This morning, I’ve got a picture that’s going to appear on the screen - does anyone know who it is? ... It’s Pudsey Bear - and what is he linked with? When do we see him? ... He’s the mascot of Children in Need. So every year coming up to November, we see Pudsey the Bear, reminding us about Children in Need.
Does everyone know what that word need means? Can anyone help us out? ... It’s when we have to have something, because we can’t do without it. We don’t have something important, so we need it. So if you miss your breakfast, then you’ll be really hungry, and you’ll need some food. Or if you’ve been running around outside (although maybe not in this weather) then you need a drink because you’re thirsty. Or if you’ve had your shoes for a long time and there’s a hole in them and the water gets in, then you need a new pair of shoes.
But we don’t just want to think about Children in Need today - because it’s not just children who have needs. All of us in church today have needs, things that we just can’t do without. We’ll think about them a bit later on.
Lots of needs. And how do you make sure that your needs are sorted out? How do you make sure that you get what you need - if it’s a drink or some food or whatever?
[Cue Johnny asking for a sweet as he’s a bit of a cough... But I try to ignore him because I’m trying to speak, but he persists, and so I give him the sweet...]
Jesus tells us the story of a man who needs something. Let’s see what happens: Person 1 comes and knocks on the door, but person 2 is in bed. Person 1 asks him for some bread as he has none and a visitor has come. Person 2 says no, go away, I’m in bed. Person 1 asks again, and Person 2 gets up and gives it to him.
How did Person 1 get what he needed? He was asking for it, so that because he kept asking, Person 2 gave him what he needed. Or like Johnny needing the sweet - because he asked, I gave him what he needed.
Jesus gives us a short memory verse to help us in this: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.’ (Luke 11:9)
Ask, seek, knock. When we know that we need something, Jesus tells us to ask God, and he will give it to us. Just think of the Lord’s Prayer. In the Lord’s Prayer, there are a few things that we ask God for, things that we need: ‘give us each day our daily bread’ and ‘forgive us our sins.’
We need all the things that keep us going for today, our food, which is the bread; and we also need to have our sins forgiven, the wrong things we have done wiped away.
But how can we be sure that God will give us what we need? How can we know that God will give us our daily bread and forgive our sins?
Jesus talks about asking your mum or dad for some food. Can you imagine if you asked them for a fish, and instead of that you got a scary serpent? Or imagine you wanted a boiled egg for breakfast, and they gave you a stinging scorpion?
Or imagine you asked for a burger and chips for dinner, but instead they gave you some dog food and stones?
You’re asking for something you need (food), but they instead gave you something dangerous, something that would harm you! It just wouldn’t happen. They wouldn’t do it. We know that our mums and dads will give us good things, things that we need.
Even bad people give good gifts. God is good, so how much more will he give good things to us, the things that we need! Bad people give good gifts. The good God gives great gifts! The gift that Jesus mentions here is the Holy Spirit - God gives us himself, who provides for us, who makes us new people, and who helps us to live for Jesus.
How do we know that God will give us what we need? God is good, God tells us what to ask for, and God promises to give them to us.
So perhaps today you have done bad things, wrong things - you know you need God’s forgiveness. You can ask for it, say sorry to God, and your sins are forgiven, wiped clean. Or maybe you need some help in school, you’re on your own, no one plays with you. Jesus is your friend, he is always with you - if you ask God for help, then he will give you it.
Or parents and grandparents - can I speak to you for a moment? You wouldn’t dream of giving bad things to your child or grandchild. You give them good things, that help and build them up. So why do you think God, your heavenly Father would do that to you? God loves you even more than you love your children. He gives you good gifts too. You just have to ask him.
Let’s try the memory verse again:
‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.’ Luke 11:9
This sermon was the basis for the Talk at the Family Service in St Elizabeth's on Sunday 17th January 2009. Alongside the talk, there were some visual aids, a drama, a (scripted) interruption, and some PowerPoint slides.