Worship Service for June 7, 2020 — Our Father in Heaven
First Lesson: Genesis 1:1—2:3:
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
6And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
9And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
11Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
14And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
20And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.
25God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
2:1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Psalm 150 on Page 122 in Christian Worship
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre.
Praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with strings and flute,
Praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Second Lesson: 2 Corinthians 13:11-14:
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13All God’s people here send their greetings. 14May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 28:16-20:
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Sermon Text: Psalm 68:4-6:
4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
I think that it is safe to say that one of the things that really helped to sustain us during these past several weeks has been the gift of prayer. Sometimes, when there didn’t seem to be anything else that could really comfort us, it was an absolute blessing to know that we could lay everything at the feet of our God and trust him to deal with it. That is why, as we now emerge from this time of pandemic, and as we find ourselves in the midst of a period of social unrest, it is good for us to take a look at that most wonderful gift that God has given us in an extended sort of way. For the next several weeks, we are going to be taking a look at the Lord’s prayer. This is the best known prayer in all of the Christian Church. Often, it is the first thing that a missionary will translate into a foreign language when going into a new field. Christians , down through the centuries, have found great comfort in meaning in this prayer. Each week, we will look at a different part of the Lord’s prayer. This week, we take a look at the opening words, the address.
Our Father in Heaven
- Our Father IN HEAVEN
- Our FATHER in heaven
III. OUR Father in heaven
In our text for today, David invites us to praise our God and describes him in this way: Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. This expression reminds us of the great power that our God has. Sometimes, the thought of standing in front of someone who has great power can be an intimidating sort of thing. We have seen in the last couple of weeks that it can be very easy for someone who is in power to abuse that power. However, when we think of coming before our God in prayer, this is not an intimidating thing.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray in the sermon on the Mount and at other times, he taught them to begin their prayer with the words of the address. He taught them to pray to our father in heaven. As they said those words and as we say those words, we are reminded that we come before someone who is high above all of the powers and authorities of this earth. We are reminded that we come before someone who, indeed, has the power to deal with all of the things that we place at his feet. We’re not coming before someone who has a limited range of authority. We come to the one who is enthroned in the heavens, the one who created those heavens, in fact. We are coming before the one who has all authority in heaven and on earth.
Think for a moment . What is the biggest problem that you have in your life? For each one of us, it will be different. For some, it will be the health issues that we face. For some, it will be the sadness that we feel over the physical condition of someone that we love. For others it will be family strife. For still others, it will be financial problems that just don’t seem to end. Maybe during these last few weeks, it was depression brought on by being in a situation that you simply could not control. Whatever the problem is, we know that when we bring these problems before our God, he is able to handle each and every one of them. For God, no problem is too big or too small. Nothing is too large for him to handle and nothing is so tiny that it will escape his attention. We know that the one we come to in prayer can deal with anything that we hand him.
As i said before, sometimes a thought like that can be a little bit intimidating. We are coming before someone who holds all the power in heaven and on earth. We know how easily someone on earth can abuse power like that. History is full of examples of people who got even a little bit of power and they let it go to their heads. Do we fear and tremble a little bit when we come before God in prayer? We shouldn’t. This is because , when Jesus taught us to pray, he taught us to pray to our Father in heaven.
Just this last week, I started working on a project that I’ve been meaning to get to for quite some time. I am trying to digitize all of our old videotapes. It’s a fairly daunting project, I have well over 40 video tapes to transfer to computer, edit, and put on DVD. Right now, I’m working on the videos that I made when I became a father for the first time. Once again, I was amazed just how small and helpless our first born son was when he was born. Is just a little over 7 pounds and in about 19 inches tall. When I look at the videos of me holding him, I wonder how I must have looked to him. I mean, here I am, this big hulking dude over 6 feet tall. I must have appeared to be a giant to him. However, there’s not a single video that I have of him where he looks as if he’s afraid of me. It is obvious that he trusts me. That’s because I showed him, and all my children, from a very early age that they had no reason to be afraid of me. I provided for their needs, I held them close when they were afraid, I was there with them when they were sick, etc.
You get that same sense of God’s love and concern when you read these words of King David in describing our God: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” What Kind of picture do you get About God from hearing those words? You get the picture of someone who uses his power not in a way to advance his own cause, but to watch out for those who have no power. David spoke hear of the most defenseless people in society that he could imagine. He speaks of the fatherless, those who have no family because their father has been taken away from them in death or distance. He speaks of the widow, those who have been deprived of a loving partner in life and who fell on the mercy of strangers for their daily needs. He spoke about the lonely. Those would be people who might even be in families but who feel all alone because of emotional, health, or financial reasons. David pictures God’s taking care of these people with tender loving care.
This is the reason why Jesus encouraged his disciples to begin their prayer with the words our father. He wanted to remind them that they were coming before the all-powerful God who is chief concern was the well-being of his people. What a comforting thing that has been during the last several weeks! We knew that when we came before our God, he not only knew what was wrong in our lives, but he also cared about them. More than that, since he is our father in heaven, we know that he can take care of those things. That he has the ability and the will to take care of what ails us. Of course, we know that he does so according to his will . It’s something that we pray about later in this prayer. That means that we know that he Will always give us what is best for us, even if we don’t know exactly what that is.
There is one more important thing that we note when we pray to our father in this prayer. We note that we are praying too Our Father. To understand what we mean by that, we look at what David wrote when he said this: “He leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” Who Are the prisoners here? We could see them as simply another one of the downtrodden people that David speaks about in the Psalm. But there is even more to this than that!
This is a picture that the Prophet Isaiah used when describing the work of the coming Messiah. He talked about him opening up the eyes of the blind, opening up the ears of the deaf, healing those with sickness is, and setting the prisoners free. Very often, when the Bible speaks about prisoners, it is referring to us in our sinful estate. By nature, we are held captive by sin, death, and the power of the devil. We are in chains, by nature, and cannot be set free by our own actions. We are born as fatherless and motherless creatures without any hope of being a part of God’s family. That’s what we were.
However, what has our God done? Our heavenly father gave his greatest gift so that we would not have to be imprisoned by sin, death, and the power of the devil. He gave his one and only begotten Son to be a sacrifice for our sins. It was through the perfect life and innocent death of our savior Jesus Christ that God adopted us as his own children. That’s why we do not simply regard him as a heavenly father, the creator and the source of all life. We regard him as our father because he adopted us to be his own spiritual children. This is the reason that we can approach him in prayer confidently. We can approach him knowing that he paid the ultimate price so that we could belong to him on a personal level. There can be no better beginning to any prayer than the words that Jesus gave us as a beginning to this prayer. We joyfully and confidently pray to our God as our father in heaven. Is Martin Luther said in his explanation, We can approach him as joyfully and confidently as dear children ask their dear fathers for anything.
I hope that you will enjoy this journey through the Lord’s prayer as we see all of the things that are God invites us to come forward and ask of him, or dear heavenly Father. Amen.