God Wants to Bless You!
The Gospel of Matthew
Sermon by Rick Crandall
(Prepared May 13, 2021)
*What kind of a God is God? There are many great ways to answer this question, but tonight know this for sure: We have a God who wants to bless His people. God wants to bless us beyond measure!
*In Numbers 6:24-26, the LORD spoke to Moses and gave this blessing for the Children of Israel: "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace."
*God wanted to bless His people in the Old Testament, and Christians, He wants to bless us today! God wants to bless us beyond measure, and this Scripture helps us see how.
1. FIRST: GOD WANTS TO BLESS US THROUGH HIS PROMISES OF ANSWERED PRAYER.
*In vs. 7-8 Jesus gives us some amazing promises of answered prayer. Here the Lord said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." What rock-solid promises of answered prayer!
*Think about the source of these promises. It is Jesus Christ, the Almighty Son of God. In Matthew 19:26 He reminds us that "all things are possible with God." In Matthew 28:18 He is the One who said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." And in John 1:29 He is the "Lamb of God who (took) away the sin of the world" by dying on the cross for our sins!
*Rodney Buchanan explained that we can safely trust in God's promises to answer our prayers because "prayer's cornerstone is the character of God. . . The invitation to ask is based on the goodness of God and his love for us," so we can always trust Him to answer our prayers in the right way at the right time. (1)
*But also think about the strategy for these prayer promises. In 3 words God's strategy for our prayers is "DON'T GIVE UP!" Bible scholars tell us that the original language in vs. 7-8 means not to do something just once, but to do it, and keep on doing it. So, it's as if Jesus is saying, "Don't give up! Ask and keep on asking! Seek and keep on seeking! Knock and keep on knocking! (2)
*Don't stop praying, -- that is, until God tells you to stop, or He leads you to start praying in a different way. The Apostle Paul is a good example for us in 2 Corinthians 12. There Paul needed to present his credentials for being a true Apostle of Jesus Christ.
*That's why Paul started talking about the revelations he had received from the Lord. And Paul certainly had an abundance of revelations. On the road to Damascus, Paul saw Jesus shining in glory brighter than the sun! And God chose Paul as His instrument to write more New Testament books than any other person. Paul certainly wrote 13 (and possibly 14) of the 27 books in the New Testament.
*At the beginning of 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talked about being caught up to heaven. There he spoke modestly in the third person, and in vs. 3-4 Paul said, "I know such a man whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows; how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."
*This abundance of revelations could have easily led Paul to be puffed up in his own mind or by other people, so God allowed him to have a "thorn in the flesh." We really don't know what it was, but Paul's thorn was probably some kind of physical problem. Some have guessed epilepsy, trouble with his eyes, or recurring fever from malaria.
*Of course, Paul prayed, and in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 he wrote, "Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
*Paul passionately prayed, and he kept on praying that his thorn would go away. But then Jesus said, "My grace is sufficient for you." That is a wonderful truth and a wonderful thing to hear. But at the same time, God was telling Paul, "No." And God was telling Paul to stop praying for that healing.
*There will be times in life when God tells us to stop praying for something. For us it happened in 1989, when Mary's dad was dying with lung cancer. Pap Pap lived with us most of that last year. And we started the year praying for his healing, but as the year wore on, our prayers shifted. And those last days, as he was so sick in the hospital, and we knew that he was not going to get better in this world, we stopped praying for his healing, and asked the Lord to mercifully take him home.
*There are times when the Lord will lead you to stop praying for something, but until He makes it crystal clear, you keep praying! Don't give up! That's the strategy for these prayer promises.
*But also notice the strength of Jesus' promises. It's not just a double guaranty. It's not just a triple guaranty. It's a double, triple guaranty! Six times in two verses Jesus promises to answer prayer! "Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. And he who seeks finds. And to him who knocks it will be opened." That's the strength of God's prayer promises.
*But also know that the Lord's promises cover every situation. Ask. Seek. Knock. David Brown explained these 3 types of prayer this way, "We ask for what we wish. We seek for what we miss. We knock when we feel ourselves shut out." David DeWitt noted that "when we knock, we try every door until we find the right one. And once we find the right door we keep knocking until God opens the door. This (reveals) how much we depend on God."
