the key to bringing revival to America, uniting a divided people, and eliminating the curse of disposable children.

1000 years before Jesus taught this prayer to his disciples, he said to Solomon, “If my people, who are called by ne 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 Chron 7:14

The coming of the kingdom of God is the end of the kingdom of me. Let me ask you again, “Are we willing for God’s kingdom to come? Or would we rather just complain and blame somebody else?”

When we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, we are praying for God to be recognized as King over all the other phony kings of our world – including our own ego.

In Revelation 4 – we get a glimpse into heaven where the saints of God have all been given a royal crown. They are princes and princesses in the Kingdom of God.  Pretty cool!  But what they do with their crowns is shocking.

Instead of taking selfies with their new crowns, they lay them down at the feet of Jesus. Why? Because they know, Jesus, the crucified One is the Only One in the entire universe who is worthy to wear the crown as King of kings and Lord of lords.
 
He is the King, the only King, and we are his subjects, his children. The coming of God’s kingdom changes things – “Do we want things to change? Or would we rather just complain and blame somebody else?”
 
The coming of God’s kingdom begins with daily repentance and laying our crowns, all our attempts at our own sovereignty down at the feet of Jesus so that he becomes truly Lord and king of our lives. It’s a dying of our ego and being raised to new life to serve him and live with him in his kingdom.  This should be a daily event for every believer.

Out of that flows a holy commission to care for God’s kingdom. We are to do more than just pray. We are to get involved in politics, in economics, in medicine, in caring for and adopting the orphan, in defending the oppressed, in sharing the Gospel, in bringing the light of Christ into the world.

We have a role to play in the coming of God’s kingdom.  There is much work to be done and we’ve been called to do more than just step aside and pray as the world tears itself apart.

Instead of praying against the enemies of God, we are praying for the enemies of God, in the same way Jesus prayed for those who crucified him.  But before we do anything, we need to do a double check on who sits on the throne and wears the crown in our own heart.

Do you long for the coming of God’s Kingdom in the world? Are you willing to give up attempting to build your own kingdom, and seek to be part of the coming of his kingdom? If so, will you stand with me.

America is being devoured by the tyranny of our own selfishness and we can’t save ourselves. Only the coming of God’s kingdom can save us. And no one is going to pray for that but us!  Let’s read together Luther’s Small Catechism lesson for today. “Thy Kingdom come”

What does this mean? “God’s kingdom comes without our praying for it, but we ask in this prayer that it may come also to us.”

When does this happen? “God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit so that by his grace we believe his Holy Word and live a godly life on earth now and in heaven forever.”

Will you pray with me. “Lord, forgive me for seeking my own kingdom before yours. I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution and I realize that only happens when you take the throne in my own heart. Set me free from my selfish attempts to build my own kingdom. Change my heart and make me part of the coming of your kingdom for the sake of the world. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Christ Lutheran Church • 5150 River Lakes Parkway, Whitefish, MT 59937 • 406-862-2615


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