Sunday, December 4, 2016

Story of Royalty

The Story of Royalty

We all know the Story; we’ve heard it over and over again.  If you close your eyes you can almost picture them.  Riding their camels across the desert at night, the moon highlighting their royal robes and crowns against the stark desert sand.

It is a very familiar part of the Christmas story and it has all the earmarks of a great story.  You hear it this time of year in sermons, songs and read about it on Christmas cards. 

A favourite Christmas Carol even honours them,
We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.”

Which of course sounds better than “We undetermined number of men of non-royal descent”

In the bible, they are described as wise men and there are no numbers mentioned.  Sometime around 600ish the wise men were promoted to Kings, some feel that perhaps it was a reaction to Psalm 72 verse 10 where we read   Psalm 72:10  The western kings of Tarshish and other distant lands will bring him tribute. The eastern kings of Sheba and Seba will bring him gifts.   

Of course, while some Psalms are referred to as Messianic Psalms, which simply means they were written about the coming Messiah, Psalm 72 isn’t one of those.  It was simply written about King Solomon and his reign.

So, the bible never refers to the visitors as Kings or even alludes to it and the early church never identified them as kings.  And while their actual numbers are never mentioned the fact that they brought 3 gifts has set their numbers at 3.  But the story of the Kings remains a part of the Christmas story that most people are familiar with.

We all know the Story; we’ve heard it over and over again. But there is another story, a story seldom told that is part of the Christmas Narrative as well.

I would invite you to stand for the reading from God’s word.

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-8

So, while there were kings mentioned in the Christmas story there were only two and they didn’t come from the east.  Let’s go back to the scripture

Matthew 2:1-2  Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,  “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

The two kings didn’t arrive on camels; they didn’t arrive carrying gifts and they didn’t arrive from the east.  The only two kings mentioned in the Christmas story were King Herod and King Jesus. 

And while both kings are mentioned here, and while they would both hold the title “King of the Jews” their kingdoms, their objectives and their methods  were diametrically opposed.  As they would say in Australia “They were as different as chalk and cheese.” 

The first King mentioned was King Herod, and this was Herod the Great to be specific, not his son Herod Agrippa who we meet later in the story when he executes John the Baptist. 

And Herod was not a nice person. 

Now Herod has received a lot of bad press through the years.  You ever get the feeling that sometimes we need to tear heroes and historical figures down just on principal. 

In Australia, they talked about the “tall poppy syndrome” and that was the desire to pull anyone down who had risen above the herd, that is if poppies come in herds.

In Herod’s case, it may very well have been valid.  Now granted he wasn’t perfect but he wasn’t entirely bad either.  After all he wasn’t called Herod the Great for nothing.  Herod was half Jewish and half Gentile.  He had curried favor with the Romans during the civil wars in Palestine and kept the locals in line for the Romans.

While this did nothing to endear him to the Jewish population but it made him a favourite of the Romans and if nothing else Herod knew which side his bread was buttered on.  In 47 BC he was appointed Governor of Palestine and seven years later he was appointed King by Octavian who you would know better as Caesar Augustus. 

The other king in the story of course is Jesus.  He has just been born, but already there are those talking about his destiny.  There was no hesitancy in what the Wise men asked, they didn’t say “The one who will be called king of the Jews.”  They didn’t say “The one who someday will be king of the Jews.”  There were looking for the new born king of the Jews.  The one who was the King of the Jews.  And that must have been a shock to Herod because he thought he was king of the Jews.  

And throughout the story we see this theme of Jesus being king surfacing.  When Jesus called Nathanael to follow him we read this exchange John 1:49  Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”

When Jesus makes his triumphant entry in Jerusalem on what we now refer to as Psalm Sunday we read this Luke 19:36-38  As he (Jesus) rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him.  When they reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.  “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”

And when Pilate is interrogating Jesus after his arrest and before his crucifixion he asks Jesus in  Luke 23:3 So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  now listen to Christ’s reply  Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

At no point, does Jesus ever stop people from calling him king.  And when he was crucified we read in John 19:19-22  And Pilate posted a sign over him that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”  The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.  Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”  Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”

But while we have two kings in the story they were very different kings.

