Monthly Archives: November 2009
“As the heart is, so will the service be.”
Jeremiah Burroughs in Gospel Worship
“…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
Stories of God’s grace in the lives of His people. Watch videos of men and women who have had their lives transformed by Jesus Christ. They thought they were first. Now, they know they are second. Check out: I Am Second
Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
“It is a mercy that our lives are not left for us to plan, but that our Father chooses for us; else might we sometimes turn away from our best blessings, and put away from us the choices and loveliest gifts of His providence.” Susannah Spurgeon
“He chooses for his people better than they could choose for themselves. If they are in heaviness, there is a need-be for it, and he withholds nothing from them but what, upon the whole, it is better they should be without.” John Newton
Good Fathers: This post is a sequel to the previous post on Matt. 7:7-11.
Fathers have a natural tendency to have compassion on their children. They love them and want to give them the very best that they can provide. In fact, they work hard in order to give them everything that they need. Jesus picks up on this tendency of fathers when he uses a lesser to greater comparison between earthly fathers and our Heavenly Father. Earthly fathers, while being imperfect, still have a desire to be good to their children. Despite their sin, they seek to satisfy their child’s every need. No good father takes pleasure in giving his child a useless or dangerous gift.
When a child is hungry and asks for food, a good father will not give him a stone or a snake. That’s like giving your child garbage to eat and a bomb to play with. No one does that. A good father will do everything possible to satisfy his child’s need. In fact, there is nothing a good father would not do in order to provide for his children. Any good father would not hesitate to take on a second job, if that’s what it took to put food on the table. None of them would selfishly hoard the clothes on their backs, if his child were standing cold and naked. It is the natural tendency of every good father to have compassion on his children.
In the comparison that Jesus uses in Matthew 7:7-11, he mentions the hungry child asking for bread and fish. In that day, bread and fish were the staple diet in Jerusalem. Interestingly, these basic food items played a prominent role in two other occasions of Jesus’ ministry. Twice He provided food for the hungry when he multiplied the fish and the loaves to feed four and five thousand people. In the same way, God used His Son to provide for humanity’s greatest hunger—spiritual restoration. The same Jesus who multiplied the fish and the loaves, is the very Savior who paid the penalty of our sin and restored our fellowship with God. Through faith in the finished work of Christ, we are able to repent from our sin and receive the gracious provision of God.
Our Greatest Need:
In the Garden of Eden, Adam enjoyed complete fellowship with God. However, when sin entered the world and took up residence in Adam’s heart, it separated him from God. Sadly, sin also found a willing home in our own hearts. As a result, our relationship with God has been broken, too. Sin has rendered us unable to restore the relationship that we have lost. Not only have we all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), but we have tasted spiritual death, becoming children of wrath. Ephesians 2 describes every sinner as being dead in their trespasses and sins. There is no greater state of poverty than to be deprived of life. Our greatest need is to be made alive by being reconciled to God. We are poor and helpless apart from the grace of God. No dead man can make himself come back to life. Think about every funeral you’ve ever attended. Whether a close co-worker, a cherished family member, or a beloved friend; none of them had the power to raise themselves back to life. They remained cold, dead, lifeless, and powerless. That is how we are described as those who are under the effects of sin. We have no hope but to acknowledge our need and appeal to the mercy and kindness of God to save us.
At the Cross, God provided for our greatest need, because He is gracious. Through the death of His Son, we have been adopted into God’s family in order to become His children. As our Father, He has promised to give us every good and perfect gift. He will provide for both the physical and spiritual needs of His children. He has not saved them in order to let them go hungry or naked. Since God has provided for our greatest need—redemption, we can trust Him to provide for every other need that we have. If earthly fathers who are sinful can still give good gifts to their children, then how much more will our perfect Heavenly Father give good gifts to us!! That means that He will not give us any gift that will be useless or harmful to us, even if He must withhold a lesser good in order to accomplish a greater good. We only wait and have not, because it is best for us. We can trust that He will give us every good and perfect gift that we need. We know that He is good, because He demonstrated His own love for us while we were yet sinners. Christ died for us, and through His life we will be given every spiritual blessing that we need.
Since God has been so gracious to us, even when we don’t deserve it, we have been called to treat others with the same grace and love that we have received.
Blessings in Christ,
Matthew 7:7-11 “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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are 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!”
In this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was teaching a multitude of his disciples about the necessity and effectiveness of prayer. He urges them to ask God to meet their needs, and promises that answers will be given. They can trust God to provide for them, because He is a good and gracious Father.
I. Asking accomplishes two things. First, it recognizes our poverty, and second, it appeals to the mercy and kindness of God for provision. Without first acknowledging our need, we are unlikely to ever ask for help. in the first place. That truth is so obvious that we almost miss it. The reality is that we never even think to ask for anything unless we first feel that we are lacking in some way. Asking recognizes our inability to meet those needs on our own. Through asking we express dependence on God to do that which we cannot do by our own assets or abilities. It takes humility to ask for help since we must first acknowledge our dependence on God and then appeal to Him for help.
II. Jesus urges his listeners to “ask, seek, and knock,” and then promises that God will answer each accordingly. You see, God desires us to ask because He intends to answer. He takes no pleasure in withholding things from us. Sometimes we feel like God is holding out on us, but in reality He is only doing that which will bring us the greatest good. Jesus reassures us that God hears our prayers, and answers accordingly. Notice that each appeal is accompanied by a reciprocal promise: “Ask, and it will be given to you”; “Seek and you will find”; “Knock and it will be opened to you.” Each promise carries the certainty of fulfillment. There is an unmistakable clarity that God will provide. He not only hears, but He answers. This truth is further strengthened when Jesus repeats it a second time. “Everyone who asks, receives!” “The one who seeks, finds!” “The one who knocks will have it opened to him.” Jesus wants to make sure that the disciples get it. He’s telling them, “You can count on this!! Whatever you ask for, seek to find, and knock to have opened will be made available to you.” This is not a game, it’s a reality. Persistence will prevail. We must ask in earnest, seek in desperation, and knock with perseverance. A genuine appeal and a persistent petition will be answered in the way that God has determined is best for us.
Jesus’ point in all of this is not that God can be manipulated into doing whatever we want whenever we command him to do so. The point is that we must ask in order to receive, seek in order to find, and knock in order to have it opened. We must come to Him as the only One who can satisfy our need. He already knows what we need, but He wants us to come to Him as a demonstration of our dependence. When we come to Him, we show that we trust Him to provide in the wisdom of His timing and ways. In asking, He gets the glory and we get the answers. We receive what we need when we need it, and He receives the honor and glory that is due His name. As God has provided for our greatest need, so also may we trust Him to provide for every other need. God intends to provide for our physical and spiritual needs.
We can trust that God will provide for us, because He is our Heavenly Father. And we can trust that He will provide answers that are good for us. In the next post, we’ll look at how God is our gracious heavenly Father. We will also consider further how God has provided for our greatest need… redemption.
Until then, may I leave you with this one question: What are you asking God to provide, and do you believe the words of Jesus that God has promised to answer you accordingly?
Blessings in Christ,