Sermon – “Our Father” (Matthew 6:1 – 6:15) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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"Our Father"

Tom Sweatman, Matthew 6:1 - 6:15, 23 June 2024

Today Tom takes us through the beginning of the Lord's prayer focussing on what it means to address the Lord as Father. Listen in to hear how our understanding of God as our Father shapes our relationship with him and how we relate to him through prayer.


Matthew 6:1 - 6:15

6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

  “Our Father in heaven,
  hallowed be your name.
10   Your kingdom come,
  your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11   Give us this day our daily bread,
12   and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13   And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

(ESV)


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Tom, who's 1 of our pastors is going to, open up god's word to us. We do believe the Bible is the very word of god, And, I think it's true to say the more I read the Bible and the more I live in this world, the more I see that it has to be god's word. It's just remarkable that this book just speaks so very clearly to my own heart and to the things that are going on in the world. It's a extraordinary book. And also, we have lots of wrong ideas about god and and about prayer for instance.

And so it's always good to go back to see what Jesus says. What what what does the founder say of Christianity? And that's what we're gonna do right now. We're gonna read a passage, and it's in your booklet. It's from Matthew's Gospel.

Chapter 6, and we're going to do 1 to 15. Now this is in the middle of Jesus sermon, very, very famous sermon Jesus gave called the sermon on the Mount. And he challenges all kinds of religious ideas and he's doing this right now and, we're gonna read this and, Tom, have I forgotten something? Oh, no. We'll sing, sorry, sing a song, and then Tom will come up to us.

I've got it all the wrong way around, but that's me. So let's read this, Matthew chapter 6. This is right in the middle of the sermon on the mountain. He's talking to his followers, and He says these really amazing things. Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others, to be seen by them.

If you do, you'll have no reward from your father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, To be honored by others, truly, I tell you they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret, then your father who sees what he's done secret, we'll reward you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues on the street corners to be seen by others, Truly, I tell you they have received their reward in full.

But when you pray, go into your room, close your door, and pray to your father who is unseen seen. Then your father who sees what he's done in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep babbling Like pagans, for they think they'll be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. For your father knows what you need before you ask him.

This then is how you should pray. Our father in heaven, Hello, be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth that as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we've forgiven our debtors.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil 1. For if you forgive other people, when they sin against you. Your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, their sins, your father will not forgive you your sins. Please have a seat.

Well, good morning, everybody. As, Pete said, my name is, Tom Sweitman, and I'm also 1 of the pastors here at Cornerstone Church. And it's lovely to see you here this morning. And can I extend my welcome also, to all of the, family and friends who have come for Talita Ann? And the family.

It is lovely to have you here with us, this morning. Couple of weeks ago now, we, started this new series in the lord's prayer, And, at this rate, it is going to take us quite a long time, because we've done 2 introductory sermons to the lord's prayer. And this morning, we're only going to be considering the first word of it, or the first title, which is, father, father, the word father. So we're gonna spend some time thinking about that in this, which, as I say, is often called the lord's prayer. And at the end, I want them to try to show us what this means for Talifa and for Alan and Leanne and for all of us here.

And so let's bow our heads and ask for god's help. Heavenly father, some of us here will have been following the lord Jesus Christ for for many, many years now. And there will also be others, to whom, these songs and these readings and the things that we've said together are all unusual and strange. And yet we pray that whoever we are here this morning and whatever we currently think about you We pray that you would all give us grace and that we might understand something more of what it means to know you by this name. Father, and we ask you in Jesus' name.

Our men. How can you tell if someone's really an atheist. Watch them at a penalty shoot out subtitle there are times when everyone resorts to prayer. That was the title of an article that was written by Adrian Charles, who's a, presenter and a journalist, and he didn't write this article as you might think for the euros, although that would have made it even more relevant. He actually wrote it in December of last year.

And for a bit of fun in the article, he makes the case that in the dying breath of a penalty shoot out, there are no unbelievers in the stadium. So here's what he says about it. Perhaps we can get on to the first slide, Steven, if we if I can move this along. Oops. Oops.

