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A Practical Help for Christian Living

22/07/2018

A Practical Help to Live for Christ

Text. Matthew 7:7
Why is Jesus going back to talk about prayer? After all he has comprehensively dealt with this in Ch6. But consider the challenge of verse 1-6! It must have left the disciples reeling!

  • Don’t judge others – but exercise judgement!
  • Don’t be a hypocrite – be a critic!
  • Be humble, and meek, but don’t be so humble and meek that you are fooled by people..

The disciples must have been astonished. How are we going to put all this into practice in our lives? John Scott referred to the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount as a Christian Counter Culture. If that was so when he was writing back in the 1970’s, how much more today. Christianity is the direct opposite of the culture around us. How are these disciples, and us, going to undo everything that they have been taught by the world, and their upbringing and their culture and adopt a way of life that is entirely different? The answer is so simple. ASK GOD YOUR FATHER FOR HELP.

That’s why Jesus returns to our relationship with God – for without such a relationship, without a transformation of our lives and the indwelling Holy Spirit, who would be able or willing to obey this teaching.  And relationship with God means PRAYER. Is it any wonder then that Jesus returns to this very important subject? What can we learn?

1 God Wants Us to Pray. 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Our Heavenly Father delights in hearing his children ask! Of course he already knows what we want, he knows our hearts and our thoughts, he knows what we need, better still he knows what is good for us. Yet he still wants us to ASK, to SEEK and to KNOCK. What does he mean? Notice that each of these words is seemingly progressive:-

  • Ask. 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; Asking implies humility, admission of our own inability to do anything without Jesus, without the help of the Holy Spirit. The word Αιτειτε is the way an inferior person asks his superior, how a soldier addresses an officer, how a child should address an adult etc. It is to place oneself in a humble position, and come before the Lord, as one who needs help from him, – not declaring, not demanding, not claiming, but praying. Here’s an example of it from Luke 18:13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
  • Seek. seek, and ye shall find; Seeking is more than asking. Asking is something passive, a humble petition, but seeking is active. Hendrickson in his commentary on Matthew points out that this is akin to praying for a deeper knowledge of the Scriptures, without ever actually opening a bible or reading one. It just won’t work. Our response to the prayer we have prayed would be to diligently search and examine the scriptures that we want to learn more of. John 5:39.
  • Knock. knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Another step. Knocking is asking, seeking and persevering. Knocking again and again until the answer comes.

Now be aware that this is not just a command, it is a command with promise, for every one of these actions is rewarded. The one who asks will be given, the one who seeks will find and the one who knocks will find that the door is opened. Prayer, accompanied by active faith and perseverance will always be answered.
Furthermore, we must pray in every circumstance! The very same exhortation is used in Luke 11:9, in a very different context.  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

2 God Answers Our Prayers. 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Our God delights to answer our prayers. After all, he is our Father! Let’s remind ourselves of what this means, in the words of HC 120. Why has Christ commanded us to address God as our Father? To awaken in us at the very beginning of our prayer that childlike reverence and trust toward God which should be basic to our prayer: God has become our Father through Christ and will much less deny us what we ask of him in faith than our fathers would refuse us earthly things.
To illustrate this, Jesus refers to the relationship between a child and their earthly father. We are made in God’s image, and because of that we demonstrate some of his attributes, albeit imperfectly, and marred with sin. Even the ungodly person, whose true spiritual father is Satan, was made bearing the image of God, that image marred by sin, even they know to be good to their children, as far as they are able. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? Fathers in general love to be good to their children. Not all, we know that there are bad parents and abusive fathers, but by and large, we tend to spoil, to overindulge our children… we are sometimes too good to our children!
Now, let’s see how Jesus applies that to us in v 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? What an amazing verse! It is full of encouraging words for the believer…

  • Our Father loves to give! He is a giving God. A hymn writer wrote, His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus. He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
  • He gives us GIFTS. Freely given, for a gift is an act of grace, there is no charge, – and God doesn’t give us a gift in order to receive one in return.
  • He gives us GOOD gifts! Gifts that are good in nature, in substance, and gifts that are good for us. He won’t give us anything that is bad for us. Even our human fathers know that. Jesus graphically illustrates this point… If a son asks for bread will his father give him a stone? A thing that looks like bread, but really is just a worthless, harmful imitation. If a son asks for a fish will his father give him a scorpion? That would have been such an act of deception that it would be unworthy of any father worth the name.
  • Our Father is accessible! Joel Beeke tells the story of the great Princeton Theologian B B Warfield, who when appointed to his post as professor of theology at the great institution was rewarded with a new home, and grand house with a wonderful room as a study for the great man to read and prepare his lessons. They asked him if he needed anything else and he replied, “Yes please. Can you please lower the door handle on the study door?” I’m sure they were shocked – why such an unusual request? “Because I am not only a pastor and a teacher, I am a father, and no matter how busy in my study I may be, I am never too busy for my child. He needs to be able to open the door to get to me at any time.” Just like our God. Our Heavenly Father loves us and will supply all our needs, but he wants us to ask! And he is never too busy, and the door handle is never out of reach for us.
  • He gives us the greatest gift of all! He gives us himself, in the person of His Son, John 3:16. This is the proof, if ever it were needed that God loves to give good gifts to his children. 2 Cor 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. Such an amazing promise.

3 The Practical Effect of a Prayerful Life. Our relationship with God changes our relationship with others. 12 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.
Jesus reminds us that as His children, it is our desire to do good to others as he has done good to us. There is no greater good that we could do for others than to introduce them to Jesus, our Saviour.  When we know the goodness and the generosity and the grace of God our father, we want to bring others to him too, so that they too will be preserved and blessed and provided for by Him too.

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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