GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU FROM GOD OUR FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST (1 Corinthians 1: 3). Jesus said, THE KINGDOM OF GOD DOES NOT COME WITH YOUR CAREFUL OBSERVATION, NOR WILL PEOPLE SAY, “HERE IT IS” , OR “THERE IT IS”, BECAUSE THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU (Luke 17: 20-21).
WELCOME TO OUR SUNDAY MORNING WEB-WORSHIP.
OPENING HYMN (CH-566): – THE EARTH BELONGS UNTO THE LORD, and all that it contains; the world that is inhabited, and all that there remains. For the foundation of the same He on the seas did lay, and he hath it established upon the floods to stay.
Who is the man that shall ascend into the hill of God? Or who within His holy place shall have a firm abode? Whose hands are clean, whose heart is pure, and unto vanity who hath not lifted up his soul, nor sworn deceitfully.
This is the man who shall receive the blessing from the Lord; The God of his salvation shall him righteousness accord. This is the generation who do after Him inquire; they Jacob are, who seek Thy face with their whole hearts’ desire.
Ye gates, lift up your heads on high; Ye doors that last for aye, be lifted up, that so the King of Glory enter may. But who of glory is the King? The mighty Lord is this; even that same Lord that great in might and strong in battle is.
Ye gates, lift up your heads; ye doors, doors that do last for aye, be lifted up, that so the King of Glory enter may. But who is He that is the King, The King of Glory? Who is This? The Lord of hosts, and none but He, The King of Glory is. (Alleluia! Amen).
LET US PRAY:
LORD, OUR GOD AND OUR KING, You have spoken to Your people across the centuries. You identified Yourself with humankind in Jesus Christ. You dwell within us through Your Holy Spirit, making Your presence come alive. Accept now the worship we offer, and use us for YOUR KINGDOM. We come in response to Your call, to offer our worship, our thanks, our confession, our lives. We come, seeking Your guidance, Your strength, Your renewing power and YOUR WILL. Lord our KING, help us to come to You not just as an outward gesture, but in heart and mind and soul. Help us to make space in our lives to be still in Your presence, and so may we live in You and You in us. Accept this worship we offer, and use us for YOUR KINGDOM, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – PSALM 24: 1-6.
THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND EVERYTHING IN IT, THE WORLD, AND ALL WHO LIVE IN IT; FOR HE FOUNDED IT UPON THE SEAS AND ESTABLISHED IT UPON THE WATERS. WHO MAY ASCEND THE HILL OF THE LORD? WHO MAY STAND IN HIS HOLY PLACE? HE WHO HAS CLEAN HANDS AND A PURE HEART, WHO DOES NOT LIFT UP HIS SOUL TO AN IDOL OR SWEAR BY WHAT IS FALSE. HE WILL RECEIVE BLESSING FROM THE LORD AND VINDICATION FROM GOD HIS SAVIOUR. SUCH IS THE GENERATION OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM, WHO SEEK YOUR FACE, O GOD OF JACOB.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – MATTHEW 6: 10.
… YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN …
The Christians who worship God the Father recognize Him at the same time as Lord and King. This is what the Bible tells us about God, and this is how the Church has worshipped Him through the centuries. God exercises His reign over His Kingdom and His subjects. We read in the Bible how the Lord is praised and glorified as the King of heaven and earth, the all-powerful King – the King of kings. He is our Father, but He is also our King. Up to this point it is not difficult to agree with the Lord’s Prayer, but we must understand that this prayer is the heart of the Gospel, and the central theme of the Sermon on the Mount. Acknowledging the Kingdom of God implies far-reaching consequences in our lives. Like Jesus, we are not allowed to remain silent in the face of opposition, but called to – take up the shield of faith… the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6: 16-17), to defend the honour of our King.