We compete it. It's UV me with this thing. Can we get on to the quote? Never mind. I'll read it, and then hopefully it will come.

Oh, there it is. As the player prepares to strike the ball, Fans may well pause their prayers to make hostile noises and obscene hand gestures in an attempt to put the penalty taker off. But by the time a player on their team is preparing to take the next penalty, they will silently resume praying. I contend that most fans of the teams involved engage in something approximating prayer. Now in this article, he's actually ripping off a, a more well known saying, which is there are no atheists in foxholes.

There are no atheists in foxholes, which is a wartime phrase where you need to try to picture in your head or you need to try to imagine a soldier who is dug into a pit or a trench and they're in the middle of combat and their radio has gone down and the enemy bombs are getting closer and closer to their position. And of course, it is true. That in those crisis moments, many people, even people who wouldn't normally claim a faith of any kind, many people will cry out to something or someone to deliver them from the peril in which they find themselves. And that is what this article is saying. There are these moments of desperation in life.

That we all face where even those people who normally don't believe in god at all will cry out or at least will strongly consider crying out to just someone who can help them and come through for them. Another example, last week, I was, sent an article from Vogue magazine. Which is not 1 I, regularly subscribed to, but, a member in the congregation sent me this piece, and it was an article on a model called Bella Hadid, And, I'd actually never heard that name before, and I don't know anything at all about her. But it's interesting how in this article, she speaks in the same way as Adrian Childs. And perhaps we can get that.

Oh, there it is. Look. While her family wasn't religious, this is the journalist writing, While her family wasn't religious, she grew up surrounded by the Jewish traditions of her friends and god parents, and she has an interest in Islam, her father's faith. I'm very spiritual, and I find that I connect with every religion, she says. There's that My way is the right way thing in human nature, but for me, it's not about my god or your god, I kind of just call on whoever is willing to be there for me.

And look, the reason I quote that particular article is not to, is not to have a go at her specifically or Adrian childs, but really just to highlight for you this trend, in spirituality where the focus is not really on a god or a relationship with a god or a god who has actually revealed himself to us, it's more about whoever and whatever will answer me in a moment of desperation and will and will work for me. So it's a bit like a mechanic. You know, I don't ring up the garage every day to ask how the staff team are. I don't ring them up just to find out how everyone is and what their weekends have been like and how their family situations are. I only ring them up if I need them.

And when I drop my car off to them, I'm not really bothered which mechanic I see. I don't really care whom they choose to fix my car as long as I get what I need, That's what it's all about. It's a biz it's a business relationship. I call them up. I pay them, and 1 of them delivers an outcome for me.

And for Adrian Charles and Bella Hadid, and I think many other people in our world today That is something like how prayer works for them. If we are going to pray at all, then then the who of prayer It is not really important to us. It could be a he, it could be a she, it could be an it, it could be a that, it could be a then. It doesn't really matter the who of prayer is not really important. It's not the main thing.

The main thing is in my time of need, Is there something or someone or a group of ones who will come to who will come to my aid? Now, 2 weeks ago, we began this series in the lord's prayer. And as you can see, if you just turn back to that reading or if you've got a hard copy of the Bible in front of you. As you can see, calling out in a time of need is a big feature of it, isn't it? There is actually a side of this prayer, which is as as Bella Hadid kind of says, Be there for me.

Be there for I need you. I need food today. Help will you provide what I need. I need forgiveness today. Help me.

I've done wrong. Any protection today from evil and from temptations will you help me today? God, will you will you be there for me? Will you come through for me today? That certainly, finds some some truth here in the lord's prayer.

But notice where it all actually begins. It doesn't begin with a need. Or with a meal or with an outcome or with a healing or with a career or with a partner. It begins verse 9. This then is how you should pray our father.

You see, what is it in the end? Which makes true Christian prayer different from everything else that we have seen and everything else in the world. It begins here with a relationship and with a person, our father. J. I packer, who was a, a British theologian wrote a, a very famous book called knowing God, And in that book knowing God, he says this, and this actually applies to all of us, whether you would say you're a Christian here or not.

