Margin notes: Things I scribbled in the white spaces on Oct. 20, 2K8.

1 – Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) 38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

RAF: When people are hurt or angry because others do not feel the same burden for a particular ministry they do – you can be sure they have failed to choose “the good portion.” There is a time to pay attention to Christ, to His presence and teaching, and THEN a time to serve according to the burden. But to constrain another to act simply because of our own sense of urgency, while they are taking the time to hear Christ and know His Word, is to make the ministry an idol. It is to place more importance on service, than to submission to Him. Each must be had in its proper place.

2 – Luke 11:5-10 (ESV) 5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 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. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

RAF: (5-10) The PROMISE for Prayer / 1-4 held the PRIORITIES in Prayer and then 5-10 speaks to the PROMISES for prayer. Jesus is intent on His hearers then, and now, praying in faith. Praying expectantly.  Praying believing that God hears and answers. And He labors to drive the point home by a very familiar parable couched first of all as a rhetorical question: Which one of you (is it possible for anyone?) has a friend, who, if you went at midnight with a need to put bread before a sudden and unexpected guest, wouldn’t rise up to help you? Is it even thinkable? That is His question. The assumption being – since the cultural norm of the day would have made such a notion so far beyond the realm of what one could expect – there could be no other answer but – no! A visitor coming to your house placed the highest obligation upon you to provide the basics for them. Your neighbor would feel your need most keenly – especially if that neighbor was – as he is denominated here – a friend.

Then Jesus ratchets up His point. Even if the friendship wouldn’t produce the help needed, the neighbor would do it just to get rid of him at midnight! The idea can’t be missed – no matter what, you’d get the bread you needed.

Here then is the first point – if such is the case in the  natural – if such things can be universally depended upon among men, “how much more” the Father’s responses to our prayers? That God will not answer, is just out beyond the realm of any possibility in Heaven or Earth. So let me ask you child of God, do you pray with that much confidence? You can. You should! Our Heavenly Father  loves us far more than any of our friends. And He is never indisposed by sleep or some other encumbrance. Pray! And pray confidently.

His second promissory idea is captured in the simple triple affirmation of verses 9 and 10. Ask, for everyone who asks, receives. Seek, and you WILL find. Knock, for to the one who knocks, it WILL be opened. The three-fold expression is a literary device for emphasizing to the highest degree. He cannot say it any more strongly. Pray! And pray confidently.

And thirdly, He appeals to the familiar love of the Father for His children. A love that makes it impossible again,  unthinkable, that when we ask, He will do anything less for us than what is best for us. If no human father would  dream of giving his child a snake when he asked for a fish to eat, or a scorpion if he hungered for an egg – than we can have absolute assurance that we will not receive any ill for our pleas and entreaties. He will not wrong us. He CANNOT wrong us. He is a GOOD God. His nature is holy. He would have to cease to be God to do such a thing. Beloved – Pray! And pray confidently.

3 – Luke 11:11-13 (ESV) 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 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!”

RAF: (11-13) The PATERNITY of Prayer – To the FATHER – OUR Father – both Christ Jesus’ and ours.

Here is the very essence of prayer itself. That is, prayer is not about technique or careful verbiage. Its efficacy is not rooted in audible volume, length of discourse, physical posture (e.g. sitting, kneeling, standing etc.), eyes open or shut, Elizabethan thee’s and thou’s, facing toward Jerusalem, time of day, structure – like, start with praise, move to thanksgiving, then on to petition etc. Each of these may in fact be helpful given the peculiarities and needs of each individual – some may NEED to stand instead of kneel, because they’ll fall asleep if they kneel. But none of them in any way either adds to or detracts from power in prayer. That is because power in prayer isn’t located in us, or anything we do in the act of prayer. Power in prayer, is dependent upon the one who hears and answers prayer. And that is why the Paternity of prayer is so important.

Beloved, Jesus’ instruction and encouragement in leading us in prayer, is all bound up in the joy of knowing we do pray to some far off, detached deity, but to our loving, heavenly Father. That we come to Him with the utmost confidence of a trusting child. That we know His heart’s disposition toward us is even more tender than our own toward our children.

Perhaps you’ve not had the benefit of such a gracious Father. Maybe yours was distant, silent, cold. Perhaps he was even abusive, cruel, hateful and the very opposite of tender, compassionate, approachable and sympathetic. No more! No more! The very opposite of the pitiable examples our earthly father can turn out to be – is the Father of lights, from whom every good thing descends upon us from Heaven. He is thrilled to have us come. Rejoices to hear our voices. He delights to answer our heartfelt needs – and yes – even to indulge us at times simply in things we desire – and do not absolutely “need”.

This Father is perfect. Not in the sense of being a persnickety perfectionist – but perfect in lavish love; perfect in tenderheartedness; perfect in wisdom; perfect in mercy; perfect in forgiveness; perfect in intimacy; perfect in compassion; perfect in gentleness.

You need not fear that you are ever disturbing Him, or irritating Him, or exasperating Him when you come. He has no “hold” button. He doesn’t duck the hard questions, always has time and leaves a standing invitation that no one has ever tested to its limits.

Prayer is so amazing and glorious beloved, because, as Jesus taught us, we pray to OUR Father. His, yours, and mine.

4 – Luke 11:11-13 (ESV) 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 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!”

RAF: Is it possible that this is why we as Christians are so devoid of walking in the presence and the power of the Spirit? Is it because we simply have not been asking for Him?

5 – Luke 11:23 (ESV) 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

RAF: No one can take a neutral stand when it comes to Jesus. You must decide. You must declare yourself for Him, or against Him.

6 – Luke 11:24-26 (ESV) 24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

RAF: Mere moral reformation is a hopeless fraud. And even if there is religious reformation, if the Holy Spirit does not come to dwell, nothing at all is done – and in fact, one may even be the worse. Having been rid of one plague inwardly, apart from the Spirit’s indwelling, deeper, darker plagues of self-deceit now reinforced by mere religion keep the lost bound even more than before.

7 – Luke 11:27-28 (ESV) 27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

RAF: There is no merely external relationship to Christ or His Church that is salvific in itself. Each individual must hear the Gospel, and obey it by believing it. There is no salvation by proxy. Even Jesus’ own brothers did not believe in Him at this point – and though they were His true brothers, they were still as lost as any other unbeliever, until they came to trust Him. Let it not be said of you dear reader – that you were so close, but still so far away. Your assocations with Christians and Christianity will not save you. You must believe in Christ for yourself. He must be YOUR Savior. It is nothing to you if He is the Savior of others, and not of you.

8 – Luke 11:29-32 (ESV) 29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

RAF: Jonah’s only “sign” to the Ninevites, was his preaching – his message. This is Jesus’ point. The Queen of Sheba heard the reports of Solomon, and believing, came to meet him. The city of Nineveh believed the preaching of Jonah, and they were saved. Now, one wiser than Solomon – indeed Wisdom Himself – is speaking. And His message, is as absolutely declarative of the mind of God as Jonah’s was. They believed – but you are not believing. You have heard the word. There is no other sign to be given. Those who are saved, are those who believe the Gospel. As Jonah himself was the sign, a man sent from God to the rebellious, to announce God’s coming judgment and a day of repentance and salvation – so Christ. Listen to Him!

9 – Luke 11:33-36 (ESV) 33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

RAF: This theme of light, coupled with that of “hearing” is repeated throughout Luke’s Gospel. We are constantly being asked to examine how it is we are responding to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. What are we doing with what is set before us? Are we seeing, hearing, and believing? Or are we just letting it go in one ear and out of the other? Is it transforming us, or merely informing us? What are we doing with this revelation of God?


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