YOUR KINGDOM COME. Asking for God’s Kingdom to come shapes the entire Lord’s Prayer. The word KINGDOM comes from two words – King and domain, – the domain being the territory governed by the King. So, when we say, – Your Kingdom come – we ask God to reign fully in our lives, yielding to His control in every aspect of our existence, and asking our heavenly Father to help us to be faithful, obedient, and effective followers of Christ. Jesus made it clear that God’s Kingdom is a Spiritual Kingdom, – because the Kingdom of God is within You (Luke 17: 21). The Kingdom of God is seen most clearly in the life of Jesus – what He said and did. At the Cross, Jesus is the man who loved His enemies, who being rich became poor, who prayed for those who despised and used Him. The Cross was not a detour or a hurdle on the way to the Kingdom; it was the KINGDOM COME. People may choose to consider the Kingdom unreal, not relevant, or not possible; but we cannot omit or abandon the clear references of our Bible. The Lord’s Kingdom is where He is recognised and obeyed as the King, where His constitution becomes the only one acknowledged as the ruling of our lives. The Sermon on the Mount can be entirely regarded as the Constitution of God’s Kingdom. When we pray, – Your Kingdom come, – we should really mean it because we are endangering any kingdom we may have built for ourselves. It is wrong to think of the kingdom only as something heavenly that is still to come. Jesus spoke about His Kingdom as the one already established here on earth, in all the goodness and love that follows us all the days of our lives. Many people were very disappointed with Jesus’ version of God’s Kingdom; just think of John the Baptist, Simon Peter or the two men on the road to Emmaus. They were disappointed because they saw the Kingdom of God as a personal “Utopia” – a place and state where one could sit at the King’s left or right hand, and rule with Him The fundamental hope of Christians should always be a bridge-building task with God, not as a dream and not as a mirage, but as the reality of the Psalmist’s vision: – Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him (Psalms 126: 5-6). In these difficult times of Pandemic, the world is full of anxious and fearfully saddened and weeping people, who find no comfort. They might not even know it, but they are potential subjects of God’s Harvest for His Kingdom. As citizens of our God’s Kingdom, we must continue to sow. We must keep sowing the seeds of faith, hope and love, and contribute to the coming of God’s Kingdom, even if the world is tempted to not listen to Him. But as Psalm 24 makes it clear, – The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it… The owner of the whole creation is the King; our King. His Kingdom comes, to all who seek healing, comfort, security, support; because God is the King of Love, our Shepherd, through Jesus Christ, and He is always just a prayer away to those who believe in Him. Remember, if in the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord’s Name is hallowed as important to us, then we will easily recognise Him as our King. This petition has its parallel in an old Jewish greeting-prayer, probably known by Jesus Himself: – May The Lord establish His Kingdom during your life and during your days (Mishna). William Barclay’s definition of God’s Kingdom is this: – The Kingdom of God is a state of things on earth in which God’s will is as perfectly done as in Heaven (The New Daily Study Bible, Gospel of Matthew). Jesus’ life and teaching, including The Lord’s Prayer, call us to join Him as servants in the Kingdom of God, so that we can labour with Him to help GOD’S WILL TO BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS ALREADY DONE IN HEAVEN. When we pray for God’s Kingdom to come, for – Thy will be done, – we are asking not only for the final establishment of God’s RULE on earth, but also we are praying that we ourselves may be active participants in GOD’S WILL in every area of human experience, beginning with our lives and relationships, and the institutions in which we live and work.
YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. It means that we submit our will to God’s WILL, and asking His WAY to triumph. We should not even think of – My will be done, – but faithfully asking day by day, – Your will be done, my Lord, not mine. Jesus gave us examples of how He always did the will of His Father. I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me (John 5: 30); looking for the Father’s will to be done on earth was a way of life for Jesus. He also said: – My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. Just like eating food, carrying out God’s plan was a life-sustaining activity for Jesus. He felt, like hunger, a continuous inner need to do God’s will and, like food, an ongoing satisfaction in accomplishing the work God gave Him to do. Right before Jesus was betrayed and turned over to endure the agony of the Cross, and drink the cup of God’s wrath towards sin, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and said: – My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will (Matthew 26: 39). And He said for a second time: – My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done -(Matthew 26: 42). Choosing God’s will when it came to drink the cup of God’s wrath ultimately led to Salvation for mankind, Jesus’ exaltation, and God the Father’s Glory. God’s will proved to be in the best interest of everyone, and the unique godly way to Salvation. When we pray, – Your will be done, we are praying for God to accomplish His purposes and enable us to live as obedient children. God is sovereign, so there is no doubt that what He desires will ultimately come out. However, when we are praying for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, we align our desires and aims with God’s; wanting people to know Him and obey Him. Praying for God’s will to be done is an active demonstration of our will for God to increase righteousness on the earth, draw more to repentance, and for His Kingdom to come fully. May we follow James’ teaching: – Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and He will come near to you (James 4: 7-8). In this way it may be to us a delight to do His will.