There's something here that I think will be helpful for all of us. Can we get up Stephen if possible. This quote from Jay. I'll I'll begin and, there it is. If you want to judge How well a person understands Christianity?

Find out how much he makes of the thought of being god's child and having god as his father. If this is not the thought, that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life. It means that he has not understood Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught. Everything that makes the new testament new and better than the old.

Everything that is distinctly Christian as opposed to merely Jewish is summed up in the knowledge of the fatherhood of god. Father is the Christian name for god. And so you can see why in Christianity and to the lord Jesus Christ, who we pray to is not incidental. Who we pray to matters immensely, doesn't it? If the whole of Christianity and everything Christian can be summed up by the word father, then a true relationship with the true god must be absolutely central to it.

And as I've already tried to show you, when you dig into it, you realize that this word or this relationship with god as father is utterly special and it is utterly unique in all of the world. According to, 1 source I was looking at, there are about 99 names for god. In Islam. About 99 names for god, and, some might dispute that perhaps, but according to this 1 source, 99 names for god, and it's quite a list. It's quite a list.

The compassionate. The mo I'm not I won't do all of them. The compassionate, I'll do most of them. The compassionate, the most merciful, the sovereign, the holy, the giver of peace, the grantor of security, the controller, the exalted, the omnipotent, the great 1, the creator, the initiator, the designer, the forgiving, the subduer, the provider, the opener, the knowing the withholder, the extender. The humiliator, the exaltor, the giver of honor, the hearing, the judge, the just, the gentle, the all aware, the forbearing, the magnificent, the ever forgiving, The appreciator the sublime, the ever great, the preserver, the nourisher, the reckoner, the splendid, the noble, the watchful, the vase, the response of the wise, the affectionate, the brilliant, the resurrect to the witness truth, the trustee, the strong, the firm, the helper, the praiseworthy, the account of the producer, the restorer, the giver of life, the bringer of death, deliver the independent, the illustrious, to find her the unique, the 1 the eternal, the dominant, the 1 who brings forward the delay, the beginningless, the endless, the manifest, the hidden, the patron, the patron, the highest the ever returning, the avenger the pitying, the effacer, the gatherer, the rich, the enricher, the preventive, the harm of the propitious, the light, the guide, the unattainable the immutable, the air, the timeless.

Jesus says when you pray, use a name that cannot be found anywhere else. Say, father. And of course, that's not to say that all of those other names are bad things. The 1 true god of the Bible certainly is a creator and he certainly is the judge and he certainly is the all powerful and he certainly is a light But as we're seeing here, the Christian name, the actual name the name of relationship which defines and sheds light on every other name is father. And look, do you see this is not just a question of emphasis, a different emphasis This changes absolutely everything about our understanding of God.

You see, in my house, I am a number of things. I am a occasional gardener. I am a bedtime storyteller. I am a baked bean warmer upper. I am if my wife was here, a sock lever on the floor.

Yeah. There are there are all kinds of things that I am in my house, and you could say, well, that's what he does in the house. Therefore, that who he is. What he dispenses or does for the house is who he is. But in my house, that's not my name.

My name is dad. Dad, who heats up baked beans. Dad, who cuts the grass occasionally. Dad who goes into the loft when no 1 else will. Yeah?

That's my name. I am I am father Who does these different things? And so do you see it's the relationship that makes all the difference? That's why Jesus begins here. Is god creator?

Is he light? Is he guide? Is he giver of bread? Yes, he is giver of bread. But to those who follow Jesus Christ, he is known by his name.

God, my father is my creator. My father is my guide My dad is my light. My daddy is my judge. Everything else that he is. Is colored by this relationship, which Christians have with him.

When you pray, say, father. Say father. J I packer again, if we could go on to that next quote, and that there's some ideas here which might might be, new to you, but makes a really important point. He says the free gift of acquittal and peace, 1 for us at the cost of calvary he's talking there about Jesus's death on a cross, is wonderful enough. But justification or being made right by god does not of itself imply any intimate or deep relationship with God the judge?

