“Is ‘Ask and Receive’ Absolute?” (Mt 7:7-11)
NOTE: This is what I take into the pulpit. There are devices I use like bold, underline, and italics. This is an “oral manuscript” designed to help me stay with the train of thought. More is said than written below and I don’t read the manuscript. Blessings.
SHORT 7:6 explanation. Some, who because of their disposition and/or attitude, aren’t to be told the precious truths of God as it results in being attacked. So we don’t speak God’s truths. This is what most commentators wrote. (PAUSE) For me, Mt 7:7-11 is more important at this point in (This congregation’s) life.
INTRO: Oh how we love this passage! Many take it to mean whatever we ask in faith, God WILL give! They add, prayer in faith will cast aside mountains (Mk 11:23). This is a corrupt theology and based on the Health, Wealth and Prosperity gospel. Not us!
Many (Most?!) believers apply Mt 7:7 to: Health… career… physical safety… children’s well-being… social unrest… international problems, etc. Mt 7:7 does NOT (!) apply to those! Hear that? I suggest the vast majority of prayer based on Mt 7:7 is WRONGLY understood!
NOTE! I’m NOT suggesting that we shouldn’t pray for the sick, our families, career, or many other things. We should! We should be pray for God’s glory in all those things first. (PAUSE)
Aside: Now let me show you why we follow an “It’s next” philosophy in preaching.
Two weeks ago we examined Mt 6:25-34. Jesus addressed what is important and what isn’t. What is to dominate our heart and what mustn’t. He sets forth why His followers aren’t to be anxious (Worry) about anything temporal. What are they? Reminders from Ch 6 helps w/ today’s passage…
25, “Life more than food, & the body more than clothing…” 26, “Our heavenly Father feeds (the birds). Are you not of more value than they?” 30, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive & tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you?” 32 “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” 33 “But seek first the kingdom of God & His righteousness, & all these things will be added to you.”
Those truths drive our life… including how we pray! But do they? Consider a few things: 1) Only when something is important do we pray passionately, 2) We can discern what is most dear to us by examining what we pray about. 3) We pray when we believe only God can intervene and change things. Dare we examine our prayers by these matrix?
I’ve been a minister of the Gospel a long time. Most prayer meetings are devoted to the sick. It seems we’re more concerned to keep believers out of heaven than sinners getting into heaven. Alas, we need to move back to our focal text in Mt 7:7…
There is a companion passage in Lk 11:9-13, which is the exact same but for one phrase. Instead of “How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” In Lk 11:13, “How much more will the heavenly Father give The Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Did Matthew get it wrong… Have a lapse in memory… Misquote Jesus? No… none of those.
Luke interviewed many people to write his Gospel (Lk 1:1-4). He probably talked to Matthew & certainly others who heard Jesus. OR Luke asked Mt to define “good things.” Thus another possibility…
There’s no contradiction! The BEST “good” IS The Holy Spirit! Right? Since intimacy with God should be our goal (Rather than this world), shouldn’t we ask God for ULTIMATE GOOD? He knows we “need” stuff (Life, clothes, food) & He provides them. So those don’t dominate our prayer time. Then remember… Jesus did teach “Give us the day our daily BREAD.”
Jesus’ point in Mt 7 & Lk 11 is clear: 1) God knows our need, 2) God will provide, 3) So our energy should most focus for things of eternal importance that glorify Him!
Let’s press the point a little. We can discern our heart by examining our prayers. Being honest with ourselves… when we pray, what do we pray about most? Not to imply some Christians don’t pray. I’m talking about devoted prayer… extended prayer… concentrated prayer.
So let’s take seriously the promises of Mt 7:7-10… 1) We’re given what we ask for! 2) Find what we seek! 3) Doors are opened! (PAUSE) Why are these things promised? Because of who God is!
Earthly parents DON’T give their children what harms them. WHAT HARMS THEM. I hope I’m not getting too literal here… but Jesus didn’t say they WOULD give them bread OR fish either! But evil parents (All are evil compared to God) gives ONLY what doesn’t harm. What?!
Let’s say a child is hungry, asking for potted meat & a piece of bread. But the parent, because of their love, doesn’t give those… BUT RATHER a rib eye steak (Cooked to perfection), Chicken & dumplings, sausage balls (My 2 favorites!), gourmet bread with hand churned real butter, & their favorite dessert?
Will the child object? Will they turn that meal down for potted meat & A slice of bread?! NO! They will realize their parent (Though evil) gave them better & more than what they asked for.
Now look at Mt 7:11, “If you… who are evil… give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give GOOD THINGS to those who ask Him! Because God loves His own, He will not… Will Not… WILL NOT, give them anything but good… no matter what it is they ask for! God will give what HE knows & determines is good over their request! Consider Ro 8:31…
If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?
For His children, God HAS ALREADY given what is most loved by Him… HIS SON! Since He has ALREADY given us THE greatest & most valuable thing to Him (Jesus!), it is impossible for Him to give after that anything BUT what is good for us.
In essence God is saying through Paul (Ro 8:26-17, 28-29, 31-32) “If something is ultimately good for you, I will give it. If it isn’t, I won’t.” At this point let’s contemplate something as a result of the “How much more will God give good things.” Here it is…
Do we believe God (Not IN God)… trust God (Pr 3:5)… know God loves us (Jn 3:16)? Is HE our reward (Ps 84:11)? Or is He our spiritual Santa Clause? As many preachers have quoted each other, “The most important thing about us is what we believe about God.”
IF (!) we believe God, trust God, & know He loves us… our attitude toward Him regarding our requests AND the response He gives will always be met with submission & thankfulness. Not (!) with disappointment, frustration, or resentment. We will glory in His answers because we trust/know He will ONLY give us what is best for us. What benefits us most from an eternal perspective.
Back to a previous thought about “good” being the H.S. in Lk 11:9-13. Listen to Jn 16:7…
I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.
Jn 14:25 These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper (“Comforter” KJV), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name… 27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you… Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
In Jesus’ human form He could only be in one place at a time. The Apostles couldn’t imagine life without Him present. But, Jesus ascending to heaven was better than staying here. His ascension meant God’s omnipresence. There would never be a time, place, or believer w/out God’s presence… strength… or comfort! Do we believe that? Do we embrace it? Do we rest in that?
“God with us” (Emmanuel) means them… me… you… us. Then… After… Now… ALWAYS! Had Jesus NOT ascended and the Holy Spirit. NOT have been sent, and Paul couldn’t have written 2 Cor 1:3-7…
Blessed be the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
Now: When we pray… whatever we ask… in whatever situation… without exception, God gives us the highest best, what we need most… THE HOLY SPIRIT. Here’s why…
The REAL desire behind our every request is peace, contentment, safety, or hope. We define those in terms we best feel (A raise, health, job, etc). God may/might grant our request… but those can be lost. SO, He gives what satisfies our deepest need and CAN’T be lost: Peace, joy, contentment that can’t be lost. HIMSELF!
It comes down to this… what satisfies us most? God or temporal things? 1 Jn 2:16…
All that is in the world— the desires of the flesh & the desires of the eyes & pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires…
PRAYER: Oh God… deliver us from the flesh! Help us to desire you most! Give us more of You… more of your Son… more of the Spirit! Help us to hunger & thirst for righteousness! Father help us to be completely satisfied in You as the greatest good we can receive…
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