Herod’s Kingdom Was Defined by Hate and Selfishness 

Herod had one motive and one desire, to be the most powerful man in Israel.  He wanted to be loved and if he couldn’t be loved then he wanted to be feared. 

The title Herod the Great wasn’t simply an empty title, he kept peace in Palestine throughout his reign which was no mean feat and during that time he rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem, it would later be destroyed by the Romans. 

What is referred to as the Western Wall or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is kind of a part of that structure.  It was the retaining wall that was built to hold Herod’s temple.  It was deemed too insignificant for the Romans to destroy but has been considered on of the holiest sites in Israel over the past two thousand years.   You can see in this picture of the Western Wall, the temple was where the trees now are. 

But even Herod’s motives behind rebuilding the temple were mixed.  Historians feel that rather than motivated by a spiritual motive that it was done so that he would “have a capital city worthy of his dignity and grandeur.”

The King also built several great fortresses including the mountain top fort of Masada, but they weren’t as much for the protection of the nation as they were for the protection of Herod and his family in case of war or revolt.  They were big “Panic Rooms”

In the year 12 BC he underwrote the cost of the Olympic games in Greece and was named the game’s “Perpetual President.” 

For Herod, it was all about Herod.

But with all of Herod’s attributes he did have one small, little problem.  I mean face it we all have one problem or another, don’t we? 


Herod’s was that he kept killing people.  Not just anyone, just anyone he suspected might be a threat to his leadership.  You see he was insanely suspicious and paranoid and he was always afraid that people were trying to usurp him.  Not that they weren’t.  And the older he got the more suspicious he got until someone even referred to him as a “Murderous Old Man”

During his reign, he had his wife Mariamne executed along with her mother Alexandra, his eldest son Antipater, his middle son Alexander and his third son Aristobulus. 

Augustus stated at one point “It is safer to be Herod’s pig then to be his son.”  It was a bit more poetic in the original language because in the Greek hus is the word for a pig, and huios is the word for son. 

When he was 70 and felt that he was near the end he retired to Jericho and had some of the most notable and distinguished citizens of Jerusalem arrested on trumped up charges.  On his orders, they were to be slaughtered at the moment of his death.  You see Herod knew how people felt about him and he said that he was determined to have tears shed at his death. 

Fortunately for the dignitaries, Herod's son and sister refused to carry out his wishes and had the hostages released.  Which is again a reminder that your last wishes are just that, wishes.  And if wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

And so, it was that this old man who was crippled with hate and suspicion was told about the one who was the King of the Jews.  And he was a little disturbed at the news. The Bible says in Matthew 2:3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, “Disturbed” now there’s an understatement, that’s like saying Donald Trump is a little strange.
Herod got ugly.  And when his plans to find the child and “do him in” failed, he flipped, went from disturbed to seriously psychopathic or maybe sociopathic, I always get those mixed up. 

If you don’t know the story.   The wise men are warned in a dream to not return to Herod, so they bypassed Jerusalem on their way home.  And Joseph also had an angel appear to him, telling him to take his wife and his new born son and to flee to Egypt. 

And that was a good thing for them because Herod in a fit of rage, ordered that all the boy children under the age of 2 in Bethlehem would be slaughtered. 


On the other hand, Jesus’ Kingdom Was Defined by Love and Sacrifice

From the very beginning the birth of Jesus was defined not by what he could get but what could he give.  We keep going back to John 3:16 but that is where the Gospel begins.  Before the angel came to Mary, before there was a Mary there was a plan and that is summed up in John 3:16  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

And throughout his ministry we see Jesus giving of himself, whether it was when he was healing the sick, feeding the hungry or teaching the crowds it was never about Jesus, it was about others and it was about the Father.

And this theme is mentioned again and again in the bible.  Jesus himself told us Mark 10:45  “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Paul would write about it 1 Timothy 1:15  This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. . .

