Posts Tagged ask

Seeker

Matthew 7: 7 – 8

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you for every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.

I have a question for you today. Does or did Jesus have the capacity to tell a lie? Did Jesus ever tell one lie in his life? We need to know because he is the one who spoke these words we read today. Here is another question, is it possible that when Jesus said these words he meant them only figuratively? In other words, are the words in the quoted verses for today meant to express their literal meaning or are they some figurative, allegorical or metaphorical representation of another meaning? We need to know! Does Jesus mean what he said or was he speaking in nuanced riddles?

I looked up simile, allegory, metaphor and figurative and from the meanings I see there, none of them apply to these two verses. Still, many people excuse the literal meanings of Jesus’ words claiming that they represent some other ideas which are not actually spoken. Because Jesus sometimes taught by using parables, some people discount all of his speech as representative rather than literal. Okay, so let me ask you another question. Why would the Son of God, he who came to set us free and to lead us into truth and fullness of life, play cloak and dagger with his beloved? He came to earth to die for each and every one of us; he came to give his life a ransom so that we might be saved. Why then would he hide the ball from us? And yes, that was figurative language I just used and it was obvious and understood.

That is the point of figurative language. It is not meant to hide the truth. It is used to illustrate and make clear difficult concepts. Finally, if we intend to have a relationship with Jesus, one that is based on truth and trust, then we must believe his words have actual meaning. He spoke so that we could hear and be free. When he said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10: 10) we must assume and understand that those words mean exactly what they say. Otherwise they do not have meaning and frankly, the whole Bible is undermined. If Jesus wanted to communicate that the purpose of his coming to earth was to give us life, how else would he say it other than to use the words which have the meaning which normally and customarily mean just that? Do you see what I mean? Once a person reduces one of Jesus’ literal statements to fantasy or figurative poetry, then all meaning for all his messages is lost. Who can say which of his statements are mere figures of speech and which ones he actually meant as spoken? Honestly, it is beyond intellectual integrity for one to adopt this posture. It is the height of arrogance. People who excuse away Jesus’ words and meanings replace them with themselves and their reasoning. It is foolishness!

The point of all of this is that Jesus said that if we seek, we shall find. There is no figure of speech in that statement so really, the choice is whether or not we choose to take him at his word. Do we believe the Father of us all sent His only begotten son to earth to lead us into truth, wisdom, and freedom? Why would Yahweh, Abba Father, sacrifice His beloved on a cross for people He intended to mislead? Does that really make any sense at all? Jesus’ brother, James, said that we should ask God for wisdom promising that God would give it to us freely and without reproach (James 1: 5). Why, then, would God offer to give us all His wisdom yet cloak every word Jesus said while in the earth. It is illogical and unreasonable to believe that so, trust that Jesus came to open eyes and doors. Believe him when he says that if we ask, we shall receive. When we seek, we will always find. Knock on the door because Jesus is on the other side waiting to open it to you.

Jesus has so much for us. The Father invested everything He had to bring us into a personal relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit is hovering today with creative power in his hands. They long for us. Let our yearning reach out and take hold of the love offered. Ask, seek, knock . . . receive, find, be welcomed in.

The Giver of Bread

Matthew 6:11


Give us this day, our daily bread.
I wrote on this verse earlier this week. The emphasis then was twofold; first that bread must be received daily rather than weekly and second that Jesus is the bread. Today I want you to look at the first word of this verse and recall, as you do, that Jesus is teaching on how to pray.

I am struck by this word and this question occurs to me, “Why am I trying to earn a living when Jesus said to ask the Father to “give” me my daily bread?” It seems from this verse, and all that surrounds it, that providing my daily bread is Dad’s responsibility. It appears that my responsibility is to appeal to Him and to accept His gifts.

People get themselves very confused over whether Jesus’ teachings are metaphorical or literal. Let me answer that question for you. Yes!! They are both. One of the important lessons I have learned about Jesus and Yahweh is that they never only accomplish one thing. Dad may direct me to give money to a ministry in order to meet their need but His other goal and maybe even bigger aim is to bless me and meet my needs above and beyond all I can think. So in this verse Jesus is speaking very literally. He means for you to ask God to provide your daily sustenance and expect that the Father will. Jesus also means for you to understand the spiritual principle involved in receiving your daily needs from the Father. Yahweh is our provider. He is our source. Learn to expect Him to meet all of your needs. Secondly, understand that Jesus is the bread of life and ask the Father every day to give you more of this essential nutrient.

