SERMON ON THE MOUNT #74
OUR FATHER'S GIVING OF GOOD GIFTS
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? MAT 7:11.
The central topic of our text is good gifts. What are good gifts? We want to see what the good gifts are that our heavenly Father has in store for those who love Him. Good gifts are not always pleasant to the flesh. The Father knows what we need; our heavenly Father looks upon our eternal and spiritual welfare. There is often a great distinction between that which is good for us and that which is pleasant. Why? It is because our hearts have become corrupt, and by reason of our shameful fall in Adam, we have pleasure in sin and things that are not for our spiritual welfare. So the Lord gives us good gifts, those things which are spiritually and eternally good.
Good gifts include corrective medicine. For young children most corrective medications are flavored to cover their true taste. The Lord does not put any synthetic flavoring in His medications. As caring parents, we must insist on the child taking certain medications for their good. If a little child has an ear infection, you give the child a medication that will combat that infection. The child may not like the taste of it; they may fight it or spit it out, but the parent knows better than the child what is good for him. Therefore, the child must take the medication, even though it does not seem pleasant at the time.
Even so the Lord often uses medications which seem very bitter to the flesh to restore our spiritual health. Think of David and how he became defiled with adultery and murder. Spiritually he had departed from the Lord; he had gone into sin. It was a grievous place, and the medicine the Lord used to show David the sinfulness of his sin was the adultery and murder in his children which were used by the Lord to cure him of his lust. The Lord taught him the sinfulness of his sin when he saw that same sin in his children.
From a father's perspective David could see the grievousness of adultery in his children even as his heavenly Father looked upon him in this same sin. David's son defiled his own sister. David saw murder in his children when his son murdered his own brother Amon. Oh, how grievous it was for David when his son, Absalom, committed adultery with his concubines upon the house top before all Israel.
Now from a father's perspective, see how David saw the bitterness of sin. See the kind of medicine the Lord used to take away the pleasure of sin in David's life. The pleasure of adultery was far removed when he cried out, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" 2SA 18:33b. Think of the grief of David when Absalom was slain. David realized all the things that had taken place with Absalom were the fruits of his own sin. That is the medicine the Lord used to cure David's lust and stop him from cherishing sin.
Think of Jacob, who sinned by cheating, lying, and being deceitful, and the medicine the Lord used to cure him. The final dose of medicine he needed to have for his deceit came when his children told him Joseph was yet alive. Then Jacob could see from a father's perspective how his children had deceived him with a kid of the goats and with their brother's coat as he had deceived his father with his brother's coat. Now he saw the sinfulness and grief that his heavenly Father had from his grievous sin.
So often God's good gifts are mistaken because we are shortsighted. Think of Jacob when he let Benjamin go. Jacob said, "... Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me," GEN 42:36.
Jacob was so shortsighted that he was not able to remember what the Lord had told Abraham, his father in GEN 15:13-14, "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance."
Jacob was so shortsighted that he never understood how the Lord was bringing about the very thing that He had told his father Abram. Also, the Lord was using this to teach Jacob the bitterness of deceit. Think of David's grief when Absalom was slain. Think of the grief of Jacob's heart when he had to give up Benjamin. Jacob said "all these things are against me, Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away." He didn't know Joseph was the ruler of Egypt; he didn't realize it was a good gift that was coming from the Lord through Joseph. He was so shortsighted.
"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby," HEB 12:11. Good gifts are sometimes grievous to the flesh rather than joyous; nevertheless, afterwards we find a great reward. Think of the joy of Jacob's heart when he was able to embrace Joseph. Afterwards it yielded the peaceable fruits of righteousness. After Jacob's heart had been cleansed, and the Lord had worked His purpose in Jacob's life, Jacob was able to embrace Simeon, Joseph, and Benjamin. The Lord used it all for good. Those are peaceable fruits of righteousness.