In idea, at any rate, you could have the reality of justification without any close fellowship with god resulting. And do you see what he's getting us to do there? He's getting us to imagine that there is a god in heaven and let's say this god in heaven is a forgiving judge. And for those who will believe in him, he will grant mercy and forgiveness. He will dispense it upon people who believe in him.

And that's great, isn't it? I mean, who who doesn't want a god who is merciful and forgiving. But do you see in that quote how he's saying, even that is still sub Christian? It's still less than Christian. Because in the gospel, and this is the best bit about the best news that there has ever been, in the gospel, when a person trusts in Jesus Christ, they are forgiven for their sins but with that forgiveness comes adoption into the family of god.

And therefore, the highest and the richest and the best blessing of Christianity is not a forgiveness just handed out to you. It's getting to know dad who forgives you. Daddy, the forgiver, Father, the merciful. God as Father, is the great prize of the gospel, which every other good thing is shepherding us towards. It might help to imagine it a bit like being on a coach journey.

So imagine you're on a coach, and it's a really great coach. There's air conditioning on this coach. There are leather seats upon this coach. There's hardly anyone else on it, which is always good, isn't it, on this coach? There is a complimentary snack service on this coach.

Every everything about this coach is great. But the reason that you boarded it earlier this morning is not just to enjoy the leather seats. But because you wanted to be taken home to your family. And therefore, the very best thing about this coach is not the air conditioning as good as that is. It's the moment when that coach pulls into the station and you see dad waving at you through the station the station window ready to greet you.

That's the best thing about it. That it's taken you some it's taken you to dad. That's what it's like with forgiveness. And with justification and with light and guidance and all these other things. The best thing about Christianity, the best thing about those things is that they take you into the station, and dad is waving through the window, ready to have you, ready to bring you home, ready to to greet you when you pray.

Say father. And this is why in the new testament, we find verses like this perhaps we could have a 1 John 3 up, Steven. See what great love The father has lavished on us that we should be called. Children of God, and that is what we are. It's such good news, isn't it?

That me, and you, if you're a Christian here, that me, someone who has been god ignoring and self centered and sinful and mean to other people, someone who has not appreciated the things of God or the word of God, as for my whole life, someone who continually to this day still does things which I know displease God and other people that, nonetheless, he has poured out his love upon me so that now by faith, I am a son of god, because the son of god loved me and gave himself for me. For the follower of Jesus, this is the name which prompts and controls all of our worship and prayer, and what a special unique name it is. Dad. Father. How wonderful is it?

In contrast with those words of Adrian Charles, and with Bella Hadid and indeed with any other way of viewing god, how unique, how special to have that relationship as the fort as the name, which prompts and controls and shapes all of our thinking and all of our worship about god. And for those of us who know this already, isn't this what we really want for Talitha Ann. The Bible says, and we've looked at it this morning, that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. We are told that the God of the Bible is her creator, and we want her to know that, don't we? We want her to know that she has a creator But as she grows, we also pray that she would become a daughter of god.

By faith in Christ. Because if she can begin to understand that in her heart, it'll give her so much stability in this world. The biggest questions of our age, Who am I? What am I? Where is the real me?

To be found. How can I be defined? The big questions, which, to be honest, nobody in the world seems to be able to answer in a coherent way. Even those we pay huge amounts of money to to run our country cannot even seem to coherently answer questions like that. If Talifa Ann can know this, then she will know the stability that that word brings.

Of course, she'll encounter those questions. Of course, she'll wrestle with those questions. But in the end, there will be this stability because she'll know that every night when she goes to bed, whatever else may have happened in her life that day, the truest thing about her will always be that she is a child of god by faith. What comfort and what stability and what hope does that name bring to those who know it? I was, invited this week to be part of a multi faith event at Kingston grammar school.

It was an interfaith event and they had all of year 7 there. There was about a hundred and 50 11 or 12 year olds in the room plus many teachers. And on the panel was a a a rabbi from a local synagogue was a Muslim from a dialogue society, was a quaker, was a, a curate, an anglican curate from, another local church and, and me. And 1 of the, children, 1 of the kids, in the crowd took the opportunity to ask a question, and it went like this. What would you say to someone who believes that religion is only a crutch to help people who can't face death?

