Summary: It is just the asking, but what it is we are asking for that is important. And who we are asking is important too.
Passage: Matthew 7:7-12
Intro: So Jerry is standing in the 7-11, waiting to buy lottery tickets. And he is praying; hard!
1. he remembers a verse from his SS days about asking, seeking, knocking, and that God promised to give him whatever he asked for. He needs the $!
2. but that night, his tickets don’t win, and he is puzzled.
3. he asked, he knocked, he sought, but God did not come thru.
4. I suppose that casinos may be one of the last places in America where fervent prayer is offered, and where it will never be successfully outlawed!
5. it’s easy to look at this passage and come to this conclusion: that if we pray, we will get whatever it is we want.
6. but not only does our experience tell us this isn’t true, but more importantly, it is not what the passage says.
7. in fact, the passage promises far more than just what we may want in our flesh.
8. so we need to answer 3 questions:
9. Why are we seeking, who are we seeking, and what are we seeking.
I. Why? Because Without God We Are Spiritually Bankrupt
1. context is so important.
2. and can you imagine, after a long sermon elevating the spiritual and downplaying the physical, Jesus would tell us to ask for something physical?
3. He commands us here to seek, ask, and knock. Why?
4. you might feel like I do as we study this great sermon from the Lord.
5. week after week, day after day we are confronted with our inability to live it, frustrated by our flesh.
6. we try and make this great sermon into a list of rules we can live outwardly, but in our hearts we know there is no change.
7. and yet the answer to our frustration is right here in vv7-8.
8. we seek, we knock, we ask. And from outside of us (passive voice) comes the answer.
9. we do not possess the capacity in ourselves to satisfy this deep need for change.
Il) quote from spiritual self-help book.
10. but this does not account for the Biblical truth about us.
PP Romans 6:6-7
11. and when that new life of freedom is lived only in the power of God.
PP Romans 6:11
12. and very specifically, this blessed life is lived in the power of the Holy Spirit
13. so we seek, and ask, and knock to gain what only God can give us, and is eager to give us.
14. And God only gives good gifts, which by His definition have to be eternal and spiritual.
15. and these are things only he can accomplish.
II. Who? The One Greater than All of Us
1. in vv9-11, Jesus makes a powerful comparison.
2. he chooses a very strong human relationship, parent and child.
3. and he focuses on the best parents, the ones who would do anything for their children.
4. and he asks questions that are designed to produce a negative answer.
5. stone instead of bread, snake instead of a fish. What parent would do that?
6. we might snap our suspenders and conclude we are pretty good as providers.
7. but frankly, our parenthood is a dim shadow of the gracious and generous love of God for His children.
8. “how much more will your Father…”
9. human fathers are generous to a degree; to their own children, often based on what they deserve, sometimes receive toys to compensate for the true gift of time and relationship.
10. we have learned that God’s gifts are good because He is good and wise and other-focused and loving.
11. so we ask Him to bless us with good things, and let Him be the definer of what good is.
PP Romans 8:28
12. and we ask him, and seek from him, and knock at his door, because we know what He offers is always good.
III. What? To Partner with God
1. v12 is a real puzzle. What is it doing here?
2. a lot of solutions, but the “so” connects it to what goes before, and the question is “how far back does it reach?”
3. I’m going to assume that it as least reaches back to v7, and applies this passage to us
4. What is God like according to this teaching?
5. a kind. loving, gracious, generous Father whose purpose is to bless His children.
6. He will do that in the face of rebellion, resistance, sin, denial of His existence.
7. so then, v12, the Golden Rule
8. be so much like God that, instead of treating others as they deserve to be treated, or treating them kindly so they will treat you kindly…
9. or even not treating them in ways you would not want to be treated.