In my own life I have seen my sins passed down to my own children. Those same sins eat like a cancer, attempting to destroy them. Now I see how grievous that sin is from a father's perspective. That is what the Lord is teaching us in our text, "If ye then, being evil..." can see how grievous sin is, then how much more grievous it is to our holy Father. Think how sin grieves Him.
Therefore, the Lord uses corrective medicine. How? He does it by allowing us to see the same sins in our children. That is not always pleasant, but it is very good for our spiritual welfare because it weans us from the things of sin. It weans us from covetousness, lusts, and things so displeasing to the Lord. "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby," HEB 12:11. The Lord uses these corrective medicines to cleanse our heart so it will no longer cleave to those things which are displeasing to Him.
Giving good gifts unto our children, even though our hearts are evil, includes corrective discipline. Consider the good gifts we must give our children. The first and most important gift we can give our children is a Godly upbringing to teach them the fear of the Lord. EPH 6:4 says, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
If you go back into the original, the word nurture means "discipline, self-discipline; to train the children's thinking based upon God's Word." It is such a blessing when a child has received from his natural father a training of character: Godly principles and self-discipline in the admonition of the Lord. Parents must admonish them of how the Lord disciplined David and Jacob. They must remind them of how grievous it is to sin against the Lord. A Godly upbringing is the greatest gift a parent can give his child.
Fathers and mothers who love their children know they must nurture their children in the admonition of the Lord so His blessings may rest upon them. Until we understand the nurture in the admonition of the Lord, we may not expect His blessing. He will not pour out His blessings upon unrepentant sinners. The Lord does not bestow spiritual blessings in the soul of a man that has never learned self-discipline.
See what we read in SON 2:2, "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." When the love of Christ is planted in the soul, like a lily among thorns of wickedness and sin, those thorns must be weeded out or they will choke out the love of Christ which is likened unto that lily. This is what Jesus said about His gospel in MAT 13:7-8, "And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them [but where there is repentance in the heart, the thorns are weeded out. Then He likens that heart unto a well-prepared garden.]: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold."
Scripture has so much to teach us about how we must train our children so they may receive the blessings of God. GEN 18:18-19 says, "Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? [Now watch the conditions upon which God may grant such a blessing!] For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." The Lord will not put His blessing upon a rebellious heart. The Lord's delight is in the love His people have under the law of love.
The whole law and gospel hang upon two commandments, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets," MAT 22:37-40.
Everything that comes against these commandments must be weeded out in the child's upbringing. It is done in the loving training and nurture of a father which is the good gift we can give our children. Now consider how much more our heavenly Father gives in His good gifts. "For I know him, that he will command his children" shows us the responsibility we have to our children and household. How negligent we are. We must see how guilty we are if we neglect the nurturing of our children in the admonition of the Lord. Clearing out the thorns must be done before the Lord's blessing will come upon them.
PRO 23:13-14 says one of the greatest gifts parents can give their child is a Godly upbringing; "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. [That is not child abuse.] Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." This rod of correction does not necessarily mean to literally beat them, but it means to use disciplinary measures that will break their rebellion. Discipline is the good gift we can bestow upon our children. We must correct, admonish, and nurture them in a Godly way that their souls may be delivered from hell.
Those who think they are showing love by sparing the rod do not understand the wisdom God teaches in His Word. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes," PRO 13:24.
Is that today's philosophy? No! That is why we see so much wickedness abounding in the world today. Instead of children having their thinking trained in God's Word, they are trained with violence, lust, and murder in the TV programs which are brought into the home. Most children are not being chastened with the rod of correction in today's society. They are taught rebellion against their parents and the Lord; they are not brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Now we also see, as the Lord said with Abraham, that the Lord has not brought his blessing upon the children of our nation because the fathers are not giving good gifts unto their children. They are not giving them the good gift of a Godly upbringing.
This word rod comes from the Hebrew word shebat which means a stick for punishing. Does that mean that you must literally spank your children? Oh yes! But not if you can correct them with anything short of it. This word shebat also means correction. If we are able to use any other corrective measure short of spanking, that is most desirable. This verse doesn't mean children have to be beaten with a stick, but they must be corrected and put in their place. Rebellion cannot be allowed to reign.