And the rabbi was given the first opportunity to answer that question. And he said Well, I would disagree with that statement. Religion is not a crutch that helps people to deal with death because religion doesn't help us at all. In the area of death. It doesn't help us to understand what death is.

It doesn't help us to prepare for death It doesn't really tell us what comes after death because religion has nothing to do with death or suffering. It is only to do with life. And then he gave an illustration about a person in his congregation who he had sat with whilst they were dying. And together, they found solace and peace not in god or being with god, but in the knowledge that nothing could be known about death. And when they both agreed that nothing could really be known, Well, there was a peace that came upon them.

What an absolute tragedy. That is Here is a person who is paid money in order to lead people safely home. And he has no idea nothing to say in the face of death. What an absolute tragedy to be part of that congregation or to have that belief. Don't we want something better for Talifa?

Don't we want to pray for her? That she will know the heavenly father. So that when life is hard, she'll know exactly where to go. And exactly who to turn to. You see, many of us in the congregation here, and of course in the in the family will know Some of the some of the hardships and some of the pain that this family, the Sissengas, have been through in recent years, some of the shock and some of the pain that they've experienced together.

And so to see mom and dad, and the family here this morning still rejoicing, and still trusting in god their father is a great work of god's grace. And that is what we want to pray for Talifa too. That when difficult times come her way, which they will, She will do exactly what her parents have done, which is to draw close to the heavenly farm. Maybe not getting all the answers that they would like in this life, but knowing the 1 who loves them still. Heavenly father.

Which person do you think would be brave enough to argue? That the words of Bella Hadid or Adrian Chiles offer more than this. We're the only time that we would pray if at all. Is in the dying moments of a penalty shoot out. I mean, it's that it's so sad that, isn't it?

Who who would be brave enough to say that having 99 names, but no dad in heaven. Is superior to what Jesus says here. Or do we know deep down? That what Christ says to us at the top of this prayer finds an echo within all of us. But somewhere within every conscience in this room, there is a whisper.

It might be a very quiet whisper. And it might be a whisper that we've tried to bury on many occasions, but that in every conscience, there is a whisper, which says. God is father, and I was made to know that. I was made to know that. And so what a wonderful opportunity?

There is this morning. This is what we want to pray For Talifa that she grows into the full reorganization of this name, but what an opportunity for all of us here and perhaps especially for those who don't yet follow the lord Jesus. If we could have that last reading, from John 1, Stephen. Jesus Christ came to that which was his own, this is from John's gospel, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him.

To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of god. Children not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will. But born of god. Friends, the bad news this morning is that by nature, we are not the children of god. We have all been created by him.

That is true, but we are not naturally his children because of our sin. In the words of John 1, we have not received Christ. We have turned from Christ, either to other gods, or just inside to ourselves, but however it looks, that is the definition of that Christian word sin, not receiving Christ as lord, but turning away from him. And yet still, the invitation comes to us from god's word, which will bring you into the family home. If you will say, lord Jesus Christ.

I am sorry for the sins that I have committed. And I thank you that even still you died for me on that cross and rose again, and lord Jesus, I want to know the reality of this name, I want to experience this name. I want to know you as father to all who will believe in him. God will grant you the right even this morning to become a son or a daughter of the living god. Let's take a moment of quiet.

You can bow your head or close your eyes if you would like to. You can read over that passage again or just mull through some of the things that we've heard or even take the opportunity for the first time to say god, be my father. Father in heaven. Hello, be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Father god, we thank you for the things we've heard, and it would be a joy that each 1 of us could say our father and that your kingdom, and your will, would come into our lives by the lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for the things we've heard and help us to respond. We pray in Jesus' name.


Preached by Tom Sweatman
Tom Sweatman photo

Tom is an Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone and lives in Kingston with his wife Laura and their two children.

Contact us if you have any questions.


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