When God created humanity, he created men and women to be in fellowship with Him, and they were, until they chose not to be.  The story of humanity’s rebellion is told in the book of Genesis, the first book of the bible. 

It’s there we read how God had place the first couple in a beautiful garden with only one condition.   There was only one rule.  How would you like to live a life with only one rule?

And they chose to rebel and disobey that one rule, and they set the pattern for all of us.  It’s why Paul wrote Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. And while that statement may sound hopeless it is followed with a statement of hope, Romans 3:24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

There is a gap between us and God that we cannot bridge on our own.  The prophet writes in  Isaiah 64:5-6  . . . We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved?  We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

The answer to Isaiah’s question “How can people like us be saved?”  comes at the beginning of the Christmas story. 

Remember the angel has come to a young lady named Mary and tells her that even though she is a virgin she will become pregnant with the son of God.  Leaving her with the difficult task of telling her fiancĂ© Joseph that she is pregnant.

And Joseph knows that it takes two to tango and he knows that he wasn’t Mary’s dance partner so he decides to break off the engagement.

That night he receives his own angelic visit.  Matthew 1:20-21  As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”     

The mission of Christ was simple, he summed it up himself in Luke 19:10  For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

The difference between the lives of the two kings is that Jesus taught the Golden Rule, “Do unto others”, but Herod lived by his own version of the golden rule, “He who has the gold, makes the rules.”

Both Kings Left a Legacy 

If you goggle the legacy that Herod left you will discover that during his reign the king was a prolific builder.  It wasn’t by accident that he was called “The great.”  But nothing remains of those buildings but rubble and ruin.

Some of the accomplishment that top the list are the mountain top fortress of Masada, maybe you saw the movie.  When the Roman army was crushing the Jewish rebellion in 73 there was a group who made a stand in Masada. 

When the Romans finally took the fortress they discovered that 960 of its resident had either killed each other or committed suicide.  Men, women and children.  There were only 7 survivors, 2 women and 5 children. 

This is what Masada looks like today.  Interesting that this event has taken on almost heroic status.  In 1978 909 people died the same way at Jonestown in Guyana and it is considered the work of a mad man with a deluded following.  Strange how history works.

Herod was also known for creating the port city of Caesarea, named of course after Caesar this was the foremost port in Israel in its day.  This is a picture of what remains of Caesarea today. 

There is a community that bears the same name but it was established in 1952.

Herod’s palace was considered the largest palace of its day.  He named it Herodium in honour of himself, and here are the remains.

There is nothing left standing of Herod’s architectural accomplishments and most of them were destroyed by very empire that Herod aligned himself with. 

If you ask people if they know who Herod is, they will usual mention the Christmas story or the Easter story.

By the way that the Herod in the Easter story who mockingly dressed Jesus in a purple robe and sent him back to Pilate to be crucified was the son of the Herod from the Christmas story.

The legacy of Herod is of a bitter old man who killed his family, terrorized his subjects and left behind piles of ruins.

Although we have no record of Christ ever constructing a building his legacy is cathedrals, universities and hospitals.  His teachings have shaped how we treat the sick and the poor. 

If you are university educated, then you probably were educated at an institution founded by His Church.

If you were born in Halifax before 1996 then you were probably born in a hospital that was founded by His Church.

In the 17 and 18 hundreds, His church was at the forefront of the fight against slavery and child labour. 

If you are a woman and enjoy the rights that have come your way in the past 200 years you can probably trace many of those rights back to the first women’s rights conference held in Seneca Falls NY in 1848.  Which was held in a Wesleyan Church.

The legacy of Christ is a legacy of better people, people who have shaped and changed the world for the better because they have taken to heart the teachings of Christ. 

In 1979 Bob Dylan released an album about his Christian faith called Slow Train Coming and on that album was the song “You Gotta Serve Somebody” and in it Dylan wrote this epic truth. 

“But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.”

And so the question today, December 4th 2016 is “Who will you serve?”

And the only person who can answer that is you. 






Tuesday, November 15, 2016

#abbafather


#abbafather

Have you ever heard someone pray using the phrase “Mother/Father God”?  It happens, every once in a while, I’ll be in a situation where a mainline pastor is praying and they will use the phrase because they feel it will be less offensive than “Father God” or sometimes I think they are either trying to be theologically cute or just want to stir the pot.

And there may even be some here today who think the concept of referring to God as “Mother” is fine.  But is that the reality?

I’m all in favour of using gender neutral terms in the bible when it is appropriate, so “brothers” can be “brothers and sisters”, “he” can become “they”.

For example, in the NKJV we read Matthew 4:19  Then He (Jesus) said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  While in the NLT it reads Matthew 4:19  Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”  And I have no problem with that.

 But we would not consider calling Jesus a her because we know he was a him. He was Jesus, he wasn’t Jessica.  And Jesus referred to the first person of the Trinity as Father.  There was no doubt about that at all and no ambiguity. 

Many times he used the Greek word “Pater” which simply meant father, but that was all it meant.  It was the most common, perhaps formal way of identifying his father.

When I refer to Burton Guptill, I will identify him by saying “he is my father.”

In the Old Testament God is not often referred to as Father, but when he is it is in this formal form.  For example,  Isaiah 63:16  Surely you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past.

And while the Old Testament use of Father for God is rare the concept of the Fatherhood of God takes a dramatic turn in the New Testament.  “Father” was Jesus’ favorite term for addressing God.  Jesus refers to God as Father over sixty times in the first three gospels and over one hundred times in the gospel of John.  

This wasn’t just “a” way that Jesus taught the apostles to address God, it was “The” way.

This is week six of our Hashtag this series.  Since the beginning of October we have been looking at various phrases and words from the Bible that would warrant a hashtag if Social media had of been around when the Bible was written.

And a hashtag is simply a way to identify a common theme in social media, whether it be facebook, twitter or Instagram.  And it is simply the # sign followed by the theme, spelled out without spaces. 

For example this week the hashtag I’ve used the most has been #meanwhileincanada. 

Last week we looked at #rememberme and we focused on the story of the Last Supper.  This week we are just jumping up the time line a little bit to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we discover Christ talking to his Father.  

While in the vast majority of cases Jesus uses that formal term Pater to refer to God there is an exception.   In one case he uses a different term.  And we heard that in the scripture that was read earlier.

And I’m pretty sure that if someone had of been there and heard Jesus’ prayer that night they would have tweeted #abbafather.

When I first heard the term ABBA at bible college I thought they were talking about the singing group.  And then when I realized that they weren’t then I thought that maybe the group had a Christian background.  And they didn’t. 

In the scripture that was read earlier we are eavesdropping on a conversation that Jesus is having with his Father. 

If you are like me, there are probably certain talks, or conversations that you have had with your father that stick in your mind. 

A friend of mine said he had “The talk” with his eleven-year-old son a while back, pretty sure that was memorable, for whom I’m not sure.  And here we are eavesdropping on a very intimate conversation between Jesus and his father.

I am fortunate that through the years I have had a really good relationship with Dad, probably didn’t realize it at the time but there are several conversations that I can almost think of verbatim, even remembering where we were when we had those conversations.  Not all of them would be appropriate in this context. 


And as we listen to Jesus talk to his Abba we realize that he had the type of relationship with his father that explains why he was able to have this conversation with his Father,  Mark 14:35-36 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

And so it had come to this.  For three years he had taught for three years he had healed.  For three years he had tried to make a difference in his world and to direct people to his father and now it had come down to this.  One of his followers had already cut a deal with his enemies and he knew deep within his heart that this was already the beginning of the end.

Others might guess what was going to happen, he knew. From the very beginning he knew that the people would reject him and his message and they would reject his call to draw near to God.  He knew that he would have to die and would have to surrender his life.  He knew all this because he was God.  But he also knew that he had to make the offer, he had to walk among the people and offer them the chance to embrace him, even knowing they would reject him, but he had to make the offer.