*John Hamby pointed out that knocking in prayer is trying to get through a barrier to find safety, shelter or fellowship. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." Thinking about that verse and what Jesus tells us here, someone wisely said, "The Lord knocks on our door, and invites us to knock on His door, so we have a place to go in every situation." (3)
*The Lord's prayer promises are for every situation. And they are for every seeker. Jesus is telling us this in vs. 8 where again He said, "Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Everyone who asks receives! But, of course, this means everyone who has believed in Jesus Christ, everyone who has received Him as their Lord and Savior. Christians: That's you and me! The Lord's prayer promises are for every seeker.
*But we also have to remember that God is both sovereign and supremely good. I say this because even though God's prayer promises never fail, our prayers are not always going to be answered in the way we ask. That's what Paul found out when he prayed about his thorn in the flesh. And God won't always heal in answer to our prayers. If he did, then these pews would be full of people who are worshiping in Heaven today, and Glenwood hospital would be empty every day by suppertime.
*God will not always heal us in this world because this world is not our home. And sometimes we cannot understand, but God always answers our sincere, unselfish prayers. Many times He will answer just as we ask, but He is God, and He knows the best way to answer. God will always answer our prayers in the right way at the right time.
*I got a great lesson on this truth when we first got to McClendon Baptist in 1983. Back then, associate pastors lived in the parsonage right next to the church, and that's where we moved in September of that year.
*A few weeks later, I went out to get the paper: Barefoot, gym shorts on, cup of coffee in my hand. I started back to the door, and there was a vicious looking Doberman Pincher standing in front of me. He was crouched down and growling. What was I going to do, hit him with my newspaper?
*After I talked to him a little bit, very nicely, he went back home next door. Boy that dog was mean! What was my first clue? His name was "Satan". "Nice doggy, good Satan." That doesn't sound right, does it?
*After I got back in the house, we thought, "Great, here we are: New neighbors. We've got a five-year-old, a two-year-old, and a mean dog next door named Satan. We didn't want to make enemies right off the bat, so we prayed.
*About two weeks later I was standing out in the parking lot talking to a missionary, who had parked his motor home there for the night. I looked up and here came this Doberman running across the parking lot toward us! No place to run. No place to hide. But instead of acting mean, this dog came up wagging his tail and licking my hand. I thought, "Praise the Lord! God has zapped that dog and changed his personality!"
*The next morning when I went to the office, he was lying on the mat by the door. I called my next door neighbor and told him that His dog was over at the church. He said, "No, -- my dog is sitting right in front of me."
*We couldn't find his owners, so we named the new Doberman, "Casey." He was about 20 pounds heavier than Satan. And one time they got in a fight. Casey didn't do any permanent damage, but he put a hurting on that other dog, and Satan never came in our yard again.
*God may not answer our prayers the way we expect. But God has promised to answer our prayers. So don't give up! God wants to bless us through His promises of answered prayer!
2. HE ALSO WANTS TO BLESS US THROUGH THE FAITHFULNESS OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER.
*Jesus wants us to know that we can always trust in the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. So in vs. 9-11, the Lord used the picture of a caring, earthly father. And Jesus said:
9. . . "What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10. Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"
*Hey parents (and grandparents): If your little ones asked for bread, would you give them a stone? If they asked for a fish, would you give them a snake? Of course not! Devoted dads (moms and grandparents too) have good desires for their children. They want the absolute best for their kids.
*I think a lot about my own dad. He was buried on my mother's birthday, 45 years ago. A few years earlier, when I was going to college in Georgia, I was just as far away from God as I could possibly be. I was a strong-willed atheist. And the only thing I really cared about was having a good time.
*But every visit back home to Macon, I would walk in the door, and my dad would say, "The prodigal has returned!" He said that every time. I didn't have a clue about that wonderful Bible story of the lost son who came to his senses, and went back home to his loving father. But that was my dad's greatest desire for me. He wanted the best for me!
*Devoted dads have good desires for their children. They also have distress for their children. I didn't realize it at the time, but my dad went through a lot of distress for me.
*When he took early retirement from Sears, Dad had a good bit of money, and he tried to start several new businesses. But he hit a brick wall every time. He was cheated by some people he thought were his friends, and he lost it all.
*One time Dad told me he used to lay awake all night, worrying about how he hadn't provided for his children. It helped put him in an early grave at the age of 55. But if my dad hadn't gone through all of that loss, I never would have applied for the Teacher Corps, I never would have come out here to Louisiana, and I don't think I ever would have gotten saved. But I did get saved 10 months before my daddy died!
