Sunday, December 9, 2012

What Do I Ask For? 私は何を求めたのか?

A Study of Gift Giving During a Season of Miracles
 Luke 11:5~13.  Christmas is coming! クリスマスがやってくる
Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
5 また、イエスはこう言われた。「あなたがたのうち、だれかに友だちがいるとして、真夜中にその人のところに行き、『君。パンを三つ貸してくれ。6 友人が旅の途中、私のうちへ来たのだが、出してやるものがないのだ』と言ったとします。7 すると、彼は家の中からこう答えます。『めんどうをかけないでくれ。もう戸締りもしてしまったし、子どもたちも私も寝ている。起きて、何かをやることはできない。』8 あなたがたに言いますが、彼は友だちだからということで起きて何かを与えることはしないにしても、あくまで頼み続けるなら、そのためには起き上がって、必要な物を与えるでしょう。
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
9 わたしは、あなたがたに言います。求めなさい。そうすれば与えられます。捜しなさい。そうすれば見つかります。たたきなさい。そうすれば開かれます。10 だれであっても、求める者は受け、捜す者は見つけ出し、たたく者には開かれます。11 あなたがたの中で、子どもが魚を下さいと言うときに、魚の代わりに蛇を与えるような父親が、いったいいるでしょうか。12 卵を下さいと言うのに、だれが、さそりを与えるでしょう。13 してみると、あなたがたも、悪い者ではあっても、自分の子どもには良い物を与えることを知っているのです。とすれば、なおのこと、天の父が、求める人たちに、どうして聖霊を下さらないことがありましょう。」For so many around the world, Christmas is just another day in the year—if even that.  In truth, many do not know what Christmas is. I have heard that some thought Christmas was the birthday of Jesus’ brother Santa Claus.  Others have suggested Christmas is a pagan holiday celebrated by the blue skinned people of Northern England.  Other suggestions might disclose a more sinister reason for the holiday: a time to spend much more than you would ever think of spending any time of the year on gifts that no one likes nor do they really desire to have. 
From my experience, and I have seen a little of the world but have come to the conclusion that even with the advancement of media and of social networking, the meaning could be lost in all the sounds that surround this day in December.  In fact, these past two months here in Japan where Santa and Christmas sales start well into October.
Some might hear lines like:  Jesus is the reason for the season. Or Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas.  While other voices might be saying—and this is true in my home country—change the name of the Christmas tree to Holiday Tree because we don’t want to offend anyone. 
Well, for me and my house and I would more than guess, for many of you, Christmas is the time of a year when we hear and remember the Christmas Story of how Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem as part of the censes and had their first child born not in a hospital but in a stable with sheep and cows and straw.  Of how, while watching on a hill side, shepherds were shocked with angelic announcements of that very birth as THE One birth all Israel and the world was expecting.  There was a message from Heaven:  (Luke 2:4-14) 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there (in Bethlehem), the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son.  She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
As we have been talking about Parables and Miracles, THIS IS A MIRACLE OF ALL MIRACLES.  That God would become man and live among us.  The incarnation!  Talk about gift giving: God gave His Son.  Look with me at a most well known verse in the Bible:  John 3:16.  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God  神は              The Greatest Being of ALL すべてにまさる
so loved  愛された  The Greatest emotion  素晴らしい気分
the World  世を          greatest community 素晴らしい集まり
that He gave お与えになったほど greatest sacrifice 最大の犠牲
His only Son そのひとり子を greatest relationship 偉大な関係
that whoever               ひとりとしてgreatest number 最大多数の
believes 信ずるものが  The greatest adventure 最も冒険的な
in Him        彼を The greatest Person 最も偉大な人
shall not perish 滅びることなく The greatest separation 最も離れた
but have 持つためである The greatest opportunity 最大の機会
Eternal Life 永遠の命を The greatest gift 最大の贈り物.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because He has not believed in the Name of God’s one and only Son.
You can accept this gift of Eternal Life right now.  Right now!  Ask God to forgive you for the wrongs you do—your attitudes of evil, pride, jealousy, envy, greed, hate, lust, unkindness, rudeness, thievery, lying.  You know your wrongs—your errors in living the way you ought to live.  Go to Him now, ask Him for forgiveness and He WILL give you the  BEST gift of all time: His forgiveness ALONG with His promise of ETERNAL LIFE!  Once you asked Him for this forgiveness, you will need to change the way you do life.  Your mind needs a complete overhaul.  And the Bible talks about that as a renewing of the mind.  Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  ローマ人への手紙122この世と調子を合わせてはいけません。いや、むしろ、神のみこころは何か、すなわち、何が良いことで、神に受け入れられ、完全であるのかをわきまえ知るために、心の一新によって自分を変えなさい。
Which brings us to this week’s passage.  We started this last week and saw how the prayer we call the Lord’s Prayer works.  Holy God, our Father, lives in Heaven and He wants us to ask Him for things that bring honor to Himself.  Now, our Lord highlights the importance of prayer with a parable of a man with a problem.  Many features of this teaching reflects the culture of the time.  At that time, food was not as readily available as it is today.  Much of the day-to-day needs were prepared on that day.  They had a very high premium on hospitality.  (It would be a good lesson for us to be that open with guest when we do have the opportunity to help.)  The man who receives this late night visit has a real problem.  He does not have food to share.  He must then make a choice: be rude and not offer his guest food OR seek food from a sleeping neighbor next door.  He really could not choose the first: that would bring shame.  The man next door, might want to help but he might also be in bed sleeping.  Since most homes then had one place to live and that was the sleeping location, he’d be in bed with his whole family.  Waking the father would run the risk of waking the children.  Have you ever woken a young child up when he or she was not wanting to be awoke!  Problem. 
