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Re-Thinking Your Faith and, "IT"

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(5/12) I. Introduction Ė

A. Calendar Ė Motherís Day Ė I was surprised to learn that Motherís Day though just a little over 100 years old in America is not an American idea. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a Motherís day of sorts and the Catholic Church had a special day to honor Mary, the mother of our Lord. England then came up with a Mothering Day during the Lenten period that allowed workers to travel to be with family and to temporarily break their Lenten fasts. In 1908, a lady named Anna Jarvis petitioned the superintendent of the church where her Mother had spent over 20 years teaching Sunday School to have a special service to honor mothers. Her request was honored, and on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother's Day celebration took place at Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia and a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The West Virginia event drew a congregation of 407 and Anna Jarvis arranged for white carnations ó her Motherís favorite flower ó to adorn the patrons. Two carnations were given to every Mother in attendance. Today, white carnations are used to honor deceased Mothers, while pink or red carnations pay tribute to Mothers who are still alive. Its interesting that Ms. Jarvis wanted Moms honored by attending church and remembering what they had taught their children and she became very upset when the day soon became commercialized.

I sincerely hope that all the moms have a great day. When I think of Motherís day, I often think of such passages of scripture that speak of a Motherís character like Isaiah 49:15-16, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.," There may be times when it seems like God has forgotten you but He hasnít, He has your name tattooed on His hands so He wonít ever forget you. Ever do that? Write notes on your hands, so you donít forget, or use a rubber band or a ribbon, or wear your watch on the other hand to remember something? Another is Isaiah 66:12-13, "For thus says the Lord: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried, And be dandled on her knees 13 As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem." Godís promise to Israel is that he will comfort her just like a Mother comforts her children. Momís your hearts of compassion and care come from the creator. While He is addressed as our Father. He cares like a mother. Letís thank God for moms.

 

B. Concluding the Sermon on the Mount Ė Our Lord is bringing the Sermon on the Mount to a conclusion. Many think that that our text today is finishing the body of the sermon to the people and the remainder is His invitation and a warning to watch out for wolves. But I have to tell you that todayís text is another hard one for me. I honestly believe that most of the commentaries I have studied on this have it wrong. I asked my pastor friends what they think the, "It," refers to in verses 7-8? Some think it simply refers to whatever we pray for in the will of God. But I donít think so and I will tell you why. First, letís consider the context. Real Estate agents say that the 3 most important things about Real Estate are location, location, and location. Well, three of the most important things about Bible study are context, context, and context. The Bible was not written as a whole bunch of loose sayings. A word must be understood in its sentence. A sentence must be understood in its paragraph. A paragraph must be understood in its chapter. A chapter must be understood in its book; and the book must be understood in the whole of the Bible. Someone once said, that a text taken out of context becomes a pretext for whatever you want. Most cults or false teachers take texts out of their context. They use truth to teach false doctrine as Iíll show you in a few weeks. The commands we will look at must be taken in their context.

II. The Context Ė

A. Preaching the Kingdom -The Context of the Sermon on the Mount is the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 4:17 says that Jesus went everywhere preaching, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." 4:23, says He went preaching, "Öthe good news of the Kingdom." In this sermon He tells us that only the Poor in Spirit will have the Kingdom of Heaven, (5:3). He tell us that unless your righteousness exceeds the religious elite, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven (5:20). Whenever we pray we are to pray for the Kingdom to come (6:10). And we are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and God will take care of you (6:33). In a few weeks we will see that in 7:21 not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord," will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom is central to this sermon and to the gospel of Matthew.

B. People of the Kingdom Ė The bulk of this sermon is about the people who want to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven. Their lives have to be different than the religious people around them. Kingdom people are different. Faith is a matter of the heart and not an adherence to rules. Kingdom people seek to be like their Father in Heaven. They seek reconciliation, love their wives, speak truth, donít take stupid oaths to try to look good, they go the extra mile, and treat their enemies with grace. They pray to honor their Father and not to impress people, they donít stockpile stuff; instead, they use stuff to honor their Father. Kingdom people donít worry about stuff, because they know they have a Father who is committed to caring for them. I learned this little poem years ago, "Said the robin to the sparrow, 'I should really like to know why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so.í Said the sparrow to the robin, 'Friend, I think that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.'" Kingdom people trust God, their Father, to care for them. Kingdom people arenít judgmental and critical of appearance or assumption of motives. They use introspection before helping others. Yet they are discerning of those who are vicious and angry with their faith.

