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Oct 9 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 9, 2022



Morning Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Hello everyone…. welcome to RefleXion         May the Joy of the Lord be with you!

Last week when Chuck was teaching from the scripture passage “Ask, Seek, and Knock,” he talked about being in the active state, where the mind is hunting, grabbing, and trying to take control, for example, the tension we might feel before a big test and the state of worry, anxiety, or stress.  He compared the active state to the receptive state, where the mind is allowing a gift to arrive.  He called these two modes the Doing and the Being mode.  As I was observing the states of my mind this week, I thought of an analogy that helped me; perhaps you will find it useful—or simply amusing.

I’ve likened my time in Contemplative Prayer as my party.  For a party, I do have a pre-party mode, where I’m totally in the active state.  You know that scripture in Matthew:  Do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” That’s my pre-party mode.  It is my Doing mode.

Now, when I’m having the Party, that’s when I want to be in the Being mode.  When I’ve done all the preparation and planning, then I want to enjoy the food and drink and guests.  I want to switch to the receptive mode where I am allowing the gifts to arrive, which is to say I am allowing my guests to arrive.  I don’t want to open the door for someone selling something, or for the chatty neighbor, or to meet up with Mr. “I would like your opinion about something.”  I want to be in the Being mode, but I’m not always present there.

In Contemplative Prayer, the invited guests will let themselves in, and they probably won’t be seen.  They’ll most likely come in through the back door, through the kitchen, dropping off some food or drink for me to enjoy.  The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation might take the stairs to my mind, The Spirit of Compassion might make space for herself in my heart and settle there, The Spirit of Peace will flow through my muscles and organs and work with Sovereign Healing, unknown to my consciousness.  They are my invited guests. 

Oh, others will show up and ring the bell.  Those guests will ask us to entertain them.  We, because of our curiosity or compassion, might be tempted to say, “Hello there, oh sure–come on in, pull up a chair, what can I get for you?  Would you like to meet someone else?

All these distractions are in our mind; the interruptions are self-initiated.  Our God-given attention span isn’t permanently damaged, but we are a bit out of practice.  They say our attention span these days is the same as a goldfish, but I don’t really think that is true.  I just remind myself, “This is my party, and I can decide who’s invited.”

Pray with me: We desire to encounter you in the Silence, Lord, so we can hear you in the noise.  Let each moment be filled with your Presence.  We welcome you this morning, Sovereign God; we welcome your wisdom, your compassion, your peace.  We welcome our own deep desires.  We come in praise and thanksgiving.    Be revealed; be manifested here,  be our guest, we pray.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

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! Luke 11:11-13

Intro: Jesus asked a question, and immediately we see that it is rhetorical

He wasn’t looking for an answer – he was making a point
– when we went through the previous parable, we learned,
• when Jesus began a question with, “Who among you?”
◦ the answer is already known and always negative
◦ “None of us would act this way” or “No one would do such a thing”
– Jesus poses this question in a story-like setting
• there’s a father and there’s his son
◦ Jesus invites his listeners into this story world
• in fact, he tells them to identify with one character: the father
◦ as soon as he tells the story, his question answers itself

I don’t need to do this, but . . .

I want to address the apparent sexism of Jesus’ story
– can women relate to this script he invents?
• Jesus could have asked, “What parent, whose child asks for a fish . . . .”
◦ some of the more recent versions of the Bible make this accommodation
• I appreciate their sensitivity to a centuries-old subordination
◦ however, it wasn’t necessary for Jesus to be that cautious
◦ anyone could place herself in the story and get the point of the example
– unfortunately, sons were favored in that ancient culture
• and we’ll circle around back to that topic
• at any rate, Jesus does widen the scope of his vocabulary,
◦ in verse 13 he refers to children

My next thought may or may not be important, but . . .