As we cited previously PRO 13:24 says, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." This word chasteneth is taken from the Hebrew word muwcar which means "to chastise literally with blows or figuratively with words [see the alternative]; hence to punish, instruct, correct, discipline, reform, or teach restraint." That comes right out of the Hebrew dictionary.
When I was in the Army 40 years ago, they had ten forms of company punishment. The first was admonition. That is where we start in correcting our children. We admonish them with the admonition of the Lord so they know that what they are doing is not according to the Word of God. If that in itself is sufficient, we don't need to use the paddle.
Now consider that the word chasteneth means "to chastise literally with blows or figuratively with words; hence to punish, instruct, correct, discipline, reform or teach restraint." Instruction is a form of chastisement. Notice that one of the good gifts we give to our children is self-discipline. We teach them restraint from things that ought not to be, and we correct them if they don't listen. We discipline and punish them if they refuse to obey.
Each child is different. One child may be punished most severely by seeing he has lost your favor and that you have withheld your smile. Another child may need to be chastised before he will receive correction. The Lord's family also needs differing means. Some are fully corrected when the Lord withholds His presence, His smile; others will not submit to reproof until the Lord comes with His chastening hand. These are good gifts: reproof, correction, punishment, instruction, discipline, and the teaching of restraint.
Reproof and correction are two of the best gifts a parent can give a child. See PRO 29:15, "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." What is wisdom? "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever," PSA 111:10. What greater gift can we bestow upon our children than this? Now the Lord says, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" MAT 7:11.
The Lord understands how we are benefited by His correction, restraint, and discipline. "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." And so it is with you and me in the family of God. If the Lord would leave us to ourselves, we would bring our mother to shame. Who is our spiritual mother? It is the church. We would bring reproach upon God's church, the bride of Christ.
Scripture teaches that one who does not discipline his child is not worthy to be called a father. "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons," HEB 12:7-8. A person is not worthy of recognition as a father if he neglects his child. Child neglect, neglecting restraint or chastening in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, is a most horrible form of child abuse because it has eternal consequences.
Job referred to the man as happy whom God sends correction through chastening. JOB 5:17-18 says, "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty." The Lord understands exactly how to correct and where to put His finger upon us so we feel it. He knows how painful the wounds are that He gives in the way of chastening. Now watch what Job says in the next verse. "For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole." Does the Lord use corrective discipline? Oh, yes. Those afflictions are the result of His chastening hand. His love will not allow us to continue in sin to our eternal destruction.
David referred to correction as a good gift from God in PSA 119:67-68, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. [Do you see the fruits of correction, the peaceable fruits of righteousness and the precious gift of being under the heavenly Father's loving hand?] Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes." That affliction is a good gift because He teaches us as an earthly father teaches his children with corrective discipline.
Good gifts also include corrective ignoring; when a child sees you are displeased, they see there is no smile of love upon them, and they are ignored. That is a corrective discipline. At times it is proper to ignore children's requests so they realize they have forfeited your favor by their guilt. If the children have disobeyed and are rebellious, they must recognize the guilt in their conscience as coming from the Lord.
As mentioned earlier, the Lord dealt with Jacob in such a manner. Think of when Jacob was told Joseph was alive; it was then that he realized it was the sin he had committed in his early youth that caused twenty years of suffering under the same sin of his children. They had lied and deceived him with their brother's coat and with a kid. It was in the same manner he had deceived his father. Now Jacob understood his guilt. It is important that we understand our guilt. Even though his mother had told Jacob, "Upon me be thy curse, my son...," GEN 27:13, the Lord dealt with Jacob according to his sin.