III. The Command- (vv. 7-11) And, then we have this command which, like the verse before it, seems to be out of place.

Ask, Seek, and Knock Ė Most everyone sees this as an encouragement to pray and to pray persistently for what you want. But I donít think so, and Iíll tell you why in a moment.

IV. The Content of A.S.K. (vv. 7-11)

A. Prayer Ė The content is that we are asking our Father in heaven for something or some things; therefore, it is praying. But I do not believe that it is a Carte Blanc promise; that is, that it is for whatever you want to ask for? Listen, neither do I believe that it is about praying for the will of God. I donít know how prayer works. I wish I did. I wish I knew the secret for accomplishing all that I know to be Godís desired will. By the way, there is a difference in Godís desired and declared will, and Godís determined will. Godís determined will is going to happen no matter what. Jesus is going to return, the world will be judged, Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire, and the Just will live forever with God and will reign over the universe with Him, and nothing can stop that-it will happen.

But Godís desired, and declared will doesnít always happen even when we pray hard and persistently, because it often involves natural consequences and the free will of individuals. Some simply will not be saved, though God desires all to be saved. Some marriages will dissolve though people pray and God desires lifetime one-ness. Some prodigals donít come home though parents pray hard. Some Churches split, though God desires unity and people pray hard for reconciliation. And children and other loved ones die, though God desires health and life and parents pray hard.

But, this promise is that everyone who asks for "It," receives, "it," and all who seek, "it," find "it,", and everyone who knocks has, "it," opened. The only condition is persistent asking, seeking and knocking for the words Ask, Seek, and Knock, are in a continuous mode. Keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking. It is not a one and done prayer. Last summer we went over a host of reasons why God sometimes says, "No," and sometimes says, "Not now," which, in essence, is a no for now. We also went over conditions for praying; that is, Godís will, in obedience, staying clean, in Jesusí name, to glorify God, patiently, persistently, etc.

So while this is praying, it is seems to encourage praying for something that seems to be understood in this sermon.

B. Persistence - The fact that it is praying persistently, or continuously leads me to believe that what we are to be praying for involves something we need regularly, much like our need for food, air, rest, water, love etc. Again, the Greek tense says, keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. So, this is not a one and done deal. So what is it that is implied, that we are to Ask, Seek, and Knock for? What do the Scriptures assure us that we will receive, find, and have opened to us? What does the text of our Lordís sermon tell us to Ask for, Seek for, and Knock for? Letís consider these:

C. Parameters Ė I am convinced that based on the context and the Bible as a whole, are certain things God will always give when we ask, seek or knock for them. They include Asking, Seeking, and Knocking for:

1. God as our Father (not religion) The Beatitudes spoke of Peacemakers as being the Sons of God, as does the part of being good to oneís enemies shows that you are sons of your Father in Heaven, and the One who we address in our prayers is "our Father in heaven, and the one who knows our needs is our Father, yet few Jews, if any, ever referred to the creator and all sovereign God as their Father. The law was taught to them as religion to be performed, not to bring them to a Father to embrace. Listen to these verses:

a. Jer. 29:11-13, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

b. Deut. 4:29, "But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul."

c. 2 Chron. 15:4-5, "For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law; 4 but when in their trouble they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them." The promise is that if you want to know God personally, intimately, as your Father and not just have some feel good religion, or some system of doís and doníts to achieve, you will find Him waiting to adopt you as His child. Jesus said, He who comes to me I will in no way cast out. God receives and adopts everyone who receives Jesus as Savior and Lord (John 1:11-12). All who seek Him find Him. All who call to Him are saved. Cornelius did, the Ethiopian Eunuch did, Rahab did, Ruth Did, I did, many of you did and you all can too. If your heart searches for God you will find Him.