*My mother was so mad at God back then. How could a good God let something so bad happen to such a good man? But eight years later, Mom could see the difference that Jesus had made in my life. And on one of her visits out to see us, my mother bowed her head to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
*Now they are in heaven together, in part because of the suffering my dad went through. He was a devoted dad, and loving dads are pictures of our Heavenly Father. The difference is my dad wasn't perfect. But our Heavenly Father is perfect in every way, so in vs. 11, Jesus said, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"
*How much more? -- Infinitely more! We can always count on our heavenly Father to faithfully answer our prayers in the best possible way. God wants to bless us through the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father.
3. HE ALSO WANTS TO BLESS US THROUGH THE GOODNESS OF HIS GOLDEN RULE.
*It's the commandment Jesus gave us in vs. 12: "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Or as the NIV says in Luke 6:31, "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
*God wants to bless us beyond measure! And it turns out that He even wants to bless us through each other, so here Jesus gave us what we call "The Golden Rule." Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is love in action, and it flows out of the second greatest commandment.
*Matthew 22:35-40 talks about God's greatest commandments and says:
35. Then one of them (one of the Pharisees), a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,
36. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?''
37. Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
38. This is the first and great commandment.
39. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
40. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.''
*When it comes to God's Law, it turns out that everything hangs on love, so we must have godly love for our Master, and we must have godly love for mankind.
*Again, in Matthew 22:39 Jesus said, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Paul Baker noted that "Jesus gave 'Love your neighbor" almost as much importance as the greatest commandment of all. You see, love is the greatest thing we can do. Love God, and love people." And here in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is telling us that we have to put love into action: "DO unto others as you would have them do unto you." (4)
*The New Testament also talks about God's greatest commandments in Mark 12, and Luke 10. Luke 10:25-29 says:
25. And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?''
26. He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?''
27. So he answered and said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.'''
28. And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.''
29. But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?''
*That's when Jesus began to tell the story of the Good Samaritan. Most of us have heard this wonderful story. It's about a kind Samaritan who stopped and helped a man on the road. That man had been robbed and beaten half to death, and the Good Samaritan stopped when no one else would.
*Why did he stop to help the dying man? Jesus tells us in Luke 10:33-35, where the Lord said, "A certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, HE HAD COMPASSION ON HIM, and went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'"
*When Jesus finished the story, He asked the lawyer, "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?'' And he said, "He who showed mercy on him.'' Then Jesus said to him, "Go and DO likewise.''
*Go and DO likewise: That's love in action, the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And the amazing truth is that WE can be the people God uses to help hurting people!
*You can be a Good Samaritan for people right here in Caldwell Parish. You can be a Good Samaritan at work, at school, in church, in VBS, maybe on a mission trip somewhere, and maybe in your own home. God blesses us to be a blessing, so love your neighbor as yourself. And put your love into action: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
*God really does want to bless us beyond measure, -- through His promises of answered prayer, through the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father, and through the goodness of His Golden Rule.
*Most of all, God wants to bless us through the cross of our living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So, put your trust in the Lord. Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Start believing that God wants to bless you, and be a blessing by putting your God-given love into action.
*Please think about these things as we go back to God in prayer.
(1) SermonCentral sermon "Ask, Seek, Knock" by Rodney Buchanan - Matthew 7:7-12 - 05/01/2005
(2) Sermons.com sermon "Laying Hold on God's Willingness" by Dr. Bill Bouknight - Matthew 7:7-11
-JAMIESON, FAUSSET AND BROWN COMMENTARY CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY ON THE WHOLE BIBLE by Jamieson, Robert, Fausset, A.R., Brown, David 1871 - Matthew 7:7-11
-Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "The Power of Persistent Prayer" by David DeWitt - Matthew 7:7-11
-SermonCentral sermon "Ask, Seek and Knock" by John Hamby - Matthew 7:7-11
-Source unknown for door quote
(4) SERMONETTE: Love is the greatest thing we can do by Rev. Paul Baker - Posted: Sunday, January 25, 2015 8:00 am - http://www.crowrivermedia.com/big_fish_lifestyle/living/sermonette-love-is-the-greatest-thing-we-can-do/article_719ec7ed-5235-5058-b769-d281a1fb34fa.html