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Jul 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

July 17, 2011

Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Luke 12:36 (read verses 35-48)

INTRO: Try to imagine yourself in this situation:

You’re on the road tomorrow–heading out for work, the store, or vacation–and your car starts making a strange noise. A quarter mile down the road, your engine dies. When you take it into a shop, the mechanic tells you that there was extensive damage to the engine and transmission, and it is going to cost $5,000.00 to repair.

What do you feel, knowing you are without a car until you can afford $5,000.00 worth of repairs?

Let’s return to the same scenario, only this time we’ll add a factor. This time, a few minutes before your mechanic gives you the estimate on your car, you learn that you had picked the winning lottery numbers and you have won millions of dollars.

Now how do you feel about $5,000.00 worth of repairs to your car?

Once more, only this time you have won lottery but you don’t know about it yet. So you get the estimate from your mechanic not knowing you are a millionaire.

What do you feel this time? Probably all the same stress as in the first instance, because your attitude is the same whether you are not wealthy or do not know that you are wealthy
– if you were wealthy, but did not know it, whatever fear or anxiety you experienced when you received the estimate for the damages to your car would be unnecessary

Several times in Luke, Jesus has mentioned the kingdom of God
– it had “come near,” “come upon,” and “your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom”
– we have not talked about what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God
– for now, we will simply note one point Jesus made regarding it: in some way, God’s determined future has entered the present
– Jesus brought something new into the world; a new possibility; and new way of being in God
To “enter” the kingdom is the spiritual equivalent of winning the lottery

The problem
Paul describes the Christian experience like this:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14)

– what shapes and drives our lives is not merely physical reality (i.e., material objects and laws such as cause and effect)
– there is an invisible factor; the rule of God, power of God, and reality of God – his kingdom

But we receive little value from it, because we live in ignorance of it
– we do not enjoy benefits of knowing who we are or what is ours (see Ep. 1:17-19)
– it’s a tragic mistake to allow our inner life to go bankrupt merely because we don’t know

If, on God’s side of the equation, he has gladly chosen to give us the kingdom, what can we do on our side to receive it?
– this is the question that Jesus answers in verses 35-48

Jesus does not pause between verses 34 and 35
– his desire for us to live without anxiety is related to God giving us the kingdom
– receiving the kingdom is related to getting our treasures and hearts into heaven
– but our souls need to be trained in how to do that

Verses 35-40, Soul Training, Lesson One: The discipline of waiting

Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.
(Ps. 27:14)

When Jesus taught on prayer in chapter 11, he went over a form of prayer and our attitude in prayer
– but what is it to be in prayer?
– where are we mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually?

35, A state of readiness
dressed: specifically, gather and tie up robes – for work and travel
lamps lit: if it’s nighttime, keep a light on

Our body can be a doorway to the kingdom of God
– if we pay attention to the body and our present-moment experience
– if we say, “Here I am” and park ourselves in God’s presence – allowing this to be his time
– a central act of worship, “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice . . .” (Ro. 12:1)

Lamps – we are not meant to live in the dark

I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life (Jn. 8:12)
and further down . . .
If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (31-32)

– few of us realize how we are controlled by unconscious habits or how the negative habits developed in our brain work against us
– for now, I’ll just recommend Jeffrey Schwartz’ book, You Are Not Your Brain

36, A state of waiting

What this is not: passive, helpless, or bored
– think of the contestants on Jeopardy, waiting with their thumb over the button – it’s that kind of waiting

“Master” in verse 36 is the same word translated “lord” (twice) in verses 41 and 42
– this is not coincidence – Luke wants us to see our selves in the role of the servants, waiting for Jesus

We sit in silence and stillness waiting for Jesus to give us an indication of his presence
– a “knock”; and when we hear it, we “immediately open to him”
– we wait in prayer, prepared to open our whole being to God, allowing him access to everything and willing to have him change anything

There are moments in prayer of special intensity – “God is here” (Ge. 28:16)
– we cannot make those moments happen–we cannot conjure God
– we have no control when such a moment could happen, “Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third”
– verses 39-40 stress the fact that these God-encounters are unpredictable
– thieves do not send announcements; for example

To Whom It May Concern:
This cordial announcement is to let you know that on Wednesday of next week, your home has been scheduled to be robbed. The time of the burglary will take place between 2:00 and 3:00 am. Please be kindly advised that it would be greatly appreciated if you were either not home (a good time to be on vacation, don’t you think?) or so sound asleep that you have no knowledge of our coming or going.
Sincerely Yours,
Your Local Branch of DOF (Den Of Thieves)

We cannot create one of these breath-taking encounters with God or predict when it will happen, but we can prepare ourselves to be aware of one when he decides to reveal himself to us

37-38, A state of alertness

Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night, thinking you heard a noise in your house?
– what do you do? You listen with alertness
– you intensify your body’s ability to notice
You keep very still, silence all sounds, listen carefully–discern between sounds for something out of the ordinary

To be alert in prayer is to bring this same complete attention to God
– the last thing that Jesus wanted was mindless prayer

But, honestly, it’s difficult to hold our focus on God in silent waiting
– so it is helpful to remember that it is always okay for us to bring our attention back when it wanders
– that is why it is wise to have a beacon to which we can return – like our breath
– at any rate, the more we practice sitting in silence with our attention fixed on God, the more skilled we become

When Jesus shows up, something surprising happens: A radical role reversal – the Lord serves the servants
– in one way, this is indicative Jesus’ ongoing interest in the poor, the outcast, the people on the margin

In 12 Steps to A Compassionate Life, Karen Armstrong describes Albert Schweitzer’s ongoing sadness over the misery he saw around him and eventually carried him to that part of the world he perceived to have the greatest need for medical intervention. He once wrote, “While at the university and enjoying the happiness of being able to study and even to produce some results in science and art, I could not help thinking continually of others who were denied that happiness by their material circumstances or their health.”

– neuroscientists have identified mirror neurons in the brain that account for the empathy we feel for others
– those neurons are activated when we see someone else fall and we have an instant reflex as if we fell with him
– compassion like Dr. Schweitzer’s–that denies me the full enjoyment of all the good things I have while others suffer or go hungry–is very beautiful to me. And it describes Jesus perfectly

– in another way, Jesus reveals a reciprocal relationship between him and his disciples

The Lord serving his servants is a revelation of love

CONC: Next time, we will look at the discipline of doing

For now, I want to point out a theme that is threaded through these verses

“Blessed” – it appears in verses 37, 38, and 43
– it seems that our English word that comes closest to the meaning of blessed is happy
what it describes is the experience of being awarded what your soul desires, of being graced with goodness

This is the alternative Jesus offers us to fear and worry
– the moments we spend with our attention focused on him will result in mind-renewal
– the transfer of our treasures to heaven will carry our hearts there too, far above the anxiousness of this frenetic world

That is the blessed life

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