The One Thing that Matters

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Luke 11:5-13


I.         How do you pray? What do you pray for?

            A.        A young Chinese preacher asked me to explain Luke 11:9-10 better so that he could teach others in his area better

            B.        God is all knowing, but God expects us to ask

                        1.         Consider how many people won’t even admit they are wrong or need to change.

                                    a.         It is someone else’s fault (Cain, Saul, or Adam and Eve)

                                    b.         It is no use asking, I’m so sinful that God will never listen

                                                (1)       Imagining that God is looking to keep people from being saved

                        2.         Asking requires humility – a dropping of pride

                        3.         It measures how much you really want whatever you are considering

                        4.         “Ask, and it will be given to you.”

            C.        God expects us to look for His answer

                        1.         God expects us to put effort in, to use the minds that He has given us.

                        2.         It is surprising how many people miss the answer that is right in front of them because it isn’t in the form that they were expecting or because it isn’t the answer that they want.

                        3.         God requires you to put effort into receiving an answer

                        4.         It measures your faith. Do you really believe God will answer?

                        5.         It measures your desire. Are you willing to looking for that answer?

                        6.         “Seek, and you will find.”

            D.        God expects us to put effort into receiving the answer

                        1.         Far too many people aren’t willing to expend energy to get something

                        2.         Knocking on a door doesn’t open the door. It doesn’t let you in, but you can’t enter without first knocking.

                        3.         I know a lot of people who give a tentative tap and then give up because the door isn’t opened immediately.

                        4.         “Knock, and it will be opened.”

            E.        God will give us what is best for us - Luke 11:11-12

                        1.         God is not out to ruin our lives

            F.        Jesus’ point is that we have to trust and expect answers to our prayers, to the point that we are doing all we can to receive the answer when it comes.

II.        But notice Luke 11:13 - “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

            A.        We so often read this passage and think about asking for things in our daily lives, but Jesus has in mind asking for the Holy Spirit

            B.        What does it mean to ask for the Holy Spirit?

                        1.         Peter talks of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit - Acts 2:38-39

                                    a.         It is offered to everyone who answers the call of God

                                    b.         But it requires effort – a change in life and obedience to God

                        2.         Paul talks of us being sealed with the Holy Spirit - Ephesians 1:13-14

                                    a.         It only comes after hearing the Gospel and believing it

                                    b.         Again, there is effort on our part

                                    c.         But he also means why.

                                                (1)       The Holy Spirit is the spirit of promise

                                                (2)       He is given as a pledge of our inheritance - salvation and eternal life

                                                (3)       We don’t become immortal when we are baptized, but know it will come because God always keeps His promises

                        3.         But effort remains because we are required to remain faithful until death - Revelation 2:10

            C.        Going back to Luke 11, look again at what Jesus is saying in view of the conclusion

                        1.         God wants us to be saved - II Peter 3:9

                        2.         But we must ask, seek, and knock in order to gain salvation

                        3.         Work out your salvation - Philippians 2:12-13

III.       We get so caught up in our lives that we forget what is most important

            A.        Go back to the event that Luke records just before this discussion on prayer - Luke 10:38-42

                        1.         Martha was caught up with the immediate events of serving dinner for the Son of God who came to her house

                        2.         But Jesus said there was only one thing that was necessary.

                        3.         Mary chose that which would not be taken from her – eternal life! - John 10:27-29

            B.        John tells us that when we ask according to God’s will, our prayers will be answered - I John 5:14-15

                        1.         What does God want most for you and I? To spend eternity with Him.

                        2.         Are our prayers furthering that goal or will granting those things hinder us from reaching heaven?

IV.      There is a parallel account to Luke 11 in Matthew 7:7-11

            A.        The two lessons were not given at the same point during Jesus’ ministry; thus, we cannot assume the same point is being made.

                        1.         Yet, Jesus mentions that God is able to give good gifts to those who ask Him.

                        2.         Eternal life would certainly be one of those good gifts

            B.        The young preacher was confused by this account because Matthew 7:7-11 seems to be talking about prayer and then Matthew 7:12 suddenly seems to shift topics to properly treating people

            C.        Actually, Matthew 7:12 is actually returning to the topic started in Matthew 7:1-5

                        1.         God will judge us according to how we deal with other people

                        2.         People forget that we should be working to get as many people to heaven as possible

                                    a.         We are the lights to the world - Matthew 5:14-16

                        3.         Some find fault in everything another person does.

                                    a.         But in finding fault, they prove they understand something is wrong and they set themselves up for the same judgment

                                    b.         While they see faults in everyone else, they fail to see their own fault, which are many times greater problems.

                                    c.         Such fault-finders tend to show no mercy to their fellow men.

                        4.         Jesus instructs that we are to fix our own problems and then help others remove their problems.

            D.        This doesn’t mean that everyone wants to go to heaven or wants to leave their sins - Matthew 7:6

            E.        This brings us back to ask, seek, and knock.

                        1.         Given the context, it seems that forgiveness is the primary consideration

            F.        God doesn’t listen to all prayers - Isaiah 1:15

                        1.         What must we do first? - Isaiah 1:16-17

                        2.         We have to put the effort in to leave sin and knock at God’s door to ask for forgiveness

                        3.         Then God promises to forgive, regardless of how evil we had been - Isaiah 1:18

            G.        Thus, the reminder in Matthew 7:12 is that if we want forgiveness and reach heaven, we must treat others the way we want to be treated by them.

V.        Heaven is hard enough to reach. We don’t need to make it harder for ourselves or for other people - Matthew 7:13-14

            A.        We need God’s help. We need the help of our brethren.

            B.        If the righteous are scarcely saved, the unrighteous have no chance - I Peter 4:18-19

                        1.         So commit yourself to the will of God by doing good.

            C.        What are you asking God for?

            D.        There is the one thing that matters most

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