Jesus began this entire discussion with the Father, When you pray, say: Father
– there may be a subtle connection with the prayer he gave them
• as if he’s saying,
“I want you to pray to God as your Father–and–there’s something you should know about your Father; something that is crucial to prayer.”
• Jesus’ question is designed to help us discover what that crucial element is
– God asks that in our prayer, we come to him as his children
• he doesn’t need mature adults, intellectuals, or celebrities
◦ what he looks for is the heart of his child
• growing up, I often felt my parents treated me unfairly
◦ I’d say to myself, “I will never do that to my children”
◦ this is, sort of, what Jesus’ question encourages us to do:
imagine what a good, loving parent would do for their child

By the way, we have to use our imagination to locate ourselves in the story
– our imagination is often a better tool for theological reflection than our rational mind
• both are useful
• reading scripture I find myself switching back and forth

The answer Jesus anticipated was obvious

And it was obvious because the alternatives were silly
– there is a verse in Deuteronomy where Moses reminds Israel of journey
through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground (De. 8:15)
• these were dangerous images of poison, pain, and death
◦ I would never have given my children a snake or scorpion,
◦ not even for a pet
• a fish or egg, on the other hand, are nutritious images

Various ideas occur to me, that Jesus did not have in mind regarding his story
– a fish was one of the first symbols to represent the Christian faith
• the Greek word for fish is ichthus – the five letters in this word were used as acronym:
◦ Jesus – Christ – God – Son – Savior
• this is not a profound thought,
◦ but I do see Jesus as the answer to my most fervent prayer
– an egg can be a symbol of new life
• on a visit to the hermitage, God gave me a promise:
◦ that he would birth something new in me
◦ what I did not know at the time was that meant something else in me had to die
• this is the spiritual journey – old things die, new things are born
◦ this is taking up our cross to follow Jesus
◦ but because God is behind this transaction, we are always trading up

Jesus used a logical argument to teach his lesson

I wish everyone could see Jesus’ logic, and apply it to others and for themselves
– for example, to justify healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus asked,
Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath (Mt. 12:11-12)
• when a religious leader told people not to come for healing on Sabbath, Jesus said to him,
You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day? (Lk. 13:15-16)
• then, on another occasion:
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows (Lk. 12:6-7)
– the Lord’s logic always works to defend mercy and compassion
• it is an indication of how pathetic religion had become, that Jesus had to argue the case for mercy,
◦ that he had to prove how valuable every person is to God
◦ and stress the importance of being merciful

What did Jesus mean when he said, “If you then, who are evil”?
– in English, “evil” always refers to a moral quality: something sinful or wicked
• but the Greek word refers first to labor, toil, a burden
◦ it is the hardship of poverty or illness
• every human person is compromised in some way
◦ we are broken (in some ways), misguided (at times)
◦ we are all imperfect, lacking something
– we may be prone to wrong thinking, lose sight of what’s right
• but there are some things we know for certain
◦ we know goodness – what it promotes and what it rejects
• the logic of Jesus’ argument is based on this fact
◦ if, imperfect as we are, we know how to give good gifts,
◦ so how much more will the heavenly Father give good gifts!

I can teach on this passage and explain it,

But I believe that for it to do you any good, you have to feel it
– some things we know are true, because they make sense or can be proven scientifically
• other things we know are true because we’ve experienced them
• to reach the depth of prayer that Jesus urges,
◦ we have to know in our hearts the infinite goodness of God
◦ that he is our Father, that he loves us, and that he enjoys giving us good gifts

I mentioned earlier that sons were privileged in Roman and Hebrew cultures
– they held a special status in the family
• that status included specific responsibilities and expectations
• sons alone were qualified to be legal heirs of the father’s estate
– many Christians approach God with a slave mentality
• “I shouldn’t bother God with my trivial problems”
◦ we must never become too spiritual or too afraid to ask God for what we need
• anyway, the message of the New Testament is that we all share this privileged status before God
God sent forth his Son . . . so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Gal. 4:4-7)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Ro. 8:14-15)
◦ Paul is specific regarding God’s motive for adopting us:
In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ (Ep. 1:4-5)
– do you remember when Jesus took Peter aside after his resurrection? (Jn. 21:15-19)
• he did not ask Peter, “Simon, did you deny me?” but Do you love me?
• this is what matters – not our failures, but our hearts
◦ God can forgive our sins – what he wants is our love

Conclusion: Matthew reports another time Jesus told this same story

On that occasion Jesus said
how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him? (Mt. 7:9-11)
– this time, recorded in Luke, he says,
how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?
– this is the Spirit of adoption – the best gift of all

If we think of prayer as hitting God up for eggs, fish, and “things,”
we need to think bigger
He wants to share with us his own life–
life in his Spirit
He wants us to know him and experience him Spirit to spirit

So now we return to where we started,
When you pray, say: Father

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