Believing

Matthew 21: 22

And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.
Wouldn’t it be nice if this verse simply said, “All things you ask, you shall receive?” But, there is that problematic word set off between the commas, believing. We receive all things which, when we pray, we believe we will receive. In Matthew 8: 13 Jesus told the Centurion, “[L]et it be done to you as you have believed.” That could be frightening if Jesus said that to many of us. We might be concerned that we will receive just exactly as we do believe. Is fear dominant or is faith? Most likely we have been receiving just exactly as we have been believing. 

 
In Mark 9: 23 Jesus told a petitioner, “All things are possible to him who believes.” The man immediately cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” The man had not been in faith when he first approached Jesus. He told Jesus that he had brought his son for prayer but that Jesus’ disciples had been unable to cast out the spirit which was oppressing the boy. Jesus responded “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to me.” The boy was delivered to Jesus and the boy’s father said to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Jesus must have been amazed at the father’s unbelief. He exclaimed, “If you can!” That is when Jesus said to the man, “All things are possible to him who believes.”
So whose unbelief was it that Jesus was speaking to? It is often presumed that Jesus was dismayed at his disciples and maybe he was. But take a look at this man. When the boy was taken to Jesus, he did not immediately pray for the boy. First he spoke with the father. He had to change the father’s unbelief into belief before he prayed for the boy. You see, it was the father’s unbelief that was keeping the boy imprisoned. When Jesus told the father that all things were possible to him if he would but believe he cried out, “I believe!” Well, that is a great start. First get your confession right. Say out of your mouth that thing which you need, the result you want. Secondly, knowing that he was no faith giant but rather was in unbelief, he asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief. That was the real issue. That was where Jesus had to minister. As soon as the father believed, Jesus was able to cast out the spirit. The boy was set free.

In order for us to receive the great gifts of the Lord, we too must cast out our own unbelief and become real believers. Pray to the Lord for help and work on believing Jesus. When he says a thing, just accept it. If it is too big for you, then ask the Lord for help in believing. This is how the whole kingdom of God works.

Make a Wish

1 Kings 3: 5

In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what you wish me to give you.”

Wouldn’t we all like for God to appear to us with the promise to grant whatever we wish? That is what happened to Solomon. As you probably know, Solomon asked God for an understanding heart so that he would know how to rule God’s people. God was pleased with Solomon’s wish and granted him not only great wisdom but also riches and honor. God also promised long life if Solomon would continue to walk in the statutes and commandments.

I wonder sometimes if God isn’t posing the same question to us today? Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7: 7). “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14: 14). Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full (John 16: 24). If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15: 7). Perhaps, then, it is true that the Father is making us the same offer He made Solomon.

What is your Solomon wish?

Looking for Love

Matthew 7: 7

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.

Many times I have asked the Father what He wanted me to preach on or to write about and the answer is always the same – LOVE. Above all else the message He wants communicated to all people is that He loves them. That is what He wants to tell you – that He loves you.

“Yeah, I know that,” you might say. I would ask you if you know that in your heart or in your head. Head knowledge about the Father’s love for us individually is almost insignificant. It is a beginning point but the knowledge of it will not change your life. It is the experience of God’s love that changes your life forever. You have heard the expression, “One touch from God will change your life forever.” That touch is a heart touch. It means that when God touches your heart you are forever changed. He doesn’t touch your thoughts or your intellect and those who are trying to live out of their intellect are fooling themselves. 

God is a heart God. Love is of the heart. None the less, many of us try to know God through our minds. You can know about God, but you can’t know God until you engage with Him at a heart level. Believe me, I was no happier to learn this truth than some of you but I am very glad that Yahweh, Father loved me enough to pursue me until I found my way. I was sincere in wanting to be close with Him so He kept pointing me in the right direction. Eventually I found the truth and that meant that I was going to have to surrender my heart and my emotions to Him. I had to let Him in to the deepest part of me and I found that was not my mind.

Now then, what does this have to do with today’s verse? Well, so many times we read this verse in terms of things we want or need or thinking of prayers we want answered. What if that for which you were seeking and asking was God Himself? Imagine that you can knock, and He will open for you. Ask for Him and He will come running. Seek Him and you will find Him. Above all the things we could seek, ask for or pursue, there is no prize greater than the Father. 

In order to know Him we must receive and know His love. When we seek Him and open our hearts to Him, He pours Himself into our lives. To seek Him is to seek love and to find Him is to find love. He wants you to not only know that He loves you but He wants you to experience His love in a very personal way. Won’t you let Him reveal His true nature to your heart in a greater way today? Will you open yourself to receiving the fullness of Him? He is waiting.