2. The Kingdom Ė This whole sermon is about being part of the kingdom of Heaven. Where God rules, and we serve our Father who is the King, and our Fatherís will and business is our will and business. Those who are poor in Spirit are the ones who are favored by God to have the Kingdom. Just 8-9 verses earlier our Lord taught us to seek the Kingdom of God as our priority in life. The Kingdom of Heaven or of God includes eternal life, salvation, forgiveness, the peace of God, and so much more. It includes inheriting the earth when our Lord returns to reign as its King. Seeking the kingdom is seeking to have the King as your Lord and your submission to Him and His rule in your life. Thatís why Paul would say that whoever confesses Jesus as Lord and believes that he died for you and rose again will be saved, (Romans 10:9-10). "Whoever comes to me", Jesus said, "I will in way cast out."

In a similar sermon as this one, our Lord told the disciples in Luke 12:29-32, "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things[c] shall be added to you. "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Fatherís good pleasure to give you the kingdom. And again in Luke 22:28-30, 28 "But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom. We have already seen that to enter that kingdom, oneís righteousness must be different than that of the scribes and Pharisees (5:20) and Our Lord told Nicodemus that unless one is born again, He cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:3-7). Daniel 7:18 says, "But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.í

3. Wisdom Ė cp. James 1:5 Ė "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." Knowing how to respond to people and circumstances is an ongoing need. Every day we are faced with decisions and reactions and as servants of the King we want to honor and be obedient to the King. But how do we know when to judge and / or be discriminating? How do we know the people, we are to help, from the vicious dogs and hogs? How do we know how to help? The answer is, we ask and seek. Proverbs 2 says that wisdom comes from the mouth of God and Solomon uses the first 9 chapters of Proverbs to stress the importance of acquiring wisdom no matter the costs. Listen to just a few verse from Chapter 3:13-18, "Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; 14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold.15 She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. 16 Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her. Remember when God told Solomon that He could have whatever He wanted. What did Solomon ask for? "Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" (1 Kings 3:9) If you will study this book and ask God, He will give you wisdom to know what to do and how to do it as you seek to honor Him in your life decisions.

4. Power/Ability/Holy Spirit. In a similar teaching in Luke 11, Jesus literally says, that your Father will give you the Holy Spirit. Now that was before Pentecost and the Holy Spirit did not permanently reside in each person who believed, as He has with every believer from Pentecost to now. The Holy Spirit came upon people to enable them to accomplish Godís will, as He did with Samson, Saul, and David. What God asks us to do in trusting Him and forgiving and loving enemies and walking by faith requires super-natural ability and He promises that ability in His Holy Spirit, our Helper, Counselor, Comforter, Teacher, and Enabling power. All who seek the King are given the Holy Spirit. Peter says in Acts 2:38-39, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." He comes to permanently live in each believer; forever (John 14:16-17), and seals us as Godís possession until the day our bodies are redeemed (Eph. 4:30), which is why I strongly believe in eternal security. I am adopted by my Father and I have the permanent, forever, indwelling of His Holy Spirit to help me to do Godís will and understand His word (2 Cor. 2:9ff; 6:18-20). And, you who have the Holy Spirit, are capable of so much more than you can ever begin to think or imagine. "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us," (Eph. 3:20). Oh, the wonderful things we could do if we really allowed the Holy Spirit to use us and work through us!

5. Righteousness Ė We are told that if we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we shall be filled, satisfied, and nourished with it. Our Lord said that if we seek it along with the Kingship of God He will take care of us. But we are also told it has to be different than just keeping rules in 5:20, it has to be a matter of the heart. Seeking righteousness is seeking to be right with God and seeking to stay right with God and seeking do right for God. It is seeking for rightness to be done in our community, church, county, and country. The wisdom of God tells us what is right, the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do right.

