A God Who Wants to Give
“7 Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him. 12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (atthew 7:7-12).
Introduction: Gift giving is one of the 5 Love Languages. Although many enjoy receiving gifts, fewer actually enjoy giving them. If I were to ask, “What was the greatest gift someone ever gave you?” what would you say? (Pause for responses.) Now, if I asked, “What was the most meaningful gift you’ve ever given?” what would you say? (Pause for responses.) Today’s sermon focuses on a God who wants to give. And He not only wants to give, but He also wants to give you good things? In today’s passage, Jesus gives us more insight on how to pray to God the Father, particularly when it comes to asking for good gifts from our good God.
Well, today we’re going to see three actions that we are to take when it comes to God’s good gifts. Then we’ll shift our focus to the results of those faithful actions. In all of these actions and results, we MUST know that everything is dependent upon a Good God.
First…Ask (vs. 7) – 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you…”
Remember, Jesus has already spoken to us about prayer starting back in Matthew 6. However, in this passage, Jesus zeros in on the aspect of petitioning God for good gifts. Should we ask for gifts? I know we teach our children not to ask for them…we discourage asking for gifts because it’s rude and selfish. But in this case Jesus is telling us to do it and how to do it. Of course, He’s not talking about toys or frivolous things. He’s talking of righteous gifts…godly gifts…truly “good” gifts. Why should we ask for good gifts? How should we ask God for good gifts?
- Why ask? – We see here from Jesus this instruction to actively ask God for His blessings. Simply put, we are to ask because we lack something…we ask because we do not have…we ask because we need what we are requesting. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). We could all use wisdom. Some have a good measure of it, and quite honestly, some lack it completely. Ask for wisdom.
A man came to Jesus and asked for his son’s healing. The son was possessed by an unclean spirit that was doing harm to him. When the man asked for the miracle, he said, “‘If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If You can? All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief’” (Mark 9:22-24). Ask for the healing of others. Ask for more faith.
David prayed, “One thing I have ask from the LORD…that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). David also wrote an entire psalm asking for the LORD’s forgiveness. He had committed adultery and planned a murder. In the heart of the psalm, David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Ask for salvation. Ask for forgiveness.
- How to Ask – Scripture even teaches us how to ask. First and foremost, we are taught to ask in faith, believing not only that God can provide, but also that God wants to provide for His children. James warns the Christian, “he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7). Jesus Himself said, “And all things you ask in prayer, believing you will receive” (Matthew 21:22). We must ask in faith.
John, in his first letter to the church, wrote of pray and petitioning of God. He said we should pray in confidence…not in ourselves, but in Christ Jesus. John wrote, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14-15). Ask in confidence in Jesus Christ. Ask according to His will and His purpose.
- The Promise – Jesus promises, if we ask with the right motives, in the right heart, believing in Him and according to His purposes, we will receive.
Second…Seek (vs. 7) – “Seek and you will find”
Remember as children we used to play “Hide and Seek”? I learned a new version of that game when Natalie and I were ministers of youth. It was called “Sardines,” which meant you were supposed to seek the person who is it, but in this version of the game, you would seek them, find them, and then hide beside them. The game ended when the final person found the group hiding. How fun would the game be if you hid, but no one ever looked for you? I remember vividly playing with my siblings and kids from the block for the first time. I was young…too young. Somehow, I was elected to seek. Everyone hid. I searched and searched and searched until I began to get really scared. It was dark outside, and I felt alone and vulnerable. I even cried out for everyone to come in, but no one did. It’s horrible when you seek but never find…almost like the Curse of Oak Island. Thankfully God is not like that.
First he tells us to seek; then He tells how to be successful about it. The majority of Bible verses I found in relation to seeking pointed to God. Seek God or Seek His face. It’s interesting, because last Wednesday I really, really felt compelled to just sit in the quiet and pray. I really didn’t know what I was supposed to pray for, and for the first time in a long time, I really didn’t even know how to get started. All I knew for sure was that I was supposed to pray, and so I did. I pulled out my old Prayer Life notebook by T.W. Hunt and looked through the notes. After about 10 minutes, I discovered the same verse and same phrase over and over, “Seek His face.” It was odd. I’d heard about it, and I even taught the concept, but in that moment I felt like a brand-new Christian stumbling to understand how. This is what God’s word said to me. Listen to the command to seek, which is always followed by the reward.
“Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11). “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). “I sought the LORD, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). This is what the LORD says…‘Seek me and live’” (Amos 5:4). “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
We seek for earthly treasures. We seek for love in all the wrong places. We seek escape from the troubles of life. We seek for physical pleasures. But they all leave us wanting for more, which means none of these things fill us or fulfill us. All we need to seek God. He is the ultimate treasure. God is love. He offers us not only escape but true freedom. He gives us life and life to the full. Why would we look anywhere else? Seek God.
“Seek and you will find.”
Third…Knock (vs. 7) – “Knock and the door will be opened to you.”
We are also to knock. Knocking means that we want to come in somewhere. We know that we need permission, so we seek that permission. We seek permission to enter! Jesus says, “Ask. Seek. Knock.” Jesus is giving us permission to ask! He is telling us that gifts are available and all you have to do is ask for them, and seek them, and knock on the door to enter into them! God is a good and generous God!
Knock on what door? How? Although it’s a powerful image and has to do with knocking on doors, we are not talking about passages such as in Revelation where Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock.” We’re talking about our willingness to knock. This is about our taking the initiative to knock.
A Door of Faith (Acts 14:27) – “When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” What does that mean? Paul knocked and knocked on Gentile doors…literally and figuratively. He begged God to let him go into Asia, but the time was not right. God did, however, open doors throughout Greece and even Rome. Knock and God will open doors of opportunity to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God also encourages us to knock on prison doors, so He will set the captives free. Now, even though I am speaking metaphorically about spiritual prisoners, this also applies to people who have been imprisoned for the cause of the Gospel…people who are emotionally abused and tormented…and people who are spiritual captives to guilt, shame and evil. We need to knock by praying fervently that these doors of escape are opened. In one of the most comical parts of Scripture, Peter is imprisoned, and a group of believers is praying fervently for his release. They pray and an angel of the Lord opens the door, setting Peter free. Peter goes to the house of the believers and knocks on the door. A servant named Rhoda opens the door, sees it is Peter and slams the door in his face. They prayed, and yet they were surprised when the Lord answered their prayer.
A Door of Service (1 Corinthians 16:8-9) – Paul wrote, “I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” God has gifted us to serve, and many have a specific passion for service…a specific type of ministry they want to do. We need to knock on the doors of ministry, so that God will open “a wide door for effective ministry.” Do we really long to serve? Do we truly want God to open doors for us, so we can serve in His name? Then knock…knock without ceasing…knock in fervent prayer, and the promise of God says, “it will be opened to you.”
Notice that we are actively involved in this process of receiving the gifts of God. He doesn’t just automatically give them to us. He is the author and the giver of the gifts, but we are involved in this process. We must ask, we must seek, we must knock. How do we effectively ask, seek, and knock? We primarily ask, seek, and knock through prayer and Bible study. These are the most effective ways to speak to God, hear from God, and find what God has in store for us. God wants to hear from us. God wants us to seek Him. God wants us to knock on His door.
If we do so faithfully, we will receive, we will find, and the door will be opened to us, which takes us to our last action from this passage…Receive.
Look at verses 9-11. “9 Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” Jesus talks about bread and rocks, and then fish and snakes. Last week it was splinters and logs, and pigs and dogs. Now we have these items and animals. What in the world is He saying?
If a child wants bread, the parent won’t give the child a stone. If a child wants a fish, the parent won’t give the child a snake. If your child wants a juice box, you won’t give him or her a quart of motor oil. If your child wants toothpaste, you won’t give him or her Elmer’s glue.
We as responsible parents and grandparents care for those who are dependent on us. We want to help them, not harm them. We take joy in helping them and providing for them. As we enjoy and take delight in our role of providing for our children, God loves that role so much more and He is much better at it. Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil . . .” do this; that is “you who possess a sinful nature;” how much more will God provide for us and bless us with what we need and ask? He is perfectly holy, perfectly generous, perfectly loving, perfectly providing, perfectly righteous, and perfectly wise!
God will surely give us these gifts if we ask and seek and knock! The question is, what kinds of gifts are Jesus talking about? Is Jesus talking about money, power, fame, good looks, good health, a great family, a big house?
If we think that Jesus is speaking of monetary riches or earthly gifts we are sadly mistaken! That which is truly valuable is not measured by the standards of this world. It’s measured by the standards of God. God wants to give us the good stuff: that which is truly valuable! Furthermore, isn’t God better at determining what we really need?
Ask…Seek…Knock and watch what God will do. Let’s pray.