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What did you have to do to receive the gift certificate?
* Believe the gift certificate was real (that I had the power to grant the offer)
* Believe the offer was real (that I genuinely intended to give it away to whoever wanted it)
* Exercise faith and ask for it.
Prayer is like that. The difference is that I was offering something relatively trivial. And I only had one. But Godís riches are far more valuable and they are inexhaustible. Wouldnít you like to know how to tap into the vast riches and resources that God has made available to us?
This morning Iíd like to continue our series on WestShoreís Core Values as we look at the core value of "Commitment to Prayer - Acting on the conviction that God hears and answers prayer."
How do we receive Godís blessings? 1. We ask.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." -- Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
"You do not have, because you do not ask God." - James 4:2 (NIV)
People will do all kind of things to gain Godís favor ando receive His blessings, especially when they are in great need or in extreme danger ["God, Iíll do anything if youíll just ____"].
Ironically, while people are often willing to do great things in return for Godís blessing, things God has not asked for and does not want; they are unwilling to do the one small thing that He actually requires (which is to pray). [Illustration: 2 Kings 5:9-14]. Why? Because they want to earn it. They think they can earn it. Theyíre operating on a merit basis, not a grace basis. The problem is that theyíre using the wrong countryís "currency". The currency of this world is works, merit, getting what you deserve. The currency of Godís kingdom is grace. [Itís like going to some South Sea Island where the economic system is based on barter and livestock, and trying to buy things with green pieces of paper. They would laugh at you. And then eat you.]
In reality, it insults God when we try to pay for His blessings with our works. First, because it makes His relationship with us one of economics, rather than love [Like trying to "pay" for dinner at friendís house]. Second, because what we have to offer is so pitifully small that it devalues His blessings.
People are willing to anything except what God asks, because His way requires humility. It requires an acknowledgement that we are dependent on God, that we are indebted to Him, obligated to Him; that we can never repay Him for His blessings to us. Itís like people who refuse to let you give them anything without giving you something equivalent back. Everything has to be a "quid pro quo," so they never feel obligated to anyone.
So they bargain with God, make sacrifices, give money, etc. etc. But they refuse to do the one small thing that God requires. In reality, that one small thing is the biggest, most difficult thing that God could possibly ask of them. Because it requires them to humble themselves and come to God, hat in hand, asking His mercy and grace. And their pride just cannot permit them to
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