HOS 5:14-15 says, "For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away , and none shall rescue him. [Now see the discipline by ignoring] I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense [till they realize what they have done and confess they are guilty], and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early." In the way of a good gift, the Lord lets us see the guilt of our sin; we must come before the Lord and say, "Guilty, guilty." We may not gainsay or try to justify ourselves with, "I did this, but...," it is not acceptable. Then the Lord says, "I will go and return to my place," the mercy seat. He shows mercy after we have acknowledged our guilt. That is another good gift the Father gives us. He withholds Himself; He ignores us and leaves us until we acknowledge our guilt. Then we will come seeking a pardon when we really see we are so guilty.
Jesus' teaching in MAT 7:7 says, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." We must understand this does not mean God always answers in the way and manner we would prefer. We must not think that the Lord is going to be our servant and is bound to give answers in the manner, time, and way we determine. The Lord knows best what correction we need as well as what answers we need. He knows best what comforts we need, and when we need them.
If we ask God to draw one of our loved ones unto His Dear Son, we must not be surprised if it first seems as though their rebellion against His chastening drives them further from Him. This is something to consider. Remember how a rebellious child can scream, kick, holler, and run. A person who has the Lord's finger put upon them to draw them close may also react like the rebellious child. God gives His dear children what they ask, if it is good for them. He gives us what is best for us.
One time my brother told how he felt the Lord had laid upon his heart to pray that our father would be drawn closer to the Lord. About two months later father was in the hospital with a diagnosis of possible cancer. My brother began to pray that the Lord would heal him. It turned out that he was not full of cancer, but it was on that sickbed that the Lord accomplished and answered the earnest prayer for the Lord to draw him near unto Him. For the rest of his life, my father spoke of how the Lord had blessed him on that sickbed. We must be careful that we do not pray against the good gifts that the Lord sends. In that instance, He sent the sickbed for the body to heal the soul.
A wise and loving father knows that not everything a child asks for would be a good gift. A wise father must know when to say no! Many times children ask for things which are not good for them. Likewise the Lord knows when to say no. We must not take that Scripture to mean that we will get everything we ask for; it is only the good gifts He will give to us.
Often privileges which are otherwise enjoyed, must be withheld for correction or to teach restraint. Most loving parents know this and use it. Likewise the Lord does this. Sometimes the Lord withholds something we have prayed for and does not grant it when we think He should. We may learn later to see that it was for the purpose of correction. He is teaching us restraint; there is a sin in our lives that has come between us and God. He may return to His mercy seat and send the lion to tear the flesh to teach restraint.
The fact that God often delays answering or granting what we ask does not cheapen the meaning of "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you," but it enriches it because He will only give good gifts. The fact that He will not give us things which are not good for us enriches the promise. "How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" ROM 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God..." We may often beg for something that the Lord will never grant because it is not for our good.
Now let's analyze some of the good gifts which our loving heavenly Father does grant as we read in ROM 8:30, "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." The good gifts our heavenly Father is looking upon is our call out of darkness unto the marvelous light of the gospel, our sanctification from the pollution of sin, and our justification before the bar of God's justice!
God has predestined these things for those whom He has loved from before the foundation of the world; the things we pray for which come against God's will will not be granted. We may pray for a lot of things He will never grant, such as prosperity in this world that would not be good for us spiritually.
Verses 31-32 continue, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? [We can't even be against ourselves!] He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" All good things flow to us through the Son; it is through Christ, His merits, His obedience and atonement that God will freely give us "all things." All things that are pleasant? No, He gives us all things that are good for us spiritually, for our eternal good.
Have you ever heard the illustration of the weaver? One time a man came to a weaving room where they were working on a large rug. From underneath everything was in such disarray. Strings went in every direction; it was total confusion. However, when he saw the beautiful design on top of the rug, he realized the wisdom of the weaver. This is the way it is when we see life from our side. The heavenly Weaver does not show us the finished design of His will; He has His own good purpose. All the struggles and trials and temptations we have to go through seem to be such a riddle. When we see God's finished product, His purpose on the end, then we see the beauty of every stitch that wove the fabric of our life.
We may never say God has not heard our prayer. However, an immediate answer would not always be a good gift. It is not like flipping on a light switch and there is the Lord. He does not answer when it is not wise. JAM 1:16-18 says, "Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."
You see, there is perfection because God is perfect. We are evil, but we know how to give good gifts to our children. See how much more our heavenly Father, because of His perfection, gives good and perfect gifts. "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth." We must understand that the Lord wants us to know His truth.
God's good gifts are not always a matter of prosperity; they are more likely to be seen in His correction and discipline. Many people prosper in this world; they have tremendous wealth, but that is not always where we see His good gifts. We must also look at His correction and discipline to see His good gifts. In JOB 12:6 we read, "The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure [in this world]; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly." Why? They have received their portion in this life. They are wicked, thieves, and robbers, and yet they seem so secure.
We must understand that prosperity in this world is not a sure token of God's favor. The parable of the rich man teaches this principle in LUK 16:25, "But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented."
God seldom gives prosperity in this world to His people; prosperity by itself is not a good gift. "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows," 1TI 6:8-10.
Job understood that God's choicest gift is His restraining grace. "Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them," JOB 21:7-9. God's rod is chastening. Job understood that God's restraining hand, the chastening hand of God, was one of His good gifts. He saw that the wicked didn't have it.
Job saw how those who prosper in this world without any restraint from God's tender Fatherly hand had no desire after God. JOB 21:14-15 says, "Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?" They are questioning what they would gain. They have everything now, and since they are rich, they only look for any profit they might gain. God never brought His reproving hand upon them, therefore they did not desire Him.
God's dear children have a covetous heart by nature, but God will not allow them to prosper in this life to the destruction of their soul. Oh yes, we sometimes covet earthly prosperity. We labor with the sweat of our brows to become prosperous, but God will not give us the type of prosperity that would bring us to eternal destruction.
GEN 13:10-13 tells us, "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where...Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan...and they separated themselves the one from the other...and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." Abraham and Lot separated and chose different paths. Lot was one of God's dear children, but he coveted prosperity. He allowed himself to commingle with the people of Sodom. The Lord allowed him to prosper there for only a short time, and then destroyed it all. Sodom was destroyed, but Lot and his wife were taken out by the hand of an angel sent by the Lord.
When God sends hardships and sore trials in our lives it is not always a sign of His disfavor. The Lord loved Lot. Removing Lot from Sodom was a sign of His love. The token of the good gift that God gave to Lot was the destruction of what was destroying him.
Abraham, the father of the faithful obeyed God's command and left his country, kindred, and his father's house to go to the land of Canaan. What was the first thing Abraham experienced after he had obeyed and left everything to go to Canaan? There was a famine in the land! Why? As recorded in GEN 12:7-10, Abraham went, but he strayed from the place of God's fellowship by venturing beyond this place toward Egypt.
This famine was not only a sign of God's displeasure with Abraham for leaving the place of God's fellowship to venture toward Egypt, but it was also to try his faith to see if his heart was set on earthly riches or on the Lord his God. In that same chapter we read how Abraham was rich with much gold and cattle. What was his heart set on? This was the Lord's test. All of God's people are not in poverty. Some of God's people are very rich, but their hearts are not set upon their wealth.
If our business prospers, it may or may not be a sign of God's favor. The Lord often sends a spiritual famine with temporal prosperity. We must examine our hearts. If we find our heart in spiritual famine, then we must start looking at the source. We may find that we are putting ourselves in the place of the rich man, having our good things in this life because our hearts are set upon them. That is what we must check. Does it cause spiritual poverty? It will if our hearts are set on the things of this world. We must check our attitudes and the condition of our hearts.
Jesus said in His parable of the rich man in LUK 16:24-25, "And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus [one whom he had despised in his lifetime], that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. [The man was asking a small thing, one drop of cold water.] But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented."
The rich man saw what Job realized, that the Lord gave abundantly into the hands of the robbers. They had their good things in this life while Lazarus was in want, "but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." With all his excess, the rich man did not realize how he had tormented Lazarus who never received so much as the crumbs from his table, but now neither could Lazarus bring him one drop of water for his tongue.
God's good gift of correcting the son whom He loves is to remove that great gulf of sin and work repentance in his heart. Now see what Christ used to illustrate why Lazarus could not bring a drop of cold water. It is very important that we understand this. LUK 16:26 says, "And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed [his unrepented sin!]: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." That great gulf of sin was spanned by the Lord Jesus Christ for His people; but for those outside of Christ it is unpardoned sin that stands between them and who would be willing to bring that drop of cold water.
The rich man was in torment with the gulf of sin standing between him and the place of eternal rest. Do you see the good gift of our heavenly Father? For those whom He has loved from eternity He removes that gulf in this lifetime. He gave the gift of His own Son to take away their sins by the blood of His cross. He takes away unrepented sins by working repentance and bringing us as needy sinners before Christ, seeking a pardon for our souls.
Then the rich man pleaded for his five brothers; he asked to have Lazarus sent to warn them. Look, that poor man in hell didn't ask that he himself cross over, but he wanted Lazarus to cross that gulf to warn his brothers. However, he was not allowed to do it. "Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment," LUK 16:27-28. LUK 16:31 answers, "And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
See what happened literally when Jesus did raise a man named Lazarus from the dead. Did it bring those who were rich within themselves to repentance? "Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus," JOH 12:9-11.
See what happened when Jesus came out of the grave. "...some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day," MAT 28:11.
Many times a family must move from one area to another so they can come under a sound ministry or school for their children. My parents are an example. They were on a rented farm. The lease was up and could not be renewed. They found a beautiful farm, but they turned it down because they knew it would not be good for their children. It was too close to a town which did not have a school based on Godly principles. They chose another place that had much poorer buildings and soil, but it had a small country school where they could hire a teacher with Godly principles. See where their priorities lay. The Lord made the alternative choice available to them. We must consider the possibility of spiritual famine when we make our choices. They took the lesser to have a richer spiritual place for their children. Temporal values may not be the first consideration.
God's dealings in His providence are to draw our hearts out of the world and into His Word so our hearts become settled in the Word of God. David saw the preciousness of God's leadings in providence which drew him to love God's Word. See how the Word of God was David's desire in PSA 119:65-72, "Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. [The law of love] The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver." Do you see the value David placed upon the statutes of God and His law of love instilled in his heart? God's Word was far more precious to his soul than thousands of silver and gold.
We must learn to examine all our motives in the light of God's revealed will to see if they flow from the fountain of the law of love. See that connecting word in the next verse after our text! "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets," MAT 7:12. See the precious harmony there is between this and what Jesus said in MAT 22:40, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." In other words, it is the law of love; the golden rule demands that we treat our fellow man with love, denying ourselves, and preferring others ahead of ourselves.
Love is the end or purpose of the law as we see in 1TI 1:5, "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." That is the intent and purpose of the law. Everything hinges upon the word love. When God's blessing is withheld or we see His loving hand in providence, we must not immediately see it as a token of His disfavor, but we must stop to examine our motives to see whether God is trying our faith or sending correction.
Asaph was envious of the foolish when he saw the prosperity of the wicked, but when he was in the sanctuary, when he examined his motives, he saw their end. When his understanding was opened, he saw God's precious gift of correction and restraint. PSA 73:22-24 tells us, "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." Asaph saw the precious gift of the Father was in the central theme of love.
Our text says in MAT 7:11, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Many live in a spiritual famine because they ask not, and therefore receive not, they seek not, and therefore find not, they do not knock and therefore do not obtain entrance.
We are not only to open our mouth in prayer, but we are to open it wide as we see in PSA 81:10. "I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." The Lord shows us what He has delivered us from, telling us to look at all the things He has done for us. He has delivered us many times; remember them.
We also read in JOH 15:7, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." The Lord tells us that if we will come and seek Him, we shall find Him. If we will knock, He will open because if we who are evil can give good gifts, then "how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Amen.
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