prayer

Three Ways To Pray For God's Kingdom To Come

Image As a church, we want to pray throughout 2014 for God's kingdom to come to Athens. I was reading Paul Miller's fantastic book, A Praying Life, and he mentions three kingdom prayers that we seldom ask:

  • Change in others - because it feels too controlling...too helpless
  • Change in me - because that feels too scary
  • Change in things that I don't like in our culture - because change feels too impossible

Miller lays out some helpful suggestions for praying for change in these areas on our own and reminds us that our underlying struggle in prayerlessness is an overconfidence in our abilities and a lack of confidence in God. Simply put, the reason we don't pray is because we don't trust God.

One additional practice to help us grow into kingdom prayer is to learn to do this together. Every week across our city, our church hosts prayer groups that we call community groups. They're great places to pray because you're in an extended family environment - eating a meal together - with the express purpose of connecting relationally and growing spiritually. So here are three ways that I'd encourage community groups to pray:

  • Change in us - pray for the things we share that we want God to change in our lives
  • Change in our church - pray for the things we see in our church family that we want God to change
  • Change in our city - pray for the things that we don't like in the people and places around us who don't know Jesus (yet)

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Sermon Review - The Rich Ruler (Luke 18:18-30)

Image Big Idea: We need a good God to convince us to give up control of our life.

Summary: A wealthy man asks Jesus to help him find what's missing in his life. Jesus shows him that what he needs is a God who is so good that He'll dive into what controls this man: his money. Like the rich ruler, we'd rather walk away from Jesus than to give up control of our life. And the only way that we'll give up control of our money or our comfort is for God to overwhelm us with his goodness.

Next Steps:

  • Whenever God speaks, we respond - either in obedience or disobedience. Doing nothing is disobedience.
  • Obedience to God is built on repentance and faith - honesty about our sin and hope in Jesus' work on our behalf.
  • The Holy Spirit fuses God's message to our life. How are you supposed to respond to what you heard this week?
  • Who is helping you follow Jesus this week? Discipleship in isolation is a recipe for frustration.

A few ways we can help you as a church:

  • If you're in a community group, take time to pray this week for God to overwhelm our church with his goodness.
  • If you're looking for a way to take in the goodness of God, here is a sermon by John Piper that you can read or listen to.
  • If you have the day off tomorrow for Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday, take time to watch his I Have A Dream speech or read his Letter from Birmingham Jail. See the world through his eyes and give yourself a different perspective.
  • Since God is gathering a people called the church and remaking them into a new humanity that transcends culture, staying where we are as a predominantly white church is not an option. While the path forward is unclear, consider your part in the journey:
    • If you want to help us take next steps in becoming a transcultural church, email me (madair@misionathens.com)
    • Let's all persevere with both patience and persistence. No turning back. No getting ahead of God.
    • Let's pray that where our demand to be in control keeps us from being who God intends for us to be, God will be gracious to us and overwhelm us with his goodness.

You Need A Budget - If you haven't signed up for next Saturday's personal finance seminar, you can change that right here. It's free, it's simple and it will give you a way to change how you handle your finances.

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Sermon Review - Jesus and Children (Luke 18:15-17)

Image Big Idea: Will we trust Jesus with our helplessness and with the needs of the orphan and the unborn?

Summary: When parents bring their infants to receive a blessing from Jesus, his disciples try to keep them away from Jesus. Jesus takes it a different direction, inviting the children to come to him while reminding us that everyone matters to Jesus. Seizing on the opportunity to make a point, Jesus asks whether we will trust him with our helplessness the way that a baby trusts their parents? And since we're near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this story is a good place to talk about the orphan and the unborn.

Next Steps:

  • Whenever God speaks, we respond - either in obedience or disobedience. Doing nothing is disobedience.
  • Obedience to God is built on repentance and faith - honesty about our sin and hope in Jesus' work on our behalf.
  • The Holy Spirit fuses God's message to our life. How are you supposed to respond to what you heard this week?
  • Who is helping you follow Jesus this week? Discipleship in isolation is a recipe for frustration.

A few ways we can help you as a church:

  • If you're in a community group, take time to pray this week for the orphan and the unborn.
  • There will be lots of news over the next ten days about abortion. Pay attention.
  • Pick up a copy of Russell Moore's Adopted For Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. Pay attention.
  • Press into the needs that are immediately around you - in our church, in the city, in your neighborhood schools.
    • Thank you for the big and small things that you're already doing. Everything matters.
    • If you're not sure what to do next, email us (info@missionathens.com) and we'll start a conversation.

Build What You Love. After the gathering, we had an all-church meeting to say 'thank you' for 2013 and to encourage all of us to 'build what we love.' And what we love is helping each other follow Jesus together as a family. Are you connected relationally? Where are you serving? Let's build something great together.

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