This was a real social problem yet Jesus turns this story (which most people would 100% relate to into a lesson on being bold in prayer.)  Being bold in asking. 
The time of the visit was midnight. 真夜中に  Not just after dark—it IS the middle of the night.   A man comes to the house needing food.  lend me three loaves of bread.” "私に3つのパンを貸して..." Jesus asks the people around Him what they would do.  Would they try and wake up the man so they could serve and honor the guest?  The cultural expectation would force him to try.  He asks but the man inside said:  All closed up. 夜のために閉ざした戸を We are all in bed.  No way can I get up to help you…leave me alone and BE SILENT!”  To keep asking would run the risk of causing great unrest in the neighborhood.   If you have kids, you can identify with the problem!
Jesus then teaches about how to be bold in prayer.  "I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's shameless boldness [Greek] he will get up and give him as much as he needs."
He adds to this with another bold statement: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
Jesus encourages us to be bold in our prayers.  Not self centered but bold. There is a difference and with that boldness, discernment.  Sensitivity of your spirit to know the difference.  Just because you want it, does not mean it should be yours! Discernment is needed for that and for 10,000 other issues we face each day.  But for today, let’s look at Hebrews 10:19-22. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the Blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His Body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.9 ラッパの響き、ことばのとどろきに近づいているのではありません。このとどろきは、これを聞いた者たちが、それ以上一言も加えてもらいたくないと願ったものです。20 彼らは、「たとい、獣でも、山に触れるものは石で打ち殺されなければならない」というその命令に耐えることができなかったのです。21 また、その光景があまり恐ろしかったので、モーセは、「私は恐れて、震える」と言いました。22 しかし、あなたがたは、シオンの山、生ける神の都、天にあるエルサレム、無数の御使いたちの大祝会に近づいているのです。
The word BOLDNESS大胆に here has two sides to it.  Here we have both boldness and shamelessness.  This kind of prayer has gall or moxie. This kind of praying is daring.  We have seen it here at ICCS!  We prayed for Arden and his wife to be together after over 8 years being separated.  Now, they live in Canada together.  Our own Gail needed prayer for a growth in her head and we boldly asked the Lord to heal her and she was healed.  We have been praying boldly, I trust, for over 40 different countries around the world to have God bless the children and give aid and strength to the Believers and He has been doing that very thing.  We ask for prayer for many of you during the prayer time and God hears our bold prayers and He answers…just like the man with the bread at midnight.  He will get up and he will give what has been asked of him…but we are getting ahead of the story.
In this verse in Hebrews 10, nothing will stop such a request from being set before the Father---Who is in Heaven and Who is Holy.  The response is still God’s choice…but we asked and the door is open for request.  From the prayer He just taught, Jesus  indicates that His Father is open to receive such bold requests.   Jesus is asking His Disciples to pursue both the spiritual goals of life along with the request for basic needs such as daily bread…or in this case, bread at midnight.
Unlike the groggy neighbor who might be bitter because of the rude waking, God is both ready AND waiting to respond to us asking.  This is not a blank-check promise that God will give us everything we ask for or want BUT this is a promise that request for our spiritual welfare will be heard and moved on.  In verse 13 of Luke 11, Jesus says: 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!Here Jesus shows us this spiritual emphasis with the Holy Spirit that God is specifically willing to give spiritual aid to those who seek it.  Seek. Ask. Knock.
Here Jesus is doubling His teaching.  Three kinds of doors when you come to prayer. 
     Matthew 6:6  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
 マタイ6:6 あなたは、祈るときには自分の奥まった部屋に入りなさい。そして、戸をしめて、隠れた所におられるあなたの父に祈りなさい。そうすれば、隠れた所で見ておられるあなたの父が、あなたに報いてくださいます Get behind one and pray!
Deuteronomy 30:19  This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live   申命記 30:19 私は、きょう、あなたがたに対して天と地とを、証人に立てる。私は、いのちと死、祝福とのろいを、あなたの前に置く。あなたはいのちを選びなさい。あなたもあなたの子孫も生き、 I set before you life!
      Revelation 3:20  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.
ヨハネの黙示録 :20     見よ。わたしは、戸の外に立ってたたく。だれでも、わたしの声を聞いて戸をあけるなら、わたしは、彼のところに入って、彼とともに食事をし、彼もわたしとともに食事をする。 I stand at the door and knock
A son who asks for something essential to eat, like a fish, a father will not feed him a poisonous snake, will he? If he asks for an egg, his father will not give him a poisonous spider, will he? Jesus knows the answer is "Of course not! If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
Like the father who loves his children will give what is asked of him—if within his means.  How much more does our Heavenly Father, Who is Holy, is ready to help.  The Father WILL supply His Disciples with the Spirit they need to guide their spiritual hunger in walking this Walk of Faith.  At the foundation of all discipleship with your Father is trust in the Father’s goodness.  He loves to provide for all our spiritual needs.
Ask Him.  And if you are His Child, He will show you.
What do you need to ask your Heavenly Father for this morning?  Let us spend some time in reflective prayer祈りの時間 right now.  Be bold.  Ask.  Seek.  Knock.