6. Forgiveness Ė His righteousness includes being forgiven. While we receive positional forgiveness the instant we repent and yield to the King, we all still sin and need parental forgiveness from our Father daily. We are instructed to pray for it in the Lordís Prayer and to give it to others. Here is the deal. God always forgives a heart that is genuinely repentant. Always! But a repentant heart must be one that is as willing to forgive as it is to be forgiven. There is one unforgiveable sin for Christians and that is un-forgiveness. You canít be parentally forgiven of un-forgiveness until you give forgiveness. Itís that simple. Thatís why He includes 6:14-15.

7. Grace and Faith Ė Sometimes we want to believe and trust God to take care of us, but it doesnít always come natural to us, or in the words of Ringo Starr, "You know it donít come easy." Like the man with the possessed son, we cry, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." Grace and faith are gifts given to us by God when we trust Him. We need to ask every day, for the faith to trust God and the Grace to display our faith. We will see more of this next week. When Paul prayed and asked God to remove his thorn, God said, Ďno,í but He gave Paul sufficient Grace to deal with it as well as the grace to use it to help others.

8. Peace Ė Our worries, stresses, and anxieties rob us of the peace that we seek for our souls. We want that settled tranquility that no matter what is going on outside, it is will be well with my soul. The promise of God is that He will give perfect peace to those who keep their minds secured on Him, "You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You." (Isa. 26:3) and again, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7) This is what he is telling is 6:25-34.

9. Needs / daily bread Ė Matthew 6:11 tells us to ask for our daily bread and verse 8, Jesus says that our Father knows our needs before we ask, as He does again in 6:32-33. But He assures us that if we ask and seek His kingdom and righteousness as our business, He will take care of our business and supply our daily needs. Thatís the promise.

D. Promise vv. 7- 8 "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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." This is a no excuses, no conditions, not a hit or miss, good luck with this statement; these things are promised to all who ask, seek and knock for them.

E. Parental Provision Ė Our Lord Jesus is encouraging us to trust the Father the same as we want our children to trust us. The word, evil, isnít referring to people who just want to bad stuff and hurt others for pleasure, but evil in the sense of having a selfish sin nature. Sometimes we may get so involved with our own projects or interests that we may forget a promise we made or a special event in our childrenís lives, but seldom do we neglect our children intentionally. In fact, we try to move heaven and earth to make our children happy. If we, who are selfish and sinful by nature, do our best to take care of and not disappoint our children. If we would never intentionally hurt our children, neither will our perfect and all powerful Father in heaven hurt or disappoint us. He will deliver these things I have just shared with you. He doesnít promise to heal all your loved ones, or to save every marriage, or program every church to unity, though these are His desired will. People have free wills, and while God may bring events to encourage them to do right things, some like Cain choose to do what they want instead. Neither does He promise to stop bad things from happening to good people, though it is His desired will that people be protected and joyful. However, He does promise to give these 9 things to all who Ask, Seek and Knock.

Letís wrap this up. There are lots of things that we want. Many of these things we know are Godís desired will. He has declared them in His word. Some of things that we want are things that we believe will make our lives easier or happier or we know they are things our Lord has said are good and right. So we ask for God for everything. Some of the things are troubles that we ask God to remove from our lives as Paul did with His thorn, and our Lord did with the cup He had to drink. We are instructed to ask and ask persistently for these things, but there is no guarantee with them, for sometimes circumstances and consequences must play out, and God doesnít often force people to act against their will. So, we often ask for God to adjust circumstances so people have an opportunity to make better decisions. And we are told to pray persistently. We never know how or when the circumstances will change or people will make better decisions or God will intervene.

But this we know, everyone who seeks God to be their Father, seeks to repent and submit to His Kingship, seeks the Kingís wisdom, the Kingís power, the Kingís righteousness, the Kingís forgiveness, the Kingís Grace, Faith, and Peace, and the Kingís provision will receive it. Those things make up the, "It," that our Lord promises.

Are you Asking for It?

Are you Seeking It?

Are You Knocking for It to open to you? Never stop, keep on. While Your Father, and the Kingdom, and the Holy Spirit are forever yours; you need His wisdom, His Ability to know and do what is Right, His Grace, His Forgiveness, His Faith, His Peace, and His Provision daily. Ask daily and often and He has promised you, His child, that you will have what you need. Letís pray for them now.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman