The Exhortation given by Pastor Brian Phillips on Sunday, July 31st, 2016

“The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 a.m. for a glass of water is a child.  We have that kind of access.”
- Tim Keller

In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 11:1-13), we hear Luke’s accounting of Jesus teaching the Lord’s Prayer to the disciples.  But, after that, Jesus gives further instruction on prayer, telling them of a man who has a friend show up late at night, but he has nothing to feed his friend.  So, he goes to his neighbor, appealing to him for help – "Can you let me borrow a few loaves of bread to feed my friend?"

Jesus makes the point that even a neighbor who is not a close friend, or even a particularly nice guy, would help out in such a situation.  If for no other reason than wanting to be left alone, the neighbor would give him bread.  If for no other reason than the frustration of being awakened in the middle of the night (the "impudence" of it - v. 8), the neighbor would help.  

Then Jesus says:    

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (vv. 9-13).

These are shockingly plain statements from Jesus, yet we seem to miss them or gloss over them in practice.  Jesus simply says, if even that neighbor would rise late at night to help, how much more would your heavenly Father help you – His child whom He loves? 

If you as an earthly father, sinner and imperfect though you are, know how to give good gifts (and want to give good gifts) to your children, how much more does your heavenly Father want to bless you, hear you, and help you?

And notice that Jesus ends by saying, "how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"  Jesus did not say the Father will simply give good gifts, or that the Father would give us what we ask, but rather, the Father will give the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the Helper, the Comforter that never leaves.  He teaches us all things, brings the teachings of Christ to remembrance, gives us peace, and guides us into all truth (John 14:15-27, 16:7-15).  

In other words, God does not simply give good gifts or "stuff."  He gives us the Holy Spirit.  He gives us Himself.  If God would give us His Son, and give us His Spirit, then there is no need for which He does not care.

The exhortation here is so simple, yet so difficult - believe what Jesus says.  Whatever your need, take it to God in prayer.  Do not gloss over or excuse away the promises that Christ makes here.  Trust Him.