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Luke 18:1-17

Faith for the Last Days

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • October 14, 2012

These verses are a continued response to the Pharisee's question of when the Kingdom of God was coming. It’s important to see that there was no chapter breaks here when Luke first wrote this gospel. The parables that Jesus gives here, in these verses, are given to encourage and strengthen believers so that they would not lose heart when difficult times come, as a continued support of his response in the preceding section of Luke.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Faith for the Last Days

Luke 18:1-17

As Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem, great crowds are gathering around Him, but in that crowd were some Pharisees who questioned Him as to when the Kingdom of God was coming. There were two parts to His answer.

First, Jesus said that the kingdom of God was in their midst. In fact, the kingdom of God was answering their question. He also answered by telling His disciples that the Son of Man will return in the last days and He then began to describe the condition of things on the earth when He returns.

He said that it would be like the days of Noah and like the days of Lot. You might remember from our study through the book of Genesis that the days of Noah and the days of Lot were days when things were falling apart and unrighteousness was radically increasing. All you have to do is mention the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to recognize the degree of unrighteousness in those days.

It’s important to see that there was no chapter breaks here when Luke first wrote this gospel. The parables that Jesus gives here are given to encourage and strengthen believers so that they would not lose heart when difficult times come.

I. There is Power in Persistent Prayer

  • Sometimes when a parable is given the explanation or meaning is given at the end, but we are given God’s heart for us in these parables from the very beginning.
  • These parables are given so that at all times we understand that we ought to pray and to not lose heart.
  • As we get nearer the end days and the troubles and difficulties increase on the earth and unrighteousness becomes the norm, it would be easy to lose heart.
  • As we read last week, the last days are days when the love of many will grow cold and there will be a great falling away. Those are days when the enemy seems to be winning.
  • In the days of Noah and Lot the partiers, the worldly, the mockers of faith were the vast majority and those who loved God were only few.
  • So these parables are extremely important for us to understand because God wants us to be encouraged, to have our faith strengthened, and to not lose heart.

A. Pray at all times

  • When Jesus told them a parable to show them that at all times they ought to pray, there’s two parts to that we need to see.
  • First of all, it says, “at all times.” We’ve turned prayer into a bit of a formula by the concept of closing our eyes and folding our hands.
  • That formula for prayer is impossible to do at all times. For example, when you are driving in the car it wouldn’t be a good idea to close your eyes and fold your hands, yet when you’re driving that may be exactly when you need to pray.

Illus - When I was driving home from the beach by myself and traffic was merging into one lane… Prayer is not just speaking, it’s listening.

  • Prayer is a dialogue and it’s an important part of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ.

B. We ought to pray

  • The second part of God’s heart for us in prayer is that we ought to pray. In other words, it’s what we ought to be doing, God is instructing us that we need to be praying.

Illus – Sometimes people wonder why prayer is so important and there are really two parts to the answer. First, let’s look at it from this perspective; wouldn’t you agree that Jesus Christ is the most significant person that ever walked the face of this earth? And if prayer was such a priority to Jesus, should it not also be to us?

Then we see in this verse that we ought to pray so that we do not lose heart in the last days when difficult times will come and we are strengthened in our faith because of it.

  • The disciples saw how important prayer was to Jesus and that it was a significant part of His relationship to His Father, so they asked Him to teach them to pray.
  • One of the things that Jesus taught them was not to use meaningless repetition in prayer.

Matthew 6:7, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”

  • He then gave them an example of intimate and personal prayer when He said, “When you pray, pray in this way, ‘Our Father, who is in heaven…’”
  • The problem is that we’ve taken that example of personal and intimate prayer and turned it into meaningless repetition.
  • But Jesus’s point is that our prayers should be personal and intimate. “Our Father” was new to Jewish understanding, but it gives us a picture of a son or daughter talking to their father knowing that the father’s heart would be turned toward them.

Illus - Our babies used to cry and cry because they wanted to be with us in our bed. I think it was James Dobson who said you should let babies cry for at least 20 minutes and then they’ll settle down. The problem is that most babies have never read James Dobson’s books. But as soon as they said, “Dada” that was all it took.

C. Persist in prayer

  • The point of this first parable is that if an unrighteous judge responds to persistent asking, how much more would the righteous God hear and respond?
  • The point is that God wants us to persist.

Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

  • But those words mean to keep on asking, to keep on seeking and to keep on knocking.

Illus - George Mueller, the great man of faith who took care of thousands of orphans in England said it well, “The great fault of the children of God is, they do not continue in prayer; they do not go on praying, they do not persevere!”

  • There are several other scriptures that give us the same encouragement that God wants us to persist in our prayers.

1 Thessalonians 5:16, Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 6:18, With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.

II. Now is the Time to Strengthen Faith

  • Noticed that in verse 8, Jesus connects the parable of praying to faith. “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
  • The Son of Man will return and it will be like the days of Noah and the days of Lot, will He find faith on the earth?
  • These parables are given to strengthen our faith so that we do not become discouraged, but rather by being persistent in prayer, our soul is ignited and our faith sure even in times of difficulty.

A. Don’t lose heart - be full of faith

  • Verse one says that the parables are given so that we would not lose heart. In other words, God knows that we could become discouraged so He warns us in advance that we must keep our faith strong and to not lose heart even though everything is falling apart around us.
  • Prayer renews and strengthens our faith so we do not lose heart. One of the best examples of this is David. Before he was king he lived in the wilderness with a group of about 200 men in a small militia. One day, an enemy attacked their camp while David and the men were away and everything was taken, even their wives and children. It was one of David’s darkest days because the men began to grumble and even spoke of stoning him… but…

1 Samuel 30:6, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

  • When we are renewed in our soul, strengthened in the Lord, our faith is increased because we are dwelling in the shadow of the Almighty.

Ephesians 3:16-17, {I pray} He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith and that you, being rooted and grounded in love…

  • When we are strengthened in our hearts through faith we trust God’s heart to answer according to God’s best for us.

Illus - “God has not always answered my prayers. If He had, I would have married the wrong man - several times!” says Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham.

Galatians 6:9, Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Illus – The faith of trusting God is powerfully seen in the story of Roger Simms…

B. Pray with the right heart

  • The next parable is about having the right heart when we pray.
  • Luke tells us that Jesus told this parable to those who trusted in themselves and viewed others with contempt.
  • The main point is in verse 14, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
  • There is enough Pharisee in each of us that we need to listen carefully. For some reason it is easy to look down on other people.
  • But when we are truly in the presence of a loving, forgiving, merciful God and see how much God has done in forgiving us, we know that God blesses that heart.
  • In fact, God desires to dwell with those whose heart are humble and contrite.

Isaiah 57:15, For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, and whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a highly and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the contrite.”

  • In fact the next few verses fit perfectly in as well when we understand that God wants a man to receive the kingdom of God like a child or he shall not enter it at all.
  • Pray at all times and do not lose heart because difficult times will come; we need faith.

Luke 18:1-17     NASB

1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2 saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.' 4 For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'" 6 And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; 7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
 
9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
 
15 And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. 16 But Jesus called for them, saying, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."
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