Posts Tagged ask

Ask

Luke 4: 38 – 40

And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf. And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately arose and waited on them. And while the sun was setting, all who had any sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on every one of them, He was healing them.

We all know about Jesus who went about doing good (Acts 10: 38). What strikes me here is that Jesus wasn’t going around looking for someone to do good to. In these few verses there are two examples of people receiving healing. In neither case, though, did Jesus seek them out.

Jesus had been in the synagogue. When he and his disciples left there, they went to Peter’s house. “They,” whoever they may be, asked Jesus to minister to Peter’s sick mother-in-law. What would Jesus have done if no one had asked him to minister to her?

In the second scenario, Jesus may have been enjoying his after dinner cup of coffee when people began showing up at Peter’s front door. Again, Jesus didn’t go out looking for someone to pray for. People asked for prayer, for ministry. I am not suggesting that we should not initiate prayer or to be purposeful about praying for people. The point of this message is to observe Jesus and learn from him. Why didn’t he offer to pray for Peter’s mother-in-law? After dinner, why didn’t he go sit in the town square and call out to people? There may be something going on here.

In Matthew, chapter nine, we read about the woman who “had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak,” (Matthew 9: 20). She was instantly healed. Jesus didn’t seek her out either, but she had been “saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I will get well,’” (Matthew 9: 21). The woman initiated contact with Jesus. She pressed through the crowd to touch his garment believing that she would be healed with that touch. Jesus, realizing that power had gone out from him turned around and “seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ At once the woman was made well,” (Matthew 9: 22).

What is going on here? I think there is an important lesson for us to learn. Jesus said it in John 16: 24, “Ask and you will receive.” From his brother we learn, “You do not have because you do not ask,” (James 4: 2). I have been amazed at the reluctance people have shown to asking for prayer. If Jesus came to town, would we shake of our lethargy and actually seek prayer? People will tell me the incredible challenges they have gone through and I will think, “We have a prayer line on our website, why don’t people ask for prayer?” What is going on in our cultures that was not present during Jesus’ time? Is our attitude the result of the protestant reformation? Since we each have a direct pipeline to God, have we determined that we do not need to ask other people for prayer? Even knowing that I am a pastor, few people come to me and ask me to pray for them. Almost none ask me to lay hands on them for healing? Is this simply because we have not taught people to ask?

Well, I am teaching today! Ask! Are you sick? Do you have need of any healing for your body, mind, emotions? Ask. In the examples above, the people brought their faith for healing in their request. The woman with the hemorrhage demonstrated her faith, actually used her faith, to reach out to Jesus. Others went to Jesus seeking healing because they had faith that they would receive. He didn’t seek them out. They sought him. That was the measure of faith. Perhaps we ask not because we have no faith for healing. Perhaps we don’t ask because we are arrogant, or maybe bashful. On the one hand one might feel he can pray as well as anyone else. On the other hand, one may be too shy to ask. Here I am saying today, “Ask.” You have not because you ask not.

Be persistent. Be tenacious. Be determined to receive everything Jesus promised. It is not always easy to receive your answer. I know that but, sitting in the recliner complaining is probably not the answer either. Get in front of every preacher you know and ask them to lay hands on you and pray. Get your friends to anoint you with oil and pray. Go to our prayer line at Ivey Ministries (http://iveyministries.org/prayer-request/). Do something. God wants you whole too. Reach out to others and ask them for prayer. If you have already prayed about something and have not received the answer then get out of your comfort zone and ask someone to pray for you. Slay apathy and be a doer of the Word. Tug on Jesus’ robe and demand the promises fulfilled in your life. His answer is yes, but first, you have to 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.

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