Snakes and Stones or Fish and Bread

Matthew 7: 7 – 11

“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or what if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

I know this is a very familiar passage of scripture but it bears looking at again and again. And even though it is well known I am unconvinced that it has really sunk into the hearts of believers.

We begin with the entreaty of Christ himself telling us to ask the Father for those things we seek. He would have no need to tell the people to make requests to God if they were already doing it. Moreover, Jesus knew well that the words he spoke while on the earth were not only for the people of that era but also for us. There is an emphatic plea in Jesus’ tone as he tried to encourage the Jews of then and us today to take our petitions to the Lord, our God. 

Ask, he says, and you will receive. Clearly the people were not asking but the important underlying point is that they did not ask because they did not believe God would answer. That is why Jesus went on to explain God’s willingness to answer prayer by comparing Him to an earthly parent. Surely, even a half-way decent parent would not give a child a snake in response to a request for a fish or a stone in place of bread and yet followers of Yahweh don’t even give Him that much credit. We have failed to recognize Him as a loving parent. Jesus calls us to look at ourselves and compare ourselves with the God and Father who created us. If we are virtuous enough to give our children that which is good how is it that we do not believe that our heavenly Father is virtuous enough to care for us? In our comparison somehow we subconsciously arrive at the conclusion that God is not a good parent. The result is that we don’t bother to ask because we do not believe that He will answer.

As I read this I am forced to ask myself if I believe Jesus. What was Jesus’ purpose in speaking these words? Is this just theology or is he trying to compel us to really treat God as a father? Does Jesus think that the comparison of God to an earthly parent is rational? And does he really believe that if you and I ask God for something that God will actually provide for us? Will God provide for me as He provided for Jesus?

As I sit here I invite you to join me in thinking about what you really want and what you really need. What is in your heart today? Is it something in the physical realm or something intangible? Can you imagine yourself seated at the kitchen table with your father God? What would you say to Him about this need or desire you have? Can you see Him as a loving parent who wishes to meet your needs and who also loves to bless you with gifts?

So much theology is put to right when we receive a revelation of God’s love. When we come to understand His heart and His deep love for us then all the pieces begin to fall into place. We have to shake off this idea of Him as a distant and removed God and get a revelation of Him as a loving parent. That is what Jesus tried to reveal to us and he is emphatic that we should treat God as a parent by asking, seeking and knocking. We have Jesus’ word that we will receive, the door will be opened and we will find that which we seek. Move outside of your experience and your philosophy today and attempt to hear what Jesus is saying. Sit with him and let him minister the nuance and implications of the words as well as their literal meaning. There is something important in this passage that Jesus is trying to convey to you today. Require him to give you the fullness of its meaning.

Inquire of the Lord

Joshua 9: 14

The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

Israel was a strong nation and feared by others because of their prowess in battle. The leaders of Gibeon devised a plan to trick the Israelites into making a treaty with them. Joshua and the other leaders of Israel looked at the evidence presented by the Gibeonites but they did ask the Lord for His wisdom and guidance.

I hate to see Joshua make this mistake because I like Joshua but in truth this is the same mistake I make frequently. There is no limit to the number of questions we can ask the Lord. There is no limit to the wisdom and instruction He will give us. So why don’t we ask God’s advice about everything we do? Is it that we are so self-reliant or do we just not think of it? Maybe we should tie a string around our finger.

God’s will is to level and pave the road before us. He makes our paths straight and level but when we do not inquire of the Lord we end up on the wrong road. Of course that road is rocky and hilly. Not only that but you will also find that God has placed plenty of provision along the road He has paved for you. There are rest areas and fuel stations, there is food and drink. Everything you need has already been staged on the path God has made for you.  

We need to train ourselves to ask for God’s input on every single thing we do. Believe me, He even cares about the smallest details of our lives. In truth, there are no big things to God so He doesn’t see any of our issues or questions as small matters. He is just as happy to advise you on which shoes you should wear today as which job to choose. And I think we need to get ourselves in the habit of asking Him about the small things so that when a larger matter comes up we have already developed a habit of going to Him with it.

There is no charge for every question over three that you ask God so you may as well talk with Him constantly and you don’t want to end up making a pact with the wrong crew just because you did not get heavenly advice first. So, make it your habit to inquire of the Lord in everything. I think you will find much smoother travels when you do.