And so it had come to this.  And the worst part was the anticipation.  You know how you felt the last time you had to go to the dentist to have a filling, or a tooth pulled?  You sat in the waiting room imagining how much it was going to hurt, you could almost feel the prick of the needle as they froze your gums, and as you heard the sound of the drill coming from the office it was almost as if it was in your mouth.  Your blood pressure went up, your palms got sweaty your pulse increased. Sorry, I was gone but I’m back now.

Jesus knew that before the day was done that he would die, and not just die but die a very painful death.  Oh sure he was God he could make it so it wouldn’t hurt, but that wasn’t a part of the plan. Dying would be the easy part; it was Julius Caesar who said “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”  And Jesus Christ, the son of God knew that before the sun had set one more time that he would offer up the supreme sacrifice for the world, not just for the world, for you, and you and you.  Because before the day was done he would offer himself up to suffer and die.

And with those thoughts racing through his mind he fell to his knees and began to pray.

This is the prayer of Jesus.

Mark 14:36  “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
The first thing we discover in this prayer is 1) His Father Wasn’t a Stranger   For Jesus the Father was not some abstract figure, he wasn’t a vague benevolent something, out there somewhere.  Instead he was God the Father, who loves and cares about his children, He was Abba.    When we think Abba we think of a Swedish Disco group from the 70’s, and while that may be what Abba means now, it is nowhere near what Abba meant then. 

Instead Abba was an Aramaic word that meant father but more than simply father, it was the diminutive form. 

How many of you watch NCIS?  Do you remember this scene for last year’s season finale?  (video clip of Tali calling Tony Abba)

Burton Guptill is my father, has been as long as I can remember, but you know something in 56 years I don’t think I have ever called him father, ever.  When I was younger I called him Daddy, and now I call him Dad, for a while when I worked for him on the tugs I called him Skipper but I have never to my recollection referred to him as father.

Abba means Daddy or Dad; it is a term of endearment, signifying a relationship.  It’s used only three times in the New Testament.  This was the first.  The other two times Paul uses it to describe the relationship we need to have with our heavenly Father Romans 8:15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”   And again Paul reminds us in Galatians 4:6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”
And I understand that the concept of God as our Father is not a positive for everyone.  Some people were brought up by fathers who were cruel and vicious, who abused them physically and verbally, and that wasn’t right.  That isn’t what fathers are supposed to do and are supposed to behave like.  Others weren’t abused by their fathers they were simply ignored, it would appear that their fathers had taken to heart the words of Ernest Hemingway who said “To be a successful father... there's one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years.”

But men who abuse their children or ignore their children aren’t fathers they are simply sperm donors.  A father doesn’t just participate in the conception of the child he is an integral part of seeing that child grow up.  He is responsible for loving and caring for his children. Of providing for them and protecting them, first against the monsters who live beneath the bed and then against the world.  And as children we understand that, Sigmund Freud said “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection.”
And now as Jesus came to the most crucial time in his thirty-three years on this earth, knowing as only he could know what was about to happen he cries out to his father, to his dad, pouring out his heart.

When you pray who do you pray to?  A concept, a belief, some vague deity that we find hard to define, kind of like Alfred Jarry who said “God is the tangential point between zero and infinity.”

I don’t think so, but if we are going to pray to God the Father then it better be to God our Father.  There needs to be a relationship, and He only becomes our Father when we become his children. And how do we do that?  Listen to the word of God, John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
And our obligation as His Children?    Philippians 2:15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
Our lives then become evidence of that relationship, 1 John 3:10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.

You are a child of God if you have believed in Jesus and accept him and you live clean innocent lives, obeying God’s command.  Then you can call out to Him, Abba.

Mark 14:35-36. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus not only knew he was praying to the Father,  2) He Understood His Father’s Power Abba, Father,” He prayed everything is possible for you.  What’s the use of praying if you don’t believe that God has the power to answer your prayers?  Somehow we need to get our head around the concept that everything and anything is possible for God.  And I know that some of you are out there shaking your head thinking “but God doesn’t always answer my prayers.”  You’re right God doesn’t always answer prayer, but not because he can’t.  We also need to understand that we aren’t always going to be able to understand it.  I can’t explain why God doesn’t always answer our prayers.  Personally I know that there have been some of my prayers that I’m glad He didn’t answer.