God’s will may mean that we have to drink the cup of suffering. That means that our own will is of no consequence, even if it is not necessarily bad or wicked. We may sometimes feel that our own will would serve God better than His will. What did Jesus mean when He distinguished between His will and the will of His Father? Was His will against that of His Father? Even Jesus felt inner resistance against the pain and misery of the way of the Cross, but that was from His human nature and not from His Godliness. Deep in His Sonship, there was for Him only the WILL of a Loving Father.
The Lord’s Prayer is for the here and now. We have to seek more earnestly God’s Will here on earth, beginning with our own lives. Christians are the Agents of heaven. We are called to proclaim God’s Will, and God’s Will is concerned with people and their world. And above all, GOD WANTS HIS PEOPLE TO BE SAVED. AMEN.
LET US PRAY:
GRACIOUS LORD GOD, we thank You that You are a God who sees not only the outside but the inside, a God who is not taken in by external appearances but who looks into the inner depths of our heart and soul. We thank You for the reassurance which that brings, the confidence we can have that, though we repeatedly disobey You, consistently breaking Your commandments and failing to live as You have called us to, still You know that we earnestly desire to be Your people, that we long to be better disciples of Christ. For Your unfailing mercy, receive our thanks. Yours is the earth and everything in it, the world, the universe and all who live in it. All is Your Creation and Your establishment. Save us, and accept us Lord God, to stand in Your holy place with clean hands and pure heart, to receive blessing and vindication from our Saviour. We confess You Almighty King worthy of all the Glory. Though our lives may appear blameless, our faith strong, our works good and our words right, You and You alone know the reality in our lives and the truth beneath. Gracious Lord God, turn Your eyes upon us and see the despair, anxiety, uncertainty, suffering and grief in our world so much tested by the Coronavirus pandemic. Come and hear all the prayers raised to You, seeking support, healing, comfort, Salvation. Bless all the good deeds of those who are helping others, doing their best in science, leadership, social-work and hospital-care, with humility and self-sacrifice for the well-being of others. May Your healing touch renew the faith, hope and love of millions depressed by the strict regulations imposed because of this dangerous virus. Bless Your Christian Church Universal in all its Branches, our Church of Scotland in all its presbyteries and congregations. Be with all Your children on this Island and in our village, and guide all the different forms of worship, spoken, written on the internet, or praying through phones. Touch the hearts of people as if they would be in their church, in fellowship with well known and loved sisters and brothers. Be with our loved-ones and hear us as we name them in our hearts through prayers … in Jesus’ name. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN (CH-296): – REJOICE, THE LORD IS KING; Your Lord and King adore; mortals, give thanks and sing and triumph evermore: Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice; again I say, “rejoice”.
Jesus, the Saviour, reigns, The God of truth and love; when He had purged our stains, He took His seat above: Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice; again I say, “rejoice”.
His Kingdom cannot fail; He rules o’er earth and heaven; the keys of death and hell are to our Jesus given: Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice; again I say, “rejoice”.
He sits at God’s right hand till all His foes submit, and bow to His command, and fall beneath His feet: Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice; again I say, “rejoice”.
Rejoice in glorious hope; Jesus, the Judge, shall come, and take His servants up to their eternal home; we then shall hear the archangel’s voice; the trump of God shall sound, “Rejoice”.
MAY THE GOD OF HOPE FILL YOU WITH ALL JOY AND PEACE AS YOU TRUST IN HIM, SO THAT YOU MAY OVERFLOW WITH HOPE BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. (Romans 15: 13)