The Angel Gabriel summed it up in Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Time and time again in the Bible we hear the words “everything is possible for God”, “anything is possible for God”, and “all things are possible for God.”   But understand there are things that God won’t do.  A woman approached her pastor and told him that she wanted him to pray that her daughter wouldn’t move in with her boyfriend like she was planning.  The pastor refused.  Why?  Think about it.  God doesn’t force his will on us so why would he force our will on others?  The better prayer might be that the daughter would seek God and embrace His salvation.  If we have a loved one in the Armed Forces and pray that they are not sent into battle does that mean that someone else might be placed in danger because our husband, son or brother isn’t there?
But God has the power to answer all our prayers, and we need to pray believing that He will answer those prayers, but understanding that if He doesn’t it’s not because he can’t and it’s not because he doesn’t want the best for us, but we may have a different idea then God of what is best for us.  Sometimes we are like little kids and we want it all, but all isn’t what we need.

So he prayed to His Father, believing that His Father had the power to answer his prayer and then Mark 14:36“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
 3) He Knew His Father Cared About Him  You ever catch yourself praying for something for you and feel guilty?  It’s like somewhere along the line we have been told that we should only pray for others.  If we pray for ourselves then we are selfish.

That’s wrong.  When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, that would be the one that Jesus gave the disciples, we pray that God would give us our daily bread, that God would forgive us, that God would keep us from temptation. 
A few years ago there was a bestselling book out called the Prayer of Jabez and it looked at an obscure Old Testament Prayer that is recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10, do you remember what he prayed?  1 Chronicles 4:10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!”
A fairly selfish sounding prayer but listen to the result, And God granted him his request. 
Jesus said this about the Father Matthew 7:9-11 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Oh sometimes when we pray for ourselves we are praying for selfish things.  You can’t deny that, but for the most part it’s not wrong to ask God to be with us and to take care of us and to provide for us.  And He wants to do that, but you need to trust his judgement.  And here is the kicker.  It’s easy to pray to God our Father, and it’s easy to acknowledge his power, and it’s easy to ask Him to take care of us.  It’s tough to surrender to His will.  

Mark 14:36“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
4) His Desire was to Be in His Father’s Will  American Poet  Richard Cecil made this comment “The history of all the great characters of the Bible is summed up in this one sentence: They acquainted themselves with God, and accepted His will in all things.”

Think about it, the only thing anyone in the bible got by insisting on doing their will instead of God’s was trouble.  Time and time again it is proved that God is smarter than we are. 

If you are like me, and like most people, at some point in your Christian life you have made a decision that you knew was not what God wanted you to do, so how did that work out for you?

Think about it on one hand we have God, the creator of the universe, this is the God who cast the milk way into space, who imagined platypuses and created you.  On the other hand we have us, most of whom can’t even figure out how to change the digital clock in our cars.  Which isn’t really a problem because it’s right for half the year.     

It’s no contest, and yet time and time again we want to pray to God, “Yet I want my will, not yours.”

When Noah chose God’s will he was able to build an ark that saved him and his family, when Joseph chose God’s will he was able to save his family from starvation.  When Moses chose God’s will he was able to deliver his people out of the slavery of Egypt.  When Gideon chose God’s will he was able to save the Israelites from the Midianites.  When David Chose God’s will he was able to defeat the giant.

And yet when Saul chose his will over God’s he lost his throne, when Samson chose to ignore God’s will he lost his life, when Jonah chose his will over God’s will he ended up in the belly of a whale.

Now you might be asking, how will I know the will of God?  Good question.  Paul Little says this “Has it ever struck you that the vast majority of the will of God for your life has already been revealed in the Bible? That is a crucial thing to grasp.”

But you will never know what’s in the Bible if you don’t read the Bible.

What is your prayer today?  God has only your best in mind, are you willing to trust him?